Jeff McGeary Tells Us How He Went From Disaster to Full-Time Copywriter
Last October, AWAI member Jeff McGeary had just finished the Accelerated Copywriting program and was attending his first Bootcamp. His life was about to change.
Jeff’s five-year-old business was about to collapse, and there was nothing he could do to prevent it. Sounds bleak … but the good news is, Jeff had other resources available to him that would turn impending disaster into a growing, profitable copywriting career.
The Golden Thread interviewed Jeff from his home in Florida to get the full story of his newfound success.
TGT: What did you do before becoming a copywriter?
JMcG: I owned a successful business, importing decorative wood from Zimbabwe in Africa. It took a while to build the business – but I had good clients in the U.S. It was going very well.
Then political and social conditions in Zimbabwe changed drastically. I could see the storm brewing, so I started the AWAI Accelerated Copywriting program in January of 2004.
Then, at Bootcamp, I met and spoke with one of the spec assignment presenters. I wrote the assignment and turned it in.
Not long after Bootcamp, conditions in Zimbabwe collapsed. After five years of hard work, the bottom fell out of my business.
I had to act quickly. So I turned to my growing passion – copywriting.
I went back to my spec assignment and took a closer look at the business and its owner.
It was a good, strong, reliable company. I could envision myself writing copy for them. I had a strong sense of what I could offer.
When I had first met the owner, he’d told me he wanted a good copywriter who was self-motivated. So I sent a 3-page letter re-introducing myself. I also included ideas I’d developed and my vision for the company’s potential future.
In other words, I tried to explain to the owner the clear benefits that I could offer him.
He must have liked what he saw, because he offered me a job. I packed my bags and moved from Indiana to Florida to start my new career.
TGT: What are you doing for that client now?
JMcG: I have ongoing assignments. I contribute articles to their monthly subscription newsletter and write weekly emails that are broadcast to their subscribers.
I’ve also written two small books and several product premiums. And I’m responsible for some marketing and product development.
I didn’t see myself doing all these things a year ago. But I was willing to take on new challenges in order to build my career.
TGT: What was your biggest hurdle?
JMcG: Having to deal with the loss of my other business and trying to cope with the financial loss.
I also had to deal with the turmoil of transitioning from my old life and adjusting to a new environment. It hasn’t been easy. It’s been quite an emotional rollercoaster.
And getting the job was only half the battle. Now that I have it, I have to produce good work quickly. I need to take ideas to my client without expecting him to feed them to me.
Self-reliance has been crucial throughout the entire process. And still is.
TGT: What words of advice do you have for other members?
JMcG: Four things.
- Believe in the AWAI process. They offer a well-designed structure and a selection of programs that really work.
- Every aspiring copywriter has his own timeline for success. Have faith in your own path and your personal timeline will emerge.
- Copywriting is a craft. As a craft, it needs time to develop. Learn it well and practice it as much as you possibly can!
- Take criticism with a smile. Your writing will be stronger because of it.
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