Take A Gamble With Copywriting
(But Keep Total Control)

Are you a gambler, or do you like to be in total control?

Some say that anyone who ventures outside the “norm” has to be one or the other. In this case, the “norm” is the safe, dull security of a regular job with a regular schedule, regular coworkers, and a regular boss.

Copywriting, then, is the area outside of “regular” where there are no limits or expectations except the ones you set for yourself.

Your best bet in succeeding as a copywriter is to do both: take a gamble by venturing outside of the norm, but also maintain control. Read on to learn how you can do that …

How Chance Events Are Subject To Influence

Here’s the funny thing about gambling. On the surface, it’s all about playing games of chance or betting on an uncertain outcome.

But gamblers actually have more control over outcomes than you’d think. A 1977 study by social psychologist Ellen Langer showed that gamblers feel an “illusion of control” over their activities, which actually turns the tables in their favor.

In one of her experiments, people who chose their own lottery numbers demanded four times as much money when selling their tickets as people who were given assigned lottery numbers. Their payoff in the end was bigger thanks to their perceived control.

Another experiment showed people tend to bet a lot more money when playing games of chance with an awkward, nervous person than when playing confident opponents. In other words, feeling like you’re in control is empowering.

These are just two of over 50 experiments that consistently prove people change their behavior when they think they can control chance events. On top of that, the more they need an outcome, the more confident they feel about achieving it.

Control = Beliefs + Attitude + Behavior

This basically tells us that attitude predicts behavior. If you think you can sway the outcome of something, you’re more likely to bet higher or go bigger.

The same is true for copywriters. Those who feel confident about the skills they offer are more likely to go after bigger clients and charge higher fees.

Yet, getting there is a totally different matter. It’s one thing to tell others in your life that you can succeed as a freelancer. It’s an entirely different thing to truly believe it deep down in your core.

After all, most of us are guilty of saying what we think others want to hear. We do it every day at some level. For example, if someone says, “Hi,” in the hallway, you respond with an automatic “Hi” in return. If a waitress asks, “How was your meal?” you answer, “Fine,” even if you thought it was tasteless.

It’s a mindless reaction, kind of like being in a trance-like state. It puts you on autopilot and frees your mind to work on other things.

But when you’re on autopilot, you’re not in control. When you’re not in control, your true beliefs (your attitude) lie dormant. And if you don’t really believe something is going to happen, you won’t behave in a way that makes it happen.

Why You Need A “Potent” Attitude To Succeed

One of the advantages to living outside the norm and pursuing the writer’s life is that your behavior is less automatic. After all, it’s a novel situation for most of us. In other words, if you lack a script, you’re more likely to think before you act.

This is a good thing. Your attitude guides your behavior when you have to think about what you’re doing.

Thinking about what you’re doing forces you to assess your inner convictions. It makes you more self-aware. And self-aware people have more consistency between words and deeds.

What does this mean? Simply this: taking up copywriting as a career is uncharted territory, at least if you compare it to what “normal people” do. There’s no room for autopilot – you have to think about which direction you want to go in and why.

This means the things you say you’re going to do are more closely tied to what you really want in life. You put your true desires right up front. At some point, saying what you really want becomes believing. That gives you control, and the more control you have … the more likely you are to get the outcome you want. Make sense?

Not Just A “Chance” Career

The best part of all is that copywriting is not a gamble. Hundreds of AWAI members who live the writer’s life every day are proof of that (just look at the AWAI Wall of Fame for examples).

The gambling industry thrives because of all the people who play games of chance with total confidence. Sure, overconfident gamblers may have better winning streaks than other people, but in the end, the house always wins.

As a copywriter, you’re not playing a game of chance. You’re taking a gamble, but as long as you’re in control of your career, your winnings are there for the taking. And if you play with confidence, well … you’ll win. It’s as simple as that.

Plenty of other copywriters have played and won before you. You can meet a lot of them at live events like AWAI’s Bootcamp. And, unlike top gamblers who never share their secrets, top copywriters tend to be open and welcoming, sharing whatever knowledge they can to help others move forward in this lifestyle. I highly recommend linking up with them – it’s certainly how I got to where I am today.

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: April 27, 2011

1 Response to “Take A Gamble With Copywriting (But Keep Total Control)”

  1. This one resonated with me. Thanks!

    Guest (caelids)April 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm


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