From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.
AWAI Bootcamp Notes
So I'm (almost) back home in Colorado after a few days in Florida attending the AWAI Bootcamp and Job Fair.
As promised, here’s a report.
It was wonderful to be in Delray Beach, which is one of my favorite places to visit, not just in Florida, but pretty much anywhere.
There was quite a variety of content. Clayton Makepeace spoke about mistakes he sees in direct response copy. Another speaker, who specializes in B2B copy, talked about … you guessed it … B2B copy.
Programs started at 7:15 in the morning and some of them finished at 9 p.m. It’s a long day but AWAI packs in the content.
I see many of the same faces, but there’s definitely some ‘churn’ with many people arriving one year, then not returning.
On Wednesday afternoon, I had a drink with Bob Bly, who was in excellent form. He’s still writing copy, pounding it out 10 hours a day, at least five days a week. He gave a presentation about marketing.
On Friday at lunch, I met one of the copy chiefs from Agora. He seemed to know me and my work. He told me the copywriters in his division were earning well over $500,000 a year … “if you’re interested,” he said.
The Agora “model” for hiring copywriters is quite well known. They want you to move, usually to Delray Beach or Baltimore. The initial pay is around $40,000 a year. They provide training … some of the best copywriting training in the world. They expect you to earn significant royalties in the first 2 years or they show you the door.
The allure of half a million dollars is quite strong, for sure, but if you’re actually serious about me moving and working with you and you’re implying I can make big money, here’s my number one thought … WRITE ME A CHECK.
There’s a line from a somewhat famous movie … SHOW ME THE MONEY … or something like that. Be careful about the promises potential clients make.
At Job Fair, the usual suspects were present. I saw some current clients. I saw some people I’d like to work with. I saw some people who have fired me from projects.
I also briefly met with a copywriting agency. I met the owner. I’m not normally aggressive … but you have to be at job fair. I’m not elbowing fellow copywriters out of the way but, when I meet someone, I quickly let them know about my track record. Why? Because 95% of the attendees are new to copywriting. I have experience. Nothing wrong with being a newcomer but I want to differentiate myself.
Every company at job fair is looking for copywriters, otherwise they would not be there. They’re usually especially eager to meet experienced copywriters. So I told the owner of the agency I was experienced and had some results and he REFUSED to take my business card and the attached thumb drive which included a short VSL about my work plus a word doc with links to my portfolio.
He said, “just do the spec challenge” and was generally extremely rude. I was tempted to jettison the rattle out of the pram and tell him to speak with everyone … especially if he’s looking for copywriters.
Aside from my semi-angst, what’s the biggest lesson here?
An event like job fair can lead to some work and it’s always good to see some current clients … BUT … ultimately, you have to go and find the clients you really want to work with. You might find a couple at the job fair … you might not.
This year’s bootcamp, for some reason I don’t fully understand, moved me to think about my business in a totally different way. More on that in the next few weeks.
Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter