Your 4-Part Success Springboard

Yesterday I promised to give you my two very best pieces of advice for succeeding as a copywriter. But as I started writing, I realized I need to double up on that offer in order to give you the best possible springboard for success.

So here they are … my FOUR best pieces of advice for living a life of freedom and independence as a well-paid, in-demand writer:

  1. Get started. Makes sense, yes? I think we can agree that nothing will happen for you until you take that first step. And today you can get started on the very same path that has changed the lives of thousands of people for just $17. If you’ve been putting this step off for any reason at all … if you’ve been waiting for “one day,” … well, I’m here to tell you “today’s the day!” I’ve sent you a separate note about this limited-time offer, but if you missed it, you can read about it here.

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot."Stephen King

This leads me to my next two pieces of advice:

  1. Write every day. Here’s what AWAI Co-Founder Don Mahoney has to say about this:

    “Perhaps THE most important thing a writer – beginning or experienced – can do is to write every single day. Without becoming comfortable with the process of transferring thoughts to expression on paper, the writer lacks the most fundamental skill or technique essential to success in that field. It almost doesn't matter what is written … the important thing is to always be developing that connection between thoughts and written expression. Whether you’re writing love letters, editorial, or marketing copy, this is one of the most essential processes needed to progress in this field.”

    And Master Copywriter Bob Bly says, “Writing for a lot of writers is like riding a horse – they have some anxiety about it. If they don't get back in the saddle every day, the anxiety will grow into writer's block.”

    So, here’s what I suggest you do: set up a daily writing routine.

    • Make it realistic.
    • Schedule it for when you’re at your most creative.
    • And, most important … do it every day.

    If you don’t have any assignments in the hopper, there are plenty of other things you can write to keep those muscles engaged: a blog, a journal, sample promotions, letters to your colleagues and family, pages for your website, practice ads, notes to prospective clients … the list goes on and on.

    And if you need a bit more structure to get started, here are four weeks' worth of “assignments,” courtesy of the Professional Writers’ Alliance, to get you writing every day for the next month:

    Week 1: Become a Local Activist

    Read your local newspaper every day this week, online or the good old-fashioned way. Find an article that stirs you up a little each day, and write a letter to the editor. Use your persuasive skills to bend the editor and readers to your way of thinking. Try to get inside the mindset of the typical reader, and appeal to their core emotions. End with a call to action.

    Week 2: Early Spring Cleaning

    Find seven items around your house that you haven't used in the past year, and write up a great craigslist ad to sell them. Could be that old pair of downhill skis that didn't get any action the last three years. Or that guitar that you bought used yourself and never got around to playing.

    Whether you actually place the ad or not, write it in such a way that you'd get quick results. Come up with a captivating headline. An interesting angle. Make it easy for the reader to buy.

    Week 3: Rewrite Your Mail

    This one can be a real confidence booster. Just this week, open every piece of mail you get (the physical kind), and pick out one each day to rewrite. It's not that hard to do – there's bound to be one a day you look at and immediately say, "I could have written better copy than that!" Well, here's your chance. Write at least a new headline and short lead.

    And if you get a brilliant idea that you think could really work for the company, consider contacting them and suggesting it. You never know where that could lead.

    Week 4: "Oh, the Places You'll Go"

    Write about somewhere you've always wanted to go and what triggered the idea. Is there one particular thing you want to see there? A long lost friend you want to visit? A family genealogy you want to trace? Could be a place like Edinburgh because you're a golfer and want to see St. Andrews. Or New Zealand, where commercial bungee jumping originated. Over the next seven days, describe seven places you'd like to visit. Then make this a 5-15 year "to-do" list. You’ll be living the writer’s life, after all!

  2. Read every day. Every successful writer I’ve known personally or know by reputation says this same thing. Reading the type of writing you want to be successful at every day is the best way to absorb the rhythm and nuances of that style of writing.

    Here’s more from Don on this:

    “The suggestion to read one sales letter a day is not a simple exercise designed to keep someone busy. It’s an important exercise that has some key benefits.

    “For one thing, by reading a promotion every day, you’re forced to keep abreast of what is working in the world of direct marketing. We may all have our own ideas of what is working, but the response of the public puts our individual perceptions in place.

    “For another, we can see examples of what hot buttons are being pushed – whether they are scientific, purely emotional, direct, indirect, etc.

    “We also get to see things that we are certain wouldn't work – yet there they are, bold as brass, and obviously working (especially if we see them more than once).

    “So all in all, it’s not an exercise simply designed to see how others are writing – a basic lesson – but also one that keeps our finger on the all-important pulse of what is going on in the world of direct marketing … a world we have chosen to succeed in.”

    So, if you want to write sales letters, read a sales letter every day. If you want to write landing pages, read a landing page every day. If you want to write case studies, read a case study every day.

    At first, just read them to get into the habit of doing it. But then after a couple of weeks, start paying attention to word choices … sentence length … tone and all the things Don mentions.

    The important thing is to get started. Dedicate 5-15 minutes of distraction-free time to do this. Make it part of your daily routine.

And the fourth piece of my success springboard …

  1. Come to Bootcamp. There’s a very good reason Bootcamp serves as a launching pad for so many AWAI members’ copywriting careers …

    And it goes beyond the added skills and up-to-the-minute secrets you pick up from the dozens of intense presentations.

    It’s because coming to Bootcamp does two very important things for you.

    First, Bootcamp is your official “indoctrination,” if you will, into the world of direct response. By coming, you get to see the industry in action … meet up with the players … talk shop with the experts … learn about the “inner workings” of the industry over dinner or a cocktail.

    There’s that “being there” experience which can’t be replaced. You can read all the books and see all the travel shows on, say, Paris – but until you’ve been there, walked the avenues, had a coffee and pastry at a street side café, and gazed upon the Arc de Triomphe or the Eiffel Tower with your own eyes, you’ve never truly seen Paris.

    It’s the same with copywriting and the direct-response business.

    Unless you’ve spent time immersed in it – talked with decision-makers, heard from experts and felt the energy of this powerful event – you’ve never truly experienced what this exciting industry is all about.

    Like so many past attendees have told us – that “being there” experience can not only have a crucial impact on your understanding of the business but your confidence going forward as well.

    But, as important as your immersion into the business of direct response is, it’s nothing compared to the very tangible second benefit of being there:

    Your attendance at Bootcamp sends a very clear signal to the industry that you’re dead serious about becoming a professional writer. Please don’t underestimate the importance of this. Over the years, we’ve attracted some of the biggest names in the industry precisely because – year after year – they’re able to recruit the best and the brightest of the up-and-comers.

    And make no mistake about it. All those marketers and publishers don’t sign on to come to Bootcamp to do us a favor … 
They do it because they need writers and don’t want to miss out on the next up-and-coming copywriting superstar — someone who could one day transform their businesses with the next breakthrough piece of copy. And it’s never been more important than in this difficult economy.

    The bottom line is this.

    Never before has there been so much new demand for skilled writers with fresh ideas — and never before has it been so important for you to take back control of your life … to be responsible for your own future and your own income — and to seize the opportunity that’s long existed to earn a six-figure income any successful copywriter can make.

    And if you’re serious about this – about making 2011 the year you transform your life once and for all – I urge you to make your plans now to join us at Bootcamp this October.

    Without question, it is the place to get it all done:

    • To know what’s working now
    • To get the latest insights and techniques from working pros
    • To meet and rub shoulders with so many top experts
    • To understand intrinsically how this exciting, dynamic, ever-changing, and ever-growing industry works
    • To build your network ­– of fellow copywriters and marketers … people who can have a profound impact on your career today
    • To gain the confidence to move forward … to succeed
    • To make lifelong friends you can keep and call on forever
    • To launch your career in very tangible ways … through networking, spec assignments, and, of course, our industry-famous Job Fair
    • To live and breathe the direct-response industry for three of the most energetic and intense days you’re ever likely to experience
    • And reaffirm the commitment you’ve made to yourself: to become a successful, in demand, live anywhere, six-figure copywriter whose life and time are controlled by no one other than you

    You can hear more about the impact Bootcamp can have on your career from AWAI member Mindy Tyson McHorse. Read her letter, and then if you still have any questions about whether Bootcamp is for you, please contact me personally at

So there you have it … my four best pieces of advice to help you achieve your goal of living the writer’s life. I’m standing by waiting to celebrate your success.

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: April 1, 2011

3 Responses to “Your 4-Part Success Springboard”

  1. Probably the truest statements I've heard, even though I've heard them more than once. My experience with AWAI so far has been a tremendous learning experience. I've been to numerous management training seminars, various sales training camps, and marketing classes in my life, but I've never had access to so much powerful knowledge that isn't repetitive and very helpful. I plan to keep utilizing this new knowledge to help further my career as a writer. Thank you for this Katie...

    Guest (Allen)

  2. Hi Katie, I have wanted to be a writer all of my life. I went into teaching and have had to leave the classroom due to health issues. I have been reading various articles trying to get into my first love, writing. I enjoy your articles and believe they may be what I've been seeking to get me started.
    thanks so much for the jump start.

    Guest (Kathryn Alkire)

  3. Here I am, two years later commenting in a post so good it is timeless... Seriously, I have commited to go to bootcamp next year (unfortunately it is too late this year and my 9 to 5 won't allow it later this year... that's why I want to be a freelancer so bad...).

    Guest (Rodolfo)

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