How Much Money You Need to Spend to Be a Successful Copywriter

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How much money do you need to spend in order to be a successful copywriter?

It depends …

It depends on your experience, your work ethic, your ability to make decisions, your focus … no two people are alike.

But I will tell you this:

You do NOT need to invest a lot of money to be successful.

And while, yes, many of AWAI’s success stories happen to be those who have attended Bootcamp or joined Circle of Success … it’s not because they spent a lot of money.

It’s because they had a goal, a clear plan, and made an investment that would help them be successful.

There are thousands of free articles on the AWAI website. And loads of successful AWAI members on the forums and AWAI Facebook groups, who are more than happy to help you get started.

We’ve even built a free job board — DirectResponseJobs.com — to help you connect with clients looking for writers.

None of that requires you to spend a penny.

Now, don’t get me wrong …

It’s going to take you longer going the free route. You’ll have to spend more time searching, figuring out what information is relevant to you, and then learning by trial and error. But, it’s definitely possible.

So, when is it smart to invest money?

When you don’t have the luxury of time, or you simply want to find success faster.

But, before you invest in a program, coach, live event, or anything else that offers you speed, efficiency, and focus, take a step back and figure out which investments are right for you.

First, decide where you’re going …

What’s your goal for copywriting? How much money do you want to make? How much time do you have to spend on it? What kinds of projects do you want to write? And what topics or industries do you want to write about?

Next, determine the help you need to get there …

Maybe you need to learn how to write web copy, or case studies, or emails. Or you need help marketing yourself. Make a list of what you need to reach your goal.

Finally, research your options and evaluate the potential return on the investment you’ll need to make.

AWAI Member Henry Bingaman once told me …

“The hardest part of starting my freelance business was learning how to invest intelligently. I’m kind of an information addict. As a copywriter myself, I read through most sales pitches that land in my inbox to see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it … and, as a consequence, I get sold on a lot of products.

“But, about six or seven months into my profession, I realized I was wasting a lot of time and money on things that were only increasing my ability to earn money in very small increments.

“So, I’ve slowed down and become a lot more careful about what I invest in.

“Before I buy anything, I have to be convinced that the product has lasting value.

“For example, I won’t buy a product that teaches me how to make money on Twitter, but I’ll consider a product that teaches me how to use networking to find new clients … because the principles behind the latter are fundamental and will hold true in any medium.”

That’s a unique spin on weighing the return on an investment …

By looking at how the investment can apply to other areas of his business, and how long into the future he’ll benefit, Henry gets a better idea of just how valuable the investment can be.

Of course, looking at the potential revenue directly attributed to the investment is a good idea, too …

$10K Challenge Winner and six-figure copywriter Mindy McHorse says her biggest and best investment to date was joining AWAI’s Circle of Success. Says Mindy …

“If I hadn’t invested in myself early on, when I first decided to become a freelance writer, I don’t think I would have taken myself seriously. My first big investment in my career was for AWAI’s Circle of Success. I actually took out a small business loan, because, I reasoned, anybody starting a brick-and-mortar shop would take out a loan (and nobody would question it), so why not get a loan for my own small business (me)?

“Every month when I made my payments, I was reminded of my commitment to succeed as a copywriter and got reenergized to find work to pay it all off. I’ve long since paid off the entirety of the loan.

“If I had to put a dollar amount on what I actually got in return for my investment, I’d say it has paid off beyond the six-figure mark … every year for the last several years … and that number is still growing.”

Now, that’s the kind of return I like to see on an investment! And I like how Mindy treated making the investment as a business decision. She decided the investment was the right one for her business.

One other thing to keep in mind is that there are other things to invest besides money …

For example, you can invest the time it takes for you to learn something. By reading The Writer’s Life every day, you’re investing 15-20 minutes to gain insights into writing better, and growing your freelance business.

Or by joining Katie and me for Inside AWAI each month, you’re investing an hour to move your business forward and getting your questions answered.

You can also invest your skills in exchange for something else. Maybe you write the copy for your graphic designer’s homepage, in exchange for her designing a custom logo and header for your website. Or, you save your monthly yoga membership fee by writing the studio’s e-newsletter.

You can invest in your business by working on spec when you first start out. Writing on “spec” simply means you write copy for a company, and they don’t have to pay you unless they decide to use it. That way, they can see firsthand if you’re able to do the job, and give even complete newbies a chance with zero financial risk.

So, if you’re looking to break into a market, but have no experience or past clients, consider doing a few things on spec to quickly build your portfolio. And then, turn around and use that portfolio to get more clients — paying clients.

Bottom line …

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to be a successful copywriter — or to be a successful grant writer, travel writer, fiction writer, case study writer, graphic designer, etc.

Spending money won’t make you successful.

It takes hard work, focus on what you need, and the ability to make smart decisions and invest in things that will help you move forward to your goals.

So, what will you invest in? If you need help deciding, or have made a decision you found to be extremely helpful, please share it with me in the comments below.

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: June 7, 2018

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