"Hey! This copywriting thing is real!"

 That was my first reaction when I walked into the opening session of the 2007 Bootcamp four years ago.

Up until then, I wasn't so sure.

You could say I was an "optimistic skeptic."

But at Bootcamp I met people who were working a full-time job and trying to get their copywriting careers off the ground. I talked to people who were balancing the writer's life with everyday life and somehow managing to get clients.

It gave me a huge boost of confidence. All of a sudden, I could vividly picture becoming a copywriter!

I also got practical advice from both fellow copywriters and big-name presenters (who are all very approachable). They answered my questions like, "How do you promote yourself when you don't have experience yet?" and "What's the best way to impress a client with a spec assignment?" and "How did you get your copywriting career started?"

This is my fifth Bootcamp, and every year I try to do two things that I'm going to suggest you do as well (and you can do them even if you’re not here – they work just as well at home):

1. Find an unofficial mentor

What I mean by that is, find someone whose accomplishments you admire. It could be a copywriting legend, or someone who's just a year or two ahead of you in their writing career and already made it big.

Three people I've decided to emulate are John Forde, Will Newman, and Dan Kennedy.

John is a brilliant writer with a great lifestyle, splitting time between Paris and the States. Will is a master teacher, and one of the most genuine guys you'll ever meet. Dan is flat-out the most straightforward and successful direct response marketer I know.

They've each become a sort of "unofficial mentor" for me, even though I don't know them.

I never miss John's weekly newsletter, Copywriter's Roundtable. It's taught me more about the art of copywriting than probably any other source.

Will was one of my instructors in an online class through Circle of Success and taught me the peer review process. I admire his involvement in his community, too, which showed me that the writer's life can really put you in control of your time and your life.

Dan has been a little different type of mentor. I first heard him speak back in 1995 at a success seminar, and I think he turned off half his audience by his brashness. I was in the half that loved his approach, and I still do. He's the king of direct marketing, and I read anything by Dan that I can get my hands on.

The benefits of finding a mentor of this type? It gives you something big to aspire to, helps you start formulating your own unique voice, and narrows down the strategies you choose to implement.

2. Find accountability or peer review partners

There's a lot of value in developing relationships with colleagues: You can encourage each other, hold each other accountable as far as meeting career and writing goals, and review each other's copy. It's also great for sharing ideas, strategies, and goals.

My first accountability partner was someone I met through the AWAI forum. We ended up rooming together at Bootcamp, discussed our goals for the year ahead, and kept in touch over the next year as we both broke into the business. Today, we both agree that our quick friendship and business partnering accelerated our progress.

You can do the same.

Look for people who are at your level. If you're just starting out, find someone who's also new to AWAI. If you're on the verge of making the leap to full-time freelancer, find someone in the same situation.

The key is to start a conversation, whether it's online, through email, or in person.

Like Mindy said yesterday, we'll introduce you to people this week through our Roving Reports. Whether it's A-level presenters or attendees who are making it happen, we'll expose you to as many people as we can.

I'd love to open the door for you to an unofficial mentorship or accountability partner.

How can I help you?

In the meantime, let me ask you.

What questions do you have about "this copywriting thing"? What is the one thing you feel you need to jumpstart your career? What do you want to know before you "make the leap"? Is there anything in particular you'd like me to cover the rest of the week while I'm at Bootcamp? Is there a question you'd ask a presenter if you could? (I'll do my best to catch them and ask on your behalf.) Let me know in the comments, and I'll respond as soon as I can.

If you weren't able to make it to this year's Bootcamp, you don't have to wait until next year to get this boost to your copywriting career. If you're feeling like this is "your time", check out the 2011 FastTrack to Success Bootcamp Home Study program. You'll have access to every session the live attendees do, with the added benefit of being able to take notes, pause it, and review it, over and over at your leisure.

Let me leave you with a great definition of success I heard once from 2011 Bootcamp presenter Bob Bly: "Doing what you want to do, when you want to do it, and being paid very, very well for it."

My goal this week is to help you achieve success, however you describe it.

I'll be back tomorrow with highlights of the first day of Bootcamp, and some big takeaways.

Even if you can’t be here in person, AWAI has arranged for you to get the entire Bootcamp experience from the comfort of your own home … for a fraction of the price … with the 2011 Fasttrack to Success Bootcamp Home Study program. This amazing presentation package is the closest thing you can ever get to being at Bootcamp: EVERY presentation, ALL the support material and learning resources, EVERY spec assignment – and a free teleconference series to get you rolling.

You can learn more 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: October 26, 2011

24 Responses to “"Hey! This Copywriting Thing Is Real"”

  1. Hi Steve-This was a great article....I am coming from a slightly different angle...I want to be an Internet Research Specialist for Copywriters...I recently ordered AWAI's program and knew it was what I was meant to do. I have graduate work in Library Science and a BS in Dietetics, so I would have a lot of experience in my chosen niche of alternative health and nutrition. I would have loved to make it to Bootcamp this year to do some networking with copywriters that might need this service, but it was too late...do you have any suggestions for me about how I could find a mentor for my business or any potential clients that are at Bootcamp without my actually being there? Thanks for any ideas!!

    ResearchGirlOctober 26, 2011 at 11:52 am

  2. Steve,

    Great article! Thanks for the info.

    I've just completed the AWAI Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.

    1. I'm stuck as to how to move forward. I know I need to write a self promo letter, but not sure what that looks like. Is there an AWAI resource to see some demos?

    2. How do clients find me and/or how do I market myself to my clients?

    3. Do you have a website I could view for direction?

    Thank you for your support and help, MAG

    MAG from Arlington TexasOctober 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm

  3. I am learning to write the white paper part and think I have that down pretty good but what there seems to be no information on and know one discusses is how do you do all the graphics that you see on direct copy sales letters. The examples are full of graphics......how do you do that?

    Dale BuckeridgeOctober 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm

  4. The ONE thing that "stops" me in my tracks is lack of confidence.
    When I completed my first assignment with AWAI (the nutrient supplement), my confidence was okay. I knew I was a good writer in general terms.
    However, when I received negative feedback from a Direct Mail client (and it was pretty unpleasant, let me tell you), my confidence was shattered.
    Being a copywriter seemed to be my dream, and suddenly it was shattered.
    Do you think peer feedback and mentoring might restore my confidence?

    Guest (Terri)October 26, 2011 at 6:56 pm

  5. Hi Steve

    How can I help you?

    You can help me by:
    sending me e-mail and asking me that same question, which will show me you would actually take the time out to send me a personal e-mail and than follow up..
    Regards Larry

    WinfieldsbestOctober 26, 2011 at 8:08 pm

  6. Thanks for the great article Steve. I've been toying with copy writing for some time now, I've had the Six Figure program for a couple of years and seem to peter out on fully completing it after a few months at a time. I know I can do it but guess I'm more afraid of failure and rejection. Two questions:

    1- Do you know of any writing exercises I can do that will help me build my skills and confidence?
    2- How do you promote yourself when you don't have experience yet?

    Thanks for any advice you may have. Keep up the great work!

    Pete WeaverOctober 26, 2011 at 11:00 pm

  7. Thanks for a great article, Steve. It addressed the frustrating limbo state I'm in, but it gave me the courage to write this comment! It could be a result of information overload, coupled with lack of confidence and not really knowing whether what I'm writing is copywriting (I know that sounds like a strange thing to say). I blog for my niche website. I really want to become a writer and have the "writer's life" - I'm still going through Nick Usborne's online copywriting course. Desperately need that practical personal step by step guidance, feedback, and mentoring.

    JoyROctober 27, 2011 at 1:03 am

  8. To choose the right field after reading every word written on AWAI I find myself abit confused. Freedom and a good income are two things I don't have and would enjoy. Working hard I have done all of my life, that does not scare me. I would love to be a Speaker or write for them but time is waisting and I still can't choose. I have to do something that will not involve a long learning curve but is realistic in finding work quickly. I am in a tough spot currently. Any thoughts?

    Guest (cj)October 27, 2011 at 2:10 am

  9. Hi Steve, great article. I find the forum is a great way to keep in touch with other AWAI members. Unfortunately I am not at Bootcamp this year. Is Bootcamp as beneficial for Internet Research Specialists as for copywriters?

    Guest (Mary )October 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm

  10. Wow, what a powerful mind shift, Steve - lately I've started to call and visualise myself a copywriter! (following your example). Something truly happens inside me. I begin to believe myself and accepting myself as one. Lately, I regard everything I do as a writer - my writing, my research and study etc - with more conscious intention and respect. Congruency - that's what I feel. I'd be most grateful if you could have a look at my website one day. Thanks for your encouraging words.

    Guest (JoyR)October 29, 2011 at 8:25 am

  11. Steve, your articles are inspiring, motivating me and building my confidence. I just started the Accelerated program. This is a career change for me. My hurdles to overcome deal with lack of experience re: technical issue such as: How to choose a good website name and url, developing a website and Facebook presence, how to invoice and receive payments once you have clients. I am very "low-tech," are there specific articles on AWAI to help?

    BonnieBOctober 29, 2011 at 4:28 pm

  12. Steve, thanks so much for your prompt reply - wow! I know you're busy and the info you sent me was right on perfect! I already bought three domain names (deciding which one I like best) The articles answered all my concerns; very thorough. I am totally absorbed in the course. I've learned more in 3 weeks of AWAI's Accelerated course than in college - and I have an M.L.S. in Library Science. (It will come in handy for research.) I started writing "mock" sales letters for products I use and love, as practice (maybe I'll approach the Marketing Directors with them, too). Very motivated, here...Thanks again, and your advice, articles and daily input are awesome! I never miss it.

    BonnieBOctober 31, 2011 at 6:28 pm

  13. Would love to connect Steve. Just working on fixing couple of pages on my website and will pick you up on your offer to assist. Will look for you on FB and keep in touch. This is the first time I'm feeling, YES! this writing thing is really going to happen. THANK you!
    Cheers.

    Guest (JoyR)October 31, 2011 at 7:52 pm


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