Big Ideas

Copywriters: 4 tips to make your big ideas happen

By 06/13/2013August 12th, 202211 Comments

Tribune building Zaria

Radio City Music Hall

In my last post we talked about why you shouldn’t wait for others to validate your big ideas. I told you about my four kids and their big plans, including little Miss Z. (above in front of the Tribune Building in Chicago and to the right at Radio City Music Hall in New York.)

When she was only eight years old, we found her online researching Julliard, where she plans to go to school for singing or acting. Not only did she check it out, she made sure we did a campus tour when I took her on a trip to New York last year.

Did she wait for someone to validate her big idea? Does she realize the small odds of getting accepted to a prestigious school? No, and that’s the beauty of it. She’s stepping out in faith and youthful exuberance.

Like I said the other day, people want you to succeed, but you have to be bold and make the first move in confidence.

How does this relate to you? Well, I’m guessing you might have plans to leverage your copywriting skills into a full-fledged business, or maybe an intriguing, slightly offbeat lifestyle.

Me? After testing my idea two summers ago of living in Ecuador, I’ve decided that I’m going to own a home there within five years. I’m also going to run my business from wherever my wanderlust takes me, whether that’s Buenos Aires, New York, or Paris. I’m going to put my energy into writing, publishing, training other copywriters, and traveling.

Are your dreams a bit outside the norm? Are you a bit of an oddball (and I mean that in a good way)?

Here are a few tips to start making things happen:

  1. Go with your gut instincts. Listen to your heart. The cool thing about freelance copywriting is that you can go in any number of directions. Don’t feel like you have to follow the normal path that experts before you have followed.
    Strike out on your own like my friends who are indulging in their passions in life, traveling the world, writing books and doing speaking tours, or opening up small niche businesses with both a physical location and online presence.
  2. Stay true to who you are. Don’t try to be something you’re not. If you have no interest in the financial world, don’t write a spec assignment just because you could land a big project.If your nature is soft and caring, don’t try to emulate Dan Kennedy’s brashness. If you couldn’t care less about the non-profit world, don’t try fundraising copywriting.
    Figure out who you are first, then find a direction, not the other way around.
  3. Act on good ideas, but on a small scale. Test out a new niche before diving in all the way. Do one or two projects before you fully commit. Write an ebook before you spend the time on a full-length Kindle book. Try out your idea with a Facebook group before you launch a full-fledged website. Once you feel you’re on to something, then …
  4. Don’t wait for someone to validate your good idea. See if it has potential, for sure, but if you wait for someone to tell you it’s great, you’ll be waiting forever. Make your move and show confidence in it.You won’t become a star overnight, and you may grind away for years before anyone even knows your name.
    Don’t let that stop you.Hopefully, you find one trusted friend or adviser who gives you encouragement and support. But be prepared to forge your own path.

Let me leave you with the words of Daniel Burnham, chief architect and co-author of “The Plan of Chicago”:

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die.”

What is one of your Big Ideas? What do you plan to parlay your copywriting skills into? I’d love to hear about it, and so would my readers. Leave me a note below.

And if you want to see what a small group of writers and I will be doing next week at the Ultimate Writing Retreat™ to leverage our Big Ideas, be sure to read next week’s blog posts live from Chicago. More here:

Steve Roller

Author Steve Roller

I'm a business coach, author, copywriter, world traveler (33 countries on five continents so far), and professional speaker. In addition to helping companies get more customers and make more money, I help other writers create profitable businesses. I offer one-on-one coaching, professional copy critiques, and live, in-person business-building workshops. When I'm not writing, coaching, or speaking, I enjoy nothing more than hanging out with my wife and four kids and planning my next adventure.

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Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • George Mulvaney says:

    Thanks for this article, Steve. It reminded me of things I have to do. I’ve been getting “antsy” lately. I still like baking at the abulos project, but there are things I feel I need to do.

    Like find that perfect spot to start making cheesecakes and shipping them all over the world. That was why I came down here in the first place. I won’t allow myself to get sidetracked by someone else’s agenda.

    Now to find some place to store all the “stuff” I’ve acquired over the last three and a half months…

    • Steve Roller says:


      I can’t wait to see what you do with your cheesecake business, and I sure hope you’re still in Quito when I arrive next year on June 16, 2014. If you are, we’ll do some serious strategizing together (over baked goods and canelazo, of course.)

  • Sean McCool says:


    Great refocusing post. For me, I’m using what I’ve learned as a direct response copywriter and taking it to businesses as a full-fledged consultant and ideas man.

    I get paid to help people think because most people are too busy and too distracted to think. I literally sit on the front porch of my new 6.5 acre farm in a rocking chair and read and think for my clients.

    Since I was in high school I always wanted to be a part of a think tank. I love ideas. I simply never knew it was possible to get paid to think and let others implement… but it is.

    What a wonderful time in history in which we are living. Anything really is possible.

    • Steve Roller says:

      What a great way to frame this, Sean: “I get paid to help people think because most people are too busy and too distracted to think.” I never thought of it that way, but you’re right.

      I like the picture you painted, too. I always imagined myself on the front porch, reading, writing, and playing Neil Young songs as loud as I wanted on my guitar, without neighbors nearby to complain! It’s close to happening, just have to get out of my nice cookie-cutter neighborhood. The writer’s life indeed.

  • Jessi Stanley says:

    Thanks for this post. I feel like it gives me permission to keep dreaming. My dilemma? While I’m just at the very beginning of building what I think will be a successful freelance writing/editing business, I’m already thinking about what I want to do next. In the past couple of years, i’ve done a lot, lot, lot of online research to bring myself up to speed in the internet world (I have writing experience and degrees, but both are OLD). Through this research I’ve discovered (1) the online writing coach business and (2) online people writing real old-fashioned books about really cool topics, books that need ME as their editor/ghost writer/re-writer.

    Am I crazy? Probably. Am I bored? Never. Do I still fear that I’m going to have to give up on this whole freelancing thing and get a “real job”? Not nearly as much as I used to 🙂

    • Steve Roller says:


      Sounds like you and I have a lot in common. I’m always thinking two or three moves ahead, like a chess match. I’m finding that each small step forward is giving me momentum. The tide is building and when it all comes together, look out!

      If you’re a little off that’s a good sign. Keep thinking, planning, and putting things into action.

  • Janice says:

    Very inspirational post, Steve! I sometimes think I’m too old to dream big. But similar to the way your own daughter has inspired you, I’m reminded daily by my kids that I am not. Just by their encouragement and their frequent cheering me on (“Way to go, Mom!”), they always help me to strive for excellence and to reach beyond what I’m think I’m capable of doing.

    • Steve Roller says:

      Thanks, Janice. Even though we slow down a little and gray hairs pop up here and there, it’s our spirits that keep us young. I’m forever 22 years old in my mind, ready to make my mark on the world and on the cusp of greatness. So what if it’s taken me to almost age 47? Imagine the things we’ll do in the second half! Press on.

  • Alan says:

    Your series definitely struck a chord with me Steve…learning to listen to and go with my gut has been a challenge…takes loads of practice combined with the willingness to make blunders. Defining my copy sweet spot still seems elusive but I continue to study, read, implement and press on knowing that no matter the niche, crafting compelling direct-response copy is the center of my focus. Appreciate your prodding my plodding!

    • Steve Roller says:

      Glad to be prodding your plodding, Alan! I like the way you put that. I’m guessing you’re getting closer to that point where everything all of a sudden clicks, and then it will become second nature. You never stop learning, but it does get easier. Press on.

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