One night I got an email from a stranger that asked me this question.
We’ll call him “John” (not his real name)…
And in his message, he told me that he started copywriting in 2019 feeling “eager and excited to make millions.”
Then, about 5 months into his journey he joined an agency and began writing email copy…
And he’s also been doing freelancing projects on the side.👨💻
John then went on to say:
“Today, I write this stressed out, frustrated and on the verge of tears that I haven’t been able to hit the income goals I set for myself.
I write so much on a daily basis that I’ve begun to slack on quality of emails and facebook ads, just trying to get it all done before my mental bandwidth expires. This leaves me with little to no time to do other things. It feels like I center my entire day around work and it’s unhealthy.😵
Experiencing all the clients the agencies have worked with and the various complaints and problems they have, I’m really questioning if I want to continue this or even freelancing at all!
I’m pushing towards 30 and have a partner who wants to get married and have children soon and I’m not remotely close to where I want to be in my life. I just want clarity and help.”
Well, let’s be honest…
I think we’ve all felt like John at some point in our journey…
And maybe some of you feel that way right now.
There’s no perfect answer or remedy to what John is experiencing…
But I did take some time to type out a response to him…
And here’s what I said:
Hey “John”, I appreciate you reaching out.
First of all, based on this email you do seem to be a good writer. And that's important because if you weren't, then it would make the answer to your question a lot easier (lol!).
Based on what I'm seeing here though, my guess is that the real issue is less with copywriting and more with the kind of work you're doing.
An agency job where you're writing at high volumes but for a fixed rate is a recipe for burnout, and that's probably what you're experiencing right now.
Instead, I would focus on freelancing but also working with fewer clients while charging more.
You mentioned you've been writing for about a year now and you've created a track record, so that's good. Do you have any tangible wins you can point to, with data?
Where you can say:
“The emails I wrote for XYZ company increased their open rates by ________ and their conversions went up by ______.”
That kind of stuff?
If you've got some data or tangible wins, this makes it easier to start charging more. You just need to confidently position yourself as the go-to expert with your clients and use data to back it up.
You'll be surprised at how much more money you can charge and still hear “Yes” from clients once you do this…
But there is also a psychological leap to be had. You'll need to tell yourself that you're worth it and that you deserve to make that kind of money.
For me personally, here's what the copywriting journey looked like:
Discovered copywriting, loved it, had to hustle and do all kinds of other side gigs too, felt burned out hustling for gigs all of the time, started an agency and loved it, got burned out on the agency and having so many clients, went back to freelance copywriting but just focused on one single client, started a supplement company for a few years where I wrote the copy for our offers, went back to freelancing and finally started charging a shit ton of money for it, and today I write for clients, have my own companies, and coach others through my mastermind.
From an income perspective, here’s how it played out:
Winter of 2012 through Summer of 2013:
Discovered Copywriting and did that + Side Gigs as A Freelancer
Average Monthly Income: $3k – $5k
Notes: I was doing direct response copywriting but also SEO, research projects, writing papers for college students, writing tons of web/blog posts, really anything that would pay.
Summer of 2013 through Summer of 2014:
Started an Agency that helped doctors and lawyers with SEO/Web Dev/Web Copy. Still did write the occasional sales letter for a client for extra income.
Average Monthly Income: $5k – $11k
Notes: As you can see, this is the first time I broke 5 figures. But I got super burned out working with a bunch of clients.
Summer of 2014 through Fall of 2015:
Went back to writing long-form, direct response sales copy full time.
Average Monthly Income: $8k – $80k
Notes: This is where I began to pump out a high volume of sales letters and created The RMBC Method. Also just got lucky having a great client who paid me a lot. Huge range because it took some time to ramp up the income to where it ultimately got to.
Fall of 2015 through Summer of 2017:
Started my Own Health Supplement Company
Average Monthly Income: $0 – $250k
Notes: In the first year I lost money. In the second year, after we discovered affiliate marketing and I realized I had to actually be the CEO of the company, we grossed $23MM. During this time I also partnered in some other supplement companies and made good money there too.
Summer of 2017 through Winter of 2018:
Did freelancing projects + started an agency + started some other businesses
Average Monthly Income: $20k – $250k
Notes: I started charging $50k per sales letter during this period of time and having people say “sure” to that. The agency was super profitable at first until I made a bunch of mistakes with it and then it ended up costing me money and draining my bank account.
Spring of 2019 through Spring of 2020
Freelancing Projects + Copy Accelerator + misc other businesses
Average Monthly Income: $20k – $200k
Notes: Pretty similar to prior period. But instead of focusing on the agency I focused on Copy Accelerator.
Spring of 2020 – Present
Freelancing Projects + Copy Accelerator + misc other businesses + RMBC Method and RMBC Applied
Average Monthly Income: $350k – $750k
Notes: This is mostly the same stuff as in the previous period. The big difference is that Copy Accelerator has grown, the Call Center I own has become more profitable, and I've been doing more freelance projects for clients. I also get a good chunk of revenue and royalties from various investments and partnerships too, and from The RMBC Method and RMBC Applied.
The reason I share all of this is because while I make lots of money now…
I didn't actually break $10k until about a year-and-a-half into my freelancing career.
And it took 2.5 years until I was making more than $10k a month consistently.
After that point though, it did start to go up consistently…
And there's been a build-up until we get to today, where I make more money per month than many professional athletes.
So in my personal opinion, this stuff takes time.
Whenever you start on a new endeavor, there's a period of mastery, and paying your dues that is pretty much unavoidable…
And the key is to not give up, but to keep marching forward.
After 1 year of copywriting I was pretty much where you are right now:
Burned out and frustrated. I didn't fully stick with copywriting and moved over to an agency and did SEO, Web Design, etc. That stuff got me to 5 figures but I hated having so many clients and ultimately realized I missed the simplicity of writing copy and making good money.
I almost gave up after that first year. Then I almost gave up during my first agency. And then I almost gave up during the first year of my supplement company. And then I almost gave up when my second agency was draining my bank account and my soul.
Each of those times, quitting was SERIOUSLY tempting. All of those times, I really thought about just quitting everything and going and finding a “job.”
But I knew I wouldn't be happy doing that – because I'd tasted too much freedom in my life thanks to copywriting and digital marketing.
And with all this said…
I can't make this decision for you…
But if you've been having some success and getting good results for clients, and if you do enjoy copywriting itself, then I would stick with it.
My big focus would be getting higher-paying freelancing clients, instead of getting a higher volume of clients.
I'd also leave the agency as soon as possible so that you can stop burning yourself out.
What are your income goals though?
Now the reason I’m sharing this…
Is because I know for certain that there are other people on my list who are like John…
People who are early into their copywriting journey, and who feel frustrated that they aren’t where they want to be yet.
I want you to see that while yes, I make bunches of money today…
It took time…
And there was also a lot of variances…
Especially as you start new businesses…
But even as you move further along.
You should note that the income I shared is gross income, but it doesn’t reflect the investments I’m making to grow my personal brand and get more of my content out into the marketplace. Those investments are about $75k a month right now, and frankly need to be optimized more lol.
The point is though, all of this stuff takes time.
When I look at my income growth objectively…
It happened really fast…
But honestly, it felt super slow sometimes.
Even right now, I’m still not where I want to be income-wise.
I’m well aware of the fact that I could just go retire TODAY…
Or semi-retire and just run Copy Accelerator and write a few sales letters per year…
And work 10-15 hours per week on average while making a 7 figure in annual income.
That would be great, but I also know that I physically can’t do it.
I just have too much drive and determination and too much cool shit I want to accomplish for that…
So instead, I’m gonna keep hustling and building cool stuff…
And then sharing it with you 🙂
P.S. This post originally came from an email I sent to my private list. If you want to see more stuff like this from me, you can apply to join my list using this link.