Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers and industry news and commentary. Writer Beware is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

September 24, 2013

The Barefoot Writer's Club

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

I've been getting a lot of questions recently about Paul Hollingshead and the Barefoot Writer's Club (part of American Writers & Artists Inc., which sells courses that promise to help you "Learn How You Can Become a Six-Figure Copywriter"). To be honest, I've been hesitant to write this post, because Barefoot/AWAI advocates are vigilant about responding to discussions of their products, and likely will show up here to extol the virtues of the program (to see what I mean, take a look at this long-running discussion on Writer Beware's Facebook page). But judging by how often writers ask me whether the Club is worthwhile and/or legit, it's pretty active in soliciting members--and I think it merits a caution.

Right on the homepage of The Barefoot Writer, you can see what it's all about. "Discover 9 Ways You Can Make a VERY Good Living as a Writer!" "Making a Living as a Writer Has Never Been Easier!" "Get paid to write and build the freedom-filled life you’ve always wanted!" The promise, in other words, of the ultimate writerly pipe dream:
The Barefoot Writer opens the door to the world of paid writing opportunities. You’ll read about ways to dramatically improve your lifestyle as a writer — for the better. Fascinating projects … luxurious lifestyle … inexpensive ways to get up and running, fast. Rewarding writing exercises. A community of supportive, like-minded writers. Ways to let your imagination and creativity soar.

No, you don’t have to be rich, or even have a degree to enjoy a dream lifestyle as a writer. The Barefoot Writer shows you that all you need is to be pointed in the right direction to appreciate all the writer’s lifestyle has to offer.
To reap these astounding benefits, all you have to do is join the Club. The cost? Just $49 (but hurry! This is a "limited time price offer that may end at any time"). Your payment gets you a subscription to 12 issues of The Barefoot Writer's Magazine...and wait, there's more! You also receive access to several free Special Reports with titles like "The Secret of the 1-Hour Work Week" and "The $500 Email Secret."

So where's the harm, you may be wondering? $49 isn't a huge amount of money. If you're looking to transition to full-time freelance writing, or to supplement your income from your existing job, mightn't The Barefoot Writer help you improve your skills and learn some worthwhile things?

Ah, but what if The Barefoot Writer's Club isn't so much a how-to-write-better club, or a how-to-learn-about-great-writing-opportunities club, as a how-to-get-you-to-buy-more-stuff club?

No sample issues of The Barefoot Writer's Magazine are available online, so I couldn't check it out. But I did download the "FREE Guide to Barefoot Writer Living" advertised on The Barefoot Writer's homepage, and it's little more than an advertorial for AWAI copywriting and other courses. Ditto for The Barefoot Writer blog, where nearly every puff-piece post ends with a pitch for an AWAI workshop, course, or other product (even if the post purports to be about something else). And now that AWAI has my email address, I'm getting a email every couple of days urging me to buy an AWAI product.

Is it a stretch to suppose that the magazine is more of the same?

The Barefoot Writer's Club, in other words, belongs to the category of enterprises that are designed to sell you things under the guise of helping or instructing you. The Internet is rife with such schemes: "experts" offering courses or webinars that are really vehicles for pimping their own products, "authorities" whose only claim to knowledge is that they've written whatever ebook or coursepack they want you to buy. There may or may not be useful information involved--but the information isn't the point. These are commercial enterprises, and their primary goal is to make a profit--from you.

As for the American Writers & Artists copywriting courses, there are mixed reviews online. Many of the positive reviews read a lot like AWAI's own promotional material, which suggests they should be taken with a large grain of salt. Somewhat more critical reviews can also be found, such as this one and this one; and this discussion thread includes a number of comments--both satisfied and not--from people who've actually used some of the courses.

The general consensus seems to be that the course materials are solid overall (though not everyone agrees on this), but that they're aimed at beginners, include some padding, and require a substantial investment of time and energy if you want to get the most out of them. Some users also report being aggressively solicited to buy other AWAI products.

What's lacking in all these discussions and reviews is persuasive evidence that AWAI's florid promises of high income and a leisurely lifestyle actually materialize for the average customer. When you try to pin AWAI boosters down on this issue--as I did in the discussion on Writer Beware's Facebook page--they tend to change the subject or avoid specifics. People who really do write for a living know that it's a hardscrabble life that doesn't allow for a lot of poolside lounging. I don't doubt that there are some people who've parlayed AWAI courses and their own hard work into profitable careers--per many of the testimonials on the AWAI website--but I see nothing to suggest that they are anything but outliers.

If something sounds too good to be true...it probably is.

92 comments :

C.M. Albrecht said...

Same old story: Sounds too good to be true.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Sounds like a get-rich-quick scheme. Even if the course is okay, you need to work hard, not relax and improve your gof score. I have never trusted any of these "make $$$$ in your spare time!" ads, which ave been around forever.

Sue Bursztynski said...

And heavens! This is a course teaching you how to write spam?!?

Lynndee said...

Thanks for this post! I've been wondering about these AWI people. I signed up for their mailing list at some point but I've never spent money on them. I just get emails from them every few days that always sound about the same and never give me any actual info. Like you said, it's just all fluff that reads like one of those get rich quick scam pages. Sure it sounds glamorous and beautiful and who wouldn't want that... but it's got way too many red flags.

Gdub said...

Keep up the great work. Please.

Anonymous said...

What happened to real journalism? Why not pay the $49 and write a real review.

Anonymous said...

And if I call in the next 30 minutes, I will receive two, that's right, TWO subscriptions for the price of ONE! They'll even throw in a free shower head valued at $19.95! But wait--that's not all. As a special introductory offer, they will provide me with a 1,000 page email list that I can use to spam unsuspecting people with the hypnotic power of my newly-acquired copywriting genius! If that's not a deal, I don't know what is.

On second thought, it might be easier to just take a blunt blow to the head.

John Smith said...

Any subscription only worth when it provide some knowledge and some latest stuff which is practical and easy to implement.

Raani York said...

I remember someone recommended me to them - the moment I saw I needed to pay first I was gone... no matter how often I unsubscribed, their mails still got in - by now they just keep bouncing off and disappear within the unlimited space of my virtual trash can.
Thanks for sharing this post and your great work!!

Anonymous said...

I do not want to buy any of your books or Ann Crispin's books either! Remove my name from your list.

Anonymous said...

" . . . they tend to change the subject or avoid specifics." Really? That's so hilarious coming from Victoria Strauss. Ad Hominem is ok for Strauss & Co. but not when they want answers. Simply amazing. That's exactly how Strauss & Co. responded to this issue: http://thewriteagenda.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/john-steinbeck-family-defrauded-by-writer-beware-sfwa-attorney-the-2007-scam-that-writer-beware-didnt-report-why/

Victoria Strauss said...

Hello, anonymi, or should I say The Write Agenda! Long time no see, at least on this blog.

Marcia Yudkin said...

I have seen three AWAI products on copywriting or freelancing. Two I purchased (for competitive research purposes) and one I was asked by AWAI to review (they said they just wanted my feedback). One of the courses I purchased was overpriced but contained decent and reliable information. The other course I purchased was so flimsy that I returned it for a refund. The course I was asked to review - their flagship course on copywriting - was very solid and worth the money.

So all in all I would not call this organization or their products a scam. I agree they make some unrealistic promises, but the content of their programs would in at least some instances benefit those who want to become working copywriters.

(This post was accidentally submitted as anonymous so I am reposting it.)

Char Brian said...

I'll take credit for the first Anonymous post. I just get so sick and tired of these bloggers (now you) writing crap. If you're going to write a review -- then review dang it. How can you call yourself a writer? Maybe I'll write a review about YOUR book. I'm not going to read it, mind you. I'm just going to assume that if you put this much research into your post, that's what I can expect in your book.

carolynlawrence said...

Okay, what's really going on here? Are we honestly critiquing the AWAI or are we hashing out some old vendetta? What's on your mind anonymous? Is there something about the author of this blog that you would like to share with the rest of us?

Anonymous said...

There is only ONE way to be a profitable writer--have talent, wow a publisher. Get your education in the field of writing from reliable educators, work, work at it until you have a WOW piece. Now go out there and WOW one!
There is NO way, as I see it, that some snake oil salesman on the internet can make YOU a writer.

Anne Lane said...

Thanks for the post and warning. Guess we know who you will be popular with don't we?

Anonymous said...

A friend sent me the link to this review because I told her that I considered joining the club. I suppose I told her about it so that she would do her usual research and tell me what she found and spare me some grief. Upon hearing the club's initial presentation it disturbed me that their testimonial was given by a person who holds an official title with their company, some kind of executive editor. That was a big red flag for me. I won't join for several reasons namely because contributing in any way to the production of the junk mail that I despise receiving is against my strong environmental protection values. I have always gotten my jobs and I acquired all my income on my own merit, never paying anyone for leads or tips or anything, rather I get paid for honest work done and my living is very modest but living with great integrity is priceless. I really wouldn't want to talk to those people who claim they are friends and writers together in the club because I wouldn't have anything in common with them anyway, they sure do come across as very shallow and materialistic people. Well adjusted people don't need to pay to have friends.

David Gaughran said...

FYI: Writers Digest was spamming its email subscribers with links to this last year.

Here's the email:

Dear Writer’s Digest Subscriber,

Do you know what most writers regret?

When I found out, I was surprised. Especially because it really struck home—yet wasn’t what I would have guessed.

But I’m one of the lucky ones. I found a way to avoid those regrets, and live a satisfying, well-paid life as a writer.

You can, too. Click here* to learn how.

To life without regret,

Mindy McHorse, Barefoot Writer

***

*Link goes here: http://www.awaionline.com/p/tbw/dbr/

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Thanks for the post, Victoria. You are always a great go to blogger when you are researching agents, publishers, and all other related writing things.

Anonymous said...

You know everyone markets like this now. Yes I am sick of it too. But a lot of them charge a lot more than $49 They say they will give you a refund. Some don't even do that. So I am going to try it and see what I can learn. I love literature I mean real books with real literary devices. I had looked into teaching ESL but that is more expensive and much more difficult. All ESL courses push is how wonderful it will be to live in another country. That isn't a good reason to teach ESL if you ask me. Plus it doesn't pay much and besides, what is wrong with this country? I am screening different opportunities to work from home. This is one of them. I project that I will get $49 worth of value from it.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the heads up but I'm wondering how you were able to investigate as much as you did. I also am receiving e mails dailey but receive an error message everytime I respond to their link. perhaps thisis a blessing in disguise but thought I would mention it since you have undoubtably saved a few folks a lot of time agravation and money. thank you

Ava Fails said...

Steal content much?

http://www.sfwa.org/2013/09/barefoot-writers-club/

For those of you asking more about this investigation, perhaps you should ask the original writer.

I found the information I was looking for about The Barefoot Writer's Club, but it seems to me that as mentioned before, Writer Beware should have paid the 49 bucks and conducted their own ORIGINAL research. Shame on you.

Ava Fails said...

Please disregard my previous comment.

Victoria Strauss said...

Ava Fails, I guess you figured out that the article you thought I plagiarized is actually a syndication of this article.

B A Patton said...

Thanks for this information. I keep getting this spam from The Writer's Digest (which often feels like spam itself) I find myself intrigued enough to vaguely consider it but quickly back down when I feel it may be too good to be true. Which it appears it just might.

Anonymous said...

I have spoken with active copywriters and programs of good reputation both in the U.S and over seas. I have asked them how they compare to AWAI's Six figure program. None have been derogatory or overly critical of AWAI. They just point out the differences. If AWAI is the trash, as these non-users report, I don't think all would have been so cordial.

Amy Livingston said...

I, too, have been getting spam about this program from Writer's Digest. I tried clicking on "Manage Subscriptions" and unsubscribing from the "Writing Community Partners" newsletter. I'm hoping this will put a stop to the spam. If I'd known I was going to get this much of it, I would have just bought a printed copy of Writer's Market instead of subscribing to the online service.

Anonymous said...

What i want to know is, "who are all these people writing the testimonials?" None of them seem to have written anything except the testimonial their name is attached to....

starrdusk said...

The idea really is to go into this as though it is sourcebook that offers good advice and how to, which you can find anywhere of course;
I have done the get rich schemes and have discovered that they are all literally taught to lie in the name of truth by with holding material and information, many of them with the name of Jesus behind them!



I have also ordered the types of books and information that they offer here at Barefoot Writers. I was not ready for it then, over twenty years ago, but said that when I was I might give these a go. The way I saw it then and still do is like buying textbooks that offer the information in a cohesive whole; I know already that there will be other costs for speciality classes, but more than anything I know that it is I who will have to do the work; I who will have to market myself. IF you know this upfront, read it all again, slowly and see if it does not make a difference to you.

I am not a member, but if it helps, I will let you know how it works after I am. I am one of the first who will get on my high horse if they are flat out lying. But again, I know what I am going into here and it is really only the title that gives the sound of the get rich quick. There is a reason for this especially in this growing technological age of having to beat the best at everything.
Well, like I said I will let you know; so.... here goes. PS> But, up front, I am already willing to go sell the spam if it is the courses themselves at all.So.... beg breath,
Take the plunge.d

Laila Yamini said...

Seems many of the posters in this blog thread are looking for magic bullets! Shame on you. Life simply doesn't work that way! But because a lot of people (even educated ones as I'm sure a lot of you are) don't realize that, a ton of advertising is directed to making you think that success can happen "overnight". However, that doesn't necessarily mean that what is being offered doesn't have some substance to it. So, I agree with Stardusk. If you really have an interest in copy writing and in making a decent living doing it (not an exorbitant life - but an improved one), then invest the 49.00 and take the best of the offering and leave the rest. I have a feeling from reading these posts (which are varied in perspective) that there is something of value in their product (sans the extraneous promises). Which with dedication to my craft as a writer and my (hard) work ethic, I believe, will produce some type of enhanced results from what I have now. I certainly think it's worth a try and will report back my experience later to this group - positive and/or negative.

Steve Sherrick said...

I've written for Broadcast Radio for over 30 years [ news, sports, commercials] and am now having to take care of elderly parents. I already have PROVEN talent in the industry but would love to fast-track the conversion to other writing venues. It could really help me provide for/spend more time taking care of the folks. Are the leads really turning into jobs? Can't afford to waste the noney

Perry Rose said...

AWAI is pretty much of a joke.

Unfortunately, the naïve, and the ones who don't do their homework on AWAI get sucked in.

I have lost count the number of business owners I have written for who got burned after hiring "copywriters" through AWAI.

The stories I could tell you about this place.

Just the way AWAI advertises themselves should tell anyone with a half a brain that they are not good at copywriting.

Their lame articles alone should tell you plenty.

Buyer beware.



Anonymous said...

Has anyone actually subscribed, paid the money, followed the advice and just flat out not made money? That is who I would like to hear from. Thanks you.

Jae Duran said...

I have always wanted to write for a living but this Barefoot Writer's club markets well to get people to join. It literally made me stop to query Google to make sure that there were no bad reviews. I am so thankful that I researched and found your site before spending my money because I have been ripped of by big-time internet gurus---Brad Fallon with uQast. I bought a uQast site for $1200 and was told it was for a lifetime. They closed my site and kept my money. I cannot find Fallon or get a response to my inquiry of their company ripping me off. This has happened time and time again with other well-known internet marketing gurus and I just don't feel like this happening again through this bogus writer's club. Thanks for sharing your knowledge about them. Your site saved me a major headache!

Kammy Thurman said...

To Anonymous of 2/12/15 -- I have gone through the AWAI copywriting course, started with the basic and have gone through a number of others.

AWAI launched my copywriting career. That was 13 years ago, and I've been a well-paid copywriter ever since. Over the last couple of years my business has grown from copywriting into a full-service marketing firm for luxury travel/transportation companies.

We do mostly online related marketing, but for some clients integrate offline methods too.

If you're serious about copywriting, and want a serious answer to your questions about AWAI, email Kammy at support@anchormarketingconsultants.com

Anonymous said...

I have written a child's book, and prefer to write stories for children. Does this cover writing stories for children?

Anonymous said...

From what I've read elsewhere, if you have a little ability, put in the work the course tells you to put in, and work hard, more than twenty hours per week, you can make a decent living. Most people have been disappointed with the number of postings on their "job site." If you want to write literature, and not soulless marketing tripe, you might be better off waiting tables at a good restaurant, and save something of your soul to put into your writing.

Dr. Professor Rockso said...

hmmm idk i was in a free live discussion with the executive editor of the barefoot writer about how copywriting works and she did not try to sell it like a product too much. she also let us know that it isnt a get rich quick thing, that it took her several years before she started making a worthwhile income and that she had to put in the effort and work to market herself. it was very informative and completely free through the writers digest. i mean u can try the small risk of 49$ to potentially learn about writing or you could pay a school much more than that for the same chance. its still up to the individual to put forth the effort, persistence and work to actually make yourself marketable. if shes going to give me the same information a school would about the business anyway, id rather just pay 49$ (12$ as of this post) rather than pay 1000$ or whatever a school wants. from what i gathered, she offers networking with her site to other people in the copywriting business and thats the way she presented it to me. live. so knock it all you want but colleges charge out the ass to have a teacher read you a textbook and for the basic opportunity to network which i believe is no different.

H. Sydney Smith said...

Please let me know how I can find the $49 pricetag--with a guarantee refund if not satisfied. That's not a bad investment, especially if there's a hassle-free refund at the end of the tunnel.

In contrast, the email in my inbox from AWAI this evening offers the course for a whopping $197.00 -- a bit pricy just to find out what the fuss is all about.

I'm moving abroad to a country where Americans have a difficult time in finding jobs so I need my income to come from writing on my laptop-- and copywriting sounds like it might pay my bills.

The AWAI checkout shows their Copywriting coursework material at $197. Why are you all saying it's only $47?

Victoria Strauss said...

H. Sydney Smith--

It's membership in the Barefoot Writers Club that's $49. Any courses you buy are addition costs.

Anonymous said...

the head honcho of AWA, calls herself "Katie Yeakle" That happens to be a fake name, as are the names of many of those who run or write for AWA. Hmm...

Check eLance or oDesk if you want to find out what freelance writers really earn. Those sites are chock full of very capable writers charging $10-$20 per hour.

If AWA has accomplished anything aside from making "Yeakle" and her insiders fabulously wealthy, it has flooded the market with pipe-dreaming wannabe $500-an-hour writers, which by their sheer volume have eliminated the chance that many will earn a reasonable living off writing.

Anonymous said...

BBB - Better Business Bureau
http://www.bbb.org/south-east-florida/business-reviews/desktop-publishing/american-writers-and-artists-in-delray-beach-fl-26000012

Anonymous said...

I did some research on AWAI and decided that $49 wasn't much of a risk and it was money back guaranteed so nothing to lose. Was I wrong. Put aside the 5-10 e-mails containing annoying sales pitched per day to weed through...and the content of the overly played up resource materials being all ads for themselves basically, my concern was that after being a member for only 2 months, an unauthorized debit on my checking account for $180 by AWAI!!! Thanks guys, that was part of my rent money. Many e-mails and calls unanswered, I put a stop payment on any further debit from them on my bank account. What the what??? I was going to go along with the program and see it through but now I want out. No word from them yet. Wonder how many more people are getting their bank accounts squeezed?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand. You have a problem with free enterprise and a company charging someone for their expertise on how to write? Really??

Cayleigh said...

I found this post when I received an email from The Barefoot Writer offering a full year of magazines at the low price of $12 per year - that will remain the same forever (until I unsubscribe). It seemed too low to be true, so I did some research. Thank you for having this site for people like me who aren't aware of everything that goes on in the publishing world.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where the $49 amount came from. When I was just looking at it the discounted rate if you paid in full was $7,600. If you made monthly payments for a couple of years it was over $12,000. I just wanted to throw this out there so people were aware we are not talking about a measly $50. Sure losing 50 bucks would suck, but if that is the worst thing that happens to you in life, you are doing alright. Over $12,000!!! They are ruining people's lives, and need to be stopped.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymous--The $49 is just to join the Barefoot Writers Club. All other costs come from additional AWAI services or courses.

Anonymous said...

I responded to an internet ad and immediately started receiving emails from Rebecca Matter; I quickly realized that a substantial investment was going to be required. The $49 was the tip of the iceberg and I was told, repeatedly, that "Last chance to receive the discounted price of $49. I finally looked them up, read the posts and unsubscribed today. Let's hope it works, I am sick of receiving these emails. I don't think Rebecca Matter makes money as a copywriter but as a salesperson.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You all really gave them your real email address. I'm flabbergasted, honestly. Wow.

MsFranF said...

Thank you soooo much, everyone, for all this information!

Jerry Rollins said...

MsFranF,
What was your decision? Did You try it? If so, how is your experience? Please let me know!
Thank You

Anonymous said...

I was going to spend my last $49 today to see if I could slowly build up a useful second income. Guess not. Thanks, guys. I'm signing Anonymous just as a precaution, "sigh".

Anonymous said...

I bit the bait and joined the club, but haven't seen any real help. As you say, almost every mail from them and from AWAI ends with a sales pitch for some course that costs $400 and up. They have an upcoming "Bootcamp" in Florida that is supposed to "teach" you a lot from several guest speakers but is something like $1700 or $1800. Seeing that every teaching-type email is only a vague reference to things that supposedly can help, ending with the sales pitch, I'm supposing that this bootcamp is more of the same. I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Such negativity! If anyone has not personally completed an AWAI course, but balks at paying for one, then I would suggest immediately that they look elsewhere. I've done several courses and currently make my living as a copywriter. I never would have thought I could, never would have known how to go about it without their help. I have no problem exchanging valuables for valuables.

In addition, I daily find -FREE - invaluable information that I've implemented and found it improved some aspect of this business. I've never had the idea that I could make a good living as a writer without putting in hard work. And i'm happy to work hard! I wholeheartedly endorse AWAI.

Anonymous said...

I was interested to hear from "real" people who found success with AWAI. I'd expected the reviews on the Barefoot Writers site would include links to other online profiles. Other than the most recent Anonymous review, the only endorsement I've seen in this thread was from Kammy Thurman. Based on her Facebook page, she appears to be real. Scary, but real. I'll pass on this one...

Kay Hwangbo said...

Thank you for this valuable information (warning us away from this sketchy organization).

Pace Yrself said...

I wish i had read your article before i gave BW my email address, I found it very helpful. i don't think you need to pay the $49 to figure out something is amuck. You were honest about what research you did do. I have books on copywriting. I fail to see how taking their courses will benefit me more than reading the books I already have. Their ads make it sound like they are offering much more.

skygirlsixtwo said...

Ava fails ...
What a PERFECT id for you!
A little tip regarding common courtesy ... you should have apologized.
The only reason you came back with the lame, 'Disregard my post', was because you were afraid you would look like an idiot for aggressively attacking someone's credibility, when you had NO IDEA WTF YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT!
Yep, Ava fails alright.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Some of you in this comment section need help... badly! Do you really think you can be paid for the s#!+ that comes from your brain, goes to your finger tips, and out through your devices? Learn some basics. Examples: the space bar, punctuation, the distinction between YOUR & YOU'RE, and proofing.
Come on guys; style is good, but learn to write before pretending you are a writer. Just because you can post on twitter doesn't me you are a writer. Please get a life. Many of you are just plain sad to read. Take this as a constructive comment, and think. To be able to "fake it before you make it", you at least have to look like you are trying.

Mike Pearson said...

Hahahaha)))) good job Anonymous. Two thumbs up on that chastising. Lead by exampl.. Righ? I mean if you can get by without proofing, they should be

Mike Pearson said...

I really hate commenting with my phone. Constantly switching modes on me and causing me to hit wrong buttons. Anyway, throw out the first post by me or add this to it.

Lead by example ... I'll just say check yourself before jumping on others. Read your post Anon and you see what I mean.

If you're going to chastise? Have the backbone to not hide behind Anonymous. Just sayin'

Thanks for the article, Victoria. Thanks to all the other comments as well from everybody else too. I'm still on the fence as concerning to send in any money to them. Most of the info I'm sure could be found for free just googling and reading online, but I'm sure there are things put into their own words that would give something for the money spent. As others have said about sending money to a school, this would also be very similar to that. Someone brought all of the info to one spot to present to you... or me rather, as the case may be.
Some have talked about, paraphrasing, the ethics of learning to write spam. To that I would say, I suppose if it is simply for the cash, then no there are no ethics. Now if you happen to take a job or jobs that you indeed do agree with the product being sold or offered; then yes it is ethical and even encouraged . Because in there you will experience your greatest passion driven work. As much as I hate it too, spam is only spam depending on the viewpoint. Or is it spam when the sender won't take 'no' for an answer? Maybe that's just a dedicated salesperson. Maybe? Tenaciousness ... or tenacity if you prefer, would be a sought-after trait for a sales employee. Well that same trait is most definitely a pain in my ass as I walk through the electronics section at the local Best Buy.

Just my ramblings. Take em or leave em.

Mike

Debi Ray said...

Love your hilarity!

Anita M. Shaw said...

Wow . . . why then did my heads up about this place come from Writer's Digest Partners? That's the only reason I clicked to get more info. I'm glad I decided to Google the place first before hitting the buy button! I was that close!

I've bookmarked this site. I see I need to keep an eye out a little more diligently for possible scams and other pitfalls.

Chief Rick said...

Anonymous said...

What i want to know is, "who are all these people writing the testimonials?" None of them seem to have written anything except the testimonial their name is attached to....
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I read a description of their copy writing course and it said that one of the assignments was to create a sales pitch for the very course you are taking. They claim to offer a $10,000 prize for the best one. I'll bet that is where many of the testimonials are coming from.

Phoenix Woman said...

Laila: When the product's sellers tout it as a magic bullet, and it's manifestly NOT, then yes, we have the right to criticize them!

Anonymous said...

If you are a good writer, you do not need classes. There are so many ways to self-publish now. Give it a shot. Let the readers decide.

Caren said...

I looked into AWAI some years ago and decided then that it was far too costly. Instead, I spent a couple of hours researching copywriting, got some authors, checked out their books and bought a few used and new. That was helpful. I did some copywriting and made a little money but, ultimately, I decided that it wasn't for me. I love to write, but hawking products was not the writing I love. I'm glad I didn't invest big money on a course.

Anonymous said...

I am a freelance writer and have done well with repeat business and referrals .... Such is the life of an independent contractor so you have to find other skills to supplement ... Think Creatively/Out of the BOX ... Good old fashion hard work! ALWAYS read the fine print! Thanks but No Thanks to Barefoot Writer! New York City Write

Megan Rae said...

Can you tell me if the barefoot writer is helping you in any way. I really would live to do this as a career but don't know where to go. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

Joshua Macala said...

I have been running my own writing racket since 1999 with little to no money being made from it so I decided to see if they could give me some advice. I paid $9 for a year long subscription- 12 issues- which they say can be refunded on day 364 if I am not fully satisfied. I haven't received my first issue yet as I just signed up late last week, but I'm looking at it more as a way to network and find writing jobs and how to get into them rather than learning how to write which I don't feel I need to do.

Paula Tague said...

Why all the posts from Anonymous here? I don't pay much attention to people who won't own their comments! I'm considering paying $49 to this group because I'd value the tips I might find--not to mention the community aspect of their "club." I also pay Costco dues because it's worth it to me. If you expect someone to hand you a daily/weekly/monthly payment just because you paid them $49 then you should definitely go elsewhere. And NO, I don't work for them! I'm not sure I can figure out how to attach my name to this, based on the options I see for posting, but if I can, I will.

Chris Manning said...

I've also signed up for their mailing list and am now getting lots of messages each day that don't go into specifics of what I can really do to start on a profitable path with writting, but keeps a luring premise of "I was where you were & thought the same thing, what if it's a scam, but it's not " type of lines meant to reach those who want to believe in the possibility of a lucrative & honest way to earn a living. I don't have any money to spare on a what if, but want to honestly try to start ar writting career to still keep balance with my family & a flexible way to earn a living.
But trying to wade through all this information as a first time writer is overwhelming & confusing to find genuine jobs & outright scams. If anyone can truly point me in a direction of where to start that pays more than $50 per submission and requires no prior experience, with immediate payout I would be very greatful.

Pam said...

I paid the $49 for the program. After reading many negative reviews about AWAI possibly being a scam, I immediately contacted them via email to cancel out of their program and for them to refund my money. I was surprised to find that my bank account was credited the $49 the very next day! I can't say whether or not AWAI is legit or not, but I can say that they DID follow through with their 100% guarantee money back by refunding my account. If it was a true scam, I don't believe I would have been reimbursed. If you are looking to get a magazine subscription for the $49 (and access to their website) then that is what you get. If you want additional courses, then you have to pay an additional expense. Isn't that what colleges and "Fred Pryor" workshops do? You have to pay for each course. Again, I can't say whether the program works, I can just say that they do refund your $49 if you aren't satisfied and wanted to post my positive experience.

Anonymous said...

I paid $49 for the Barefoot Writer's subscription. To actually go through the program that trains you, I was asked to pay $148. I backed out after reading negative reviews.

Anonymous said...

I agree that no one can make you a writer. You can't pay $49 for a link to a video that holds the secret to become a copywriter even though you can't write a letter to an old friend or write down a thorough message for somebody you work with. You can be a copywriter The one piece of advice that sticked to me was from a lengthy letter from some ceo of awai's $49 campaign. It was the barstool routine. I interpreted it as this: if you can sit and speak to a total stranger about something you just purchased, read about or did that day and convinced them to listen long enough then you can successfully copywrite. Even if your grammar or punctuation sucks you can write. After all, every great writer has an editor and their job is to get your work typo and error free. I like fiction but love true story events. It's much easier to write about fact than create fiction therefore if I believe it or actually experienced a WOW event I know writing about it would be easier. I think if everyone wrote about one life changing experience they had and submitted it to me for publication I could create some great book. I want to believe in something that works. No one is going to lose sleep over $49 spent on AWAIs membership fee so they just become rich from their first step to nothing. It's like being in the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. You receive a bill for $60 your insurance didn't cover from a dr that claims he consulted with you before your surgery. You don't remember a thing because you were in so much pain at the same time that dr claims he drew back the curtain to just say,"Hi, I'm Dr Feel better and I'm going to make you more comfortable." It could have been God standing before you but you don't care you just wanted relief. He just got paid over $300 for ordering pain medication for you. You pay the $60 that wasn't covered and no one is the wiser. All you know is someone made you feel better by putting some miracle drug in your iv. No one will go through the trouble of investigating what dr actually did something for you while you were in agony before or sleeping after surgery. $49 from a thousand suckers is a lot of money. Multiply that by another 1,000. I want to believe but can't.

Anonymous said...

Seems the $49 doesnt really get you very much and its a commitment buy in to get you to drop huge sums on further coursework. It doesnt really sound like many people here have done that. I am certainly concerned about the unauthorized charges one person reported as that appears to be immoral if not an actual crime. Once they have your card number it could be easy to get you to sign up for things accidentally. Seems if you want to do this, look at what they did to get you to give them the $49 and then do that for your own info product. Seems high though, compared to a book.

Linda Trempe said...

It all does sound so wonderful in the hour long video I ended up watching. $49 isn't much, and it's guaranteed for a year, to invest to give the program a try. I'm sure though that it's a difficult path for people with poor grammar and spelling skills.

When I Googled "Barefoot Writer" and found your blog I was expecting a "scam expose'" that turned out to be a glowing review of the program. So your blog is a pleasant surprise.

I do feel though, if you write any type of product review, that you should actually use the product or service to be in a position of writing a fair review.

Let's keep in mind that not every program, product or service will work for everyone.

Mark Oldenkamp said...

i was both my HS and COLLEGE Editor-In-Chief and worked a little freelancing in NYC and did some internet writing/editing, but never really got to that life they say DOES exist on AWAI and their ‘educational’ series, a basic guide to realizing your dream of being a full time writer. not a full time novelist, mind you.
a full time copy writer: someone who, in the words of AWAI, is persuading the reader that their life will be better if they only buy the featured service or product. in a conversational tone, you are suggesting, subtle or direct, that they buy a product indire it’s normally send as emails, but they are not always SPAM -- they are from companies that the recipient of this one has used in the past, or a subsiderary of that company.
SO...did i say it’s not exactly the utopian dream of the quintessential artist who happens to be a writer?
regardless, i spent the $49 - basically a magazine subscription with NO OTHER ADS except for ones advertising THEIR services and products, although they do have quite an impressive amount of articles that are a kick in the ass for me, the ever aspiring novelist who has managed to write 300 pages in 5 years.

mark oldenkamp said...

STILL, i wondered, weren’t they doing the same thing to me that they were pushing: being a writer who copy writes for various industries (AWAI, not-so-surprisingly really pushes how to ’travel and get paid for it!’) copy with the intent of selling something or getting someone to join this group (which has a membership fee, of course), or applying for a credit card for a minimal fee ... you get the picture.
my mind drifts, thinking of Charles Dickens, who was obsessed with mesmerism and the power of persuasion upon his death.
HOWEVER...wasn’t that what i was trying to do in the past? writing for a living didn’t, i suppose, have to only entail writing a novel just waiting to be devoured by the devoted and, dare i say memorized, readers? or could i possibly actually say with conviction that i was a DAMN WRITER and NOVELIST, and still write this slop for a living, especially if i got paid well for my time being bored silly compiling this finely written smoke ready to be blown up the asses of millions.
i had written for web companies that were selling something i knew ZILCHO about, and that is exactly one of the zillion different niches they claimed could be tapped to sell your wares. this, to me, was and will always exist BELOW journalism (PRINT, for the most part), but at this point in my life, this only factored in due to the fact that i never realized my dream to be a full time paid journalist, and not just an ad copy writer (disguised as an article or misc. puff piece). i have AMAZING ideas and a good working outline finished on one full length hopeful, and a pretty good mental and written outline for a second book that makes we want to try to publish it first. regardless of this yet-to-be-conquered black hole in my life, i had to make a living, and i don’t hate what i do now, it’s just not something i KNEW I WANTED TO DO MY WHOLE LIFE. so why not be a copy writer and then i would be able to SAY ‘i’m a fucking writer!’ with conviction even as i struggle to complete my first draft of my first attempt of my first novel.
SO, i purchase the 10 weeks masters program (i think it was more than $450...but, with the promise of a full refund for up to a full year if i decide it’s not for me)
i was a very good ‘hard news copy’ writer as a journalist, something some would say might be akin to what AWAI is offering; it’s what others may say is simply glorified SPAM or FLUFF. the used car salesmen of the writing world, if i may.
the results are still pending, but they have given me so far some webinars, a huge 5 STEP PROGRAM that i am toiling through, although i’ve only reached the third chapter, and admit i could be doing it much more diligently, but at the same time, i’ve been actually WRITING, which i suppose, in my case, was worth the money just for that little granted wish.
THE PROBLEM...? they are really annoying, similar to ACN, but not as cultish and all cheerleader squad on your ass weird... there is NOTHING worse than a fired up SALES PERSON!! well, scientology, maybe. AWAI basically has created this syllabus for you to follow (AKA: BUY) and hope that you are good enough and have the fortitude, drive, and of course, omni present desperation to actually make it the the AWAI WALL OF FAME...again, that whole idealistic, take me to the land of milk and honey bullshit annoys me on many levels, but -- much like whether God really exists or if me being gay means i’m a sexual deviant going to hell -- i can’t help but think of my parents and their absolute faith as Christians (NOT catholics, mind you) and trust me: they have given hundreds of thousands of their dollars that they just as easily could have used to make my life so much easier.
i guess that is my take -- like AWAI, all of the good, the bad, and the successful...???
or just another load of shit promising a golden goose egg.... the jury has def spoken on this site, and i guess so have i, your fellow juror. thanks for reading to
THE END

Mark Oldenkamp said...

Bear in mind, AWAI is NO different than my favorite writing inspiration tool: WRITER’s DIGEST...they DO THE SAME EXACT THING...maybe not to the extent of AWAI, but that is exactly where i FOUND the AWAI that got me to the point that i am writing this very posting....things that make you go hmmmm...

Ann Buhr said...

Universities take your money too. Education costs not only money but a great deal of time and effort. People cannot work for free. Right now I am taking the AWAI Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. It is harder than I imagined but I feel grateful for what they are teaching me and it gives me hope that I can be successful.

Anonymous said...

It's a scam.
Not because it charges, not because of the incessant emails with "last chance" / "but wait there's more" / "ends at Midnight" / "act fast" ..., or even the bogus testimonials that have no legitimate source cited...

It's the author's title.

The chick who is writing me--to sell me her friend's beginner copywriting 101 pamphlets, members-only fb page access, and (oh joy!) a whole COMMUNITY of highfalutin six-figure writers who want to just hang out and help the lowly saps who need to make a buck from home with no skills or drive to do the legwork and learn how the business really functions--is the The Barefoot Writer Magazine EDITOR.

If it's Paul's deal then why isn't he trying to sell it to me, if she were selling me something legitimate, her job title would be mentioned upon introducing herself and follow her signature... it doesn't.

The fact that she doesn't identify herself, except once, very briefly close to the end of 10 or so pages of copy, tells me that she's being deceptive.

Her website looks like shit, too. (just a poke for fun, that one, though true)
http://www.mindymchorse.com/

Anonymous said...

con't

The voice throughout is not from the point-of-view of the BW magazine editor.

I don't need copywriting lessons, I don't need to pay to have a large community of novice copywriter "networking" or sharing their ideas, and I CERTAINLY don't need someone emailing me this crap only to click on the link and have some chick DEFINE THE WORD "COPYWRITER" for me.

The proofreading is horrible. The writing is ATROCIOUS! The informality of the voice and the base vocabulary only show me that this chick is successful not due to talent, but volume. (Just like in stand-up comedy, some are naturally talented, some aren't, but the ones who aren't talented usually end up getting more work, merely because they show up on time and market themselves. "A" for effort, though the performance is average because the early bird gets the worm.

I need job postings and the classified ads. I need work. I went to college, got the degree, and want to work from home. Give me a job or stop spamming me.

If the Barefoot Writer Club would just be up front and say "Are you a beginner? Lonely and want to join a club of other people who have no experience? Then grab your credit card and follow me!"

Anonymous said...

con't

Mindy has 6 blogs/websites through AWAI and it looks like she writes for all of them. Again, I can't stomach her actual writing to read her posts, but again, there are so many, anyone doing a google search of her name will return tons of results, which is what employers like, visibility, and in recent times, anyone that can churn out junk "content."
These days it's no longer about the quality or even the information contained--it's how much of the shit you can shovel out. And trust me... we are wading waist high through it, where Mindy's concerned.

After all these years of experience, including a BA, an MBA, and Subtitle Cert.s, if Mindy is the person that I am to pay to show me into the light of my financial future, ... I'm sorry, you'd have to pry the pen from my cold, dead hand before I'd budge one inch. You see, I'm copywriter. I only move forward and raise the bar higher; not the other way around. That's what people call the "limbo." Merriam-Webster defines "limbo" as.... ;)

++++++

8/07/2014 6:29 PM

"Upon hearing the club's initial presentation it disturbed me that their testimonial was given by a person who holds an official title with their company, some kind of executive editor. That was a big red flag for me."

+++++

Exactly!

+++++

If J.K. Rowling had the time to troll all the wizard blogs just respond to all the negative comments about her, I guess to say, "Nuh uh! I'm really awesome. You just haven't given me money and read all my fantastic fiction properly, so you can't possibly know what you are talking about," would you respect her more or less? Would countless defensive posts entice the public to pay to her to learn more about how write professionally, or to embrace their own insecurities by not wasting their time on a chick that has nothing better to do than Google her own name all day, just in case someone might criticize what she's selling for sucking super hard.

It's just like limbo... some people were born to lower the bar to see "how low can you go" and make others bend over backwards to go under it; some people were born to raise the bar as high as it can go and watch others CLEAR IT.

May this be the most time I EVER waste on this chick.
I feel I should submit an invoice just for calling her out.

If I were still a religious person, the entrance would say "HELL... by Mindy McHorse" 100% damned eternal or your money back! .. but you have to act fast! ... you'll also receive the lake of fire, the 3rd ring of hell, and of course,
your complimentary introduction to all 9 rings
that I made "a friend of mine" write for you
called,
LIMBO!

HAHAHA!

(Ok, waste of time? Totally. Closing with Dante's Inferno? TOTALLY WORTH IT! Whoo!)

:)

Anonymous said...

I just went in and watched the video-mercial because Barefoot Writers was advertised in Writer's Digest. Something smelt bad, so I thought I'd do a Google Search for more info. Glad to find this post. Thank you! (Disappointed in Writers Digest).

Papa Charles said...

I just found out they are taking $49 out my credit card account every year, and I have not authorized this repeat charge. Also, I cannot find anything in "My Account" on their website that shows I will be or have been charged or how I can stop the charges. This qualifies as a scam. I've never gotten anything worthwhile from them either. Stay away.

Anonymous said...

No offence, but we need people who can say, "I tried it and it's a scam." Not people who talk from what they think it is. We need FACTS so before posting comments and reviews, kindly find out if it works and then tell us how it really is.

Otherwise, your post is totally and completely invalid. Coz without evidence, you have no case!

:)

Anonymous said...

I agree..I'm just going to take a chance..$49 is not a lot and you get some useful information to help you get started..

Elaine Lyons said...

Part of the problem with poor writers trying to become copywriters is they can't spell or use the right words. It's "writing", not "writting"; it's a "decent" course, not a "descent" course. No course can teach you what you should have learned in middle school.

Anonymous said...

Papa,
It says in the subscription that it will be withdrawn every year automatically, unless you cancel.

As for the rest of you,
I have bought two AWAI products so far and been satisfied with the progression, although its going a little slow for me. I'm sure for a less educated person it may be too fast. I'm hesitant to purchase more because of the high cost. A teacher's pay and a large family with one income does not stretch very far. I came to this review to get answers but have not found any. I guess I will try it and see what happens. Good luck, ya'll!

Anita

noraebong said...

You must have taken the course...or the smack to the head helped! I will try the smack..cheaper, quicker, will probably render me unconscious and unable to check my AWAI inundated inbox for a while. Hopefully concussion induced amnesia will erase any memory of association. Cheers!

PS. I'm writing copy for a company that produces home lobotomy kits. JK Enterprises. You will see my affiliate links real soon along with my How To Become A Paid Neurosurgeon without attending college or learning the alphabet AND 15K Ways To Land Prestigious Surgival Writing Jobs in Promising and Warm Banana Republics with Legalized Polygamy. 😊

 
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