The Professional Writers’ Alliance Writing Challenge Winner …
My Deafening Moment: The Day I Decided
I AM a Freelance Copywriter!
And NO, I didn't mean "defining"!

Let me back up and help you understand.

I've been “laid-off” three times in two years.

First the college laid-off professors due to declining enrollment. I decided that was last straw in education. I really was done with teaching!

I wanted to be a writer since college. And I've published and worked part-time for years at my writing, but I never earned enough money to pay the mortgage, let alone the retirement.

After eight months in a dreamy job as a technical writing specialist, it too was sacrificed on the altar of the declining economy.

Then, I took a J.O.B. (Just Over Broke) as a sales project implementation specialist with the promise that it would NOT be just a clerical position, and my salary would be reviewed after six months for an increase.

As the economy continued down the slippery slope, I didn't press the issue when six months came and went without a review. I actually considered myself, ‘Lucky' to have an income.


Realizing that my monthly dips into the savings account were about to break me, I needed another stream of income. I thought about a second J.O.B., but I never knew when I would be available. Overtime-time that I wasn't paid for as a salaried employee, was on-command without consideration.

Then I received the AWAI magalog, I thought, well, I'll give it a try. After all, I knew something about writing after a master's degree, 20 years teaching English Composition, and a number of by-lines. I figured all I needed was a few pointers in the right direction!

I know NOW how arrogant that sounds … And how much I have to learn about copywriting!

This was not the first AWAI magalog I'd seen. In fact I'd considered it several times over the years, when my enthusiasm waned for the 80-hour weeks, the classroom discipline, the lack of administrations' and parents' support, and stacks of papers to edit at home every night and every weekend. I'd been looking for a writing career outside of academia for years.

Since I'd found a kind of fulfillment in tech writing-even if only for a short eight months-I decided I'd take a chance with my savings. I ordered Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting just over a year and a half ago, I started all gung-ho, but then-like many I've read about since-I let things slide as I began to doubt my ease in sliding into the Writer's Life. I got busy with other obligations.


When I realized I was coming up on a year of the J.O.B. and my saving had disappeared, I decided, I NEEDED more money NOW! I went to my supervisor and reminded him of the written promise in the offer letter to revisit my salary after six-months. I even reminded him of all I had accomplished.

I wasn't really ready to start my copywriting career-mind you, I hadn't even finished the course, but I told him I needed a raise because I wasn't making it financially, and if they could not give me at least as much as I could make by going back to teaching, it would be kinder to let me draw unemployment until I could find a teaching job.

He told me he'd talk to the CEO. The economy was not much better than a year earlier, but signs were improving (at least here in Texas).

And then I held my breath … for a week!

During that week, the news proclaimed teacher lay-offs from this district and more from that. I was almost fainting. FINALLY, I cornered my supervisor and closed the door: What had the CEO said?

That was my Deafening Moment!

"And, I quote [the CEO] on this, ‘I can hire two people for what I pay her!' So we've decided to hire someone else. Of course you'll be eligible to draw unemployment until you find a teaching job."

I was … I was … stunned! I hadn't really intended to leave.

I didn't want to go back to teaching.

But my gross salary was really GROSS--20% LESS THAN a teacher's salary. And even that door was closing with teacher lay-offs everywhere.

The roaring in my ears made everything in life deafeningly silent.

I don't know that I heard anything else my supervisor said; although I think I was in his office for 30 minutes. Then I got mad!

Silently I screamed, “How dare the CEO presume he could replace what I do for them with someone who will accept half of what I make? I doubted they could find one such qualified person let alone two!”

At that point, I knew I never wanted to be at the mercy of an employer again! I had been “laid-off” three times in two years.

Then I tuned-in to what I'd been letting slide. I got back into my Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting; I borrowed from Mom to go to Dallas for Joshua Boswell's “Dallas Experience: Six Figures in Six Months.” There I declared,

"Failure is not an option; my utmost, for His Highest!"

I applied for my business license and began Jaeger Copywriting and PR Consultancy, and in two weeks I signed my first client: writing web articles for a realtor.

Don't get me wrong, I had to take another Tech Writing contract with a big corporation, but my livelihood is not based exclusively on them-soon I won't need it all! Now I have enough money to pay Mom back, and I earned enough to enroll in Bootcamp. Now there's an event to light ya' on fire!

I learned three important lessons through this deafening moment:

  1. Don't give someone else complete control your purse strings (or wallet).
    If I had another stream of income-say a stock photography portfolio, a monetized web site, or a copywriting or freelance writing business-this would not have thrown me into my silent world of shock! Admittedly, all work-for-pay gives others some control, but like a wise investor, we don't need to put all our eggs in one basket!
  2. Life is a series of choices.
    Letting someone else determine what choices I can make is like #1 above. Only I can make the wise choices that will protect my livelihood, my career interests, and my life style. No one else really has a vested interest or cares much about anyone but himself. The time to look at choices is before you're in dire need of new direction, a new job or career, or a life-style adjustment.
  3. The Resources are available to take control of my dreams!
    I bought several great AWAI resources this past year that have opened doors to new work techniques and options, new business practices, new ways of thinking about dreams and goals, and new thinking about overcoming obstacles to MY objectives.

“Failure is not an option!” And I SHALL NOT let someone else control my income level, choices, dreams, or life style ever again!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance is the first professional association just for direct-response industry writers.

Whether you’re a freelance web writer or a full-time copywriter for a Fortune 500 company, it never hurts to have someone at your back challenging you to do better, cheering you on and keeping you in top form. That’s just what The Professional Writers’ Alliance does for its members.

Through this association, you'll enjoy full and unfettered access to a long line of benefits – each of them aimed at elevating your professional skills and offering you an invaluable source of ongoing motivation and inspiration each andevery day.

For more details, click here.

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: May 5, 2011

1 Response to “PWA Writing Challenge Winner: My Deafening Moment: The Day I Decided I AM a Freelance Copywriter! And NO, I didn't mean "defining"! I mean DEAFENING!”

  1. Susan, I met you at Bootcamp and thought you were an old (experienced, that is) pro. Way to go putting your skills into action right away!

    Steve Roller

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