How to Build Confidence in Yourself
(and Your Writing Ability)
Even if You’re a Complete Newbie

If I had to pick the turning point in my writing career, it would be the day I realized I was confident in my ability to write.

I remember it well. I had an appointment with the CEO of an interactive marketing firm I’d been trying to get into for months.

I respected this guy … a lot.

He’d been featured in Forbes Magazine after gaining national attention for his unique approach to Internet marketing. He’d worked with the leading research firm dedicated to optimization in marketing communications, Marketing Experiments, testing numerous online and marketing strategies with them. And he’d worked in conjunction with MarketingSherpa, a nationally recognized publisher of marketing case studies.

To say this CEO knew a thing or two about direct-response marketing would be an understatement.

During our meeting, he showed me a couple of projects, including a campaign for an internationally well-known client his company was working on and asked my opinion. I offered suggestions along with explanations for why I would write it that way.

As we talked, it became clear to me that I knew things about how to persuade people with copy that he didn’t. It was in that moment that I realized I was confident in my writing and marketing abilities … and that changed everything for me.

Up to this point, I was constantly “waiting” until I finished whatever current copywriting program I was working on before I’d approach clients. And because I was in this constant “learning-mode,” I never felt fully confident about what I had to offer.

This isn’t uncommon. Many new copywriters think they have to be an expert about every last thing about copywriting and marketing …

But the truth is, if you’ve studied AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, you already know more about copywriting and marketing than 95% of the people out there.

Even though I’d read that before, it took me until this meeting to realize that it was indeed true.

I immediately felt more confident, and this increased my business almost like magic.

You see, when you're confident, your business becomes more successful because …

  • You're not afraid to approach more and better clients.
  • You don’t doubt everything you put down on paper, so you write faster.
  • You earn more because you feel comfortable charging what you know you're worth instead of what you think someone will pay you.
  • You aren’t afraid to say no to “bad clients" because you know there are many more out there who will be a better fit.
  • And you often get better results for your clients since you no longer feel intimidated by expressing your ideas and opinions about what you believe will work.

So the question is … how do you become confident about your writing and marketing abilities?

For years, I thought it had a lot to do with thinking positively about myself and my ability. And I associated that thinking with either telling myself I did something well or through receiving positive feedback.

However, recently when I read To Be Or Not To Be Intimidated? by Robert Ringer, I realized neither positive thinking nor positive feedback is what builds confidence.

Let me explain what I mean …

At Bootcamp this past fall, Michael Masterson recited a poem he wrote when he was a boy. He prefaced reading it by saying that it was “really bad.”I could totally relate to those two words. Because I recently looked back at some of my early copywriting and would describe it exactly the same way.

The thing is, when I look back, no matter how many times I reread these pieces and no matter how much positive thinking I use, I can’t magically turn them into good pieces.

Nor can I turn them into something good, which would boost my confidence simply by having someone tell me they were good – especially if this person wasn’t a working copywriter.

Instead, what it takes is what Ringer calls “real positive attitude.”

Ringer says there are two types of positive attitude, a “real” one and a “synthetic” one.

He says while a “real positive attitude” plays a major role in success, a “synthetic” one cannot bring success.

Synthetic positive attitude, he says, is when you believe looking in the mirror and reciting positive slogans such as “I am a skilled copywriter” or exclaiming that business is “Great!” to people when you don’t really feel that way will make you successful.

Now, I’m not saying positive affirmations aren’t worth your time. I do them myself and find them helpful. But what Ringer is saying here is that simply reciting affirmations alone won’t make you successful.

I’m sure you’d agree that my reciting “I’m a world-class golfer” won’t make me one, especially when you learn I rarely play golf.

By contrast, Ringer is saying real positive attitude is “the result of being prepared.” Ringer says you develop a positive mental attitude when you have the “ammunition to back it up.” The way to do that is to be prepared, practice getting good at what you do, and have the self-discipline to base your actions on reality.

He adds, “ … the success cycle is self-perpetual: The more prepared a person is, the more confident he becomes, which translates into a natural positive mental attitude, which in turn increases his chances of success.”

If you don’t yet feel confident in your writing and marketing skills, here are seven things you can do to develop Ringer’s “real positive attitude” …

  • Commit to writing every day. Writing each day will help you prepare because the copywriting secrets you are learning will start coming more naturally to you. Once things come more naturally, you’ll start adding more techniques and strategies to make your writing even better.
  • Engage with copywriting peers. Getting a peer review with positive feedback can boost your confidence in your writing. In fact, I’ve found through consistently doing peer reviews with some of the same people from my Circle of Success (COS) group, I occasionally get comments about how my writing is much improved. Because they’ve seen my writing from the beginning and because I know they know what they are talking about, their reassurance only makes me feel better about my writing.
  • Keep track of your victories. I believe in celebrating everything. If the only time you give yourself permission to celebrate is when you hit a major goal, like quitting your job or making six figures, it’s hard to keep going. Be sure to sit down and think about the successes you have weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. I remember about half a year in realizing I could write a headline and lead in less than a week instead of three or four weeks. Seeing these “victories” will help you gain confidence because it reminds you that you are making progress.
  • Make a vow to learn something new about your craft every day. When you commit to learning something new every day, your confidence will soar because each day you begin to realize you know a little bit more than you did the day before.
  • Chart your progress. Create a chart that says, “Write, Read, One thing I learned.” Each day, simply put a checkmark on your chart under the items you did, and write down one thing you learned. This is an easy and quick way for you to see you are developing a “real positive attitude.”
  • Have a plan to follow. When you have a plan to follow, you can not only see what you need to do to succeed, but you can see where you are in your plan at all times. Looking at your plan will help you see the progress you are making. Plus, once you’ve completed certain steps, you’ll feel confident that you are ready to take the next step. (Tip: I used the plan AWAI provided me as a member of Circle of Success.)
  • Find someone with copywriting experience that can review your pieces. This is one of the fastest ways to improve your skills. A couple of opportunities you have for this are to take advantage of the AWAI instructors who review your assignments and to meet people through Circle of Success, forums, and at Bootcamp. For example, a couple of years ago, I met a great copywriter who had a lot more experience than I. Now he and I regularly review each other’s copy. Both of us not only feel more confident about our finished pieces before we turn them in, but a byproduct has been that we’ve made each other better too.

So if you don’t yet feel confident in your writing, develop Ringer’s “real positive attitude” by following my seven tips above. When you commit to write, learn, and record something new daily, take advantage of the access you have to peer and instructor reviews, follow your plan, and celebrate your victories along the way, you are sure to become prepared, which will give you the confidence you need to succeed.

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804 –1881) said, “The secret to success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.”

By committing to be prepared, you’ll develop Ringer’s “real positive attitude” and feel confident whenever your copywriting opportunity arises.

[Editor’s Note: Take advantage of your opportunities to get peer reviews and instructor feedback from the resources and courses provided in Circle of Success.]

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Published: May 11, 2011

9 Responses to “How to Build Confidence in Yourself (and Your Writing Ability) – Even if You’re a Complete Newbie”

  1. Cindy, Thanks for the great ideas on acquiring confidence. That has been my greatest roadblock to living the writer's life. There's so much I feel I don't know yet, and I keep trying to find inspiration when I guess I should be expending a little more perspiration. The AWAI success stories I read give me hope, but the task seems so overwhelmingat times, like trying to eat an elephant. I need to find the "one bite at a time" answer. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us.

    Jim LawrenceMay 11, 2011 at 9:31 am

  2. Cindy,

    I'm really enjoying all your recent articles. You make easily do-able suggestions that I am incorporating into my writing routine ASAP! Thanks.
    Best, Janet

    Janet GrosshandlerMay 11, 2011 at 9:42 am

  3. Thanks for the positive feedback and so glad my suggestions are helping you jlawrence and Janet! Means a lot.

    Guest (Cindy Cyr)May 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm

  4. Cindy Thanks for easing the anxiety! finally found a way to digest one bite at a time! A routine is crucial and I always thought that time away from writing by reading the articles was a waste, but now I see that it is study at the same time. Now if I could only remember half of it!
    Ruth

    Guest (RUTH)May 12, 2011 at 8:13 am

  5. Ruth, Glad I could help! One trick I use to remember is to pick one idea from what I read and write it down (I use a spread sheet to track). Then once a week I try to pick one item from my weekly list and apply it to my writing or business the next week. Really helps to remember and also makes at least some of the ideas stick. I talk about this more in this article: http://www.awaionline.com/2011/05/how-to-eliminate-that-overwhelmed-feeling/ Hope that helps you.

    Cindy CyrMay 12, 2011 at 11:43 am

  6. I can never have enough confidence building articles tucked away in my folder and this one by Cindy Cyr is among the best I've read. It showed me that positive thinking isn't enough but being prepared is what builds confidence.

    David AdameMay 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm

  7. David,thank you so much for taking the time to let me know what you thought. I sincerely appreciate the compliment. Means a lot.

    Cindy CyrMay 13, 2011 at 3:33 pm

  8. Cindy,

    It is a joy to read your work. You are truly an excellent writer.

    Thanks for the terrific tips and your ides are right on the money, insightful.

    The important thing is to try to write every day.

    Best-selling writers like John Grisham and Stephen King are aware of the value of this discipline.

    For years, Grisham has woken up in the wee hours of the morning to get his work done. He writes for two hours max.

    Similarly, King tries to write 2,000 words on a good day, that is, every day.

    In other words, writing should become a habit, a matter of discipline and daily routine. If not, you fall prey to mood swings and tend to write only when the muse visits you or inspiration strikes you.

    If you are a professional and write for a living, you can't allow that to happen. So, thanks for this timely reminder. Cheers.

    Archan MehtaMay 14, 2011 at 3:53 am

  9. Thanks Archan for the compliment--and your response is very well said.

    Cindy CyrMay 16, 2011 at 7:25 am


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