How to Eliminate Your Barriers

Before AWAI’s Bootcamp last year, I was still struggling with knocking down some of my barriers to success.

I was worried I wasn’t cut out to be a copywriter. I was afraid of failure – and success. I was terrified to market myself. I thought I might get a big client, mess up the entire project, and be blacklisted forever.

I was a mess.

Luckily for me, I attended Bootcamp, and many of the presentations helped me get over these fears. Little by little, my barriers came down.

One of those presentations was Nick Usborne’s. And today, I want to share some of the things he told us that helped me realize I can live the writer’s life. Maybe by hearing these things, you’ll realize it, too.

Here are the three stories Nick told that eliminated my barriers.

1. You don’t need to be the best.

A lot of freelancers are afraid they’re not ready yet or not qualified enough or they don’t have enough to offer.

Nick told a story about a researcher who studied experts – particularly their predictions about what the future would bring.

He found 834 people: financial experts and political pundits. Then he followed them for several years and collated over 300,000 different judgments they made about the outcome of certain circumstances: what would happen the following week, the price of oil in three years, etc.

At the end of his research, he determined a monkey could have made better predictions with a dartboard. Some experts, the ones you never hear of and who work diligently, did slightly better than the monkey. The experts who were worse than a monkey were the people you see on TV and on the front page of magazines.

So Nick says, “When you worry about expertise, just pause and take a breath and think, ‘You know what? They truly don’t know more than I do.’”

If you take a couple of AWAI courses, and especially if you attend an AWAI Bootcamp, you already have a comparative advantage. Then to learn the three things you need to succeed as a copywriter, check out this article.

2. Clients like to hear from you via email.

If you’re like me, cold calling is terrifying. I was relieved to hear Nick share some research results where the question was asked to client companies, “How do you like to receive a first contact from a copywriter?”

Most of the respondents said they would like to hear first from prospective copywriters by email.

I’m sure that’s not the case for all clients, but it does remove some of the cold calling – and marketing – pressure.

3. Be friendly, approachable, and empathetic.

Another story Nick shared was about medical experts who had been researching why people choose a particular doctor over others. They determined it’s three A’s: “Affinity, Availability, Ability.”

Affinity asks whether the doctor seems friendly, approachable, empathetic, and genuinely caring. Availability takes into account how long you have to wait to see the doctor. Ability measures their skill as a doctor.

The results of the research were that ability was the least important. Availability was in the middle. And the most important thing when choosing a doctor was affability or affinity.

I’m sure this doesn’t translate directly to copywriting. But it does seem that the highest-paid copywriters are also the most friendly and approachable.

Now, if I have any doubts about my ability, I remind myself of the results of this research. I also take a deep breath, smile, and remember I have a team of people at AWAI if a client should come up with something I can’t handle.

What about you? Do these results surprise you? Or have you heard something that helps you overcome doubt? Please share with us in the comments below.

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Published: July 26, 2012

4 Responses to “How to Eliminate Your Barriers”

  1. Great article. The opening lines grabbed me because it's me. I am all of those things. I joined AWAI in 2002, purchased numerous programs (including the Infinity program because I don't want to miss anything). I've used what I've learned in my "real" job as a communications coordinator, but have been afraid to make the jump to the "Writer's Life" because I feel I don't have the knowledge. This article has helped a lot. I've also signed up for Bootcamp (I did it in January so I wouldn't have any second doubts.). I look forward to alleviating more fears at Bootcamp! Thanks for the article.

    Shawn MausJuly 26, 2012 at 9:54 am

  2. Thank you for writing this article. It was fun to read and it is a true, value-added contribution for readers of AWAI.

    The important thing is to go easy with yourself.

    If you succeed, it is not the end of the world.

    Similarly, if you fail, it is not the end of the world.

    What we call success and failure are just part and parcel of experiential learning.

    And let us remember that learning takes time and that learning is a process.

    No matter what the outcome, it is therefore important to take calculated risks and keep on experimenting and making mistakes and learning from them.

    Archan MehtaJuly 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm

  3. Oh, this is such good advice, for a writer or anyone stepping out into the world.
    Most important point: 'Don't need to be the best'.
    When feeling insecure about serving clients, I remind myself that I'm here to help them. Lets me feel less like a salesperson.

    Guest (Pete)December 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm

  4. Great points everybody! Thank you for commenting!

    Sorry I'm so slow to reply (I'm trying to get caught up). :)

    If you ever want to find me online, please try here: twitter.com/chrisgillick

    Christina GillickOctober 26, 2013 at 5:11 pm


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