God damn it. Why does every interesting question have that bloody answer?
“Just keep plugging away and eventually… you’ll get it”.
– – –
I’m a numbers man, not a “feel” man.
If I’m baking a cake, I need to know EXACTLY how many grams of sugar it needs.
Don’t give me any of that “sweeten it to taste” BS.
In this case, I was chatting to a comedian, looking for tips on how to develop the bulletproof confidence that would propel me to fame, fortune, and maybe even my own chair on “Have I Got News For You?”.
Trouble is, stand-up comedy has more moving parts than San Andreas’s cheap watch factory (you remember, the one made out of jelly?) – writing, performance, staging, mic technique, movement, confidence…
… it’s impossible for one super ninja hack to hold the key to being confident at all of these skills…
Confidence is something you develop and relax into over time.
But all those moving parts do have one thing in common – the only way to get good is by doing them in front of other people.
You can’t get confident by performing in your lounge, pretending you’re on “Live at the Apollo, using a hairbrush for a mic.
(I prefer the H&S 53mm boar bristle for its ergonomic grip)
And these “other people” can’t be friends and family either. You need to perform for STRANGERS… people who’ve paid money (and inflated drinks prices) to come and watch you be funny.
There is no way around it – you need “stage time”.
When I became a copywriter, I noticed a similar urge – I wanted to get good… as fast as possible.
It wasn’t until I got a few emails under my belt that I realised “eventually… you’ll get it” applies to copywriting too.
Sure, I learned from courses, books, and mentors, but my biggest lessons came from “performing” in front of people and clicking “SEND” over and over again.
Putting in the reps – for a real audience – was the only way to get comfortable and develop confidence.
Some people advocate “faking it till you make it” or modelling someone else’s style.
That CAN work but the problem is you’re not building YOUR confidence.
Even worse, it can make you feel like you’re not “enough” – that you need to get to a certain “level” – or be a different version of you – before you can hope to relax in front of your tribe.
Maybe you’ll even get stuck in “fake it till you make it mode”, terrified to leave…
Instead, I prefer the idea of tying your confidence to your efforts – by putting in the work and getting in the reps.
If you’ve never sent an email to your list, don’t suddenly “fake it” like you’re Gary Vee.
Acknowledge where you are and write one email… then another… then another.
In a month, you’ll be able to look back and see what you’ve produced and how you’ve got better.
Your effort is what’ll give you the confidence to keep moving forward, trying new things, and getting better… not some cheesy Insta quote.
Comedians are always recording their sets and trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t. It’s this “compounding experience” that helps them make the most out of every second they’re on stage.
And the same thing can help you get better at marketing and talking about your business.
Why am I thinking about this?
The first 40 folks who signed up for my email marketing course “Sent.” are coming to the end of the course.
(In fact, today is the last day)
It’s made me think about the habits that helped me most as an email copywriter since I went full-time last year.
I’m NOT the world’s greatest copywriter, but…
I’m soooo much better – and confident – than I was 365 days ago, but only because I can look back and see how many emails I’ve written and reflect on the “stage time” I’ve gotten.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s copywriting, comedy, or cartography. If you want to develop confidence, start wherever you are and focus on putting in the work.
Not only will going through the repetitions build your confidence and help build good habits…
… it’s also the best way to improve.
P.S. I’ve got a whole load of notes, emails, and homework tasks to review after today.
Initially, I wasn’t sure if there would be much call for a course that showed business owners a simple way of sitting down and writing an email that sounds like them.
I’ve been blown away by some of the feedback.. and I don’t say that lightly:
“John’s course is the ONLY one I have come across that actually teaches you the mechanics of writing emails that sound like YOU. I finally understood how to plan and structure emails and how to use storytelling and humour in a way that builds the know, like, and trust factors for my business. By applying the lessons, I wrote -hands down- the best email I’ve ever written for my business and I know now how to do it on repeat. Because John doesn’t just give you “the fish”. He teaches you how to “catch it” yourself. Priceless!”
Once I’ve gone through everything I will be running it again.
The first class sold out before the deadline, so if you’re interested in being the first to hear when the next class of “Sent.” opens…