Put Your Detective Hat On

Crystle Pishon here for The Writer’s Life this week, sharing five principles I’ve followed over the last couple of years to get to where I am today — successful, working copywriter.

Yesterday, I covered the power of believing your dreams are possible.

Today I’ll cover a practical principle that is both obvious and yet easily overlooked.

Often the writer’s life is a solitary affair. We forget that others have done the same type of projects we’re working on. They’ve marketed their business, created proposals, info packets — everything you need to do has already been done.

So what is new or challenging for you, someone else has likely completed successfully.

I’d never run a business before I made the jump to copywriting. I lacked the basic tools to market myself and work with clients. I needed an info packet, a proposal template, creative brief, invoice system … you get the idea.

My business faltered for months while I tried to put these things together myself. I was working much harder than I needed to, and had nothing to show for it.

But that all changed once I implemented this next success principle …

Success leaves clues.

I finally did what I should have done in the beginning — looked at successful people to see what they had to share.

From Bob Bly, I found a proposal template I could actually understand (not full of legalese).

Through AWAI, I discovered Joshua Boswell’s info packet.

I created my fee schedule based on Steve Slaunwhite’s B2B Pricing Guide and Rebecca Matter’s How to Price and Land the Top 7 Web Copy Projects.

All of the tools I use now are customized versions of what I found by looking at many successful people in the industry.

One of the best resources came from Pam Foster. This past year, I landed a job for a complete website overhaul. To start the project, I needed to do a site audit.

I immediately went to Pam Foster’s web audit presentation from the Web Writer’s Intensive. Pam is the undisputed queen of site audits. I took her presentation, customized the content for my industry, and voila! I produced a site audit that the client raved about.

So if you’re struggling on some aspect of a project or your business, take a moment to look around. Chances are, you’ll discover a successful example you can model. By doing so, not only will you have something you know will work, but you’ll save yourself lots of time and effort.

And if you’ve already found some clues to success, share them with us here.

Stay tuned for the third principle — and a trip back to childhood.

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: January 15, 2013

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