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Should I learn copywriting or programming?

Discussion in 'Hustles, Freelancing, Bootstrapping' started by Ywan, Apr 19, 2019.

  1. Ywan
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    Ywan New Contributor

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    Hello,

    I want to learn a new skill, but I can`t really decide, which one to pursue, copywriting or programming? (I have neither experience in one nor the other.)
    I am interested in both of them, but I don`t have time to learn them both.
    What do you think is the better option in the long term and why?

    My goal is it to become proficient in one of these two skills, to get some startup capital for my entrepreneurial ideas and have a basis to get back to, if the ideas don`t work out.

    Thank you.
     
  2. Lex DeVille
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    Lex DeVille Sweeping Shadows from Dreams Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Programming is better in the long term. The world is getting more automated every day. Copywriters will eventually be replaced by AI that crafts better copy than humans. But somebody will have to program that AI first. So if you're looking for long-term solutions, then programming will always be the better option.

    Copywriting is not going to make you startup capital at a useful level from scratch in under six months, and probably more like a year. That's assuming you are good at selling yourself. Since you said "if the ideas don't work out" I'll assume you're not confident that they will which also says you may not believe in yourself enough to make copywriting worth your time.

    Whichever way you go will require big shifts in mindset before you make money. If you haven't read The Millionaire Fastlane, then I would pick up a copy before going any further in any direction.
     
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  3. Digamma
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    Disagree on this one Lex.

    This is my perspective as someone who is reasonably good at both skills and used/uses them both to do biz. Sorry if I write weird things, I'm pretty hungover.

    In no particular order, and as they come to mind:
    • Becoming proficient at copy is much easier/faster than programming. Lex says 6mo/1y, but honestly, I started making a livable wage in around two months. You won't beat sophisticated controls. But you will be delivering results to clients who had BAD marketing before you came along, and that's fine. Or you can do affiliate marketing. In programming you could do Lambda School or a bootcamp and maybe find a job pretty fast. But you aren't a professional, not really. You are only leveraging a huge gap in labor supply/demand to get a job where they know they'll need to train you.
    • Copy is something you can leverage pretty much on your own. Bang out copy for clients, and you got a freelancing biz. Being a one man band in programming is much harder, and usually reserved for either full stack devs (lots of skills needed, lots of time) or veterans who are hyper-specialized in some hard/niche thing. That's not to say you shouldn't increase in both breadth and depth of skills when working on copy, but it's easier to get in motion.
    • To somewhat rehash the same point in another way, basic copy skills are easy to get and will be very, very useful for any business you start. Basic coding skills are harder to get and stop being useful fast. It becomes a simple matter of expected value.
    • Never work in a cost center.
    • The state of AI is way over-hyped. AI is not going to write decent copy on its own for a long, long time. By the time it can, the problem will be moot. Besides, it will be copywriters that make that AI, not programmers.
    • More to the point, you want to be a businessman? You need to deal with human psychology. That's all there is to business. Copy will teach you a lot of that. If you want to go from A to B, make your path as straight as possible. Don't invest thousands of hours learning something you won't use once you are doing what you want to do.
    • You will learn the basics of copy anyway as you start business, so might as well get two birds with one stone.
    • There is only one skill you need to learn. Selling. Copy is selling in written form. What other skill to fall back on could you possibly need? The day there is no need for selling is the day there is no need for labor, and so the whole point is moot.
    • You definitely need to fix your mindset as Lex says. Why do you need a fall back? Burn your boats, man. If an idea doesn't work out, you try another thing.
    • You will know your mindset is fixed when you problem is not "what business do I start?" but "how do I decide what to pursue out of all these problems I see?".
     
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  4. Kennypaul
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    Kennypaul Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Programming is better to me!....Really complex stuff to learn but I still feel it's better in the long run.Hope my opinion helps you

    Happy coding!!
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019
  5. Lex DeVille
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    Lex DeVille Sweeping Shadows from Dreams Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    The tech to do it is already here. It's just not being used for copy. I want to see this thing in action!
    This AI is so good at writing that its creators won't let you use it - CNN
     
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  6. Smuggo
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    Smuggo Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    HTML is not programming language. Rest in pepperonis.:rofl:
     
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  7. Andy Black
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    Combine both?

    I was an IT contractor for 10 years, and have been a freelance digital marketer for a further 10 years.

    What I do now: Write code to generate advertising campaigns, in my case Google Ads. There’s a bit of copywriting involved, and Google Ads in particular suits folks with an IT background or brain.

    If a niece or nephew came to me asking whether to do copywriting or programming I’d say Google Ads.
     
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  8. srodrigo
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    Then, focus on what kind of problems you want to solve, and what kind of business you want to start. From there, learn the required skills, being it copywriting or programming. If you are really worried about having a plan B, go for programming, you'll find a job easily and can make 6 figures eventually as an employee if you are good at it.
     
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  9. Lex DeVille
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    I don't think we're in disagreement. It's definitely possible to get good enough at copy to make a living wage in 2 months. The rest of the time is to account for all the other things I've seen hold copywriting students back again and again.

    Mainly that people suck at writing, don't really grasp influence and persuasion, are afraid to put themselves out there because they don't think they're "good enough," and don't know how to sell themselves to clients.
     
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  10. Andy Black
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    Oh, and I’d suggest not having a goal “to learn”.
     
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  11. Andy Black
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    Andy Black Any colour, as long as it's red. Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    ^^^ Yep. And this is for any service folks provide.
     
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  12. Ywan
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    Ywan New Contributor

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    Wow, thanks for the many answers.

    Mindset is definitely a problem for me. I have to work on that more, that is a fact.

    That is an interesting point, as I am planning to do things mostly on my own.

    That is hard to do, because I have a family, so a regular income is a necessity. Because of this, I am still working as an employee, but I am not satisfied with that; I want something more and so I thought, that learning a new skill would be a good start.

    What do you exactely mean by writing code?

    From that viewpoint only copywriting makes sense, because most of the ideas I have are in the ecommerce area. One reason for this could also be, that I don`t have any experience with SaaS and programming at all, but it is, what it is.

    So you are basically saying, that copywriting is dead, but it just doesn`t know about it yet?
     
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  13. Kennypaul
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    Kennypaul Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    My bad....Got carried away there(LOL!!!!)
     
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  14. Lex DeVille
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    Not exactly. AI isn't going to be used for full-blown client copywriting for years. Maybe even 10 years or more. But you asked which was better in the "long term."

    I only posted that link to show that AI can competently write at human levels right now. It's just not being applied toward copywriting or for any specific purpose beyond developer tinkering (as far as we know).
     
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  15. astr0
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    Both skills are valuable.

    Programming might be a little bit more scalable skill in the long-run. Good programmers are generally bad at copywriting, cause it requires different wiring in the brain, so they need a copywriter from time to time. Probably the same is true for the other side. A good copywriter might be good in design (including Web Design) cause it's the same wiring, but not in hardcore programming (embedded, high-performance stuff, etc.).

    Learning programming to become good at it is a pretty long process. Same stands for copywriting, but you're probably already on the way, right?

    Most members here would probably disagree but in my opinion, every skill benefits from your abilities. Not only sport/physical skills.

    It's possible to learn any skill and to be good at it. But if the skill doesn't match you, it would be damn hard to get to the top 1% in it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019
  16. Ywan
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    Ywan New Contributor

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    I studied my mother tongue and russian at university and finished the first with a master degree and the latter with a bachelor.
    That means, that I am a quite proficient writer, but I haven´t really done any copywriting yet.
     
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  17. Taktik
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    I agree. This reminds me of the way James Clear put it in Atomic Habits:
    The secret to maximizing your odds of success is to choose the right field of competition. Play a game that favors your strenghts.
     
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  18. Digamma
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    I get what you are saying.

    But: copy is not about the writing. Maybe we mean different things. When I say copy, I mean direct response. Take a product and a market, and make things happen.

    Yes, AI can competently generate new text.
    What it cannot do is understand people, come up with new angles that match the direction a market is moving, and leverage that to produce offers for that market.

    To completely automate this process would probably require general AI.
    Coding will get automated well before human psychology (much easier).

    In fact, the argument for coding rests entirely on the assumption that (1) it won't get automated and (2) the demand for labor keeps growing. Both of those are hugely flawed assumptions imho.

    To address the last part of your post, it is being used in the industry for content generation (I use it myself). But it's pretty much automating legwork. We already had that automated to be honest, only it was outsourcing instead of AI.
    True. I would like to point out that you don't need to get to the 1% in a skill unless there is a reason.
    If you need to write copy for your ecom store, you don't need to be a world class copywriter.

    Makes sense.
    Suggested:
    Learn Direct Response => Freelance on the side (specific offer to a specific target) => Build your freelancing to a real source of income in much less time => leave job => use freed time + money to start your non-service business, or grow freelancing to agency, or whatever you find best.
     
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  19. astr0
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    If coding gets fully automated it would build SkyNet and we're all doomed. No point in taking that into consideration as everything won't matter then. Even if it decides to spare us, it will code and make every possible thing we can and cannot imagine.

    No-code solutions are making significant progress. But that's programming in a different way. No writing code, but still a lot of work.

    Sure, only if it's the main skill required for your business/job.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019
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  20. srodrigo
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    I don't believe in SkyNet's, and I don't think we should worry for a few generations at least. Software projects are still pretty hard to get right, not so much because of programming itself (we are getting better and better tools), but because from your client's mind to production there are many things that change and aren't interpreted right, so the amount of variables that can go wrong is still really high. Even with perfect code generation tools, there would still be a problem with translating ideas into specifications that a machine can understand. The AI bot that programs itself is even farther away.
     
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  21. wordwarrior
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    Depends. Is software central to your business or complimentary to it? For amazon, software (AWS cloud computing platform both as a standalone product and infrastructure for their own products) is front and centre to their business and gives them a massive competitive advantage. On the other hand, software (usually just a website) is merely complimentary to a self-publishing business.

    Lots of non-programmers got rich writing lousy to medium quality software. What they managed to do is get a product to market and then sell it. On the other hand, lots of programmers tried to start businesses with beautifully architected software applications and failed miserably because either the end product wasn't all that valuable or they couldn't market it effectively.

    So I'd say get the copywriting skills. Granted, I'm a software dev with almost 20 years experience who finds copywriting new and fascinating.
     
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  22. rjrobbins2
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    I disagree with AI replacing copywriters. Yes, there will be AIs that generate good content but we are far away from them being so prevalent that they get close to eliminating writers. Writing requires a human element that AI will find difficult to replicate. Maybe one day they will build AI with emotions and AI will create emotions for themselves but I think we are far off. Copywriting is a high-demand skill.

    With that said, programming is the better skill to learn because it will always be in demand and likely have higher earning potential.

    But, it all just depends on what the OP wants to do with their life and what kind of value they wish to provide to the world.
     
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  23. Journeyman7
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    I would definitely recommend trying them out before making a big decision. https://teamtreehouse.com is an amazing resource for learning how to program. Try their 7 day trial - then you can see if programming is something you would enjoy doing long-term.
     
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  24. Dmoneyzzz
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    I believe Copywriting would be better short term and Programming would be better long term.

    However Copywriting should still be extremely beneficial long term! Programming, in comparison, is more difficult to profit from in the short term (as you are still learning and may not have even grasped the greater concepts of the programming language you are learning).

    Nevertheless, they should both be very rewarding avenues. If you enjoy one more than the other (I'm talking passion), then that is the one I would pursue so that you have the most motivation to learn if/when times get difficult or discouraging. Best of luck man!
     
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  25. 404profound
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    My two cents is both, in sequence. Programming will allow you to build a solution to a problem that will scale without you doing extra effort. Copy will communicate with people to turn them into users of your software.

    Edit: I should caveat that even with software there are some upgrades / changes needed to scale. But they are mostly one-and-done type deals (e.g., database sharding, increasing bandwidth, server clustering, etc etc). But they aren't problems until they're problems, and if you're that successful, you can pay for someone else to do it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019
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