The People Behind the 5 Phases of Your Copywriting Success

Pam Foster

It's Pam Foster again — your guest columnist for this week's articles for The Writer's Life.

Yesterday I mentioned my peer-power group and how lucky I've been as part of a super helpful group of fellow aspiring copywriters.

Today, I want to talk you through the 5 phases of growing and succeeding as a professional copywriter.

What do I mean by "5 phases"?

You may be thinking that there's really just one aspect to becoming an effectively highly paid copywriter: learning how to write, and keep writing.

However, to turn copywriting into a livelihood where you're working on projects that bring in great results and revenue … you'll need to round out your copywriting skills with several other components.

For instance, the way you position yourself is a huge deal because you'll be looking for the RIGHT clients, not just tire-kickers who have no money. Right?

In that case, you want to be a well-rounded expert who not only knows how to write excellent copy, but also knows how to attract great clients and land exciting, lucrative projects … and keep the best clients coming back to you again and again.

So, the road to six-figure copywriting encompasses a multi-faceted approach.

But before I reveal the five phases, I have to provide an important note.

To make serious progress through all five phases … you want to surround yourself with people who are on this path with you.

Yes, each of the five phases I'm about to describe is extremely valuable, but in addition, having a "support team" is the extra oomph that will help you advance through each phase as quickly as possible.

Consider how a peer group can help make the following five phases a breeze for you.

PHASE 1: Master the skills that WORK

That's a given no matter what type of copywriting you choose to offer, from direct mail packages, email campaigns and online video sales letters to websites, landing pages, and just about any other type of marketing copywriting.

You gotta have the goods. This means you need to continually study the fundamentals of headlines, leads, offers, tone, emotional appeal, calls-to-action, etc. so your work gets better and better. (And you can command higher fees.) This is the first priority.

(A peer group can support your success in mastering skills by giving you feedback, encouragement, tips, and overall support along the way. For example, as you learn to improve your skills in writing great headlines or leads, you can ask peers to weigh in on your first drafts and revisions.)

PHASE 2: Show proof that you're a high-end professional

You may already be aware that there are thousands of so-called copywriters willing to write articles for $10 on "project bidding sites." Sadly, when copywriting is seen as a commodity that goes to the lowest bidder … clients don't value the skills you've developed.

Instead, you want to rise above the "bidding pool" and build a reputation for top-quality work that's worth so much more to clients who understand and appreciate the value. That's where your portfolio comes in. You'll want to pull together strong writing samples and testimonials that wow prospective clients.

(A peer group can give you a gut-check on your portfolio work. Also, you can share ideas on how to present a portfolio, collect testimonials, promote them on your website and in your marketing, etc.)

PHASE 3: Create a focused plan for your career path

These days, you can't just be a general copywriter. It will be too hard for clients to find you in the sea of other general copywriters. It's much more effective to focus on a single niche industry that's loaded with clients eager to find you. There are dozens of super-strong niche markets available to you today, such as health, financial, self-help, software, and the green/eco market. The choice just depends on your interests, experiences, affinities, and other factors that fit you and your writing style. Plus, you need to position yourself that way so clients find you.

For example, if you want to write for the medical software or IT industry, you'll want to make a plan to name your business along those lines, set up a website that talks about your services for that industry, and get involved with industry trade groups. Plus, you'll want to make decisions about the types of copywriting services you offer, the hours you work, and so forth.

(This is where a peer group can give you confidence about the niche you've chosen and how to promote yourself to that market. You can poll the group on different names you're considering for your business. You can ask for feedback on your logo and your website design and content, etc. Plus, as you provide feedback to your fellow peers, you'll gain confidence as an advisor on what works best. This is great practice for working with clients.)

PHASE 4: Get set to launch!

As you're learning how to master your copywriting skills while considering which industry you'd like to focus on, at some point you need to pull the trigger and declare that you're open for business.

But what does that really mean? It means you'll want to prepare a website that goes live on a certain date. You'll want to have a growing portfolio of samples, a list of prospective clients, and an overall game plan on how you're going to bring in new work starting on a certain date. Then, on that magic launch date … you're ready to dominate the world!

(Once again, your fellow peers can help keep you motivated as you make your final preparations for launch. Once idea is to trade website proofreading services with each other. You proofread a peer's site and he or she proofreads yours. With this fresh review, each of you can ensure that there aren't any typos, broken links, etc. You may even want to write each other's websites since it can be hard to write about yourself.)

PHASE 5: Continue to build your momentum

Quick question. Do your learning and self-promotion efforts stop after you get your first clients? Heck, no! If you want to keep growing, you'll want to dedicate yourself to the steady, continuous pursuit of strengthening your skills and bringing in more business.

You'll want to take new assignments that "scare" you, knowing you have support and resources to jump in and do a great job. And, as you grow, you'll want to have a team of peers who are growing as well, so you can cheer each other on and share ideas.

(I know from personal experience that the path to a six-figure writing career takes patience, persistence and steady progress. Along the way, I've been fortunate to have peers who were in similar situations … and therefore we supported each other long after the initial launch of our businesses. Years later, we're still in touch and we still send copy samples, questions, and encouragement to each other. It's a never-ending journey that's much more enjoyable as a team!)

There you have it. The 5 phases of your brilliant life as a copywriter — all achievable alone, but amplified and accelerated with peers at your side. Think of your peer group as a think tank that supports you every step of the way.

Can you identify where you are in these five phases? And, is there someone in your peer group who can possibly help out during these phases? Make a list of potential peers … and think about how to meet others.

Also, be sure to leave a comment about where you are in the five-phase journey. We'd love to know!

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Published: October 20, 2015

24 Responses to “The People Behind the 5 Phases of Your Copywriting Success”

  1. I am new to AWAI. I am learning to master the skills and waiting for my course to arrive. In the meantime, I am learning to navigate the site and to communicate to others as well as reading a every e-mail and site material. I cannot wait to begin!

    Guest (Irene Doucet)

  2. I would like to ask how much does the peer group cost? I have asked questions before, and when it comes to asking about $$$, it appears nobody is home...


  3. Thanks so very very much, Pam.

    This is what I needed today... did all the work and now trying to organize a website through WEEBLY, which came highly recommended.

    I intend to carefully follow your steps outlined in the e-mail in order to become the success I know I can be... learning so much from AWAI!!!

    ...Just a bit stalled with my website. Working on my portfolio.

    Again, thanks for the insight.

    Joan Jones

    Guest (Joan Jones)

  4. Wow, Pam! Master / Demo / Aim / Fire / Evolve >> in a nutshell. With peers and a readiness to adapt to change. Flexing muscles' candidates need not apply. Thanks.

    Guest (Chris Morris)

  5. Hi Pam! Just returned from (my first) Bootcamp, committed to my six-figure career. Joined Circle of Success. Using an online calendar to plan my work hourly, around my full time job, so I use the time I have to do things that move me forward: spec assignments, developing my website and Linkedin, reading articles on headline writing. Formed a group that will meet weekly online for critique and support. Started a file, "Success Panel," with ideas for what I'll say when I'm on that panel next year!

    Joyce H

  6. Pam, A most enjoyable and eye-opening article! As an aspiring copywriter who's just begun studying the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, I would be in Phase 1--developing my writing skills.
    Where could I find peers like myself who are at the initial phase of their careers? As your article highlighted, I could use all the support I could get, as I have a LONG way to go!
    Thanks for your insights!
    Perry R

    Perry R

  7. I just started studying copy writing and am currently enjoying Nick Usborn's "Marketing Confidence" course. I'm in phase one of this 5 phase list but I have a couple travel articles published and am continuing to pursue travel writing. I keep hearing that copywriting is the easiest way to generate a portable income with writing and I want to know more about the process

    Jed Vaughn

  8. Thank you so much for these helpful hints....

    Guest (Betty)

  9. Nice job, Pam. A fellow writer (not an AWAI person) just started writing for one of the bid companies (Bunny something)and has made a little money. I nixed following suit, but I'm glad you mentioned this as some copywriters are afraid bidders could become our competition. That's not been my experience so far. Clients still seem to value know-how.

    Pat McCord

  10. For now, I'm new in this copywrting business. I'm therefore confined to phase one, trying to master the best skills that deliver results.

    Guest (Segun Ogundiran)

  11. Dear Pam, in the last paragraph, second line under Phase Four, you have written, "Once idea is to trade proofreading services..." I love irony and proofreading. And I need a job right now. How 'bout it? ;) [But seriously, these are great ideas and I thank you. I will have to incorporate them into my free time while I look for something that will pay...yesterday.]

    Guest (Jenna Kittrell)

  12. Is there someone that I can speak with?
    Also I have written and produced 2 stage plays. One has gone to the theater three times, and I've just completed writing a true story getting ready to bring it to stage.
    How will this help me? I really would prefer to speak with someone before committing to this. Thanks.

    Guest (Betty)

  13. Pam, this is a great article and right on time for Me. I'm back from Bootcamp and much more focused. I sat down today and resumed work on the Accelerated Course. I'm on part 3. Page 11 , with a ways to go before I write that restaurant letter.
    I am on the first "skill building" phase and I now realize I need a support team. I read the article on the Member page regarding the evaluative and creative process suggested for a support team and also need to become familiar with the feedback process displayed on the group forums.

    Guest (Robin Shelton)

  14. These are amazing tips, no doubt!
    I have spent quite a bit of time since the beginning of the summer reading around a number of AWAI programs and taking some starter courses. Now I believe I know which niche I'd like to pursue, so I back to phase 1... Trying to master the skills and follow all the good practices.
    Thanks for your wonderful insights and knowledge!

    Guest (Claire Erickson)

  15. Thanks Pam. Each of your articles challenges me greatly and I am loving it. I have started organizing and narrowing my writings so I can specialize on an aspect and do it well. I am at level three. I will try and become more interactive in my linked in groups and make a peer group from them.
    thank you, Cee



    Guest (DWAYNE LEE)

  17. Thanks for such a great article Pam. As I'm re-igniting my copywriting venture, many of your recommendations come into play. In fact, all five of them are very applicable.

    Jim Turner

  18. Hi Pam, I am a the very start of my writing career. I'm a table games dealer we take a few short breaks a day, I use each of those to do something for my writing. I have decided to be in B2B niche and in Phase 1.

    Guest (Sarah F)

  19. Pam,

    I have not started the list of peers yet.
    I do need help to put a list together.
    My niche will include health, finance and B2B.


    Richard Baffour

  20. I have so many questions! What is a landing page??? A lift note??? I am in Sec. 3 of Accelerated program, have picked a niche, have a website and domain name but no content. Would love to take some other courses and the Circle of Success, but who has all that money. Anyone else in Sec. 3 who would like to form a peer group?

    Guest (Sue)

  21. A peer group is priceless. Think of being able to form or enter one as indespensible and precious. Ponder how to use that kind of feedback well; and, network in person with AWAI - especially COS - members with peer group search in mind. There is a publication you can fi d through AWAI that explains the rules for reviews within Peer Groups.

    Guest (Jen)

  22. I have been working on the Accelerated Copywriting course, currently about half-way through Part 2. I have used peer groups in the past and most recently while I finished my Masters program. They are absolutely priceless. I am currently thinking about what niche, or two,I want to pursue. I love to both read and write. I am pleased with my decision to start with AWAI. Good luck to all....

    Paige Roberts

  23. Wow... All right ... You win! I've always chosen the route of "doing it on my own" but your article and the number of responses has absolutely changed that process for me!

    I wanted a BIG change in my life .... Looks like this is a very good first step.

    Thanks Pam. Not only for the great article but for providing the suggestion of the AWAI Linkedin group. And thank you to all who responded.


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