How I Went From Layoff to Payoff – 3 Steps to Becoming the Copywriter You Really Want to Be
Having survived four layoffs, everyday at work felt like a gamble.
All I could think was, “Will I be next?”
It was Christmas time, and the investment banking firm I worked for decided on a fifth layoff – effectively cutting out 25% of the staff. As luck would have it, my name was on that list.
Fortunately, in October of 2002 – a few months before the layoff – I got a letter from AWAI in my mailbox that read, “Can You Write a Letter Like This One?” Initially, I didn’t give it much thought. But once I sensed things might go south at my company, I decided to order AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting as an “insurance policy.”
And now that I was jobless, the freedom copywriting offered seemed a perfect fit with my love for writing.
To support myself, I did a little resume writing on the side, and took various temp jobs.
I studied copywriting every moment I could … my rise to success was slow but steady. By 2006, I had enough copywriting clients that I felt confident in focusing on copywriting full-time.
Much of my success comes from what I call “WSM.” It’s a system I use to make sure I’m always using my time to do the things that guarantee I’ll achieve the copywriting goals I’ve set for myself.
Here’s what it stands for, and how it can help you achieve the writer’s life:
W = Write
You’re not a copywriter unless you write copy every day. Writing is how you actually gain the skills and find your “voice.” Don’t get caught up in the easy mistake of wanting to learn it all and never finding the time to write. If you don’t have any clients to write for, write spec assignments, re-write any one of AWAI’s promos, or write an article you could submit to a potential publisher or use as a self-marketing piece.
S = Study
In addition to writing, you constantly need to be learning and sharpening your skills. And that doesn’t mean only studying copywriting. Read books on marketing to give you a deep understanding of how this business works as a whole. The more marketing you know, the better copywriter you’ll be … and the more valuable you’ll be to every potential client that comes your way.
M = Market
As soon as you feel competent at writing copy, market yourself! It’s the only way you’ll land paying assignments. And if you’re feeling a little timid about “being a copywriter,” simply fake it till you make it. Although cliché, there’s a profound truth in it.
To market yourself, write a self-promotion selling yourself and send it to companies you’d like to write for. When I started out, I marketed myself to small, local companies. As my skills grew, I went to my local library, and got a copy of Direct Marketing Market Place – a reference book listing companies who use direct mail. Then I picked out a few companies and sent them a promo selling my services.
If the thought of marketing your services scares you, I’d like to make a recommendation that may or may not be for you …
One of the things that helped me overcome my fear of rejection and selling myself was taking a part-time, face-to-face sales job. It gave me the confidence I needed to market my copywriting services.
When practicing the WSM system, make sure you set up your day to devote enough time for each component. You don’t have to divide your time equally across all three. Just make sure you do enough of each, to get closer to your goals.
Once you follow WSM, you’ll be living the writer’s life before you know it.
It worked for me …
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
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