This post was written by TCCS member, Sara Tiefenbrun
In the beginning, mindset matters most
You’re not supposed to have everything figured out
1. Stop shadowboxing
At some point, I stopped thinking, “Thank God the client didn’t think I was a fraud” and switched to, “This is really happening”.
After I made that shift, things felt much better.
Your clients want you to be capable.
You are capable.
Stop undercutting yourself.
2. Bite the bullet
Looking back, I spent several years wondering who would want me if I started a business.
What services would I offer?
How would I deal with tricky clients?
I now realise those were avoidance tactics.
The negative voices got quieter once I started to act.
3. Your brain will hurt
Each time I did something new, such as creating a product, it made my brain hurt.
Looking back, they weren’t perfect. But the act of doing them was a big step forward.
I’ve become more forgiving. If I charge people a reasonable rate and give reasonable value, that’s enough.
4. There are no monsters under the bed (probably just old socks)
Most scary stuff isn’t as scary as you think.
I thought I was hopeless at money stuff, but it turns out it’s quite fun.
I love Rounded as a tool, and my dashboard makes me feel professional.
This week I’m even delving into SEO, which I’ve been avoiding.
5. Freak out with friends
Having a network like The Clever Copywriting Community is amazing for asking questions.
You can raise everything from estimating how long a job will take, to working out when to push something or let it go.
At first, it didn’t feel like I belonged. But when a big contract was coming up, I thought I’m going to need some support and jumped in.
It’s a place where it’s okay to admit you don’t know what you’re doing and freak out a bit.
Once you find clarity, you can handle clients with the kind of self-assurance that gives them comfort.
6. There’s no right answer
You’ll hear different advice on some things, such as “Post first on your own website”, or “Publish first in LinkedIn where you’ll get more views”.
They’re both right.
Work out what feels right to you and move on.
7. You learn a lot when you’re being generous
During the lockdown, I joined two Akimbo workshops to build my creative confidence and distract myself from impending doom.
Giving advice to strangers helps you articulate what you know.
8. You’re not supposed to have everything figured out
A marketing business responds to the market.
You can spend forever on your vision board, but you’ll never really know what problems you solve or how you solve them until you find some real customers and start solving their problems.
9. Work it baby
Even if you’ve only done a handful of jobs all year, make the most of them.
Write blogs about the job, get a testimonial.
Leverage what you have.
10. Agencies sound intimidating, but they don’t have to be
I’ve worked with two small agencies and they’ve both been delightful.
It’s quite nice having someone to shield you from the client.
11. What’s for you will not go by you (as my grandpa used to say)
My highest earning job came from a small agency I’d known for years.
A couple of years before that, I’d hoped they’d give me a contract to help me leave my day job.
It didn’t play out like that.
It was better that I found my feet on my own and then worked with them when I was more established.
12. It doesn’t take that long
When I look at people I admire, often they’re only four years into running their business.
It doesn’t take that long to build up your business once you hit your stride.
13. You don’t have to be the best
I don’t doubt there are better writers than me.
But I love researching, solving problems, and chatting with clients.
I also don’t mind a bit of self-promotion.
Those skills help me build my business.
We all have our strengths.
Some people might know all the grammar rules, follow neatly automated processes, or be able to easily locate their car keys.
14. When possible, pay a proofreader
I felt so professional when I paid another Copybeast Matt Smith to proof my work.
It was well worth it. He not only made tweaks but also asked questions that improved the work.
In this case, the client gave zero edits, so I felt secure in the quality of my work has had it verified with someone who knew their stuff.
15. Things that made me feel gooood
It took a few months but having a website (that I built), a logo, and some professional photos (that bore no relation to what I really looked like in lockdown) made me feel more like the real deal.
16. It’s nice to be paid properly
I did a few jobs at a low rate because I’d just started running my own practice.
But when you’re being paid properly it makes a difference to the attitude you bring to the job.
Small jobs are never as quick as you think.
17. Stop tinkering with your website
Quick website updates before bed are never quick.
Two hours later your site will probably be worse than when you began.
18. It won’t hurt to ask
When something isn’t clear, pick up the phone to the client (or the web developer).
You won’t be sorry you got clarification.
19. You don’t know if you don’t try
During the first Melbourne lockdown, I did a Facebook Live in a retail group about how to communicate during a crisis.
I had to research it that week, but by the time I delivered it, I felt expert enough.
That content became a blog post that performed really well.
Sharing it in a group won me a client.
20. Be your own loudhailer
I’ve been guilty of creating content for my business and not sharing it enough.
If you’ve done the work, make sure you maximise its reach.
To mark the end of one year in business, and to thank those who have supported me, I’ve created a free e-book called Deepwell: How creative women reset, refresh and carry on. I’m really proud of it. You can read more about the project or get your copy.
Thanks to Copybeast Annie Reid who proofread this piece and the entire Deepwell book for me.
Sara Tiefenbrun is a TV documentary maker who fell in love with startups and became a copywriter.
She creates story-driven copy and content for clients who want to hook customers, keep them engaged, and make a sale.
Over to you
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