From The Golden Thread Mailbag …
Getting Your Foot in the Door

Hi Scott,

The Golden Thread newsletter is a wonderful read. I specifically liked the article in Issue #201 about the open source word processor. I have a helpful hint as well. Would you also suggest this free financing software … … to your readers. I hope this will be as useful for them as it has been for me.


Murtaza A.

Thank you for your suggestion, Murtaza!

Hi Scott,

I absolutely love the whole idea of copywriting, and feel I have a future in that field. I took Michael Masterson’s program while in 12th grade, and have dabbled at writing for the past two years. At the beginning of this year, I finally decided to throw myself full force into the work. That’s where the problem begins …

I don’t have any work! I’m looking specifically for freelance or spec assignments and I’m finding that they’re not so simple to land. What can I say? I’ve tried calling marketers but have been met with cool responses, at best, to my enthusiastic offers to write things on spec. I feel like I’ve come across a brick wall with no place to turn. Do you have any ideas to help me?

Sarah L.

Hi Sarah,

Don’t be discouraged. Being a successful copywriter requires consistent marketing … and it may take a little while to reach the critical turning point when you get your first assignment. There is a definite learning curve involved with successful self-marketing.

Offering to do work on spec is the best way we know of to get your foot in the door with a client… and I recommend you keep on trying that route.

You might, however, want to “test” different approaches … phone calls versus sending your own self-promotional piece. And, don’t forget that to treat your self-promotional piece as one of your most important writing “samples.”

Bob Bly offers much more advice on this in his Selling Yourself program (which just happens to be 30% off during our Holiday Sale!)

Dear Scott,

I am currently working on the Basic Copywriting Program. I am interested in the Masters Program, but I’m not quite ready to start it at this time. However, I do have a question about a component of that program. Could you briefly explain "Space Ads" to me? I’m not sure what they are.

Thank you very much,

Clinton E.

Hello Clinton,

Direct response space ads are advertisements in newspapers and magazines that elicit a direct response. (Sometimes it’s important to state the obvious.)

They usually have a distinct look – a bold headline running along the top of the ad space, followed by columns of dense type, culminating in a little order form in the bottom corner.

They often take up the whole page, but they can also appear in half-page, quarter-page, and even smaller formats.

Direct response space ads differ from image advertising – the kind of space ads that promote cigarettes, perfume, cars, and alcoholic beverages – in two big ways:

  1. They are text heavy.
  2. Their purpose is to provoke an immediate response.

Image advertising aims to create brand awareness. To do so, it usually employs strong visual images and catchy phrasing.

Direct response space ads aim to create an immediate response.

Hope this helps clear things up for you.

That’s it for this week. Thanks to one and all. And keep those emails coming!


The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: December 27, 2005

1 Response to “From The Golden Thread Mailbag … Getting Your Foot in the Door”

  1. Hi,

    It has been advised that rewriting successful promos is great practise for direct response copywriting. I would like you to please suggest the process for rewriting (say) AWAI promos.

    Thanks and Regards,

    Terence V


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