Why I Fought the Copywriting Experts

Steve Roller here, your guest editor of The Writer's Life this week.

For two years I fought a battle, and I finally conceded.

I'll explain in a minute, but first …

If you remember, a month ago, I wrote to you from Quito, Ecuador, where I was on a mini-sabbatical. The plan was to change course in my copywriting career by developing a niche and reinventing myself.

I'm happy to report that it worked.

AWAI’s Niche Yourself and Thrive! and Profitable Freelancing programs were invaluable resources that helped me boil my decision down to three broad choices: self-improvement, men's fitness, and travel.

In the end, I chose to focus on direct-response web copy for high-end and romantic travel companies because of my passion for that area and the potential to make good money.

Making that decision has given me a newfound energy that I haven't had since I first made the leap to full-time freelance copywriter in 2009. I no longer have to think about whom I'm going to market to. Becoming a specialist has also given me a sense of direction and purpose.

This turnaround came because I stopped fighting the niche experts (who am I to question people like Nick Usborne, Pam Foster, and Rebecca Matter?).

See, I had all kinds of excuses why focusing on a niche might be good for others but not for me:

"I don't want to limit myself to one area. I have lots of interests, and I'd get bored just writing in one niche."

"I'm a beginning copywriter. I need to take any work I can get! I'm not going to cut off 97% of the potential projects I could do."

"What if the niche I choose is already saturated? Then I'll have to start all over."

"How can I say I'm a specialist in one area when I've been a generalist up until now? I won't have any credibility."

The truth? I really couldn't decide on a niche. Every time I heard about a new program from AWAI, it sounded interesting!

The other reason: I was keeping busy with projects in different areas that kind of fell into my lap without having to market my services. I was getting by, but not getting rich.

Have you ever gotten to the point where you actually got mad at yourself for being mediocre? That's where I was. And why I finally took steps to change the direction of my career.

I don't know where you are on your journey to the writer's life, but this week I want to give you action steps that I took recently to move my business forward.

Phase One, which I told you about in August, was reinventing myself.

Phase Two – this week – is about re-launching. I'll give you tips for developing a new strategy and marketing plan and bringing in new clients.

And during Phase Three in October, we'll talk about how to become an authority in 60 days.

Follow this plan over the next three months, and don't wait until January 1, 2012, to turn the ignition on your "resolutions" to improve your freelance career. If you start now, you'll soon have shifted into overdrive and be running on cruise control!

I'll share with you what's working for me and what isn't. And show you how to apply the lessons I've learned to your own experience.

One of the biggest questions I hear from beginning copywriters is, "How do I get enough clients consistently to keep busy and eventually do this full time?" Read my article, Reap What You Sow: How to Increase Your Harvest of New Clients, for ideas on keeping your pipeline full by planting "seeds" now.

If you haven't found a niche yet, consider an area that is begging for copywriters. Million-dollar copywriter Dan Kennedy has spent most of his career in this niche (he practically created it), and now he wants to give you the pass key to some of the same riches he's enjoyed. Find out more here.

Stay tuned this week for more on taking your business to the next level, no matter where you are now.

How to Choose Your Writing Niche

How to Choose Your Writing Niche – Your step-by-step blueprint for finding a niche that’s right for you

Need to pick a niche for your freelance business? Learn how to do it once and for all, and watch your business grow. Learn More »


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Published: September 19, 2011

16 Responses to “Why I Fought the Copywriting Experts”

  1. "The truth? I really couldn't decide on a niche. Every time I heard about a new program from AWAI, it sounded interesting!" Never had truer words been spoken! At some point, you have to say "stop!" and make a decision or you'll continue to go in circles with no forward motion. Excellent article, Steve. Looking forward to the next in the series!

    Kellie CraftSeptember 19, 2011 at 9:18 am

  2. The niche I’m cut out for based on experience is medical device B2B (I’m an engineer). But my head goes thump on the desk from lack of interest.

    Direct response sales letters are fun. But what about the hype I might have to write?

    I’m a fisherman. Writing for the B2C fly fishing industry would tap that. Is the industry big enough?

    I’m a custom jewelry designer. Should I write for myself, build that business, and become an expert marketer that way?

    And non-profits… and…

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaa………!

    Ed in MinnesotaSeptember 19, 2011 at 4:45 pm

  3. Wow Steve. I felt you wrote this especially for ME!

    I have a question though, did you "niche yourself" from the start?

    I ask because "I'm a beginning copywriter. I need to take any work I can get", etc

    Also, I have a ton of interests. Is focusing on what I have previous experience in the only way o go?

    Great post. Thanks.

    Melissa CSeptember 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm

  4. As a former Innkeeper, I am working towards getting an Innkeeper copywriter website going, to offer my services in all things copywriting and site audits.
    It's got me excited!
    I, too, have Niche Yourself and Thrive! and can't wait to start it.

    AliceSeptember 19, 2011 at 7:02 pm

  5. I'm just getting started in copywriting. I bought the 6-figure Copywriting Course just a couple weeks ago and have been working through that. I haven't had any clients or jobs yet, but I've been reading on AWAI about the importance of having a niche. I've been a Christian for 10 years and have been investigating some leads in Christian copywriting. But I'm also interested in copywriting for video games. Is it feasible to have two diverse niches simultaneously? Or would it be better to focus on 1?

    Guest (Stephen)September 19, 2011 at 7:11 pm

  6. It is interesting that you chose to talk about finding your niche! Over the weekend I just read the section on niches.While I am still trying to figure out where I'm going in this venture, I have tried my hand at proofreading in the past, and spotted some typos in the info for this class. Is there anyone who'd like to find the typos?

    Guest (Louise)September 19, 2011 at 7:50 pm

  7. Steve, Excellent article and idea for an article series like this...
    I def can relate, in a slightly modified way...I currently write a MMW through Nick's program (www.archaeologyrevealed.com), but I have a business background. I thought B2B would be right for me. I am NOT into hype-y writing that B2C demands (can't stand to write it or to read it ;-) ).

    Interests are white papers, case studies and newsletters (with newsletters being #1). Problem is, should I specialize in an industry niche or just an "offering" niche. Taken AWAI courses, but they don't address this specific dilemma.

    I had thought of specializing in business arenas where I have experience (computers & networking, software training, human resources, and/or education)...

    Any thoughts?

    BTW, I echo Kellie's sentiments from the above comment: Can't wait for your next installment!

    KarenMSeptember 19, 2011 at 8:02 pm

  8. I have to admit, that I am both excited and nervous about embarking on this new area. My niche is writing scripts for branded entertainment Web TV--focusing on Lifestyle (mainly food and travel since those are my passions as well).

    Guest (Melzetta Mele Williams)September 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm


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