running in Quito

On money and running 

I’m a big fan of Tim Ferriss’s books The Four-Hour Workweek and The Four-Hour Body.

I like his concept of “life hacking” – finding quicker and easier ways to get things done.

I’m going to share two disparate “life hacks” with you today. One involves money, the other running.

If neither subject interests you, have a great day and check back on Thursday when I talk about a simple 7-step plan for getting your freelance writing business rockin’ and rollin’.

If you’re a writer, would you like to take a short-cut to bigger writing income, without going through the hard slogging of most new copywriters?

If you’re a runner, would you like to return to your glory days and crank out a half marathon this summer on virtually no training whatsoever?

The running story first, and I’ll make it quick. Two years ago my son, Alex, who was 15 at the time, wanted to run his first half marathon. Now, I did eight marathons between the ages of 23 and 33, but I hadn’t run further than three miles in about three years.

I did a grand total of four training runs in the six weeks leading up to the race (of 5, 6, 8, and 9 miles each) and on the big day cranked out a respectable (not fast) 1:58 half marathon. I had fun, wasn’t the least bit winded, and wasn’t sore the next day.

The key? I did three things most runners don’t like to do.

Runners like to go for long, slow endurance runs to train for half marathons or more. They typically don’t like to lift weights, do speed work, or run hills.

Instead of putting in endless slow miles, I lifted heavy weights twice a week for 20 minutes to the point of muscle failure. My five- and six-mile training runs involved hills, and the eight- and nine-mile runs incorporated speed.

What does this have to do with building a bigger writing income?

We copywriters like to write, right? We enjoy drawing our readers in, crafting persuasive sentences, and getting them to take action.

Great things if you already have a steady flow of clients.

If you’re not established, though, sitting around practicing your writing isn’t going to pay the bills.

And I find a lot of writers spend an inordinate amount of time practicing.

Don’t get me wrong, you need talent, and lots of writing is the only way to develop it. But once you’re good enough that people will pay you, there are three main things you should do:

1. Look for prospective clients.

2. Consult with them.

3. Get them to hire you.

That’s all. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

Yet just like most runners would rather run a lot of long, slow miles to train for the half marathon, most writers would rather practice their writing than look for clients, meet with them, and close them.

You don’t need another program or more practice writing. You don’t need to tweak your website for the 14th time or submit another spec assignment hoping they’ll like your copy.

Instead, get out there and do the three things most freelancers don’t like to do.

It’s a much more direct route to bigger writing income in less time. You might even save enough time to train for a half marathon.





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 14 Comments

  • Alan says:

    Pretty damn simple when you come right down to it…determine and do the activities that most efficiently and effectively move your toward to your intended accomplishment. Well said Steve.

    • Steve Roller says:

      Thanks, Alan. Simple but not easy, right? I kind of like that things are not easy, otherwise everyone would be doing it.

    • Steve Roller says:

      Simple, but not easy, right? I think we all need someone to hold our feet to the fire, keep us accountable, help us stretch, bounce ideas off of, and cheer us on. Thanks for your comments, Alan.

  • Very wise words indeed, Steve.

    I like to “practice in public”. I make a point to leave comments on blogs and in LinkedIn and Facebook groups that colleagues and prospective writers will see. Commenting intelligently on a well-written and thought-provoking article does two things: 1) it raises the overall quality of the article, and 2) it gives you an opportunity to showcase your writing skills in front of decision makers. Like you said, when you practice in isolation, the only person who sees your work is you.

    Another great shortcut is attending conventions and job fairs. I attended one last month that’s led to a second interview for a Financial Planner position. High 5-figure potential the first year and 6-figures thereafter. And yes, I’ll be able to incorporate my writing skills into email followups with clients and a corporate website. Keep your fingers crossed for me…:-)

    Thanks for the great post, Steve!!!

    • Steve Roller says:

      Michael, yes, I’ve noticed you commenting once or twice! I think that’s great. Keep me posted on the position. I have a feeling it’s yours for the taking.

    • Steve Roller says:

      You’re welcome, Michael. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you here in the Cafe. I see big things happening for you over the next year or so. Let me know how I can help in any way.

  • Great advice Steve! (And a good read!)

  • Yes, that is true. Instead of waiting to become all perfect one should go and spread the word. Having prospects ready beforehand could give a lot of impetus to writing practice.
    – Amit

  • Need to read Tim Ferris. I will confess I have not yet.

    I’m all for speedier results, Steve! So happy to be an Espresso member!

    • Steve Roller says:

      Glad to have you on board, too, Matt! My copy of The Four-Hour Workweek is highlighted and marked up like crazy. It doesn’t all apply to what we do, but it gets you thinking in a different way. Check out The Four-Hour Body sometime too. It’s a brick of a book, but good to read in small doses.

  • Steve – you’ve talked about growing my business in a way I completely relate to…running and training. And BTW, I don’t mind doing weights or running hills (I have no choice, given that I live in the Rockies foothills).

    • Steve Roller says:

      The other thing I was going to talk about, Janice, was altitude training, but you would have been one of the few who could relate! There will be more training analogies to come.

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