How I Started Persuasive Copywriting

I’m going to be honest with you. I never thought that I would be successful as a writer. I bought into the whole “starting artist” thing. I’ve always loved writing. I went to college and got my degree in writing, screenwriting that is. But looking back, I realized that I never actually believed that I could be success as a writer. After graduation, I never applied for a single writing jobs. I didn’t prospect my scripts, or submit any LOI’s. I simple started looking for “real work”, half-hardheartedly dreaming that I might someday publish something, you know… down the road, one day. Even when I did land a freelance job writing for a very well-known magazine on a regular basis and making $2,000 an article, I still didn’t think I could be successful. I thought my bubble would come crashing down soon enough, so I better hold on to my regular job, lest I risk failure and poverty. I have to ask myself, in this later stage of my, why I even bothered going to college if I never believed in myself?

Even when my entire salary was generated through writing, I still wasn’t considering it a “real job”. It was just something I was doing to pay the bills until I landed a full-time position. In a way, I’m kinda lucky. I would have never risked giving up a stable career, betting on myself to find ways to make money doing what I love. That seemed way too risky. That kind of thing is for go-getters, type-A’s. I’m not organized, or motivated enough to start a business. It was so out of my realm of thinking that it wasn’t even a formulated thought. It was an anti-thought. I’m not the type of person to start a business. I’ve always respected entrepreneurs. I had a half-baked notion that it be cool to be one. But I certainly wasn’t one.

It wasn’t until necessity required creation that I was motivated to find work as a writer, and even then, it was just to get by. During the last infamous recession, I suddenly found myself career-less. I desperately scrambled to hold on to the last remnants of what was ultimately an industry I had no future in. Times were changing, and I needed to change.  I considered many options. Collected some extra certifications which I thought would improve my chances in the job market. After all, all I had was this stupid writing degree that I can’t do anything with. So, I continued to build up my tech credentials, did tons of online networking, even got a few job offers that I turned down for various reasons. But a girl needs to eat, so while I continued to search for the “perfect job”, I started taking writing assignments on the side. I figured it was a good way to supplement my unemployment while showing companies I was interested in that I wasn’t just sitting on my arse during this unfortunate unemployment spell. Then one morning I woke up and suddenly realized how busy my day was going to be. In fact, I had been busy for a while. I had all these deadlines to meet and clients to respond to. I had billing that needed to be done. I had appointments with prospective clients. I had a portfolio that needed updating. The thought struck me, “Wait a minute… I think I might have started a business.”

As cliché as the saying may be, losing my comfortable job in a terrible job market really was a blessing in disguise. I would have never risked every to be a freelance writer. But now that I am a freelance writer, and I’m having some success, and I can see all the possibilities that are available to me, I couldn’t be happier. I’m doing what I love, and making money doing it. I don’t understand why I thought this was such an unobtainable dream. I wish I had done this years ago! I wake up every more with energy, excited to start my work day. All the things that used to seem scary about running my own business, suddenly are things that I enjoy about my daily work. It reminds me of something my dad always said to me growing up, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” (Yes, I’m sure other people said that first, but my dad’s the only one that matters to me 🙂 That always made sense to me in theory, and I wanted to find a career that I loved that much. But I believed that bratty little voice that told me I could never be successful doing what I love! Now that I’ve silenced that voice, and proved to myself that I can not only survive, but thrive as a writer, I see endless possibilities for my career. My dad was right! Very rarely do I feel like I’m “working”. Coincidentally, he’s a writer too. But he writes about bears and bulls, puts and calls, bonds and stocks – training manuals for stock broking exams. So, even though we’re on different ends of the spectrum, the apple didn’t fall that far from the tree.

One of the things that has really made fall in love with this new career is how supportive, and open the community of online copywriters has been. I get the feeling that my “competitors” sincerely want me to succeed. Luckily, there is a constant demand for quality writing. And as the internet grows, and new business are started, that demand only increases. There are so many different to make money as a write that I was completely oblivious to before I started this career.

Once I started to see how many opportunities were available, I wanted to get more training in specific types of writing. After doing a lot of research, I enrolled in the American Writers and Artists, Inc. “Accelerated Copywriting” program. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to this business. Industry pioneers freely share their “secrets” for successful writing with anyone who will listen. Emails and contact information are shared. Support forums are hosted. Informational e-books and publications are giving away. Critiques and mentors are readily available. It’s so refreshing to enter a career where success is built on mutual support. Coming from the sales side of an uber-competitive tech industry, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

To fellow writers, especially those interested in copywriting, I would strongly recommend checking out AWAI’s Accelerated Copywriting Program. If copywriting is not your thing, check out one of their many other programs. They offer training in B2B sales, niche markets, email campaigns, web content, social media, SEO, creative writing and even publishing. If you’re really not interested in taking a course, you can still sign up for their free newsletter, The Writers Life. It will provide you with a wealth information on how to be a successful freelance writer. If you’re not already a loyal subscriber, you’ll be kicking yourself for not finding them sooner. Even writers established in their career can benefit from their services. They offer an exclusive job board, an active member forum and advanced “Masters” programs, for advanced writers looking to fine-tune their craft and stay up-to-date on the latest trends.

Now don’t get the wrong impression! AWAI is in no way encouraging me to promote their products. I’m not on their payroll, and no part of the course suggests that you do this. I’ve just found their community to be a great resource that provides a lot of value to anyone interested in a career as a freelance writer. I hope that fellow writers reading my blog find as much value in their service as I did! If you have a resource that you’ve found invaluable as a writer, I encourage you to share it in the comments section. Or, you can re-post this blog with your own comments!

“The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.”
—Robert Benchley



About Elizabeth James

I am a creative and sale-focused copywriter who uses the power of the written word to help companies attract new business, encourage repeat business and enhance the value of their current service. I achieve this by creating content that is engaging, personalized, educational and, above all, sale-driven. . I write with one sole purpose: to motivate action. Whether your purpose to close a sale or to encourage someone to sign up for a newsletter, the techniques used to motivate the reader are the same. A letter can be beautifully crafted, but if your reader doesn't relate to the content or it doesn’t create urgency, than it’s no more effective than a Hallmark card. The power of the written word has unlimited potential to motivate and inspire. Harnessing that power will result in increased lead generation, higher closing rates and more inbound queries.
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1 Response to How I Started Persuasive Copywriting

  1. Reblogged this on The Write Way Out and commented:
    Here’s another writer with a story not-unlike my own, with even more great advice for those of you who want to make a living with your writing talent.


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