Living the Writer's Life: Eddie Stephens
His Niche Found Him and Pays Him in Spades in Income and Freedom
Eddie Stephens had enjoyed fulfillment in his first career as a pastor, but after more than two decades in the field was ready for something new. When the allure of freedom through writing called to him, he dove in headfirst with a determined plan to succeed. Even as he made headway, a greater plan was in the works, and his niche eventually found him. Read on to discover how it all happened …
Tell me about your life before writing. What did you want to change?
It was just time for a transition. I had been in pastoral ministry for 25 years. I was really burned out and a little raw around the edges. But I did a lot of collateral writing in ministry. It was a career path that gave me a lot of opportunity to write and obviously to speak what I was writing. I’d always loved the craft, so it was a natural transition for me.
How did you educate yourself about copywriting?
I was in the process of researching how I could capitalize on my desire to become a professional writer, and that led me to a book called The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman. But what was interesting, the serendipity here, was a list of resources in the back of the book, including AWAI. So, I subscribed to their newsletter, and you know when you do that, man, it’s like a downhill run on a sled.
How did you make the leap from working as a pastor to working as a copywriter?
A friend through our mutual church involvement ran a design firm, and I reached out to her. She designed my initial website after I wrote the copy for it, and then I did a brochure for a technology company that was one of her clients. That was my first somewhat paid experience, and I used that as a sample. After that I just decided to take the Yellow Pages. You know, that big thick book that we never use anymore.
I ripped out the eight pages with accountants, and I just started calling local accountants. I wrote out a very specific script for what I was going to say. Started with accountants, went to architects, went down the line. I would ask for their marketing director or somebody in charge of that. I’d ask if they needed copy at some point. I think I logged over a thousand cold calls.
And what that produced for me was a list of about 250 people who said yes, or, “Maybe we would use a copywriter,” and so I kind of added them to an ongoing communication list. Well, two or three of those became my first clients.
And how did that lead you into dental copywriting?
I wasn’t really doing enough to earn full-time income so I was having to supplement my income. My wife works at a dental practice, on the business side of it. They needed someone to make outbound calls to people to schedule hygiene appointments. Then the lead doctors there tapped me to do some internal marketing things like write emails and web copy.
During that time, I went to an AWAI Bootcamp and met Pam Foster and had a great conversation with her about getting into a niche. I got home and I thought, You know, I’m writing in this industry … Why don’t I just start dentalcopywriter.com?
Such a smart move.
From there I decided to create content that promoted my services. I started blogging on my website about Why is a dental website important? What kind of content do dental patients look for? Anything relative to dental marketing.
I started doing a lot of website copy for dental practices. Ironically, even to this day, I have never had any local clients. All of my clients have been globally. I think my very first client was a big dental practice out of Dubai of all places.
What has been your biggest reward so far in this writing journey?
Money’s important, but it’s never really been about that. I want to earn enough to be comfortable and to be content, but it’s about freedom. I mean, the freedom to be able to — if I’ve got to go do something with one of my grandkids or help out somebody or whatever, I can do that. I can be flexible. It’s flexibility, freedom, and to be able to pick and choose who you work with and to evaluate whether you’re happy working with them.
Eddie'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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