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If someone had told me that I’d become a copywriter, I wouldn’t have believed it for one second.
For the longest time, I thought that I would be a software tester until the day that I died.
If someone were to ask me, “where do you see yourself in 5 years,” I would have most likely have said that I’d be a software tester specializing in test automation.
Besides, I had made a “safe career choice” – why not just leave well enough alone?
But, as you’re about to find out, life doesn’t always turn out the way you planned.
Things change, often in the blink of an eye – leaving you to pick up the pieces of what you thought was your identity.
But while one door closes, another one opens.
And sometimes, you can end up in a better place.
Join me as I share the story about how I went from being “inexperience shamed” to finding a new, more exciting career path.
One door closes…
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In August of 2018, my software tester career path took an unexpected turn when the company I worked for went through a corporate restructure.
It came as a complete surprise; I just walked into work, not expecting anything out of the ordinary, and received the news that I had to leave – on the same day.
Even though it was a complete surprise to me at the time, I wasn’t that upset by it. The company in question was a well-known tech company with offices worldwide, and my supervisor had told me that she had “nothing but praise” for me.
On top of that, there was a supposed shortage of qualified software testers.
“I’ll be fine; I’ll land another job in 2 months tops,” I said to myself as I rode the bus home, a few minutes after noon on a Tuesday. “There will be plenty of opportunities awaiting me!”
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The only thing that awaited me was excuses.
Lots of excuses, like:
- The buzzword excuse:
“You’re too entry-level”
- The arrogant excuse
“We can like…outsource testing to like…Bangladesh or something…”
- The “coffee break employer” excuse:
“No, sorry, I’m not getting the impression that you’re a sociable person right now, m’kay”
My period of being “in-between jobs” lasted longer than 2 months – and for each day that passed, my sense of happiness and worthiness plummeted.
I had less than 1.5 years of experience, and yet, the proverbial career ladder had shattered underneath me. And it didn’t look like it would be repaired any time soon.
It starts with a Udemy course…
Eventually, I decided that I had enough.
One day, I remember saying to myself:
“This isn’t going to work; I need to find something else to do in the meantime.”
But that was easier said than done – the only kind of work experience I had was in the field of software testing. I didn’t really have anything else that I could do.
Then, I started looking into things that I enjoyed doing.
Writing came to mind almost immediately.
But how was I supposed to make a career in writing? My name wasn’t Tom Clancy; there was just no way to make any stable income writing books.
Then one day, while I was on Udemy, searching for a valuable skill that I could learn and use, I found a course about “copywriting.”
I knew what it was, but for the longest time, I thought that you needed to be an intern at an ad agency to be a “proper copywriter.” As it turns out, that wasn’t the case.
You could do it on a freelance basis, working from home.
“Freelance? Working from home? That seems just like my kind of game!” I said and signed up for this course.
For the next couple of weeks, I became more engrossed in the field of copywriting, learning about:
– The AIDA formula,
– The basics of SEO (which I didn’t even know was a concept before this course)
– How to write great headlines
But even though I made progress and had found something to brighten up my day, I was still having serious doubts about my prospects in this field.
One particularly toxic phrase kept coming back:
“You’re not a native English speaker – who’s going to hire you?”
That thought nearly caused me to give up altogether.
The Skillshare Epiphany
One day, I signed up for Skillshare, where I found another copywriting course hosted by an Australian copywriter named Jesse Forrest.
The course itself was great enough, but what particularly fascinated me about Jesse was his background story.
As it turns out, he was diagnosed with dyslexia at an early age, and after barely graduating from high school, he worked a series of odd jobs, from greengrocer to dishwasher.
No marketing degree to speak of, let alone ANY university degree at all.
This was the enlightenment for me. I remember thinking to myself :
“If someone like Jesse can become a successful copywriter despite being dyslexic, why can’t I?”
After all, I did have a Bachelor’s Degree – and a major in English, at that.
Why not put that to good use?
My Brief Return to Software Testing
In August of 2019 (a year after my original redundancy), I landed another software tester job.
But even though I was happy to be working again, I realized that it was only a matter of time before that would end. Soon enough, I’d be back in the same rut I had just crawled out of, only to repeat the whole cycle over and over again.
I’d be a 21st century King Sisyphus.
In other words, I HAD to continue on the copywriting path – if I didn’t, I’d regret it for the rest of my life.
I continued taking copywriting and freelancing courses on Udemy and Skillshare.
I listened to The Hot Copy Podcast whenever I could.
I invested the money I earned into creating the website you’re on right now, as well as joining Kate Toon’s Clever Copywriting Community.
In the latter case, I stayed up until midnight to make sure that I got in as soon as the doors opened.
In the end, it was worth it – it was thanks to this community that I landed my first client, even while I was still working a 9-5 job.
I turned 30 a few days ago. Am I exactly where I want to be?
No – not yet, anyway.
Do I have everything figured out?
No – but I’m working on being 1% better each day.
Do I have 3000 years of experience?
Hell no – but I’m a continuous learner, improving as I go along.
If there are any morals to my story, it would be that:
- You don’t need to have decades worth of experience to start out as a copywriter or a content writer
- You don’t have to be a native English speaker to write in English – the ability to write proper English is a good enough start
- There’s nothing wrong with being a “lone wolf” – sometimes, the most strenuous walks lead to the most extraordinary destinations
- Life’s too short and precious to waste on people who shame you for being “too entry-level”
But above all – when life throws you a curveball, you have two options:
You can get hit by it – or you can catch it.