Many years ago, when I had a day job, I always felt income-insecure.
Because if I didn’t keep my three bosses (and all of their bosses) happy, my entire livelihood could just disappear — POOF!
Another problem: I didn’t have much control over the amount of money I’d make.
Sure, I could pitch my boss for a raise. And I did. And guess what? I got the same 2% raise everyone else was getting.
Yeaaaaaah. That’s wasn’t going to work for me.
I was there for two years, then formed an escape plan and left a year later. And I’ve never looked back, except in a OMG-THANK-GOODNESS-THAT-IS-NOT-MY-LIFE-ANYMORE kind of way.
Today, I’m a copywriter and consultant. I make 4 times what I did at my old job.
But considering the current crisis, income has been on my mind again a lot lately. I think everyone is taking stock of what they’ve got coming in, and how the crisis might affect those income sources.
The thing is, even though I’m a worrier, I’m not TOO worried about income right now. And I want to share the two reasons why. This isn’t to brag — in fact, I tend to keep a low profile online and in real life. I don’t get on video much. I don’t go to a lot of industry events. My Copy Cave (i.e. home office) is my safe place. But I decided to share this anyway, because maybe it’ll help other copywriters.
Okay, so #notahumblebrag disclosure outta the way, here’s what’s giving me peace of mind right now…
#1 My eggs aren’t all in one basket. I don’t have one client I’m overly dependent on, instead, I have a handful that I work with. And in addition to client work, I have a control that’s still mailing right now, and I’m getting royalty checks from that. So this mix of income sources means income is more likely to keep coming in.
#2 I’ve got bigger baskets. Meaning, I can command higher fees than I was making when I started out. In fact, I went from charging $50/hour at the beginning of my copywriting career to earning $70,554 and counting from one sales letter. And when I look at my average hourly rate for client work, it comes out to $300/hour. Because of that, I make more with every project I take on than I would have even a few years ago. (And because of what I can charge, I also had decent emergency fund in place.)
Now, how does that help you? Well, I’ll be honest. It may not help you right now, immediately.
It took me time to get to this point, it doesn’t just happen overnight.
But now is a great time to really take stock of where you’re at with your business. Are you diversifying? Are you able to charge top dollar for your work?
And if you’re not able to charge top dollar, it’s not about just raising your rates, like so many coaches and gurus would advise you to do.
“Want to make more money? Just charge more! Problem solved!” Yeah, no.
If you’re serious about your business, you have to actually be worth what you’re charging. Otherwise word will get out that you charge a lot and don’t get results. And you can forget any repeat business.
So how do you increase your worth as a copywriter? By getting better at what you do. A lot better.
Now, early in my career, I wasn’t sure how to do that. Read all the important books? Hand copy? Something else? How would I KNOW I was getting better?
Eventually, I learned exactly what to do, because one of the top copywriters in the world — Parris Lampropoulos — invited me to join his exclusive and secretive copy cub program. Now, as you may or may not know, the first rule of copy cubs is “Parris will sue if you violate the NDA.” But I can share this with you, because it’s not one of his proprietary super secret ninja tricks…
What I discovered is that there are three things you need to get to the next level of your career:
#1 Foundation. Study winning controls, both past and present. And it’s not enough to read them or even to hand copy them, you have to analyze them the way a pro does, so you can understand the underlying mechanisms. What made it work? Why was it a winner? And what can you apply (and what about it would NOT work) for your next promotion?
#2 Feedback. I don’t mean posting your copy in a free Facebook group where any shmoe with an Internet connection and an opinion can tell you that you suck. I mean feedback from someone who is a few steps or more ahead of you in their career. Someone who understands winning copy, and has written a winning control themselves. Someone who’s in your corner, rooting for you.
#3 Final numbers. This means finding out how your copy performed in the real world, and it’s the ultimate test of what works and what doesn’t.
That’s it. That’s the “3 Fs” behind why I can charge top dollar now and how I won my first control, for which I just got another royalty check this week.
Now, if you look at those three things, one of them (#3) isn’t exactly in your control. You have to land the right kinds of clients who not only stay on top of their numbers, but actually share them with you. (It’s not always easy to find these unicorn clients, as you may already know.)
BUT, if you do #1 and #2, then you create more opportunities to get #3. You attract better clients, better projects, and you position yourself as a consultant and advisor. You land gigs that pay you really well, depending on how your copy performs. And then you start to actually get those final numbers.
So… it all starts with Foundation and Feedback. If you’re not getting those things on a consistent, weekly basis, that’s where to focus your efforts now.
And if you’d like help doing that, then you might be a good fit for a small coaching program I’m starting in May.