Get Your B2B Copywriting Career Moving Forward

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAStarting a business is hard work. At times, it seems akin to Sisyphus, the Greek condemned in the underworld to push a boulder up a hill, only to see it roll down … where he has to trudge after it and push it up again … only to see it roll down … endlessly.

Except it’s not Sisyphean (try working that word into your next case study). Every victory you achieve, no matter how small, is a step toward your intended success. Even your failures should be leading you to your goals.

You could take my path, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

I’ve been interested in copywriting since I somehow received that “Can You Write a Letter Like This?” mail piece, 13 or 14 years ago.

At the time, I was teaching middle and high school English (hence the Greek myth reference). Throughout over 15 years of teaching, I’ve had some excellent, enjoyable students and wonderful experiences, but the bad days kept outnumbering the good ones as the years rolled on.

I kept telling myself I’d get out of teaching before long and start copywriting. But inertia has a way of making you feel safe and warm, even if you are miserable. So I dithered and played and made excuses.

Within a changing (read hostile) political climate, reduced funding, standardized testing mania, apathetic parents, and undisciplined students, I could see the dark at the end of the tunnel. Last June, I was laid off. Again. Permanently.

Around 13 years ago, I purchased The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, The Masters Program, Résumé Writing, and others, over the years … And I completed anywhere from 50% to 100% of the course (your results may vary).

In 2012, I purchased (yet again) another AWAI program: Writing Case Studies. Earlier attempts at starting a writing business foundered, for a variety of reasons, one being the writing genres hadn’t resonated with me. Long-form writing didn’t appeal to me (I hated grading research papers, much less writing them). Sales copy left me chilly. I had written and been published, but I was essentially from the Punk Rock School of Writing (there are no long punk rock songs). I published short stories, essays, poems, one-act plays, book reviews, and blog posts, but most of those were relatively short (unlike this paragraph).

The case study description clicked for me, which is why I bought it.

Case studies are short and tell a story. (Yes, I know sales copy frequently tells stories. You tell your story, I’ll tell mine.) Even better, someone else told the story, I just had to shape it. I was certain I’d write case studies, but when? I had been pushing that teaching boulder up that hill so long, I couldn’t break that inertia.

When I received my layoff notice in May 2013, I resolved to go to AWAI’s B2B Intensive in Chicago in July. I had money saved to finish my master’s degree and the gathering was only a 4.25-hour drive away.

The Intensive was better than I thought. I learned more than I could hope to contain and I received confirmation that I could do B2B writing. (I knew I could before I went there, but that inner critic can be savage.)

And, I finally started my copywriting business last September.

I thought that getting clients and building a lucrative business would be a relatively rapid event. Reality laughs at naiveté. Of course, Sisyphus probably fantasized that one day the boulder would hold fast at the top of that hill, that he wouldn’t hear that familiar accelerating rumble anymore.

Fast forward: I’m still pushing that boulder uphill, but now, I’ve got a website, business cards, and three clients to my name. One of those clients wants me to do a third case study for them.

Three clients do not stop me from struggling with that rock, but it’s a bit lighter now. And someday, I won’t have to keep pushing, it’ll roll of its own accord and I can walk away to my keyboard. Five more (steady and regular) clients are all it should take. I’ve got samples, I’ve faced rejection (heck, let me show you the rejection letters for my children’s story), and I’m still open for business.

Perhaps you, too, are in a similar situation. You’re stuck doing something that at one time you enjoyed, but for whatever reason it has become a drudgery, an interminable push and strain. I can’t tell you the best way to transition your life into writing full-time, but I can tell you that if you take no action (I’m talking beyond buying courses), you will keep pushing that boulder and it will never change.

Sisyphus was condemned by the gods, but are you? What’s stopping you from creating samples? Designing the content for your website? Writing a newsletter for your friend’s tree-trimming business?

Stop struggling with that rock and start writing. Once you gain real momentum, it won’t seem like a struggle anymore.

6 Responses to “Get Your B2B Copywriting Career Moving Forward”

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  1. Kevin Rokosh says:

    Scott, your article makes me shout, “Hey, I’m not alone!” Someone else has been dithering… Someone else has that same squeaky inner-critic… Someone else realizes that success in this business will not be rapid…

    I’ve only got two things to add from my own daily reflections.

    Each morning as I remind myself where I’m trying to go in life, one sentence I always read is, “My business may be small right now, but it will be as big as all my hard word deserves.”

    And the second is my morning mantra, which I started long before AWAI began their recent marketing of the Accessing The Writer Within program. It’s rather apropos with your article here. “Keep On Pushing.”

  2. Judy Blaeske says:

    Scott,

    Thank you for an excellent article – and the motivation. I second Kevin – “Hey, I’m not alone!” either. Me, too! Me, too!

    I did exactly the same thing. Bought programs and began studying full of enthusiasm that petered out with with some of them. They did not click. For the same reasons you cited. I had dithering down to a fine art – but not copywriting. Struggled with finding a niche. Made excuses. And when push came to shove … well, that boulder would not budge.

    Then I too discovered case studies – Steve’s course, followed by Ed Gandia. I really enjoyed writing them and now have a couple of samples I can include on my website. Now, here’s where you’re way ahead of me. You’re really and truly out there and proving yourself. That’s where I want to be. I have two things I need to do first, though. Complete the legal logistics of setting up my freelance business and then put up my website. Really. These are not excuses! By the end of 2014 I plan to be out there, website and all, with a paying client.

    I’m printing out your article – you set quite an example. Keep on pushing indeed!

  3. Cheryl Davis says:

    From the very beginning of your great article here , I was laughing out load! and I needed that! My shoulder hurts from pushing that rock up hill as well. But the difference for me is that I have really only been decided on this writer’s life for the 6 months, so while I can totally relate as I work on my website content,yet, still…because defining ourselves as writers is not easy to do. We write about everything but ourselves, generally.

    Then there is the technical side of it, laid out like a cake walk, but even that takes perseverance and time to win the cake!. My next email to Rebecca will have that website of mine with something for her to preview.
    As they say, what is the big idea? What is your next short term goal to getting clients and launching yourself out there?

    My husband was bitten by the B2B bug and is now “encouraging me” too, if this was easy, everyone would be doing it. But with those leaders at AWAI, we can do this thing. Thanks Scott!, and Steve too!

  4. Scot Martin says:

    Thanks all for the responses. Every day (for most beginners) is a struggle, but every day we persevere brings us closer to our goals. That and analyzing our failures and misses (not in a negative way) with a mind for improvement the next time around is going to get us to the top of the hill. When we get there, unlike Sisyphus, we can keep moving up (in spite of the occasional misstep). Success to ;you all.

  5. Jeffery Baldwin says:

    Scott. Great and encouraging post.

    We are “launching” – a seeming forever process. I am fortunate that my wife and I are working as a team, which lightens the load, with us able to keep each other on track, and encourage one another.

    I’ve over 30 years of IT and telecommunications behind me, but as you noted, am tired of the drill. I am very versed in technology. Maybe it’s burn-out, and maybe it’s because the IT White Papers I read (and have used in my career), leave me feeling in over my head. Case Studies seem to be a good middle ground, and it’s not overly long copy, which just doesn’t grab me.

    We’ve cards, are finishing our web site, and I am currently drafting a “clientless” Case Study to cut me teeth on, and see just WHAT I can do. We are attending the Boot Camp in Del Ray next week as well.

    I’ll likely still have to work at a J.O.B for a bit, but ultimately we have a vision for being where you are, and ultimately further, sooner than later. It is WORK. Let no one think otherwise.

    Again. Thanks for providing a good perspective on things.

    Jeff

  6. Bill Kirk says:

    Scot, the more I read, the more I laughed and thought, “hey he sounds a lot like me!” I got the “Can You Write a Letter Like This?” mailing and bought the program over five years ago. I’ve started it 4 or 5 times but still haven’t finished it – just can’t get into B2C.

    But I’ve been following AWAI ever since, I’ve completed several B2B courses (including case studies), and am in the middle of the B2B Companion series – best decision I’ve made so far. I am on track to launch my freelance website and business before the end of the year. I’m sure I’ll be pushing the rock for a while, but I’m an old retired guy, so I doubt I’ll need more than a handful of clients to keep me as busy as I want to be. Hopefully that won’t take too long…

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