How to 10X your income (with only the skills you have today)

In college my dream was to be a journalist.

Specifically, I wanted to write the kind of brilliant, “long-form” feature stories published by magazines like The New Yorker and Harper’s Weekly.

My heroes were the old-school “gonzo” journalists like George Plimpton and Tom Wolfe. (Plimpton once spent months training as a football player with the Detroit Lions just so he could write a book about his experience. I’m not a huge sports fan, but this book really made me appreciate the raw power and animal intelligence that football demands of pro players—highly entertaining read.)

What drew me to magazine journalism?

Well, I’d get to spend all day talking to fascinating people…

Immersing myself in complex topics…

Then write articles that people (hopefully) love to read.

My dream of being a big-time journalist never quite materialized. I did get a chance to intern with The Washington Times, write for several regional and national magazines, and cover local news for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

But in the end I gave up on this idea because I realized it could easily take me 10+ years of working at slave wages before I’d be earning enough to sustain a family.

Fast-forward 10 years.

Today I’m supporting my family as a (copy)writer.

And what does that look like?

Well, I get to spend all day talking to fascinating people…

Immersing myself in complex topics…

Then writing emails and sales letters that people love to read (and buy from).

I have far less stress than I would have endured as a “cub reporter,” and I’m earning a solid income for my family.

None of this is to brag—there’s an important business lesson here.

Because when it comes down to it, the work I’m doing now is nearly identical to what I was doing as a journalist. Essentially I’m researching topics and using what I discover to build a compelling and persuasive case for an idea.

So why is it that journalists struggle to keep the lights on while many copywriters earn comfortable 6-figure incomes?

The biggest difference is the BUYER.

When you’re a journalist, you’re selling your skills to newspapers and magazines who are getting eaten alive by the Internet. You’re salary is just another line item in the expense column.

As a copywriter, you’re selling your skills to thriving businesses who earn thousands (and in some cases, even millions) from the words you produce.

Same basic skills, different buyers.

Perry Marshall writes about this in “80/20 Sales and Marketing.”

It’s a simple but profound concept:

The customers in the top 20% of your market will happily pay FAR more for the same basic product.

You want to set your business up so you’re selling to the top 20% of your market, NOT the bottom 80%.

In other words… Whatever your market is, be a “copywriter,” not a “journalist.”

P.S. If you’re running any kind of business, or ever hope to be your own boss someday, “80/20 Sales and Marketing” is essential reading.

You can grab a copy here: