Is This What You’re Afraid Of?

Woman taking notes and working on laptop

Let’s talk about fear.

Not fear in general. I have a very specific fear in mind.

It’s one I don’t hear anyone talking about …

Yet it’s a fear I sense in many new copywriters.

The problem is, it’s under the surface, so if you have it, you may not even be aware of it. But I’m sure you’ll recognize it when I describe it.

Are you perpetually getting your “ducks in a row?” (How many ducks are there, anyway?)

Or are you very busy preparing (over-preparing?), but never feel ready to start your business, especially to start finding clients?

Or maybe you bring yourself to do a little bit of marketing, but you give up or change tactics right away, before any of your marketing efforts has a chance to work its magic? (Because that’s the funny thing about marketing — it really does work!)

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone — not by a long shot!

And no, I’m not talking about the fear of failure — that’s too obvious — and a bit cliché.

I’m talking about the fear of actually getting a client.

Are you afraid of landing a client?

Because if you land a client, you know what happens next …

You have to write some real copy.

That’s when the rubber hits the road (speaking of clichés).

That’s when you’d really be on the spot to perform.

And that’s when the “truth” about your copywriting skills would be revealed.

What if you’re no good?
What if what you write doesn’t work?
What if you can’t write for anyone but yourself?

You see, if you never actually land a client, you never have to deal with any of that.

You never have to really put your work out there.

You never have to worry about how your copy will perform.

Yet you’ll also never really know if you’re any good.

In fact, I think the real fear — the fear that burrows even deeper than the fear of landing a client — is the fear that you can’t write after all — even though you really, really love to write.

So you tell yourself that if you just keep learning and preparing, one day, eventually, 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.

Is that you?

If so, there is something I want you to know: there is absolutely nothing at all wrong with staying on this path. Nothing at all wrong with learning to write for the rest of your life and never landing a client.

If that’s what you want, there’s no problem with that. Writing for yourself is a beautiful thing and you will live a happy life writing to your heart’s content. And I have no doubt that you will get better and better at it, the more you do it.

But if you really want to be a copywriter, and if you want to make money as a copywriter, then you have to build a business. That’s a fact.

Now, here’s the trick: To build a business, you don’t actually have to get over the fear. You can keep it.

But you do have to stop letting the fear win.

Because there are two ways you can respond to fear: positively, or negatively. And you get to choose.

For reasons I don’t understand, most people choose to respond negatively, by letting the fear hold them back, by letting the fear win.

But if you choose to approach it a different way, you may find that fear is a fantastic motivator.

In life, it guides our “fight or flight” responses and helps keep us safe and alive. It heightens our senses and awareness. It keeps us alert and helps us to better prepare for the future.

That applies in business too.

Your natural fear response to flee can in fact stretch you, and may actually push you further than you thought you could ever go, especially if you have support and encouragement.

So from my point of view, fear is a good thing. It means you’re passionate about what you want to do.

It means you know that the marketing will actually work, if you do it. That’s why you haven’t — yet.

So here’s another cliché: I highly recommend that you “embrace the fear.” Face it head-on! Stare it down!

Because starting something new is indeed a scary process — especially if you’re used to being good at what you do and have become accustomed to the confidence that goes along with competence.

Starting from scratch is tricky. It takes guts. And it takes practice.

The good news is, you have plenty of time to practice, to make your mistakes, and to learn from them. And the more mistakes you make, the more you’ll learn.

Plus, you don’t have to do it alone. There are plenty of people in the AWAI community to support you. And with our help, you can definitely do this.

So, why not give it a try?

Embrace the fear and start moving forward. The payoff will make it worth your while.

Do you have any questions about moving past fears? Please share with us in the comments so we can help.

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Published: April 16, 2021

4 Responses to “Is This What You’re Afraid Of?”

  1. My fear of failure is so strong I’m completely paralyzed by it.

    Guest (Anella)

  2. I am afraid that a client will ask questions I can't answer. That a client will hit on all the things I don't know. That I won't know enough about a topic to deliver enough copy on a retainer basis. That I'll talk too much, or listen too little. I feel unprepared because copywriting covers so many angles. I only know a little about a lot of things so how would I develop a topic to full extent? Yes, I'm afraid of sounding inadequate. It's been a very long time since I've tried anything new.

    B J Anderson

  3. Ilse, you could have well been my shrink!
    As I read your article I realised that you've described me.
    I had one client 3 years ago, and made a BIG mess of the job. So I stopped trying to get even more clients. I think I've lost so much confidence that I've (almost) given up dreaming of ever becoming a paid writer.

    Schalk

  4. Somehow, this came up for me today. I needed that! I'm reading a book on de-cluttering, and the author gets into the psychological reasons people have clutter, and how clutter can be more than physical. I realized that all my procrastination is that I put off life until I have my ducks in a row, and I will never live as long as the ducks. This essay just confirmed my epiphany. So I am going to do at least something every day. I am ADD and depressed, so it is really work.

    PhatKhat


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