Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers, 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 probably is.


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.

Anonymous 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:

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:

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?

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

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

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!

Anonymous said...

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.


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

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)

Anonymous said...


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...


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."




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


(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...

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!


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. 😊

Scott Preston said...

The Internet makes it easy to flood people with the wordy spam that AFAIK cranks out. And for a "few" dollars then can have you cranking out the same annoying crappie as well. However, the Internet also makes it easy to check up on these conditions artists-- that'she how I got to this page. Hollingshead-- if that'sounds his real name-- claims to have made millions writing adverts. If this is so, then he must have a business website promoting his own work -- he does not. If you'received making so much money writing that crap, why would you want to create more competition for yourself.

I have exposed and publicly embarrassed some real estate scam courise pitchman at one of their free "seminar classes" at a local hotel. You simply proceed like this: "If I pay you $1,500 (reduced, for a limited time from $7,987.00) I can make $100,000 in six months with the personal coaching you will provide-- true?"
"$50,000 is a lot more than $1,500, right?-
"Yes...," he responded cautiouly. ,
"Then teach me the course, with no up front money, and I will split the profits with you for the next six months and on into the next year."

They threw me out to the joyously chaotic sounds of a disgruntled audience that, like an angry hibernating bear, just woke up.

Anonymous said...

Just recently I paid AWAI $297 for "The Accelerated six figure..." program, and at first, they sent me an email discounting the program to $197, but when I paid, it was $297. I wrote them an email asking them for the additional $100 that I had paid back and instead received in return an email trying to sell me an additional program that was a companion to the program that I had just bought, and the cost to that program? was for $397.

Immediately after I finished the first section I received another email selling me another program, even before I had finished the whole initial program. I got bombarded, literally, with a ton of emails offering me course after course. I became bothered by the response that I got to my email and their refusal to return my $100 so I canceled everything and asked them for a complete refund. The next day I got an email telling me that I would get a refund for $297 and that it would take a few days to post to my account.

AWAI seems to be a money sucking machine taking advantage of those who are desperate to make money, especially sitting at home. They try to use a psychological game and a scheme where you are offered to work for AWAI. Since they do offer a one year refund no questions asked it seems to me like the trick goes something like this. You buy and buy especially initially when you are pumped up about making that big money, then you are offered to work for AWAI and they offer to pay you 100, 200 for your work, eventually the year will go by and then you have no refund power and you are out of your money.

I read the first part of the "accelerated program" 64 pages in all, and it was a sales pitch of the biggest kind, kind like an indoctrination, focusing on money all the way and trying to motivate you to buy more courses and more coaching with the believe that you are going to make hundred of thousands, millions in copywriting jobs right away even before you know anything at all.

That was my experience with AWAI. Google them and I also found a scathing review on the internet.

christy day said...

my question to all of you is ... how do you really get paid for writing. i am a writer for a non-profit org. which i do not mind because my son died from the same cause i am writing stories for other children who have died. However, I am in need of some money and would love to write for it. Does anyone have any REAL suggestions? That are not scams and that you do not have to PAY to write?

Unknown said...

Thank you for this honest review. I appreciate that you went out on a limb and said what needed to be said. I'm now hoping to find a copywriting course that is more focused on teaching rather than selling. Warm regards, MJ

Anonymous said...

I would think that most posters here aspire to make money writing. From the majority of posts, it seems as if a basic grammar course would benefit you more than a $49 sales pitch. If you want to profit from writing, learn to write first. Some of the worst offenders are people who claim to be writers!

Physics of Guitar Playing said...

The negative comments on here are naive and ridiculous. AWAI is like many online companies: they offer COURSES. I just read their site--there are no promises. They offer a one-year refund. To call them scammers is simply slander of the stupidest kind. "Scams" are deliberate schemes that defraud, not legitimate businesses like AWIA, which offer products with guarantees. One commentator "thinks" that good writers don't need to study. One asked for a refund from AWAI because he or she saw a single negative review on the company! No doubt many of you think that Writer's Digest and Harvard are "scams," too. And the author of this article is just as clueless and myopic as her readers. Clearly, freelance writing is for those with an entrepreneurial spirit, something obviously lacking in most of the commentators here. Please, most of you, get "real" jobs, because you are not emotionally or intellectually cut out for freelance writing. The lot of you make me embarrassed to be a writer.

Anonymous said...

To "Physics of Guitar Playing,"
You have witnessed no slander. You may have witnessed 'Libel," but that cannot be proven from your post. You have embarrassed only yourself.

Anonymous said...

Advocates probably all sound the same because they've had the same teaching/messages drilled into them...not that that's necessarily a bad thing.

Currently undergoing some courses over there. Curiosity got me, and it does look like some good material. Will keep you posted!

Mark Ivar Myhre said...

I ordered their first course, Accelerated Program For Six-Figure Copywriting, and I've also ordered and read many other courses and books on copywriting.

To me, it just seemed common sense that I would have to invest money to learn a new trade.

The AWAI course may be expensive, especially if you're just dabbling in the profession.

But a 'scam'?

No, not at all.

They charge a lot of money, but in my opinion they DO deliver. It may be overpriced, but that does not make it a scam.

If you can apply the information they give you, I see no reason why a reasonably-intelligent person can't make a living as a copywriter.

The problem is, you still need to go out and get your clients. Even worse, you need to be able to THINK FOR YOURSELF.

This course is not a push-button solution.

I do believe they also make it seem a lot easier than it really is, and they also seem to have inflated the income potential for the average person.

Here's the bottom line: if you come into this with a poverty consciousness, then this will NOT give you an abundance consciousness.

And if you're obsessed with being scammed, then you probably have a poverty consciousness.

Spend your time changing your mindset first, then this course, or perhaps some other course on copywriting, can do you some good.

Anonymous said...

Anybody know anything about the following:
6-Figure Freelance Writer Blueprint Program
Your step-by-step program to Building a Successful Freelance Writing Career.
Is it legitimate?

Joan Cline said...

I paid $49 and all I got wad more aggressive hard sell on their products soliciting larger sums of money.I requested a refund everyday they ignore my request for refund but continue to harassed me to buy more "life changing" programs. Who can I complain this company AWAIONLINE to

Anonymous said...

I was already a professional writer when I joined AWAI mostly for access to their "Incredible" Jobs board. Well, there were three postings on the job board, that was it, just three, yup three. I applied to all three and didn't hear back from any of them. That was two years ago and I quit shortly after. What I really got from them was a ridiculous amount of emails that were sales intensive from various members of their team. The e-books that came with the membership had some information, but it was mostly pitch. There are many ways to become a professional writer, but I wouldn't recommend AWAI as a path. I think writing for content mills like Textbroker, or bidding sites like Up work are better than AWAI, at least they aren't trying to sell you something every five minutes. I'm not saying either of those choices are good, but they are better. You can learn how to do copywriting from reading books from great copywriters like Bob Bly, Eugene M. Schwartz, Maria Veloso, Gary Halbert, etc... or take some of the courses from online marketers and copywriters like Chandler Bolt, Ray Edwards, and others. Even if you just get their emails and study them you can learn the craft and many give away a lot of free training if you just look for it. If you don't want to do copy writing, which is probably the most lucrative writing, you can approach/ pitch to websites that need help, or pitch for articles in magazines or try contests, good sources of information for these opportunities is Jacob Jans's Freedom with writing: Writing for money isn't easy, but it is doable. I started with content sites and bidding sites, then started my own blog and now I'm writing books under my own name. Amazon is a great source, not just of information on this but also a way to self-publish your own work. If your interested in writing books then I would recommend anything by Joanna Penn and Nick Stephens. Both have tons of free information online, check out Joanna on YouTube I think she's under the creative penn on there. You can also take their courses or do some courses through Udemy. Jeff Goins is the got to guy for blogging and the go-to gal is Ruth Soukup. You may never get rich writing, but you can make a living and that is what most writers want, isn't it?

Thia said...

This is the most sensible advice of them all. Thank you. I have learned the same thing. Jeff Goins has been great help for me to succeed with my writing skills. But, I have been busy learning and writing. I had not investigated any of the numerous emails in my inbox. No time to even read them so I just checked them 'read' and go back to my writing.

Last week, I got curious because I saw 'Reader's Digest'. I read, I clicked. I almost got taken by LifeRich Publishing. Thank goodness I did not have nearly $3000.00 to buy their package.

Investigating LifeRich Publishing I bumped into this site. WOW! Take my experience with AWAI. I am a member because Rebecca gifted me the Barefoot Writer subscription. I have been studying that Guide. Not finding my way in Barefoot because of the limited resources available, yesterday I clicked on the invitation to join the Circle. Wow! They want $15,000.00 dollars! That's when i came to this site to check AWAI.

I totally agree with you. The best part about your comment is: 'You may never get rich writing, but you can make a living and that is what most writers want, isn't it?' So true, that's all I want. Perhaps you would like to see what I wrote about my whole experience with all of them. :-)

Tracey Mason said...

I just sat through the video and watched it but before I clicked on the button to join I exited the page. I then entered the barefoot writer's club in my search bar and saw this site shown on the search page. I'm glad I did because I almost took the bait. I am a fairly decent writer and would love to make a living as was described on the video, however I guess I'll just have to continue working on my stories and see if I can get them published.

Thank you for all of the posts here and for the head's up. I have no doubt that AWAI is a legitimate business, but that's what it is, a business and they're in business to make money. So I see it for what it is. At this time I'm a single mother working hard to make what little I do. It's sad how many other people are in the same boat as me and fall for this stuff every time.

Glad I didn't give them my bank account information.

Anonymous said...

A few years back I fell for their pitch and sent them approx. $500 for their copywriter program and received a box of absolute crap. I asked my wife why she let me do it and she said I had to learn this myself. Don't know if these scumbags can reach out and sue for calling them crooks, so I'll refrain from doing so here. Don't send them any money.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the posts. I have always been leary about AWAI. The latest email i received, was how to become a social media writer. compaines will pay you to mange their face book, linkedin andTwitter communities. Really? They threw out some figure 119,000 yearly income. Yes this all sounded to good to be true. I am glad i did not fall for the last minute sales pitch. This would be an embarrassment to the living.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely almost LOL at several emails they sent me some time ago, including this one: 'last chance ... don't miss out on becoming a career writer. Don't lose your fanbase. You need this course! Only $495 until---'

Maria Teresa Perez Gatell said...

To be a writer, first of all, you have to have talent to do so. Not every person has the call to be a writer. I went to college to get my knowledge in reading and writing, this is like everything in life! Learn!!! And write! But not through scams...

Abe Jones said...

It's unrealistic to believe that there is a welcoming support group of like minded people out there just waiting for you to knock on the door so they can provide you with everything you need to fulfill your dreams. It is even more foolish to become angry when it turns out to be a transaction that requires resources and effort on your part. Success in anything requires work and faith.

Tina B. Tessina "Dr. Romance" said...

Thank you for this post. As an author, I was curious about these ads, as well as suspicious. You told me what I needed to know.

JT Schramm said...

Thanks for this article for all the comments, positive and negative. I can see that there may be some value in the free signup materials, and perhaps the courses, but, yeah, you are not going to become a $100,000/year writer. There just aren't enough many high priced writing jobs out there, and nobody is capable of finding them for you, let alone however many subscribers they happen to get. I am passing on it.

Anonymous said...

As soon as I saw the promise of a "luxurious lifestyle", I knew this was a bunch of bull. At one time I was writing regularly for SEVEN different magazines/newspapers, and while it was nice to have a little more income, I certainly didn't run out and buy a new house!
Judy P. P.S. I now curate a blog,, which nets me nothing financially, but is a lot of fun. Also, I get (free) press passes to museums and special events, occasional free trips, plus review copies of beautiful art books from publishers.

Anonymous said...

Art Vandalae (remember me?)

I wish people knew how foolish they are when they criticize opportunities they are afraid to admit that they fear. Completing a course that might do something to improve their life so that their career is on the right path is something that takes a spine. It is so easy to reject something that might be challenging or threatening to a weak person who fails at everything they try and happy when their allies in failure give a thumbs-down to a course that just might offer a positive opportunity. The AWAI courses are legit and good. DS

Donald Riddle said...

I am a retired civil service worker, and was a technical writer for 40 years. I have always considered myself an excellent creative writer. I have written poetry and short stories that I have shared only with family and friends. Of course, I have always received rave reviews, because they ARE my close friends, family, and associates. Even so, I do feel I have a talent that I would love to pursue. My problem, is that I do not have the contacts or knowledge of how to break into the copywrighting field. Is there ANYONE out there with real suggestions on how to develop legitimate contacts to get started? Since I am retired, I do not need to get rich quick, or even get rich at all, only to make a little extra money to supplement my retirement income, maintain my new found freedom, and do something I love.

Wildcard said...

AWAI gets positive reviews and A+ rating from BBB. I realize BBB isn't always reliable.

*Rachel* said...

Thank you for this post. I had seen the Barefoot Writers Club ad in my gmail promotional portion of my inbox. Assuming that since it was coming through google, I thought perhaps it was legit. I just subscribed to get their newsletters but didn't sign up to be a part of the club. (I don't even have $49 to give a month.) But I noticed typical red flags in their newsletters, such as a bunch of hype that tries to wet your appetite (like earning a 6-figure income and living the easy life you always wanted) but never gives you any real information on how to go about it. They even went as far as to say, "I will let you know more tomorrow". They never did tell me the details they promised. Thank you for the warning about this. My suspicions were confirmed.
I wonder how we can stop this scam from affecting more people. And the people who are most targeted and affected are those who don't even have the money or time to lose. Something must be done.

Steve said...

AWAI is an organization that teaches copywriting not novel writing, not short stories, not anything most English majors have ever heard of. You don't recognize any of the graduates because they don't usually write under their own names. I have written promotional material signed by the owners of businesses who can barely write their own names. Some of this material has increased their business exponentially. Their customers come back for more.

Copywriting is salesmanship in print. What many of you do in these posts is denigrate this activity as spam. Yes, copywriters produce what you call spam. It is direct response writing. This style evolved from mail order advertising. AWAI operates as a sales funnel on the Agora/Dan Kennedy model and they teach you how to write for that market. I have read dozens of books about copywriting by the world's most successful copywriters. AWAI's Accelerated Copywriting course is formulaic. They teach you a direct response structure that gives you a framework for long copy pitches, lift letters, landing pages, web copy, email prospecting series and all the other affiliated tools of modern marketing. There is considerable demand for this kind of sales copy.

I don't see any difference between this and writing formula romance novels, fantasies, westerns or ...

Agora, Stansberry Research and AWAI are all related and cross-pollinate each other. Collectively, they are the most successful at selling subscription letters in travel, investing and commercial writing there has ever been. They are expert at what they do and can teach you how to do it. Yes, they will attempt to upsell you to more courses, seminars and the annual conference. These are largely motivational but you really do have the opportunity to meet with established practitioners and potential clients.

If you do not know what a control is, you are unlikely to be able to understand what AWAI is and what it teaches. If you are interested in powerful copy, study their "spam" when you receive it. It may offend you, but I can assure you - it sells product.

I don't know how many subscribers successfully complete the courses and are able to make a living writing commercial copy. I would guess four out of five fail, lose interest or discover there is work and discipline involved; 15% pick up a nice sideline, 4% can make a good living and perhaps 1% knock it out of the park. That's a higher success ratio than most beginning writers for general markets, wouldn't you say?

I would recommend the basic copywriting course to any beginner or prospect who just wants to see what it is all about. Even more so, I recommend it to business owners who have no idea how to market their products or evaluate an agency or consultant.

Yes, AWAI is selling dreams. So, who isn't? They offer money back guarantees which they honor if a course does not suit you. I have taken several of their courses and have returned a few with no hassle. Some weren't ready for prime time. Most, in my opinion, are good enough to get started. You can always read the masters later.

Malcolm G. Smith said...

I can't speak for anyone else, but I completed AWAI's "Accelerated Program for 6-Figure Copywriting" thirteen years ago. I've been writing direct response copy full-time ever since. AWAI actually became one of my clients, so I think I have a pretty good view as both a purchaser and a vendor.

Folks seem to complain a lot that AWAI tries to sell their products. They're a business, and that's what businesses do. As any good direct marketer can tell you, your best prospect is a recent purchaser. So, yes, AWAI markets consistently to members. A business that doesn't market dies. So I don't get the anger at AWAI's marketing activity.

As to AWAI's products being overpriced, compared to what? A liberal arts degree can easily cost $80,000 or more - and requires four long years to earn. If you're lucky, you'll land a job that pays $25,000 or $30,000 right out of school. AWAI's flagship program costs a tiny fraction of that... can be completed in just a couple of months... and can lead to much higher first-year earnings. It's all about return on investment, folks. And the ROI on AWAI's programs tends to be very high.

I earned back more than 500 times my investment in just my first year writing copy. And I'm not an outlier. The demand for effective copy is huge.

I've written dozens of promos, scores of catalog pages, thousands of articles, and five books. But only my clients know me. Because virtually everything I've written has someone else's name attached to it. My name appears where it really counts: On the checks. Sure a byline feels great. But try making your mortgage payment with a byline.

All that being said, I don't expect anyone to simply take my word for it. Check out AWAI with the Better Business Bureau. (I did before I sent them my hard-earned cash.) Google some of the folks associated with AWAI - like Bob Bly, Clayton Makepeace, Nick Usborne, and Steve Slaunwhite.

Freelance copywriting isn't for everybody. But if you have a decent command of English and the willingness to put in the effort, it can give you a great life.

Anonymous said...

I have been this route before with some guru-led outfit teaching marketing skills. Same old song. Six-figure incomes the rule rather than the exception, for working as little as ten minutes per day, for only the $49.00 discounted 'member' fee.

Then immediately I was barraged by phone calls, e-mails, and more phone calls, offering me "the good stuff", for only prices of a few hundred up to several thousand dollars, from a gaggle of "related companies" (more gurus) offering products that "fine-tune" the skills that I learn from some Mack guy.

I finally called them to demand a refund of my initial member fee, as I am about to do with the Barefoot Writer's Club.

For I discovered again that I am the one being marketed.

Janie Williams said...

Now, nay-sayers, be honest with yourself - did AWAI ever state that you would earn six-figures overnight? What I have read in their "hype" emails (no money required!)is that:
1. You "could" achieve that in as little as a year (three years being the average).
2. You will have to work, put time into the courses (which can be anywhere from three to six months long).
3. You are building a BUSINESS and to be an entrepreneur YOU have to WORK to be successful.
4. Their flagship course will teach you how to write letters just like the ones they are sending you. Obviously, you were at the very least "tempted" by their letters - I'm sure that is a success in their book.
5. YOU are not spamming anyone. You have a client for Company X that has paid you to write a letter similar to what they are sending to you but urging them to buy Company X's product. Company X is sending their emails to people who have given them their email address for "more information". Office Max, Snapfish, Amazon, Ancestry, etc. all do the same thing. Their flagship course teaches you the basics of "persuasive" writing. You don't want to write sales copy, fine, don't, it's your Company that you are building, choose clients who want research done (white papers), build web landing pages, ect. Find clients who want what you want write.

I'm not a sales person and I don't like pushy sales people either, so obviously, persuasive writing is not my bag. I am considering this to further my current business AND if it seems to work, possibly make a smidgen on the side by offering to do for others what I am doing for myself. I am looking at their social media course. It is expensive (but cheaper than college)- $500 - they say it takes about three months to complete. Can I learn what I need to know from scouring the web? Possibly. But I don't really have the time to read/search/review all the facets of managing and effectively monitoring my social media presence.

I am a critic by nature. Hence why I haven't whipped out my credit card. But honestly, I'm waiting for their offer of "test driving" this program for 30 days for $29! I see that for all of their programs. It's like real life - I'm waiting for it to go on sale. They always seem to offer a money back guarantee, so I'll have 30 days to view the entire course and see if I feel like I will learn anything new.

Okay, this is quite long enough - and "if you've read this far" maybe I don't need their "Accelerated..." flagship course, lol. If you saved any of their emails, reread them. They didn't make outrageous promises. They simply painted a picture of a life we all dream of and are offering you (for a fee) one way of obtaining it. I don't see it as a "get-rich-quick" scheme. Yea, maybe at $300-$500 a pop for their courses it seems like they are the ones getting rich, but with that being said, it appears that they have a pretty solid support system to help you critique your copy, pat you on the back, encourage you when it seems you can't get ahead - a lot of this from their user forums - but they state they do have phone support to answer questions.

In conclusion, I am neither for nor against AWAI. As with anything in life, there is no guarantee. With AWAI - you do have to work and if you follow their guidelines, it is "possible" to make six figures in as little as a year. But YOU HAVE TO WORK. YOU ARE BUILDING A BUSINESS. I learned all of this from AWAI's marketing emails that they sent to me (that I signed up for by supplying my email).

Jennifer Lancaster said...

Reading with interest. I found AWAI courses overly priced and hyped about five years ago, as they still seem to be. If starting out, you might see great value in our Australian copywriter school by Bernadette Schwerdt (including the freelance business part) at $797, AU, so why would you want to get a flimsy up-selling course just to be certified by this institute. Bob Bly's ebooks will also teach you more meat and potatoes than the $49 offering, I have no doubt as I purchased many of his $39 ebooks.

Unknown said...

Can nobody actually just tell a person where to apply to get a copywriting job? I can write, and write very well. Where do I apply? That’s all I need to know!

Anonymous said...

I know posting as Anonymous makes my comment appear dubious, but here goes:

I have been, in the past--changed careers, kind of--a research editor, a copy editor, and a project manager at nationally circulated magazines. Typos in this comment notwithstanding (I'm a tad more chill on the 'Net), copy editing is actually very easy to learn. One extremely good book on the subject + The Chicago Manual of Style + Merriam-Webster's Tenth Edition will give you the copy editing education you need.

Example: If you have a hyphenated word in a headline, do you capitalize the second part of the word? So, Fund-raiser or Fund-Raiser? Ding-dong Went the Doorbell? Or Ding-Dong? When we faced this question at our magazine, we consulted The Chicago Manual of Style. It told us (I'm paraphrasing GROSSLY) that if the second word is as important and/or could stand alone as its own word, capitalize it.


Really good practice guides and other reference materials can teach you copy editing. Reading can teach you a whole lot more. It seems to me that the craft of writing for a living means writing a lot, getting your stuff out there, accepting and learning from rejection, diversifying, learning what you can from online sources such as this one and others, and rolling the dice. And reading. A lot.

By the way, did you know it's copy edit, as a transitive verb, but copyedit as a noun? You don't need a course for that. You can easily find that information in a really good manual/guide/dictionary.

Final tip: Look up words you use before you use them. Before I posted this, I checked to be sure "diversifying" hadn't been so watered down by use in the investment world that it lost its other meanings. I'm safe. (I also reworked my use of "dubious" in the first line.) Being thorough is most of the job. For example, I can't tell you how often I see "mortified" used the wrong way. It's not a synonym for "horrified". It's a synonym for "embarrassed". A little effort to check, for sure, what a word means will get you a long way. And I think one good book on copy editing can teach you that.

(Oh, and fund-raising and fund-raiser are ALWAYS hyphenated. When the hyphen is missing, the person didn't look it up. Jusayin'.)

Happy writing! And reading!

Lou said...

Do some library research. That cuts out all the online spam and fluff.

Design by The Blog Decorator