6-Figures Copywriting in 12 Months --- How I did it

in copywriting •  last year

In no way am I some 'hot shot millionaire.' Not even close. But, this past year has been life-changing, and could help you.

I'm not a manufacturer, a designer, an engineer, coder, or even an average handyman.

I discovered, from my failures, I love writing sales copy and I'm good at it (goal: be the best).

[You can only connect the dots looking back...]

Growing up, I always wanted to be an accountant...yuck...Kids in middle school laughed at me when I told them.

I imagined looking sleek in an expensive suit, pulling up in my Mercedes to a Fortune 500 office. Then, walking into my CFO office...the slowlane reeking through my white shirt.

Well, there was I problem...

I found out I sucked at accounting.

My last job, working in a CPA firm in Dallas, my boss subtly mentioned multiple times it wasn't right for me. The first time was after I took "too much initiative." The firm was planning on spending 5-figures on a new Wordpress site.

Outraged... I went home. Next, I pulled up ThemeForest, and spent the weekend creating a great, new site for just $50 with sub-par design skills.

Monday rolled around and I got an angry call due to potential "SEC" violations that could happen as I had made the site live [didn't even know there was an 'on' button].

That incident pushed me into finding more about myself and what I loved. After many more failures, I found my love of copywriting.

Slow burn of getting clients:

There's two routes you can go as a copywriter:

  1. Make your own products and promote (think Clickbank)
  2. Or, pick up clients one-by-one

I picked door #2.

Worst mistake I made starting: I was a 'general' copywriter. I reached out to local businesses, any company I thought interesting...etc. I made crummy YouTube videos for each prospect telling thing what their ads are doing wrong.

Another tactic: I'd go through their site and make suggestions on things they could do to increase conversions. Great value, right?

Terrible idea. Giving away the milk is dumb. Not good salesmanship. Learned that the hard way with lots of wasted time.

Moving along...

I managed to pick up a few clients from cold outreach. Not much. A few thousand bucks here and there.

During that time, my wife and I had a child, and were wanting to move across the country back near my family in Georgia. My wife stays at home so it's my job to bring home the cake.

After squirreling away $15,000 in savings from client work, I sat down with my wife. We picked a date...Feb 1, 2016...for me to quit my accounting job and do copywriting full-time.

Mind you --- $15,000 is around 3-4 months of living expenses with health insurance, student loans, car payment, a baby etc.

Still...I had toyed with entrepreneurship for years. I heard the older you get, the less risk you take. Plus, I saw the Steve Harvey video about the "Jump" and I knew it was time to fly or die.

----------------

Before I go on...you might think: "Freelance writing is not a fast lane to wealth!"

If we're getting down-to-earth technical...sure, it's not.

If I stopped writing tomorrow [minus commissions from promotions] I'd make $0.

But, I feel this step in my life (at the age of 29) is not the last step in terms of my entrepreneurship ventures.

On my goals list (I read everyday)...I include other income streams I'm working towards:
Option trading
Speculative stock trading
Real estate investing/flipping
Helping my wife open a bakery (she's an incredible baker)
Screenwriting (I believe we're entering a new 'golden age' of TV...more and more networks need great scripts. Screenwriting is my budding hobby when I'm not copywriting for work...interesting life I lead...)
It's just the start. I'm enjoying the journey and getting to work when + where I want.


What I've always struggled with: Not being gracious for this moment and what I have.
It's a typical American mindset. Never having enough.

I know some on here aren't spiritual/religious, but I find having a relationship with God helps my relationship with my wife and daughter.
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Anyway...

Back to juicy parts.

For the first few months of self-employment, you feel weird. Suddenly, you don't have a boss breathing down your neck. You don't have to pretend to like your cube-mates.

And...most of all...

You don't have to sit in freakin' traffic 2 hours/day. Geez, what a time suck. Great time to catch up on podcasts, but that's it.

Being self-employed frees you from that.

But, you get new worries.

*What if we go broke?
What if I really suck at this?
What if we have to move in with my parents? My wife would probably leave me.
You're ALWAYS GOING TO HAVE THESE QUESTIONS. There is never a perfect time to quit your job and start working for yourself. *

It's like having a baby. You can plan until the cows come home. At some point, you just gotta bite the bullet.

One of my first days, I was paralyzed. Laying on our bed, heart pounding, looking up at the ceiling. My wife walks in and asks, "What are you doing? "

With short breath, I admit, "I don't know what I'm doing...I can't do this..." A moment of self-pity. It happens. We talked. Long-story-short, I pulled up my boots and kept going.

For months, we slid by. I had a few projects here and there. Reaching out cold to companies (hundreds) and getting little back. Still being a generalist.

Then, I had an epiphany.

I hated accounting. But, I loved finance. Stock markets, Motley Fool, all that jazz...it's fun for me to read and watch. Money makes the world go around. Understand money, you understand what's going on in the world.

*"I'll write copy for financial companies" *I claimed.

Great, right?

I figured: 'Financial advisors need more clients all the time. I'll write for them! Have a zillion clients! Bwhaha!'

Well, I talked with over 50 FAs on the phone. Zero wanted to hire me! A few even said "Yes, send over the contract." We had agreed on the price and everything. Contract sent.

Never heard from them again.

What I found: FAs are: Conservative, money-tight, understand ZERO about marketing or its importance, and have probably been burned before.

Okay. Panicking again with a failed niche...

I reached out to a random gold company with a $2 bill attached to a direct mail letter. It worked!

This gold company needed copy to opt-in for an ebook for their gold IRAs. Suddenly, a whole new door opened. Because that company introduced me to financial publishers.

You know them: Agora, Stansberry...etc.

They need copy ALL THE TIME...and they pay well for it + commissions.

Before some of you start with the hate: "Oh, those financial publishers are all scammers. They say you can get rich, rich, rich. BS!"

I'm not going to touch on this much.

Yes, some financial publications are iffy. Some Agora copy makes some bold claims. But, Agora is a 9-figure business...and has been for awhile. They do have some unhappy campers...but, many aren't.

I've seen behind-the-curtain of many publisher products, and many are very good. Especially if you don't know much about investing or have the time to do all the research.

Yes, some analysts' products pick wrong stocks more often than not. Every industry has their good & bad companies.

I digress....

The point to take from this:
Find an area that already pays for what you offer!!!

I wasted months and months trying to "educate then sell..." It's a tough hill to climb my friend.
If someone doesn't already understand why they should eat organic over pizza...it's a much tougher sell than someone who already buys organic!

Find someone already buying what you want. Then comes the real moneymaker...

The beauty of a 'niche'

Sure, having a niche means you know more about the industry than others blah blah.

But, the real riches is something else...let me tell you...

When you work in a niche, you can leverage one client into all the others!

If you say: "I worked with Toyota..." going up to Nissan is a much, much easier sell. Because they know you speak the language. You already understand the industry.

Today, I work with mostly financial publications. Picked up a few other clients in other industries from referrals. But, mostly just target fin pubs.

In the last 12 months:


-Made over 6-figures just in copywriting fees (not commissions)

-Written 6-figure promotions

-Used my healthy fees to invest in our old house before selling it. Saw a 300% return on the investment [wouldn't make enough at the J.O.B. to do this]

-Moved to GA, bought my wife her dream house

-On track to make 6-figures again this year working from home at my own pace

Main Lessons:


-Accept where you are now. Put a little effort each day. I wake up excited on Mondays to work. I stay up late excited to work. Do I stress about failing still? Yes. Duh.

-Failing is always, always, always part of the process. Every time. 100% of the time.

-Try to leverage clients into each other. Much easier sale.

-Sell to people already buying what you sell. Once you get that running...then, broaden

-I started off worrying "This isn't fastlane to wealth." But, I'm building up my capital into more passive streams in the future. I'm accepting where I am now and taking strides to get where I'm going

-You will always think you're going to fail. There will never be an absolute best time to start a new venture/work for yourself.

-You just have to trust yourself, God, the universe. As humans, it's funny. If you're ambitious and driven enough, you figure shit out. You just do. Yes, hard times will come. But, we're survivors. We figure out how to survive.

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Great story Joe. Really love your writing style. Also I think I'm going through something similar right now. Curious to know if you increased your service fee a lot or started outsourcing so you could get to 6-figures. I'm currently working with clients on digital marketing field (social media, seo, google ads etc).

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Thanks! Definitely when you start off you charge less than what you end up a lot. For me, I haven't had to outsource yet as I can nail down 5-figure projects on my own.

What I find: Get a handful of clients you can do multiple 'big' projects for.

Doing $300 per client gets exhausting as you're having to learn the client's business, do the work, then hit the road again to find the next client.

A few clients who will keep you on and doing big projects makes life easier.

For you, you could easily find companies you could charge $2,000/month to manage their social and ads. That's $24,000/year.

You only need 5 of those clients to jump over 6-figures.

That's a pretty good living :)