Disabled? Here’s How You Can Prosper in a Copywriting Career
Why has aging rock star Peter Frampton embarked on his last concert tour, and what in the world does that have to do with copywriting?
Stay with me a minute, and I’ll explain.
Frampton will end his final musical tour this October. After that, the recording artist who gave us classic hits like Show Me the Way and Something’s Happening will no longer perform in public.
The acclaimed rock star has been diagnosed with a muscle-wasting disease called Sporadic Inclusion Body Myositis (IBMs). This disease causes progressive weakness of the muscles in the wrists and fingers, as well as those muscles in the front of the thigh, and those that lift the front of the foot. Neuromuscular experts have been unable to isolate an exact cause or develop a cure for IBMs.
Peter Frampton’s IBMs has caused him to fall periodically — a number of times on stage. Also, he’s beginning to lose his ability to play the guitar. The career of a rock musician is intensely physical. As such, Frampton’s performing career will soon come to an end. He’s determined to finish his public touring at the top of his game.
As luck would have it, I’ve also been diagnosed with IBMs.
Unfortunately, I’ve begun to exhibit the classic symptoms — weakness in the wrist, finger, and thigh muscles.
Ten years ago, I could walk the streets of Manhattan with abandon, but now, long walks in New York City are no longer possible for me. I have to rely on a walker even to manage very short walks.
Still, all is not lost for me — not by any stretch of the imagination.
Unlike Peter Frampton, I haven’t had to let go of my career. I continue to prosper as a copywriter.
Because being a copywriter offers a freedom you won’t find in many other careers … whether you’re disabled or facing any other life challenges.
You can set your own schedule, and work during those times that best fit your situation. Plus, if things change, you can continually evolve your schedule and workload accordingly. Very few work opportunities offer the same flexibility or control.
As a freelance writer, I can work from home, or even from some other location I might prefer.
And, to a large extent, I get to choose the types of projects and clients I enjoy.
I’ve written articles extensively about financial topics and film, crafted written speeches, and penned ghostwritten memoirs. These days, I mostly write sales letters, marketing emails, and website copy.
Now, what about you?
If you’re disabled or dealing with other life limitations, perhaps you’re flirting with the possibility of a freelance writing career. Or maybe you aren’t sure whether a freelance writing career is attainable or worry whether you can achieve the success you’d hoped for.
Wherever you are in your writer’s journey, let me encourage you to move forward toward your dream despite any disability or limitations.
Based on my own experience, here are six tips I strongly recommend you consider to be able to do just that:
- Put your dream in writing. Break down that dream into specific goals, and note your goals on paper. Then be sure to assign a specific date to each goal. For instance, sending out a Letter of Introduction (LOI) to six prospects by September 15 could be one goal, and initiating three phone conversations with interested business owners or editors who could publish your work by October 15 might be another. Remember, a goal is nothing more than a dream with a due date.
- Keep learning your craft. How do you write an e-book? How do you get started in web copywriting? How do you write a fundraising letter? AWAI is a rich source of writing courses — all created by top professional writers. In addition to courses in writing itself, AWAI offers courses in how to market your writing services. Your investment in one or more of AWAI courses could well become among the best investments you’ll ever make.
- Learn to ask for help. This is no time to be proud. Avail yourself of pre-boarding privileges at airports. Make reservations at hotel rooms that meet ADA design requirements (rooms especially equipped for the disabled as specified by the Americans for Disabilities Act of 1990). Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance when you shop.
Be flexible. Learn to compensate. As a writer, you’re surely aware there’s always more than one word or phrase to express a particular idea when you’re experiencing difficulty. The notion of “the perfect word” is a myth.
As a disabled person, the same principle holds true. When you need to get something done, or even if you just have to move from one place to another, there’s always another way. When I had difficulty getting up from my office chair, I thought it might be a good idea if I bought an office chair with a hydraulic lift — one that moved up and down without my exerting extra effort. But when a Physical Therapist talked me out of that idea because he felt my effort to push up from my seat was good for me, I put two cushions on my regular chair instead for only a slight boost.
- Don’t lower your writing fees because you’re disabled. Make no mistake. There’s no reason you have to advertise or confess you’re disabled. You certainly don’t have to give into a feeling of defensiveness about your particular affliction either.
- Focus on your strengths. You can write for any niche that interests you … there are countless options. And utilize your unique experiences to your advantage. Do you know a lot about personal development? That’s a huge market. Do you have a lot of empathy? Fundraising may be ideal for you. What about cause marketing? Ideal if you have a passion for raising money and awareness for certain causes. You may have better insight than someone else, which will give your writing depth. Choose a field you have passion and interest in as your writing specialty.
Keep in mind, if you’re disabled, you are certainly not alone. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated in 2016 that 12.8% of the U.S. population is disabled. That whopper of a statistic works out to 48,000,000 people.
Keep in mind people like Ernest Hemingway, whose bad back forced him to write standing up to write on a desk raised especially for him …
And Jon Morrow, the immensely successful blogger, teacher, and businessman who has spoken at AWAI’s Bootcamps … Jon is paralyzed from the neck down, yet manages to keep working at his trade through the use of voice software.
Jon has learned what Peter Frampton and I have begun to learn, and what you can certainly learn. Find ways to compensate for your disability, and keep moving forward. The target audience for your services very much needs what you have to offer. The world is still wide open for you.
That’s the beauty of a career filled with opportunities and options.
Do you have any questions about getting started as a copywriter? Share with us in the comments.