Josh Monen

A Daily Blog To "Show My Work"

Month: October 2016

The Dark Side of Perfection: My Battle with the Resistance

Confession time.

I decided to start this blog about a month ago. Since then I’ve written 20 blog posts (about 75% are around 1,000+ words) but I’ve only had the guts to publish ONE!

But it gets worse…

This blog was supposed to be a place where I could relax a little and have fun with my writing.

As a professional copywriter I get paid well to write. So most my writing is very serious, both in my approach and subject matter (I specialize in financial services and enterprise software).

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy copywriting. It may not look like I’m having fun because I don’t have a big dumb smile stretched across my face while I work but I enjoy it.

(Side note: I also love playing ice hockey but you won’t catch me smiling when I’m on the ice either).

What’s the point?

Happiness looks different for different people.

But back to this blog.

I find myself in a bit of a pickle. On one hand I just want an outlet to write freely without the pressure of producing results.

But part of me thrives on results. I believe it’s the same part that desires perfection.

And so here I am on Saturday, October 29, 2016 with 20 drafts sitting in my laptop and only one published (which, by the way, I’ve seriously considered deleting).

Some of these posts I actually think are pretty good like:

  • Why It’s Better to Dream from Your Heart vs Your Mind
  • 5 Reasons Why I Decided Not to Be a Nomad After Living in an RV for 3 Months
  • How To Decide What To Do With Your Life When You Want To Do Everything

When I read these posts I think, Yeah, I think this is good. I bet at least one other person out there would benefit from reading this.

But that thought soon evolves into this…

Yeah, it’s good but it could be better. I really need to edit it. And what’s the purpose of this blog anyway? Do these posts support that main purpose? And do I really know who my Ideal Reader is?

However, now that I think about it my favorite thought from “the resistance” is this:

I really need to improve the design of my blog. I hate how the headlines are so big and the posts need more of a border on the mobile view. I think I’ll find a designer who can help me improve the look and feel of it and then I’ll be ready to start publishing regularly.

Ha! Busted.

I feel like writing about this in an open and honest way is helping to expose the resistance I’m facing.

What about you? Are there things in your life that you’ve been hesitant to publish because of the internal resistance you face?

Maybe it’s blogging. Or starting a business or working out.

If you agree that Resistance and it’s evil cousins, Procrastination and Perfectionism, are holding you back then what are you going to do about it?

And what am I going to do?

I feel like I have an opportunity in this moment to push through that invisible barrier and do something different. I can just publish this post without sending it through the gauntlet of interrogating questions.

Or this could be Draft #21.

21 is my favorite number by the way, maybe I should just hit “save draft” vs “publish” and revisit this later. You know, “when the time is right.”

Ah, but if I do that I give in to the resistance and it wins again. And I hate losing. I may hate it just a little more then producing something that’s imperfect.

So where’s that publish button again!

My Journey To Becoming a Full-Time Freelance Copywriter

I published my first blog post online on May 19, 2007.

It was a reflection on Psalm 63.

And it was the first time I’d ever “published” my writing for the world to see. I didn’t consider myself a writer back then (not even an aspiring one). But I had that urge to write, so I did.

Then one day my friend Matt Perkins said, “Josh, you’re a good writer. You should write more.”

The only other time I can remember someone complimenting me about my writing is when I was in community college and my English professor, Gail Robinson, used one of my papers as a good example to show the class.

But Matt was a close friend who I have a lot of respect for. So when he told me “good job,” I actually thought about it.

So I continued to blog sporadically for the next few years.

Preparing to Freelance Full-Time

In the Fall of 2010 I decided I wanted to become a full-time freelancer and quit my job.

So I decided I would force myself to publish an article at least two times a week. After careful consideration I started two new blogs where I could do this:

  1. BeyondCliches.com
  2. KingdomSteward.com

Don’t ask me why I started two instead of one. But the more you get to know me the more you’ll realize that one of my unhealthy habits I’m trying to break is doing too many things at once.

So I did this for several months. Beyond Cliches was again about God, theology and lessons I was learning from the Bible. While Kingdom Steward was about how to manage resources in a kingdom way (we were going through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University back then to pay off our debt so I’m sure this influenced my decision to blog about that).

Anyway, I did this for several months until I quit my job in May 2011.

Then I started writing for profit.

My First Year as a Freelance Writer

That first year as a freelancer I was writing for money. It just wasn’t very much money!

I had no idea what I was doing and decided to just make it work. I had read about others who made over $100 an hour writing as a copywriter (aka commercial freelance writer) and I thought, If they figured it out, so can I.

Toward the end of my first year freelancing my oldest daughter was born. And we decided that if Lacie wanted to quit her job to become a full-time mom then we would do that (and that’s exactly what she did).

So now we went from two incomes (1.5 really) down to one and had a kid. So I either had to figure this writing thing out quickly or go get a normal job again.

Taking a Full-Time Copywriter Job for 2 Years

During this time I was looking for new clients when I called a insurance marketing agency to see if they ever outsourced work to freelancers. I noticed the content they were publishing was top-notch and their CEO had a reputation as the leading authority on marketing for the industry.

I didn’t get any freelance work from them but about a week later I got a call from their CEO asking if I’d be interested in a job there.

Even though we were struggling to pay the bills I put on my best poker face and acted like I could easily take it or leave it.

“Um, I don’t know. It’d be a big deal for us to relocate and everything.”

But of course I asked what the pay would be.

“Make me an offer,” he said.

I wasn’t prepared for that so I pulled the “Let me talk with my wife” card and told him I’d get back to him.

After a lot of talking we decided that yes, we would take the job and relocate to Bend if the pay was enough. Then I could continue freelancing on the side.

But what was “enough?”

We decided $80,000 would be enough (when I left my corporate job about 18 months before I was only making about $55,000 I think, so this seemed like a good bump).

So I had the call. “OK, so we’re thinking it would have to be at least $80,000 for it to be worth it.”

I then tensed up and my face probably looked like I was bracing for someone to punch me because to me this was a lot of money.

“OK, yeah, that would fit in our budget for this position. But you’ll be expected to earn that money.”

And I did. I worked super hard at the job and helped the company generate thousand of leads. But that’s a story for another time.

Full-Time Freelancer: Take 2

I worked for Agency Revolution for two years. My role was different. I could come and go as I please and nobody was harassing me about the hours I spent working (not that it mattered because I probably worked more than 40 hours every week).

The best part was that I spent a lot of time working directly with Michael Jans, a 20-year veteran copywriter and marketer. Those two years being mentored by him taught me more than 10 years of formal eduction ever could.

So when I left that job to return home (we were expecting our 2nd child and we wanted to go home to be around family) I was in a much better position to make a living as a freelancer.

Plus, I had been freelancing at nights and weekend while working that job so I had some steady clients already.

This time I actually made decent money.

Present Day

It’s been over five years since I quit my job in corporate America to freelance full-time. And this year I’m on track to finally break the $100,000 revenue mark. We’ve been down in San Diego for the last six weeks living in our RV and life is good.

But it’s been hard too. Really hard at times. And I’ll write about that more later.

In this post I just wanted to share my journey with you to let you know what my path has looked like.

Of course there’s so many details I didn’t have time to share. But hopefully this gives you a better idea of where I was, what happened and what it’s like now.

I hope it can inspire you in some way to pursue your freelance dreams too.

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