How Do I Know What To Do Next? (And Then?)

Rebecca Matter here – taking over The Writer’s Life this week to answer all of the questions I typically hear from aspiring writers, that can create roadblocks on the path to success.

Yesterday I answered the question, how do I get started? And today, I’m going to help ensure you know each step to take, so you don’t waste any time and money on things you don’t need.

The way we’re going to do that is by creating a basic roadmap.

I call it a roadmap, because what you end up with is a schedule of activities that move you from where you are now (point A) to where you want to be (point B).

Ready to get started?

First, define where you’re going.

It’s hard to put together a roadmap if you don’t know your destination!

Hopefully you at least have your first path chosen. If not, go back to yesterday’s issue and make the decision once and for all.

Remember, this doesn’t have to be your ultimate goal, or long-term destination. You can always add on to your writing business or change direction. The key here is to pick a point B, and get moving.

Next, determine the skills you need to learn.

If you want to start with e-newsletters, you’ll probably want to learn how to …

  • Write e-newsletters;
  • Put together an editorial calendar;
  • Manage/grow a mailing list; and
  • Market yourself and your new e-newsletter service.

If you want to be a case study writer, you may need to learn how to …

  • Write case studies;
  • Determine which companies have the biggest demand; and
  • Effectively sell the service.

You may also decide you want to learn how to lay out a case study (do the design work), so you can earn an additional fee every time you write one.

And, if you want to be a direct-response copywriter, you’ll of course need to learn how to write persuasive copy. But maybe you’ll want to take it one step further by learning how to …

  • Choose a niche;
  • Uncover the “hot buttons” in that niche;
  • Gear your copy toward that particular audience; and
  • Identify the companies in the industry who value good writers.

And, if you find you’re interested in a path, but have no idea what skills you need, other than learning to write that style of copy, don’t worry …

Just get the corresponding AWAI program, and rest easy. We require our experts to include everything you need to know … from how to write the assignments, to how to land clients who need that service, and everything in between.

Then, make a list of anything else you want/need before launching your business.

Maybe you want a website …

Or you want to start a blog …

Or you want to create a stellar LinkedIn profile that potential clients can find when looking for your services …

Whatever it is you want to do before approaching clients, write it down. You want to know every step you plan to take before you sit down to write your roadmap.

That way you’ll never be left in doubt as to what to do next, and nothing will throw you off your path.

Finally, it’s time to build your roadmap!

Take out a piece of paper and write down your path at the top.

Then look at the skill-building programs you want to take to acquire the skills you need, and “business things” you want to accomplish before you begin reaching out to clients …

Organize them in the order you’d like to tackle them, and set a deadline for each step.

If you’re new to the game, knowing how long each step takes may be challenging, but just give it your best shot, trying to be as realistic as possible.

If you work full-time, things will, of course, take longer. If you’re in a situation where you can dedicate eight hours a day, things will move faster.

And, if you’re using an AWAI program to learn or complete any of your steps, we usually indicate how long it takes to complete it in the details of the program.

Here are some examples …

1. Direct-Response Copywriter Roadmap

Month One:

  • Begin The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.
  • Pick my niche with How to Choose Your Writing Niche.

Month Two:

  • Finish The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.
  • Put up my website with Rebecca’s help and her Build Your Freelance Website in Four Days webinar series.
  • Create a professional LinkedIn profile.

** Launch My Business **

Month Three:

  • Learn how to write copy for my chosen niche.
  • Read Making the Leap to plan ahead for my transition from my full-time job.

2. e-Newsletter Writer Roadmap

Month One:

  • Take Creating Email Newsletters for Professional Service Firms.
  • Put up my website.

** Launch My Business **

Month Two:

  • Start an e-newsletter for my own business.
  • Identify and contact 50 prospective clients following the lessons taught by Michael Katz in the email newsletter program.

3. Web Writer Roadmap

Month One:

  • Complete Web Copywriting 2.0.
  • Begin following the 12-Step Roadmap to Web Writing Success from Wealthy Web Writer.

Month Two:

  • Continue the 12-Step Roadmap.
  • Put up my website.
  • Begin Email Copy Made Easy.

** Launch My Business **

Month Three:

  • Complete Email Copy Made Easy.
  • Write sample emails for portfolio.

Get the idea?

And, if you REALLY want to get a gold star on this assignment, take it one step further by breaking it into weeks. Then break down the assignments into the individual tasks that need to be accomplished.

The more detailed you are and the more specific you are with deadlines, the better chance you have of success.

If you’d like to share your roadmap, or have any questions, post them here. Otherwise join me tomorrow so we can tackle the next big question …

How you get experience and high-quality samples, even if you’re just starting out!

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 »


Click to Rate:
Average: 5.0
Published: September 16, 2014

11 Responses to “How Do I Know What To Do Next? (And Then?)”

  1. Hi, Rebecca. I noticed you're not covering this week the thing that seems to paralyze me anytime I've tried to start up something like this, and that is: the accounting/tax side of the business. How do you categorize a business like this and make sure you're in compliance with tax requirements and do bookkeeping in an efficient way?

    Guest (EllenB)September 16, 2014 at 7:14 am

  2. Greetings Rebecca,

    We (my wife and I are a team) recently landed a job to re-write an email. Long story short, the first draft was rejected ("didn't like the tone of it") and he cancelled the job with out a chance for a revision.
    I would like to send someone all of the correspondence, the control email and my rewrite to see what went wrong.

    My wife has just about completed the 6 week course and I am a member of the barefoot writers. I feel that the letter would have done well, but I am not the client.

    Can we get a little review help from someone?
    Thanks.
    BillG56

    BillG56September 16, 2014 at 3:36 pm

  3. Any info for skills needed and roadmaps fo Emails?
    I think that's for me!
    Thanks.

    Guest (Candy Colley)September 17, 2014 at 8:50 am

  4. Hi Rebecca! I really love this series! I am currently working through Secrets of Writing High Performance B2B Copy. What's my Roadmap? How do you write an Enewsletter for your own business when you are brand new? That's one of the areas that I want to get into. I am thinking about blogging my own transition from where I am to my own writer's life though. I have given myself a year and four mos to create my version!

    KarenBSeptember 18, 2014 at 10:56 am

  5. Dear Rebecca,

    Thank you much for these tips on building a roadmap. It is helping immensely. My question is what type of business software would benefit a copywriter in setting up their business. For example, should one get project management software? What other software would make the job easier? I want to start budgeting the costs into my roadmap plan.

    Keep up the excellent word.

    David HaimerlSeptember 17, 2016 at 12:01 am

  6. Dear Rebecca,

    My wife has engaged in direct selling/MLM business distributing health products from big company in the US. What should I do first before putting up a website or a road map for this matter.

    ReySeptember 22, 2018 at 4:52 am

  7. Dear Rebecca,

    My wife has engaged in direct selling/MLM business distributing health products from big company in the US. What should I do first before putting up a website or a road map for this matter.

    ReySeptember 22, 2018 at 5:21 am


Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)


This name will appear next to your comment.


Your email is required but will not be displayed.


Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters


Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)