I was sacked from my first job as a direct mail salesman because I was freelancing as a direct mail copywriter at the same time. I’d had no training, but I had seen what a load of tosh customers were putting in the direct mail envelopes I’d most expensively sold them and knew that, unless they got a bundle of replies, I wouldn’t be getting a repeat order.

So I became a writer. And after being sacked, a full-time one. I’ve had some great lessons along the way from other direct marketing experts and the mistakes I’ve made – because you actually learn more from your failures than you do from your successes. I’ll write about these another day.

But there’s no money to be made from direct marketing copywriting for letters and ads any more. Anyone with a word processor thinks they can write. But they don’t know how to sneak up on some unsuspecting soul, put a hand in their wallet and grab a fistful of fivers in exchange for an insurance policy, a case of wine, a correspondence course, or any other of the innumerable things I’ve managed to flog over the years.

Fortunately, I can now use these skills on websites and that’s loads more fun. One reason for this is that I can write something and see in a day or so how effective, or not, my efforts have been. In the old days of print this knowledge would have taken weeks, or even months, too acquire.

So the older I get, the faster I learn!