From The Golden Thread Mailbag …
Determining Deadlines

Hi Scott,

I have a tip for folks who want to search the wealth of knowledge in past “The Golden Thread” newsletters but may not be that “Web savvy.”

From your favorite search engine, type: “” and then the search term. For instance, if I want to read articles by Bob Bly, I’ll type: “ bly.” It’s important to put a space between the slash (/) and the search word.

Keep up the great work!

James C.

Hi James,

This might be my favorite reader tip yet! I, too, need to reference an article from an older issue of The Golden Thread from time to time. I’m usually at the mercy of my own so-so memory when trying to find the one I’m looking for. Not any more …


I’m in the process of sending out self-promotion letters and following up with phone calls, emails, etc. It’s just a matter of time before I land my first client.

Here is my question: How in the world do I estimate how long it will take me to prepare a lead-generating letter, or a magalog, or anything? I want to be able to converse with my prospects and set mutually agreeable deadlines based on more than wild guesses on my part. Thoughts? Thanks.

Yours truly,

Karen Z.

Hello Karen,

You’re really the only one who’s going to be able to answer this question when the time comes. The first step is landing the job. Once you do that, you and your client will decide on a deadline based on the size and scope of the project, how much research is available vs. how much you’ll have to do yourself, how much you want the job, etc. Chances are the client will already have a deadline in mind … it will then be up to you to see if you can make it.

You should have a pretty good idea by now of if you’re a “fast” writer or a “slow” one. If you think you’re on the slower side … and you have the opportunity to negotiate the deadline … be sure and add a day or two on to your initial estimate.

You might want to suggest a few intermediate deadlines for the project. For example, copy platform in 4 days. Headline and lead in 7 days. Balance of letter in 14 days. An advantage of this system is that you can get feedback from the client along the way.

And, of course, you can always seek advice from your peers. Visit AWAI’s Forum and ask your fellow newbie copywriters how long it took them to complete their first assignments.

But, first things first. Land the job and then worry about the deadline!

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


The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: March 6, 2006

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