30 years! Wow, I remember when I started my business as a freelance direct response copywriter my goal was to make it through the first three years. January 1, 2019 marks my 30-year anniversary. Good to know I achieved, and surpassed, that first goal.
Thirty years. Who knew how fast the time would fly and what twists and turns my life – and career – would take.
I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a copywriter. Nor, did I dream of starting my own business. It was a thought I had, “One day maybe I’ll start my own business.” But I had no idea what that business would be.
Starting The Write Direction was a leap of faith. An idea that came, kind of by accident, when I couldn’t find a J-O-B. When those I interviewed with said, “We’re laying people off, but if you were a freelance copywriter, we could use your services,” I listened and took action.
Marking three decades in business has me thinking, what’s next? I feel like I should have something profound to share on this occasion so I sat down to write. Put my fingers on the keyboard and let them take over.
Five lessons learned over 30 years as a freelance copywriter:
1. You don’t need to have studied the field you pursue. I didn’t have a degree in copywriting, journalism, creative writing or even marketing. I had an idea, a desire and the motivation to pursue it. And, I should say that I was fortunate to have two veteran copywriting mentors – Eugene Schwartz (author of Breakthrough Advertising) and Milt Pierce (who introduced me to Gene) who encouraged me along the way.
2. Do what it takes to keep things going. Some days/months/years were better than others. There were times when I worked part-time jobs. At first, I’d be embarrassed, thinking, “What if people see me? They’ll think I’ve failed.” But I changed that mindset to, “I’m doing what I need to do to keep my business alive.”
3. Nurture relationships. I started my business long before the internet. That meant, sending out direct mail pieces, making follow up phone calls, setting up face-to-face meetings. While social media may seem to make it easier to connect, in many ways it disconnects us. It’s SO important to remember that in-person connections – building and nurturing relationships – are still vital.
4. Success isn’t always measured by money. I have not created a multi-million dollar business and that was never my goal. Yes, money is important as I do have bills to pay. My “why” has been about people – having time with friends and family, serving my clients and enjoying flexibility and freedom.
5. It’s not about the hustle and grind. When I started my business, I did that “hustle and grind.” I felt I couldn’t let up as I had to build my business. However, today, every time I see posts, memes, comments about the 24/7 hustle and grind, it annoys me. I believe it’s important to take time to “smell the roses.” That it’s okay to enjoy a Sunday – away from the computer, texts, emails, etc. When you nurture yourself, you nurture your business. Don’t forget about self-care.
30 years as a freelance direct response copywriter. WOW! Will I continue for another thirty? In life, perhaps, but in my business, probably not. I will always do something to feel productive and to contribute. However, after 30 years I deserve to dial it back a bit, don’t you think?
If you’re in business for yourself, how long has it been and what lessons have you learned? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below because I’d love to hear from you. Thanks a million. Here’s to your sweet success in the coming year.