How Ed Gandia Made the Transition from Over-Worked Salesman to Six-Figure Copywriter …
I received this note from AWAIer Ed Gandia Friday afternoon.
Just over two years ago, Ed was looking at the same challenges so many of you face:
- how are you going to get your career off the ground?
- when will the time be right?
- how can I find the time to make it happen?
Well, Ed answered those questions … and managed to achieve his dream in only 27 months while working a demanding full-time sales job. Today, he’s living the “writer’s life” … working his own hours … making six-figures … and having the time of his life.
Ed asked if I’d share his story with you which I’m happy to do as a special issue of The Golden Thread.
Executive Director, AWAI
FROM: Ed Gandia
SENT: Friday, April 18, 2008 2:26 PM
TO: Katie Yeakle
SUBJECT: How I Became a Six-Figure Copywriter in Only 27 Months – While Working a Full-Time Job …
My situation was a bit extreme and unusual, in that I had to replace one six-figure income with another. I wanted to be a full-time copywriter pretty badly. But as the sole breadwinner in my family – and with a newborn son – I couldn’t risk giving up the six figures I was already making as a salesman.
I could leave my day job only if and when I was making a significant amount of money from copywriting on the side …
I gave myself a deadline of two years, and then worked backward … figuring out the steps I had to take in order to achieve my goal of making six figures as a copywriter.
I was what Michael Masterson calls a “Chicken Entrepreneur.” Someone who doesn’t want (or can’t take) the risk of starting a business full-time – and so, instead, keeps his day job for security while he builds a side business part-time.
I studied everything I could get my hands on, including AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. And I applied what I was learning to my job. Instead of cold-calling, I wrote short sales letters to potential customers and mailed them out. I started having some pretty good success with this, and it steadily built my confidence. My sales territories – the worst in the company (that no one wanted) – soon became some of the company’s most profitable.
One of the things that helped me quickly hone my copywriting skills was reading proven sales letters, and then writing them out by hand.
Every week, I’d pick one letter from AWAI’s Hall of Fame book. Once a day, I’d read it and write it out by hand.
Sometimes I wondered if this was helping at all. As I’d read those winning sales letters, I’d think, “Man, these guys are so good. I’ll never get there.” But I soon realized it was a mistake to think like that. There are very few “natural talents” in the world. Almost everyone at the top – no matter what field or industry they’re in – got there because of practice, practice, practice.
So I kept at it. Reading and writing. Again and again.
Once I was confident in my skills, it was time to start getting some clients. Being in the high-tech world, I decided to make that my niche.
I created a sales letter selling my services, and sent out a few every week. At first, I got no response. But I kept at it … refining and fine-tuning each time.
In the meantime, I set up a website selling my services. And I visited online forums related to my niche. To get some quick samples in my portfolio, I offered to do some work for free, in exchange for testimonials. I did about two or three such projects.
At this point, things got rolling. Potential clients started calling, and I was getting assignments. At first, they paid small … around $250 to $500. But the fees grew, until I was charging a decent amount for every assignment that came my way.
It got pretty crazy. I worked my full-time job, and worked my copywriting business on nights and weekends. But it was worth it. I was getting closer to my goal. I saved all the money I was making from copywriting, so I would have a safety net when the time came to leave my job.
Finally, after 27 months of working as a copywriter on the side, I was making enough money to make leaving my day job a possibility. As luck would have it, my company was bought out at the same time. And instead of laying me off, they offered me a promotion within a division of the new company. I graciously declined, and went into copywriting full-throttle. I quickly matched my previous income. And then, within six months, exceeded it!
No more commutes. No more quotas. I was now able to work when I wanted to, and I was in complete control of my schedule.
None of this would have been possible had I not set a goal, and created a plan to make it a reality.
Many people never take that important first step, because they put their number one goal on a pedestal. The moment you do that, the goal becomes unreachable. It becomes bigger than it really is, and has power over you. When this happens, you fear taking action, because the goal seems so overwhelming. The key is to make it seem like achieving it isn’t a big deal.
Take away the goal’s grandness. Then you’ll see it for what it really is. Once you realize the goal is attainable, break it down into small steps. Create a plan. Follow it and make adjustments along the way.
And let me tell you, if I was able to do it, given my circumstances, anyone can do it.
Advice to my Fellow AWAIers:
If you’re ready to take your first step toward living the “writer’s life” too – but just don’t know where to start – here are a few tips to help you:
- Gain the skills quickly. Set a goal to finish AWAI’s copywriting program by a certain time, and practice, practice, practice. Read great sales letters and write them out, like I did.
- Start with your current job. Every business is dependent on sales. And copywriting can be a great way to boost them. Find ways you can put your skills to use within your current company. That’s what I did … and it was a great way to refine and gain confidence in my abilities as a copywriter. Who knows, doing this may even lead to a promotion for you!
- Pick a niche and market yourself. Decide what area you want to focus on. Do you like alternative health? Software? Investments? Once you know which niche is best suited for you, write a sales letter marketing yourself to companies in that industry. Resources like AWAI’s Making the Leap, and Bob Bly’s Getting Great Clients go into greater detail on how to do this, step by step.
- Never give up! At times, it might seem like you’re not making any headway. That’s when it’s critical to keep going. Don’t give up. Eventually, you will hit a breakthrough, and everything will start falling into place.
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