Usually, I get this question via a Facebook comment on an ad. And, I’d venture to say that it’s not asked in the most, oh, constructive manner. (Which tends to be the way with most Facebook ad comments that come through in the middle of the night…) But it’s come up often enough—and maybe you’ve even wondered it yourself— that I want to be sure to address it now.
The question is, “If you make so much money as a copywriter, why are you teaching copywriting instead?”
First, I want to make one thing abundantly clear—I am NOT teaching copywriting instead of writing copy. I’m still a working copywriter, in the weeds and doing the work, cranking out copy for clients. I’m not teaching instead of writing copy—I’m teaching AND writing copy.
And yes! I make a lot of money as a copywriter. I am a six-figure copywriter. The finances are a little muddier now that I have this business as well and don’t devote 100% of my time to copywriting, but when I am strictly devoted to copywriting, I have no problem hitting 6-figures per year.
Which is great, right? It’s a lot of money! I could very comfortably sit back and just write copy for the rest of my days.
But honestly, I’d feel like I was missing out on something.
When I first got started with copywriting (15+ years ago!), I had to figure everything out on my own. I did have the benefit of having learned how to write copy from dad, who was a marketing director at the time. But the business side of it? That was tricky. I made a lot of mistakes and I wasted a lot of time and money.
Then, later on in my career, I had the opportunity to build a team of copywriters. Some of them had some editorial writing experience and some had just a very, very little bit copywriting experience. So, they were a smart, talented group…but they didn’t know how to write copy.
It was up to me to teach them all of the principles of copywriting—the basic stuff and the advanced stuff—and how to wield it all to craft effective copy. And I discovered that I really loved it. I loved helping them learn how to do what I already loved to do. And, because I’m realistic and know that no one should stay in any job forever, I also had them build their own portfolio sites and learn how to market themselves as copywriters as part of that training. Basically, I taught them what I wish I could have been taught when I first got started.
Not long after we finished our initial training, I thought, “Well, hey, what if I could do this on a broader scale? What if I could reach more people and help them learn to write copy and build careers—while also helping them avoid all of those dumb (but super common) mistakes I made when I was starting out?”
The thing is, there weren’t—and there still aren’t—a lot of good resources for people who want to build copywriting careers. Or even for people who want to do it part-time. There are some scammy ones that teach antiquated projects like “online sales letters,” make B.S. promises like, “you’ll make six figures in your first year in your pajamas,” and bank on weird and useless “training techniques” like hand-copying ads. (What??)
And there are other well-meaning programs from young writers who’ve found some success for themselves (yay!) but only know how to teach you how they did it. And, unfortunately, that means directing people into pitfalls those instructors don’t understand and can’t anticipate, and only being able to offer a limited perspective from limited experience.
I’ve been a copywriter for more than 15 years. I’ve worked as a freelancer, on-staff, and as a contractor. I’ve worked for multi-national, multi-billion-dollar companies, I’ve worked for solopreneurs, and I’ve worked for every size business in between. And I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt:
There is a real and true shortage of good, skilled copywriters.
There is a far, far greater need for copywriters than there are copywriters to fill it. Believe me, I couldn’t even BEGIN to create my own competition by training writers—there’s too much opportunity!
There have never before been so many companies in the world and never before have those companies better understood the need for and value of good copy.
I teach copywriting because I find it SO fulfilling to help people create copywriting careers of their own. Every time one of my students lands a new client or hits a new income goal, I am truly elated. I can’t imagine it’s an especially good business tactic to sell a course and then hang people out to dry, but I wouldn’t know. I want each and every one of my students to succeed and hit all of their goals and I give them the support and resources to help them get there.
Why do I teach copywriting? Because I love it. I love my students, and I love watching them create successful, fulfilling, great paying careers of their own.
And I still write copy because I love the unique challenge of combining creativity and strategy to write messaging that really connects with people.
So, I’m lucky—I have two careers that I absolutely love. And THAT’S why I do them both. 🙂