This post contains affiliate links, which mean if you use these links to purchase an item or service I receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Visit my Affiliate Disclaimer page here.
If you are trying to start a copywriting business, or a blog, or virtual assistant, or any of the many options that tie into this list, there are a million different ways you can go at it. In just a few minutes on Facebook you will find a hundred people willing to give you advice and help you get started. You will find free e-books, articles, and newsletters. You will be invited to join groups and sign up for mailing lists. Everyone will have your best interests at heart, and genuinely want to help.
The sharks begin to circle the fresh fish, they smell blood in the water.
This is the dangerous reality of getting into this business that everyone neglects to tell you. The art of copywriting, and it is an art make no mistake about that, is the ability to use your writing to sell products and services. It is Bushido, words wielded with deadly accuracy, sharp and beautiful, pushing and pulling you to act as the author wants.
The first hit is always free.
How do you separate? How do you find the cost? Everyone wants to help, everyone has advice, and it always seems to lead to a link that they just happen to have handy. A product that you need to pay for, from which they get a commission. A class that they just happened to have co-authored. The mailing lists are sales funnels. The e-books are long form sales pitches. The newsletters are full of products to purchase.
“If you can’t spot the sucker in your first 30 minutes at the table, then you are the sucker” –Rounders
This is a business. You want to learn how to do it so you can make money, work from home, or just because you hate your current job. Well, everyone giving you all of this free advice also needs to make money. Some of them may already be doing this full time and this is their only source of income.
So how do you separate? How do you figure out who is just trying to make money off of you, and who actually believes in what they are telling you. It’s hard. It’s near impossible to gleam someone’s intentions at first glance. You have to protect yourself. Just you. No one can do it for you. The person telling you not to listen to someone else because they are just trying to sell you something, may actually just be trying to sell you something, or they may be newer at this than you are and not know their elbow from a hole in the ground. DO YOUR RESEARCH. I don’t know how to make this any clearer. Hold on. Let’s try this.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
This is a point I can’t stress enough. You want to learn from people who know what they’re talking about? Learn this. I bought a copywriting course from a link in a newsletter I have been getting for over a year. I learned many lessons from this, and I will do my best to lay them all out for you.
1st. I read the ad, clinked on the link, and I bought the course. Look at what’s not there. See the missing steps. I did no research. I mean none. If you read my Introduction, you know that copywriting was completely new to me, and yet I did not one second of research. I took my wallet, and threw it off a cliff. Since that day, I have found all of the information contained within said course for free on the internet.
2nd. It doesn’t matter how long you have been working with someone, or how well you know them, do not trust everything they offer to sell you. I’m not saying everyone will rip you off eventually. I’m saying business is business and an ad is an ad. Your trusted website or newsletter is trying to make money too. Someone paid them for that ad space. They may not even know what they are advertising. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Just because you have been getting a newsletter for years doesn’t mean that they have vetted all of their advertisers, and are selling you a premium product. Don’t jump on the bandwagon without hearing what they are playing, you may not be able to dance to it.
3rd. If anyone tells you they can make you X amount of money in X amount of time, tell them to Sod Off. It is a bold and bullshit claim. The only one who can control how much money you make in how long is you. “But they will teach me what I need to know to make that kind of money”, bullshit no they won’t. Experience and hard work is how you make that kind of money. The best case scenario is they teach you copywriting, or blog writing, or whatever. No matter what they tell you, they Can Not control how fast you find clients or build your business. You may do everything they say exactly to the letter and it may not work for you. You may have chosen a niche that is too competitive. You may not be able to reach the client base you need from your area. You may have 4 kids and not have the time to devote 8 hours a day to your new business. There are a whole host of variables that contribute to your success that some class has no control over. I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it. This is not a get rich quick scheme. You will not get rich, and you will get not rich very slowly.
Now please don’t misunderstand me. I am not telling you not to take courses, or accept help. All I’m try to say is please be careful, DO YOUR RESEARCH, and protect yourself. Everyone learns differently. We all have separate goals, and dreams. If buying an online course helps you achieve yours, then by all means, don’t let my opinion slow you down in the slightest. To be honest, if I had not made that initial impulsive mistake, you probably wouldn’t be reading my words now. But. Since I spent money, I have to follow through. It can’t sit like so many dreams on a back shelf, dusty and old, fading away slowly, being rewritten by my waking consciousness. The act of spending money on it, for me, keeps it vivid and in the forefront of my mind, like a neon sign pointing to my future.
There are going to be two types of people trying to take advantage of you. The intentional and the unintentional. There are going to be times that you ask a question in a public group and the only answer you get is “buy my course, and it will teach you, and its only $3,000 today for you.” Then there will be times that you ask a question and you will get “use this one that I am using, I have an affiliate link.” Often the second one is just trying to help you and still make a little money towards their business. DO YOUR RESEARCH. While the second person is being genuine, they may also be wrong. They may have just recommended a plug-in that will crash your site, or just doesn’t do what you need it to do. It’s not intentional. They make money from the link so it’s the first answer that popped into mind, but they don’t always have all the information. Maybe you weren’t clear in your question, maybe they were distracted and didn’t read it correctly. You just spent three days trying to get a new plug-in to do something it won’t do based on this persons’ word, and now you feel like they only gave you advice so they could catch the commission. That isn’t the case, and well, you didn’t research the product.
There are a lot of pitfalls in starting a new online business. The people you meet along the way will be your biggest allies, and your biggest hurdles. Most will do their best to lift you up, because if I lift you up, you pull me up with you. A few see you as competition and do their best to beat you down and climb up on you. There is more than enough business out there for all of us, but you are swimming with the sharks now. It’s ok though, because you are now a shark too.