How are you? How’s your day?
Today I’d like to answer a question that I get a lot. This is “how do I learn to be a copywriter” or “how do I learn to write as persuasive as you do?”.
As you may or may not know, I’m also a copywriting coach. I haven’t had that many students but I’ve served a few in one on one coaching, long term. My job was to help them become top copywriters in a short period, either for writing copy for their own products or to do this as freelancers.
The truth is that I don’t have a system or method that works with every person. If anything, each person’s situation is very unique and what works for me will definitely not work for you.
Because copywriting is not so much about writing as it is about understanding human nature. Some people are really good in dealing with others while others are not. Some may have worked as sales people and kicked ass there while others may be very shy and timid.
Some people tend to be very direct and straightforward, straight shooters while others are afraid to even ask for the sale. Knowing all this, I can say that each one of my copywriting students took a very different path from A to B.
So is this the end of the article? No. While it is hard to say exactly what will work for you, it’s not hard to give you some tips and advice on how to improve this area of your business in general. These tips can be used for other forms of mastery too.
Tip #1 – Read, read, read. Readers are leaders and the more you learn, the more you earn. Leaving the cliches aside, copywriting is actually about reading. This is because in order to write in a very conversational manner, you need to change probably everything you know about writing.
What’s being taught to you in high-school about writing doesn’t really apply to sales writing. You need to write in short sentences, talk directly to a single person, keep your language simple and focus on creating a dialogue.
Good books do all of this. A book like The Martian by Andy Weir is a page turner because he talks about a fascinating topic but also because he writes in a way that is very easy to gain momentum. This is why I’ve finished the entire book in just two days.
Tip #2 – Study the masters. Generally, whatever you want to achieve in this life, there has been someone before who achieved it and most likely wrote a book about this. This is very true about copywriting too.
There are many copywriting masters ranging from 50 years ago to the new gurus of Internet Marketing. You can study Claude Hopkins, you can study John Carlton, you can study Dan Kennedy or you can study some new hotshot copywriting guru that nobody heard about two years ago.
Personally I like the older personalities of copywriting simply because they have a very interesting way of presenting their information but I’m also studying 3X by Jon Benson and I really like most of the things Eben Pagan has to say about online marketing and copywriting.
Tip #3 – Write copy by hand. This is similar to the habit of reading. When you write by hand, you form mental patterns of how copy should look like. You program yourself. You learn to write like the masters by teaching your subconscious mind how they write, through repetition.
This is not true only of copywriters but of writers in general. A rite of passage for any writer is to take a great work, something they’ve always admired and write it word by word until the very end. Some say that they want to feel the same way as the author when the work was first done while others simply want to understand the patterns. In any case, it works.
Tip #4 – Write a lot of copy. If you do nothing else but this single thing, you’re still going to become a great copywriter. If you spend one or two hours a day writing copy, for spec projects, for your projects, for products that don’t exist, for free, for pay, for whatever you want (as long as you read), you’re going to improve.
It is impossible not to improve plus you’ll get in about two months the same portfolio a writer generally gets in two years. At the minimum you should be writing a sales letter per week and early in my career, I was a machine for creating copy. Most of it wasn’t brilliant but the sheer number of versions I was getting out assured me that I was getting ahead. I should probably take my own advice and start doing this again, as between entrepreneurship and marketing consultancy, I’m writing a suprisingly small amount of copy.
Tip #5 – Get a coach. Just so you understand, a coach will not teach you how to write copy, at least not directly. You are better off simply reading good books on the topic. A coach is there to give you real time feedback. This means reading your copy and telling you what you’ve done right, what you’ve done wrong and what you can do better.
I’ve used a coach and most people I know have used one at some point in this. While you still need to do most of the hard work, having the luxury of having someone correct you and keep you of course, in copywriting and in any other field will long definitely a long way. Finally, having someone to keep you accountable is important in order to stay consistent with what you’re trying to do.
Tip #6 – Don’t expect results. This may sound as a weird thing to say but let me explain. Copywriting and marketing are one of those things in which one day, you’ll wake up in a completely new different world, getting amazing results for your efforts.
You can’t make the jump from 0% to 50% but rather, with each effort, you’re growing 0.5% and while the change is not noticeable from day to day or week to week, it compounds into something amazing over a longer period of time. Again, this can be said of any type of skill development but it is particularly true in copywriting. Now you suck at this and you can barely write a very poor sales letter. Six months later, after 180 days of practice, you wake up surrounded by the fact that you’re better than most people and that your skills is quite amazing.
This is how I’ve grew both as a copywriter and as a person. This is how I’m still growing. I can’t really tell you how better my life is today compared to yesterday, but I can guarantee you there is going to be a significant difference a week from now and a major difference a month from now. So just focus on what needs to be done and don’t obsess over the results.
Tip #7 – Take a look at what others are doing. I like reading sales letter, watching video sales letter, analyzing advertorials and so on. While it is hard to actually know which one is good and which one is not, generally, if the materials come from Boardroom or any other major publisher or if it is the number one product on ClickBank, then you have a lot to learn.
My favorite MO is to sit down and take notes while I’m watching a VSL. Sometimes you can get a brilliant idea from a competitor that you can use minutes later in your own marketing.
Tip #8 – Test. You can’t really know if your copy is working or not unless you test it. If you’re a freelancer, this means that it is the job of your client to test it. Unfortunately, this rarely happens for reasons that are outside of your control and you’ll be disappointed to not even know if your copy is good or not in at least 50%. However, the other 50% is free testing so stay in the loop and understand how it works.
If you’re doing this for yourself, then simply drive traffic to it. I know that traffic costs money but the purpose of copywriting is not to have a sales letter on your site but to transform traffic into sales. Your sales letter won’t help you much if it just sits there and is not seen by anyone.
Two #9 – Be good with yourself. Any progress you make is good progress. Nobody is expecting you to be like John Carlton after 20 hours invested in copywriting. If you get 10% right and 90% wrong, then focus on what you’ve done right.
Perfectionism kills more campaigns than any other cause combined. This is because people have unrealistic expectations of themselves and they actively discourage themselves, leading to procrastination, giving up and eventually, failure. Focus on what is right, focus on what you’ve learned. As far as you’re concerned, any action that you take in the right direction like reading a book, studying a copywriting manual, writing a sales letter, anything you do is good and it helps you.
You are a winner in every step you’re taking, no matter if it is all good or only a bit good. This is because I believe that success is built on success and being self-critical or putting yourself down has no value whatsoever. It is better to get flawed copy into the world than have perfect copy hidden in your mind.
Tip #10 – Have fun doing it. I’m not a “no pain, no gain person”. I actually believe that pain will lead to mental associations that whatever you’re doing is painful and this will lead to automatic procrastination. I believe that willpower is very limited and that if you do something that you don’t want to do, eventually you’ll give up.
I know because I have an extensive track record of giving up on things that are good for me.
Yes, copywriting is a serious thing. Yes, it can change your business. Yes, it can even change your life. However, you’re not doing brain surgery. You can make as many mistakes as you want and each one of them will act as progress and feedback.
It is impossible to fail in copywriting. It is impossible to fail in this field of online marketing in general. This is because if you do something and you don’t get the results you desire, you can tweak or try a different approach. There are no real consequences to any form of failure. The only thing that can sting is you feeling like you’ve failed but if you’re having fun, if you’re actually enjoying every moment you’re putting into this, sky is the limit.
I’ve done this mistake of taking everything way too seriously most of my life. I’ve acted as a drill sarge around my clients and coaching students. I’ve tried to create mental toughness through discipline and determination. Eventually, I’ve realized that I’ve grew to hate copywriting because of how I’m treating myself and how I’m treating others.
I write copy. I hope it sells. I certainly do. But if it doesn’t sell, this means nothing. It just means I can try again or try a different approach. I’m satisfied with a major victory of it selling or a minor victory of putting something out there and seeing how it works. No matter what, any form of action that I take towards my goal is a victory. It is impossible for me to fail because the only failure that I can define is giving up and I’m not a quitter.
Neither should you.
PS: Are you interested in learning more about how to write copy? Drop me an email at email@example.com and let’s start a conversation.