10 Rules for Being a Copywriter

Issue #70—June 29, 2019

For more than a dozen years, I've taken weekly yoga classes. These classes are taught in the paneled, carpeted, 1970s-style basement of my yoga teacher's home.

She sits on the fireplace hearth at the front of the room. Lined up on each side are 6 yoga mats with throws on top of them where each person takes a spot.

We start each class lying on the floor in "corpse" pose (Savasana), relaxing our minds and bodies to prepare for yoga. My yoga teacher (who is now 74 years old and in amazing physical shape) then does a reading.

We follow that with one hour and 15 minutes of yoga, then 15 minutes of Savasana to relax again. We then do seated meditation for 10 minutes, ending with three rounds of "Ohmmmmmmm".

And once we're done, I practically float out the door.

I've usually done these classes on a weeknight, but the last two Saturdays I've gone for a morning class. I've found I prefer the "zen"-like feeling I get that manages to stay with me throughout the day.

I've even stopped at my local Wegmans after downing a quick Starbucks venti "cold brew" post-class to do grocery shopping. Instead of getting frustrated or stressed-out by the crowds, I float through the aisles in an uncharacteristically calm state.

Okay, my Copy may be asking by now---what the heck does this have to do with copywriting?

A lot!

If you are constantly going from one task to the next--juggling one unrelated thing and squeezing in another, without any complete mental clearings, it will affect the quality of your writing and your ideas.

Clear your mind and you'll be amazed what comes out!

I used to think I got the most benefit from these hour-and-45-minute yoga/meditation classes at night. But now, I find I'm literally bursting with ideas after my Saturday morning class.

This past Saturday, after some casual conversation at the beginning of class, I got a possible copy platform idea for an investment promotion I'm going to be working on.

As soon as I left class the copy for the lead was literally pouring out of my brain. I typed as much of it as I could into an email to myself and hit "send".

And after today's class, I got an idea for today's somewhat-overdue issue. As you saw in the subject line, we're going to be discussing "Rules for Being a Copywriter."

I'm basing this on the reading my yoga teacher shared with us today. You may have heard or read variations of it. It's called "Rules for Being Human". I highly recommend reading it.

My yoga teacher had these rules waiting for us on the stairs in a handout. After reviewing them again, I thought I'd adapt them for our use as copywriters. Many of the lessons I've learned over the past few decades in this wild and wacky freelance world can be summed up in the following "rules". So without further ado, let's get started...

#1: YOU WILL RECEIVE A BRAIN. You may think you're smart. You may think you're dumb. But the truth is, we all start with the same "hardware". It's the "software" we put into it that makes the difference. That "software" isn't just the knowledge you accumulate, it's the self-talk that can lift you up or drag you down. As copywriters, we make a living from our brains. Think about what you're putting into that brain day after day.

#2: YOU WILL LEARN LESSONS. You will be presented with opportunities to learn what you need to know. But what you end up learning may not always be what you expected to learn. You may like the lessons or find them irrelevant or even painful. Always make sure you learn them.

#3: THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, ONLY LESSONS. Copywriting is not an exact science. It's often a process of trial and error and experimentation. You can learn as much from failure as you can from success. Often more. "Failed" copy is as much a part of the process as copy that ultimately works.

#4: A LESSON IS REPEATED UNTIL LEARNED. You will have many opportunities to learn the same copywriting lesson until you have mastered it. Once you have mastered it, you can focus on mastering the next lesson. The more lessons you master, the better your copywriting becomes.

#5: LEARNING LESSONS DOES NOT END. There is no stage of your copywriting career that does not contain some lessons. The most experienced and successful copywriters continue to be insatiable learners. As long as you write copy there will always be something more to learn.

#6: "THERE" IS NO BETTER THAN "HERE." You may look around at other copywriters and want to compare yourself. But you have to remember things may look better "there" than in your own "here." Focus on where you are "here" rather than an idealized, unattainable version of "there." Make your reality what you want it to be.

#7: OTHERS ARE MERELY MIRRORS OF YOU. If you find yourself criticizing others about certain behaviors and traits, take a look in the mirror. Chances are those same behaviors and traits are ones you want to change in yourself. Be honest with yourself and pay attention.

#8: WHAT YOU MAKE OF COPYWRITING IS UP TO YOU. As you acquire the tools and resources you need, remember that what you create with these tools and resources is up to you. Always know that through desire, goal-setting, self-discipline, and unflagging effort you can have anything you want. Persistence is the key to success as a freelance copywriter.

#9: YOUR ANSWERS AND CREATIVITY LIE INSIDE YOU. The solutions, the "big idea", that next sentence of copy---they all lie inside you right now. Train your mind to free itself and unleash the creativity that's inside you. And learn to trust these "gifts" that your mind gives you.

#10: YOU WILL FORGET ALL OF THIS! Unless you consistently stay focused on learning and growing as a copywriter, and achieving the goals that you've set for yourself, everything you've just read won't mean a thing.

I hope these "rules" resonate with you. I've found everything I just shared with you to be absolutely true throughout my copywriting and marketing career. I hope these "rules" serve you as well as they have me.


Yours for smarter marketing,


P.S. Midyear can be a great time for reflection on where you are in meeting your goals. Are you where you wanted to be six months ago? Are you on track to be where you want to be six months from now? In the spirit of reflecting and retooling and helping you continue to grow as a copywriter, I'm planning a "flash" sale on my copywriting training programs and other good stuff. Keep an eye out for some emails coming your way within the next 24 hours. It'll be fast and quick and super-valuable. You're not going to want to miss out!

P.P.S. I currently have one opening in my Copy Mentoring program. Here's how this individualized coaching program works: you get two 60-90 minute calls with me each month, plus up to 4 hours of my time to review and critique your copy. You also get access to me for questions via emails, or to hop on an "emergency" call as needed. You can find out more details here. If this is something you're interested in, reply back to this email and let me know. Keep in mind this is not cheap. I will tell you that the copywriters I've mentored through this program have found it extremely worthwhile. You can read some of their comments here.

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