Heading in The Write Direction for 23 Years

The Write DirectionJanuary 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.

Debra Jason

Marketing & writing with heart, not hype at at The Write Direction
A recipient of the “Creative Person of the Year” award, Debra educates and empowers creative solopreneurs and enthusiastic business owners to create a lifestyle business that provides them with the flexibility, fun and freedom to do what they love. She also inspires you to communicate your marketing message in a way that captivates and converts your prospects into loyal, raving fans - even if you have been struggling with how to transform your ideas into words in the past.


  1. Roberta Waddell says:

    Hi Debra —

    Love hearing about your path to your successful present. And I agree about persistence and determination, maybe because those are key traits of mine.

    You asked for a quote. Here’s a favorite work-related one of mine that I cite regularly:

    Find something you love to do and find a way to get paid to do it.

    That is what I did, almost by accident, and thanks to Gene who gave me a big leg up. Fortunately, I’m busy at my chosen profession right now — very busy.

    Congrats on your 23rd anniversary.

    All the best,


    Blog: http://alternativespeak.blogspot.com (Inactive at present — I’m too busy editing for $$ to add to it regularly, but the old stuff is still valid.)

    • Bobby, so nice to see you here on my blog. Do what you love & the money will follow is a popular “mantra.” As my mentor, Gene was inspirational in boosting my desire to write and pursue it as my chosen profession. I feel so fortunate to have had him my life and miss him often. And, of course, because of my work with him, I met YOU! Appreciate you sharing your thoughts & your fave quote here. Hugs to you. 🙂

  2. Debra – we have a lot in common. I started my freelance PR/writing business in the same year, 1989 (November), after working on both the corporate and agency sides. I however, had cultivated a little business before making the big leap, so while scary, not as scary as your situation. I agree that the success I’ve had and continue to have is because I’ve always continued my own marketing efforts, and because I’ve been fortunate enough to have great clients who refer me! I also have used the same ‘persistence’ quote for myself and others, so I agree with you on that one. While you spent some time in Boulder, I was born and raised in Denver. However, most of my business career has been spent in Southern California and now, Northern Nevada.

    One question, how did you end up moving to beautiful Kauai? My first trip to Hawaii was to Kauai and I still love it today.

    • Hi Christel, the referral network aka word-of-mouth is the most cost-effective marketing tool there is. Love it when I get referrals from those who have worked with me. It feels so good!
      Check your email, I sent you a message about my move to Kauai. I live on the north shore. Thanks again for sharing your insight and perspective here.

  3. I know I’m a late comer to this discussion but you asked if there was any saying that inspired your business and there was one that inspired us which is following;

    ‘Where to get your (insert your product or service, in our case environmental equipment) “when it HAS to work”.’

    We worked very hard over the past 20 years in order to live up to this saying and I like to think we’ve done so but only our customers can be the judge of that.
    Enviro Equipment Blog recently posted…CleanInject Injection Process Successful In South CarolinaMy Profile

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