Big Ideas

Stop pacing yourself in your copywriting business. Sprint!

By 07/09/2013August 12th, 202212 Comments



“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”

– Mario Andretti

Well, we’re just past the half-way point of the year, and guess what?

A lot of us have already chucked both our New Year’s resolutions and our goals for 2013.

I never even make New Year’s resolutions anymore.

The only New Year’s tradition at the Roller house is running around our neighborhood without shoes or shirt for about 5 minutes (this picture was taken on January 1, 2012, when it was 4 °F and my son couldn’t quite make it on his own. I cheated – I wore flip flops.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against setting goals. Far from it. I have a 3-ring binder full of goals, including 21 specific things I want to accomplish this year.

But a few years ago, I stumbled upon something that’s been much more productive for me than New Year’s resolutions or yearly goals.

The “copywriting sprint”

As a former long-distance runner, when I started building my full-time freelance business on March 31, 2009, I looked at the process as a marathon to pace myself through.

It is, in a way, and it’s good to think long-term.

But too much endurance thinking has a way of slowing down the brain. You tend to trudge along without a sense of urgency.

I’ve done it both ways. I’ve trudged, and I’ve sprinted. And I’ve accomplished a lot more when I sprinted, even if it meant I was a bit out of control.

If you want to forge ahead full-steam the second half of the year, and leave the plodders in the dust, try this:

  1. Determine a 40-day sprint period. I don’t know why, but this period of time has always worked well for me. It’s long enough to get things done, but short enough that you can focus intensely. If you start this Friday, July 12, your sprint will end August 20. 
  2. Write down your three most pressing goals. Maybe you want to get a new client, re-do your website, or finish your book. I’d recommend making one of the three goals a financial one – how much you want to earn in 40 days, down to the penny.
  3. For the next 40 days, forget about your New Year’s resolutions. Forget about your 1-year, 5-year, and lifetime goals (just for the immediate future, not forever.) In fact, don’t even worry about what you’ll be doing in September.
  4. Put your head down and don’t look up until August 20. Do everything in your power to develop a laser-like focus for the next 40 days on these three goals only.

Tell me about your sprint. Are you up for the challenge? What is one of your three most pressing goals? How can I help you get there? What date are you starting?



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.

More posts by Steve Roller

Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Yes! Help me! I need to write three books by yesterday!

    I do need to pace myself with everything I’m learning, but I’m going to do it as fast as I can. This is gonna be good. 40 days starts now.

  • Okay, 40 days is a reasonable time period. Is my “sprint” reasonable? We shall see.

    Goal #1: Post content daily to website/project launched (and left to languish) last August
    Goal #2: Earn $8457.44 (made up number “down to the penny”)
    Goal #3: Launch “money-making” website to support new income stream around a specific destination.

    • Steve Roller says:

      I like those three goals, Andrea, especially the specificity of #2. You have a rock-solid plan, now that it’s laid out, start sprinting! I find that I make just as many mistakes when I go slowly as when I go fast, so I might as well accelerate the learning and the income that soon follows. It really gives you momentum, too, and you feel more energized in everything you do.

      I’ll check in with you on these on August 6 when we talk, okay?

      • Sarah Dizney says:

        I LOVE how you said you make just as many mistakes when you go slowly as when you go fast, so you might as well accelerate the process! Love that! I’m a natural planner and thinker, and I *want* to plan everything out for optimal success before even beginning. Of course this can only take me so far and at some point I have to jump in and just DO IT! Be ok with making mistakes. Accept that it won’t necessarily be perfect my first go-round.
        Time to embrace that and start sprinting!! 🙂
        Glad I found you via Facebook, and the Copywriters Café. Love the group! Thanks again for the invite!

        Sarah Dizney

        • Steve Roller says:

          Thanks for your comments, Sarah! It’s an ongoing case of sprinting forward (with some planning and research, of course), then slowing down and readjusting course. It’s like running around a track. The people who sprint around, take a short break, then sprint around again are going to beat the very slow, methodical plodders.

          Glad you found the Café, too! Now jump in the race and GO. We’ll help steer you along.

  • Raymond Duke says:

    Hi Steve. I just found your blog via a Google alert for copywriting. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions either; I think they’re for fun and not something that can practically help you. I make resolutions every day (or each week) — why limit yourself to just one resolution a year?

    I like this idea of taking a sprint together. I am more of a sprinter than a runner, anyway. When I do cardio I power walk, spring, power walk, sprint, etc. This is my style; it’s what works for me.

    I’m fairly new to copywriting, but am not new to communication.,,but enough about me, let me tell you my three most pressing goals.

    1. Write a book. My book will be about meeting new people and forming relationships with them; a rather simple concept, but an important one.
    2. Get more clients.
    3. Make more money so I can be financially secure and able to travel.

    I’m ready to start right now. I’m willing to put in the effort. I’m not sure what happens next, but I’ll start checking your your site more often and keeping in touch.


    • Steve Roller says:


      Glad you found me. I’m with you on the “sprinting” in exercising, too. I find all-out short bursts of sprinting produce much better results than long, slow distance.

      I like your three goals. #1 will help you in various ways with #2, and #2 takes care of everything!

      Regarding copywriting, “friend” me on Facebook and I’ll add you to our closed Copywriter Cafe group. It’s a lively, friendly group of copywriters who are always willing to help each other out with ideas, tips, and feedback.

      Look forward to connecting at some point with you, Raymond. Best wishes in your new endeavors.

  • Steve,

    Another of your inspiring pieces of advise. I am guilty to the New Years Resolution stories. Take last year for example. My goal was to complete AWAI’s copywriting program and to bang-start my new copy-writing career. Easier said than done.

    I like your idea. I will definitely try it. My three goals for the “40-day sprint” will be:

    #1. Get all required documents and finances needed towards getting my mortgage (not writing related)

    #2. Get all the information necessary for generating another stream of income. I have a means in mind which will include a website. Find a way of coming up with the funds needed, and to have a draft copy for marketing this website.

    #3. Work on at least finding one client to work with within that time frame.

    You will be hearing more about #2 in the days ahead.

    My “40-day sprint” begins tomorrow.

    Thanks for encouraging us and keep up the great work.

  • Well. I’m a bit behind the times in finding this one. But 40 days from now happens to be my 23rd birthday…. so obviously now I have to do this!

    1. Write the cornerstone piece (ebook) for a site I’ve been working on for a couple years but that I’ve let sit for the past 9 months. I have big ideas for it but I gotta get them going! (If you’re curious, I’ll tell you more about it.)

    2. Get my copywriting business going full-time, which to me means *at least* two clients – I’ve got exactly zero steady clients right now and as of last week I’m out of a regular job. I only have enough savings for a month and a half of expenses. Definitely uncomfortable. (And don’t worry – I’m doing regular jobhunty stuff too.)

    3. Income goal? $3210 exactly.

    I shall check back in 40 days!


    • Steve Roller says:

      You have a serious jump start on your peers, Maximilian! Seriously, I wish I would have discovered copywriting at the age of 23.

      I am curious about your site, and I may be able to offer some advice about getting clients. Let’s try to schedule a time to talk, maybe in June. Feel free to contact me at or leave a message at my office number, 608-848-COPY (608-848-2679).

      In the meantime, press on!

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