Along with a desire to live life on his own terms and run his own business, Steve Coombes became a Barefoot Writer so he could spend more time with his wife and seven children. It took an eye-opening statement from one of his children one day as he rushed out the door to an interview to convince him that life as a freelance writer was the only way to go. Since then, Steve has built a successful career writing blogs, emails, special reports, and managing two print newsletters. Recently, he added video scripts to his list of expert services. Find out his secret to success and his advice to up-and-comers.
Hi Steve! Why did you choose the life of a Barefoot Writer?
One day, I was running late and rushing to leave the house for an interview. It was for a job I didn’t really want and one that meant only around a $1,000 pay raise. On my way out, I had to give two of my children — then age four and five — quick, half-hugs. I heard my older boy whisper to my younger one, “Daddy doesn’t have time to kiss you goodbye.” It broke my heart. I made the decision on my way to the interview that I was going to change my life so I would never have to do that to my kids again.
And now you’ve done it! Tell me, Steve, how did you first get started as a copywriter?
I’d always wanted my own business. So, I bought a book by Michael Masterson — Automatic Wealth. That led to me learning about AWAI and the world of copywriting, and from there I purchased the starter program on becoming a copywriter.
I had some stops and starts in the program, but eventually went to my first big conference — it was Bootcamp, put on by AWAI. In fact, I remember I wrote a letter to my wife in an attempt to talk her into it. I promised her I’d make back every penny I invested … and today I can say I’ve made far more back than what I initially spent.
You recently had some success with video scripts. Can you tell me the story?
Well, I’d been writing for a specific company for a long time. They decided to put out a video script, but it was going to be a big deal. They’d done videos before, but they were putting a lot into this one. So, they asked me to write a script to be tested against their regular video-script writer. That copywriter is someone I admire and respect a lot, so I really put a lot into it.
In the end, my video script went head-to-head with the other script and won.
Congratulations! What was your secret to writing such a powerful script?
Study the good stuff. I was able to find a lot of video scripts online similar to the one I needed to write, so I studied them and broke them down until I understood how they were put together.
What was your biggest fear before you started life as a Barefoot Writer?
I’d say it was the worry over whether I was really a good enough writer. Meaning, really good enough to write copy for a client.
And how did you overcome that fear?
I studied everything I could get my hands on, referred back to the AWAI copywriting program, and worked my butt off to do a good job.
What’s your advice to someone just starting out?
Sometimes you get into something you weren’t expecting. Once, I wrote about a project I didn’t really believe in … so make sure you know what you’re writing about and what you’ve taken on.
That, and don’t be afraid to specialize. I recently found my niche, which is writing about something I already know and read quite a bit about — emergency preparedness. It’s a huge relief to be able to focus my efforts in one area, and it’s a lot of fun.