My Emergence from the Dark Ages into Today’s Internet World


Will Newman

I’ve been a bit goofy these past two days. And that goofiness helped push me the final few steps out of my self-imposed dark ages.

Let me explain …

My wife Linda just returned after a two-week absence. She’d been helping take care of her 93-year-old mother who’d had the flu.

But with Linda’s return, I couldn’t find the concentration I needed to write. Instead, we’ve spent the time getting back into the swing of our life of 45 years together.

We decided to stop at a favorite coffee shop for salad … and our regular turn at The New York Times crossword. 62-across: Symbol of modern communication? Answer: Hashtag.

Our server, Jennifer, told us about a friend she contacted after a four-year gap. How’d she do it? Facebook.

In the course of an hour, I heard Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn, and email mentioned. And we weren’t in Starbucks. We were in a small coffeehouse in very rural America.

The world, communication, and life have changed. And so has copywriting.

About an old dog and new tricks …

Only trouble is, I’ve been hesitant to follow the times. Oh, I do email, and I designed my Rotary club’s website. But I never really got into looking at the Web as someplace I would use much for my career.

That’s changing … and not just because of my time with Linda in the coffee shop. I’ve been researching the new landscape the Internet has carved out for us copywriters.

Back when I was a copywriting puppy — 20 years ago — direct mail came through the mailbox in your door. #10 envelopes. Magalogs. Bookalogs. Self-mailers. Postcards. That sort of thing.

Copywriters wrote. Companies mailed. The post office delivered.

But today, web copywriting accounts for more than half of direct marketing. It also provides far more opportunities and pathways for businesses to promote themselves. And far more opportunities for old dogs like me.

The reality in the numbers …

I don’t want to bore you with a lot of numbers, so here’s just a quick peek into why I’m moving out of the dark ages of copywriting.

The consulting firm Winterberry Group advises clients like Adobe, Citi, and HP on advertising, marketing, and media. In 2013, they advised clients that spending on direct mail would decline by 0.9% to $44.8 billion.

That’s still a hefty chunk of money. More than enough to support old dogs like me. But the kicker was that all direct and digital marketing would rise by 5.9% to $137.2 billion. Digital marketing — and with it, web copywriting — is pushing that surge.

The Direct Marketing Association stated that in that same year, more than three million marketing messages were sent monthly. And this trend grows every year.

What a wake-up call! How can I ignore reality?

This reality: If you want to be a successful copywriter today, you must understand this changing landscape of copywriting. So this week and next, I’m going to tell you what I’ve been learning about this remarkable opportunity.

And I’m not the only “dog learning new tricks.” Tomorrow, an AWAI member tells us his story about learning how to grow by leaps and bounds. I hope to see you then.

I also hope you’ll take a moment and give us your thoughts about today’s Writer’s Life by commenting below.

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Published: April 18, 2016

13 Responses to “My Emergence from the Dark Ages into Today’s Internet World”

  1. I love my computer - more specific, my life access. I have dear friends and loving family that live very far from me (us). When they post an update on their lives, or a picture of a recent event, I feel as if I were right there with them! It gives me the freedom to be at my computer working, yet share moments with them at the same time. You do need to step away to reconnect with nearer physical contacts in your life, however; all the social sites have expanded my "home" community!

    Rachel-gardenglowsApril 18, 2016 at 4:19 pm

  2. Thank you for the nice article Mr. Newman.
    I have been reading about copywriting and honestly haven't a clue of what it entails!Perhaps one day I will find the time to explore. Thank you kindly and God Bless.
    Cynthia

    Guest (Cynthia)April 18, 2016 at 4:32 pm

  3. I'm an old dog in a new world, too. My business is an online-only newspaper, but I've fought using Facebook, although I have a person profile and another for the Grant County Beat, my online newspaper. I'm so busy writing for my business that I hired someone to do Facebook postings for me, but I'm feeling like I need to be pulled into this new media, too, especially on the copywriting front. So I'll join you in your journey this week. Mary Alice

    MAMApril 18, 2016 at 4:35 pm

  4. I've been reading AWAI online for five years or more from Kenya. I am an avid reader and writer on Christian / religious issues and Science both Social and Pure. My major handicap has been how to break into the online market and make some money. I've been unable to make Bootcamp and access the Webinars you host here due to the remoteness of my residence and inability to meet the costs of travel in the first place. Since I have so much to share with the World, how can I also come out of my quagmire?
    Regards, Stephen Opanga, Kakamega, Kenya.

    Guest (Stephen Opanga)April 18, 2016 at 8:06 pm

  5. Hi,Will Newman, since I began to follow AWAI, really I got myself on where ,iam dreaming to be .
    There is no short way always, could lead any person to ocean of his dreams.
    Why I want to be a writer? Simply because there is no an arena enjoying freedom than writers,so the writing to writers is the paradise to them.

    Guest (Magey thow )April 19, 2016 at 7:39 am

  6. Yes, get outta the Middle Ages per requisite snail-mail-to-email change, but if modernity's too spooky, go BACK to the future w/ Greek antiquity's bent on "The Cave and the Light" whence destined singularities duly render our higher "timelessness" one helluva lot more enlightened than spacetime's four-corner stall on been-there/done-that retreads.

    "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" whence vision and divine truth shan't otherwise ever meet.

    Guest (Chris Morris)April 19, 2016 at 10:06 am

  7. SO glad you are coming out of the "dark ages"!! Utilizing all of social media for our craft makes an absolutely stupendous difference! As a social media coach to other small businesses, I have found that many do not have time for a real social media marketing campaign and creating content.... that is where I come in and either show them how to do it, or for a monthly fee, will do it for them! There is so much to learn and do online - it's a whole, brave, new world out there!! @skwriter97 - tweet

    skwriterApril 19, 2016 at 11:57 am

  8. Hi Will, I always enjoy your articles. I began using the web 20 plus years ago for email. I am looking to do e-newsletters. I joined AWAI this year. I have gained a wealth of knowledge from them to help me in my freelance business. I believe my niche will be education and grant writing. Thank you for helping along the way with your encouraging and humorous writings.

    scmcqueen

    Guest (scmcqueen)April 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm

  9. Like bugs on flypaper, some writers can't pull themselves out of the mindset of hard copy writing and into the world of online media. And for good reason - it's still paying the bills and all the technogobble can be as frightening as being dropped in Cambodia when you've lived your entire life in Cleveland.

    Will, it's really great that you're building the case for this transition. It really is where things are headed - and quickly.

    Randy KingApril 19, 2016 at 6:41 pm

  10. Hi:

    I would like to thank the Head Members for this opportunity...I'd also like to thank Mr. Newman...

    "...because this gives me permission to step out of my "dark ages" as well..."

    "...shows new better way to do what ever our lives require..."

    I found it to be very informative...

    Guest (Monica)April 19, 2016 at 8:52 pm

  11. You took the words right out of my mouth. I, too, have to get in gear and become "hep" to the internet as far as marketing.

    Thomas ArillottaApril 20, 2016 at 8:06 am

  12. Thank you, Will, for a great series. Really helpful. And enjoyable reading. A bonus to my day.

    Guest (Ron Baradel)April 20, 2016 at 9:17 am

  13. I'm joining with Cynthia...I just haven't a clue what copy writing is all about...but being tuff (?) I'll continue to evesdrop and maybe I ll find out

    Guest (BobWhite)April 20, 2016 at 4:32 pm


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