This is the final post in a five-part series on adapting sci-fi writer Robert Heinlein’s business rules for writing to your copywriting business. You can find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.
To refresh your memory, here are Heinlein’s five rules for being a successful writer.
- You must write.
- You must finish what you start.
- You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.
- You must put it on the market.
- You must keep it on the market until sold.
In this final post, we’ll look at Heinlein’s fifth rule, You must keep it on the market until sold.
Rule #5: You Must Keep It on the Market Until Sold
Robert Heinlein constructed this rule with a specific message for writers. Its literary context, “You must keep it on the market until sold,” was a call to authors, encouraging them to send their manuscripts to publishers and persist until they found success.
Heinlein recognized that the journey from manuscript to published work was filled with rejection and disappointment.
Yet he believed that keeping your work on the market, despite setbacks, was as essential as writing it in the first place. If authors don’t persist in putting their work out into the world, that work won’t reach the people it was meant to inspire.
Now, let’s draw a parallel to the world of copywriting.
For copywriters, keeping it on the market doesn’t necessarily refer to a specific piece of copy but to your entire suite of services.
Rejection or failure to connect with one client doesn’t mean an end to your copywriting career. You must proactively market yourself until you find those clients who resonate with your style, expertise, and value proposition.
Just as Heinlein urged authors to persistently seek publishers, you must continually put your services in front of people who need them.
Your marketing strategy may require reevaluation, fine-tuning, and even rebranding, but the core message remains — you must keep your services on the market until sold.
Strategies for Staying on the Market
By embracing Heinlein’s principle, you empower yourself to turn challenges into opportunities. Here are some ways to face those challenges when you’re discouraged.
1. Develop a Resilient Mindset
Rejection is a natural part of the marketing process. Rather than seeing it as a failure, view it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Each no gets you closer to a yes.
Example: After a rejected pitch, analyze what might have gone wrong instead of dwelling on the disappointment, then make a plan to address it in the next proposal.
2. Create a Strong Portfolio
Regularly update your portfolio with your best work. Showcase your skills and provide tangible evidence of what you can accomplish. A strong portfolio can speak louder than words.
Example: Compile multiple writing samples that showcase your ability to write in different tones and for various industries. Include client testimonials and results from successful campaigns, such as increased conversion rates or customer engagement.
3. Understand Your Unique Value Proposition
Identify what sets you apart from other copywriters and focus on communicating that to potential clients. Whether it’s a specific writing style, industry expertise, or exceptional customer service, highlight what makes you unique.
Example: If you specialize in writing for the tech industry, emphasize this expertise in your pitches and marketing materials. Showcase examples of successful tech-related projects to potential clients looking for industry-specific knowledge.
4. Build a Network
Cultivate relationships with other professionals in your field, attend industry events, and use social media to connect with potential clients. Referrals and word-of-mouth are powerful tools for keeping your services on the market.
Example: Attend industry conferences and actively participate in online forums related to copywriting. Offer assistance, share insights, and connect with others to foster relationships that might lead to referrals and collaborations.
5. Invest in Continuous Learning
The world of copywriting and marketing is dynamic and ever-changing. Keep up with the latest trends, tools, and technologies by attending workshops, reading industry blogs, and continually honing your skills.
Example: Enroll in a course on SEO copywriting to build your skill set. Stay updated on the latest news and content strategies, and incorporate them into your work.
6. Customize Your Approach
Understand each potential client’s unique needs and challenges and tailor your pitch accordingly. Showing that you’ve done your homework can make a strong impression.
Example: When pitching to a client in the healthcare field, research the specific challenges and goals they face, then tailor your proposal to address those needs with a strategic plan customized to their audience.
7. Ask for Feedback
If a pitch is rejected, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Understanding what didn’t work can be a valuable learning opportunity and guide you in making effective adjustments.
Example: If a proposal is turned down, politely ask the prospective client for feedback on why they chose not to proceed. Use this feedback to make improvements to future proposals.
8. Use Rejection as Fuel
Each rejection can be a learning experience. Analyze what might have gone wrong and use that knowledge to refine your approach. This turns a setback into a step forward.
Example: Analyze a series of rejected pitches to identify common themes or mistakes. Use these insights to revise your approach, sharpen your messaging, and strengthen future proposals.
9. Maintain an Active Online Presence
Update your website, blog, or social media profiles with fresh content that reflects your voice and expertise. This helps keep your name and services at the forefront of potential clients’ minds.
Example: Regularly publish blog posts that showcase your expertise in copywriting or related subjects. Engage with followers on social media platforms and offer valuable insights, building your brand as a go-to expert.
10. Set Clear and Achievable Goals
Break down your long-term goals into smaller, manageable milestones. This not only makes the task of selling your services more manageable but also provides regular opportunities to celebrate success, maintain motivation, and assess your progress.
Example: Break down the goal of acquiring five new clients into smaller tasks like sending out 10 personalized pitches per week, attending two networking events per month, or updating your portfolio quarterly.
Final Thoughts on Rule #5
You must keep it on the market until sold is a simple idea, but it’s not always easy to carry out. Heinlein’s fifth rule is a reminder that persistence in the face of rejection or failure is not optional but an essential part of being in business.
Are you ready to take the next step in your copywriting journey? Consider implementing Heinlein’s timeless rules in your own copywriting business. Let these principles guide you and see where they lead.
What is your favorite method for getting yourself in front of new people? Let us know in the comments below.