This story originally appeared on Business Insider.
Before I knew it, I had destroyed my life. I was a very thin 19 year old and was so poor that I spent every morning driving around fast food joints so I could collect enough change to buy a candy bar and a soda to hold me back all the day. .
I got a job at In-N-Out Burger, and after a year of working there, I asked my boss for a raise. He told me instead that I should join the morning shift. Little did I know that meant I’d be scrubbing the toilet at 5 a.m. and waiting for the Arizona sun to come up so I could clean the parking lot.
The author when he worked at In-N-Out Burger. Courtesy of Michael Clendenen
I found myself scrubbing concrete by day and doing punk-rock gigs by night. Meanwhile, my friends were graduating from college, getting married, and having kids.
At 22, my life was even worse. I lived in a single motel room with five other people and a chihuahua to save money. I didn’t even have an internet connection, let alone a smartphone, computer or car.
But I changed everything, and I’m now a six-figure copywriter and direct marketer who’s worked with Fortune 100 companies, USA BMX, political campaigns, and more, building marketing strategies and copy. Here’s how I did it by teaching myself and sending letters.
In 2017, a friend asked me to write an ad selling his Mustang in exchange for 10% of the sale
I had never written an ad before, so I borrowed my friend’s phone and googled “how to write a good ad”. I discovered a newsletter called “The Gary Halbert Letter”. I read one of the newsletters, in which he said he could charge a client $15,000 for a letter he wrote in his underwear at his kitchen table.
That’s when I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I read all the newsletters Halbert had. When I was done with those, I would sit on the floor at Barnes & Noble and read all the marketing books in the store because I couldn’t afford them.
Next, I had to figure out how to find clients.
Sending letters changed everything
The #1 strategy I learned from Halbert was to mail letters to businesses to attract customers. But it wasn’t so easy at first because I didn’t have a lot of resources.
I started writing copies at the library. A friend would drop me off in the morning and another would help me get home. I wrote my letters by hand, and when I ran out of paper, the kind librarian gave me printer paper to write on.
I used the Reference USA database – now known as Data Axle – which the library needed to find the addresses of companies I wanted to work with. I landed my first client through a letter. I decided to work only on commission and only with companies in which I had a personal interest.
My letters were so effective that I didn’t feel the need to jump on the social media bandwagon
In a world of content creators but without constant Internet access at my disposal, letters were my only option, which worked in my favor and allowed me to stand out.
One of the first groups of people I started working with were chiropractors because I cared deeply about their work. When I was younger I had several car accidents and had scoliosis. My treatment by a chiropractor helped me heal, and that’s how I opened my letter.
I didn’t talk about all the things I could do for them – I told chiropractors in my area why I was passionate about their work and why I was emotionally invested in them, and gave them the opportunity to explore working together. It was an honest and instant relationship.
These are the same principles that I now use in my client’s copy. I still work with chiropractors, but have expanded to work with relationship coaches, data scientists, and anxiety coaches. I also coach other writers on their writing skills and getting clients using letters.
I am now earning between $8,000 and $17,000 per month in profit
I work about 35 hours a week and my income has increased as I have attracted more clients. My job earns between $40,000 and $100,000 per month on average for my clients.
I now have my own house full of furniture I bought. I have a successful business without spending all my time on social media, and I just turned 27.
Even to this day, when I want to attract new clients, I send out a new batch of letters. Postal mail saved my life and completely changed my future.