On Thursday, December the 1st, Harrisonamy Copywriting turns 3 years old. And I’m having a party. (More on that later, we’ve got some stuff to cover before then).
It’s moved on from the terrible twos, where all it did was ask “why?” took steps, wobbled, fell, and bumped its bum.
And that’s not to mention the crayoning on the walls and sticking food up it’s nose.
The last three years have been amazing. I don’t mean that in the sense that everything has gone right, or that I now have all the answers, but I have learned a lot and am proud of what I’ve achieved.
Working for msyself makes me feel closer to releasing the music that’s inside me.
Do you understand that feeling?
If so, I want to share my rules of this journey with you.
Avoid kissing arse
I am terrible at pretending I like people who I don’t like, to the point I can’t physically make eye contact with them. I’m never rude, I’m not mean, but I try to avoid people I don’t like because I am so bad at pretending it zaps my energy fast.
I’m also getting better at calling bullshit on myself when I hear myself say “they’re not very nice, but they’re:
- Really good at what they do
- Could get me great exposure
- Have a big list
Don’t get into those relationships. The payoff is rarely, if ever worth the trade in self-respect.
This also includes people who don’t respect your time. If they don’t respect your time, they don’t respect you. I once had a very, very wealthy and well-respected client. He was interested in working with me on a big project. It could have been lucrative for me but there was one problem.
He was late every time we agreed to speak without apology or explanation.
This was someone who had no respect for me which means working together would have been a nightmare.
I love what marketing genius Dan Kennedy says about people who impinge on his “autonomy”
“If I wake up three mornings in a row thinking about you and we’re not sleeping together and you can’t take half my assets then you’ve got to go”
Do listen to your gut
I have ignored my gut on many occasions and it always, always comes to bite my in the bum. Similar to the above, it has meant I’ve entered into relationships with people my gut didn’t like and have been heartily disappointed.
Listening to your gut is not about playing it safe though. Sometimes you get nervous about doing something, and feel like that’s your gut instinct telling you it’s a bad idea – it’s not the same thing. When I booked to go to SXSW this year I was very nervous. It was an expensive trip, I was staying in a house of people I’d never met and my gut was very nervous. I was way out of my comfort zone, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year (and yes I’m going back next year – come say hi!)
The best results I’ve ever had in my business is when I’ve stopped looking at other people, stepped off Twitter and created something.
And here’s why most people don’t do it: It’s flippin hard.
Especially with writing. It’s lonely, you’re racked with self-doubt, and it feels risky because you don’t know if people will like what you create.
But it’s worth it. whether it’s writing an ebook, creating a training program or researching clients I’d love to work for, the hard work pays off.
Steal and adapt
There are tons of people doing great things out there, doing them very successfully. Often we have a mentality of “oh, I can’t do that, so and so has already done it.”
As long as you’re not actually stealing someone’s work word for word, or copying them exactly, they’re there for your inspiration. As you probably already know I studied screenwriting where we learned that:
There are only 7 different types of stories in the world.
Well how’s that for having to steal? Everything we wrote was similar to, or some kind of version of something else.
Like someone’s promotion? Do something similar and see if it works for you. See a snazzy advert? Adapt it for yours. Someone built a big list by guest posting on big blogs? Go out there are give it a try in your business.
Do not wait to be picked
This is the biggest lesson I’ve learned in 3 years. to illustrate, let me give you a brief summary of the past 3 years:
Oh my God, I’ve just quit my job at the start of a recession. We’re having to take in foreign students and sell the bed to make the bedroom into an office. Can I even do this for a living?
Okay, I’ve got some clients, I’ll do the work they ask of me and hope that next month they want more work.
Secretly, I really hope a big client discovers me and pays me lots of money…
I hate my work. I’m firing my clients. I never want to write about the state of the mining industry in Poland ever again. Wow. Square one. Where do I start – okay I’ll start by approaching clients I’d like to work for.
Secretly I really hope a big client I like discovers me and pays me lots of money…
My clients are awesome, but I’d like to move into training and creating products. Cool, I released my first big eBook and start talking to some amazing clients.
Secretly I really hope one of my launches just takes off and I make lots of money.
There is no “point” where everything is roses. The journey is lots and lots of little steps, and that is why (and this bit is really important) that you have to love those little steps, and NOT wait for someone to pick you out of the crowd.
I cannot stress this enough.
You have to love each little step, even the crappy ones that make you cry.
And you have to stop waiting to be discovered. Stop waiting to be talked to, to be talked about, to be featured, to be included.
You. Are. Great. Enough.
Put yourself forward, approach clients you think are too big for you, try new things and don’t worry if they fail. Be willing to fail. In fact, fail often and fail fast so you can get on to succeeding.
Out of the three years, this is the year I’ve cried the most with some of the challenges I’ve faced, but it proves to me that I’m growing, that I’m still bumping my bum.
My job never made me cry.
It never made me feel alive either.
Laura Austin says
Brilliant Amy!! Amazing post 🙂
Thanks Laura – I forgot to mention that one of the other lessons is to take a moment to appreciate the people you meet on the way.
Oh man, I loved (and needed) this post today Amy!
I am in the “Year One” phase. Lots of tears have been shed (especially in recent weeks), panic sets in on a weekly basis & I have often wondered what I am doing wrong. But, having said that, I haven’t for a minute doubted my decision to turn my back on the law! Though between you & me, I am still secretly hoping a ‘big client’ finds me 🙂
Needless to say, I’m one of the excited ones.
Hey Jen – I empathise with the tears, but there’s something about walking that uncomfortable path that’s more exciting than knowing exactly how your year ahead is going to pan out. I think it’s okay to dream about “the one” client when you’re starting out, espcially if it gives you the drive to get out there and approach some bigger clients! Looking forward to seeing how your journey continues Jen- love your enthusiasm and energy! 🙂
Great piece Amy, I could really connect with the leap, the clients and the now. Thanks for sharing
Thanks Beatrice! It’s been quite a journey, and I get the feeling it’s just the beginning in a lot of ways…
Grace Marshall says
Great post as always Amy. The toddler reference especially made me laugh – reminds me of a post I wrote ages ago: http://grace-marshall.com/if-your-busines/
Couldn’t agree more about rule number one – I had a similar experience with someone who wanted to JV – the amount of time and energy I wasted there – yikes. Good learning though.
I love how the ‘secretly hope a big client I like discovers me’ subtly disappeared by year three. I guess you went out there and found her/him/them 🙂
Hey Grace! Thank you and I love that pithy post – very true!
I think rule number one is the biggie, and I’ve had some narrow escapes with JVs as well. I was trying to talk myself into them before I realised I wanted to turn my back on it altogether.
The thing with hoping for a big client is that in the first couple of years I wasn’t really taking responsibility, I was looking for someone to discover me and reward me. I’ve realised that actually, I have a lot more control and don’t have to wait to be discovered which is a nice feeling. Though realising I am in control of the future is more scary than having someone tell me what to do! 🙂