My wife read out the grim text message to me:
“The company where I work has just closed down, which means that technically … I’m unemployed now.”
It was from a close relative.
A real reminder to me that this economic slowdown we’re witnessing has real casualties … and real consequences.
A month ago, I never could have imagined seeing thousands of Australians on the news queuing up outside Centrelink for welfare payments.
It all seems so surreal … a recession? Isn’t that something you see in history books with those black-and-white pictures of guys lined up eating soup?
Anyway, if we really do head into a recession, it could end up hitting closer to home than just a close relative losing their job.
Case in point:
I had a client tell me point-blank the other day: “I’d be worried if I were you. There’s not going to be a lot of copywriting jobs around for the next 6-12 months.”
So, copywriters. Should we be worried?
In fact, I’ll let you in on a secret:
I have a simple two-step plan for getting through this recession not only intact, but also well ahead of most of my competition.
But a word of warning:
It’s not pretty, and it’s not sexy. In fact, it’s about as obvious and boring as you could imagine. And it takes a lot of preparation and hard work to not only prepare for, but even to execute. In short, there is nothing “fun” or “exciting” about this plan … and in truth, it’s probably going to bore you just reading about it, so if you are expecting anything “sexy” in the slightest, you should probably stop reading right now.
You’re STILL here?
For goodness’ sake, you’re a stubborn one.
Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Behold, the mighty plan:
STEP 1: Have a really well-stocked savings account (6-12 months worth).
Yes, cue the shrieks.
“This plan sucks! How am I supposed to do that now?!?”
Well, for starters, Erwin, it’s my plan and not yours.
Although, yeah, if you haven’t spent years diligently saving, probably you can’t do it now.
But don’t worry. The plan still works without this step, as I’ll explain in a moment. (Yes, a 2-step plan that works with only one step. Am I a freakin’ genius or what?)
The thing is, having a savings fund genuinely changes the way you come off to clients. When you know you have enough money to last without any clients, you don’t take on jobs you don’t want to do. And you don’t end up doing a crappy job, because you’re doing jobs you want and are good at. What’s more, you avoid the #1 thing that repulses clients: neediness.
All that said: I actually do not intend to dip into my savings one bit. They are just there for the psychological benefits. Which is why you can still use this plan without them.
Now, onward, to step the second:
STEP 2: Bust my backside to do MORE work than I would have done if the economy were booming.
Truth be told, for the past week (as this crisis has begun to unfold) I’ve put MORE hours in than any week I can remember in recent history.
I’ve been waking up at 4:30am, exhausted, to get a start on things, and working far past when I normally would like to sleep … before doing it all again the next day.
I see this potential downturn as an opportunity to get ahead by doing things others won’t.
My logic is simple:
Most people throw their hands up in the air and give up as soon as times get tough.
They like to sit around and complain and ask for the Government, or their parents, or some billionaire, or SOMEONE ELSE to solve their problems.
Look, I don’t care for the politics of this. All I know is I’m not waiting around for anyone else to bail me out of anything.
Hence I am not only doubling down on the amount of content I have been writing for myself (like the inexplicably long email you are reading now) … but also completing more jobs for my current clients, and even reaching out to old ones.
If anything, I’ve been holding off from reconnecting with a few old clients, as I’m afraid of awakening the slumbering beast that is TOO MUCH work this year.
And even if everything falls apart, and all my clients ditch me, and none of my old clients want to talk to me, and I fail to sell a single product of my own, and my bicycle gets stolen and my cats die and I fall over and break my arm for good measure … I am STILL going to come out of this ahead. Because I am going to spend however long this downturn lasts to create MORE assets for myself — that I can sell, or use to sell clients on my skills, or develop a relationship with my list.
(Admittedly, this scenario is where Step 1 does come in handy, as it would fund me through such a time — though again, I don’t expect it to happen.)
Anyway, it’s late and I’m getting tired, so I need to wind up this rambling lesson.
The point of all this?
Well, I mean, it was a two-step plan for goodness’ sake, so can’t you do your own thinking? I’ve gotta tell you the point?
Fine. It’s this: you’ll do better if you think of a downturn as an opportunity, rather than a hurdle.
Yes, things will get hard.
Yes, fewer people will want to hire you.
But if you’re constantly hustling and writing and taking action, eventually when things pass you’re going to be in a better position than anyone else.
Oh. And if you haven’t, start saving 10% every time you get paid into a savings account …
Anyway, that does it for today.
I’m nowhere near remotely available for work any time in the next few weeks, but if your business is headed into a downturn, and you need the guy who can help turn it around, you know where to find me: