Whether you’re learning how to become a copywriter or you’re a seasoned pro, we all doubt ourselves at times—and this self-doubt can hold us back if left unchecked.
Creatives and professionals sometimes experience anxiety that we’re not as talented as we think we are, which makes us think of ourselves as a fraud or an imposter, even though we may be performing just fine in reality.
This feeling is called “imposter syndrome.”
If you’ve ever felt this way, you’re far from alone.
Successful artists, athletes, and innovators—from Tom Hanks to Serena Williams to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz—have experienced imposter syndrome.
In fact, research shows it’s so common that a majority of the workforce is affected by it.
As copywriters, imposter syndrome can ultimately lead to negative impacts on our mental health, professional relationships, and job satisfaction.
Copywriter Exchange believes that copywriters are at their best when they recognize their own worth. Here’s how to become a better copywriter and overcome imposter syndrome.
Acknowledge Your Successes
Self-doubt has a habit of forcing you to focus on the negative. You may fixate on past mistakes or compare yourself to peers. When you become hyper-critical of yourself, it can cause you to forget the successes you’ve had as a copywriter.
When you’re feeling this way, it can be helpful to remind yourself of the successful copywriting projects you’ve completed in the past and be proud of them.
Take the time to reflect on:
- Projects that met or exceeded performance metrics, such as sales, leads, conversions, click-through rates, open rates, etc.
- Praise received from clients, peers, or others for certain projects.
- Assignments that gained you repeat or new clients.
- Areas of your copywriting where you’ve seen the most growth.
Even if you don’t have a lot of skin in the copywriting game just yet, remember that each new project helps you grow—and in that sense, they’re part of your success in learning how to become a better copywriter.
Take an Honest Look at Your Skills
It’s easy to believe the worst of yourself when you don’t have a clear accounting of what you’re good at—as well as what you can improve upon.
First, take an honest look at your copywriting skills and competencies, such as:
- Writing and editing skills
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Aligning projects with a client’s brand and audience
- Project management
- Business management
- Selling yourself to new clients
- Communication with current clients
- Other general marketing knowledge and skills
Note the areas of copywriting where you excel, and focus on these areas when marketing yourself for new projects.
If you have gaps in your knowledge or areas where you can improve, note these as well. Make a plan to fill in those gaps by actively learning and practicing the skills that feel weakest, such as by taking an online copywriting course.
Be Kind to Yourself
It’s hard to feel motivated about yourself when someone is always pointing out negative things about you.
While it’s easier to see the cause of the problem when it’s someone else, we rarely notice when we’re beating ourselves up and draining ourselves of energy—and we often take those internalized self-criticisms as fact.
Combat this by recognizing this harsh internal dialogue and replacing it with kind and positive language. Talk to yourself as you would to a friend.
Example of being unkind to yourself:
“That client didn’t hire me because I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Example of being kind to yourself:
“That client didn’t hire me because I wasn’t right for the job. I can work on the areas of need this client had for the project and make myself a better candidate for the next one.”
Challenge Your Negative Thoughts
Just like the example above, you can challenge negative thoughts you have about your abilities as a copywriter and replace them with positive ones.
Remember, bringing awareness to negative thoughts doesn’t mean you should become so positive that you ignore areas where you could grow and learn how to become a better copywriter.
In any situation, you should honestly assess your negative thoughts and the underlying reality of your abilities and limitations. When you do this, you can transform areas of your career that have been holding you back into opportunities for growth.
The positive version of “I’m no good” is both “I am proud of my accomplishments” and “I am capable of doing better.”
Celebrate Small Achievements
Copywriting isn’t an all-or-nothing game. Learning the craft and building up your freelance business takes time and effort. At Copywriter Exchange, we believe that whether you’re new to copywriting or you’ve been at it for years, there’s always room to grow.
What we need to keep in mind is that this growth doesn’t happen all at once. It happens one win at a time. That’s why it’s important to celebrate all of your successes, no matter how small. Finishing a challenging project, landing a new client, or networking with a new connection on LinkedIn are all steps toward your ultimate goal of learning how to become a better copywriter.
Success leads to more success, and confidence comes from a successful history.
Focus on the Present
Muhammed Ali once said, “Don’t Count the Days. Make the Days Count.”
In other words, don’t let the past define you. Focus on the present and the future. Being a perfectionist will only lead to burnout and dissatisfaction with your job and yourself.
Mistakes will happen, especially in a client-driven industry. What’s important is how you respond to those mistakes now. Remember, every veteran copywriter was once a rookie and would likely cringe at the mistakes they made in their earlier days.
What sets them apart is that they use those mistakes to improve next time.
Seek Out Feedback
We often tend to run away from feedback. When we finally muster the courage to face it, we may have a bias toward negativity that makes us focus on what we did wrong in the eyes of others. This attitude toward feedback is the death knell of the copywriter.
It’s important not only to accept feedback but seek it out from clients and colleagues. Anyone learning how to become a better copywriter can only do so through critical evaluation of their work and comparison to industry standards and expectations.
Being open to criticism makes you better when you apply what you learn critically, especially when anticipating a specific client’s expectations. When you learn from criticism, you won’t make the same mistakes on the next project you land, and you’ll learn new approaches that increase your value as a copywriter.
Set Realistic Goals
You may not be making the salary of your dreams just yet, but you can set a goal to expand your business by one additional client or a certain amount of new projects this month.
Set SMART goals to grow your freelance business and skills as a copywriter.
SMART stands for:
That way, you can build momentum toward bigger goals and measure your progress at each step.
You might also think in terms of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as measurable progress toward financial or strategic goals for your copywriting business.
Regardless, this approach helps you avoid setting unrealistic or overly optimistic goals that will only set you up for a difficult path to success.
Seek Support from Other Copywriters
Chances are, other copywriters have gone through the same trials and tribulations you’re facing now. Why go through it alone?
Talking with other copywriters helps you gain a sense of community, pool resources, and share tricks of the trade with other creatives.
There are many ways to connect with other copywriters, whether through social media spaces like LinkedIn and Facebook or connecting in person at conventions and networking events.
Copywriter Exchange is building an online community where professional freelance copywriters can connect and find clients and gigs that are the perfect fit for them.
By joining Copywriter Exchange, you get access to:
- Our free copywriting guides and templates,
- Professional copywriting, design, and freelance business courses, and
- Our comprehensive database of copywriters, copywriting gigs, and companies seeking copywriters like you.
Join Copywriter Exchange on Slack. We’d love to hear from you and chat about your ideas on how to become a better copywriter.
Connor Holmes is a content writer with Content Workshop who comes from a diverse writing background. He worked as an award-winning public safety staff writer at his hometown newspaper, The Cape Coral Daily Breeze. He earned his MFA in creative writing and has professionally published fiction and poetry. He has also tutored English to students from grade school to grad school.
At Copywriter Exchange, we’re a group of master content marketing pros who bring their diverse talents and backgrounds to bear on the art and science of creating high-performance content tailored to your needs. We exist to help copywriters thrive in today’s economy by connecting them with the resources they need to step up their game. Join now to access our templates, guides, and courses to help you grow your career, skills, and network.