Copywriting and marketing advice is sometimes best ignored
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Big IdeasInspirationSteve's life

What to do with good advice

“I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.”

– G.K. Chesterton, English-born Gabonese critic, essayist, novelist, and poet


Before I left for Ecuador for a month, I checked with the experts. I looked at the U.S. State Department’s website for possible warnings. I bought guidebooks from Frommer’s and Lonely Planet. I also talked to an Ecuadorian friend who moved away 15 years ago.

The government site told me to avoid the Old Town area of Quito because of crime. They also said, “Avoid political demonstrations at all costs. They can turn violent at a moment’s notice, and in some cases, U.S. citizens have been injured and even killed.”

The guidebooks told me not to eat street vendor food or take unlicensed cabs.

My friend?

“Don’t go out at night alone. Don’t stay in Old Town, it’s very dangerous,” she told me.” And be careful of gangs.” (Gangs seem to be the universal threat to our security!)

She also said, “Don’t worry if your Spanish isn’t perfect. Everyone nowadays speaks at least a little English.”

I’m not very good at listening.

We stayed in the Old Town neighborhood. I ate street vendor food and took unlicensed cabs every day. I walked around at night by myself and never felt unsafe.

I even watched a political demonstration right outside our apartment and took pictures of it. And thankfully, I brushed up on my Spanish because hardly anyone we met spoke English.

My experience taught me one thing. Stop listening to good advice.

I’ve seen it paralyze too many entrepreneurs into inaction.

If you’re anything like me, you subscribe to quite a few online copywriting and marketing newsletters. I realized recently when I did some cleaning out that I was following about 20 different experts.

It was all great material, but there were a couple of problems.

I didn’t have time to read all the books, blogs, newsletters, and articles. They were really starting to pile up.

And some of it was conflicting advice, so I was getting confused. I was hesitant to put any of it into action because the next day another guru might tell me the opposite.

Thankfully, a top-level copywriter I highly respect gave me a tip. Here’s what I did and what I’d recommend you do, whether it’s advice about copywriting, marketing, sales, or building your business in general:

  1. Go deep instead of wide. Study a handful of experts and pattern yourself after them. Instead of getting scattered ideas from lots of people, master the ideas of a few.
  2. Find three that really resonate with you. You’ll know because their writing will resonate with you, they’ll “get” you, and it will be a style and attitude you’ll feel comfortable modeling. Trust your instincts.
  3. Look for a confidante. In addition to narrowing your expert advice list to three to five sources, find someone you really trust. Someone at your level or above who understands what you do. Someone you can completely open up to and someone you can get some real, unbiased advice and encouragement from.

What’s the next step?

Find out in this coming Tuesday’s blog post, Why you shouldn’t wait for validation of your good ideas.

I’m curious. What good advice have you listened to? What advice are you glad you ignored? If you could give a new entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be? I’d love to get your take on things. Please leave a quick note below.


This blog post first appeared as an article in October 2012 in American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) The Writer’s Life, a free newsletter that gives you opportunities that enable you to live life on your own terms. If you’re looking for a new career related to writing, there may be an opportunity at AWAI that’s right for you. For a complimentary subscription, visit

Steve Roller

Author Steve Roller

I'm a business coach, author, copywriter, world traveler (32 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 turn Big Ideas into profitable businesses. I offer one-on-one coaching, professional copy critiques, and three-day business-building immersion retreats. 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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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Perfect timing on this post! I’m actually on a self-imposed week-long break from discussing my plans/business/etc. I am usually pretty good about managing this, but I’ve recently spent so much time discussing my business and listening to experts that I reached that awful point where I couldn’t hear myself think. Not good!!! I believe that one of the most important elements of managing life or business is self-reliance and independent decision-making. Information from the experts is, of course, essential, but to make the best decisions, there must be a time for processing and synthesizing that info.

    • Steve Roller says:

      Thanks for your comments, Jessi. Of course, I realize that some people may unsubscribe from my posts as a result of reading this! The fact is, no matter what direction you go, some people will tell you you’re doing it right and other people will tell you what you’re doing wrong. You’re the one who has to live with it.

      I remember when I first started, I was going to just use my name as my domain name. The woman who was helping me do my website said, “Are you famous? Then why would you do that?” Well, I plan to be famous, so there. And I did keep, of course, as one of my domain names.

      You’re right, Jessi, self-reliance and making good, quick decisions is crucial for success as business owners/entrepreneurs. Best wishes to you.

  • George Mulvaney says:

    I finally got to read this post. It really resonated with me since I’ve been frozen into inactivity by too much information. I finally decided to hit a webinar, and go from there. This would be under the belief that it’s easier to change course than to start from a full stop.

  • George, glad to hear you’re stepping out. I expect you will hit the ground running and have much success after the webinar.

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