Starr Daubenmire: AWAI Member Since 2006

“The secret to success is to fail quickly and move on.”

When Starr Daubenmire was laid off after 15 years as a corporate “worker bee” in quality control, it was a terrible blow to her confidence … at first.

But then she realized she had the skill and determination to make it on her own as a copywriter.

“Then I was glad I lost my job. Now I don’t worry about the company’s bot- tom line – I take care of my own – and I’m no longer just a statistic,” says Starr.

She met a natural health publisher at AWAI’s Job Fair that turned into a regular gig. She’s also been collaborating on a business book.

Her own “fun” projects include a craft book – she’s doing the art too. Speaking of art … she often takes breaks from writing to paint at the easel next to her desk – you can’t do that in a cubicle.

starr daubenmire painting

I’ve heard you actually embrace failure. Is that sound advice for Barefoot Writers?

Let me explain. If you’re not sure you’re ready to start going after clients … just put yourself out there. Holding back because you don’t feel ready is a waste of time. You really may not be ready, but the fastest way to make progress is to get started. That’s when you find out what works and what doesn’t. That’s when you find out what you don’t know.

The secret is to fail quickly and move on. It’s what the greats always do. We remember Thomas Edison as the inventor of the light bulb – not the guy who knew a thousand ways not to make a light bulb!

How do you overcome the stress of the “blank page” when starting a new project?

Two things. First, you have to get something down on the page so it isn’t blank. I learned from Mark Ford that you have no business writing until you have your “big idea” defined. Then you know what belongs in the piece and what doesn’t. So I like to write one sentence at the top of the page that is the big idea to remind myself to focus.

Second, the blank page makes you think you have to write something “important” right off the bat. I tell myself to just write because it isn’t set in stone. I usually ramble when getting started, so I recognize that what I write first will most likely get changed. Later, I go back and uncover the “good stuff” and bring it to the top.

Why do clients pick you over other copywriters that might be more experienced?

I strive to be as easy to work with as possible. I often do more research and consulting than required because I know helping my clients reach their goals is the secret to my own success.

Why should you do more work than you’re paid to do?

When you dig deep enough, you usually find that obscure bit of info that brings a new angle to the subject you are working on. It gives substance to writing. And that makes the client happy.

You don’t market your services very much. How do you stay in business?

I usually get referrals from current happy clients. I do good work, and more good work comes my way. It’s the perfect way to market myself.

Any lucky charms, favorites tools of the trade, or other must-haves?

I do have some “favorites.” I’m also an artist, so I love “supplies.” I like yellow legal pads for jotting ideas and organizing random thoughts. I always use a mechanical pencil – with the skinny 0.5 lead – to write with. And an artist’s kneaded eraser, which I squish into many different shapes when I’m staring at the computer screen and thinking. I also keep larger projects in 3-ring binders. I use tabbed dividers to separate the binder into sections like “Communication,” “Examples,” “Re- search,” and “Drafts.” The binder is convenient if I decide to work away from my regular desk.