“WHERE THE F*CK DO I START?!!!”
With a deep breath.
Honestly, don’t freak out … at least not more than you should.
It’s easier said than done. But I know I speak on behalf of most (if not all) Word Tonic members when I say that we’re all still figuring this thing out.
Here’s a necessary reminder that we need to hear from time to time:
YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO SCREW UP.
Go ahead. Make a mess.
It feels counterintuitive when we were groomed for academic perfection and political correctness. We don’t like to look or sound stupid.
Maybe you’ve been feeling like you’re just here floating around in the Word Tonic stream of consciousness.
You’re getting all of these amazing tips from seasoned and legendary copywriters. You have all the information that you need and more. But there are a million and one things bouncing off the inner walls of your mind like:
“What do I do first?!”
“Which book should I read first?!”
“Whoa! Look at her portfolio! Mine is shit!”
“I’m not asking that out loud, I’ll sound stupid.”
If you’re thinking any or all of these things, then congratulations - it shows that you care. It shows that you actually want to do well and kickstart your career.
Caring is a good start.
What I’ve learned so far is that the journey is about embracing the stage you’re at right now, and prioritising accordingly.
It helps to keep an eye on how other copywriters are providing value and marketing their services. But constantly comparing yourself to others will only make you focus on all the things that you haven't done. This is where it gets discouraging and overwhelming.
That’s not an emotional state you wanna stay in for too long.
It robs you of the time you could be spending on perfecting your craft.
If you’re new to the copywriting world, here are some general tips on how to keep the nerves at bay and a bit of direction on how to begin:
Start with a base.
When acquiring a new skill, it’s always a good idea to have some sort of knowledge of the basics.
I know you want to fast-track your writing career and live off of what you love. We all do. But here’s the reality that people don't talk about often - big goals require skills, and skills take time and hard work to develop.
Familiarise yourself with what this whole copywriting thing is about.
Imagine your family and close friends asking you questions like:
“What exactly is copywriting?”
“Is that the thing about trademarks?”
That’s when you’ll have to explain the difference between copyright and copywriting (I had to do this a few times).
Get to the point where you can explain these concepts easily to people who don’t have a clue about them. And keep building your knowledge base from there.
Pick a book to read on copywriting. Any book. Don’t just read it - bond with it. Take notes, ask questions, and be curious. Watch a documentary highlighting some of the best advertising in history. Gaining a skill is a journey, so enjoy it wherever you can.
Practise while you learn.
If you like writing, chances are you like to read a lot (like me). This is good. Never stop reading about the craft you’re honing.
But don’t let added knowledge actually stop you from practising the skill you’re learning about.
Throw yourself into a project after learning a concept about it.
Find fake briefs to work on. Start a blog about things you like. Your goal here is not to go viral. It’s to practise. It won’t always be fun. But that’s where growth comes - learning from the struggle.
Also, in a community like ours, we help each other find the right balance between working hard and working smart.
Here’s a throwback to one of our newsletters that has some tips on how you can practise and build your portfolio.
Learn from mistakes.
I’ll say it again: you have permission to screw up.
The whole point of embracing your mistakes is to learn from them.
If the nerve-wracking mortification of your screw-ups is gonna be worth anything, make sure there’s a lesson you can extract to help yourself and others.
You might even be able to turn your mishap into your next best weapon.
Carolyn had a recent screw-up that sparked an important conversation in the wider copywriting community.
You’re still human.
Pay attention to the game, but run your own race.
Like in any other field, you wanna be aware of the latest developments.
It can help you decide the next step in your journey. So keep your ears open for developments, but keep your eyes on the prize 👀
You’re the prize.
Your artistic, professional, and personal development should always be the top priority.
Spending most of your time looking at other writers improving their craft will leave room for negativity, jealousy, and additional self-doubt to step in. We don’t want that.
Get your practice in and focus on how to do each of your projects as best as you can.
And you can always pop it in the chat so we can share our feedback.
And don’t be nervous. Remember, we’re all in this together.
Don’t just aspire. Evolve.
We see this all the time.
It’s one of those overused titles we slap on ourselves when we’re passionate about something that our imposter syndrome won’t allow us to fully embrace.
Or when we haven’t met society's standards of what an acclaimed person in the field is supposed to look like.
In my opinion, “aspiring” is a pretty word for talking about something you wanna do. It’s on your radar of desires. As we know all too well, a lot of folks talk about their goals but don’t get around to it.
I believe a good mindset to start with is evolution.
Because evolving is different.
Evolution speaks to who you already are. An aspiring writer can’t evolve unless they first claim their identity as a writer.
So don’t just aspire to be it.
Be it. Do it.
If you write, you’re a writer.
If you’re a writer, get better.
The rest will take care of it itself.
I’ll wrap up with the reminder that the Word Tonic community is your safe space.
It’s your creative playground (and playbook). Use the tips and tricks, apply them, get out there, and tackle those projects. See what works for you and what doesn't.
When you soar, we’ll be cheering you on to increase your creative altitude. If you plummet and crash, we’ll be ready to pick you up, dust you off, make adjustments, and hurl you back into the thick of it.
I can say this with confidence because I go through this process repeatedly as a member of this community.
Word Tonic’s goal is to support, encourage, and provide all the resources you need to step into copywriting greatness.
So … how do you start?
Learn. Write. Improve. Repeat.