What Paul Newman Can Teach You About Copywriting Success

Acting legend Paul Newman lost his battle with cancer less than a month ago. He enjoyed a wildly successful 50+ year career as an actor, and was loved by millions around the world.

If you were to guess what made him so successful, you’d probably say he was “born with it.” But when interviewed in 1991, Newman said, “I had no natural gift to be anything … not an athlete, not an actor, not a writer, not a director, a painter of garden porches … not anything.”

Pretty impressive when you consider his success as an actor, entrepreneur and philanthropist. For example, over the past 26 years, Paul Newman’s food company – Newman’s Own – has donated $250 million to charities around the world.

So how did a guy with no natural talents accomplish so much?

In Newman’s own words, “I’ve worked really hard, because nothing ever came easily to me.”

When I first came across this quote in USA Today, I was pleasantly surprised. After all, there have been many times I’ve wondered what makes certain people so successful.

When I found out how much money top copywriters like Don Mahoney, Carline Anglade-Cole, and Paul Hollingshead earn, I thought, “Whoa! I wonder what their secret is.”

But in talking to some of them and interviewing successful AWAI members like Ed Gandia and Joshua Boswell (who earn six figures year in and year out), I found they all had one thing in common: a willingness to work hard.

What’s more, Michael Masterson has told me that a large number of the copywriters he’s mentored didn’t have a talent for copywriting when they first started. What made them successful was hard work and perseverance.

For me, it’s almost a guilty pleasure knowing these successful copywriters weren’t born with a freakish gift for copywriting. They are normal people, just like you and me. They were just willing to keep working hard until they reached their goals. No matter what.

The good news is, even if you lack talent, connections, proper schooling, (insert any excuse), etc., you can still achieve as much success as these people have.

As Calvin Coolidge once said:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Paul Newman is a testament to this. As are the copywriters I’ve mentioned.

So if your goal is to become a successful copywriter, I say, “Go for it!” Commit whole-heartedly that you’re going to make it happen.

Take comfort in the fact that success is totally up to you.

And remember, it doesn’t matter if you were born talented, untalented, rich, or whatever. All you need is a strong desire, hard work, and the ability to keep going when things get tough.

So before the end of today, I challenge you to take at least one action toward becoming a successful copywriter.

Maybe you simply need to set some goals and create a detailed plan of how you will accomplish them …

Perhaps you’ve been putting off finishing AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. Grab it and commit to reading at least one section …

Or maybe you’ve read all the books and attended all the seminars … and all you need now is practice. Start writing spec assignments for your dream clients. Write a sales letter selling your services. Send the email or make the phone call you’ve been waiting for the “perfect time” to do …

Start today!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: October 22, 2008

1 Response to “What Paul Newman Can Teach You About Copywriting Success”

  1. My previous delays in pursuing the copywriting course were caused mostly by the fear of not being talented enough to bother to try. The article about Newman seeing himself as a person with no special talent made quite an impression. This time I'm committed to becoming a selling copywriter.

    Jim DMay 29, 2014 at 1:16 pm


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