This email probably won’t be useful for most people on this email list for several years … if ever.
And honestly, even the people who it will someday be useful for … may think it’s too ‘specific’ to ever apply to them.
But for anyone who wants to be a successful copywriter in 2026, I present the following cautionary tale:
Last year, a subscriber on my email list reached out to me with a strange request.
They said they were a new copywriter.
They’d just discovered my emails, and loved them.
And … they’d noticed we both happened to live in Perth, Australia.
They asked if I would be willing to meet …
My first instinct was to say ‘no’.
I already had a track record of saying no to this exact request from people in the past.
But for some reason … this time, I agreed.
I said I wasn’t interested in some awkward “meetup” — but I was already planning to head to a cafe that Friday, and they could come along if they wanted.
And … I actually kinda liked them.
So much that, after that, we kept talking.
And I offered to unofficially mentor them, and help their copywriting career progress.
They gratefully accepted, and I did everything I could to help:
I let them beta-test every course I had before I launched it.
I reviewed their copy.
I advised them on how to tackle projects they landed.
I connected them to almost everyone I knew.
I made introductions … got them into several opportunities … and pushed them to keep going when the impostor syndrome reared its ugly head.
But … I wasn’t just teaching this person copywriting.
While this was all happening, we were catching up a lot, in person.
Almost always, with our respective spouses and kids too.
In other words, we actually became dinky-di real-life friends.
And as someone whose best friends (from many years ago) mostly live in other cities …
I have to admit that it was quite enjoyable.
Frankly, I was surprised at how well it was all working out.
You see …
A (much more famous and successful) mentor of mine had always warned me against this kind of thing.
He’d said that making friends from your “fanbase” was a recipe for disaster. In fact, warned me I’d be happiest in the long run if I never met any of my “followers” in person.
He was a wise, successful man.
Most of what he had ever taught me had come true.
But … it seemed he was wrong on this one.
This case was different.
I was different.
This person liked me for ME, not for my success.
Maybe most people ran into trouble here, because they didn’t have discernment … but I was too smart to fall for that!
Is the foreshadowing becoming obvious here?
Maybe even a bit uncomfortable?
How perceptive of you.
But yes … you’re right.
I am indeed building up to a twist.
Because one day …
Several months after we first met …
Some invisible switch flipped in my friend’s head.
Practically overnight, they totally ghosted me.
Blocked my number, unsubbed from my emails, stopped replying to anything.
It all came completely out of the blue.
To this day, I have never gotten an explanation for it.
And if that wasn’t enough …
I even heard rumours that the person
had given up copywriting entirely.
At least, they’d deleted all the parts of their online copywriting presence that I’d helped them build … as if it was all some kind of abrupt, intense reaction against me.
It was all very tragic. And strange.
But … that’s life.
These things happen, right?
And so I did the only thing I could:
I just carried on.
I won’t pretend it didn’t rattle me …
But I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and kept doing my thing.
And when I didn’t hear from my friend for days … then weeks … then months on end … I just accepted it.
I never heard from them again.
… until recently.
Yesterday, in fact.
When I happened to be going through one of the subscriptions in my inbox …
And I nearly had a heart attack.
Because there, in the middle of an email I was reading …
… was this person’s name and face …
… being paraded as a copywriting ‘success story’ …
… by another copywriting guru.
One that they’d initially been introduced to … by me.
I had to blink twice to confirm I was seeing what I was seeing.
This guru was proudly trumpeting my ex-friend, ex-student’s name as a dazzling success story of their program.
And it featured a screenshot of the person sending gushing messages about the copywriting success they’d achieved … how it was all thanks to this guru … and how they could never have done it without them.
… what the heck?
What the actual, living heck?
Was I reading this right?
Was this still Earth-616?
Had I suddenly started inhabiting the storyline of Dark Matter, the sci-fi book about alternate timelines that I wrote about the other day?
It was all just head-spinningly bizarre.
Now, let me be clear:
I don’t care about taking ‘credit’ for my former friend/student’s success. That was never my motivation, so it wasn’t that part that bothered me. Hence my not giving away any identities here.
Also, I have no ill feelings for this person I’m calling a ‘guru’. (I don’t mean it as an insult.) Actually, we get along quite well. And I have no doubt they had a big hand in the success they were showing off in their email.
It was the copywriting equivalent of watching your high school rival proudly announcing he’s engaged to the ex-girlfriend who dumped you.
(Sans romance, of course.)
Point is, it was a huge slap in the face.
The things this person was saying to their new ‘guru’ were the same things they used to say to me to try and get close to me.
And in that moment … the lesson was complete for me.
A lesson which I now share with you,
to entrust to your future self:
Today, as I write this, I’ve been pretty successful as a copywriter.
I’ve sworn off clients … make a great living from my own email list, selling my own products … can hold my own against most of the ‘big names’ out there in the email copywriting world … and have a decent (and growing) reputation.
And my guess is that if you’re on my list, reading this now, there’s a good chance you want to be where I am someday.
Probably even beyond where I am.
(Hey, I’m not pretending I’m at the pinnacle of world copywriting success here.)
So let this be a warning to you:
By all means, pursue that goal.
Do it for the fun.
Do it for the thrill.
Do it for the lives you can change.
Do it for the money.
You can have all that, and more.
Don’t do it for the friends or fame.
I’ve made plenty of ‘buddies’ and ‘acquaintances’ through having a following.
But I haven’t made a single real friend.
Almost everyone who’s tried to get close to me since my success … has had an agenda.
And lest you think I’m concluding this all from the one unlucky experience I described in this email — think again.
I’ve spoken to people much more successful and famous than myself … and it only gets worse.
Look around at all the copywriters you see who seem to be universally loved, lauded and respected … with people who hang on their every word, and would buy them a drink wherever they go.
Seriously, think of a few copywriters. The BIG names. You know who I mean.
The dirty secret is that ALL these people know it’s mostly fake.
And they know very few — if any — of their legions of ‘die-hard fans’ would give them a second glance if they happened to stack shelves at Wal-Mart instead of being a copywriting guru.
Of course, this isn’t to say success is miserable. Far from it. Successful people still have close friends. I do. This email is not some lonely-hearts lament.
It’s just … all the real friends I have now are the same friends I had five years ago, before I was successful.
And I am now very careful about who I allow into my life … something which only gets more important as my reputation grows.
Again, this email is probably irrelevant to most people reading this, who aren’t successful or well-known copywriters (yet).
But as I said … in five years, if (when) you’re successful, you might find its message is much more relevant.
Beware of the ‘friends’ that success will bring your way … they’re not made of the same stuff as the ones you have now.