The Road to Copywriting Success Is Paved with Breadcrumbs

By Pauline Longdon | April 12, 2017

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Success Stories

Pauline Longdon winning AWAI's spec challenge in 2015

Follow the “success breadcrumbs” left by top copywriters to help speed your own progress.

They say, “Success leaves clues,” and in my experience, it does.

The problem is that sometimes the clues are hard to see. We spend most of our time looking for signs, but perhaps we should be looking for breadcrumbs instead.

When you finally see these success breadcrumbs, you can’t help but spot them everywhere. People who went before us on the road to success have left them, and all we need to do is pick up the trail.

So how do you find these precious breadcrumbs?

Well, the first important part is to at least be on the road. Then, stay on it and never give up.

The funny thing about goals is that when you don’t have any, there will be no obstacles in your way. But, as soon as you set a goal and work to make it happen, obstacles will fly in from everywhere.

The best thing you can do is stay focused on your goal and not the obstacle.

How do I know about these breadcrumbs, and what do I know about success?

Well, a few short years ago, I was relatively unknown in the U.S. Today, I am known by, and friends with, many of America’s A-list copywriters. So how did that happen?

In 2014, I took a huge chance. In a moment of desperation, I borrowed money from a friend to follow a trail of breadcrumbs, which led straight to an event in Connecticut called Titans of Direct Response.

While I was there, I met many copywriting and marketing greats. I decided then and there I wanted to be the best copywriter I could be. But to reach that goal, I’d need to learn from the best.

I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Parris Lampropoulos, and I asked him about being one of his Copy Cubs. He told me he wasn’t taking on any new cubs. But I didn’t give up and kept on the trail.

The next year (2015), I went to my first AWAI Bootcamp. I entered a few Spec Challenges because I couldn’t see the point in travelling halfway around the world and not participating 100 percent.

I won an AWAI Spec and took home the princely sum of $1,000 USD (that’s a lot of money in Australia!).

Parris was at the Bootcamp, so I asked him again about being a Copy Cub. And again, he gave me the same spiel. And again, I didn’t give up.

In 2016, I saw Parris at two more events. It was always the same spiel. He wasn’t taking Copy Cubs. But he told me to send him an email to get on the waiting list in case he did take them again.

At the end of December last year, I received an email from him telling me I was in his Copy Cub Program. I was so excited! I was closer to my goal coming true.

Now, it took a while to make it happen. The important thing to know is … while I waited for everything to fall into place, I got on with my life. But I remained focused on what I wanted.

I stayed the course and followed the breadcrumbs as they showed up.

Here are a few key breadcrumbs I’ve picked up along the way:

Breadcrumb #1: The right people need to know you

We’ve all heard, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Well, it turns out there’s a second part people don’t hear. That is, “It’s about who knows you!”

In a world filled with social media hype, ‘big noting’ (Aussie for bragging about oneself), and name dropping, it’s not enough to know people anymore. The real magic happens when they know you.

I know I only became one of Parris’ Copy Cubs because he knows who I am.

Breadcrumb #2: Stay focused

When you stop spreading yourself too thin and only focus on a few key things, you start to get results faster. Creative people want to do everything all at once. The truth is you don’t have to do it all right now! You need to pace yourself, Superstar!

How many people have you seen burn themselves out? You don’t have time to be burnt out … you have too much to share with the world.

Breadcrumb #3: Do the work. (And don’t fight your mentors!)

I don’t understand why people have mentors if all they want to do is argue with them.

All my mentors have recommended I write Copy Controls out by hand. Yet many of my peers refuse to do it, saying it’s a waste of time. I figure if it’s good enough for my mentor, it’s good enough for me. And that’s not to say I mindlessly follow their lead … I just don’t question their system of success.

When success gives you a huge clue like this … don’t ignore it (and don’t argue).

Bonus Breadcrumb: Stop making excuses

I live in Australia, and the breadcrumb trail goes all the way across the Pacific Ocean. It costs a fortune to travel to the U.S. Yet I have been able to connect with the people I need to and get to the seminars I need to go to.

You need to focus on what you want to achieve and make it happen.

People will tell me I’m lucky. If they knew my backstory, I don’t think there’s much luck involved at all. And as we all know, the harder we work … the luckier we get.

Instead, I would say I have optimized opportunities and remained focused on my end goal. And I’m reaping the rewards.

Now that you know what to look for, you can, too.

This article is part the series: Success Stories