For Charlotte-based Barefoot Writer Scott Martin, measured results from his writing campaigns have had a profound effect on his writing business. Right now, his cycle of results-based success is on track to grow and reward him, again and again. Discover the mindset that helped Scott zero in on this fulfilling path.
You’ve been a working copywriter for a while. How did you get your start?
In 1989, a company in Denver, Colorado, asked me to write copy for some brochures. Later that year, I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, and worked in the advertising department of a retail department store. The department had about 30 staff members, and I was one of three people who did not smoke. Most of my colleagues were drug-addled lunatics, but it was a great introduction to copy.
And how long have you been freelancing?
My career has been a touch peripatetic. And I say that with a degree of satisfaction. I freelanced after leaving the department store. But after that, I worked for two different companies. I have written books, published about 10,000 pages of magazine content, and worked in corporate communications. But overall, I’ve been freelancing since around 2000.
You write a lot of different types of copy. Do you have a favorite?
I have written policy and procedure manuals. I can’t say I really enjoyed that type of work. I gain some satisfaction from writing books and articles. But right now, I enjoy direct response copy the most. There’s something about writing copy for a great product or service that’s extremely enjoyable. I can be writing copy in my office, and I think, “This is amazing fun, plus I’m getting paid. It sure beats being a ditchdigger.” Although the world needs ditchdiggers, too. Writing direct response copy is really about helping a client succeed. And I like to help companies grow and prosper.
In the past couple of years, clients have asked for my help with strategy and creative direction. I haven’t made a conscious effort to move my practice in this direction; it’s just happening. In the next year, I’ll be marketing myself as a copywriter, plus a direct marketing and testing specialist. I’ve learned about the strategy by working with really great clients.
What big successes have you enjoyed? What was your secret behind them?
One of my clients became the fastest-growing company in the Charlotte region — which has been experiencing rapid growth. Another client has been extremely successful selling sports DVDs and related information. There’s no secret behind success fueled by direct response copy. You just execute the tactics, then test like crazy.
Some friends own a small restaurant. A few years ago, I helped them build a database of customers. They now have an opt-in list of over 2,300 people — which is big for a small place. The manager and owners can see tangible ROI from their list and the emails I send to the list. That’s the beauty of direct marketing for this restaurant. I persuade people to walk through their door and spend money.
What’s the most unusual writing project you’ve ever worked on?
Ten years ago, I wrote a book about the film Caddyshack, which Taylor Trade published. It’s called The Book of Caddyshack: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Greatest Movie Ever Made. I love the movie, and I got to meet some of the actors and production people. Now I know why I would never want to work in Hollywood.
The two are not related, but when I was writing the Caddyshack book, a real estate developer in Charlotte asked me to write a book about his father — the leading Dallas criminal defense lawyer for several decades. In fact, he was Jack Ruby’s lawyer. There were some great stories, and many of them were true.
Do you keep any mementos in your writing space for good luck or inspiration?
I don’t have an award or memento for inspiration … although I have won awards for writing and publishing. However, I do have some mementos lying around.
Every writer needs inspiration. Here’s where I get mine:
- The daily thrill of being my own boss.
- Knowing I can reach my personal goals by writing copy that generates revenue for my clients.
- Other copywriters and their successes.
- Constantly studying direct marketing and direct response copywriting. I call it “working on my game.”
- Not having to work full-time for a large company.
- A strong belief in business success as a means to help individuals thrive and reach their full potential.