The Single Most Important Skill for Writing Success

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Effectively setting goals … and following through with them.

Mark Ford told me once that this is the foundation of everything he’s accomplished – from learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu … to writing New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books … to creating multiple multimillion-dollar businesses.

Master copywriter John Carlton has said the only reason he’s one of the highest-paid copywriters on the planet is because of the goals he sets – knowing once he sets a goal, it will be accomplished … even if he doesn’t know how yet.

International marketing expert Dr. Joe Vitale is a goal-setting addict. (For good reason, too!) I asked him what goal-setting has helped him accomplish, and he told me, “I lost 80 pounds, appeared in a hit movie, sold half a million dollars of product, and bought a $350,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom … all due to goals.”

After I discovered the control over my time and finances I could get through my chosen Barefoot Writing path, freelance copywriting, setting goals has driven every step of my success.

It allowed me to quit my job at a small publishing company in 2010, less than a year after I’d set that goal. Because I made it a priority, I’ve worked with several companies usually out of reach for first-year copywriters, including Casey Research, Nightingale-Conant, and Brian Tracy.

I’ve already replaced my old income, and because I’ve set it as a goal, I’ll know I’ll hit six figures this year.

And the icing on the cake for all my success in the past couple of years?

I won AWAI’s $10K Challenge last year – I beat the control (the sales letter that had the best sales results up until then) for the FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair. It was a validation of how far I’d come in my career.

Every big accomplishment starts with a goal.

But it doesn’t work to just have vague goals in mind.

Mark Ford outlines a very specific process for setting goals … following through … and finally tallying up another big accomplishment for yourself.

Here’s a short version of Mark’s proven goal- setting process:

1. Take yourself forward five years and look at your life.

What new and exciting things are in your life five years from now that you can only imagine today? (A new house? An all-electric, environmentally friendly but still explosively powerful Tesla Roadster? Enough savings that you could stop working for a while and not worry?)

What are the accomplishments that got you there? (Advertising copy you wrote made five million dollars in sales – and your client gave you a bonus? You have a dozen happy clients? You published and successfully marketed your own book or course?)

Write it all down. These are goals.

2. Prioritize your goals.

Number one should be your most important five-year goal, then numbers two and three, and so on.

Now you’re ready to dig in …

3. Take your top two or three goals and break each down into chunks – smaller tasks that together will accomplish your goal.

Let’s say your number one goal is to buy a new lake house. The house you want is going to cost you $300,000, and you want to pay in cash. Your current annual expenses are $50,000. When you factor in taxes and extra expenses, you probably need to earn about $150,000 per year.

That means doing thirty $5,000-projects per year or ten $15,000-projects per year. To close that many deals, you may need to contact as many as 300 potential clients per year – roughly one per workday.

So, relying on new clients only, each day you need to find one or more clients to contact. You can also develop higher-paying, longer-term relationships with some of your current clients – say, by entering into retainer agreements where you work with them regularly.

4. Take the tasks for each goal and get very specific about when each needs to be completed.

First decide which year, then which month, then which day. Specificity is key!

Continuing the example above: each year, you need to earn $150,000, which is $37,500 per quarter. So by the end of this quarter, you can make it a task to have $37,500 worth of projects lined up for the next one. There are about 12 weeks per quarter, so each week this quarter, you need to line up $3,125 in future work (knowing each $3,125 worth of projects needs to be able to be completed within a normal work week).

5. Now break down each task even further, scheduling time to complete each based on when the tasks need to be completed.

Even go as deep as creating a daily schedule for yourself, knowing that sticking to this schedule will get you to your goals. Set aside time for writing, marketing yourself, contacting new clients … you get the idea.

6. Follow your schedule, and you’ll reach goal after goal successfully.

So here’s your challenge …

Don’t settle for the same old routine. Set yourself on course to accomplish something big before the end of the year, using goal setting.

By the way, be sure to let the people in your life – maybe not your boss – know what your Barefoot Writing goals are. Also, tell them how the Barefoot lifestyle will benefit them. This will keep you motivated and on track. I let my family know what my goals were every step of the way.

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1 Comment

  1. I’m excited about starting a writing journal, jump starting a writing career,
    and sharing experiences.
    I’ve written poetry, but also have ideas on a book. Plan to do some research on recommended readings… Thanks!

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