How Chauncey Terry Turned Bodyguarding Into Copywriting Success
AWAI member Chauncey Terry has an interesting background. We recently interviewed him to find out how he used part of that background – being a bodyguard – to build his career.
AWAI: Tell us about yourself, Chauncey.
Chauncey: I grew up in Washington, D.C. and now live in New York City. Before moving to New York, I lived in northern Africa, the Middle East, and Europe for about 12 years.
I played pro basketball in Africa and France during that time, and I loved it. But the travel got to be more than I was willing to do. So I came to New York to take advantage of job opportunities here.
AWAI: What prompted you to become a copywriter?
Chauncey: Well, I did a number of different things when I returned to the U.S., including being a fundraiser for the Republican Party. But I looked at my life to decide what I really wanted to do. I’ve always loved writing and decided it was going to be my life’s work.
I needed to be realistic. One of my favorite writers is Langston Hughes, but I didn’t want to die broke like he did. So I researched what different types of writers earn and learned how lucrative copywriting is. During my research, I came across AWAI. Its programs seemed exactly what I was looking for.
AWAI: How did being a bodyguard fit into your success?
Chauncey: I worked as a bodyguard for some upscale clients. That job brought me in contact with a specialty Irish bar in New York that was just opening up. It was more than just a sports bar.
The bar’s owners maintained a database of customers. I convinced them to let me write a promo to those customers to move them from infrequent visitors to regulars. They agreed … and I had my first real assignment.
AWAI: How did you approach the promotion?
Chauncey: At first, I struggled with the lead. Then I went back to AWAI basics and looked for the USP. That made it easier.
This is an upscale neighborhood with 11 bars. But this bar has unique attributes I hadn’t seen elsewhere. They have high-quality food for a reasonable price (like rack of lamb for $11). They are the only bar in the neighborhood that features beers from around the world. And the biggest USP is that they have monitors on the beer taps where customers can watch games without having to crane their necks.
I wrote individual letters based on these USPs, pinpointing specific team fans (Jets, Giants, and so on). The letters were very successful, and I now have 3 similar clients.
This has also led to working on a new, large online financial newsletter.
I was speaking to the keynote speaker and another man at a Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) fundraiser. In the course of the conversation, I mentioned I was a copywriter. We exchanged business cards, which has led to the newsletter assignment. I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to do that without my first bar assignments.
AWAI: What do you attribute your success to?
Chauncey: Reading and studying, particularly the AWAI Accelerated and Masters programs, books by Bob Bly, Schwartz, and Ogilvy.
I research what I’m writing about thoroughly. I’m confident in what I do, based on the knowledge I’ve received from AWAI.
I keep my work time sacred. And I’ve created a work area that constantly reminds me what I need to do … including a whiteboard with my mantra on it: “Practice. Practice. Practice.”
AWAI: Any words of advice for our readers?
Chauncey: Study the masters of copywriting. Practice. Use what you get in the mail to see what’s working, what’s good, and what’s not working.
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