Are You Waiting to “Feel Confident”?

Sign reading “Don’t be afraid to start”

“I don’t feel ready for clients.”

I hear that a lot in my role as a marketing mentor.

But what exactly does it feel like to be “ready” for clients?

When I ask new copywriters, I hear things like:

  • “I need to get all my ducks in a row.”
  • “I'll be ready when I have some solid samples on my website.”
  • “I need confidence, then I’ll be ready.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. I do think confidence — or a lack thereof — is at the heart of it.

If you’re like most of the new copywriters I talk to, you tell yourself that if you just keep learning and preparing, one day, eventually (hopefully) you will feel confident enough about your writing that you will feel “ready” to do the marketing that you know it takes to land the clients.

This came through loud and clear in response to a recent article I wrote, Is this what you’re afraid of?

But you can’t build a business on feelings — whether a feeling of fear or even a feeling of confidence.

You build a business on relationships and on actual experience with real people — the ones you choose because you’re interested in what they’re doing and you want to help them with your new copywriting skills.

So, I recently asked the copywriters in a Facebook group what it would feel like to have the confidence they think they need. How do you know when you feel “confident enough” or “ready?” How does that feeling feel?

One wrote, “I’ll feel successful and confident when I get responses from people to whom I reach out.”

That sounds like a bit of a Catch-22: Feeling confident as a result of positive responses to outreach but not feeling confident enough to reach out yet. Hmmm.

Another wrote, “When I have some samples I am really content with I am pretty sure I will feel confident, because it will be backed up with something tangible. I will feel MORE confident once I have a few clients behind me who are happy with my work. I guess I will feel validated, that it isn’t just a feeling that I will be good at it but the security of the KNOWLEDGE. And I guess my thoughts will be that I have finally proved to myself what I knew I could do all along. And I will feel excited and proud.”

So, feeling confident when the clients are happy with the work. But again, it’s hard to get the clients without doing any marketing. Those clients don’t magically appear. You have to go looking for them and this copywriter (along with most other new writers) isn’t confident enough to do that yet.

Another impossible situation, right?

That’s why I wrote that first article. I had decided it was time to talk directly and openly about this fear I see getting in the way of new copywriters making progress.

I described how the resistance to getting clients and the procrastination about marketing may be, in fact, a disguise for the fear underneath it all: You’re afraid that your writing just isn’t good enough.

Think about it: if you never actually land a client, you’ll never really know if you’re any good.

I thought it would help to get it out in the open and talk about it. So that’s what I tried to do — and I guess I was right. One person wrote:

Thank you for helping me to chill out from self-sabotage. This is 100% me. I keep telling myself that when I have (fill in the blank) done, I will start finding clients. I'm always putting something in my way. I’ve spent 10 years "getting ready to get ready." Enough already!

And my favorite:

Sometimes it feels as if there's a tiny person sitting on each shoulder, taking turns whispering in my ears. On one side, I hear a whisper in my ear: Just because you love to write, and have an overactive imagination, these things do not a freelance copywriter make. Get a grip!! The other "shoulder sitter" says: Go ahead, you can do it. I really want to get rid of this "Doubting Thomas" persona, and do what I love to do: Write. Wholeheartedly and confidently, already.

What you really need …

If that’s what you want too — if you want to leave behind that little voice in your head, the voice that keeps making stuff up that is really unhelpful, here is my advice: forget about confidence.

What you really need is courage.

The courage to take yourself and your copywriting seriously.

The courage to keep learning and practicing and improving every day.

The courage to forge ahead no matter what anyone else says or thinks.

Don’t be ashamed of being a newbie. There are plenty of people who are willing to give a newbie a chance. Have the courage to be a proud newbie and fly the flag of your other past experiences, whatever they are.

Then go looking for the people who want you to succeed, who want to help you succeed, who don’t care about your samples and probably won’t even ask for them.

In my experience, courage isn’t a feeling like “readiness” or “confidence.”

But if I had to assign a feeling to it, I would say it’s a feeling of discomfort.

So, how do you know you’re ready to go out there and get some clients?

You feel really uncomfortable, and don’t want to do the marketing. But you do what needs to be done anyway.

That’s the ready sign — not a calm peacefulness, but a feeling of discomfort.

Is that how you feel?

If so, then you are ready.

Do you have any questions about getting started as a copywriter? Share with us in the comments.

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Published: December 13, 2019

5 Responses to “Are You Waiting to “Feel Confident”?”

  1. Thank you, I needed this. I just joined a couple of weeks ago. I am trying to really get ahold of what's needed vs what I am just pushing because I am not comfortable yet. XD

    AutumnDecember 13, 2019 at 8:01 am

  2. This is true. the majority of working men and women don't feel like going to their regular jobs … but they go because of obligation, so we should do the same when starting our business. Forget the feelings and move on. This is exactly what I will do now! Thanks for this article.

    RobinaonGDecember 13, 2019 at 10:53 am

  3. Lack of confidence in my writing ability. I feel inadequate compared to other writers.

    Yes, I know comparisons are pernicious.

    But I have participated in Nick Usborne's $200 challenges, and feel so deflated when I read some really snappy content that wins the prize.

    Susan KMDecember 13, 2019 at 5:56 pm

  4. Comments are easy for me to write! If I gathered all of my Comments and Reviews together, I would have a Portfolio! I even have a small article and photograph published in the NYT, yet I continue to not feel ready.

    There was a time when interviewing was a Snap! Perhaps being outside of the work-force for awhile has part in not feeling ready. It’s “Feeling” everyday Too much! I’m erasing the word from my vocabulary, because I’ll Feel myself into a box, if I’m not careful!

    Perhaps it’s even time to Think less and just do it! If I sound a bit frustrated, it’s because I am. If I am persuasive enough to write this commentary, I am ready to write!

    BethAnn ShoenfeldDecember 15, 2019 at 2:02 pm

  5. Thank you so much for posting this Ilise, I greatly appreciate it. This is right where I'm at in my writing journey and I now know not to wait for that warm, fuzzy feeling of being ready and confident. That comes afterwards. This article was that final nudge I needed to get on the saddle and just do it! If failure is a part of success, which seems to be the case with much of my life experience, then I might as well go for it head-on. Thank you for confirming what I've been feeling! ~ James M.

    James MMay 10, 2020 at 4:51 pm


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