June 28th, 2013 by Bob Bly
I’ve made a large number of mistakes in my life. These flubs
have cost me more in lost income, career success, and happiness
than I could possibly keep track of.
Here are my 5 worst screw-ups, presented in the hopes that I can
help you avoid making the same errors I did:
1-Not jumping on opportunities.
When Internet marketing arrived on the scene, I both resisted
and ignored it.
I could have gotten into online information marketing in the
Instead, I waited until 2004, until my colleague FG pushed me
into doing it.
As a result, others gained the leadership position I could have
owned, and I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales I
could have made during that time.
Joe Vitale and others have said, “Money loves speed.” The faster
you act, the more likely you are to succeed.
2-Not having an ultra-narrow niche.
At the beginning of my copywriting career, I wrote only
industrial copy, and was well positioned in that niche. I loved
it! Industrial clients wanted to hire ME, not my generalist
As time went on, more people outside that niche wanted to hire
me, and so I became less focused, although today I do have four
niches: financial, health, high tech, and business-to-business.
I love writing for the variety of clients I have today, but from
a purely business point of view, life would be easier if I were
more narrowly niched.
I think copywriters who laser focus on a narrow niche are smart,
like Pam Foster who specializes in the marketing of pet
products. Now that’s a narrow niche!
3-Turning down book contracts.
There have been a few times over the last three decades when I
turned down a major publisher who wanted me to write a book for
In each case I came to regret turning down the book offer — and
wished I had accepted and had written the book.
Every book I have written has helped my career in some way -
even my satire, sex, and Star Trek books!
My advice: writing traditional paper books is good for your
career or business, so if you are offered a contract by a real
publisher, take it.
4-Not saving your accomplishments and kudos.
Any time I get a letter of praise, I drop it in a file labeled
“kudos.” I then excerpt these favorable comments and post them
on my site:
Any time you produce something for an employer or client, like a
video or a brochure, save a copy as an electronic file.
Clients today increasingly want to see that you have done work
similar to what they need done now.
The more samples you can show them, and the closer those samples
match their current project requirements, the more comfortable
they will be hiring you.
Although I saved a lot of my work, every once in a while a
prospect asks for a sample in a field where I have done work -
but don’t have the sample. And I kick myself every time.
5-Not having children at an early age.
This we couldn’t help: although I got married at 25, my wife was
diagnosed with cancer a few months after the wedding, and we
could not have kids for several years following her treatment.
Then we went through infertility and didn’t have our kids until
we were in our 30s.
If I could change all that, I would have had kids when we were
still in our 20s. Doing so increases the odds that the parents
will be around for the kids and grandkids longer. And, younger
parents have more energy.
Steve Martin became a first-time dad at age 67. When his
daughter graduates college, her father will be 88. That’s not
ideal for either parent or child, in my opinion.