Copywriting Career Frees Colorado Mom to Care for Special-Needs Son
In 2006, Kammy Thurman was a stay-at-home mom with three busy boys and a growing copywriting business. She was living the writer’s life, complete with the freedom of her own hours and a comfortable income.
But it wasn’t until her middle son, Logan, received a life-changing diagnosis that Kammy truly appreciated the lifestyle her copywriting business provided. When Logan was in 5th grade, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.
Children with Asperger’s have trouble with expressive language, as well as with empathy and reading social cues. Because of Logan’s needs, Kammy had to be available at a moment’s notice to go to the school.
“Grades six and seven were extremely tough,” Kammy said. “A gang of bullies harassed Logan, so I was at the school a lot dealing with that. He also became easily overwhelmed and would shut down, or sometimes explode, in class. Because of the needs of my family, I would not have been able to hold down a regular job outside of the home.”
Her copywriting business, Anchor Creative, allowed her to continue to provide for her family while still being available for Logan.
Working – But Not Paying the Bills
Kammy’s writing career began in high school, when she was first published by her local newspaper at age 16. After college, she continued to write for publications while working as a travel agent and later as a wife and stay-at-home mom. The writing was fun, but far from lucrative.
“It didn't take long to discover I'd barely make enough to pay the babysitter while I went out on interviews, much less make a living,” Kammy said.
Then she found a book by Bob Bly at her local library – The Copywriter’s Handbook – introducing her to copywriting. In 2002, when she received information on becoming a copywriter from American Writers & Artists Institute (AWAI), things started to click.
“I loved the pictures the letter created in my mind,” Kammy said. “The marriage of creative writing and salesmanship is a good combination for my experience. Copywriting would also allow me to continue working on a freelance basis.”
Landing that First Freelance Job
Kammy and her husband, Ward, discussed the opportunity AWAI offered and decided it was a perfect fit for both Kammy and the family. Kammy first completed the The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.
“Everyone at AWAI was very supportive and prompt to answer questions as I went through the course,” Kammy said. “And when I did well on the assignments, AWAI started hiring me for their projects. They kept their promise that if they liked the work, they’d hire their member copywriters.”
From there, Kammy’s business started to grow. AWAI referred her to other clients, and in 2002, she got more projects at AWAI’s FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair, an event Kammy attended for years.
“The peer support at Bootcamp was really important,” Kammy said. “And I made good friends through the forums and conferences. Having something that was my own outside of my family was very important to me. It was an emotional lifesaver to have connections with like-minded professionals.”
Finding a Niche
Kammy started out as a generalist, and over the years has written copy for over 100 clients in a dozen industries. Eventually, she settled into a specialty, leveraging her experience in the travel industry to work with businesses like independent resorts, hotels, limo companies, and others throughout the country.
“AWAI suggests you find a niche, and that is solid advice,” Kammy said. “Businesses are very much looking for specialists these days.”
Kammy stumbled onto a second niche by accident: the disaster restoration industry.
“Friends who own a disaster restoration business wanted help building credibility and an online reputation,” she said.
Continuing to Learn and Grow
Several years ago, Kammy expanded her business when clients began asking for more services like online ad management, social media marketing, marketing strategy, campaign development, and more. As she did in the early years of her career, Kammy turned to AWAI to learn more.
“I went through most of the AWAI copywriting and business-building programs, as well as programs by Bootcamp speakers, Clayton Makepeace and Dan Kennedy, to increase my knowledge of marketing strategy, so I could provide the best service possible to clients and grow my business,” Kammy said.
Kammy’s new company, Anchor Marketing Consultants, is the consulting arm, while her original company, Anchor Creative, continues to handle copy/design/printing and other tasks for consulting clients. Now she has a team of contractors to handle fulfillment of projects like article and blog writing, Search Engine Optimization, video creation, etc., so she can focus on consulting, copy chiefing, and overseeing her project managers.
“I never imagined myself the CEO of an agency with people working for me,” Kammy said.
Getting Results for Clients
Kammy currently serves 20 monthly, recurring clients with a goal of reaching 100, once the systems are in place to handle them. Her target: independent hospitality/travel companies with annual revenue of $2 million to $10 million, although several fall into the $100 million plus category. Kammy and her team do extensive research into a company before agreeing to work with them.
“I want to work with businesses we can make a real difference for, and that are willing to do their part too—in more of a business partnership, rather than a vendor relationship,” she said.
Her diligent approach pays off. Anchor helped a nonprofit client reap 23 times its investment in its direct-mail campaign. Another client saved more than $13,000 on marketing an event, and got 27 percent more attendees. Improved PPC campaign conversions increased a company’s sales 30% in a month.
Results like this get clients talking and recommending Anchor to others, spurring company growth.
A Business that Benefits the Entire Family
It's been 12 years since Kammy completed her first AWAI program, and eight years since Logan was diagnosed with Aspberger's. When Kammy's husband, an engineer in the mining industry, was recently offered a very attractive job opportunity in Colorado, she didn't hesitate to make the move from Montana.
The move has proved to be good for the entire family. Now 17 years old, Logan gives presentations in his new school about what life with Asperger's is like.
“Logan is having such a different experience at the high school here,” Kammy said. “He met a gang of really good kids that attend our church and hang out with him at school. He is fitting in really well. What a relief!”
Looking back, she's forever grateful for the flexibility her copywriting business offered to take care of her family when they needed her the most.
Kammy’s Tips For Copywriters
- Market, market, market - Market yourself and your business consistently. “Use the skills you learned for your clients to market your own business. Stay in front of people. You can do a lot of marketing with little money online. But absolutely budget for doing targeted mailer campaigns—even if to only 10 or 20 prospects at a time. This has been our best way to get the attention of business owners in a day of internet noise. Second best is LinkedIn, so leverage that too.”
- Ask for referrals - Kammy relied on referrals when she first started her copywriting business. “Businesses are generous about referrals when they’re enthusiastic about working with you. Show up when you say you are going to. Call when you say you are going to. Do what you say you are going to. Don’t overpromise. In fact, under promise and over deliver (just like AWAI teaches). Just one client can lead to dozens more by giving you three referrals, who give you three referrals, and so on and so on. It is MUCH easier, and cheaper, to turn a referral into a client, than it is a cold prospect.”
Ready to pursue the writer’s life?
Ready to pursue the writer’s life? Learn more about the program that launched Kammy’s career, The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.
“Because of the needs of my family, I would not have been able to hold down a regular job outside of the home.”
Woodland Park, CO
Kammy sent her resume and writing samples to a local newspaper expressing her interest to write for them.
- FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair
- The Masters Program for Six-Figure Copywriting
- The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting