Don’t Let Imposter Syndrome Keep You from Writing Great Copy
Quick question: what’s the difference between a copywriter and a fraud?
If you have imposter syndrome, there isn’t a difference.
The good news is you’re not alone.
Imposter syndrome is real, and it affects copywriters too. Even skilled copywriters feel imposter syndrome.
But what is it? And how can you fight imposter syndrome with your copywriting skills?
Here’s how you can prevent imposter syndrome from keeping you from writing great copy.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
It’s the feeling of fraud. It’s the feeling of doubting yourself and your abilities.
Imposter syndrome is the experience of feeling like you are a fraud, unqualified for a position despite your skills and experience.
Despite your previous successes and education, you feel like you “can’t cut it.” Someone experiencing imposter syndrome can’t internalize their success.
There’s an anxiety associated with it too. It’s the fear of being found out.
Those who experience imposter syndrome are worried they will be exposed as the fraud their brain tells them that they are.
What Imposter Syndrome Is Not
Imposter syndrome is a real phenomenon. It’s not a fictional diagnosis.
However, imposter syndrome by itself is not a mental illness. It isn’t recognized as one in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the publication used by the APA (American Psychiatric Association).
But that’s not to say that imposter syndrome isn’t associated with mental illness. Issues like anxiety and depression are often associated with imposter syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome Can Happen to Anyone
Anyone can be affected by imposter syndrome. No really. Think of someone you know who is successful, famous or not, and odds are they have felt imposter syndrome at least once in their lives.
Originally it was thought that women experienced it more than men, but that may not be the case. Men are less likely to externalize their feelings, which may have skewed the initial research into imposter syndrome.
Everyone can experience imposter syndrome. If you haven’t experienced it yet, you probably will.
Even celebrities experience imposter syndrome. Actress and comedian Tina Fey admitted that she felt like a fraud.
So did author Maya Angelou, who won prestigious awards such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the U.S.
Tom Hanks and Emma Watson have also experienced imposter syndrome. Despite receiving critical acclaim for their work, even they aren't immune from imposter syndrome.
What Causes Imposter Syndrome?
A few different factors can cause imposter syndrome.
If you have a condition like social anxiety disorder (SAD) there may be an overlap between that and imposter syndrome.
Perhaps you feel like you don’t belong in social or work situations. Maybe you feel unable to meet the challenges set before you.
Even if you don’t have a social anxiety disorder, imposter syndrome can still affect you. It is often triggered by entering a new role or life change, such as starting college or entering a new career or job position.
Your background may also play a role. If you were raised by parents who were highly critical or pushed for lofty achievements, you may feel like you don’t deserve your career.
In many cases, imposter syndrome is the result of multiple factors. Your imposter syndrome was likely triggered by more than one cause.
How Do You Know if You Have It?
There are a few ways of identifying if you suffer from imposter syndrome.
Do you attribute your successes to external factors such as luck? Are you afraid you will be found out as a phony? Are you sensitive to constructive criticism or small mistakes in your work?
If you answered yes to these questions you probably have imposter syndrome.
General Tips for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
There are some general rules anyone should follow to combat imposter syndrome.
The first is that you have to acknowledge it. Question why you feel like a fraud.
Rewrite the script in your head. What is your internal dialogue saying to you? How can you rewrite it to a more realistic view of yourself?
It’s important to visualize your success. Visualization is a technique used by many successful persons, such as athletes. Picture yourself succeeding in a specific task.
How does it look if you succeed? What’s the worst-case scenario look like? How do you handle that?
Another important way of fighting imposter syndrome is to talk about it. It’s something that affects many people.
Knowing you are not alone and talking about your feelings can be freeing.
Find out what type of imposter syndrome you have and deal with it.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome as a Copywriter
Now let’s delve deeper into how you can fight imposter syndrome when writing copy. Let’s face it, for many people copywriting is a nebulous term.
Many have no idea what a copywriter does, or why they would ever need one.
But as a copywriter (or future copywriter, if you’re not one already), you have a powerful way with words. You write to sell and to deliver results.
When you write copy like a pro, imposter syndrome doesn’t stand a chance.
Here are a few tips for copywriters to fight the feeling of fraud.
Research Your Clients
Inexperienced copywriters don’t do their research. Good copywriting isn’t sitting down and dumping words on a page.
It’s researching your client and what they do. It’s finding out how they sell and market their services, and to whom.
Know what questions good copywriters ask. That way when you do sit down to write, you’re already starting with a solid foundation of knowledge.
That will help you push through doubt and insecurity.
Focus On the Benefits and Build Trust
When writing copy, you need to focus on the benefit of the product or service you are writing about. What are the customers’ problems? How will the product solve them and make their life easier or better?
You want to engage your customers. Write in a way that speaks to them. Make your content conversational, and speak directly to your customer.
Imposter syndrome may lead you to believe that you have to speak with authority to prove yourself as an expert. However, that can come across as talking down to your audience.
If you have researched your client’s business and understand the unique selling point of their product, you won’t have to talk down to your audience.
Your copywriting will be believable, authentic, and trustworthy. You will be just as familiar with the company as the CEO.
When you build a rapport with your client and their customers, there’s little room for imposter syndrome.
You’re focused on solving problems and connecting with an audience, not doubting yourself.
If you can write and publish copy regularly, then by all means do it. If you can’t, keep writing anyway.
Personal websites and blogs are easy and inexpensive enough to set up. Get into the habit of outputting content regularly.
It’s like exercise. Over time, working out will increase your muscle strength. Your writing skills will improve over time too, so flex those writing muscles.
The feelings of imposter syndrome will come and go, but once you have written tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of words, you will have more ammo against those feelings of inadequacy.
If all else fails and you don’t know what to write, write down your accomplishments and achievements.
Don’t worry about what other people think of them, these are your accomplishments. You may be surprised at how successful you have been with your writing.
Grow Your Skills and Confidence
Expanding your copywriting skills and experience is one of the greatest ways to gain confidence.
Having a confident inner voice allows you to rethink and frame the negative emotions associated with imposter syndrome.
With more skills and experience, your confidence will naturally increase. As the old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.”
A seasoned copywriter is naturally more confident than someone new to the role.
But sometimes even veteran copywriters have their doubts about their achievements.
However, if you follow these copywriting tips you can reduce the effects of imposter syndrome. It’s time to talk back to your inner negative voice and reduce your anxiety.
Are You Ready to Perform Copywriting With Confidence?
You can get started in copywriting for free with our Copywriting to Go course. This complimentary course is a great way to explore copywriting as a career and see if it is for you.
Over a 10 day period, we’ll give you a simple, easy video tip each day. Each video takes less than two minutes to watch.
These tips can immediately apply to your writing.
The course is by Amanda Caswell, one of Ad Ages’ Top Freelance Copywriters.
The Copywriting to Go course is your stepping stone into our Copywriting 101 and other courses.
Your future career in copywriting is closer than you think, and you can get started in only 10 days.