I don’t have a formal education or any certifications in copywriting. At the advice of a friend, I picked up a copy of The Well-Fed Writer, thought to myself, “self, you could do this,” and proceeded to stumble my way into success one step at a time.
Here’s the thing – when you’re a creative person, I don’t think a formal education is required.
But you DO need a good foundation. I got one through self-education and studying the work of several fine folks.
If you’re not quite ready to create your escape plan, that’s totally cool.
Take some time to brush up on these resources (there’s something below for every budget from free to four figures), and keep moving forward:
Free & Low Cost Resources
I picked up this book with the last $20 I had (sacrificing a lot of 39₵ Del Taco tacos in the process… my entire meal budget at the time) and devoured it in an afternoon. It was the first book that convinced me I could get paid to write, by breaking down the creative business-building process in a way that was easy to understand. By following Peter’s steps, I created a copywriting career from scratch… without any formal training or schooling.
When I first started out in business, I made a lot of mistakes. I think the biggest one was trying to sound like someone I am not – too formal, too stilted, and frankly way too stick-up-the-butt. Then I discovered Ash, whose foul-mouthed, vodka-loving ways showed me I could own who I am and still be a kickass business owner that people love working with. This book taught me a ton about solving communication challenges and handling business like a pro… while maintaining a sense of humor.
Something about JC’s no-bullshit approach to hard-learned life and business lessons just speaks to my soul (probably because I’m stubborn and have a talent for finding the most complicated way to do things). This book contains his hard-won business (and life) lessons that will help you produce like a mofo, even when the odds are against you. Note: you should only read this one if you want to be called out in the best possible way.
Before I read this book, I convinced myself I was lucky to get whatever I got for a writing gig. Chris (a former FBI hostage negotiator) showed me how to negotiate (and win) like lives are on the line… because they are. Or at least, your livelihood is on the line with every shitty deal you make. This book will show you a variety of deal-making strategies designed to give you an edge, and create a win-win-win scenario that benefits everyone involved.
If ever there was a book that called me out on my own bullshit, it was this one. I quickly realized that I was my own biggest obstacle, and what was at the root of my consistent self-sabotage (hint: it was a habit I didn’t even see… and might never have discovered on my own). This book changed my life and made me realize that my approach to problem-solving was a big part of the reason I struggled for so long to find success.
Podcast & YouTube Channels I Follow
Recommended Courses, Trainings and Communities
Copy Chief by Kevin Rogers
Most new copywriters will quit thinking they can’t hack it… when in reality, all they needed was someone more experienced to show them what they were missing. Copy Chief is like one great big loving family, challenging you to level up your writing and encouraging you every step of the way. I’ve been a member for more than 5 years now and it’s been instrumental in leveling up my skills and my career.
Product Launch Formula by Jeff Walker
So many people dream of starting a “side hustle” or building their dream business and walking away from the day job forever… but they have no idea where to start. Jeff’s formula breaks down exactly how you take your passion project and transform it into a sustainable business.
Well-Fed Craft by Peter Bowerman
It’s one thing to start a freelance writing career after reading a book… and it’s another to figure out HOW to do all the different types of writing. In this course, Peter Bowerman (whose book I mentioned up above) breaks down all his most commonly requested copywriting projects, step by step. If you’re looking for a good process to model, this is it.
Codex Persona by Abbey Woodcock
One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is that they can’t find a copywriter that “gets” their voice. Abbey’s training shows you how to break down and analyze the voice of a guru or brand, so that you can step in and seamlessly sound like your client from day one.
The Freelance Co-op by Abbey Woodcock
If you’ve ever struggled to balance creative chaos with being more business savvy and organized, this community will be a godsend for you. Inside, Abbey’s got templates for proposals, contracts, and different types of deals to take the guesswork out of being a good business owner. Plus she digs deep into structures and systems so that you can focus more on what you love and less on the day-to-day admin of your business.
Real Talk: If you click a link on this page and choose to buy, I may get a tiny slice of the pie. I make these recommendations because 1) pie is delicious, especially when the pie is figurative and made of cash, 2) I have personally used or listened to or read everything on this page and know what it could do for you, and 3) I love imagining all the action takers out there devouring this kickass material and progressing by leaps and bounds. Brings back happy memories of my own journey!