January 2012 marks the 23rd anniversary of The Write Direction. Recently, a wannabe copywriter contacted me asking how I achieved this landmark. This wasn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question by someone wanting to turn his/her passion for writing into a full-time business.
So I decided it was worth sharing my reply here in hopes of inspiring others. Here’s the short version . . .
I started my business in Boulder, CO in 1989 when times were tough – really tough.
The reason I went out on my own was because people were getting laid off at all the agencies I approached. I was caught in the Colorado recession and repeatedly heard, “Sorry, we’re not hiring any copywriters. We’re laying people off right now.”
I was petrified. I mean how was I going to pay my bills, not to mention my mortgage? Here I was living in a place I loved, with friends that I loved, but no job in place. Talk about scary. Perhaps, you know just what I mean.
But then, it struck me like a lightning bolt!
In addition to being told “we’re laying people off right now,” many of the people I had interviewed with also said to me “we can’t hire you as an employee, but if you were to freelance, then we could use your copywriting services.”
So I took this as a sign from above – it was my opportunity to grab the bull by the horns and start my own business. The Write Direction was born on January 1, 1989.
Now, keep in mind, I had no clients. Many freelance copywriters start their businesses after working at an agency and they have clients who follow along with them.
But that wasn’t me. While I had worked at an agency in New York before going out on my own, I was now back in Boulder and had to start from scratch – no clients and a very limited portfolio. Again, talk about scary! However, despite the Colorado recession, I was able to break ground . . . make an impact . . . find clients . . . establish a successful business.
It happened because of a concerted effort to market myself and keep marketing. I stress this because many of you reading this may just be getting started or perhaps you’ve been working really hard for a long time, feeling deflated and not sure where to turn to next.
I know how it feels – believe me. I sent out direct mail letters, networked like crazy and followed up with phone calls. I’d take it personally when people said “no thanks” and would have second thoughts, thinking “I must be crazy to do this.”
However, I was consistent and persistent – and here it is 23 years later. So I advise those of you who are reading this to do the same. Keep up the good work, keep marketing and networking and you WILL achieve your goals.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Calvin Coolidge that I’d like to share with you as I believe you’ll find it inspirational:
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
Are you celebrating a business anniversary? Do you have a favorite quote that inspired you along the way? Please share the answer to one or both questions in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks.