Living the Writer's Life: Holly Emery
New Writer Surprised with a Sales Letter Win … and a Retainer!

Writer Holly Emery working on her laptop computer

When Holly Emery took AWAI’s Master Certification for Direct Response Copywriters, she was hoping to build a career to take her away from a job in the private sector. Then, a chance referral from a friend who introduced her to a client in the mindset coaching niche. In this interview, you’ll learn how Holly was able to navigate this first big project and even secure a monthly retainer. Plus, you’ll find out how Holly avoids ever having to write under pressure. Her “nightstand trick” may just help you sleep better too!

What was life like before copywriting? What first attracted you to this opportunity?

Before pursuing copywriting, I spent many years working in the private sector and state government with little flexibility regarding my role and time. The agency I worked for had undergone significant management changes, including laying off some key people who had made it a pleasure to come to work. So, with the support of my husband, I decided to move on and pursue writing full time.

What kinds of projects and clients do you enjoy working with the most?

Writer Holly Emery and her husband
Holly and her husband
celebrate their anniversary

My projects and clients have mostly been sales related, but I discovered how much I enjoy flowery, descriptive writing when I did some nursery blog copy. I also hope to do more ad copy in the future, because I love coming up with captions!

I like to work with clients that are easygoing and clear with their communication. It’s common to have misunderstandings come up, but working with clients who are not quick to place blame does a lot to resolve any issues.

Can you tell us about a recent win?

My colleague and friend from AWAI Copywriting Insiders, Chigoziri (Chichi) Nwachuku, saw a post in another Facebook group about someone needing a copywriter. Chichi knew I had recently earned my AWAI certification for direct-response copywriting, and she was quick in not only sharing the opportunity with me but also promoting me to her contact.

Before I knew it, I was talking to a mindset coach who needed a sales letter for her business. I was nervous about negotiating a fee, but we met in the middle, and I completed her project in May. Although she was happy with my work, I was unsure if I would hear from her again, but I followed up in July, and she responded with “Well, isn’t that ironic? I was going to reach out to you.”

My client works with other business owners who promote their monthly products as a bundle, and I’m now doing sales copy for that website. She needs ongoing help, and we set up a retainer agreement at her suggestion and to my surprise!

What advice would you give to new writers who are struggling to find their first client?

It’s less awkward to reach out to people with whom you’ve already built a rapport in groups or on LinkedIn versus cold messaging. “It’s who you know” might be a cliché, but I’ve found that people are more likely to take a chance on someone that is not a stranger.

What is your writing process? Do you have any routines or rituals that help you get into the groove?

I don’t write early in the morning and tend to write late at night, which is a blessing and a curse. I call it a blessing because I have the flexibility to fit writing in when it works best for me, but by midnight when I want my brain to shut off, it can be a curse. I have a notepad and a pen next to my bed for the times I need to capture one last thought for the day!

I’m not a fan of writing under pressure, so I pace myself regarding due dates, especially if I’m experiencing writer’s block. I sometimes need a few hours or even a day to leave and come back with a fresh look.

What’s your favorite thing about your writer’s life?

Getting paid to write and managing my own time is my favorite part. I now have the freedom and autonomy I’ve always wanted, and I’m happy to have my in-office life behind me!

Holly's Living The Writer's Life story was originally published in Barefoot Writer. To learn more about how you can start living your dream writer's life too, click here.

What help do you need to move forward with your version of the writer’s life? Let us know in the comments below so we can help guide you in the right direction.

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Published: September 17, 2022

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