Living the Writer's Life: Cris Johnson
Burned-Out Magician Pivots to Relaxed Home Life With Terrific Writing Income
Cris Johnson’s life was nothing but fun from the outside looking in. But the reality of life as a magician kept him on a grueling schedule, away from his family, and chronically exhausted. The upside was that it led him to copywriting. Discover why pursuing the writer’s life won out in the end, and how he’s kept some “magic” in his life.
Life as a magician looks pretty cool from the outside. What was it like for you, and why did you transition out of it?
The shows were fun. I got tired of travel. I mean, for me that life was 60,000 miles a year in my car, and living out of hotels at least 150 days of the year. There’s nothing romantic about it at all. It was a paycheck and I enjoyed it, but it’s not something I can recommend for the romance part of it. It was a job, it was a fun job, a weird job, but it was work, like everything else. I got to see a lot of really cool things. But again, it was very lonely. I remember in March of 2020, right before COVID hit, before I knew anything about it, I remember sitting in a hotel room thinking, I just can’t do this anymore. It’s too exhausting. So COVID actually did me a favor. It caused me to pivot and regroup, and I’m much happier now.
What led you from magic to copywriting?
I used copywriting to build my magic business over the years. I started off with my own website copy and SEO and everything. I used to send direct-mail letters to schools and libraries to try and book shows. So I was already doing it by the time COVID hit, and I’d always enjoyed it. In fact, I’d taken the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting years earlier, but I never really got into it because I got so busy performing. But it was always in the back of my head: Man, if I want to check out on traveling, then copywriting is my thing. So when COVID hit, I was looking for something to do, just a way to pivot, and I remembered copywriting, looked up AWAI, and just immersed myself in it. I mean, since 2020 to now, I’ve probably invested somewhere around $20,000 in copywriting. It’s been a godsend. I love it.
What kind of returns have you seen on that investment?
My first year was a part-time year. I mean, I didn’t really start pursuing clients until late spring of 2021. So that first year I grossed something like $24,000. And then last year I grossed just about $70,000. I probably could have done six figures last year, but I was working for a couple of agencies and doing work I really did not enjoy in niches I didn’t really enjoy. So I pulled back from that to prevent burnout and decided to focus on my particular niche. Since then I’ve been much happier.
Your niche is definitely one of a kind. Can you tell us about it?
I write web copy for magician sites. I’ve built some sites myself with email and drip series. I’ve also got an agency I still write for, and they throw some other things at me, like product descriptions and newsletters and that sort of thing. But my bread and butter these days is writing for magicians. I’ve got five retainer clients I write for every month, blog articles and videos and things. And then I’ve got another couple of clients that I’m working with now on some one-offs that I think will hopefully turn into monthly retainers.
So you’re growing your business, step-by-step.
I’m growing slowly and steadily, but that’s part of the game. You’re not going to succeed right out of the gate with a hundred thousand dollars in the first year. I didn’t. I’m sure there are people out there who have made a hundred thousand dollars their first year as a copywriter, but I wasn’t one of them. And I prefer the slower build.
If you were talking to somebody who was brand new, just thinking about writing for a living, what advice would you give to them?
First of all, educate yourself. I could not have gotten to where I am today without taking all the classes that I took. I would also say really invest in your education. There does come a point where you’ve got to quit taking courses and get out there and start writing. Find whatever that tipping point is for you. Everybody’s different.
Cris'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.
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