Have you ever dreamed of owning a lucrative business that lets you work anywhere you want – anytime you want – and gives you plenty of time off to travel, spend time with family and friends, or to pursue your hobbies?
If so, direct-response copywriting could very well be the business of your dreams.
Why does copywriting pay so well? It’s simple supply and demand.
Thousands of direct-response marketers across America and around the world are desperate for strong advertising copy. But there are so few writers to meet that demand that the good ones can pretty much write their own tickets.
If you can read, write, use a computer, and dial a telephone, you can learn this lucrative skill and make a very healthy living at it.
I’m living proof that it’s true.
In the 1970’s, I was a 20-something high-school dropout. I had a wife, a two-year-old daughter, and a baby on the way. My 12-hour-a-day job paid minimum wage, and we were struggling to pay the bills and put groceries on the table.
One day, as I was scouring the local paper for better job opportunities, I spied a tiny “help wanted” ad that intrigued me. A small-business owner needed someone to write ads for him.
“What do I have to lose?” I asked myself. “I can write. How hard can this be?”
My prospective employer wasn’t exactly blown away by my experience and credentials. In fact, I expected the guy to have me thrown out of his office. Instead, he gave me an opportunity to prove my skills by writing a short sales letter. I poured my heart and soul into it, and a week later I had a new job – as a copywriter.
That’s when everything changed for me. In the months and years that followed, my income soared to $100,000, then to $250,000, to $500,000, to $1 million … and ultimately to nearly $3 million in a single year.
I’m not telling you this to brag – only to show you that if a high-school dropout like me can do it, you can too.
Even if you believe you have no natural talent for writing, you can still do very well. Good copywriting sounds like natural conversation – so if you can talk, you already have all the innate knowledge needed to be a successful copywriter.
Here’s how you can get started on a profitable copywriting career:
1. Purchase a good home-study program (like the one Michael Masterson developed for AWAI). Really study it. Complete all of the exercises and become fully immersed in the skill of copywriting. This is how you learn the basics of what is considered good direct-response copy – the simple techniques that move people to action.
2. Get a deeper understanding of the basics of direct-response marketing by reading books such as Bob Bly’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing. Learn the industry lingo and understand the nuts and bolts of the direct-marketing business. You must understand the inner workings of the business so you fully understand how your copy fits into the equation. And it doesn’t hurt to speak the language.
3. Study the masters. Study sales copy written by pros like Gary Bencivenga, Dan Kennedy, Gary Halbert, John Carlton, and others. Sign up for and read their e-newsletters, visit and read the archives on their websites. Learn from the best.
And after you have done all of the above and are ready for your first assignments (and for the cash to start rolling in) …
4. Pick a niche in which you have some interest and knowledge and start looking for clients. My niche has always been health and financial publications. Your niche might be business opportunities or real estate.
Whatever your interests, I’ll bet there is a product or publication just waiting for your newfound copywriting skill to sell it.
Narrowing your focus on a niche market will insure that you meet your goals faster. It’s a huge direct-marketing world out there; don’t waste your time running around trying to be everything to everyone. Write what you know.
There’s one more thing you must do to make your sales copy successful.
Good ad writers simply explain all the benefits a product will bring to the customer’s life – and they make a great living by doing that.
But great ad writers know that the vast majority of purchases are made for emotional reasons. So they identify the strongest emotions the customer already has concerning the benefits the product offers – or the lack of them … and then they speak directly to those emotions.
If you can do this one thing, you can be one of the great ones – and a life of high-paying assignments and amazing freedom will be yours![Ed. Note: Clayton Makepeace is a copywriter and direct-marketing consultant with over 33 years of experience and more than $1 billion in sales generated for his clients.]