Reflections on my reckless journey to become the greatest creative writer in the world.
This letter of sorts originally appeared in Sticky Notes, my newsletter for entrepreneurs, marketers and creatives looking to write pretty words and sell like hell…
I'm eight beers in. It's 11:47 p.m. I'm seated in a rickety lawn chair on a beach in Florida. There's not a moon anywhere in sight.
Its absence is making the dark, darker. It's there, just hidden behind clouds sitting like silent giants in the sky, moving slowly across what little I can see of the horizon.
Every so often, a break will appear, the clouds will part like the ocean revealing a black canvas decorated with sparkling stars. These stars will sit still for a good while until one decides it has had enough. It will break loose and shoot across the universe like one of Apollo's arrows. This happens four times, each time I don't know what to wish for.
Far off to my left, there is a thunderstorm. It's wicked. It's wild. It's wonderful. I watch it for an hour. Each bolt of lightning sets fire behind more clouds. It looks like angels are fucking behind a candlelit curtain.
If I've learned anything in my twenty-five years on Earth, it's that you can't force reflection. You can practice being more present and thoughtful on a day to day basis, but great reflection seems to come in moments like these when God or the universe sits your ass in a shitty little chair, with enough beer to drown a pirate and says...watch as I put on a show.
Last night, I did a great deal of thinking and reflecting on both myself, my writing and my journey in building Honey Copy. And, this morning, I wanted to share some of these reflections with you.
For the past three years, I've been sprinting.
After finding myself in a crummy job at an advertising agency in my hometown back in twenty-sixteen, I decided to "follow my dreams"... whatever the hell that means. I won't bore you with too many of the details, you can read about my story here.
But, for just a bit of background, one day after resisting the urge to smash my forehead against the exposed brick wall in front of my desk, I walked out of the office at 2 p.m. and returned the next day at 8 a.m. to put in my two weeks.
It took me a little over a year, working an odd construction job by day and writing by night until I began making a full-time living with my pen.
Today, as I write this, I still have trouble wrapping my head around my life and my work.
Three years ago, I was making $15/ hour tearing out dilapidated carpet in sweltering hot apartment buildings that reeked of cat piss and today I'm making six-figures slinging ink for some of the coolest brands in the world.
While much of my success comes down to luck, as I spent some time reflecting last night, I realized a few other things that certainly haven't hurt. I'm sharing them in part to pat my ego, in part because I think they might be helpful in your journey, too.
I don't associate with my competition. I'm competitive. Especially when it comes to my craft. I don't go to writing workshops nor writing conferences. And, for the most part, I have completely isolated myself from copywriters on the web.
In fact, there are only two I keep in my circle who I love deeply, Eddie Shleyner and Robert Lucas. While I respect the thousands of others on the web, I want to bury them with my ink.
The two copywriters above, are the only ones I will never view as competition. In fact, I trust them and admire them both so much that if I were to die in a plane crash, I'd want them to take over Honey Copy. Though, they already have pretty good things going.
I've found mentors outside of copywriting. I am standing on the shoulders of giants. I have never had a mentor in copywriting, mostly because of what I just shared above.It would be a conflict of interest. How can you learn from someone you want to bury?
So, instead, I've looked for brilliant people (people far more brilliant than myself) that aren't in the world of copywriting.
These folks include Andrew Holliday at Special Sauce Branding, Christopher Lochhead at Follow Your Different, Brandon Scott at Ten Adams and Mike Spadier at Heart of the Sun.
In addition to these folks, I've looked to people who I have never met... Hemingway, Ogilvy, Woolf, Bukowski, Ferriss, Amoruso, Kaur, the list goes on.
Contrary to common belief, I don't think we need to meet our mentors, I think we can simply read and listen from afar.
I've built a brand, not just a freelance business. Honey Copy is ran solely by me. Every single word has been written by me and every single word will be written by me until someone puts me in a box.
However, while it is a one-man show, Honey Copy is also a brand. Its email list, Sticky Notes, has 5,300 subscribers (one day it will have 100,000). Its blog is read by 50,000 people a month. It's product, a copywriting guide, has done $20,225 in sales to date.
Much of my success has come from seeking to build a brand rather than just a freelance business. One day, I will make most of my money through the products Honey Copy sells rather than the services it provides. Though, I won't ever stop freelancing. I absolutely adore helping brands grow with pretty words.
I never stop dreaming. People will think I'm crazy for saying this. But, one day, I will be the greatest creative writer alive. Not the greatest copywriter nor poet nor novelist. But, the greatest creative writer. I'm seeking to create a category of one.
One day, Massive brands like Nike and Off-White will hire me to sling ink for them.
I will run one of the largest marketing and writing newsletters on the web (the one you are reading now).
I will write children’s books, poetry books and business books (that don’t suck ass to read).
I will produce spoken word albums on vinyl.
I will create a chocolate fortune cookie brand with fortunes that are inspiring to read (this is coming semi-soon, stay tuned).
And, I will collaborate with musicians as a songwriter.
All of this will be ran through the Honey Copy brand. But, this is still a ways away. (Though, my first book, "One Minute, Please?" is coming out in a month...).
This constant dreaming has allowed me to grow Honey Copy at a break-neck pace. I don't think the growth I have experienced these past few years could have been possible if I hadn't been playing in the clouds.
And, finally, you. I would write no matter what. But, I can tell you, it's a hell of a lot more fun to write with an audience. So, I'd be remiss if I didn't include you in all of this. Thank you for showing up, over and over again, to read what I have to say. You will never know how much it means to this little scribbler's heart.
But, I digress.
By Cole Schafer.
You gotta check this out –– Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.