Join the New Generation (At Any Age)

We've been talking this week about how times are changing. Working for one company for most of your career is a dying model. Even if you have a secure job you love, there's no guarantee your current position will exist five years from now.

The new model is like being a "free agent." You have a set of skills that you take to the marketplace and offer to the highest bidder. You work on projects for clients or yourself, and you leverage that into new opportunities.

Get in on the front end of this trend, and you stand a much better chance of thriving in the new system.

The new generation gets it.

Christina Gillick, a frequent guest editor here at The Writer's Life, is only a few years out of school, but she's already making her mark as a copywriter in the self-help niche. AWAI Member Rae Robinson went straight from college graduation to freelance writer two years ago. She's writing about one of her passions, tea, as well as running her own copywriting business.

And AWAI's 2010 $10k Challenge Winner Roy Furr was already an A-list copywriter before his recent 30th birthday.

If you're not in your 20s or early 30s, don't worry.

The freelance world doesn't discriminate! You can be 25 years old or 75. As long as you can generate big ideas and get results for your clients, it doesn't matter.

I bring up this younger crowd because I think they can teach us three things. Let me illustrate with even younger examples – my own kids:

1. What's your unique angle?

One of the things I love about working from home is that it gives my kids a chance to see what I do. Since I have a huge library of resources (much of it courtesy of AWAI's Circle of Success program), I share mini-lessons with them whenever I can.

Recently, my two sixth-grade daughters asked me how they could make extra money. I quickly pulled up Installment #4 of the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting online and directed them to the part about the Unique Selling Proposition or USP.

The text reads in part: "Try to find your angle … then think of different ways to convey that message."

Half an hour later, my older daughter wrote a mock business card with the tagline, "I'm the babysitter who brings her own art projects along." The younger one said she's going to be "the peer tutor who explains stuff better than your teacher does" (she's skipped two grades so far, so she does have some credibility).

Takeaway: You don't have to develop a completely new niche. Find something you can do slightly different or a little better than anyone else.

2. To thrive in today's world, you need to constantly learn new skills.

After coming to Bootcamp with me last year, my 15-year-old son, Alex, has become a student of copywriting. He knows what the "4 P's" and the "4 U's" are and can craft a pretty good headline and lead.

When he landed a job this past summer promoting a live event, he wasn't content with the offer. He wrote a two-page sales letter for his new employer, incorporating classic direct-response elements. The result? In addition to his weekly salary, he negotiated his first pay-for-performance deal.

Takeaway: Develop a "lifelong learner" mindset. Invest regularly in your future, especially in skills that will help businesses grow.

3. Take a cue from an exuberant teenager.

Adopt the most enthusiastic, big-thinking attitude that you can muster! I'll use my other son as an example, even though it has nothing to do with copywriting.

Solomon is 13 and a budding musician. He had no problem performing for 1,200 people last year, and he has every expectation of making it big. He's planning a recording session in Nashville next year and already has his own talent company, "Solomon, LLC."

Takeaway: Get back the childlike enthusiasm you might have had in your younger days. Add in your life experience to date, and you'll be unstoppable in this new economy.

I tell you about my four kids not to brag (okay, that's part of the reason), but to show you that if kids can learn freelance career skills, you can too.

If you're not in this youth generation (like me), I'd like to hear from you. How are you positioning yourself? Do clients know (or care about) your age? Leave a comment here.

Stay tuned tomorrow as I go into more detail on the idea of finding and filling a void in the marketplace.

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Published: October 31, 2012

9 Responses to “Join the New Generation (At Any Age)”

  1. Great article, Steve!

    Being a former heart patient led me to Nursing/nursing school. Nursing led me to Perfusion (Heart & Lung Machine Specialist). And perfusion has led me to a potential B2B opportunity. I hope to assist perfusion machine companies in their sales to hospitals and heart clinics by using white papers and case studies. Pretty cool, huh?

    And as a Baby Boomer, our work ethic is legendary. Age doesn't matter. Online or offline, just showing up to do the work wins the day...


  2. Steve,

    I was thinking this on the way into the office today (my real job) -- "I want to get back to my childhood enthusiasm." As all heck broke loose today, I kept this in mind. The day went by smoother and now I'm at home making more strides to becoming a freelancer. Thanks again for a great article.

    Shawn Maus

  3. It's funny you bring up the age factor. I just recently had a connection of mine ask me if I can do some work for her and when I finished the work I ended up surprising her with what all I'd done. She didn't expect someone my age to be so advance in what I do and put so much effort into my work. This is another great post by you, Steve. Your posts have made me an avid follower.


  4. Hi Steve, I think I am the screen guest you address above, and I appreciate the comment about moving toward what propels passion, rather than away from what is unwanted. And I am so grateful to have comments above by writers who seem more seasoned by age than those featured. Still finding my way, and newly encouraged.

    Guest (Christie)

  5. Thanks, Steve. I needed a reminder of child-like enthusiasm.

    Bob Edelstein

  6. Hi Steve,

    Great article and inspirational that your children are implementing what you learned as a Copywriter/Marketer!

    I am equal parts Artist/Writer/Author/Copywriter/Marketer and struggle with creating a cohesive brand that will present all of these abilites. As a children's book Author/Publisher,accomplished Fine Artist/Painter, Copywriter with 20 years' offline marketing experience I'm trying to find a tagline like "The Copywriter who paints pictures with words and Art."

    Guest (Leslie Ehrin)

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