Jeff McGeary Tells His Secrets
AWAI member Jeff McGeary is a good role model for any serious new copywriter. Not because he's a talented and successful professional – which he is – but because Jeff still considers himself to be a beginner when he writes copy.
More about this rather strange secret to Jeff's success in a moment.
The Golden Thread first interviewed Jeff two years ago when he landed a position writing editorial copy for Dr. Al Sears. Since then, he has helped build Dr. Sears' Internet presence and has written some of Dr. Sears' recent successful promotions. He also had a successful promo with Agora Health.
Plus, in acknowledgment of Jeff's achievements, he was just elected to the AWAI Wall of Fame.
TGTE: Tell us a little bit about yourself, Jeff.
JEFF: I live in Florida – moved here, in fact, to take the job with Dr. Sears. It wasn't a hard decision to move, though. I grew up in Miami, so it was like coming home.
After my import business evaporated and I became a copywriter, music – an old interest of mine – reappeared in my life. I have a BA in music and play the electric bass. So this, too, has been a bit like "coming home." I also play golf, another long-time interest.
TGTE: You mentioned your import business. Why did you decide to change careers?
JEFF: I was importing art from Zimbabwe when the political situation there deteriorated to the point where I couldn't get anything out.
Right about that time, I received the famous "Can you write a letter like this" promo. It seemed like a great opportunity – and, quite frankly, my financial situation was getting desperate.
I got the Accelerated Program, studied and finished it. Not long after finishing, I signed up for the 2004 Bootcamp. The best career decision I ever made!
TGTE: Why did you decide to go to Bootcamp?
JEFF: I had the conviction that it would be a good place to network. I knew I could take advantage of the opportunities at the Job Fair.
TGTE: Tell us about the achievements that brought you recognition on the Wall of Fame.
JEFF: I made my first contact with Dr. Sears at the 2004 Bootcamp. He was looking for a full-time copywriter to write editorial copy in Florida. I was still hanging onto the dim hope that my import business would survive, so I decided not to make the move.
But when my business collapsed at the end of the year, I wrote Dr. Sears a letter telling him about myself and outlining how I felt I could help his business. (By the way, at that point, I had only one real sample in my portfolio.)
Dr. Sears called me for an interview right after the New Year break. I was offered the job then and there, based on a combination of the interview and my letter.
I'm currently Editorial Director for Dr. Sears. I write the majority of his editorial copy – like his "Doctor's House Call" e-letters – and I'm responsible for editing the rest. I'm also writing promos for him.
During 2006 Bootcamp, I bumped into Jenny Thompson from Agora Health. I gave her some of my writing samples. That led to an opportunity to write about a prostate product. The promo mailed in March and beat the control by over 100%.
TGTE: To what do you attribute your success?
JEFF: My entire copywriting career has come out of AWAI. My contact with Dr. Sears couldn't have happened without that first Bootcamp.
Also, I've been very fortunate in receiving lots of good feedback about my writing. I take that feedback to heart. It's the only way I get better and my writing gets stronger.
I try to take a beginner's perspective with my writing. I don't expect success, and I don't let my last success make me think my next promo will do well.
I'm still a beginner and hope to stay one for as long as I write … always learning.
TGTE: Last question. Any words of advice for our readers?
JEFF: I always take critiques seriously, even if I don't like hearing them. I never adopt an "I've arrived" attitude. The effectiveness of your writing is judged solely by results, so keep working on honing your craft.
[Ed. Note: You can learn more about Jeff by reading his Success Profile on AWAI’s Wall of Fame.]
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