Your Questions Answered

“Can someone like me really live The Writer’s Life?”

“Okay … so I know others are doing it. But how long is it going to take me?”

“And how does AWAI help us succeed?”

Katie Yeakle here. As AWAI’s Executive Director, these are questions I’ve heard a lot over the last 14 years.

And since I’m taking the helm of The Writer’s Life this week, I thought this would be a great opportunity to answer them publically over the next few days and give you a forum to ask any other questions that are on your mind about AWAI or your path to living a life of freedom and independence as a well-paid, in-demand writer.

Today I’m going to start with the most basic question of all:

Why, of all the opportunities for writers to make money, should I consider copywriting?

Simply, it’s a liberating way to make a living – or supplement your regular income – or transition from your present job to a new career or early, financially secure semi-retirement.

  • Your time is your own. No time clock, no set hours.
  • Your office can be anywhere you like –the porch of a beach house or mountain cabin, in your RV, even the corner table at your favorite Starbucks.
  • Your income can be good from the start, and keep getting better. Imagine being paid $500, $750, $1,000 and more for writing simple, short “friendly” letters about products, services or subjects that interest you. That is as real as the ground beneath you.

Imagine earning more part-time in a month or two than your present job pays all year. That, too, is very real, as you’ll soon see. There are other financial benefits and “perks” too. For example, the government rewards you with tax breaks – even government-subsidized vacations.

  • You’ll be engaged in fun, fascinating, creative activity all about ideas … telling interesting stories … helping businesses communicate and put their ideas across. If you find your present way of “putting food on the table” dull or uninteresting, that can change right now. I’ve never heard a freelance writer complain of being bored!
  • You can create real financial security – the only real security, your personal ability to produce “work” that there is always an endless, expanding demand for. Never worry about looming layoffs again. Escape dependence on one employer, diversify your income with a number of clients, own skills in demand by many (both here and abroad). If you have a computer connected to the internet, there are no boundaries and you can write for clients anywhere in the world. The demand for what American Writers & Artists members do is global and local, strong in “good” or “bad” times; a reliable profession.
  • You’ll be part of an elite, unusual society. Most successful writers are made not born, yet we are a special breed, mysterious to and admired by “civilians,” and embraced by each other. The bond that writers have with each other is like nothing that occurs in any other field. (One of the many benefits of membership with AWAI is this unique community. We connect you with other AWAI members and support the ongoing community online and at conferences.)
  • If you choose, you can use the skills you develop to help your favorite causes, charities, even individuals in need, and do good for the world. Non-profit organizations of every size and nature hire and pay freelance writers and copywriters. You can also donate your professional services as “in kind contributions” for tax deductions. Every group from the local animal rescue shelter to Greenpeace needs help raising funds and communicating with donors, and communicating their message to the world at large.
  • You will have proven pathways to follow when you begin, with AWAI as your “mentor.” If living The Writer’s Life appeals to you, know that as you seek this exciting life as your own, we will be by your side every step of the way! And AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting is where it all begins.

You’ll be in good company

Many creative people spend time early in their careers working as copywriters.

Here’s a list of people you’ll recognize who worked as copywriters before achieving fame outside the DM world. One name that’s missing … Ben Franklin. Old Ben started the first mail order catalog in 1770.

  • James Patterson, author
  • Sherwood Anderson, author
  • Augusten Burroughs, author
  • Helen Gurley Brown, former publisher and editor (Cosmopolitan)
  • Peter Carey, author
  • Gary Comer, founder of Lands' End
  • Bryce Courtenay, Australian author
  • Don DeLillo, author
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, author
  • Terry Gilliam, director and animator
  • Alec Guinness, actor
  • Dashiell Hammett, author
  • Hugh Hefner, publisher (Playboy)
  • Joseph Heller, author
  • Russell Hoban, author
  • Tim Kazurinsky, comedian
  • Rick Moranis, actor
  • Ogden Nash, poet
  • Bob Newhart, comedian and actor
  • Alan Parker, director
  • Steven Pressfield, author
  • Franc Roddam, director
  • Indra Sinha, translator and novelist
  • Salman Rushdie, author
  • Dorothy L. Sayers, author
  • Fay Weldon, author
  • Thom Jones, author

That’s great for them … but can someone like me REALLY do this?

It’s important to know that successful AWAI members have had many different starting points. Unemployed for eight months and terrified. Stuck in depressing, dead-end jobs. In jobs they like, but can’t earn enough money from to meet their needs. 20 years old, 75 years old. Already confident of writing talent – others, doubtful they can write anything worthy of payment. Silver-tongued salesmen, small town school teachers, shy homemakers suddenly having to re-enter the work world after traumatic divorces.

You name a beginning, any beginning, and I can introduce you to an AWAI member with a similar starting place, now earning excellent income, feeling secure, doing work that is interesting to them, leading a fulfilling life … and thanking copywriting for it all!

You will instantly be part of and embraced by this entire community, too. You’ll be assisted not just by our Board of Advisors but by successful members who generously share their experience, who appreciate having had a helping hand extended to them and now extend theirs in turn. You will be mentored, coached, encouraged and supported day by day, as you first explore, then find your way to The Writer’s Life just right for you.

Before I sign off for today, please take a minute to read this great essay by AWAI member Bob Bois on what The Writer’s Life means to him. The title of it is “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, The Writer’s Life for Me,” so that gives you a big clue. But it’s about much more than having the freedom to build a sailboat with his family and plot the course around the world.

And finally …

A Big AWAI Congratulations to Janet Grosshandler

Janet writes:

“I have wonderful, life-changing (mine) news! I have started working as THE online copywriter for Precious Moments, the billion-dollar figurine and giftware company along with its sister companies, Lifebook and others! Tonight, I'm working on a special email series and a landing page for a Precious Moments/Disney exclusive offer.

“I applied for the position right before Christmas through an ad on AWAI, sending off a heart-filled letter of what those little figurines have meant to me for 25 years. Brian Johnson, the Internet Vice President, put me through to the next round and sent me a spec assignment for a sales letter promoting a new (and vague) Precious Moments online program.

“I worked smart under a quick deadline and submitted a day early (my strategy) and a few weeks later in Feb., Brian emailed me that he wanted to talk. We connected that night on the phone; he tells me that I am in the top 4 for the position! He asked if I could fly out to Chicago in a week for their Lifebook personal development seminar. Then he’d give me paid writing assignments about Lifebook and maybe some Precious Moments copy and we would see how it all worked out.

“The rest is history! I attended, wrote, revised, over-delivered and must have knocked it out of the park because he’s had me doing the online copywriting for both Precious Moments and Lifebook for the last 4-5 weeks!

“In the first few weeks, I already hold the control for several sales pages and email campaigns! I’m on weekly marketing team calls and in on advising and planning. It's a little scary to have to be quick on the uptake on all the marketing ideas, but AWAI and Wealthy Web Writer and Bootcamp prepared me well.

“I’m writing all the copy for a huge new Precious Moments online launch of a collaboration with another famous artist – sales and landing pages, email campaigns, PLUS taking on all the social media responsibilities (Facebook, Twitter, PM blog, and articles). I've been buried in Nick's social media program for the past 2 nights!

“Life is exceptional! I am here because of AWAI and all your help. I continually use the AWAI & WWW websites, programs, articles, and EVERYTHING on them to do the best job I can.

“Been doing a lot of happy dancing and also serious hard work and loving every minute of it!

“Thank you, thank you, and thank you.”

Janet, Precious Moments and Lifebook Copywriter

Way to go, Janet! I love your “over-deliver” attitude!

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: March 28, 2011

3 Responses to “Your Questions Answered”

  1. Great reminder of the perks of The Writer's Life, Katie! I love the list of people who got their start as copywriters, too. I heard the whole story about the Lands' End founder when I picked up their VP hitchhiking to Dodgeville one night (he had run out of gas!)

    Steve Roller

  2. Katie--loved the list of former copywriters--hadn't known that about most of them.

    And a BIG congrats to Janet! I'm so excited for you! Way to go!

    Guest (Cindy Cyr)

  3. It happens every time. EVERY time.

    I read one of these inspirational stories from AWAI about rags-to-riches copywriting success, and the fire is lit - until my fear and lack of confidence pour ice water on it.

    I am struggling to finish the Six-Figure Copywriting course, and am crippled by my doubts and fears.

    Please keep these stories coming. Maybe, just maybe, one of them will light the fire and help me KEEP it lit.

    Congrats to Janet G on her success! May it continue and grow.

    Jim Lawrence

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