Self-Confidence and Success as a B2B Copywriter

Man smiling and giving thumbs-up while taking a self-porrtait photo

Copywriters sometimes tell me that much of what I teach won’t work for them.

They claim my strategies and tactics worked for me because of my sales background. Or they’ll point out that I seem to have a great deal of confidence. And it’s because of that confidence that I’m able to do things they could never do themselves.

I can see how it might look that way from the outside. So let me take you on a little journey to my past …

Throughout much of my life, I had ridiculously low self-confidence.

I was overweight until my mid-teens. (It came back later in my late 20’s, Lol!) My classmates even called me “Hippo” for years.

Yep, that really stays with you for a LONG time.

I wasn’t a good athlete or a great student — two of the best ways to develop a sense of identity and confidence as a kid.

I never broke 1,000 on my SATs despite taking the darn test three times. Yet everyone I knew scored WAY above 1,000. (I’m still upset about that … don’t know why!)

I wasn’t popular and didn’t date a lot of girls. I was never a good dresser. I didn’t own snazzy clothes. And my self-image was generally very poor.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great childhood. Overall, I was a happy kid.

But I didn’t have anywhere near the confidence most of my peers had going into college and into the workforce. Which is why it’s so ironic that my first job out of college was in sales.

Sales — the one thing I swore I’d NEVER do!

But I had student loans and rent to pay. So after four months of striking out, you do what you have to do.

(My parents didn’t have a basement I could move into … not that I would have moved in with them anyway.)

So here’s what happened. I became a salesperson with monthly quotas. And I had to somehow find a way to make some sales.

I had ZERO sales training. My employer just told me to make it happen.

This involved approaching very intimidating (in my mind) people and asking them to give me a chance.

In many cases, I was asking these prospects to betray their current supplier by giving me a chance. One guy told me, “Sorry, my current supplier is my daughter’s godfather …”

Yeah, try breaking through that obstacle.

Some laughed at me. Many ignored me or told me to get off their property. A few walked right past me as I tried to introduce myself.

Sometimes I was so scared, I couldn’t get out of bed or leave the house in the morning. So I’d stay in my apartment for hours, somehow justifying the “office time.”

Looking back, I now realize I was struggling with depression and anxiety. I just didn’t know it at the time.

So … Want to know how I finally built up my confidence?

By mustering up whatever bit of courage I could find.

I rarely had much. But that was okay. I’d use whatever shred I had.

That courage enabled me to take a few small actions every day. Or maybe one big, scary step once a week.

Little-by-little, I started getting results. Which boosted my confidence incrementally, creating a better and better “new normal” for myself.

This process took years. And I’m still a work-in-progress. The scars from the past surface almost every week. I get nervous and scared for no apparent reason … and I crawl back into my little shell.

But I somehow (eventually) find a small nugget of courage … and I use it.

So, no … I wasn’t born confident. I’ve always struggled with this stuff.

Still do.

The key is to not wait for the confidence to appear before taking action. Instead, find a small shred of courage.

Anything. Whatever you can muster up.

And use that to take that next step. And the next.

The confidence will follow.

This article, Self-Confidence and Success as a B2B Copywriter, was originally published by B2B Writing Success.

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Published: August 9, 2018

3 Responses to “Self-Confidence and Success as a B2B Copywriter”

  1. Ed,

    Thank you for sharing some of your early struggles. For us newbies, it sometimes seems as if the experts at AWAI must have “always” been successful... it helps to know this isn’t the case.

    Many of us struggle with confidence. For anyone interested in a good resource, I found Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz to be particularly helpful. (There are several editions, including a more recent one featuring Dan Kennedy.)

    Thank you again for the wise words, Ed.


    Erik Bjerre

  2. Hello Ed,

    Great story.

    I printed it out and will keep it handy for future reference especially when I decide to "Take the Leap."

    Regards, Steve

    Steve Dalessio

  3. Thank you, Ed, for this inspiring article, especially your excellent advice on finding a "small shred of courage".

    I entered technical business writing, then technical sales proposal writing purely out of desperation. This was a giant, terrifying leap into the unknown. Can't even tell you how many mistakes before I got it right. Now,I face the daunting task of re-writing my LinkedIn page to copywriter-- but, don't feel like one yet. Next "shred of courage" on the horizon! Thanks again, Ed!

    Jane Robertson

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