Mary Rose Maguire has done what many writers hope to do, but without getting sidetracked along the way. It started when she linked up with AWAI and saw how copywriting could marry her love for writing with her past work experience. From that, she’s built a smart career that includes reaching out to others and getting noticed for her work. Find out how she did it.
Tell us about your background.
Like many other writers, my passion for words began years ago. I wrote for my high school newspaper, college newspaper, and college magazine. I contributed to company newsletters and church bulletins. Blogging became popular in the mid-90s, and I soon opened a Typepad account and filled it with posts.
In 2010, I discovered AWAI, devoured its online articles, and attended the AWAI Bootcamp and Job Fair in 2012. As part of the registration that year, AWAI offered training on landing clients through using online job boards. I signed up with oDesk (now Upwork) and learned to create proposals for potential clients.
What kind of writing do you do?
I started my professional copywriting business on the side in 2010 and went full-time in 2012. Information security was the easiest industry to break into since I was a marketing manager for an information security company prior to launching full-time as a copywriter.
I began with web copy projects. Then I expanded my client list to include other industries, such as insurance benefit brokers. I’ve written landing pages, squeeze pages, sell sheets, case studies, and brochures.
I’ve also written white papers, email marketing, and print ads. In addition, I have graphic design skills that have allowed me to add format and design to print marketing collateral.
Besides copywriting, what other work do you do for clients?
I offer other services such as web audits and brand message development. I’m also a digital marketing consultant and have created a program that introduces clients to email marketing.
I also speak at local networking groups about copywriting, email marketing, and developing a content marketing strategy that is in alignment with the sales process. I thoroughly enjoy introducing a business to the power of a strong story and showing them how to leverage online marketing tactics — such as email marketing — to increase customer engagement and sales.
What works when it comes to marketing yourself?
Although I’ve tried direct mail and cold calling, the best marketing approach for me has been networking. I’ve attended professional group meetings, coworking days at local office buildings (where entrepreneurs gather for a day to work and network), and live events. I always ask people about their work first, and when they ask what I do, I tell them I write marketing material for businesses.
Can you pinpoint the place where your business took off?
In February 2013, I wrote a blog post about Elance. It was more of a rant than anything else. It’s also one of the most popular blog posts on my site and has received 44,489 unique pageviews. For a while, it was in Google’s top five search results if you typed in “Elance reviews.”
While doing research, an agency owner found my blog post. He contacted me to see if I’d be interested in working on some freelance writing projects. I ended up writing an e-book for his site, several ghostwritten blog posts, web copy, and did some proofreading.
In 2013, I increased the frequency of updating my blog and launched a bimonthly e-newsletter. That newsletter brought in $10,821.34 in sales between Q2/13 to Q2/14.
One client from 2012 said he wouldn’t have thought about me unless he had received the newsletter. As a result, he reached out to hire me for more projects. That was nice!
Any big success stories?
My biggest success story happened in 2014 when I was hired by an enterprise-level IT company that serves Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies. It was for a huge project: the redesign of its website. I was hired to work on the web copy for 77 web pages.
The project was worth five figures and was the largest (and highest-paid) project I had worked on. I was part of a large team — six different product-marketing managers, a project manager, the creative director who hired me, and his boss, the V.P. of Marketing.
The secret behind that success was rather straightforward — I was introduced to the creative director by a mutual acquaintance. And the mutual acquaintance was someone I had just met on LinkedIn when he sent me a connection request.
What’s one thing about you that others find surprising?
I’ve been told it’s my “feisty Sicilian side!” I don’t have a Sicilian background, but my mother’s side of the family did come from Italy. I’m fairly even-keeled with my personality, so when the feistiness comes out, people are a little surprised.
I also love films made from Marvel comics (especially Daredevil and Captain America).
Editor’s note: You can find out more about Mary Rose on her website: https://www.maryrosemaguire.com.