See if this sounds familiar: I spent almost the entire first year of my copywriting journey learning… but never implementing.
By the time I headed to AWAI’s Bootcamp about 10 months after I started learning copywriting… I had taken lots of classes, but had not tried to get a single client. I hadn’t marketed myself at all.
But something happened at that Bootcamp that started me down a better path… and helped me build a support structure under my business that has led me and many, many copywriters to copywriting success. I want to share that structure and how I’ve used it to scaffold my business with you today.
Dictionary.com defines a scaffold as “a temporary structure for holding workers and materials during the erection, repair, or decoration of a building.”
We also use the term scaffolding in education (my niche) to describe teaching methods that help students solve their own problems and achieve their own goals with less and less assistance. We give them the tools they need to succeed on their own, while providing supports that ensure they don’t backslide.
To build your copywriting freelance business, you can create your own scaffold to move you from one level to another. Here’s how.
The Initial Support Structure
In that first year, where all I did was learn but not market, I had attended a small live copywriting training event, where I’d met a number of really wonderful “newbie” copywriters — and some of us stayed in touch and by the end of that year, we’d become a peer group.
Right away, this group helped me focus more. In a peer pressure kind of way, as we were sharing our successes and failures with niching and marketing ourselves, I felt compelled to have things to talk about and share. Which meant I had to be marketing myself and trying to get clients.
Second, having other people look at my copy, and looking at others’ copy and giving them feedback, made me a much better copywriter, much more quickly than I would have become on my own.
Finally, this group of writers was experiencing similar things, like being told our rates were too high… or second-guessing our declared niche… losing focus and wanting to jump to other services or types of copy before we even got the first ones down… and feeling like we were getting nowhere in our desire to attain our writer’s life. Maybe you could define this as “misery loves company,” but because we had each other, I don’t think any of us was ever miserable… we helped pick each other up, dust each other off, and get each other back in the game.
Especially when you’re a new writer, I encourage you to find other writers to meet with on a regular basis. You can find them in Facebook groups like B2B Copywriters or Professional Writers’ Group. Or you can find them by attending events like AWAI’s FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair.
Several of AWAI’s Certification training programs have private groups where you can meet with other copywriters as you develop new skills.
Or maybe there’s a local group of writers in your hometown you can get together with.
The point is… having other people who are going through similar experiences to talk about how to keep moving forward can be both motivating and practically beneficial. They are your foundational support system and can help get you and your business on firm ground.
The Next Level
For my peer group, over time, as we each began having more wins than losses, we morphed our focus into an accountability group.
At that point, we’d each had enough success in our businesses to feel proud of where we were, so we were now focusing on how to take our businesses to the next level.
We started making commitments about the steps we’d be taking before our next call. And we’d talk about what worked and what didn’t, sharing advice and leveraging contacts to help each other make progress.
We each got so busy, we’d send each other job posts we saw that might be good fits and we referred our own clients to each other if we didn’t have time in our schedules to take on certain projects.
And as we built networks of our own, those networks created more client opportunities we could share with each other.
When you have a close group of fellow writers who know you, your work, and your interests, you create a referral network that allows everyone to see more success and you create goodwill with clients and with peers.
Continuing the Climb
Confucius is believed to have said, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
If you want to continue to build your business to higher and higher levels, you need to surround yourself with people who are, if not smarter than you, then at least more experienced.
Your peer group or accountability group is wonderful for motivation, sharing, support, and keeping a positive mindset.
But at some point, you’re going to need information they may not have.
That’s why successful entrepreneurs and business managers join mastermind groups and work with mentors in addition to having accountability groups.
Napoleon Hill describes a mastermind group as “the coordination of knowledge and effort between two or more people who work towards a definite purpose in a spirit of harmony… no two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind.”
Mastermind groups do tend to be more expensive, but they also deliver bigger results.
However, you can find valuable information in books as well. Like Brian Kurtz’s Overdeliver, Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is the Way, or Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. Each of these authors have studied what works and give you that information wrapped up in a big bow.
Mentors can be found almost anywhere. I find mine mostly with the Titanides, which is a group of female entrepreneurs, marketers, and copywriters who support each other and co-mentor each other.
But you may find them within your professional network. Or you may hire a mentor. Many writers who have experienced success love to reach out a hand and help newer writers follow in their footsteps. AWAI’s Circle of Success (COS) program provides mentoring, personalized career path guidance, and mastermind sessions to members.
If you’ve got a business that’s working, but you have bigger dreams, you may want to think about adding mentoring and/or mastermind participation to help you move further up the path to success.
Coming Out on Top
I’ve always been a very independent-minded, I-can-do-it-myself kind of person. I’m happy to help others but haven’t always been willing to accept any help in return. What freelancing and participating in masterminds and mentoring has taught me is… I can do much more, and have much more fun doing it, when I include others in my journey.
However you decide to grow your business over time, you’re rarely going to achieve as much or as quickly as when you leverage the knowledge and support of others.