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When you're the "hot girl at the bar"

Issue #145 I'm gearing up later this morning to do my first LIVE Control Breakdown call in a while. It's something I offered as an exclusive bonus to Copy Insiders who got the epic Black Friday Bundle and the Upsell Bundle from me. If you're quick (and I mean super-quick, since you'll need to act by 10:45 am Eastern), you can grab a front-row seat here for a trifle of a fee. (Yes, it's the holiday season, so we use words like "trifle", though I'm not sure I've ever eaten one in my life!) In any case, yesterday I was having a mentoring session with a young woman who's a rising copywriting and marketing star at a well-known publisher. She's struggling right now with a problem that many people don't realize is actually a problem... one that's filled with hidden landmines and can lead to even bigger problems (even though it seems like a good problem to have!) I call it "when you're the hot girl at the bar..."

(Note: this is NOT the young woman I mentored. If I did, I'd definitely advise against combining a fur jacket with sequined pants. It's just too much. Just do one OR the other, girlfriend!) Now, this young woman I was talking to has seen her earnings and responsibilities steadily increase and she's bringing in some nice royalties, too. That's a result of the impact her copywriting and marketing efforts are having on the company. So she's starting to get attention from the higher-ups, who want to keep her happy! She's demonstrated that she has what it takes to keep growing and contributing to the company's success. But now the executives at her company are competing against others outside the company who've taken note of this rising star... even without her reaching out. That's why she's now stressing out about being "the hot girl at the bar" and wanted to talk with me. She's got the heads of other, smaller publishing companies in dogged pursuit... while her in-house bosses all want to know what she wants to keep her happy. Just like the "hot girl at the bar", she's the one that's in control... and has her pick of more opportunities than she can shake a stick at. It's a powerful position to be in, yet all too often we can start to fall into people-pleasing behaviors and say "yes" to the wrong things... or get swept off our feet by aggressive suitors who promise the sun, moon, and stars. Yes, it brings on a whole new set of challenges when you go from the striving, up-and-coming employee... or "feast or famine" freelance copywriter... to suddenly becoming IN-DEMAND. Most of us recall the struggles of starting out and finding those first clients... and keeping that client pipeline flowing (and many of you reading this may still be in this frustrating phase). You may have thought, if only I didn't have to worry about finding clients... ALL my problems would be solved! But that's not how it goes, "hot girl (or guy)"... it just means you have a whole NEW set of problems to navigate. I've seen many copywriters who end up making costly mistakes when the client pipeline goes from a mere trickle to a raging river. So let's review my rules for being "the hot girl (or guy) at the bar": Rule #1: Don't jump too fast. Be wary of people who want to get "married" after the "first date". If they're giving you the bum's rush, you have to wonder why are they so desperate? You also need ample time to consider ALL your choices (and as the "hot girl", you should demand it). This applies not just to jumping ship from one company to another, but entering into long-term retainer commitments, or going from freelancer to in-house copywriter. Be rigorous in your research and know that there are always "unknowns" that could turn out to be negative no matter how good things look on the other side. Rule #2: Don't say "yes" to everything. When freelancers are going from "feast to famine" mode to becoming the "hot girl (or guy) at the bar", it's likely they still have fear and a scarcity mindset driving them. So they end up saying "yes" to everything that comes their way, because they're afraid if they say "no" it will mean "never". That's not the case. When you can respond with "I'm booked up till ___ but I have a slot available for your project in ___", you actually look more valuable and desirable to the potential client. This is "hot girl at the bar" in action. No, I won't dance with you now... maybe later. (True story: this is what happened when I met my husband for the first time... at a bar!) Do this and your "stock" goes up in the eyes of the client. PLUS (even more important), instead of stacking multiple projects on top of each other... stressing yourself out beyond belief and causing you to do poorer-quality work (thus quashing any future work with said clients), you can sit back and relax, and often charge MORE... while collecting 50% advances to save a slot in your schedule. Rule #3: Be choosier. This is the time to start deciding how to best assemble your "portfolio". Decide what your evaluative criteria will be (i.e., get the data to project the royalty potential... can this be a project that generates $50-100k a year in passive income if you get a big winner?) Or maybe what's important to you is focusing on one niche that you love writing for (which can often end up making you more valuable, too). Or maybe you don't want to work as much... or take every Friday off... or take the whole summer off. Or maybe you ONLY want to do long-form, royalty-paying projects... or maybe you want to focus only on email copy and look for revenue share deals. The thing to remember is, when you're "the hot girl (or guy) at the bar", you don't need to go home with just anyone! Rule #4: Determine your current "market value". Chances are if you're this "hot", you're way undercharging (or your salary and other compensation are less than the value you're bringing to the company). So do your research and figure out what your current "market value" is. (And P.S., salaries across the board are going up... as is inflation... so what you're bringing in should go up, too!) If you're an in-house employee, look at what other people are making (yes, ask around but be discreet). Another way to figure this out is to talk turkey (i.e., money) with your many outside suitors before you spend too much time with them courting you to find out what they're willing to pony up for someone with your skills. Or maybe you want more training opportunities, to get paid bonuses or other incentives, or have the company pay for you to join masterminds or attend live events. Don't be shy about asking for these things, "hot girl"! If you're freelancing, find out what others at your copywriting level are charging for similar projects. If you're a woman, you might want to automatically add at least 25% to whatever price you bid out. (Yes, based on my mentoring group experience, men are MUCH more likely to feel confident about charging more... even if they're less experienced. That needs to change. Charge enough that you feel a little nervous sending the bid to the client. Because when you don't charge enough, they don't respect you as much.) If you find yourself in the situation I've been talking about, congratulations on all the hard work and investments along the way that it took to get to this point. Hopefully you gained some good strategies and tactics from reading this (they're ones I've used myself throughout my freelance career, as well as in my marketing career beforehand at Phillips Publishing and Blue Cross Blue Shield). Oh, and remember: NO combining fur jackets with sequined pants! P.S. If being "the hot girl (or guy) at the bar" is something you want to be struggling with, then you may want to strongly consider joining my Fast Track to A-List mentoring program that starts in January. It's the only time I plan to offer this program next year, and at least half the spots are filled. The "early bird" savings I'm offering end this Sunday. Check out all the details and let me hear from you as soon as possible if you're interested!

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