Disabled? Here’s How You Can Prosper in a Copywriting Career
Why has aging rock star Peter Frampton embarked on his last concert tour, and what in the world does that have to do with copywriting?
Stay with me a minute, and I’ll explain.
Frampton will end his final musical tour this October. After that, the recording artist who gave us classic hits like Show Me the Way and Something’s Happening will no longer perform in public.
The acclaimed rock star has been diagnosed with a muscle-wasting disease called Sporadic Inclusion Body Myositis (IBMs). This disease causes progressive weakness of the muscles in the wrists and fingers, as well as those muscles in the front of the thigh, and those that lift the front of the foot. Neuromuscular experts have been unable to isolate an exact cause or develop a cure for IBMs.
Peter Frampton’s IBMs has caused him to fall periodically — a number of times on stage. Also, he’s beginning to lose his ability to play the guitar. The career of a rock musician is intensely physical. As such, Frampton’s performing career will soon come to an end. He’s determined to finish his public touring at the top of his game.
As luck would have it, I’ve also been diagnosed with IBMs.
Unfortunately, I’ve begun to exhibit the classic symptoms — weakness in the wrist, finger, and thigh muscles.
Ten years ago, I could walk the streets of Manhattan with abandon, but now, long walks in New York City are no longer possible for me. I have to rely on a walker even to manage very short walks.
Still, all is not lost for me — not by any stretch of the imagination.
Unlike Peter Frampton, I haven’t had to let go of my career. I continue to prosper as a copywriter.
Because being a copywriter offers a freedom you won’t find in many other careers … whether you’re disabled or facing any other life challenges.
You can set your own schedule, and work during those times that best fit your situation. Plus, if things change, you can continually evolve your schedule and workload accordingly. Very few work opportunities offer the same flexibility or control.
As a freelance writer, I can work from home, or even from some other location I might prefer.
And, to a large extent, I get to choose the types of projects and clients I enjoy.
I’ve written articles extensively about financial topics and film, crafted written speeches, and penned ghostwritten memoirs. These days, I mostly write sales letters, marketing emails, and website copy.
Now, what about you?
If you’re disabled or dealing with other life limitations, perhaps you’re flirting with the possibility of a freelance writing career. Or maybe you aren’t sure whether a freelance writing career is attainable or worry whether you can achieve the success you’d hoped for.
Wherever you are in your writer’s journey, let me encourage you to move forward toward your dream despite any disability or limitations.
Based on my own experience, here are six tips I strongly recommend you consider to be able to do just that:
- Put your dream in writing. Break down that dream into specific goals, and note your goals on paper. Then be sure to assign a specific date to each goal. For instance, sending out a Letter of Introduction (LOI) to six prospects by September 15 could be one goal, and initiating three phone conversations with interested business owners or editors who could publish your work by October 15 might be another. Remember, a goal is nothing more than a dream with a due date.
- Keep learning your craft. How do you write an e-book? How do you get started in web copywriting? How do you write a fundraising letter? AWAI is a rich source of writing courses — all created by top professional writers. In addition to courses in writing itself, AWAI offers courses in how to market your writing services. Your investment in one or more of AWAI courses could well become among the best investments you’ll ever make.
- Learn to ask for help. This is no time to be proud. Avail yourself of pre-boarding privileges at airports. Make reservations at hotel rooms that meet ADA design requirements (rooms especially equipped for the disabled as specified by the Americans for Disabilities Act of 1990). Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance when you shop.
Be flexible. Learn to compensate. As a writer, you’re surely aware there’s always more than one word or phrase to express a particular idea when you’re experiencing difficulty. The notion of “the perfect word” is a myth.
As a disabled person, the same principle holds true. When you need to get something done, or even if you just have to move from one place to another, there’s always another way. When I had difficulty getting up from my office chair, I thought it might be a good idea if I bought an office chair with a hydraulic lift — one that moved up and down without my exerting extra effort. But when a Physical Therapist talked me out of that idea because he felt my effort to push up from my seat was good for me, I put two cushions on my regular chair instead for only a slight boost.
- Don’t lower your writing fees because you’re disabled. Make no mistake. There’s no reason you have to advertise or confess you’re disabled. You certainly don’t have to give into a feeling of defensiveness about your particular affliction either.
- Focus on your strengths. You can write for any niche that interests you … there are countless options. And utilize your unique experiences to your advantage. Do you know a lot about personal development? That’s a huge market. Do you have a lot of empathy? Fundraising may be ideal for you. What about cause marketing? Ideal if you have a passion for raising money and awareness for certain causes. You may have better insight than someone else, which will give your writing depth. Choose a field you have passion and interest in as your writing specialty.
Keep in mind, if you’re disabled, you are certainly not alone. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated in 2016 that 12.8% of the U.S. population is disabled. That whopper of a statistic works out to 48,000,000 people.
Keep in mind people like Ernest Hemingway, whose bad back forced him to write standing up to write on a desk raised especially for him …
And Jon Morrow, the immensely successful blogger, teacher, and businessman who has spoken at AWAI’s Bootcamps … Jon is paralyzed from the neck down, yet manages to keep working at his trade through the use of voice software.
Jon has learned what Peter Frampton and I have begun to learn, and what you can certainly learn. Find ways to compensate for your disability, and keep moving forward. The target audience for your services very much needs what you have to offer. The world is still wide open for you.
That’s the beauty of a career filled with opportunities and options.
Do you have any questions about getting started as a copywriter? Share with us in the comments.
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I am particularly happy about reading this kind of encouraging information. This information will certainly capture the creativity and wide imagination of aspiring writer. I know it is not easy to write, particularly like who is not a native speaker. Because to learn the exact technique in writing a language is depends on the ability to speak that medium.
Great article Lou--you're an inspiration to all of us. Keep on rockin' buddy!
Jay White –
Congratulations Louis Wasser on your article publication with AWAI. It was a good article and very encouraging to others with disabilities. It's a good lesson on how to overcome any obstacles toward any dreams of establishing a freelance writing or copywriting career.
Thank you for writing this “Writer’s Life” article. I’ve had a rather slow start to my retirement copywriting career, particularly due to debilitating health issues. The six tips are going to help me focus on what I want to achieve, and how to attain those achievements. Great, valuable, well written information. AWAI - you provide a wealth of knowledge and training, as well as hope and encouragement for people who may not have other ways to make a living ... thank you all at AWAI for all you do!
June Frost –
Thanks Louis, for your story. Mine is similar. An aging spinal cord injury is now forcing me to use trekking poles to walk. Getting around is a supreme challenge. A former advertising agency writer and creative director, I turned to AWAI to freshen my skills and stay relevant. I am now pursuing writing work in the outdoor adaptive recreation niche, which is my passion in life. Those of us who are physically challenged (I hate the word "disabled") can indeed have a great life as a writer!
Most don’t judge you by your disability. Many are in awe of what you can do despite your handicap.
Two such awesome people are my wife and a blind man who travels the world alone, to teach mobility instructors on echolocation.
Pat was born with the use of only one arm, but she had a successful 40-year career in medical technology and trained many others in that profession.
Daniel Kish was totally blind before age two, but he taught himself echolocation and today the organization he founded, "World Access for the Blind" is known and respected all over the globe.
Like so many, I've always wondered why I was put here on Earth but it's clear to me that people like these were sent to inspire the rest of us - it certainly works for me!
Jim McCarthy –
Thanks for posting this. As someone with limited mobility and a learning disability, I've struggled academically and professionally. I appreciate your encouragement. I hope I can use this to my advantage. Please let me know if you have any more suggestions!
I resonated whole heartedly with this article!
I found encouragement, inspiration and a sense that the challenges I face as a "copywriting cub" were acknowledged...and that made me feel "soulfully grateful"...:)
This article is a synchronicity for me...one that reminded me that I am on the right path and that I just need to keep going...I am apart of that 48 million mentioned...Thank you for publishing it...Super helpful to me.
Guest (Elijah) –
Bully for you, Janel!
Just because you have a learning disability doesn't mean you can't keep exercising the ability you have left and, maybe, improving some of that ability.
At age 83, many people in my age group succumb to dementia because they think it's normal for people their age.
My answer to that is to seek new mental challenges, one reason I joined AWAI :-)
Jim McCarthy –
Truly inspirational and informative writing by Louis. No surprise there! His writing is always totally engaging.
I’m very pleased to see him share his insights for the benefit of others who will most definitely appreciate his wisdom.
Guest (M Cook) –
I have cerebral palsy and it is very hard for me at times to grasp verbal communication. I recently lost my job after a VERY DEVASTATING LOSS in the family which was very hard for all of us and I have been out on the net looking for a job since this nightmare started. But I am concerned that because of my cerebral palsy it would be very hard on me to obtain and keep. Despite the chaos of losing something so dear to me and it was very hard on the family, I have been doing my best.
This was so inspiring. Thank you. I am disabled and receiving SSDI but want to create my more empowered and less dependant future. I would love to know if anyone has been able to financially transition from SSDI and what free advice can I be so bold to ask for?
Guest (Diane) –
Thank you for the great article! I had a traumatic brain injury, have epilepsy and my son has autism. I have the fundraising program. I think that would be a great market for me.
Guest (Lynn) –