What’s the dirtiest word in the language for freelance copywriters?

When’s the last time you broke free from your comfort level and forced yourself to grow?

When I originally wrote this post in 2008, I was thinking about how people tend to settle into their copywriting careers and get (too) comfortable. They stay in a job they don’t really like, but they enjoy the pay and the hours. They work with clients that aren’t quite right – yet they’re scared to death to branch off into a new, more profitable niche.

Last year, I had an experience that made me think, “Well, I got the blog post half right.”

I spent 16 days in May 2012 rafting the Grand Canyon. To say that the trip was “out of my comfort level” was putting it mildly. I hadn’t been camping in over 23 years – and even that was easy camping for just one night. I had never been on a raft. I had never been on a self-supporting trip with no easy access to medical care.

My biggest issue? I had never spent more than 48 hours away from my business. Taking a full month off tweaked every comfort level hot button I had. A colleague literally had to talk me into going – I was that worried.

Was it worth it? Yes. Did it transform me? Yes – in many amazing ways.

So as you read this post, don’t just think about breaking out of your career comfort level. Consider ways you can shake up your personal life as well. Ask yourself, “What would be incredibly scary for me to do?” Then make plans to do it. Don’t just say, “Yeah, this could be fun…but.” Actually do it.

You may be amazed at how an initially scary experience can be potentially life-changing…

Enjoy the post!

Probably the dirtiest word in the language to me is “comfortable.” It’s so bad that I call it the “C-word” (really!). Where some people take comfort in stability, status quo and knowing what’s around every corner, I like to shake it up a bit. It’s how I roll.

Freelance copywriters – even good, highly-paid, experienced copywriters – get into their own comfort zone. They stop growing. They stop learning. Instead, they burrow into a complacency bubble and insist that they know it all and there’s nothing more to learn.

Guess what? No matter how good you are – no matter how many years you’ve honed your craft – you can do better. Write better. Describe better. You are not all that and a bag of chips all the time. And you owe it to your clients (and to yourself) to keep learning.

We, as copywriters, are required to stretch ourselves if we want to be great – No more settling for just being good, competent, or – heaven help you – “comfortable.” The only way to true excellence is through initial incompetence. True greatness is fighting that feeling of being totally and completely stupid while we try new things. It’s getting over our fear of “not knowing something” and seeing what we can really do.

As we start gaining mastery, we stretch. We grow – and our writing bursts out of its hibernation and buds with newfound brilliance.

You want to know why “old style” print copywriters complain about what used to be called New Media? It’s because they were comfortable with print. They knew the nuances. They knew how to make it work without having to work hard.

Suddenly, online writers became a dominant force. Us new-fangled writers took old-school writing concepts and made them work for a new medium. We weren’t better writers. Heck, back in the day, we were typically green and inexperienced.

The difference is – we weren’t complacent. We weren’t comfortable. We took what we knew and broke out of our comfort zone. And we launched a new industry.

Challenge yourself this month. If you’ve worked primarily with B2B, write a fiction short story (just for yourself) that forces you to create characters and have fun with your writing. Time yourself and see how many words of good copy you can write in a speedy 15 minutes. Consider launching a new product or service.

Why not bust out of your copywriting comfort zone at least once this month? You’ll be amazed at how “breaking loose” can actually improve your writing…your opportunities…your life…

Try it.