I heard about James and her Damn Fine Words course through a colleague I do subcontract editing and writing for (and yes, James is a she). My friend had done it a few years ago, and couldn’t speak highly enough about it.
I was intrigued.
I wasn’t sure if the course could really help me, though — after all, I’ve written six whole books, including four books in the For Dummies series, for, like, a real publisher. I write fast and easily. Writer’s block isn’t an issue. And let’s face it, with the exchange rate, it was going to cost me over $2,000 Aussie dollars, which was a significant chunk of my business’s bank account at that time.
I admit that the whole copywriting thing felt a little, well, evil to me — tipping into the murky waters of manipulative writing and pushy advertising. Was I selling my soul?
I’d never done a writing course before. Ever. Maybe it was time? I couldn’t know what I didn’t know, after all.
While I could comfortably write articles and books, I didn’t feel that my website was well-written. I wasn’t confident that my copywriting for my website clients was doing what it needed to do. I struggled with putting out blog posts and thinking of topics.
I owned books on copywriting (and had even read them!) — but maybe some personal help and professional feedback on my actual work would be a Good Thing™. I knew that writing for business and the web was a specialised skill, and that my business writing wasn’t hitting the mark.
I contacted James about my situation, and she promptly got back to me, explaining the ways she felt the course would help me (well, she would say that, wouldn’t she? But she was right). And when it came down to it, $100 AUD per lesson was pretty reasonable, especially seeing as you get lifetime access and can re-take the course whenever you want to (James currently runs it twice a year). So, buoyed by my colleague’s experience and James’ advice — keeping a firm grip on my moral compass — I took a deep breath and signed up.
Good job, past Denise.
Sure, there were a few lessons that I already had under my belt — I had a good writing space set up, and an established writing schedule. I knew how to edit. I already read my work aloud to check it flowed well.
But man, there was a lot I didn’t know. As the lessons progressed, I learnt to write for my ideal reader. I learnt to shut that annoying perfectionist editor away in a box for a while, when she’s not needed. I learnt to write shitty first drafts and just get the words out fast. Without correcting as I type. To write about benefits rather than features. And I discovered that writing quality copy isn’t evil or exploitative — it can even be a force for good.
During the course, I decided to completely restructure and redesign my website, which I knew was too cluttered, prompted by a few choice comments from James. (I hope you like it!) It still needs a lot of text rewritten — my task for 2016 — but it’s clearer for you to navigate.
Honest, this is true — less than 24 hours after putting my first ever ‘call to action’ up on my blog post, about why your book needs an index, I received an email from an author saying that he’d just read that blog post and wanted to find out more. It fucking worked. I’m still a little shocked!
Now, I’m finding it much easier to write copy for my clients, as well as for myself. I have enough blog post ideas for the next year. I have a checklist of the steps I need to tick off, to ensure my writing is on target. There’s a plan, and the plan works.
So if you’re trying to figure out whether or not to do this course, I’d say — what have you got to loose? You’re welcome to drop me a line, or even call me on 0468 697 600 (within Australia) to talk with me about the course. Even as a well-established and experienced author, I learnt a great deal. Morals intact.
Totally worth it.