How Spec Assignments Led a Job Seeker to a Successful Copywriting Career

After the exciting days of the late-‘90s dot-com bubble, the “bust” that followed threw Elizabeth Blessing for a loop. One day, she was an in-demand tech writer, and the next, a desperate job seeker.

After almost 20 years in the business, tech writing for instruction manuals and software user guides was all Elizabeth knew.

During one of several layoffs, her boss made a comment that would set Elizabeth’s career in a new direction: “He said, ‘Well, Elizabeth, you’re not a profit center. You’re a writer.’ It hit me that I needed to find a way to be a writer — and a profit center.”

Filling in the Missing Pieces

First, she parlayed video production experience into teaching others how to use videos for marketing. To get her business going, she discovered AWAI’s program, How to Write Your Own Money-Making Websites.

But it was her second program with AWAI that kicked off her journey back to writing: The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. “All the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place when I heard about direct-response copywriting,” she said. “I thought, ‘I can do this. I can be a profit center for my clients and a writer.’”

Despite two decades as a writer, Elizabeth felt daunted. Direct-response writing was nothing like tech writing. But The Accelerated Program guided her step-by-step in how to write in a conversational tone that connects with the reader.

After meticulously going through The Accelerated Program, Elizabeth joined Circle of Success, giving her lifetime access to all of AWAI’s programs. In her next program, Secrets of Writing for the Health Market, Elizabeth hit upon the approach that would ultimately get her business off and running: Spec Assignments. In Spec Assignments, writers craft copy to show potential clients their skills and land writing projects.

Elizabeth took on a Spec Assignment to promote a pain relief cream for The Healthy Back Institute. Pulling tips from The Accelerated Program, and feedback from her Circle of Success Peer Review group, Elizabeth perfected her copy and submitted it, with fingers crossed.

“Within a couple of days of submitting my Spec Assignment, I got an email from the company co-founder,” she says. “He liked what I wrote and asked if I could develop it into an email sales letter. Now I’m a big fan of Spec Assignments!”

A Series of Spec Challenge Wins Leads to Ongoing Work

At her first AWAI FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair, she submitted for two Spec Assignments — and netted over $13,500 in contracted copywriting work plus royalties.

One of the specs was for legendary direct-response copywriter, Clayton Makepeace and his client, financial publisher Weiss Research.

“I was very surprised to win Clayton’s Copy Challenge,” she says. “The opportunity to be mentored by arguably one of the best copywriters in the business was priceless to me."

Bootcamp lit the fire on Elizabeth’s copywriting career. She followed up her success with Weiss Research by winning a Spec Assignment with Eagle Financial and a retainer contract with Leeb Investor.

Today, Elizabeth keeps a full calendar of projects, writing long-form sales copy for the financial and health markets. “Success for me is the freedom that this new lifestyle provides me,” she says. “I can make a living in a satisfying career and still be there for my family.”

“AWAI provided me with the tools to bounce back from things that happen in life,” she says. “It’s a huge thing to me to find a form of writing where I can proudly say, ‘I’m a profit center for my clients.’”

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: October 28, 2016

5 Responses to “How Spec Assignments Led a Job Seeker to a Successful Copywriting Career”

  1. How do you find these spec assignments if you are laid off and cannot afford Bootcamp or COS?

    Juanita PowersOctober 28, 2016 at 1:18 pm

  2. do advertising agencies hire freelance copywriters or should a newbie approach individual companies that would use a copywriter?

    Guest (gw wilis-brannigan)October 28, 2016 at 7:09 pm

  3. This is truly inspirational for me. I've been a technical writer for over 20 years, working in a variety of industries, but mainly technology. After the dot com bust technical writing became more of a commodity than a profession, forcing many of us into other industries. And though I've owned the Accelerated program since 2008 I'm just now getting serious about becoming a copywriter and truly living the writer's life.

    swertzbaugherOctober 28, 2016 at 10:40 pm

  4. Thank you for the article about writing spec assignments. I am in the same place Elizabeth was and now am an AWAI member who is halfway thru my accelerated program and really needed to read that to inspire me to press on to a new successful career. Thanks AWAI !

    Guest (k smith)October 29, 2016 at 12:35 pm

  5. I forwarded your outstanding article to a gifted writer whose job ended recently in case she had not seen it. Well worth sharing the hopeful, informative article. Kudos!

    PS. I have an account, but I don't seem able to call it up.

    Guest (Bloomatic)November 1, 2016 at 3:38 pm


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