The Big Ideas Retreat™

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this over the past three years: “I should be making more money by now…”

Frustrated with average clients and modest income? Is the traditional copywriting model not panning out yet? Ready for a fresh new way to build a solid, sustainable, wildly profitable business? Guaranteed?

Then I invite you to join me and a dozen other copywriters for the 13th Big Ideas Retreat™, and the fifth one I’ve done.

Vermont: October 14-17, 2018

A refreshing, three-day immersion retreat to revitalize your business and turn your copywriting skills into a wildly profitable venture.

October 14-17, 2018
The Strong House Inn
Vergennes, Vermont

Is this your year to finally make the money you deserve? Have you had enough of cookie-cutter formulas and marketing systems that haven’t delivered?

Let me show you a different way.

What is the Big Ideas Retreat™?

The Big Ideas Retreat™ is not for everyone, that’s for sure. I’m not promoting a system that 500 people are all going to purchase and implement at the same time.

That would create even more competition than you already have. You’d also look suspiciously similar to a lot of other middle-of-the-road copywriters.

I want more than that for you. Much more. And I’m guessing you do, too.

I designed the Big Ideas Retreat™ to be an intimate, intense gathering of a dozen or so sharp, intermediate-level copywriters who are trying to figure out how to best position themselves in this vast, Wild West business of copywriting.

This isn’t a copywriting workshop per se.

It’s really more about personal branding, identifying and leveraging big ideas, developing systems to scale your business, and getting honest and constructive feedback on your plans.

Before I get into details, here’s my Big Promise:

I promise you will get at least a 10-25x return on your investment from the ideas, systems, and methods learned at the Big Ideas Retreat™ within 12 months of the retreat, guaranteed, or your money back.

How can I make a promise like that? Because I’ve seen what my past retreats have done for copywriters like you…

Kathleen Cleary came to Vermont last fall and said:

“Steve has a genius for seeing the possibilities and a genuine interest in helping others see them for themselves. This retreat is small, so every attendee has a chance to really talk about their ideas, plans, and struggles and get feedback. You actually leave with concrete action plans for yourself.”

Shawn Maus was at the inaugural retreat in Chicago two years ago:

“I am forever grateful for this experience. You don’t need the ‘big box’ conferences to help you. You NEED this kind of small retreat to jump-start, rekindle, clarify, improve, and invest in your writing dreams and career.”

Leanne Rumsey, owner of, attended the Santa Fe retreat. She wrote to me shortly afterward and said:

“The experience with this small group was nothing short of a high-level mastermind or brainstorming event that other people would have paid tens of thousands of dollars to participate in and attend.”

Don’t worry, I’m not taking Leanne’s pricing suggestion (yet). This year’s retreats will be affordable for almost everyone. More on that in a minute…

What will I get for my money?

As your host and leader of the retreat, I’m going to help you:

  • Distinguish yourself in the marketplace so you can command higher fees with better clients.
  • Get ahead of the curve. You’ll leave the Ultimate Writing Retreat™ miles ahead of copywriters who wait for a one-size-fits-all program to tell them how to do something.
  • Customize a method that fits your style, personality, and experience.
  • Add passive income streams from ebooks, programs, webinars, and live events (two of my Vermont attendees from last fall are now hosting their own events).
  • Develop “automatic customers,” the subscription model I’m incorporating into my own business.
  • Create your own Personal Brand, positioning you even further above peers in the industry who may have the same or higher level of copywriting skills.
  • Scale your business for much bigger income than the freelancer-for-hire six-figure model (something I’m working on myself right now with a side business).

Before we see if we’re a good match for each other, let me tell you a bit more…

What makes this retreat different?

The Big Ideas Retreat™ is:

  • A cozy, intimate retreat, custom-tailored, with one-on-one and small group time, time to contemplate, write, and plan, with like-minded, big-thinkers.
  • A fun, quick implementation, action-oriented retreat. Time to plan. Time to process. Time to get feedback, good, constructive feedback on your ideas, from me and all the attendees.
  • At a beautiful inn with breathtaking views, far away from distractions, where you’ll have time to immerse yourself in business-building ideas.

The Big Ideas Retreat™ is NOT a:

  • One-size-fits-all, “here’s your plan,” talking-at-you event.
  • Sit-in-your-seat, scribbling notes like crazy while you listen to some “guru” speaker up on stage.
  • Quick, one-day, in-and-out jam, which won’t even give you enough time to create your own brilliant business plan.
  • Sterile, non-descript airport hotel event, where you’re boxed in all day.

Not at all!

In fact, if you’ve never been to an exclusive business-building, small group retreat before, you’re in for a real treat.

Unlike big conferences that often run anywhere from $1,995 to $2,995, or “guru” events that can cost double that (and still not give you individual attention), the Big Ideas Retreat™ is the best event investment available. Period.

It’s less than the cost of most big conferences, and I guarantee that you’ll get a return of 10-25x your retreat investment within 12 months, guaranteed, or your money back!

Big Ideas Retreat

In addition to everything I mentioned above, you’re also going to get:

  • Small-group brainstorming sessions focused on you and your business
  • One-on-one consultation time with me
  • A client acquisition system tailored to your situation
  • Strategies to grow and leverage your email list
  • The expanded Five-Speed Business Accelerator funnel (introduced last fall in Vermont).

Come to Vergennes, Vermont, October 14-17, 2018 with an open mind, a strong desire to succeed, and a willingness to work hard, and you’ll leave with:

  • Specific ideas to build your unique Personal Brand
  • A 12-month marketing calendar so you can focus on growing your income
  • A framed-out business plan

This is an intense, jam-packed business retreat where you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the whole process of building a business that works for you. But unlike big events where you’re shuffled from one session to the next, you’re actually going to have time to soak in the experience. You’ll have time to think, plan, contemplate, and write out your plans to create a wildly profitable venture. And you’ll do it with the help of your fellow retreat attendees and me.

Janice Schultze said:

“This was probably one of the most, if not the most, supportive, insightful, and creative work groups I’ve had the privilege of participating in. Steve is one of the best copywriting and marketing teachers and coaches I’ve ever worked with.”

Andrea Williams added:

“We had some fabulous brainstorming sessions. Steve’s content was solid (with some new information to me regarding sales and positioning), and bouncing ideas and fleshing out concepts, and having Steve be a co-creator in that, was powerful.”

Again, this isn’t a lecture-style, drink-from-the-fire hose type of event.

It’s an interactive, idea-generating, action-oriented retreat that will cut months or years off building your business, and quickly grow your income when you return home.

Ed Estlow said this after the first retreat in Chicago two years ago:

“What I got was some ideas, some support, and some camaraderie, and yes, some friendship…and on the third day, a metaphorical shot to the head. In two sentences, Steve both took me to task for what I was doing, copywriting-wise, and blindingly clarified what I was supposed to be doing.

It was suddenly clear to me what kind of writing I was supposed to be doing, what kind of clients I needed to go after.

But more importantly, I knew INSTANTLY what and who I was NOT supposed to be pursuing.

THAT’S what the Ultimate Writing Retreat™ can do for you.”

Ed came back for a second shot in Wisconsin last year, and a third time in 2016 (and I’ll report soon on his progress). From what I’ve seen, he’s on the brink of leveraging his current work into a high six-figure business. I plan to help him, and you, do exactly that.

Your retreat group will also be the first to get the next edition of the Big Ideas Retreat™ Guide to Building a Wildly Profitable Venture, your retreat guidebook that you’ll be able to refer back to again and again.

You’ll also get a signed copy of The Freelancer Manifesto: 11 Big Ideas to Stand Out and Thrive in the New Economy (along with a bunch of other new materials I’ll have by then).

It’s all designed to deliver a 10-25x return on your retreat investment.

So, you might be thinking, “I like the sounds of it. But I’m not sure if I’m at the right place in my business to do this now.” You might not be. Since I’d rather have both of us be sure, let me tell you first…

Who the Big Ideas Retreat™ is NOT For...

This retreat is not for people who aren’t thinking big.

Not for employees of companies (unless you also have plans to build your own business, like one woman who came to my VT retreat last year).

Not for people who are looking to get a guru’s autograph (this is a no-guru zone!). We do take a lot of pictures, though.

Not for people who are looking for super short cuts or big-time “hacking” your way to success. These are real, solid ideas that are working for me and others.

Not for complainers, whiners, or people who’ve given up on things.

Probably not for copywriters whose only aspiration is to write for one or two “dream clients” – that’s not really building a business.

Not for copywriters who want to be a “copy cub” (I really dislike that term, by the way) for an A-level copywriter, and someday, maybe 5-10 years down the road, achieve A-level status themselves.

Not for copywriters who are looking for old-timer, guru secrets of copywriting. That’s not what we’re doing here.

“I’m still listening, Steve. Is this for me?”

First of all, I’m looking for people who will fit in well with the others already on board.

See if any of these fit your situation:

Are you fun, hungry (ambitious hungry), and upbeat?

Do you…

  • Have a serious desire to build a wildly profitable business using your big ideas and copywriting skills?
  • Have decent skills but not clear on the ideas yet?
  • Want something different than the big event with 250-300 people packed in a hotel ballroom?
  • Want more than a one-day quick-slam event where you get piled up with a bunch of stuff that takes you months to process?
  • Desire to build your own business instead of someone else’s?
  • Like the idea of developing a strong Personal Brand?

If you can check at least half of those, I can help. Come to Vergennes, Vermont, October 14-17, 2018, for a business-building, life-changing event unlike any other.

Big Ideas Retreat

Why Vermont?

Why not!? It’s probably one of the most beautiful places in the country in early autumn.

I’ve been there five times at this time of year, and I want you to experience it, too! I know, I know, everyone calls their neck of the woods “God’s Country.” If you’ve never been to Vermont in early October, you’ll believe me when you see it. These pictures don’t do it justice.

It’s off the beaten path on purpose. Making it not easy to get to is half the experience. You won’t forget this retreat, I promise. Now, even though it’s absolutely beautiful and I encourage you to stay an extra day or two if you can, there aren’t all kinds of tourist sites around. The natural beauty is the tourist destination! In other words, there aren’t any distractions. You’ll be able to focus in a quiet, serene, gorgeous setting. We’ll be staying at The Strong House Inn, a beautiful old bed and breakfast inn.


The Big Ideas Retreat™ is an experience. An immersion experience.

For three days (Sunday evening, all day Monday and Tuesday, and half a day on Wednesday) you will be completely immersed in revitalizing your business and turning your copywriting skills into a wildly profitable venture.

You can bring your laptop, of course, and we’ll have Wi-Fi at the resort. I’d recommend you keep Facebook and email time to a minimum, however. And consider telling family, friends, and clients that you’re unavailable.

The experience of a retreat like this, sometimes more than the information itself, is what will transform you.

As Sue Laird said last year after the Vermont retreat:

“Bring your dreams, a pen, an idea book, and your calendar. You are going to launch a meaningful and productive year!”

And Gary Wright, another Santa Fe attendee, said:

“The small size makes it easier to share our stories and create a bond that would be hard to replicate in a larger group. Steve’s relaxed style and willingness to give is evident through the whole retreat experience. I would definitely recommend the Ultimate Writing Retreat to those who are serious about improving their business.”

If you get just one good idea that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own, the retreat is worthwhile (IF you implement the idea).

I promise you’ll get at least one good idea that will give you at least a 10-25x return on your investment. And if big crowds don’t energize you but actually drain you, you’ll find the Big Ideas Retreat™ to be a totally different experience and vibe.

Time is Money

Are you where you thought you’d be at this point? I got off to a fast start when I started full-time copywriting in March of 2009, but I could have grown a lot faster.

If I would have had the right mentor, coach, or small group to help me sort it all out, I could have shaved a couple years off my learning curve. I also would have put tens of thousands of dollars more in my bank account. That’s why I created the Big Ideas Retreat™ two years ago, and that’s why I’m continuing with this year’s newly revised version. (I used to call it the Ultimate Writing Retreat, by the way.)

Let me ask you. Do you expect a return on your business expenditures? I do. I scrutinize every dime I spend on my business, and you should, too. Look at your business deductions from last year. How many of them were plain old expenses, and how many would you consider an “investment”?

How can you tell?

  • Did the expense give you a positive return?
  • Would you have made that extra money without spending the money?
  • Could you have gotten the benefit some other, less expensive way?
  • Did it shave time off your learning curve?

That last question is key. Time is money.

If we’re spinning our wheels for a year or two when we could have been making serious money, that’s a lost opportunity cost. So if something can help you get where you want to go quicker, and help you start making more money sooner, is that a worthwhile investment?

Let’s do the Math

From 2007 to 2013, I attended two different types of copywriting events (besides my own retreats, of course, which started in June of 2013). One was a large copywriting retreat I attended every fall. I learned a lot from A-level copywriters, and it helped me become a better copywriter. Another was a much smaller event of around 50 people. Also worthwhile, and I learned some higher-level copywriting skills.

My cost for the first event was right at $3,000 ($1,795 for the conference, $600 in hotel costs, $300 for airfare, and $300 for additional expenses). The second, smaller event cost me $3,700 ($2,500 for the conference, $600 in hotel costs, $300 for airfare, and $300 for additional expenses). Both of those were great events. They helped me become a better copywriter, but there was no one-on-one time with any of the speakers, and no small group time. None of it was focused on helping me build my business.

So I looked for more individualized attention. A speaker at one of these conferences was offering one-on-one coaching at the time.

“Now that’s what I need!” I thought.

It was, but at $1,750 for four one-hour phone calls, I decided against it. I also decided against a $1,000 a month group coaching program.

Compare that to what you get at the Big Ideas Retreat™:

  • Personalized attention on you and your business for three days
  • Customized solutions that fit you
  • Creative new ideas generated from small group and one-on-one brainstorming sessions
  • Answers to your specific questions and challenges
  • A plan of action that you’ll be able to implement the moment you return home to start generating more money

Mary Rose Maguire, who came to my Vermont retreat last year, said:

“To be honest, I’d rather keep Steve’s retreats to myself and not have any other writers discover them. Because attending one will give you an advantage over your competition!

However, I also can’t help letting others know that this is not only a solid retreat, but a genuine nugget of gold amidst a pile of ‘Fool’s Gold.’

You know what I mean… lots of ‘shiny object’ programs out there. A handful are excellent, a dozen more are good, but the majority are a waste of your hard-earned money. The Ultimate Writing Retreat definitely falls in the ‘excellent’ category.”

Mary Rose told me about a month afterward that she had attracted better-paying clients since attending, and was booked solid. Then a month after that she took a high-paying, remote position with a direct response company based in Idaho.

Anton Volney also attended my Vermont retreat last fall, and said:

“Happy story! I just landed a full-time Senior Copywriting position with Ramit Sethi at This puts me on track to AT LEAST double my income this year.

“As far as I’m concerned, the breadcrumb trail that led me to this position started with the Ultimate Writing Retreat for months ago. I’m very happy about my decision to meet Steve in Vermont.”

Like I said above, time is money. If I can help you shave two to three years off your learning and business-building curve, what would that be worth to you? $10,000? $20,000?

Land some clients like Mary Rose and Anton did, and it’s probably more like $50,000 to $100,000. Then compare the Big Ideas Retreat™ to conferences where you could easily spend $3,500 to $5,000 for three days.

I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Big Ideas Retreat

What you’ll get when you come to the Big Ideas Retreat™

  1. Small-group brainstorming sessions focused on you and your business.
  2. One-on-one consultation time with me.
  3. A client acquisition system tailored to your situation.
  4. Strategies to grow and leverage your email list.
  5. The expanded Five-Speed Business Accelerator funnel.
  6. A lead generating tool that doesn’t cost a dime, doesn’t require any specialized knowledge, and yet almost no one is using.
  7. A simple way to research exactly what your competition is doing (and then beat them at it).
  8. Specific ideas to build your Personal Brand.
  9. A 12-month marketing calendar so you can focus on growing your income.
  10. A fun bonus session, “What’s Your Spiel?”, styled after Shark Tank.
  11. Personalized attention on you and your business for three days.
  12. Customized solutions that fit you.
  13. Creative new ideas generated from “hot seat” sessions.
  14. Answers to your specific questions and challenges.
  15. A plan of action that you’ll be able to implement the moment you return home to start generating more money quickly.
  16. The all new Big Ideas Retreat™ Guide to Building a Wildly Profitable Venture, your retreat guidebook that you’ll be able to refer back to again and again.
  17. First night (Sunday night) Welcome Reception at the Strong House Inn.
  18. Monday lunch and Tuesday dinner (covered by Steve). Breakfast is included with the price of your room (which is separate from the retreat cost, see below).
  19. Constructive feedback from me and your fellow attendees.
  20. Ideas that I’m testing and using.
  21. Business ideas you’re not hearing anywhere else.
  22. Time to process all of this and put it into writing and an action plan.
  23. Incredible views and a picturesque setting that will stick in your head.
  24. Fun, camaraderie, and some people who may very well become friends for life.
  25. My personal 365-day, “put it to the test” guarantee:

I guarantee that you’ll get a return of 10-25x your retreat investment within 12 months, guaranteed, or your money back!

Robbin Crandall said,

“The book you put together is fabulous! I finally got a chance tonight to scan every page. This is a workbook for the future and to takes us further after we return home…I believe it’s more valuable than (other conferences’) take-home materials. Thank you for putting so much care, effort, and inspiration into it!”

The Strong House Inn

The Big Ideas Retreat™ will take place right at the Strong House Inn. Go to for information.

Now, here’s the important part. Go to the website to look at the rooms, but you’ll have to call them at 802-877-3337 to get the room you want. Tell Mary, the innkeeper, that you’re with my group.

Please do so immediately after registering for the Big Ideas Retreat™!

Here’s why. This is their busiest time of the year, and I’ve reserved the entire place. All the rooms are great, but last year the early registering attendees got their first pick.

So, make sure you secure your room as soon as possible. Once you do, I’ll schedule a time for us to chat, and I’ll send you the retreat agenda then.

Last thing. As I said earlier, this isn’t for everyone. That’s actually a good thing, because if you do attend the retreat, implement the ideas, and follow through, you’ll stand out even more. Your competition won’t be doing these things.

Since I have limited space at the retreat and have to commit ahead of time to a certain number, there won’t be any refunds for cancellations. You could apply it to a future retreat, of course. Please make sure this is the right thing for you.

After you’ve secured your spot, I’ll send you a pre-retreat questionnaire, and we’ll set up a time to talk so I can understand your situation better.

If Not Now, When?

I don’t know your situation, but I do know this. Wherever you are in your business, and however much money you’ve made over the past 12 months, it won’t change significantly over the next 12 months unless you make a dramatic shift in your thinking, plans, strategy, and implementation.

Whether it’s the Big Ideas Retreat™ or some other retreat or coaching, I suggest you do something besides trying to go it alone.

I’m biased, of course, but I think this is not only the best three-day business-building workshop or conference you can find anywhere, but quite possibly a life-changing event, too.

Alan Steacy summarized it nicely:

“I would certainly recommend others leap at the chance to attend the Ultimate Writing Retreat for several reasons.

First, Steve definitely over-delivers. The personal attention and encouragement he managed to give each of us over three days was remarkable and greatly appreciated.

Second, the retreat goes way beyond becoming a better copywriter. It was about discovering your personal brand, how to think about your business differently, why it’s so important to become an idea generator, and so many more strategies critical to succeeding as a ‘creative independent.’”

Eight spots are already taken for 2018 and chances are the remaining six spots will go fast.

I hope you’ll join us,


Big Ideas Retreat