Should You Get Your Ducks in a Row?

Yellow rubber ducks lined up in a row on desk next to business person typing at computer keyboard

It should not surprise you that, when you’re just starting out as a copywriter, your writing isn’t as good as it can be — yet! So it makes sense that you wouldn’t be all that confident about it.

That is totally normal and to be expected. So if you’re waiting for confidence to come from writing perfection before you start looking for clients, I predict you’ll wait an awfully long time.

The reality is that, as with everything, we start out completely ignorant before we begin to learn. Then, the more you practice, the better you get, little by little, step by step, until one day you’ll look back (with humility, I hope) and say to yourself, “Wow, I have come a long way.” (By the way, at that point, you still won’t be anywhere near perfect, but you will be more confident.)

The only way to get there is to get on that path. That means it’s time to stop procrastinating and get your ducks in a row so you can start getting clients.

I like to think of the early ones as “practice clients.” They’re the ones who help you get a few projects under your belt, develop a few samples for your portfolio. You learn from the mistakes you make with them and commit to doing better — every single time, with every single project. That’s how you begin to build the confidence that will allow you to go after the real clients who have bigger and better projects for you.

In the meantime, don’t worry about what you haven’t done or what you don’t have. Instead, focus on what you can do and what you do have.

So, what can you do?

Set yourself up for success by setting up the structure of your business.

So many people who come to me for mentoring tell me they won’t feel confident enough to start looking for clients “until they have all their ducks in a row.” And that makes sense. When you’re starting something new, you need a solid foundation. Otherwise, you feel like you’re floating out there, unmoored and without an anchor. That kind of instability is very unsettling. I get that.

The best way to fight that instability is by having a strong foundation. Building the structure of your business before you begin looking for clients will make you feel much readier to take the inevitably challenging steps required to actively pursue the clients you want.

There are three good reasons to invest the time to do this:

  1. It will cut out at least one avenue of procrastination. There are many, many procrastination techniques and styles — I think I’ve seen them all. Most people put off their marketing (some for a very long time) by telling themselves, “I need to do one more thing before I start.” The thing is, there will always be “one more thing” and you will never get out of the proverbial “gate.” You’ve got to interrupt that loop. And getting your business structure in place will accomplish that. It’s entirely up to you.
  2. It shows you how much you do already know. Putting all the pieces in place is, in itself, a confidence builder — but only if you let it be. Some people agonize over their LinkedIn profile or writing the copy for their website; they tinker with it for way too long. Sometimes I think it’s nothing more than a procrastination technique to avoid getting started. You can, however, use this process instead to see how far you’ve come and how much you do know, and that will bolster your confidence. It’s entirely up to you.
  3. You can approach clients knowing you have somewhere to send them. Some people wing it. That’s my style, actually. While I like to be prepared, often I would rather jump into the fire and see if I can swim (forgive the mixed metaphor but I figure I can take a bit of poetic license with an audience of writers). You may prefer to get everything in order before you jump. And, of course, it is better not to be scrambling when a prospect responds to your LinkedIn request to connect, for example, and asks to learn more about your services.

If you put your structure in place (your website, your pricing, and more), you know you’re ready. Nothing will be set in stone, of course, and it will all change as you go. But it is comforting to know there are ways your prospects can find out more about your services as you market to them.

So, what do you need to do to build structure in your business?

Set up your LinkedIn profile, build your freelance website, and set your pricing schedule. Even if you start with something basic, that’s okay. You can keep evolving as your business grows. Then, work on your self-marketing efforts. What’s important is to not let anything become an obstacle or roadblock to getting started.

You can do this — it can feel like a tremendous responsibility but it’s also an incredible freedom. It’s entirely up to you — but if you just get started, it can lead to somewhere great.

Do you have any questions about setting up the structure of your business? Please share with us in the comments so we can help.

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Published: March 27, 2020

1 Response to “Should You Get Your Ducks in a Row?”

  1. Ilise, your article totally sums up my situ. I’ve done seventeen drafts of my LinkedIn profile.
    Now, I’ll be doing an eighteenth, due to the pandemic, refocusing my niche.
    Yes, I want as many ducks in a row as possible. But I also know the problem with overthinking things.
    There comes a time to act. The virus has upset everybody’s applecart . . . but it also seems like a time of opportunity . . . a time to refocus.
    It also makes me mad. Makes me want to Go For It. I’m going to rewrite that “about me” page One Last Time and launch.
    There’s never been a better time to be a writer!
    I’ve got the tools. Thanks AWAI!

    Mark WalkerMarch 28, 2020 at 2:07 pm


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