The Secret to Becoming a Copywriter

Time flies when you’re having fun.

A cliché, I know. And I advise you, my fellow copywriters, to avoid using clichés. But this cliché fits how I feel perfectly.

I’ve been writing The Golden Thread for over four years, and it barely feels like I’ve started. Now, after those fast-flowing years, I’m saying good-bye to my Golden Thread readers.

But I’m not going away. In fact, I’ll be writing more often. I’m leaving The Golden Thread to slide over to The Writer’s Life, where I’ll be writing three times a week (sometimes more, sometimes less). I hope you’ll join me there. The Writer’s Life is one of AWAI’s flagship daily e-letters, where we share insights, tips and guidance on helping people achieve their lifelong goals of living the writer’s life. If you aren’t already a regular reader of The Writer’s Life, please sign up here.

As for The Golden Thread, Sandy Franks, former publisher for Agora, Inc. (now the largest privately owned newsletter publishing and marketing behemoth), will be taking over the helm for me, and I’m honored to have such a knowledgeable marketer follow me.

But before I switch, I’m going to leave you with a message I feel is the most important I can give you. It’s about the most essential strategy for success …

Believe in yourself!

Let me explain by telling a story from a very successful AWAI member, Nan Hughes.

Nan had just started learning the secrets of copywriting from AWAI when I met her. But even though she was brand-new to this career, she was – without a doubt – a copywriter.

How did I know? Because the most important person in the world of copywriting told her so. That person was her.

Let me explain.

I met Nan along with a number of other people who wanted to become copywriters at an AWAI training event several years ago. I started out asking them what they did and why they were there.

They all gave similar reasons … something like: “It’s time for me to do what I need to do so I can become a copywriter.”

You have to admire those participants for making the commitment of their time to learn the secrets of writing compelling direct-marketing copy.

You also have to admire their honesty in admitting they had let other things get in their way of attaining copywriting success.

However, when they first stood up and introduced themselves, only one of them was what I would call a copywriter … Nan.

But they all left the event two and a half days later as real copywriters. Not because of what they had learned … as good as it was.

What made such a big difference in such a short amount of time? They said out loud what Nan had said in the beginning. They acknowledged to themselves and the world that they were copywriters.

Here’s how AWAI member Penny Hunt put the same statement of self-belief in an email:

While walking to my car with my husband about two weeks ago, I asked him, “At what point do you think I can leave my job and really become this copywriter thing?”

He stopped and looked at me and said, “As soon as you stop calling it ‘this copywriter thing.’”

The biggest thing I took away from this interaction was to TAKE ACTION. Stop calling yourself something else. Start calling yourself a copywriter, and that starts the story for you.

The same goes for you. You will always and forever be in a state of “becoming a copywriter” until you tell yourself you are one.

Until you believe in yourself.

Let me end with a quote from Henry Ford …

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are surely right.”

From this moment on, think you can. Believe in yourself … and take the steps you need to take to succeed. Once you do, you can confidently say out loud …

“I am a copywriter!”

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: March 21, 2016

14 Responses to “The Secret to Becoming a Copywriter”

  1. Today article was great, we all need this reminder every now and then to knock us out of our current states of confusion. Thanks again for all the great articles and I look forward to reading you in the Writer's life.

    Guest (Kevin O)March 21, 2016 at 2:35 pm

  2. I BELIEVE IN MYSELF. I HAVE SELF-BELIEF. I AM ALSO UTTERLY LOST. I HAVE JUST COMPLETED STEVE SLAUNWHITE'S SECRETS TO WRITING HIGH-PERFORMANCE B2B COPY. I AM IN THE PROCESS OF FINISHING MY NOTES & READING THE HANDBOOK.

    [FROM WILL: Hi Zylan. You're on the right track by making notes and studying. A way to overcome the lost feeling is to take a couple of hours and plot out your study and implementation schedule. Putting plans in writing are major step in accomplishing them. good luck.]

    Zylan Brandon-WadeMarch 21, 2016 at 2:42 pm

  3. Agree! I was scared of calling myself a copywriter until recently. I finally realized that I am an actual copywriter. Since telling people that I am a copywriter, I have been feeling confident and positive.

    Guest (Benny Luong)March 21, 2016 at 2:51 pm

  4. Will,

    I will follow you to the Writer's Life. Anytime you write something it's worthwhile reading. Please write more not less.

    Congratulations on choosing Sandy Franks, one of the best in the field. Finally, a woman role-model.

    [FROM WILL: Thank you, Joan, for the kind words,]

    Joan MMarch 21, 2016 at 3:26 pm

  5. Will, thank you for your positive words. I've enjoyed your encouragement and positive thoughts. I really believe that positive thoughts breed positive actions. Thank you and good luck!

    KelliMarch 21, 2016 at 4:01 pm

  6. Great article, Will! So true, too....it's what YOU believe about yourself that matters, not what others believe you are or arent!

    Joyce HMarch 21, 2016 at 5:20 pm

  7. My father was a great copywriter. But his passion for it was too overwhelming for me to even consider it. I therefore became the very thing he had originally wanted to do, which was to follow HIS father as an architect.

    My dad died three years ago. And with the building industry shortcutting architecture, if building anything at all, maybe it's time for me to finally realize the copywriter in me.

    Guest (Chris Morris)March 21, 2016 at 7:47 pm

  8. Great inspiration will. Your Monday messages will be missed, but I am looking forward to new inspirations by Sandy. And as a copywriter, I look forward to learning more from you at The Writer's Life!

    Andrew FMarch 21, 2016 at 10:49 pm

  9. Will, Congratulations! I admire your trust and honesty in you. And your simplicity in writing as well. Yes, you are brutally honest when it comes to a writer's life. I rejoice with you.

    FortunatoMarch 21, 2016 at 10:51 pm

  10. Will, thank you for your encouragement. I'am certain that you'll do well in your new role, I'am happy that you're moving just next door!

    Will, thank you again...I'am definitely a copywriter... Just watch me work!

    Lionel F. Evans.

    Guest (Lionel F Evans)March 22, 2016 at 12:43 am

  11. Will, believing in yourself is fine. But it's not enough.

    I believe in myself as a copywriter. My clients (i.e. Dell, IBM, Cisco) have repeatedly told me they have a high degree of satisfaction with my work.

    But believing in yourself doesn't help when you're looking for work every day, and not finding any. It doesn't help when your rent is due, and you don't have it, because your client hasn't sent you the check they owe you. Believing in yourself only takes you so far. That's the reality.

    Rob LindsayMarch 23, 2016 at 12:39 am

  12. Will, you made me take a major step today. I have declared to myself " I am a copywriter ". With that feeling instilled in me, I will definitely do a better job when I write my first copy. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Guest (Krishnan)March 26, 2016 at 2:30 pm

  13. Hi Will, thanks for confirming and putting into words that "strange" feeling I have had the last few months. After months of procrastination, self doubt etc., I surprised myself working on and completing my companion series assignment that, I discovered that I can do this copywriting. Reflecting on that self discovery and daily looking at a posted sign above my PC that sez, I am a DR copywriter. I concluded that the big difference between now and way back is that I gained confidence in myself.

    T0nyWMarch 26, 2016 at 3:36 pm


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