3 Days That Changed My Life

Like many freelance copywriters, I spend a lot of hours working alone in my office. That’s one of the benefits of being a freelancer. No office politics, no gossip, no jockeying for a parking place or sitting in traffic.

But at least once a year, those of us who like our alone time must emerge from the cave. Sentences should roll off our tongue rather than flow into our computer. We should remove our hands from the keyboard and shake those of others in greeting and connection.

That’s why it makes sense to come to Delray Beach for Bootcamp this fall. I’ve made it my annual marketing Mecca. And it’s delivered me a nice six-figure income in less than three years.

Not bad, considering I was flat broke when I showed up at my first Bootcamp in 2002!

Bootcamp is a place where new copywriters come with nothing more than a few chapters of the basic program under their belts … and a head full of freelance dreams.

But it’s also become where the industry giants gather. Marketing directors scout for new talent. Top-name copywriters share and learn new tricks. Conversations about what’s working in the mail and online … and what isn’t … abound.

If you’re serious about making it in this business, Bootcamp is a must. The three days provide all the marketing gems you’ll need to book assignments for the next 12 months.

To get the most from Bootcamp, here are some tips for preparing to go and following up when you get home:

Before Arriving …

  • Pack clothes that you like and feel comfortable in.

    It’s three days, so pack three outfits . This isn’t a fashion show, but you must put your best foot forward. To do that, you should feel good about how you look.

  • Bring business cards, even if they’re quickies from your home printer.

    I went through a phase where I wanted to emulate certain big-name copywriters and not have cards to hand out. But it was more awkward not having cards with my contact information than it was cool to be without them.

  • Practice your 30-second elevator pitch.

    It can include whatever you want, so long as it’s clear and decisive. Perhaps something about what you do now and how copywriting fits your overall goals.

    (At my first Bootcamp, I gave Michael Masterson my 30-second pitch. When I was done, he said he was scared of me! OK, so maybe it was a little too assertive – but I made an impression, right? And by the next Bootcamp, I was writing for Early to Rise. So he couldn’t have been that scared … )

Back Home …

Your head will be full of information, your binder full of notes, and every pocket crammed with business cards. Now what?

  • Hopefully, you made notes about each person you met on the back of their cards. While the meeting is still fresh, pop them a quick email. Let them know you enjoyed meeting them … and refer to something the two of you talked about.
  • Finish those specs! Sit down with your calendar as soon as you get home – maybe even on the plane – before the demands of daily life are on your radar. Plot a schedule for getting specs done for the clients you most want to nab.

    When Krista Jones won the AWAI $10,000 Spec Challenge in 2003, she was one of only two people who followed through and completed it. And she scored a control! In very real terms, it clearly pays to follow through.

  • Don’t cram your binder on a shelf yet. Instead, review everything you learned in each session. Type your notes and trade them with someone you met. You’ll find that you each caught something different from the same session … and will learn even more.

    Apply new techniques to specs you’re writing … or to new assignments you scored at the Job Fair.

    Just be sure you fully digest all the information before putting your binder away … for “future reference.”

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: July 31, 2006

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