Your Creative and Persuasive Talents:
The perfect mix for abundant opportunity
By Steve Roller
"If you learn how to sell yourself and your ideas, you will always be employed."
I'll never forget those words. I heard them from my sales manager in my first direct sales job.
I didn't know anything about selling at the time, but it made sense to me.
I figured, even though I had some great academic skills, it might not be a bad idea to learn how to sell. A back-up plan just in case droves of corporate recruiters didn't descend on me at college graduation.
Good thing I had a plan B.
Those skills served me very well for 16 years.
Then a few years ago, I heard the word "copywriting" for the first time in my life. I honestly had no idea what it meant.
When I figured out that copywriting was essentially selling in print (or, of course, on the Web), I realized that I had stumbled upon something big. Really big.
The beauty of copywriting is that it combines persuasive talent with an element of creativity.
It truly is an art, a skill that can be learned, but not easily mastered.
That's why good copywriters are always in demand.
Good copywriters add to the bottom line. They're paid well because the copy they write makes money.
My # 1 goal quickly focused on one thing: Becoming a good – no, make that great – copywriter. The only problem was …
It all sounded too easy
I had no doubt that it was legitimate (I checked it out thoroughly). I knew you could make good money. My only concern was, "If it's such a great opportunity, and a lot of people become copywriters, isn't the demand going to dry up eventually?"
If it weren't for the Web, there probably would be too many copywriters at some point.
But here's the thing. According to a Pingdom.com blog post on January 12, 2011, there were 255 million websites in December 2010. People watch 2 billion YouTube videos every day. And there are 266.2 million internet users just in North America.
Every one of those websites is a potential client.
The demand isn't going away. Just the opposite – it's getting absolutely huge.
Let the rest of the world commiserate in the doom and gloom and wait out the recession. This is a perfect time to launch your freelance copywriting business!
Copywriting – a valuable skill for life, no matter what you do
What I first heard over 20 years ago is just as true today. Learn how to sell yourself and your ideas (with words) and you will never lack for work.
There are countless resources on learning the art of copywriting. I've looked at and used many of them. But I've built my copywriting career so far on one, solid foundation. Not a day goes by without opening the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.
The Accelerated Program alone enabled me to launch my business. I had my first copywriting client before even finishing it.
But something unexpected also happened.
We've been talking a lot about glicken lately. Rebecca had a great article on Friday, and you may have seen my email yesterday.
But even beyond glicken, once you know how to sell (which copywriting essentially is), and how to read people ("Know Thy Prospect" from the Accelerated Program), you hold the golden keys that will open many doors for you.
You – a master communicator
Let me explain.
Understanding people and how they think is an important skill to develop as a copywriter. The more you progress on your copywriting journey, the more projects you have under your belt, the better you'll get at this.
See, with every project, you have to dig into your ideal prospect. This is straight from the Accelerated Program:
"I'll show you how you really can:
- Unmask your prospect's innermost feelings, desires, and beliefs
- Understand what ideas, facts, and phrases are likely to encourage, frighten, and excite him
- Make him want to be your customer forever"
It's private eye work, says Michael Masterson.
And you know what's really cool?
When you get good at it – and you will – this skill starts to manifest itself in all your personal communication. The quality of your emails, phone conversations, and especially in-person conversations will improve.
The result? You're better able to win people to your way of thinking.
Dale Carnegie devoted an entire section in his classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, to this idea. He outlined 12 principles, but I never really understood them, or put them into practice, until I learned the art of copywriting.
First-class, four-star travel on a budget
It happened to me again recently.
My daughter and I took a short trip to Toronto last week over spring break. I'm a big baseball fan, and one of my goals is to see all the Major League stadiums (16 so far).
We stayed at the Renaissance, which is the hotel attached to the Rogers Centre where the Blue Jays play. I had tickets to a game, but I had also inquired before I left about possibly getting a field-view room, which is basically a luxury sky box.
The only room they had left was a $1,000-a-night suite, which was just a tad above my budget.
Upon check-in, I engaged the front desk clerk in more than the usual small talk. I found out we were both avid baseball fans, and she was impressed that I knew details of the '93 World Series team with Joe Carter and Paul Molitor.
Bottom line: five minutes later, we were walking into our own luxury sky box hotel room at no extra charge. All because I've gradually developed a sincere way of communicating with people.
Don't get me wrong. It wasn't my purpose to angle for a free upgrade. I don't try to "work the system." Not at all. It's just that the principles of "knowing thy customer" apply to every situation. Working as a copywriter the last few years, it's something that comes quite naturally to me now.
It will for you, too.
On the way home, I had a chance to practice again. Our Delta flight got delayed by three hours, and the ticket agent was shutting down everyone who asked to be switched. Every other flight was booked solid, and they would just have to wait.
After watching a parade of people angrily approach her, without any results, I quietly approached. I smiled, I spoke in a low tone, and acknowledged that she had a tough job today. I also humbly asked if there was any way she could check on other airlines for an earlier flight. Sure enough, five minutes later, we were checking in with Air Canada, and we were back in Chicago before everyone else even boarded their flight.
Again, it's not a copywriting technique per se. It's a communication style, which you'll develop and refine as you master the art of copywriting.
Practical applications put money in your pocket
The Accelerated Program also helped me sell a house a few years ago. My realtor wrote the listing description and ad, but we hardly got any traffic. With the 90-day deadline looming, I rewrote everything myself, using my newfound AWAI copywriting skills. I even wrote a one-page "sales letter" that we left on the dining room table during showings.
I won't take all the credit, but on the second-to-last day of our listing contract, we accepted an offer for exactly what we were asking.
Since then, I've sold three vehicles extremely fast and for more money than I expected. Copywriting principles apply to craigslist ads, too!
Those are just the side benefits of learning copywriting. The main benefit, of course, is that you'll have a highly marketable skill in great demand.
And whether you've just started or are well on your way, the goal is to turn that skill into money, right?
Four simple action items for a Breakthrough Year
While I've enjoyed some success in my short two-year copywriting career so far, I'm nowhere near my goals.
Back in March, at the Web Copywriting Intensive in San Diego, I decided once and for all that this was going to be my Breakthrough Year. Enough plodding along. I mean, the title of the program isn't just the "Accelerated Program."
It's the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting! Time to make that happen.
No matter what your starting point is, or what your goals are for this year, I believe this can be your Breakthrough Year, too.
Here are four simple action items that can help you have your best year ever. Not just beat your previous best, but blow past it by 35%, 45%, 100% or more.
- Start with one thing: commit to completing the Accelerated Program and getting your first client. If you're past that point, the recently established Professional Writers' Alliance will help you take it to the next level. It's a chance to connect with top copywriters and top marketers and publishers looking to hire copywriters.
- Focus on just one program through to completion (if you're done with the Accelerated Program), before starting anything else. Two of the best for quickly getting clients: Copywriting 2.0: Your Complete Guide to Writing Web Copy that Converts and Secrets of Writing High-Performance B2B Copy. Those two general areas, B2B and web copy, are booming.
- Find one method of marketing yourself and finding clients that really works for you. There are many good articles on the AWAI site that go into detail on this, and I've listed a few below.
- Finally, keep score. You need to have a goal for the year, but take it a step further and keep score in whatever way possible. You could track the number of hours you spend learning your craft (toward 1,000 hours of proficiency or 10,000 hours of mastery). You could track your income, or number of clients, or number of self-promotional marketing pieces you send out. But keep score somehow.
Let me paraphrase the expression I quoted you at the beginning of this article:
If you learn and master the art of copywriting and apply it to the needs of motivated businesses, you will always have abundant opportunity and create tremendous wealth for yourself.
That sounds like a recipe for success, no matter what this crazy economy does.
Press on, and turn your creative and persuasive talents into your Breakthrough Year.
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 »