A Success Story – Bob Bly, Copywriter

Always love it when a former engineer does well! And Bob Bly, a chemical engineer by training, has done very well as a marketing consultant who specializes in copywriting and related services.

Bob also shares his knowledge and ideas through a free e-mail newsletter, which I have received for several years. He has written 80 books, and sells numerous educational packages through his newsletter and web site (www.bly.com).

Like so many of us, Bob did not originally plan on becoming a consultant. But his love of writing soon caught up with him. Although a degreed ChemE, his first employer hired him as a technical writer. He then moved into technical marketing, and the rest, as the old saying goes, is history.

Bob combines the analytical mind of an engineer with the creative mind of a writer. How is that for a niche? He is also an astute business person, and at 56 is financially secure. But he still works 12 hour days, which he describes a pure fun.

Here are Bob’s responses to my Success Story questionnaire. Very succint!

(1) What prompted you to consider consulting (running your own business?) Was there an event, like a layoff, or was it just the itch to be on your own?

My boss asked me to move from NYC to Wichita Kansas in 1981 and my fiancee would not go. So I quit my job.

(2) How has it been going? Looks like you’ve been at it a while, so obviously you are established in your business.

Full time freelance copywriter since February 1982.

(3) What do you like MOST about consulting (your own business?)

Writing copy for my clients– copywriting is what I love to do.

(4) What do you like LEAST about consulting (your won business?

Advising clients who know less than me, are not successful, and need help, but then when I advise them, argue with me.

(5) How do you get your clients? (BTW, the number one question I get asked when someone finds out I’m a consultant.)

I have been around so long people know who I am and where to find me — I get more inquiries than I can handle every week of the year.

(6) How do you set your fees? (Second question I get asked.)

My fee schedule is attached. (Note – Please contact Bob directly for his rate sheet at rwbly@bly.com.)

(7) How did you decide what to consult about (or focus on?) And why? (Third question I get asked.)

I am a copywriter and do that because when I had staff positions, that was the only part of the job I enjoyed.

(8) Lessons learned since you started consulting?

Most clients won’t take most of your advice most of the time.

(9) What next? Do you plan to do this the rest of your career (like I did?) Or is this a stepping stone to other things?

I plan to do this until I no longer can.

(10) Finally, what one piece of advice would you give to our fellow engineers who might be thinking about consulting (or going out on their own?)

There is a lot of competition today. What will set you apart from the rest of the pack? If you don’t know, then don’t do it.

Thank you, Bob, for sharing your story! Although I’ve not personally met Bob, we’ve exchanged e-mails, and I’ve found him to be a very gracious person.

PS – Just purchased Bob’s latest Kindle book (Don’t Wear a Cowboy Hat Unless You Are a Cowboy –  And Other Grumblings From a Cranky Curmudgeon). Could not put it down… 75 of his favorite pearls of wisdom. Humorous yet blunt… Bob is another Andy Rooney!

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