Are you rushing for gold, selling shovels, or building a true business? - Café Writer
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Beyond FreelancingCafé Writer

Are you rushing for gold, selling shovels, or building a true business?

“In a gold rush, sell shovels. We are in a shovel rush.”

I saw that quote recently, and got to talking with some Cafe Members about how so many people learn a skill, and then immediately start teaching it, instead of using it to serve clients.

It’s been happening with copywriting for a while now.

You’ve seen it, right?

People discover copywriting, get enamored with it, take a course, then turn right around and create their own course.

It happened the past few years with FB ad agencies. Guys teaching you how to create your own FB ad agency instead of like, you know, running FB ads themselves for clients.

Seems to be happening now with branding, too.

I don’t claim to be an expert on that, and won’t be teaching on it anytime soon (even though I think I’ve done a decent job with my own personal brand and that of the Cafe).

For the record, I don’t teach copywriting either. Never have, never will.

I’m pretty good at it, and I’ve been doing it full-time for clients since March of 2009.

Ten years in, with some pretty good results, and I still don’t feel qualified to teach it. I’m not interested in teaching it either. Not in the least.

“So, Steve, what IS the Cafe about then? And what’s your book about if it’s not about copywriting?”

Good questions, which I get sometimes and need to address more often, since they still pop up.

The Cafe Writer model

The Cafe is about helping you use your copywriting skills to build a business.

That could be a copywriting business, of course, serving clients in some way.

I help people figure out their positioning, marketing plan, and personal brand so they can stand out, get clients, and keep clients.

Or, it could be building a NON-copywriting business.

We have some really good copywriters here in the Cafe who own and operate NON-copywriting businesses.

People like Ross Trittipo, who has a carpet cleaning business, and does quite well. Partly because he’s a good copywriter and marketer. He didn’t learn it here, by the way, he’s just a good guy who generously shares ideas on a regular basis.

People like Brandy Booth, Casey Sollock, and Janet Hanpeter, all of whom I highlighted recently in one of my own promotions. I’ve had great conversations with each of them and worked with them in different capacities.

(In fact, if you’re reading this now, I’ll honor that $25 Amazon promotion and send you a gift card today, even though the promotion ended.)

People like one of my admins here in the Cafe, Tanya MarCia, who has built a very successful financial advisory business with her husband, using direct response copywriting and marketing skills.

You may not even know – besides writing copy for clients and running the Cafe, I have a non-copywriting business myself.

I lead tours to Ecuador and am building that up in only my second year.

The Cafe is About Helping You Build a Business

Even if copywriting is your main thing, there are ways to position yourself beyond being a copywriter-for-hire, and really build a true business. It’s not easy, though, and it’s not for everyone.

So we’re not about dissecting, analyzing, and teaching copywriting here in the Cafe.

We don’t worship at the altar of old guy copywriters, dead or alive.

We don’t hang on every word of guru copywriters.

We can learn from them, and I have, but I find endless talk about the minutiae of copywriting to be kind of boring.

I’d rather talk about building businesses, and that’s what I do.

I did it for 17 years in sales before I ever got into copywriting. All that time, I had no salary, no regular pay. My income was derived solely from results, and I did well.

I’ve started, built, and sold a physical business (a lawn service company), and I’ve helped my wife build her mural painting business.

I’m even helping my kids create their own businesses.

My daughter, Sapphina, is already a professional artist who gets commissions quite often. My son, Solomon, has his own LLC. They both got started while still in high school.

Again, to reiterate – the Cafe is about helping you USE copywriting skills to build a business of some kind.

Could be a copywriting business, or maybe something else. A lot of the people I work with in my Straight Shot Coaching are NOT copywriters.

What’s Working Now

And if you haven’t read it, check out my book, The Freelancer Manifesto: 11 Big Ideas to stand out and thrive in the New Economy.

Exactly what the subtitle says. You can read the 35 reviews at Amazon so far to see what people are saying.

This book lays out my philosophy and ideas more than anything else, all in one place.

It’s in-the-trenches advice of what’s working now, in today’s world, to help you separate yourself from the masses of people calling themselves a copywriter.

It will help you stand out and thrive, more than endless talk about “copy, copy, copy.”

You can go on learning and studying copywriting, and you should, to a certain extent.

But at some point, enough with the copywriting! It’s just one piece of the puzzle.

Want to take it further?

Stick around here. Watch how we’re building businesses. Ask questions. Jump into the conversations. Read my book. Watch for the seasonal openings to our Premier community (on the 21st of June, September, December, and March, at the beginning of each season).

We’re here to help, and I’ve been doing it for seven years now with the Cafe.

I won’t teach you how to write copy, but I will teach you how to stand out, make better connections, and build a business.

Don’t sell shovels. Build a business that brings in money consistently over time, whether we’re in a gold rush or not. I can help you figure out exactly what that looks like for you.

Any other questions about what the Cafe is or isn’t? Let me know.
Steve Roller

Author Steve Roller

I'm a business coach, author, copywriter, world traveler (33 countries on five continents so far), and professional speaker. In addition to helping companies get more customers and make more money, I help other writers create profitable businesses. I offer one-on-one coaching, professional copy critiques, and live, in-person business-building workshops. When I'm not writing, coaching, or speaking, I enjoy nothing more than hanging out with my wife and four kids and planning my next adventure.

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