How Do I … ?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone at the ready whenever you have a question about your freelance writing business or making a living as a writer?

Challenge accepted!

Rebecca Matter here … taking over The Writer’s Life this week with the hopes of answering whatever questions you face at this point in your journey.

To kick things off I’m going to tackle the five questions I hear the most from people who have just discovered AWAI and are excited about all the opportunities the writer’s life has to offer …

  1. How do I get started?
  2. How do I know which programs to take?
  3. How do I get experience and create samples when I’m just starting out?
  4. How do I find clients?
  5. And once I find them, how do I set and negotiate fees?

Granted there are others … some of which need an entire week dedicated to giving the answers in great detail (which I will!).

But these are the ones I consider potential roadblocks for many writers. So I’m going to start there. And along the way I’m going to invite you to ask me any other questions that may be holding you back from moving forward. I’ll even hook you up with the resources and people who can help you after this week is over.

Ready to get started?

Good! Because that’s the first question …

And the answer is simple: You need to choose a path.

When I say choose a path, I’m talking about choosing a writing area you’re excited about, are willing to learn, and will enjoy getting paid to write the assignments. (If you’re unfamiliar with all the ways to make a living as a writer, you can access a quick slideshow here. There are a lot!)

Now, if you’ve been with AWAI for a while or have talked to me before, you know I typically recommend everyone start with direct-response copywriting. And for good reason …

  • It gives you the most variety in the long term. No matter where you end up with your writing career, having a successful foundation in persuasive writing (which is what copywriting is) will make you more successful.
  • The income potential isn’t limited. If you have more aggressive financial goals, this is definitely the best place to start.
  • The demand is always high and always will be. The need for good copy isn’t impacted by the economy or new technology (at least not negatively … these things do make the demand increase year after year).
  • Copywriting gives you incredible flexibility. You can work part-me, full-time, in your spare time … it really knows no boundaries.

But there are other options, too …

Again, they all spin off from copywriting, but choosing one path is the first step in moving closer toward your goal of living the writer’s life.

Let’s take a look at a few paths that are fairly easy to get started in and will have a huge demand in 2015 …

#1: E-newsletters

E-newsletters provide an inexpensive way for a company to develop a relationship with prospects, and position itself as an industry expert.

Ideal writer: Enjoys researching and learning about new things.

  • Fees: $900 to $2,000 per issue
  • Length: Typically between 1,200 to 1,500 words

#2: Case Studies

Case studies are short “before-and-after” stories that describe how a company solved a challenge with a product or service.

Ideal writer: Storytellers.

  • Fees: $1,250 to $2,000
  • Length: 800 to 1,200 words

#3: Online Content

Businesses use online content to educate their customers and prospects with stories, metaphors and simple advice in the form of new articles, blog posts, emails, and so on.

Ideal writer: Strong interest in a particular area or topic.

  • Fees: $100 to $500 per piece (plus much more if you also develop the content marketing plan)

#4: Social Media

From crafting Facebook posts and tweets to writing engaging LinkedIn articles and replying to comments, social media gives writers a lot of variety.

Ideal writer: Enjoys engaging with readers.

  • Fees: Typically up to $2,000 per month (depending on your involvement)

#5: Emails

The budget for consumer email marketing will be up to $1.1 billion by 2016, adding up to one incredible opportunity to make money as an expert email copywriter.

Ideal writer: An idea machine.

  • Fees: $100 to $1,000 per email
  • Length: 500 to 2,000 words

So there you have it … five paths you can choose from to get started rather quickly.

But there are plenty of others, too … the AWAI website is full of opportunities to make a living as a writer.

The key is to make a choice, get the skills you need to do the work, and get started working for clients. (Don’t worry, that’s one of the questions I’m answering later this week!)

And remember, you can ALWAYS change your mind, add another path to your business, or change direction entirely.

A great deal of your success relies on your ability to make decisions.

You’ll be better off making decisions quickly, even if some of those decisions wind up being “wrong.” It means you’re at least moving forward, and you’re giving yourself a chance to learn in the real world, rather than sitting on the sidelines wondering, “What if … ?”

So today, I want you to choose a path! Whether it’s your first path, your second path, or even if you’re simply confirming that the path you’ve already chosen is in fact the path you want to pursue, I want you to confirm that it’s your “final answer.” (For now!)

If you want to share it with me, have questions, or want me to help you narrow it down, post a comment here.

Then join me tomorrow so I can help you create a roadmap that will ensure you don’t get distracted or waste any time and money on “bright shiny objects.”

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: September 15, 2014

75 Responses to “How Do I … ?”

  1. Greetings, This is my second time connecting with AWAI. The first was when I was fresh out of college and thinking that I wanted to be a writer full time. I explored other options and now I'm back at square one again. I'm a full time graduate student now, but I'm still desiring to pursue writing as a full time career. I would love to find out more detailed information about getting started as a copy writer.

    Thanks, Charlisa

    Guest (charliflybutta6)September 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm

  2. I'm kind of a detail nut, so I am learning more about the B2B industry. I am an X-ray Technologist by trade, so hopefully that will help me get in the door of some companies!

    LisaBSeptember 15, 2014 at 1:39 pm

  3. Hi Rebecca; I DO have a question..as a young 62 year old and just starting..IS it really necessary to have my own 'business' to make a good living doing this or am I looking at this 'business' in the wrong light?

    Thank You Gene Case

    GeneSeptember 15, 2014 at 1:44 pm

  4. This is going to be a great week. I can tell. You have already read my mind and helped me with my #1 question: How to get started.

    I've been "starting my business" now for about 6 years. Still studying -- still planning. But that is enough.

    This is my Get Going Week. I mapped out each day. Looking forward to tomorrow!

    Thanks, Barb

    barbarjoSeptember 15, 2014 at 1:46 pm

  5. Hey Rebecca,

    Great article!

    I'm going for Emails. Since I already do these for my own subscribers, it just feels like a natural place to start.

    Dave

    David VanceSeptember 15, 2014 at 1:49 pm

  6. Rebecca,

    I have chosen to focus on emails but am struggling with the industry. I have a website/blog (willshane dot com) and am sending daily emails to a small but growing list. I have experience in retail, the mortgage industry and the military. I'm passionate about the self-help and online marketing industry. And although I wouldn't consider myself a "tech geek", I AM into technology. Any direction, based on this, would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    William S

    William SSeptember 15, 2014 at 2:22 pm

  7. e-newsletters sounds interesting and unintimadating

    Guest (Jan)September 15, 2014 at 2:25 pm

  8. Hello Rebecca

    I am a copywriter from Kenya but I joined AWAI back in 2012 when I was launching my freelancing career. The resources from AWAI have been a godsend to me and MY career. As for now, I have already figured out a niche though I am not sure whether people will be interested in in. The niche is 'work at home'. I have even started a website.. benjamuragz247 dot bravesites dot com. please guide me on how to get clients who might be interested in my work.

    Guest (Benjamin )September 15, 2014 at 2:33 pm

  9. My 50 years as state and national award winning educator with a Ph.D. and a highly praised book position me as an expert in the Education niche. I completed the Accelerated Copywriting course and created a website albeit without samples. Can you guide me toward my niche in education? Where are my potential clients?
    Thanks, Jimmy Casale

    James LouisSeptember 15, 2014 at 2:34 pm

  10. Rebecca, I've chosen the self-help/personal development niche, and my website is up! www dot CopyByColette dot com. I'm working on specs for Bootcamp as well. So things are moving, though never as fast as I want! I'm finding myself also very interested in the B2B world, and have signed up for Steve's Companion Course. My curiosity about B2B is whether any of the industries who really could keep me busy are in my fields of interest or areas of expertise. Still trying to get my footing.

    Guest (Colette Rice)September 15, 2014 at 2:38 pm

  11. Of course, your goal in writing for AWAI is to get as many writers as you can to join in the many courses that you offer. But you left one roadblock to joining you out:
    Lack of money When you reach the ripe ol' age of 83 (as I did a couple days ago), you find your prowess as an earnings gatherer is far from what it used to be. But your talent as a writer has not left you . . . thank God.

    With 45 years as a real estate broker who publishes newsletters, which path do I really take?

    Guest (Dick Dennis)September 15, 2014 at 2:53 pm

  12. You asked for it. And your email arrived at the perfect time in my life.

    I am creating a new website for my client. It will be a paid membership-based site.

    Though I have worked with the market for about 3 years, my client is reluctant to actively market to them (thinking of her followers as if they are friends). My challenge is to craft a message that will resonate with them and please my client as well.

    The Website will be a front end lead-taking funnel leading to a series of emails.

    Andrew FSeptember 15, 2014 at 2:53 pm

  13. Hi Rebecca, I am very interested in writing Case Studies and E-newsletters. I really want to quit my full time job but cannot afford to do so at this time.
    I am currently working on the Accelerated Program so any and all information on getting clients will be appreciated.

    A-JaySeptember 15, 2014 at 2:57 pm

  14. Case studies and social media would be two areas of interest that I think I could excel in...
    Wondering though... the interest that I have the most passion around is writing about anything Spiritual in nature... or quantum physics. Some like to call it New Age. I call it Life as Reality.
    Are there actually writing jobs that could fulfil this passion of mine?!

    Guest (Evolutionary Editing)September 15, 2014 at 3:27 pm

  15. This article really kicked me in the you-know-what. Between this month's Book Club selection and this article I've really decided to focus my attention on OnLine Content and Social Media. I met with my doctor today and he said his website needs some work and asked if I would help to fill the content. I'm on my way! FINALLY!!!

    Shawn MausSeptember 15, 2014 at 3:46 pm

  16. Out of the 5 choices you gave I would choose social media. I do enjoy storytelling, and almost went with case studies, but settled on social media. I manage a simple FB page now for a friend, and I really do enjoy the sharing of ideas and opinions-seeing the point of view of others. There is a lot of inspiration out there on the web!

    todd buckmanSeptember 15, 2014 at 5:05 pm

  17. Hi Rebecca, This is my first, of many, copywriting courses. I have 2 therapy dogs and share my training experiences. I have more than 50 dog stories on my website www dot 2txdogs dot com

    My niche could be the Pet Industry for B2B or B2C. Are there other avenues I should explore...or specific courses to consider?

    My current copywriter commitment courses are:
    • Accelerated Copywriting
    • B2B Programs
    • Barefoot Writer
    . AWAI’s Live B2B Companion Series 

    Thanks, Joseph Lacey

    Joseph LaceySeptember 15, 2014 at 5:25 pm

  18. I have a question: What is direct-response copywriting. Describe it for me, please. I have a of of experience writing a variety of publications: newsletters, e-mails college catalogs, hundreds of persuasive business letters and reports. etc.

    Guest (HiMileaageJim)September 15, 2014 at 5:30 pm

  19. I like the last four paths (2-5)you have identified would be easy to start. How would suggest to narrow down to?

    AnnalizaSeptember 15, 2014 at 5:31 pm

  20. You can point me on the path as you know it. I already have been writing successfully for 30 years, but not my main job. I came to AWAI to learn how to promote my own work which I publish on Kindle and their press version available to independent writers/publishers.

    Basically, I'm looking to improve my visibility on the web without using Social. Reason: I don't have time to continually post anything. I either write, create my visual art or music every day.

    Finally, I'm not solely motivated by money at this time. I'm motivated with passing along what I know about programming the subconscious mind, paintography, and flying.

    Thanks for your pointers,

    Griff

    J GriffSeptember 15, 2014 at 5:34 pm

  21. Great article yet again Rebecca! I really enjoy the no frills advice that you always give. As a 27 year fiction writer who transitioned into the world of copywriting and web writing over the past few years I've been really interested in getting into the Case Study market because I think it can blend both of those skills nicely.

    I have 2 questions:
    1. Is this a B2B only opportunity?
    2. Is it possible to create sample Cases (because I won't be able to interview anyone)?

    Thanks!

    Jenn Flynn-ShonSeptember 15, 2014 at 6:31 pm

  22. Hi Rebecca! This is the series that all newbies need. I am anxious to read all the articles; I know the advice will be fantastic. There is always so much encouragement and so many paths to choose from. B2B is where I want to start. I'd also like to do my own newsletter, but I'm pretty stymied with that. I haven't done anything yet!

    KarenBSeptember 15, 2014 at 8:15 pm

  23. Hi Rebecca.Thank u for ur help.I want to start with copywriting & speech writing.
    My main issue is where to find my clients. I have applied to a few in Direct Response Jobs since last week but have not received any positive response yet. Most of them require applicants to be in the same area as their company. I live in another continent. Where can I find clients from the US & Australia who will accept my location? Thank you for ur continued support. More power to you. Take care

    MindyJuatasSeptember 15, 2014 at 9:37 pm

  24. Hi Rebecca, My chosen niche is Enewsletter to help Doctors better communicate with their patients and promote better dialogue between the two.
    I am also in the process of looking for a service I can offer to prospective readers of my own Enewsletter. I have started to read copywriting 2.0 and Michael Katz's Enewsletter couses to guide me any suggestions would be helpful.

    Guest (Brenda)September 15, 2014 at 10:59 pm

  25. Hi Rebecca, here's my final answer...

    (This makes it visible, and I am therefore accountable...)

    At 12:01 am Monday, September 29, 2014 greenTech copywriters will officially open. Focusing on the green/sustainable/renewable products and technologies sector, we provide:

    B2B copywriting & content marketing, including but not limited to;

    White Papers Case Studies Special Reports Web Content

    For additional information, please see:

    www dot greenproductscopywriting dot com

    Dan DavisSeptember 15, 2014 at 11:11 pm

  26. Dear Miss. Rebecca,

    thank you for your willingness to help others, truly appreciated.

    I like your first simple and fast path to make money :
    I like to choose path #5, email writing for companies.

    Please guide me quickly how to get it started, to see real income ,how ever small amount for a start is ok for me, because I have been with AWAI for more than 20 years or so, please can you really help me see real result[earnings] !
    Thanking you in advance, Ganesan Arumugam sincerely,

    A GanesanSeptember 15, 2014 at 11:35 pm

  27. Hi Rebecca, My path that I choose to follow is to be a travel writer. I am not sure how narrow a focus this could, or should be at this point. I would love to travel to exotic locations and write about my experiences and all of the wonders and treasures that a given location has to offer the reader. Thanks... Jimmy

    Guest (Jimmy Bradburn)September 16, 2014 at 12:20 am

  28. Hello. I'm looking for guidance. I'm a fiction writer and a non-fiction writer plus a general language guy overall (polyglot). I would really like to learn the craftsmanship of copy writing and I agree that direct response should be the starting point. The programs here seem very (read more money than I have at current) but I'd like to know which programs should be the one's to start with, especially as funds are limited , and what books on the craft would be good to start with on Kindle or any format?

    dmaswarySeptember 16, 2014 at 1:22 am

  29. When one door closes, another opens. I am a firm believer in this and as of October 9 I will be shutting the door on an 8 year "sentence" in an assembly plant.

    Since enrolling in the Accelerated Program for 6 figure copywriting and gathering info on social media marketing and spinoff from all the information I've been gathering, well.......to put it mildly, I'm extremely eager to learn more and get this new chapter moving. I'm an absolute information sponge and thinking that B2B may be something I'd like. But anything 6 figure sounds like heaven.

    Guest (Stephen)September 16, 2014 at 1:47 am

  30. Hi Rebecca. I am in the process of trying to land my first client (Easy Health Options)who are advertising for a staff writer.
    Have you any advice on how to approach this? I have completed my resume and cover letter and need to choose some writing samples to submit.
    I have only ever had one short article published so how do I persuade them to hire me? If they do, how do I negotiate fees etc.?
    Yours gratefully, Teresa.

    teresa fSeptember 16, 2014 at 4:34 am

  31. Hi Rebecca!

    I just finished reading the How Do I article. I am so excited for the rest of this weeks emails. I'm looking forward to them. I'm so ready to start my copywriting career and this week is going to assist me alot. I can feel it already!

    Thank you

    Guest (Misha)September 16, 2014 at 9:32 am

  32. Hi I am doing alot of research before I begin, my interests is on awareness. I am good at disputes and resolutions and motivating others. I notice many companies express their customer service as excellent, but my experience in management roles [action speaks louder than words]I beg to differ. Self empowerment programmes is my passion and I love learning new ways as I am very open minded.

    AwarenessSeptember 16, 2014 at 10:54 am

  33. Hi Rebecca! I am working my way through Secrets of High Performance B2B Copywriting and I haven't done Accelerated Copywriting yet. Am I doing this backward? B2B is the niche that I have chosen. I worked for a Fortune 500 telecommunications company for 12 years and enjoyed the writing that I did there. I worked in Marketing, before I got laid off.

    KarenBSeptember 16, 2014 at 11:07 am

  34. Case Studies! I am a storyteller and this is the perfect niche for me. How exciting to interview someone and tell their before-and-after story. Looking forward to taking the course.

    Guest (Heidi Walter)September 16, 2014 at 1:50 pm

  35. Having bounced around the past few years trying to decide on a new career path I am excited to finally choosing B2B copywriting for my path. I'm trying to figure out how to work this into the scuba diving industry since I am currently the marketing person for a local dive shop. But I'm also doing some b2b writing for a client in the telecom industry.

    swertzbaugherSeptember 16, 2014 at 6:04 pm

  36. I am a former aerospace engineer with NASA, created an inspirational/encouragement newsletter for seniors and social groups and enjoy writing travel stories while looking for a paradise to retire to some day. Those newsletter writing sounds great with social media second place and travel writing a strong third. Like traveling to gain knowledge so as to write clearly and effectively.

    Guest (Dean Pickering)September 18, 2014 at 1:37 pm

  37. Thank you for this message, Rebecca. It was the right info at the right time. I know that decisions are key to success yet I have waffled between being a freelance editor, a DR copywriter and a resume writer for the last few months. I do work regularly but I am not making nearly enough money. This week, I decided once again to get back on the DR horse and ride. I appreciate your back-up.

    SwagwriterSeptember 20, 2014 at 11:32 pm

  38. Being an email copywriter is my path.Show me how to get there?Thanks in advance...

    Bryan AucremanneJuly 6, 2015 at 2:03 pm

  39. Hi Rebecca, how would the self development industry fit the B2B category? I would like to do emails and direct response copywriting. Can't figure which industries would be great fits.

    I would like your views on the above please.

    Thanks very much

    Terence

    teejayMay 10, 2016 at 3:33 am

  40. Hello Rebecca! It is such an honor to be involved with this program. Currently I direct a small business. Until I came across AWAI, I never realized that all the writing I compose in work, for a variety of reasons, has already given me a jump start. I have always had a passion for writing, so naturally I'm excited to start my journey here. For my first challenge, I have decided to take on B2B writing. Thank you! I appreciate your time.
    Lora

    Lora BOctober 20, 2016 at 9:39 pm


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