You’ve Got Nothing to Lose …
and Everything to Gain

“Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it.”
– Lt. John B. Putnam Jr.

AWAI Wall of Famer Toni Rockis got more than she bargained for.

She attended AWAI’s Writer’s Retreat last May. And she came away with more than just improved copywriting skills. Toni landed a huge project with AWAI: the creation of a grant writing program.

Here’s how it happened …

The Writer’s Retreat offers one-on-one time with master copywriters. In Toni’s case, she knew she would be meeting with Paul Hollingshead. Having been a successful grant writer for a number of years, Toni thought a grant writing program would greatly benefit AWAI members.

So she took a chance. Instead of meeting with Paul to discuss copy, she presented her idea. It caught Paul’s interest, and he asked her to have lunch with him and Katie.

As soon as lunch was over, a deal was struck. Later on in the day, Katie asked Toni if she was nervous or afraid of presenting her idea. Toni responded, “I’m too old to be afraid of much of anything!”

Toni’s light-hearted attitude is a great example for all copywriters.

If Toni had let fear keep her from having a chance to present her idea to Paul, she would never have gotten such a lucrative assignment that’s opened up a whole new world of opportunities for her.

Chances are if you’re not where you want to be, fear is what’s holding you back.

In her book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Dr. Susan Jeffers reveals these five truths about fear …

Truth 1: The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.

Truth 2: The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.

Truth 3: The only way to feel better about myself is to go out … and do it.

Truth 4: Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.

Truth 5: Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.

Coming to terms with these five truths will go a long way toward gaining courage and confidence in every area of your life.

When it comes to copywriting, many writers just starting out say their biggest fear is marketing themselves and getting their first few assignments. Here are five tips for dealing with that fear …

  1. Have realistic expectations. It’s all a numbers game. Whether you’re cold calling, networking, or mailing self-promos, you’re bound to get more “no’s” than “yes’s.” So don’t get discouraged if you mail out 10, 20 or even 50 self-promos and don’t get a response. Same with cold calling. Realize that each “no” is only getting you closer to a “yes.” And when you do get a “no,” realize it’s not a rejection of you as a person or copywriter. It simply means the client isn’t interested at that particular place and time. Use each “no” as a learning experience. If possible, find out why they’re saying “no,” so you can learn even more.
  2. Change your attitude. When Toni approached Paul about creating a grant writing program for AWAI, she honestly thought, “What have I got to lose?” And more importantly, “What do I stand to gain?” These are the kinds of questions you should ask yourself. If there’s a client you really want to work for, and you give them a call, think … what have you really got to lose? You’re not working for them right now. And if they say “no,” you’re still not working for them. If that’s the case, then nothing changed, and you didn’t lose anything. And if the client says “yes,” you’ve gained A LOT.
  3. Realize that copywriting clients need you. Potential clients absolutely need your services. And smart clients know how valuable you are. You are actually doing a disservice to business owners that you’re not marketing to. That’s because they have a real problem on their hands. And you have a solution to that problem. You’re going to help them get more sales, and ultimately more profits. So don’t be afraid to offer clients your solution, which they are desperate for! It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
  4. Become competent. This means writing every day. The more you write, the better you get. The better you get, the more confidence you’ll have in your copywriting abilities. It also means continually educating yourself. In addition to copywriting, study the ins and outs of direct marketing and writing for the web. The more you know, the more you’ll have to offer your clients.
  5. Get a support group. There’s one other valuable thing Toni got from attending the AWAI Writer’s Retreat. She came away with a mastermind group of six other copywriters. Having a group of like-minded people is great to bounce ideas off of, get feedback on your copy, and stay motivated. Plus, there’s a certain comfort that comes with knowing you’re not on the journey alone.

In short, follow Nike’s slogan and “Just Do It.” Remember … you’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: December 17, 2008

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