On the first day of first grade at St. Paul Elementary, Sister Marie Leone placed an oversize book on an easel at the front of the class. Those of us who could demonstrate proficiency in reading were assigned to sit at the redbird table.
I was assigned to the bluebird table.
But only two weeks later, Sister Marie tapped my shoulder and promoted me. I glowed with pride as I leaped from my seat to join the redbirds, coldly abandoning my bluebird friends without a backward glance — ruthlessly competitive even at the age of five.
Sister Marie would be proud to know that I’m now a freelance copywriter.
My most outstanding English teacher was Miss Harris in ninth grade. She would announce our daily pop quiz by instructing us to get out half a sheet of paper. As trained, we would tear a sheet of paper from side to side and share it with the student across the aisle. We had to remember whose turn it was to supply the paper. In this and countless other ways, she taught us to follow instructions. I can still do it.
But it wasn’t all roses. Senior year, my English teacher informed me I wouldn’t graduate unless I completed my (late) term paper. I gulped and headed straight for the public library for a weekend of non-stop research followed by a writing frenzy to produce a paper titled “The Wit and Wisdom or Ben Franklin.” My teacher (I’ve dismissed her name from my memory) grudgingly gave me an A-minus. I hadn’t thought of that in years until I wrote a blog post about writer’s block for the GetResponse blog.
Before I began writing for a living, I worked as a salesman, learning how to warm up a prospect, deliver a persuasive presentation, and close a sale — good stuff for a copywriter to know. From my sales manager, Ernie Young, I learned how to walk into the office of a stranger unannounced and walk out a half-hour later with a check for $375 to $950. Can you do that?
At the beginning of my writing career, I worked for a website developer, Heritage Web Solutions. In my three years there, I wrote copy for over 500 websites, juggling as many as 25 clients at a time. It was stressful, and the pay wasn’t great, but I learned how to do the work. My clients can tell you: I need minimal instruction and deliver good work on time — surprisingly rare these days.
My copywriting experience includes blog articles, website copy, email marketing campaigns, press releases, landing pages, whitepapers, sales collateral pieces, and guides. Clients also look to me for recruitment ads, newsletter copy and internal communications. I ghostwrite articles, edit copy for marketing departments, and collaborate with in-house writers on complex projects. I’ve edited non-fiction books and training courses. I’ve written video scripts, letters from the CEO, and applications for industry awards. You can view samples of these in the Writing Clips tab of the menu.
Along the way I’ve studied my craft, learning what top writers have to say about advertising, marketing, sales, and copywriting. But I’ve learned my most valuable lessons by putting what I know into action for my clients.
Mostly, I’ve just written a lot. As Stephen King says, your first million words are just for practice. He’s right. I estimate I passed the million-word mark (for paid writing gigs) in 2010.
Hey, I didn’t get to the redbird table by twiddling my thumbs.