Before You Invest a Dime in Copywriting …

Rebecca Matter here – dispelling some of the more pervasive myths in the copywriting industry that might be creating roadblocks on your path to success.

Today’s myth is the one most often confused by people new to the industry …

Myth #2 – You need to invest a lot of money to be successful.

This is simply not true.

And while, yes, many of AWAI’s success stories happen to be Circle of Success members or have attended Bootcamp … it’s not because they spent a lot of money.

It’s because they had a goal, a clear plan, and made an investment that would help them be successful.

There are thousands of free articles on the AWAI website. And loads of successful AWAI members on the forums and AWAI Facebook groups, who are more than happy to help you get started.

We’ve even built a free job board – – to help you connect with clients looking for writers.

None of that requires you to spend a penny.

Now, don’t get me wrong …

It’s going to take you longer going the free route. You’ll have to spend more time searching, figuring out what information is relevant to you, and then learning by trial and error. But, it’s definitely possible.

So, when is it smart to invest money?

When you don’t have the luxury of time, or you simply want to find success faster.

But, before you invest in a program, coach, live event, or anything else that offers you speed, efficiency and focus, take a step back and figure out what investments are right for you.

First, decide where you’re going. What’s your goal for copywriting? How much money do you want to make? How much time do you have to spend on it? What kinds of projects do you want to write? And what topics or industries do you want to write about?

Next, determine the help you need to get there. Maybe you need to learn how to write web copy, or case studies or white papers. Or you need help marketing yourself. Or you prefer the interactive and dynamic learning experience that attending teleconferences and live events has to offer. Make a list of what you need to reach your goal.

Finally, research your options and evaluate the potential return on the investment you’ll need to make.

AWAI member Henry Bingaman once told me …

“The hardest part of starting my freelance business was learning how to invest intelligently. I’m kind of an information addict. As a copywriter myself, I read through most sales pitches that land in my inbox to see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it … and, as a consequence, I get sold on a lot of products.

“But, about six or seven months into my new profession, I realized I was wasting a lot of time and money on things that were only increasing my ability to earn money in very small increments.

“So, I’ve slowed down and become a lot more careful about what I invest in.

“Before I buy anything, I have to be convinced that the product has lasting value.

“For example, I won’t buy a product that teaches me how to make money on Twitter, but I’ll consider a product that teaches me how to use networking to find new clients … because the principles behind the latter are fundamental and will hold true in any medium.”

That’s a unique spin on weighing the return on an investment …

By looking at how the investment can apply to other areas of his business, and how long into the future he’ll benefit, Henry gets a better idea of just how valuable the investment can be.

Of course, looking at the potential revenue directly attributed to the investment is a good idea, too …

$10K Challenge winner and six-figure copywriter Mindy McHorse says her biggest and best investment to date was joining AWAI’s Circle of Success. Says Mindy …

“If I hadn’t invested in myself early on, when I first decided to become a freelance writer, I don’t think I would have taken myself seriously. My first big investment in my career was over $7,000, for AWAI’s Circle of Success. I actually took out a small business loan, because, I reasoned, anybody starting a bricks-and-mortar shop would take out a loan (and nobody would question it), so why not get a loan for my own small business (me)?

“Every month when I made my payments, I was reminded of my commitment to succeed as a copywriter and got reenergized to find work to pay it all off. I’ve since paid off the entirety of the loan, though I estimate the value I’ve gotten in return goes far beyond doubling my investment.

“If I had to put a dollar amount on what I actually got in return for my $7,000, I’d say it has paid off well beyond the six-figure mark … and that number is still growing.”

Now, that’s the kind of return I like to see on an investment! And I like how Mindy treated making the investment as a business decision. She decided the investment was the right one for her business.

One other thing to keep in mind is that there are other things to invest besides money …

For example, you can invest the time it takes for you to learn something. By reading The Writer’s Life every day, you’re investing 15-20 minutes to gain insights into writing better, and growing your freelance business.

You can also invest your skills in exchange for something else. Maybe you write the copy for your graphic designer’s home page, in exchange for her designing a custom logo and header for your website. Or, you can save your monthly yoga membership by writing the studio’s e-newsletter.

You can invest in your business by working on spec when you first start out. Writing on “spec” simply means you write copy for a company, and they don’t have to pay you unless they decide to use it. That way they can see firsthand if you’re able to do the job, and give even complete newbies a chance with zero financial risk.

So, if you’re looking to break into the health supplement market, but have no experience or past clients, consider doing a few things on spec to quickly build your portfolio. And then, turn around and use that portfolio to get more clients – paying clients.

Bottom line …

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to be a successful copywriter – or to be a successful grant writer, fiction writer, graphic designer, etc.

Spending money won’t make you successful. It takes hard work, focus on what you need, and the ability to make smart decisions and invest in things that will help you move forward to your goals.

So, what will you invest in? If you need help deciding, or have made a decision you found to be extremely helpful, please share it with me below.

And then tomorrow, join me as I expose the TRUTH about making six figures as a copywriter.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: May 21, 2014

12 Responses to “Before You Invest a Dime in Copywriting…”

  1. I took the big leap. I am one who wants to become an A level writer and make a lot of money doing it. I have time to work at it a lot of hours every week, but not a long time to wait to make it happen. So I am one of your newest Circle of Success members, and I am really looking forward to working with you!


  2. Hi Rebecca,

    First of all, I'd like to thank you, Katie, and everyone involved with AWAI.

    I have completed AWAI's Accelerated Program, and eager to build my portfolio.

    I've chosen two niches: Direct Response for the Health Supplement Market, and writing E-Newsletters. I'd love to do a spec assignment with AWAI, but do not have a website yet--am I eligible? I don't have the funds to create a website and get it up and running yet.

    Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.


    Burton Bliven

  3. I am so in debt it's going to take me years to get up to broke. I love the courses I see, but truly cannot afford to take them at this time. I would like some help figuring out how to get started making money, so I can take the courses. Could you give me a hint? Thank you!

    Guest (BeckyA)

  4. Estimada Rebecca, es muy interesante lo que plantea como un ingreso alternativo, lo siento pero esto es solo para quienes hablan ingles.

    Guest (Ana Mariacutea)

  5. A big hello and thank you to all the team at AWAI.I've just recently hurled myself into the Accelerated Course but yesterday it hit me that I'm actually getting it. After receiving a promo from an investment firm (unsolicited),right away I noticed several things that were missing. A very flat headline (only hit 1 of the 4 U's)...absolutely no credibility(no testimonials or links to publications they claimed to be published in)...WOW...I think there's hope for me!!

    Russell T

  6. Thank you Rebecca for this article! Whew!

    The economy has done a big number on me too! I need to build slowly but consistently. I want to have a niche in the self-help industry...mostly relationship/personality related. I want to have a website...that's my first goal. I am interested in writing like Mindy McHorse. Seems we share the same viewpoint...maybe.

    I am rather overwhelmed by the amount of information and would like some direction, if that's possible. Not sure where to start.

    Guest (Evon)

  7. Estimada Ana - Otro mito! :-) No es solo para quienes hablan Ingles - tambien hay opportunidad por los que hablan y escriben Espanol (aunque nuestros programas son solo en Ingles, las reglas de buen escritura son iguales en todo el mundo). Por un ejemplo, mire en InversorGlobal, que usa el modelo Agora con mucho exito en Argentina y Chile ( - ellos vienen a Bootcamp siempre buscando nuevos escritores.

    Jen Adams

  8. Thanks Rebecca for the encouraging words. I am working through the Accelerated Program right now, reading lots of articles in the archives and just signed up for the new book club. I am currently unemployed so I have the time to devote to my new career, but not the finances.Looking to develop a niche in the Christian market, my husband is a pastor and I have taught in christian schools for many years.Could you suggest ways I could start earning income to get my career started?


  9. I just joined the Barefoot Writer recently. Now that I have, I do not know where to really begin. I have wanted to write for years, but figured nobody would be interested in anything I had to say. However, I just will not forgive myself if I do not give it a try. My question is "Where do I start?"

    Kathy S

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