Inside AWAI

  • Imagine learning from Bill Bonner, Ted Nicholas, Lori Haller, Will Newman, Don Hauptman, Gary Hennerberg, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Nick Usborne, Ed Gandia, Pete Savage, Steve Slaunwhite, AND Bob Bly …

    All in one day!

    It was quite the undertaking, but Bootcamp attendees were able do just that by starting bright and early at 8 a.m. yesterday morning … and not stopping until every insight, tip, and strategy was squeezed out of these experts until 9 p.m. later that night.

    Although many of the speakers and attendees kept going even later in the hotel lobby and bar … and some kept going MUCH later!

    Mindy Tyson McHorse told me around midnight, “Good grief, I’m not tired at all! I’m too pumped up!”

    That’s one of my favorite parts of Bootcamp every year … seeing and hearing about all the connections that are formed between sessions, during lunch breaks, and late into the evening at the bar, on the beach, and even in the hotel hot tub. (I swear that hot tub must have magical powers. Apparently a new mastermind group was formed in it just last night!)

    When you come to Bootcamp you’re immediately surrounded by hundreds of kindred spirits. The people sitting next to you “get” what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. They understand the deep need you have to create your own version of the writer’s life.

    Yesterday Katie asked you to start thinking now about attending next year’s Bootcamp … to make it a goal to be here with us … and to be part of all the excitement and intensity of the Copywriting Event of the Year.

    Today, I’m asking you to do the same.

    It’s going to happen Oct 26 – 29 here in Delray Beach. (We’ve been holding the event at the same hotel for over a decade now!)

    And, if you make the commitment by Sunday to be part of this group next year, you’ll be able to reserve your spot for only $149.

    That’s the best deal you’ll ever see for the 2011 Bootcamp. So even if you’re just considering it, I urge you to grab a spot now.

    And, now … over to our Roving Reporters so they can take you inside the event …

  •  From Mindy …
    Why you must embrace your fear of copywriting! I just spent an eye-opening hour talking to Ted Nicholas. Not only is he legendary in his business-savvy, he’s also one of the wisest, most gracious people I’ve ever met.

    This happens every year. It’s one of the most pleasantly baffling things about Bootcamp. AWAI consistently brings in a handful of sage experts with decades of brilliant marketing and business experience under their belts.

    These experts are generally worth millions with access to more luxury than most of us ever dreamed of. But, without fail, they prove themselves approachable, kind, down-to-earth, and — most incredibly — eager to help those of us who are just beginning this adventure.

    Ted Nicholas is the ultimate of all these things. He has sold over 5 million books and has homes in Switzerland, Cypress, and Tampa. He’s been the catalyst for over $7.9 billion in sales. Yet, he made sure he was completely accessible to every conference attendee. He’s even volunteered to host an extra question and answer session tomorrow morning, just to make sure everybody gets their turn to talk to him.

    Mr. Nicholas shared so many life-altering epiphanies in our interview that I’ll have to roll them out over several future articles. But for today, I want to share one of his most riveting insights.

    I would almost bet you could relate to a fear of failure. We’ve all tasted it. People here at Bootcamp talk about it. I’ve experienced it myself. It’s the single most paralyzing problem we deal with.

    You know Ted Nicholas’ take on the matter? Embrace it. Love your fear. Cultivate it. It will make you a better copywriter, and it will ensure success.

    You may be thinking … huh? Look at it this way. We know emotional copy wins out over logical copy every time. What a lot of us don’t know is how to use our own emotions to find the right words.

    Instead, we try to rationalize the emotions we write to in our copy. We use left-brained thinking to travel the path from product to emotion to appropriate phrasing.

    That kind of approach is no good, because it comes from our heads.

    “What comes from the heart goes to the heart,” says Mr. Nicholas. He also told us, “If you can’t cry, you can’t write.” In his opinion, it takes a lot of courage to show your emotion when you’re going after jobs.

    In other words, embrace your vulnerabilities. Admit them. It’s okay to be scared as you embark on the freelancing journey. It’s a wild, unpredictable ride. Make sure you acknowledge that instead of tucking your feelings away and bravely soldiering forward.

    Do this, and your copy will be stronger. Your prospect-connection will be deeper. Clients will notice, and you will find success. After all, Mr. Nicholas said so. And he certainly knows what he’s talking about!

    “ME AND TED!”

  • Achieve your copywriting goals in 3 steps …

    You at home and all of us here at Bootcamp have something in common: We see copywriting as a means for change in our lifestyles. Along with that is the need to grow our incomes.

    Of all the presenters here, I think Nick Usborne has the clearest grasp on how we should approach those two goals.

    Nick gave a laser-focused presentation today, designed to take even the most indecisive newbie from straddling hopes to tackling goals.

    His first question to all of us was about goal horizons. As in, how many of us have set and defined our goals? How many of us have given ourselves timelines?

    A lot of copywriters (including me) started this journey by saying, “I can do this! I WILL succeed!”

    That’s an important step. You must believe in yourself if you’re even going to attempt this career.

    But beyond that, not a lot of us (including me) lay out a roadmap. We know we will succeed, but we don’t stop to think about how we’re going to do it. As Nick puts it, too many of us get caught up in the idea that positive thinking and the Law of Attraction will get us to where we want to be. We wind up shirking the actual working side of this dream.

    I believe positive thinking plays a role, but action is essential. Nick offered three key steps to prime us in this area:

    1. Make a specific goal. This means define your specialty and give yourself a timeline.
    2. Lay out a roadmap. List the individual steps you need to take to achieve your goal.
    3. Track your progress. Evaluate what you do on a weekly basis. If something’s not working, step back and take a different approach. Don’t waste any time.

    After Nick’s presentation, I went out to dinner with six of my fellow copywriters. As we ate, we talked about our progress and our holdups. We had a lot of challenges in common, but better than that, we had all enjoyed some element of success.

    Interestingly, every one of us was a member of Circle of Success (COS), AWAI’s premier member program. Turns out, COS was really the launching point that compelled each of us to make goals and think about moving forward. After that, the natural kinship that springs up between all Bootcamp attendees has served as our way to track progress and check up on each other.

    I urge you to follow Nick’s advice and move from wanting it to doing it. Make it easy on yourself and set up a support system. Do it through Circle of Success, Bootcamp, or your own connections. But regardless of how, just make sure you follow through on it.

  •  From Steve …
    Clients coming to you … millionaire conversations … and how Nick went from $11,000 to guru status by focusing on the business of freelancing.

    Wow! My brain is about to explode from all the possibilities it got injected with today!

    Gary Hennerberg told the story of one client alone (his third client ever) that directly led to $41,750 in business his first year, and a ten-year working relationship.

    Don Hauptman confessed his biggest fear – one that he overcame and developed into a client-attraction system he’s been using since the dark ages of 1974 (if he can do it, he says, anyone can.)

    And Nick Usborne taught us how to start thinking like a small business and smash our self-imposed constraints.

    It was a life-changing day indeed.

    Somehow I’ve made a living at this copywriting thing for 18 months now, and I haven’t even begun to tap into all the strategies I learned today. I plan on doubling my income in 2011 by implementing only a few of these ideas. Really. Here’s how you can join me …

  • The copywriter’s secret weapons that don’t involve copywriting

    Gary and Don tag-teamed on a topic every copywriter wants to know: how to position yourself to get clients coming to you.

    Is that even possible? Well, Gary’s been freelancing since 1992, and he’s never once made a cold call. Ditto for Don, and he’s been at it even longer.

    They did it by speaking and writing.

    As Gary put it to me, “When you hang out your ‘shingle’, people have to know your ‘shingle’ is there.”

    Now, we have a much easier time today than Gary and Don did in their early years of freelancing. We can utilize all aspects of social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube – and Gary recommends all those approaches (especially after his moment of social media “serendipity” that generated $40,000 in business!)

    But promoting yourself by good old-fashioned speaking and writing is:

    • Less expensive than traditional paid advertising;
    • Easier than referrals (especially if you’re new);
    • More palatable than cold calls;
    • And probably most important, using these PR methods position you as an expert. So prospects actually invite you to work for them, instead of you having to grovel at their feet.
    • It’s that positioning that separates the lowest-paid freelancers from the highest-paid, respected consultants.

    Don and Gary agree: if you can write promotional copy, you can write and speak successfully. You can speak to local marketing groups, civic organizations, business breakfast meetings. You can speak at conventions, workshops, or seminars. And with print and online publications, the potential for article writing is almost limitless.

    Surprisingly, Don admitted he’s terrified of public speaking. But as he told me a few months back, “When I began freelancing in 1974, fresh out of the Navy and with zero experience or contacts, I had to wing it. There was nothing like AWAI, and no internet. I did a lot of improvising and guessing.”

    As part of that improvising, he started speaking to groups and getting articles published. That led to clients, referrals, and a 36-year career that took him to the top of his profession.

    Bottom line: If you write or speak, you’re perceived to be good. It’s that simple.

  • “It drives me crazy how small we think. I want to smack that on its head …”

    Nick Usborne grabbed my attention with that opening. And as he continued, I had my first big “Aha” moment of Bootcamp.

    See, even though Nick is one of the most talented and highly-paid online copywriters in the world today, and I’m not, we’re a lot alike.

    Nick told the story of losing a project because he actually bid too low on a project ($17,000 for what should have been a $35,000 – $40,000 project.) I’m nowhere near that stratosphere, but his story struck a nerve.

    He talked about our self-limiting beliefs and self-doubts. And I realized at 3:57 PM that it was my own limitations and doubts that were holding me back from my true potential.

    The difference is, soon after, Nick started following the same advice Michael Masterson gave in his keynote address:

    Act on opportunities.

    Little by little, he increased his perceived value to his clients. He started by writing an article for a reputable online magazine (one of the “secret weapons” Gary and Don talked about.)

    Then he was asked to speak at a conference (Gary and Don’s other secret weapon.) Next, he wrote a book.

    And after working like crazy from a first-year online copywriting income of $11,000, Nick completely transformed himself into one of the premier web copywriters in the world, and a recognized authority.

    If you’ve ever felt held back by your own constraints like I have, consider my takeaways from Nick:

    1. Think more like a small business, not a freelancer. You build a business, but sometimes as a freelancer all we’re thinking about is where our next project is coming from.
    2. Extend your goal horizon. I’m no longer going to think just 3-6 months out, but 3-5 years out. And as Nick says, “As soon as you have a roadmap in front of you, everything changes.”
    3. Start tracking things. Nick uses Excel spreadsheets for tracking his clients, his income – everything.
    4. “Being a writer is the easy part,” Nick says, “building a business is the hard part.” Positive thinking and the law of attraction isn’t going to cut it. Hard work and planning will. Make it happen.

    [Nick has helped dozens, if not hundreds of copywriters, achieve their copywriting goals over the past decade. And through his program Profitable Freelancing, he can help you too. In it he’ll share with you all of the strategies and tactics that have made him and his coaching clients successful freelance business owners.]

  •  From Roy …
    What story are you going to tell?

    Everybody's still reeling from Bill Bonner's talk. Honest, irreverent, and simply brilliant.

    His first advice for a copywriter looking to write a promotion or advertisement is to think twice. Copywriting can be ridiculously rewarding (he owns a chateau in France and a ranch in Argentina on the power of good sales copy).

    But if you've decided you're going to take the plunge and write breakthrough, master's level sales copy … you have to find the ONE amazing story that your market needs to hear.

    Bill said at one point he knew 6,000 different copywriting secrets. Though today, those have all moved to the background while this core lesson remains front and center.

    Find the story of your product – the one that stirs you deep inside so strongly it can't help but move your target market, too. Don't start writing until you find it. But when you find it, make it your sole focus.

    Tell the story. Don't worry about anything else. Just worry about the story you're going to tell, and telling it in the most compelling way possible.

    Bill's best ads, including his 25-year control for International Living, have done this. In fact, all of Agora's best ads do this.

    The copywriters find out what story they need to tell … then they tell it.
    Do this one thing right, and you're well on your way.

    (Of course, you can also dig deeper into the Master's Program for the most powerful of those other 5,999 copywriting secrets Bill discovered – it changed my copywriting career.)

  • And while I'm talking about Bill Bonner, I'm going to tease you.

    He and I sat down for a short interview out on the terrace at the hotel here, and I captured it all on camera. It's all about how the Big Idea can transform your sales copy. I spoke with Katie and we'll be sending it your way (at no charge!) later this month. So keep your eyes peeled …

  • Do you know what role design plays in the success or failure of your copy?

    At last year's Bootcamp I met AWAI graphic design guru and world-class, direct-response graphic designer Lori Haller. Among other things, I have to say she's perhaps the most exciting, encouraging person I've ever met. (Perhaps that's why she's worked with some of the largest direct-response companies in the world, and even done promo design for an Oprah book!) In addition to being a veritable genius when it comes to maximizing response to marketing promotions through effective design, she's also just incredibly fun to be around.

    And yesterday in her presentation on "Essential Graphic Design Tips for Copywriters,” we got both sides of Lori. Here are some of her critical points all copywriters need to understand about design:

    • A copywriter's role doesn't stop with copy. Get involved with the design. Share your ideas, then work with the designer. Everybody's in it to create a winner – and if you can share your ideas on how to make that happen with the designer, you're more likely to hit the jackpot.
    • Work from the very beginning with the total picture in mind. It doesn't matter if you're working online or offline – different formats call for different copy voice and different design focuses.

    For example, if you're writing a "special report" sales presentation – not only do you want your copy to read like a special report, you want the designer to understand that the critical role of the design is to give the entire piece the "feel" of a special report.

    Readers pick this up on an almost subconscious level – and when it's right it makes your promotion fire on all cylinders.

  • Readability, font, colors – it all matters.

    Design plays a big role in how people read your copy, and how long they continue to read it. Get it right – where the design makes the copy easy to read – and you have a good opportunity to make your entire sales presentation.

    Lori showed an odd financial piece she was working on recently that simply looked "off" in the original format everyone thought they wanted it in. So mid-design, they flipped the format and were ecstatic with the results. The original idea for complex colors, layout, and design work was set aside in favor a new design with striking simplicity. Now it's in early testing and it's looking like they may have a winner.

    You can't understate the importance of design in direct-response promotions. And if you want your copy to work like gangbusters, even as a copywriter you should study direct-response design.

    Lori's presentation was an introduction – and you can learn a lot more from checking out her Graphic Design Success program from AWAI (I have!). The program was created for aspiring direct-response designers, though I think it's just as important for copywriters serious about maximizing response and mastering their craft.

  • REMINDER: Make your plans now to join us for next year’s FastTrack to Success Copywriting and Bootcamp at the lowest price possible. You can sign up for just $149 if you sign up by November 7th. Make the commitment to yourself to make 2011 YOUR year!!

    Reserve your spot here!