• Coaching
  • Tips for finding a copywriting mentor

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    The best thing you can do – and potentially the worst thing to do – when starting out as a copywriter is to look for a mentor or coach.

    When I first started out almost ten years ago I was part of Michel Fortin’s Copywriting Board, where I served as a moderator. I received a ton of invaluable informal mentoring there. It was a free resource. Today you can find such online forums on Facebook or there are a number of paid forums. But back then the Copywriting Board was the place to go.

    I approached an email copywriter there who offered paid training. To receive this training for free he gave me the opportunity to do some grunt work for him. He had a bunch of articles he wanted me to add keywords to and upload to his various mini sites so he could get Adsense revenue. It was tedious work, which is why he hated doing it, so it relieved a pain point for him. In exchange I received his training for free. He also was available by email anytime if I had questions and he sent referrals to me, one of which became a lucrative client, which got me established as a copywriter.

    This training was valuable to me precisely because I didn’t pay for it. I had to be scrappy and humble enough to do grunt work. These are the same qualities needed to be a successful freelance copywriter. Because I didn’t pay for the training I didn’t fall into the trap of holding this copywriter responsible for my success. This is the biggest danger of paying for a mentor: it is a certainty that you will, at least subconsciously, hold that mentor responsible for your success and seek his or her approval and permission.

    I recommend that you only pay for expensive mentoring if there is a guarantee that he or she will refer paying clients to you. But even then you should proceed cautiously. The experience of learning on your own and networking informally with fellow copywriters is very valuable. There are also many affordable courses and resources out there, such as my own.

    Above all, proceed with your work with the intent of making a positive difference in the world and encourage your fellow copywriters along the way.

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  • Coaching
  • Basketball coach gives me a PHD in copywriting

    LaunchParty_TrustWriting a 100 word story gave me the chance to meet coach Bo Ryan last September. Bo is a revered figure around these here parts in Wisconsin.

    He took the Badgers all the way to the NCAA championship game last March.

    My dad, an avid Badgers fan, died suddenly last March hours after watching the Badgers beat Oregon on their way to the championship round.

    Meeting Bo was important to me because it was a way to honor my dad’s memory.

    Even though this was a brief meeting, I prepared in earnest and read Bo’s biography the week before meeting him.

    I researched online.

    I took notes.

    I practiced pronouncing the name of Bo’s favorite author, David Maraniss.

    I found out the day I was to meet Bo was the same day Maraniss’s new book about Detroit was to be released.

    I learned how Bo is a master persuader. He excels at recruiting kids by meeting them where they are at and getting to know them as people.

    In his book he talked about his PHD.

    It’s his favorite acronym and stands for Poor, Hungry, Driven.

    He says it’s a mindset all old school coaches who worked their way up from the bottom talk about and maintain, even during NCAA championship games.

    Finally the moment arrived when I met Bo.

    As we shook hands he said, “We’ve met before haven’t we? Didn’t you attend one of my basketball camps in Platteville?”

    I didn’t expect that and felt flattered and honored by the question.

    Bo thinks I’m a former basketball player!

    Unfortunately I had to tell him I did not attend one of his legendary camps back in the day.

    I loved playing basketball as a kid but a junior high coach ruined it for me.

    Bo wanted to know where I was from and we exchanged pleasantries for a bit.

    Then I asked my question.

    “Did you know David Maranis’s new book about Detroit comes out today?”

    Now it was his turn to be surprised.

    He did not know that was the book release date and said he would go out later that day and buy the book.

    He went on to tell me a great story about his friendships with the authors James Patterson and David Maranis.

    There are many lessons I took away from this meeting with Bo:

    Keep the focus on your customer and ask them very specific questions.

    Build a rapport with them and meet them where they are at (email is the best way to do this of course).

    Have a PHD mindset at all times.

    It also set me to thinking about the role coaching plays in my own career.

    Copywriting and coaching are two activities I perform regularly, but separately.

    Now I am finally combining the two.

    Go here to get the details.

    Hope to literally talk to you soon.
    P.S. Here is the 100 word story I wrote that gave me the chance to meet Bo: “My dad, a devoted Badgers fan, passed away suddenly on March 23, less than 12 hours after he watched the Badgers beat Oregon in the NCAA tournament. In our grief we gathered around the TV for the other games, as a way of honoring his memory. It was bittersweet to watch the Badgers make the championship game without him; we couldn’t help but wonder if he somehow had a hand in it. If dad was still alive he would get a kick out of knowing I met Bo Ryan. I simply want to shake Bo’s hand and say “Thank you.”