Permission to Move Forward

You know that whole “If I’d known then what I know now” concept?

It’s been on my mind a lot lately, especially as I prepared for this trip to Austin for my fourth Web Intensive. Let’s just say I’ve come a long way since Day One!

But I don’t view my past hurdles with regret. The challenges I faced on my way to becoming a professional writer helped shape me into what I am today.

My goal for this week’s The Writer’s Life series is to pass that hard-won knowledge on to you. I’ll share my five biggest takeaways from the past four years of growing my writing business — they’ll accelerate your own writing career in ways you may not have considered.

First is one of the most important pieces of advice when it comes to freelance writing.

You’ve probably heard it before, and you’re bound to hear it again. It’s a powerful truth but tough to accept.

And if you actually apply this knowledge to your career, you’ll be in the minority. Here it is:

You’ll never know everything.

I believe it’s what holds a lot of would-be writers back from a successful career. They never take the leap into paid writing because they’re too busy trying to learn everything first.

But there will always be just one more book to read, one more program to finish, or one more blog to subscribe to.

Don’t give yourself a life sentence of studying and never acting. Consider this permission to move forward in your writing career.

When I was green in this business, I wasted a lot of time trying to learn everything before I put myself out there. Then I showed up at my first Web Intensive and realized — despite my best efforts — there was a whole world of web-writing knowledge I’d never even skimmed. Hadn’t even touched.

Yet, I landed a client at that event. I’ve been landing clients ever since. I learn as I go instead of trying to know everything first.

Bottom line: Don’t hold yourself back based on what you don’t yet know. (By the way, if you’ve been waiting to take the leap because you don’t feel ready, I’d love to hear your story.)

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Published: February 18, 2013

9 Responses to “Permission to Move Forward”

  1. Mindy - you slammed the nail on the head. I have many AWAI programs - all uncompleted. I'd see them & think: I need to learn this. I don't know any of this! Scared myself -so much to know! Where to begin? How could I become a successful copywriter? But I really like copywriting! So this year I bought the Companion to the Accelerated Program - I'm completing it. I've printed out your article today - for when I get cold feet & start doubting. It's o.k. not to know - as long as I keep learning.

    JudyB-RaleighFebruary 18, 2013 at 2:02 pm

  2. Thanks Mindy! I needed to read that. I keep reading that comment ... "just do it" ... and I've been putting it out there. I know I can do what I advertise with the training I have with AWAI so far. But there is certainly the probability of having to do OJT, and I've come to the conclusion that it's OK! You're an inspiration!
    Doc

    Guest (Doc Boatright)February 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm

  3. Mindy, I think this is part of what's holding me back. I see emails and posts from successful freelance copywriters, telling me I need to take this course, or read that e-book, or attend this or that webinar, or in some way continue learning in order to be good enough. I realize that I can't know everything, but at times it's hard to know what I should know or must know to be good enough to step out into the freelance world.

    Jim LawrenceFebruary 18, 2013 at 7:59 pm

  4. Hi Mindy, yes...wow, you've touched on my biggest fear of all, trusting in myself - in my abilities - to bid on a project. The fear comes from the possibility of actually getting it, way more than being rejected. See, being rejected is safe, not scary, because it keeps the status quo. Getting the project...now that is scary, because then I'd be in the spot-light, expected to perform; the irony is that's exactly where I want to be! Thank you for sharing your story, it inspires me take action.

    Guest (Art M)February 19, 2013 at 12:47 am

  5. I'm guilty! I started this journey about 6 weeks ago. I've been working my way through the Accelerated program and reading everything I can. I've spent Hours reading and writing, but can't put myself 'out there' until I finish it, decide on a niche, learn more about the web and so much more. And, which writing style do I focus on?
    I feel like I need nearly all of the courses offered - the ones for B2B, auto responders, becoming a publicist, etc. Learning a lot-don't know enough!

    BJ JensenFebruary 19, 2013 at 2:16 am

  6. Yes Mindy, I am guilty as charged! I have written books, screenplays and countless skits; yet, when I first got into this getting paid to write adventure (just started about 3 months ago)I have done nothing but tried to learn how to get clients, what to charge,etc. I still have not landed any clients, because honestly, I just don't know where to start. I guess I need to just close my eyes and jump!

    Guest (John Parr)February 19, 2013 at 11:52 am

  7. Yes, I want to put my Shingle up for Copywriting. But officially I don't. I'm not sure I'll make enough money right away. I'm kind of a slow meticulous, get-it-just-right writer, and I'm concerned I'll be making $2, $3 to $5 an hour. And I won't be able to live on that.

    So, I talk about it. Study. Practice. But keep doing the work I feel comfortable with -- selling stuff on Amazon; helping my friend publish his ebooks (he's not paying me), writing my blog, and promoting and branding myself as a health copywriter through social networking and online. (;

    I feel I can make more money doing other things.... even though I know people like you make a six figure income copywriting.

    I have so many bills, responsibilities and needs/wants that a higher income would really really help me. But I don't want to let go of what is working, or be too busy to what is working.

    They say to stick to what you're good at. I feel I need to do what is working, until I'm making enough money to where

    Guest (Katherine Kay)February 23, 2013 at 4:13 pm

  8. I've been wondering if I'd be good enough for Copywriting, and that is what slows me down. I have a degree in Creative Writing, have learned a lot about poetry, fiction even creative non-fiction, but when it comes to copy I feel like I've only just begun and and still unsure of where to begin. I can't afford to travel out of state to conferences, so know I have to just throw myself into the unknown. Thank you for the encouragement!!

    Amanda JadeMarch 15, 2013 at 8:49 pm


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