A Candid Interview with Katie Yeakle, AWAI’s Executive Director
Katie Yeakle sits down with professional copywriter Guillermo Rubio (“G”) and reveals everything you’ve ever wanted to know about AWAI and copywriting.
G: Hi Katie. For everyone out there, could you please tell us what AWAI is and its purpose?
Katie Yeakle: AWAI is a place where folks from every walk of life can come and learn the art and skill of copywriting. Now if you don’t already know, copywriting is the art of persuasion in print. The idea for AWAI came about because there is such a huge need for copywriters – especially in today’s digital age. Think about it … every business out there could benefit from website content, emails, sales pages, product descriptions, brochures, postcards, you name it. It all started with me and two professional copywriters – and now good friends of mine – Paul Hollingshead and Don Mahoney. And for the past 14 years, we’ve been helping people live what we like to call “The Writer’s Life” by giving them the best available resources to master the skill of copywriting.
G: Why do you feel copywriting is such a good skill to learn?
Katie Yeakle: It’s the basis of all communication. Anything you want to do in life requires some degree of persuasion – whether its acing a job interview, asking for a raise, marketing your products and services, or even convincing your friends or spouse to go see the movie you’ve been dying to watch. It’s really the root of success. And that’s why I’m so proud of what we do here at AWAI. We’re not just showing people how to write copy – we’re showing them essential persuasive skills. Skills that are used to negotiate when you want to create a “win-win” situation.
G: So Katie, how does Michael Masterson fit into the AWAI mix?
Katie Yeakle: I’ve known Michael for close to 30 years now. He hired me for my first job out of college … as a copy editor for a publishing company he was working with. Through that experience, I learned every facet of the direct response industry. I did every job there was. And through being in the industry, both Michael and I saw the huge need for copywriters – and the lack of enough good ones. So that’s when he put me in touch with Don and Paul. Together, we’d meet at Boston’s here in Delray Beach once a week. It’s where AWAI was born. Paul and Don had the copywriting know-how. They are both amazing master copywriters, but they didn’t have the experience of running a business. I, on the other hand, had the business knowledge … but not their level of copywriting skill. So we all agreed that Don, Paul and Michael would help create the program. Today, Michael is a consultant to us.
G: What’s the best part about being AWAI’s Executive Director?
Katie Yeakle: The members who contact me with their success stories. Hearing the excitement in their voices jazzes me up and lets me know we’re on the right track. That, and when members contact me for help, I give them advice, and then a few months later I get a phone call telling me how their life has transformed for the better. Also, I love copy and everything about it. A great sales letter is a joy to read for me.
G: What would you say is the secret behind AWAI’s success?
Katie Yeakle: It sounds so cliché, but there is no “secret.” We just want our members to succeed and we do what we can to make that happen. We wouldn’t be in business for the past 14 years with such a great track record if people weren’t achieving what they wanted with copywriting. And that’s why we succeed. We’re constantly thinking, “What else can we do, what other skills can we teach, that will help our members become successful?” We also constantly ask our members what they want and how we can improve. Then we take that feedback and implement it. Also, we think of it as a lifetime relationship with our members. It’s truly an organic process … because as new technologies and new marketing avenues open up, we’re there to see how our members can use it to their advantage – and then give them the tools to do just that. Oh, and one more thing – we never think we know it all. That’s why, if there’s something our members could benefit from, we bring in that industry’s expert. For example, when it comes to online copy, we’ve brought in Nick Usborne to create a program … Or when it comes to B2B, we call on Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage and Ed Gandia. And it’s exactly why we’ve partnered up with some big names in the industry as well – guys like Clayton Makepeace, Ted Nicholas and Dan Kennedy. And at the end of the day, the success of AWAI really mirrors the success of its members.
G: So you’re always hearing about how AWAI’s members are living “the Writer’s Life.” What is “the Writer’s Life” for you?
Katie Yeakle: For me? It’s that I’m doing something I’m passionate about. It’s a very nice lifestyle that gives me a lot of flexibility to live where I want to live and have plenty of time for my family and friends. Also, it’s being able to use my creativity and helping people while I’m at it. Seeing their lives transform – it doesn’t get any better than that!
G: So what kinds of success stories have emerged as a result of AWAI’s flagship program – AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting?
Katie Yeakle: Oh, we’ve had hundreds. We define success stories in so many ways … because success is different for each AWAI member. For example, there’s Monica Day, Joshua Boswell, and Krista Jones who are now earning six figures and living life the way they want to. Then there are plenty of folks who’ve come from pretty desperate financial straits and used copywriting to turn their finances – and life around. Then there’s Marcella Allison, who recently told me that thanks to AWAI and copywriting she hasn’t had to take out loans to send her son to college. AWAI member Steve Roller can now match his old full-time salary while staying at home with his kids during the day … Then there are even folks who’ve used copywriting for things like getting their house sold in a tough real estate market … getting incorrect bank charges reversed … one man who I’ll never forget told me about how a letter he wrote persuaded a health insurance company to agree to pay a big claim it had previously denied. And there are more stories too … where folks have used copywriting for raising funds for causes they’re passionate about … like helping schools get grant funding they desperately need … restoring a derelict park in their city … fundraising for their kids' entire band’s uniforms … AWAI has been more rewarding in terms of the success stories it’s created than I could ever imagine.
G: What advice can you give to someone who’s an aspiring copywriter that really wants to make it and see success sooner than later?
Katie Yeakle: I’ve spoken to dozens upon dozens of regular, everyday folks who managed to overcome big limitations and become successful copywriters. And there is a common theme they all share. And that’s when you say to yourself, “I AM a copywriter!” Once you embrace that you are, in fact, a professional copywriter who can help businesses grow, that’s when you’ll start seeing success. Like anything, you’re going to have to do some work and put yourself out there … but we give you tools that, if you apply them, will work and help make that happen for you. So start believing that you’re, in fact, a copywriter … that’s when your success becomes unstoppable. People can tend to sit on the fence … but when they make that commitment and raise their hand and say, “Yes, I’m a copywriter” – that’s when their careers “click” and shift into high gear.
G: What would you say to folks that are skeptical about AWAI and getting one of its programs?
Katie Yeakle: Try it for yourself. I’m happy to speak to anybody personally about AWAI. We’ve had so many success stories and really are the industry leader at this point. What’s more, we stand behind everything 1,000%. If you’re not satisfied, we offer a 100% money-back guarantee and have been in good standing with the Better Business Bureau for as long as we’ve been in business. And again, I would encourage you to contact people who’ve been involved with AWAI.
To learn more about Katie Yeakle and AWAI, visit us here.
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