Living the Writer's Life: Rob Gramer
He Shunned the Straight and Dull Path and Found Glorious Autonomy
Though Rob Gramer was on his way to a safe and reliable career in the world of engineering, a goofy trick played on a classmate wound up introducing him to the world of freedom through paid writing. Once he’d gotten a taste for it, he couldn’t shake it, and today his life looks every bit as fun, profitable, and relaxing as the best writer success stories. Enjoy Rob’s entertaining and inspirational journey.
Tell me your writer origin story.
Don’t judge me, but I got in a spat with a guy that I went to school with. I don’t remember what the spat was about, but in short, I took his email address to get back at him. It was the year 2000, so the rules were not quite what they are now. I put his email address in a bunch of porn websites. So his school email address was getting spammed by all the porn stuff. To get back at me, he took my email address and put it in HSI Baltimore, Stansberry Research, Early to Rise, and all the Agora affiliates.
I had no clue this industry existed until that. I remember the first email I got was something like “Make money in your underpants working from the kitchen table.” So I was like, Oh, this is stupid. I went to delete it all, but one of them caught my eye. It was Early to Rise, by Michael Masterson. I was on the engineering path at the time and got my degree in mechanical engineering, with a good job coming out of college.
How long did you stay at that job?
Probably three years. I can remember to this day, sitting in a meeting and looking around, and there’s 20 guys, and one of the guys started talking about his calculator watch. All the guys are like, “Ooh, let me see that watch.” And 10 minutes go by with them talking about it, and I’m like, I can’t spend the rest of my life like this, just wasting time.
How did you make the leap from calculator watches to copywriting?
By then I’d been reading copywriting stuff for years and studying it, so I applied for a bunch of jobs and got a job with Sovereign Society in 2007. So I came into this industry doing financial, and I wasn’t very good at it, and I got fired. That put me on a freelance path. By then I’d been doing Brazilian jujitsu for years. So one of my first clients, Lloyd Irvin, was in the jujitsu space. I wrote a whole bunch of self-defense stuff.
I also at one point went into the health field. I was a copy chief at a health company for a while. I’ve written tons of health packages. And now I’m back to financial copywriting.
But I’ve done email campaigns, direct mail, physical mailings, postcards, radio ads, newspaper ads, webinars … I’ve done all that stuff.
What’s your favorite type of writing project?
The easiest ones.
The more you can get clear on what the reader wants, the easier it’ll be. I ask, “What’s the reader really want to hear about?” Once you figure that out, it gets rid of 90% of the stuff that you don’t want to talk about because you’re like, Okay, they just want to know the solution to their problem. I don’t need to do a whole bunch of other stuff.
And you don’t even have to be that good. This is a big secret of the industry: You don’t have to be great. I’m a perfect example. I didn’t get in this industry to make a ton of money; I got in this industry for time freedom. I didn’t want to be stuck in an office eight hours a day doing stupid work, I wanted to be off surfing and doing jujitsu and mountain biking.
What would you tell a new writer about the best rewards this career brings?
The most concrete one is a level of autonomy in life. We’ve got a vacation house, so we spend the summers up there. I wake up when I want. I think that if you’re the type of person who wants to make tons of money, there’s a lot of careers to do that. But if you’re somebody who really wants to control their destiny but also not have the burdens of running your own business, as far as I can tell, there’s not too much other stuff you can do. So definitely the answer to that question is autonomy.
Rob'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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