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How to Improve When You’re Not “Naturally” Talented

PSA: The Copy Workshop is open for enrollment for our January 2022 session. The workshop is $1,200 but for the next week, Akimbo is offering it for $800 in celebration of something I’ll tell you about later. For now, what you need to know is the price for the workshop will increase in one week. If you’d like to access the discount click the purple circle on this page.

Class begins January 24th, 2022.

Ok, and now I want to tell you about soccer.

One time when I was 11 I tried out for the girl’s soccer team. Shortly thereafter, I collapsed in exhaustion, confused and MORTIFIED that my body didn’t behave the way the other girls’ bodies did. Mine fainted when I asked it to do things. Got winded easily. And didn’t seem to understand when people told it to “aim” or “kick.”

I thought it was me because everyone told me it was me.

“You’re just not athletic.” “She’s not coordinated.” “Lacks stamina.” “A girlie girl.”

I was and am none of those.

The truth was no one had ever taught me to practice.

The other girls regularly went for jogs or trained with friends or family. I’d never heard of “training.” My family did other things like talk about foreign politics and go to movies. But the dedication that comes from persistent and consistent practice in order to improve a physical skill – I’d never even known that existed as an option.

I thought you were either “a natural” or “not a natural.”

If you ask someone to run 5 miles when they’ve never run before, they’re going to struggle. If you ask them to walk around the block a few times for a month, then the next month jog slowly around the block, and then the next month jog two blocks – eventually, they will be able to run 5 miles.

But to assume because you cannot “run 5 miles” without practice, training, or being in shape, that you are the problem – this is an attribution error.

One that we also make when it comes to writing and sales.

“I’m not a good writer.” “I’m not good at sales.” “I’m not a words person.”

Whenever I hear people say things like this, my head goes right back to those soccer tryouts where I collapsed in front of a group of 11-year-olds and then was mocked by my family for being “unathletic.”

You are not a bad writer and you are not bad at sales.

What you are is out of practice.

I know this because there is no such thing as a bad writer and a bad salesperson. There are simply people who practice, and people who don’t.

I am not a “naturally” good anything.

I practice.

Which is why I now can run hill sprints regularly without fainting, hyperventilating, or collapsing. Slowly, and over time, I trained my body through practice.

The same is true for writing.

No one is “naturally” good at copy. They work at it. They practice. They get good at trying things that might not work.

I’ve been writing this email to you every week since 2017. I’ve been publishing on the internet since 2014. Before that, I was writing academic articles and (really awful) newspaper pieces for any local paper that would let me. When I wanted to get into graduate school and every professor told me “no,” I cold emailed every student and professor whose email was publicly listed online until someone got back to me.

That’s how I got better.

I practiced at the level I was at until I progressed into the next level.

Practicing SUCKS. It’s hard, you make a fool of yourself, you do things “wrong” and “bad,” and you get better.

Or to quote the Mandalorian: This is The Way.

This idea that we are “naturally” able to do things well without practice is a seductive myth that’s reinforced in movies, TV, and how your mom talks about your “gifted” cousin. But TV, movies, and your mom have something in common in that they are unequivocally unreliable sources of data.

What is reliable are the over 4,000 students who’ve taken my courses and the over 20,000 students who’ve enrolled in Akimbo workshops. What separates the students who get better from the ones who stay the same is practice.

Traditional courses allow you to take in information and fill your brain with concepts, which is great. But it’s not practice. To bridge that gap between what you KNOW and what you can DO is practice.

The Copy Workshop is a place where you can practice. We don’t just teach you copy, we get you writing, practicing, and improving.

If you want to get better at copywriting, sales, persuasion, and influence, come practice with us in The Copy Workshop.

That’s how you get better.

The Copy Workshop is a 9-week interactive workshop that teaches you the foundations of copywriting by having you actually write some copy. For details about how it works, click here.

For the next week, Akimbo is offering The Copy Workshop (regularly $1200) for $800. If you click the purple circle on this page, using this link, you’ll be able to unlock the discount and save your spot for January 24th, 2022.

No one should have to practice alone. Come practice with us.

-Margo, who got better with practice.