How to Find a Copywriting Mentor

“Mentor: Someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.”
– Anonymous

You’ve probably heard about AWAI Wall of Famer Krista Jones before.

She left an $81,000-a-year job as an environmental scientist to become a highly successful freelance copywriter and info-marketer. And she earns more than she did at her old job.

So what is Krista’s secret?

She got herself a mentor.

When she won AWAI’s $10K Challenge in 2001, she had the great fortune to work directly with Michael Masterson. Immediately after, she mentored with copy coach Will Newman.

With her skills in place and the confidence coaching gave her, she took action. She approached Nightingale-Conant, one of the world’s largest self-help direct mailers.

Almost instantly, she produced a number of controls for them. From there, her career literally took off.

Today, Krista has come full circle. She now mentors up-and-coming copywriters.

If you’re an aspiring copywriter, you might want to seriously consider getting yourself a mentor, for these reasons …

  • A mentor will help you stay motivated. He or she will help you keep going, even during those times you feel like quitting.
  • A mentor will improve your skill mastery dramatically. And with that improvement comes a newfound self-confidence in your abilities.
  • A mentor will teach you more than just how to write copy. You’ll learn about the business side of copywriting, along with how the industry works.
  • A mentor can help you land your first few assignments. In fact, many mentors will refer clients to their students.
  • And finally, as you grow as a copywriter, a mentor can also become a great friend, colleague, and reference.

So how do you find a mentor?

Here are five ways:

  1. Pay for a mentor. If you’ve got the money, this is probably the best and fastest way to go. Since you’re paying, make sure to do your research. Google is a great tool for this. Also, make sure your personality jives with that of your mentor. Krista Jones and Monica Day offer a mentoring program that is first-class. So does copywriting coach Chris Marlow.
  2. Land a staff copywriting position. This is the next best option. Go to DirectResponseJobs.com, AWAI’s annual Job Fair, or to local direct-marketing ad agencies and apply for any in-house, full-time copywriting positions. You can also contact companies you want to work for directly. The benefits of going this route are two-fold. First, you get paid while you learn from someone more experienced than you. (Most agencies and/or businesses have a senior copywriter on staff.) Second, you’ll be forced to write every day, for hours at a time. This means you’ll get a TON of practice. Remember, the more you write, the better you’ll get.
  3. Find local copywriters. If you live in a big metropolitan area, this may be an option (but it’ll take some time). Go to places where you’ll likely find other copywriters (e.g., local DMA Chapter events). You can also visit AWAI’s Forum, or even do a Google search for “copywriter” in your area. Do this and get to know people. Eventually you’ll meet an experienced copywriter. Befriend him or her, and see if they’d be willing to mentor you in exchange for working with or for them for free.
  4. Be a “copy cub.” Sometimes, big name copywriters will take on junior copywriters who will work for free. In exchange, the big name copywriter will mentor and work with the junior copywriter as his/her “copy cub.” Clayton Makepeace has done this numerous times. So has Parris Lampropoulos. Find out the email of the person you’d like to be mentored by. Then email them and convince them why they should take you on as a copy cub. Make sure to include samples.
  5. Go to one of AWAI’s Bootcamps. Every year, hundreds of copywriters gather at Bootcamp. Chances of finding a more experienced copywriter that can mentor you are very good. After all, dozens of master copywriters are usually in attendance.

When you do get a mentor, take action. Do whatever homework or assignments he/she gives you. Having the world’s greatest copywriter as your mentor will do you no good if you don’t put in the required work and effort.

And finally, commit to your own success. According to Krista, copywriters become very motivated in the beginning. But after a few weeks, their motivation wanes. As a result, they stop doing the things they should be doing … writing, contacting potential clients, and learning their craft.

So find yourself a mentor and commit that you’ll follow through, no matter what. Before you know it, you’ll be a copywriting superstar!

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: December 15, 2008

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