Michael Samonek has been a freelance copywriter, author, and inventor for more than 25 years. Before he discovered Michael Masterson’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, he “chugged” along averaging about $1K a week. At the March 1999 Bootcamp, Michael experienced a copywriting “Eureka.” And, now he’s averaging $10K a month!
One year after Stuart Jurs enrolled in Michael Masterson’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, he progressed from a basic student to working as a professional copywriter for one of the top direct mail marketing firms in the U.S. And, we’re proud to say, three years later Stuart has produced numerous controls for them including one that ranks as the third best performing package in the company’s history. Way to go, Stuart!!
AWAI Masters Student Glen Strathy has received 14 PAID assignments in the past 12 months. Just two years after receiving the basic course, he’s living the writer’s life!
Masters student Rich Silver shared this exciting news with us recently:
“I made an agreement with my brother and his business partner to try and beat their control. They agreed to test my letter on two conditions 1) if they didn’t like what I wrote they wouldn’t test it. 2) I was responsible for doing everything regarding getting the copy ready. They didn’t care how long the copy was as long as it brought results. I accepted the challenge.
I studied the stock market in depth and how my brother and his partner invest. I then proceeded to write, rewrite and rewrite the copy over and over again.
It was worth it. My brother and his partner are very pleased with the results – and my letter is their new control. They plan to double the next mailing. And, they want me to write a space ad now too.
It’s interesting to note that a large part of what I wrote in the sales letter came straight from what I learned in the basic and masters programs.”
Masters student Edith Nee recently tested our strategies for finding freelance copywriting work – with great success! Her client – a national non-profit health charity – was thrilled. Her first letter brought in a 72% increase in the number of people who responded and a 28% increase in the average donation received.
Here’s a note we just received from Masters Student Beth Erickson
“I attended your Bootcamp in Baltimore last September. When I go home, I studied all the materials again; particularly the “Getting Clients” session. Then I figured, why not give it a whirl? So, I drafted my own little direct mail package and mailed it to businesses in my area.
I got a client from that mailing. Since then, I’ve sent out more letters and work is coming in!
And, about two weeks ago I received word that my first novel now has a home. I’m pretty excited and terrified. Within the next few months, I’ll be a published author.
What’s so cool about this (and the reason I’m telling you) is because after my coaching by John, I went through all my fiction and reworked it – using the techniques HAMMERED into me by John.
My favorite author is Jon Hassler. It took 10 years for him to sell his first book. I’ve been working at this about four years. AWAI helped me shave 6 years off my goal!”
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AWAI: What got you started in copywriting and advertising as a profession?
Michael: I got started back in 1970. I had dropped out of Ohio State University’s pre-med program. I read a story about how the American economy was changing from a manufacturing economy to a service-based economy. It also said selling information was going to be the wave of the future. So I wrote my first information product – a report on how to instantly stop hiccups – with a technique I invented called, “The Accupinch.”
I decided to test an ad in the National Inquirer’s classified section. Using a free booklet I ordered called “How to Write a Classified Ad that Pulls,” I wrote and placed the ad. And waited. I only got 3 orders. But, in the process I learned to create products and advertising that people WANT, not NEED. People need a hiccup cure, but they want tacos, pizza, and Chunky Monkey ice cream.
One day I saw a full-page ad for a book titled, “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches.” That was the headline of the ad, too. I was foaming at the mouth, so I ordered it (along with a about a million other people I later learned.)
That’s the book that really got me started in the business of direct response advertising as a profession. A few years back, I was placing an ad for a book I had written through an agency that buys and sells ad space. The owner of the agency said he liked my writing style and asked if I would write an ad for his son who was struggling with a mail order business. I wrote the ad for free – and Irv, the owner (and father) – started recommending my copywriting to his other clients. Suddenly, I was a professional copywriter.
AWAI: Can you tell us about any “Eureka!” moments since you’ve become an AWAI student?
Michael: Yes, it was at the first AWAI Bootcamp I attended. During the afternoon session, when Michael Masterson revealed the 4U’s for the first time, I knew right there that my job had suddenly become a lot easier! In space ads, being able to write scorching headlines and bullets is the whole ball game.
Prior to this Bootcamp, I was averaging $1,000 a week with my little agency. After applying the new principles I had learned to my own advertising, my income jumped to an average $10,000 per month.
AWAI: What advice would you offer students enrolled in AWAI’s copywriting program?
Michael: I try to set daily goals for myself. And, I read everything published about direct response copywriting.
The best advice I can offer to other students is to write and study a few pages every day. Then reward yourself. Make it a habit every day to do a little and before long you will have accomplished a lot.
AWAI: How did you become interested in copywriting as a profession?
Stuart: When I graduated from college, I had no idea of what to do with my Linguistics degree. I received AWAI’s “Can You Write a Letter Like This One?” promotion and was intrigued. I felt that I was a strong writer, and until that letter I had never thought of copywriting as a career. My job at the time was answering customer service e-mail, and I didn’t enjoy it.
AWAI: What was the most important, most profound, or most helpful technique that you learned through the Michael Masterson program?
Stuart: All of the secrets work together synergistically, so I can’t say one secret worked better for me than the rest.
AWAI: You did two assignments for Fourth Avenue Marketing Group. Can you tell us a little about what you learned while working on those packages?
Stuart: I learned a tremendous amount. My first draft of the second assignment didn’t pass Don Mahoney’s “bar-stool” test and I had to do five drafts before my copy was acceptable. I needed to improve the “dating the reader” aspect of the letter among other things. It just wasn’t personal enough. So I got personal stories from the client, and I injected them into the copy.
AWAI: Was there anything in particular that Don did to really help you?
Stuart: Yes. Don gave me concrete ways to make my copy better. If the piece needed more information or something needed to be presented in a different way, he didn’t mince words about it. He told me exactly what needed to be done.
AWAI: You’re now working for one of the top direct mail marketing firms in the U.S. as one of their full-time, in-house copywriters. Tell us how you landed the job.
Stuart: After the first Bootcamp I attended, I decided I wanted to try and get a job as a copywriter, even though I knew I still had a lot to learn. I was on the mailing list of the company I’m working for and they’re located near me, so I decided to apply there.
First, I asked them if they had any in-house copywriters. They said they did, so I filled out an application and brought them the 2 assignments I did for Fourth Avenue Marketing Group and a cover letter.
I obtained a contact name and called him every week for about six weeks. Finally, I got a call from the VP of marketing, and he told me he would give me a project to do. He said he would have to test me with two or three projects before he could hire me.
My first project was a bookalog, and I had never done one before. In fact, I had never done an assignment using the “advanced” knowledge I learned at the Bootcamp. But it went fairly smoothly, and they liked my work. They also liked my second project, and I was hired soon after.
AWAI: What advice would you offer AWAI students?
Stuart: Enroll in the Masters Program. That’s what got me my job. And, if you get poor-quality direct mail from a company, approach them about writing for them, and keep going after it until they let you in or tell you to go away.
AWAI: Being a copywriter is quite a change for you. What’s been the best part so far?
Glen: Although I’m just beginning, I feel copywriting offers me the opportunity to enjoy much more freedom in my life. I like variety – the chance to work for short, intense periods of time on a variety of projects, each offering it’s own challenges. I also like coming up with creative ideas. And, I’ve always been good at research. Copywriting offers me all of these things.
But, even better, copywriting offers me the chance to work and live wherever I choose. For example, I can be working on a project for Fourth Avenue Marketing Group in Florida, while living on a lake in Ontario, Canada. In the future, I would like to live in Europe for a year or so. Copywriting will let me do that while continuing to earn a living. I also like setting my own hours. And working at home lets me spend more time with my wife and 2-year-old daughter.
AWAI: What have you learned from AWAI that you’ve applied to your copywriting career?
Glen: AWAI’s courses have been invaluable. In the past, although being a writer appealed to me, I thought that it meant being a poet, novelist, or playwright. (You might as well put “starving” in front of any of those three.) AWAI showed me there was an entirely different venue where writing was valued and rewarded. And, that copywriting can be as respectable as any other field of writing.
Moreover, I found that throughout the courses and Bootcamps, I was actually learning a new way of thinking – about business, about the world, about relationships, and especially about advertising. I learned to see copywriting as a helping profession, and that let me get excited about it.
AWAI: What’s been the biggest benefit of working for Fourth Avenue Marketing Group?
Glen: The biggest benefit was getting that first copywriting assignment, and the others that followed. I now have more confidence in my abilities. And when I look for copywriting jobs on my own, I’ve got something in my portfolio to show prospective clients.
AWAI: What secrets from AWAI have helped you the most?
Glen: The Architecture of Romance certainly. And how to write in an effective voice and style. I was used to writing academic papers for university courses – where clarity, directness, and a personal voice are shunned. I find I can now pick up almost any sales letter that comes in the door and see the weaknesses instantly.
AWAI: How has mentoring added to your copywriting ability?
Glen: Working with a mentor helps ingrain the skills of writing good copy. Whenever I’ve gone astray, especially on the first few assignments I did, or when struggling with an approach for a project, I can count on my mentor to help me re-focus and correct any weaknesses.
AWAI: What advice would you offer students enrolled in AWAI’s copywriting program?
Glen: To persevere – it’s easy to get lazy about finishing the assignments, especially since the course is deceptively simple. I didn’t because I was pretty sure copywriting was what I wanted. So the small amount of effort it took was nothing compared to the potential rewards.
AWAI: We’re happy to report you’ve landed your first client. Tell us about how you did it.
Edith: It started when I got a fundraising letter from the Alzheimer Society’s national headquarters. Like I was coached to do in the copywriting course, I contacted them (via e-mail) and asked if I could write a fundraising letter for them. After some phone tag, I spoke to the Development Director. She asked to see some examples of my writing. I faxed two of my letters from the course to her on Friday. By Monday, I had my first assignment!
I did additional research to supplement the background materials they gave me. And, I managed to complete the letter in less than a week.