How I’ve Stopped Worrying About Results And Started Loving Copywriting

Howdy,

In the past, as a direct response copywriter I used to worry almost every day.

  • What if my client does not like my work?
  • What if it bombs?
  • What if I’ve missed some errors there?
  • What if I could have done a better job?
  • What if I don’t get paid?

For this reason, I have grey hair. I’m 27.

For all intents and purposes, my intentions were good. I expected a lot from me. I have an A type personality and I’m not patient with other people’s mistake … especially mine.

However, eventually I’ve discovered that worrying about the results that your work produces is the most useless and soul destroying activity you can engage in. Why?

Think about it for a second. I post this. Can I force you to read it? To like it? To comment on it? No. I don’t control this. This is not Orwell’s 1984. I don’t have a mind controlling device. All I can do is do my best. Is to write, post and see what happens.

And so is with most copywriting projects.

You don’t get to control the results. Copywriting is a game of probabilities. You get to employ as many tools as you can in that moment to boost the chance of something working but you can’t force it to work.

The only thing you really have control on is the time you invest. You work harder, there’s a better chance it will work. That’s all. I can’t control my clients nor the marketplace. I can’t control trends. I can’t control the competition. Even trying to do so is futile.

The only thing I can control as a copywriter is how much effort I put in, how many hours I work. I can also control how much I study my craft and how much I refine my skills.

There are 100 factors that go into the success or failure of a promotion. There are only a few that you can touch in any way. So why should you worry about factors outside your control?

If you’re a copywriter and you’re afraid of the feedback you’re going to get, why worry? That person gives the feedback and that’s 100% independent of you. You can deliver the work and if the work is not suitable, you can invest more work to make it better.

If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re afraid that your project is not going to sell, why worry? You can test. That’s absolutely the only thing you can do. If it works, it works. If not, you try again.

Once I have finally understood this principle, my life became easy. I’ve understood that there are many strings being pulled around me and while I wish I could control them, I can not. I can only focus on what is within my own area of control and to some extent, area of influence.

I can’t determine what will be my next month’s income – but I have control over how many hours I invest. I can’t determine if I’ll be sick or healthy but I can determine how much I run in any given week. I can’t change if people buy or not, but I can definitely improve my skills by learning from the masters.

The field of copywriting can lead to neurosis with ease. This is because while programming, as an example, is more or less a science and you know there is a best way to make something happen, as a copywriter you don’t. There are many moving pieces.

Ignore them. If you focus on them, you won’t change anything. Ignore them and put that time and energy into working harder and into working smarter. One gram of tangible effort is better than a ton of potential effort that you have no control over.

The game is the same for everyone. At the end of the day, no matter the external factors, your own effort and your own skill are going to create outcomes or not.

Thanks,
Razvan

Why It Pays To Be A Bad Boy When Selling Through Copywriting …

Howdy,

Imagine that you’re buying a weight loss product. Which one of these two benefits make more sense to you?

“You’ll receive a holistic solution that will balance your body so your body will automatically burn more calories”.

OR …

“I’m going to teach you a five minute technique that allows you lose weight even when you sleep, by burning calories 24 hours a day, seven days a week”.

The first example is what most copywriters would use. It sounds fancy, it makes the product owner say “yes, yes, that’s true, I like how this makes my product appear” and … it is completely useless.

It is an internal concept that makes no sense or has little relevance to the end customer. This is because when an overweight mom with two kids who is afraid of losing her husband because she’s not attracted to her anymore … but he’s attracted to his sexy assistant … wants to lose weight, she doesn’t care about that.

That’s what you care about. That’s what makes you special.

She just wants to take a pill and lose weight fast. She wants a practical solution, an approach that she can use to obtain the outcome she truly desires in the fastest, easiest and most convenient manner.

When I used to do copywriting coaching, my number one frustration was “sell what the customer wants, not what you want”. This was especially true when the copywriter was also the product creator. Since that person invested tens of hours into making the product happen, he wanted it to be sophisticated and to look high value.

The disconnect though is that you’re not buying the product. The client is. So when you frame a feature or a benefit or an offer or anything, you do it in terms of her self-interest. It doesn’t matter how sophisticated it is, it matters only if it clearly communicates that this product will help her lose weight fast, easy and cheap.

I sometimes do copywriting hot seats with clients and acquaintances. I ask something like …

“What does your product do?”

He answers …

“It is a complete solution that allows the customer to build a marketing machine which will generate leads at a low cost from PPC”.

I ask again …

“So what does it do practically?”

He answers …

“It employs the best practices of PPC to optimize Facebook ad costs …” … and so on.

It takes several minutes to actually get to the core benefit, which in the above case is “it cuts your PPC costs in half”.

There’s a short story to illustrate this point.

Once upon a time, a hot shot salesman rang a door. A small, elderly lady answered. He made his pitch and she invited him in.

He talked at length about the heater he was selling. He presented a huge list of features, explained the technology behind it, he quantified the savings that the elderly lady would receive and even explained the years of research that went into it.

After he finished his pitch, both sat silent for a while. The elderly lady finally opened her mouth and said …

“But will it keep an old women like me warm during the winter?”

So it is with any other type of product. Sell what the prospect wants, not what you want. Good copy rarely has to do with how much copy you write or how many persuasive tools you employ. Instead, it comes to congruency, to how close it actually speaks to the true desires of the prospect.

People take actions for their reasons, not ours. No matter if it is a sale or a date or a wedding proposal or a fight in a bar, the reason to take A vs. B is something that appeals deeply to them. People fall in love with us when we love them for what they wish to be loved, not what we find valuable. People are persuaded when we talk to their self-interest, not ours.

It seems as such a basic lesson but I assure you that most marketers don’t get it. I’ve seen freelance copywriters who charge $1000 – $2000 per copy who still don’t get this basic thing.

Then there’s another point … rationality or better said, the complete lack of it.

I admit it. My mind appears rational and very logical but it is a storm of emotions. There are fears, there are desires, there is lust and indifference, there is hate, there is passion, there are prejudices that I’d not admit to myself in 1000 years and I will certainly not admit them to you. So is the mind of your prospect. The true reasons why he does something have nothing to do with what he tells you. After all, how often are we really honest with our motivations?

We aren’t, there’s too much of a social stigma and negative feedback attached to it. We say what others expect us to say, what is neutral or rewarded. But deep down inside, we’re not that moral or fair or pure. Housewives want to cheat on their husbands. Husbands fantasize at night about their young and sexy administrative assistant. Business partners think about cutting corners and stealing money from the company’s account if only they would not get caught. There are many ugly emotions lurking in all of us and usually these, jealousy or hate or envy tend to push us towards a sale.

Let’s take the example of fitness. Someone who doesn’t understand human nature would think that most people exercise because they want to be healthy. This is what I think of myself and what is an universal recognized answer. However, why do we really exercise? To have sex mostly. We do it to be attractive to the opposite sex and to get attention. We don’t do it to get “high fives” from our gym buddies, nor for our doctor to say that we’ve improved. We’re doing it, generally, because we want to attract the opposite sex easier and this is the fastest method.

Of course, there are people who exercise for other reasons like a desire to set a record or for health reasons. I’m not generalizing. But the vast majority do it in the hope that they’ll sleep with more or higher quality people.

So when you’re asking a prospect about this, would he admit this? Not in a thousand years. Nobody wants to be so vain and superficial. It’s something we don’t admit even to ourselves, we rationalize. Yet, if you are a man and you exercise, you can admit to yourself that you’ve at least thought about this.

This means that this denial will not appear in the market research. It won’t appear in the beliefs or motivations of the avatar we’re selling to. So the amateur copywriter just sells to what people say they want – like playing with their kids when they’re 80. And that may be, I do want this and so you to but we rarely ignore the needs of the moment for something that will happen in a few decades.

On the other hand, we gladly ignore the needs of the moment for sexual gratification.

This means in return that when that copywriter writes the copy, it will sound good and make a lot of sense. It will have all the right reasons why the prospect SHOULD buy. It’s what it is responsible to do – to improve our health, to get our 10.000 steps daily, to improve our cardiovascular health, etc.

And your prospect, if this were your product would nod yes.

He’d say “yes, he’s right, I must do this”.

But he won’t buy. He won’t buy because while it makes sense rationally, it is not pulling him emotionally. It is not that urgent or that appealing to sacrifice time and money in order to pay for your product and here’s where most sales letter fail. It’s when they make sense and they should make the sale but they don’t.

It’s the nice guy syndrome.

A nice guy buys the girl flowers, take her to an expensive dinner, tells her that she’s beautiful x 1000. Yet, when the night ends, there’s no kiss and he’s not invited in.

The girl is SUPPOSED to like him and she’s even going to say to herself that he’s a great guy.

But she’s not going to take action.

The bad boy treats her like crap, doesn’t care about her, even abuses her emotionally. Yet, she wants him with all her being.

She knows that she’s SUPPOSED to stay away from him but can’t do that. Her emotions tell her otherwise.

If you want to improve as a copywriter, don’t be a good guy, predictable and politically correct, talking to surface needs that just hide what’s lurking inside. No. Sell to the core.

Sell to his desire to be respected by others and for his neighbor to be so jealous of his new Porsche 911. Sell to his desire to attract beautiful woman and to have gratifying experiences. Sell to his vanity – being envied by others and even hated by this. Sell to his nature, don’t sell to his social persona.

Be the bad boy. Nice guys in dating finish last and nice guys in copywriting don’t make sales.

Thanks,
Razvan

Here’s What It Really Takes To Succeed As A Copywriter …

Howdy,

I have a feeling that most glamorize the life of a copywriter or a marketing consultant. After all, how hard is it to sit at home, with a computer in front of you and write? You can do this in your underwear, you can take a break whenever you want, you can even sit with a can of beer in front of you and sip between writing headlines.

Well … it’s not really like that.

It takes a lot more effort, focus and generally, drive than you’d need in a position of employment. This is because while a boss will pay you no matter what, as a copywriter you eat what you hunt. Yes, you generally do a lot better and you have a lot more freedom in your lifestyle, but you are also required a lot more.

So if you’re considering becoming a sales copywriting, here are some rules, ideas and standards you need to keep yourself accountable to.

Rule #1 – If you’re working under 40 hours per week, that’s pure laziness.

Look, as a self employed person a lot can go wrong and a lot will. Clients won’t pay. You’ll find it hard to get work. Projects will fail. You’ll get sick. Your wife will leave you. You won’t have time to find a new one and so on.

Generally the odds are stacked against you. You can’t control the marketplace. You can’t control other people. There are few people over which you have complete control and that’s how much time you invest into this craft.

If you want to become world class, it is expected that you invest at least 60 hours per week working. That’s roughly 8.5 hours per day. In this time you’re supposed to write, do lead generation, study, create systems, build your marketing machine, etc. In other words, you’re supposed to wear many different hats and do the work of several people, at least in the beginning.

I feel that if you invest 60 hours per week for a long period of time, no matter how much you lack talent or you have circumstances against you, you’ll eventually succeed. You will grow in an accelerated rhythm and you’ll have a lot more coming in than those that take this as a part time gig.

Investing 60 hours is not easy but no matter what you do, if you are a writer or a copywriter or an entrepreneur, you can’t expect to have a 9 – 5 job. The minimum it is expected are 40 hours but don’t expect to be brilliant at this level. You really need to put in the time, at least 60 hours weekly to get world class as a copywriter.

That’s the “bad news”.

The good news is that almost nobody does this. Most copywriters I’ve met are messes when it comes to productivity. They hardly work 4 – 5 hours a day. They take weeks to complete projects that can be completed in 48 hours and they spend more time playing business than actually doing it.

So by doing this, you can get ahead in this field very fast. You don’t need to sacrifice everything to succeed here but it’s impossible to enter the top 20% of copywriters (six figure territory) unless you’re putting in the work. Some of the people that I know and are earning seven figures per year have invested up to 80 hours per week in the first years of their career.

Eventually, it adds up. You get a reputation for getting things done. You get done in one week what others do in two weeks or even four. Plus, the growth is not linear. Investing 60 hours compared to 40 hours doesn’t mean that you’ll get 50% more done. You’ll get 100% or even 150% done more as the effort compounds and your growth becomes cumulative as opposed to linear. It’s hard to explain unless you see it in practice but putting in those extra few hours pays far, far more than you’ve initially expected.

So as a rule of thumb – 40 hours if you want to do decently well.

60 hours if you are serious about this. If you want to be known as an expert in your field and people to talk about you (positively) then this is the bare minimum.

80 hours if you want to aggressively climb the ladder.

And yes, there are world class copywriters who can get the job done in 3 hours and work 10 hours per week while getting a tan somewhere in Bali. They’re not fake. What you don’t realize is that before getting to this point, they were investing almost all their waking hours getting good at this. Copywriting is something you learn and at some point, you can treat it as a part time gig and get a full time income. The thing you need to realize is that it takes years to get to that point.

Rule #2 – Constantly improve your skills.

I’ve recently realized the value of this. While I’ve read at least 50 books on the topic, the time I’ve invested in learning copywriting is minuscule compared to general self-improvement. I guess Napoleon Hill is more interesting than Dan Kennedy but Dan Kennedy gets you a lot more money.

My current approach is for 2.5 hours a day. I listen to 1.5 hours of marketing or copywriting education early in the morning while I run. I am very strict about my ritual so this always get done. It’s simply how I structure my day.

At home, I’m investing another hour into writing copy by hand. I don’t like this a lot as I find it boring but I know it is a very effective way of improving my skills, equally important as listening to an audiobook or studying. So that’s 2.5 hours per day or 500 hours in six months.

And now you may think …

“Are you crazy? I don’t have 2.5 hours daily.”

Oh, really now?

How much you think you spend on Facebook or on YouTube? Or watching a movie on TV? 2.5 hours is less than most people spend surfing Facebook without any particular goal. The average American spends over six hours daily on entertainment activities on a computer (be it YouTube or Facebook or gaming).

Lack of time is one of the most pathetic excuses one can bring. It’s impossible not to get this time unless you’re already super successful and then you know you couldn’t have gotten here without educating yourself.

But let’s say that you have two jobs and you really don’t have the time. Do this while commuting. Driving to and from work takes time. Do this before falling asleep. Do this while having breakfast.

It’s never a lack of time. It’s just that watching YouTube or playing video games is a lot more interesting and fun than improving skills like copywriting. On the other hand, how much will those activities pay you in the future?

I work eight hours a day (2.5 hours of skill improvement included), each day. I run daily and I still have time to watch my favorite TV show for about two hours a day. I’ve watched three episodes of Stargate SG 1 yesterday. There is time. It’s not a matter of this. It’s just a matter of not procrastinating and not wasting it.

Look … I’m not saying this to be a jerk but there are a lot better excuses in life than “I don’t have time”. 24 hours is enough for everyone. I know people who get a lot more done than me in the same 24 hours and I know people who get nothing done. I know a woman running a business, having two kids at home and being a businesswomen, a mother, a driver for her kids, a wife, a writer and she still has time to engage in her hobbies. So if she can do it, what’s my excuse apart from laziness?

Rule #3 – Your second job is always lead generation.

This is true for all people who offer services, no matter if you’re a copywriter or a real estate agent. In order to succeed, you need clients. This translates to either inbound or outbound leads. Inbound leads are generated through marketing (content marketing, PPC, video marketing, etc) while outbound leads are people you contact directly.

The idea here is that most copywriters fail because they don’t have clients. The biggest irony with sales copywriters is that they’re selling a service that in essence comes down to selling and yet, they can’t or they won’t sell themselves. It’s a good known fact amongst copywriters that lead generation tends to come last and that most copywriters struggle for clients.

I suggest you take some action every day to generate leads. It is better to have people willing to pay you and not take their money than to want to do something, to work and not have any project. I’ve been in both cases and the second one sucks.

In essence, these are the three main rules for success.

#1 – Put in the time. This accounts to almost everything. You become better by getting feedback but you can’t get feedback if you don’t do the work. Writers write and the more you write, the better a writer you’ll be.

Of course, it is a bit more complicated than this but everything else tends to take care of itself if only you put in the work. It is like walking a path. The more you walk, the faster you’ll get to the destination. Yes, sometimes you’ll take the wrong road but you will make mistakes and you’ll move in circles no matter if you work 20 hours a week or 60 hours.

Obstacles are a given. Errors and setbacks are a given too. They’re the cost of doing business. You’ll lose time and clients no matter what. You’ll have hardware failures in which your computer crashes after five hours of working eventually. Problems are a constant in life. The only way to beat these problems is with effort, with movement forward. So put it in.

At 20 hours per week you’ll struggle.

At 40 hours per week you’ll probably have a normal job.

At 60 hours per week you’re aiming for the big league, to be amongst the top in your industry.

At 80 hours per week, if you can keep it up, you will become world class.

This is not a science and I can’t tell you how long it takes to reach a level of “good” or “great” but you can notice a major improvement in your skills for every 1000 hours invested into something. The faster you get those 1000 hours done, the better.

#2 – Educate yourself. Make yourself better each day. One hour in education is sometimes worth more than one hour working for a client. The idea with education is to treat it as a constant. Don’t spend an entire weekend reading copywriting books but rather carve time each day to improve yourself.

You don’t need to do it for 2.5 hours but aim for at least one hour of online marketing & copywriting education. Also, it is a good idea to write copy by hand as the ROI is huge.

#3 – Do lead generation. You don’t need many clients to succeed in this field but you need to consistently work towards something. I suggest you always have a waiting list of people who are ready to work with you and one or two clients at any given time.

Keep in mind that if you rely on a single person, the opportunities will eventually dry up. There are only so many sales materials a person needs. Even working for a big organization will eventually end.

That’s about it. Now that you know what it takes – especially when it comes to time, are you willing to put in the effort?

Thank you,

Razvan Rogoz

www.razvanrogoz.com

Your Prospect Wants To Run AWAY From You!

Howdy,

Selling and life have a big thing in common.

When it comes to goals be it a slim and sexy body … or a bank account that makes them grim every time they look their statements … or a happy loved filled marriage combined with the sex life of “Fifty Shades of Grey … most people think that these goals will come easily to them, that the entire universe conspires to make them fit, rich and sexy.

After all, it is an easy enough belief to fall into – it appeals to our desire of instant gratification and after all, why work for something when at least theoretically, if we desire it long and hard enough, it will come to us?

So it is how beginner copywriters treat selling.

You see, your prospect doesn’t want to have anything to do with you. He’s not your friend. If anything, you are a problem. Before he knew about you, he was happy in his ignorance that there is no solution to his problem. Now, he knows about you and sees you as an obstacle to whatever he desires.

Before he thought that he can achieve his desired outcome just by wanting it long enough, that things are going to solve themselves out. Now he must pay $499 for your course to do so. By coming into his field of view, you’ve broke his fantasy that some miracle will happen and he hates your gut for this – as ignorance isn’t bliss anymore.

That being said, if you approach copywriting as you’re talking to someone who sees you as a troublemaker, not as a savior, everything changes. In his life, you are maybe like a dentist. He doesn’t want to see you nor go through the pain but he knows that if he doesn’t take some action, things are going to be worse in the long term. If there was any way of achieving the goal he desires without paying you, he’d gladly take it so. If there is any way of escaping responsibility of paying you, he’ll take it without thinking twice.

Think of a girl caught in a date with someone she doesn’t like. That’s your relationship with the prospect. He’s constantly looking for ways to “go to the bathroom” and never return. He’s willing to say “I’ll skip” for whatever rational or irrational reason he can come up with, price, terms, bonuses, format or any other objection. He’s going to bitch and complain about everything. No matter how much of a good deal your product is, he’s going to find it too expensive.

If it is not too expensive, then it is too hard to use. If it is not this, then it doesn’t have a long enough warranty. If the warranty is long enough, then he likes it but doesn’t have the money to buy it now. Take my word, a prospect is first motivated to look for everyday to procrastinate or even downright refuse purchasing your product. Even if he knows that he must solve the problem now, he’ll look for ways, for excuses to spend more time researching, to analyze the competition better, to get to know more about you, anything so he just doesn’t pay.

Is it always so extreme? In most cases it is but even if it is not, treating it like this makes you a far better copywriter. I’m saying this because when your prospect is like a husky that wants to find a way to climb out the cage or dig under it or squeal until you let him out, then your copy will be far more disciplined and far more persuasive than if you treated your prospect looking to make a casual buy.

Most products sold through direct mail and sales letters in general are not products that are naturally wanted. They’re acquired taste. You don’t need a sales letter to sell chocolate cookies because we naturally want them. However, you need a strong logical and emotional argument to sell a weight loss product.

Therefore, you must make sure that you don’t let him out. He’s going to come with 100 objections. If he thinks the price is too high (and he will) then justify the price in terms of how much money he’ll save in the long term. If he thinks that it is too complicated, explain how this is broken down in step by step pieces and he just needs to take a simple decision, follow the next step. If he wants to take action later, tell him how this great bonus that is worth the price of the product alone is only available now. If he thinks that his friends will think of him that he’s a sucker for buying such a product, give examples of how people will appreciate him and his good decisions.

Find ways to make sure he doesn’t escape. Cover every hole and bar every window. Don’t let him leave the page without paying for your product because chances are that once he’s gone, he’s gone forever. People don’t really return when they say “I’ll think about it”. There’s something like a 10% chance of a prospect who says “I’ll think about it” to buy in six months following his decision.

Your prospect is going to be whiny. That’s a fact.

You can say that this product is 50% discounted and he’ll say “okay, that’s great BUT I don’t have a budget now”. You can say that if he doesn’t buy now, he’ll miss out on the bonuses and he’ll say “okay, I want the bonuses but I need to really think about it”.

I’m not saying to bully your prospect. I’m saying to make your argument tight so his only real decision is to buy. After all, a copywriter’s job is to sell the product. It doesn’t matter how good the copy is if it doesn’t convert. I’m saying that each time he wants to leave, to have a way to make him come back. I’m saying to get him to agree that he needs the said product and that not buying later would go in contradiction with his prior made decision.

This is not so much about techniques as it is about a mindset. If you approach copywriting with a mindset of “well, if he buys fine, if he doesn’t, it is his loss” then you’ll go bankrupt really fast. You must instead approach it with “while I can’t ultimately decide if he buys or not, I’m going to use every tool at my disposal that is legal and ethical to incline him towards a positive buying decision”.

You would not get into a boat with holes. No matter how fast you’re going, as long as there’s water coming in, eventually the boat will sink. So you shouldn’t write a letter with holes that the prospect can use to escape the responsibility of taking a decision. And this escape is not “no”, it is “I need to think about it” in about 90% of the cases. It is delaying something he knows he must do because spending money and starting something new is hard.

We all do this. I’ve delayed 20 weeks to wake up at 05:00 AM after deciding to do it. I’ve delayed for months to go for a dental check-up after I’ve noticed that there might be some issues. I’ve delayed buying new gym clothes for weeks even if I needed them. These are small decisions and I’ve delayed because of the effort involved.

What do you think goes into the mind of your prospect with a $99 … or a $499 … or a $997 purchase? If you’re giving him ways, he’s going to “think about it” until he’s old and can’t even remember about the problem anymore. Selling isn’t the game where you play it cool. It’s not like dating where backing off and making the other person miss you plays in your favor. Selling is like fishing. If you don’t reel the fish in when it bites the bait, you’ll have a satisfied fish and no catch.

Of course, there are ethical and moral implications to selling and this can be used both for actions and products that are a must (like getting an overweight person which is risking a heart attack to improve his fitness level) and products that are trivial (a piece of software that marginally improves things).

The general rule is that if you sell hard, then your product must be good enough. Over promising and under delivering leads to poor customer lifetime value and that’s where all the value lies in. Persuasion, copywriting and sales funnels are tools – just like fire, just like a scalpel, just like a crane. They can be used to heal and build or to hurt and destroy. I hope that when you’re employing these principles, you’re doing it for productive purposes.

Even if you don’t though, the free market will eventually work against you, as you will be unable to sell a second time and it’s hard to make money on the front end.

Thanks,

Razvan

Why Hiring A Copywriter Is More Challenging Than You Think

Howdy,

I’m going on a bit of a rant today.

You see, most copywriters do suck … and suck hard. Investing in most copywriters is just draining money down the toilet. You have better chances making sales by copying a letter of your competitor and changing a few details than 80% of all people out there.

The sad part is that some of them charge $100 for a sales letter … while others charge $1000 and even $2500. Since it’s hard to make the difference between what works and what doesn’t if you’re not an experienced buyer, way too many people fall into the trap of hiring someone they like and get zero ROI on their investment.

I know because I’ve been one – not someone who lost money but one of those morons that overpromised and way underdelivered. I’ve came to terms with it because as a copywriter you need to mature and you realize that competence is more important than enthusiasm but I’ve been there. I’ve had many clients spend money with me and not even recovering their costs, not to mention their traffic expenses.

So I know this first hand.

Why am I’m telling you this?

Because you as a buyer deserve to know the truth. Copywriting, sales copywriting that is is hard. There is a reason why a top of the line copywriter, an A-lister charges $25.000 to $50.000 for a sales letter. He invested decades to get there and to learn every trick in the book to convert.

As a client, you may be tempted to go cheap on copywriting services. You’ll just flush your money down the toilet. It takes a real understanding of human psychology and of behavioral economics, not to mention a talent for selling in order to get a skeptical, bored, frustrated prospect to buy your stuff. The people who charge $100 for a sales letter do NOT have that kind of knowledge, even if they may say all the right words.

I know this because once again, I’ve been there. I used to say that I’ve studied John Carlton and that I invest a lot of time in research when I write a copy, as these are buzz words or concepts for what a customer wants to hear. I’d see a potential customer on elance.com (I’ve stopped using freelancing boards after Elance was closed) saying that he wants a Dan Kennedy type letter and I’d then position myself as a Dan Kennedy expert.

The problem was that even if I got the job, I couldn’t deliver. I created high expectations because I knew how to fake it til I make it but I couldn’t actually take the job to the end.

Then once I’ve learned to actually sell and get results, the people who hired me would simply pay me proper fees and reward me accordingly so I didn’t even need to raise my fees. My results talked for myself.

For outsiders, copywriters seem as a cheap investment that pays hundred of times over. For an insider, I know that this is false. The only type of copywriting that pays is the expensive type and when you have leverage. Without a marketing list, without money for traffic, without a good product, it is kind of hard to even break even. You can pay $40.000 for a sales letter and I guarantee you that it will convert but you’d better have the right traffic to send to it otherwise you’ll have a brilliant piece that nobody will see. Don’t expect people to come to you. You still need to attract them.

Web programming is simple. It is logical. So it is designing to some degree. However, sales copywriting is both a science and a art. There is no checklist to follow that makes a good copy good. It is the sum of hundreds of parts that must fit together and that in some way, the total must be bigger than the sum of all its parts.

It takes an extremely dedicated person to get to that point. You can’t read a copywriting book and learn how to sell like a pro. You need to either have a background in sales or knack copy after copy until you get good at it. Copywriting is in a way like professional dancing – it looks so damn easy and simple from the outside … but it’s confusing as hell when you’re trying to do it.

I’m not saying this to have you hire me. I’m saying this because after many years of being into this, after making every mistake in the book, after paying for those mistakes, I feel that someone needs to tell the truth. Most copywriters suck because they’re not willing to invest the effort to get good at it. It is hard to know if a copywriter sucks or not, no matter his portfolio, because past experience and samples say nothing about his ability to approach a new project and that in truth, you’re taking a risk each time you’re hiring a new copywriter.

If you go cheap, the risk is quite high to lose your money. Paying $100 and not making any sales is not cheap, it’s expensive. Paying $10.000 and making $10.100 in sales, for just $100 profits it is still better. Paying more, like $1000 is still in the risky territory as this is where average to good copywriters reside but also the poor copywriters who try to look good. Paying $5000 generally means that you’re hiring someone with a strong track record and a reputation in the industry who’d rather refund you than mess with his reputation.

So what should you do?

Well, don’t just hire someone and hope for the best. Try and understand how that person thinks. Ask questions. Look at how a person sells himself. I mean, let’s be honest, if a copywriter can’t sell his own services to you, a human being who is willing to at least listen, what chances does he have in selling your product?

Look for emotional intelligence. 90% of good copywriting is just understanding people. Wording, phrasing, design, formulas don’t really matter as long as you understand what makes people click. Good copywriters have either a background in psychology or sales. If one can get a date at a bar on a Friday night, then chances are that he can sell your product too. If you’re hiring someone who read many books on copywriting but suffers from social anxiety, I have a feeling it is not going to work out.

See if you can relate to that person. I’m not saying relating as in becoming good buddies and going fishing but copywriting has a lot to do with creating a bridge between you and the prospect. If the copywriter you want to hire can’t establish rapport with you then he either doesn’t care about your project or he is not good with people. Copywriters who suck at communicating and creating bonds also suck at selling.

As far as samples go, I wouldn’t worry too much about them. Samples are heuristics for determining skill but unless you’re a trained copywriter, these samples can’t say much. If I take ten buyers at random and I show a beautifully designed copy that sucks and a copy in a Word document that is brilliant, they’ll pick the pretty copy. Without patterns to analyze and the know how of what makes good copywriting, we just focus on what we know.

Also, look at his interest level in your project. Copywriting is not a commodity. There are no two letters the same, unless you write two variations for the same project and even then, it involves new research.

Is he asking questions on your marketplace, on how you’ve developed your product, on the results you’ve got via PPC and so on? Is he acting like he wants to understand your product? Then he’s a keeper. If not, then he either doesn’t understand the importance of research (huge flag) or he’s very busy (not a big flag but it’s not a good sign either).

Finally, follow your gut. Don’t hire a copywriter just because you like him or you’ve read the same self-improvement books. Hire because he seems to know what he’s doing. You will always be taking a risk and almost no one is willing to work without being paid, at least partially, but you can minimize this risk by understanding the person in front of you. Chances are that if you post a project on a freelancing site, you’ll get 50 bids from copywriters. 45 of them suck and are going to be a complete waste of your time and money. The other five, try to get to know, as human beings and determine if they seem the kind of people capable of selling or not.

And remember … it is not about samples or about professionalism or about fees. It is only about how one relates to other human beings. If he’s selling you without you even realizing and you feel you’re in a hypnotic haze, then that’s your copywriter. If you feel like he’s not doing a good person at selling his own services, move on.

By doing this, you’ll be able to avoid people who acted like me at the beginning of my career – looking alright but not knowing much. The way that I sold (or have not sold) was a dead giveaway. Fortunately, many of those people gave me a second chance after I’ve became decent or even good at this but honestly, if I was in their place five years ago, I wouldn’t have bought my own services.

Best regards,

Razvan

What Are Advertorials And Why Should You Start Using Them.

Howdy,

Advertorials deserve a special place in copywriting’s heaven. In the past, they were amongst the most effective forms of advertising. This is because an advertorial is an ad disguised as something offering valuable information. Instead of screaming “I’m an ad, I want to sell you something”, it educates and persuades you at the same time.

While some may argue with this, advertorials spanned an entire new school of marketing. The best known is the catalog copy. This would be a small magazine containing both articles and ads. You can find them on every plane or receive them in your mail from direct mail companies.

A more recent version of the advertorial comes in the form of blogging. While not all blogs are advertorials (most are not), talented marketers can write a blog posts that persuades to an action while educating the reader. I have seen this done by App Sumo with great success (and they know what they are doing) but this is mostly something used by other information marketers and publishers.

I do feel that most people don’t recognize advertorials as the powerful marketing weapons they are. Just recently, I have received an opportunity to write an advertorial for an e-commerce store and in my research, I have seen that most have no ideas how to write them properly. While there were a few advertorials in the range of 1000 words which were designed using real copywriting techniques, most were not.

Most were a line or two, were unclear on a objective, had no clear call to action and generally were not very interesting. Ogilvy would turn over in his grave if he knew that such pieces exists … and that for all intents and purposes, poorly written, confusing advertorials are the norm nowadays online.

Even the companies that self-identify themselves as marketing companies providing advertorial services suck at this. From my research, 4 out of 5 companies put almost all the focus on where the advertorial is going to reside, the distribution model and not on the copy itself. These are people who never got a good, solid education in salesmanship and see marketing just as a game of numbers. This may be true, it is a game of numbers, but good copy goes a lot further than good distribution.

So should you write an advertorial for your product … and how should you do it?

Well, theoretically any product is a good fit for an advertorial. Think of it this way – instead of trying to sell directly, you’re writing an newspaper / magazine article that is also persuasive. The central idea is not your product but another hook, even if eventually the call to action will lead to your product.

An advertorial can be something like a review or news or how to. The logic here is that through educating the prospect you are making him realize that there is a need and then you position your product as a way to fulfilling that need.

You’re selling covertly, plain and simple. You want to make the prospect say “wow, this is so interesting” before you shift focus to the product at hand. In other words, the hook comes first, the product comes second.

Let me give you an example. As I’ve said, I’ve recently wrote an advertorial for an e-commerce store selling perfumes. A normal ad would be to simply sell the products and the concept. In the advertorial, I’ve started with a story of how a young lady saved hundreds of USD by buying online and then all the advantages of buying online. I’ve countered an objection (that you can test them in a physical store and then order from your phone for a 50% discount) and only at the end I’ve came with a call to action for the store itself. The idea of the advertorial was to sell the idea that shopping online is a lot cheaper and convenient and 90% of the space was used to sell that idea.

At the end, the prospect was sold on the general idea but not on a specific call to action so I’ve simply plugged in what she must do now (visit a specific store) and I’ve gave a good reason to do that now (three products heavily discounted aka loss leaders).

Let me give you another example – the Tony Robbins commercials from the 90s. These were superbly done and I have a feeling they’re still studied in business school.

Most late night commercials were simply benefit after benefit, bonus after bonus. It was a matter of “you’ll get this … you’ll get this … but if you order in the next five minutes, you’ll also get this”. It was a way of stimulating the greed of the prospect and playing on everyone’s desire to get something for nothing or a better deal than others.

Tony Robbins did something different. He created one to two hours videos which were far longer than the competition (an average commercial was maybe 10 minutes). He boosted the production quality by recording them in nature or in good set-ups as opposed to generic television studios.

That was not the most important thing though. The important one was that these videos were more educative than actual products.If a video was two hours, then 90 minutes were actual education. He was talking about goal setting, strategies to lose weight, how to manage your stress, NLP, etc and for the longest period, he wasn’t trying to sell you anything. Tony would provide this massive value and only afterwards he would promote a product, something that would naturally tie in with everything he had said before.

Because of this, he became the king of late night commercials in the early 90s. The modern equivalent of this, today, is the webinar, which contains an educational section and a sales one. These were modeled directly on the above mentioned commercials.

So as you can see, it is not a matter of format but one of principle. You lead with massive value, something that you could even charge money for, something that makes your prospect’s life better and only then you start promoting. This can be done in article form, as a webinar, as a video presentation, as a blog post, etc. It’s not relevant. What’s relevant is to gain ownership by providing highly relevant and valuable information and to use this momentum to transition into a sales mode.

But how would you write an advertorial – in the classical sense of the word – as an article?

The most important element is your hook. A hook can be roughly defined as “what gets attention”, as the central element of a piece. It must “hook” your prospect into reading. This can be a story about you, about your product, about the marketplace or something that has no connection whatsoever (btw, don’t confuse an advertorial for a press release – while an advertorial can be focused completely on the launch of a new product, it focuses on creating value first and informing second).

How to floss properly can be a hook for a dental cabinet. A news article on a new painkiller can be a good hook for a massage saloon. Advice on how to avoid the most common English mistakes (as past simple and past particle) can be a hook for a book on how to improve your English.

Marketing advice can be a hook for the marketing services you are offering. A story about how you’ve became a well known professional, especially if it is intriguing can be a hook for selling your services, if you can make the connection.

Don’t get stuck on the “how to”. Anything that makes the reader say “hmm … that’s interesting, even intriguing and helpful” can be a good hook. The important thing is that your hook is valuable and it is relevant to what you’re ultimately selling.

An article about the best night clubs in Vegas can be used to promote a certain type of drink or a hotel chain but talking about Dublin when you’re selling computers may not. Apply common sense here. Writing an article about the dangers of UV can be a great way to sell sun-screen but the same article will not sell a new backpack, even if you use a backpack when you’re going outside.

The best way is to sell a concept and then to tie it in with your product. In the sun-screen example, you’d sell him on the danger of UV rays and then explain all the benefits of sun-screen and only then sell your own brand.

After you’ve educated him and provided value, simply switch to selling. Make the connection between him getting more or easier of what you’ve taught him in the product and then introduce whatever you’re selling. A simple example would be how to get more out of your engine, making it last longer. You can give five strategies that he can use by himself and then at the end, tell him that there is a simple substance that if added into the engine, it will accomplish all of this in just a fraction of the time. If he doesn’t want to buy it, then he has five free options available but it would make a lot more sense to just invest in your product.

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself here.

#1 – Have I’ve offered enough value that his life will be better off reading this?

#2 – Is my education relevant and connected to the product at hand?

#3 – Am I’m positioning my product as a way of getting the same benefits as my advice, just in a faster, cheaper or better way?

#4 – Is this type of information something he’d gladly share with his friends, because he doesn’t feel cheated or baited into reading, but actually got what he expected?

If your answer is yes to all of the above four questions, then you’ll have a great advertorial, far better than what most people are doing.

Thank you,

Razvan Rogoz

www.razvanrogoz.com

Why Copywriting Is Like Judo, Not Like Kung-Fu

Howdy,

I feel the need to confess (to) something.

I’ve read many copywriting books. I estimate about 60 – 70 so far. I do this because I love to learn. I know that some of the best copywriters in the world don’t read that much but this is my fix. Some people take drugs, others sleep with random strangers in Vegas while I read self-improvement and business books.

Yet, while I’ve educated myself considerably on the topic, I’ve failed many times. When I’ve failed, I’ve blamed the marketplace, I’ve blamed the product or I’ve blamed the other person. And if you were in my place and if you had dealt with some of the products that I’ve tried to sell, you’d agree with this.

But the truth is that I failed for a very different reason. It wasn’t lack of information nor negative circumstances.

I’ve failed because I’ve denied human nature, to its core. I’ve rejected how people are and I’ve tried to replace this with how I think people should be.

Okay, let me take a step back and explain what I mean by all of this.

Do you remember when you had a crush on that girl / guy (for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to use girl)? You tried everything to get her attention. You were nice. You were sweet. You bought flowers and chocolate and tickets at the cinema. You’ve fantasized about how you can impress her into mind movies that would put even Walter Mitty to shame.

And yet … she wasn’t interested. She was more interested in that jerk who didn’t gave a crap about her than who did not deserve her than she was in you.

It made no sense.

You did all the right things. You were everything that a girl wanted. It was like going against the law of nature … like gravity. So you’ve tried harder. You’ve bought more flowers. You’ve gave more compliments. You’ve acted more and more like a gentleman.

This more likely just pushed her in the arms of someone else.

Well, what the heck happened there?

You were replacing patterns and rituals of human behaviors that work with what you consider should work. In other words, you had your own standard about how people should be and act and you were ignoring what was really happening.

Or in a fancy way to put it – you were imposing subjective beliefs in a objective circumstance. The question wasn’t if she was doing the right things or not. The question was if your behavior was effective with what she desired – in which case, it was not.

It is like gravity. You can’t argue with it. You can’t negotiate with it. You can only comply. Human behavior is what it is. It may be right or wrong … it may offend your sensibilities … it may go against everything you believe to be right and your most deep and cherished inner beliefs, but it is what it is.

And when it comes to human behavior, you can either play ball and do what works … or you can try to cheat gravity and do something that should work but won’t.

So to get back to copy, when I was writing, I was writing to people that acted in a way that I wished them to act. I saw them as characters of an Ayn Rand novel, rational, mighty, logical, with a cost benefit oriented thinking.

They were not. People aren’t what we want them to be, they’re what they are. This means full of prejudice … horny … looking for a steal … looking for a lose – win situation (win for them) … unfair … biased … unreasonable … and more.

I’m not trying to bash people here. Don’t get me wrong. I’m just saying that too many times in marketing we’re relying on patterns of behavior and thinking that are simply not there. We expect people to follow our path assuming that they’re like we want them to be.

This is the capital sin in copywriting and in sales. When in Rome … act like the romans. When selling to human beings, sell to their humanity, not to what you wish that humanity to be.

The only basic question most human beings ask is “what’s in it for me?”. Everything must be framed this way. Don’t ask if it is fair. Don’t ask if they are selfish. We’re people too and we’re not that different.

Let’s take a weight loss product. An overweight person wants to lose weight without doing anything. He wants to take a pill and to be loved by supermodels. He wants to look like a greek sculpture without putting in the work. Yes, he’s lazy. And yes, that’s quite stupid if you think about it.

But you explaining that it doesn’t work this way doesn’t help. If one believes in his irrational fantasy of taking a pill and looking like Brad Pitt, then you can’t change his mind through logic. A mind defeated by logic will just attach itself stronger to its older convictions. You can only play into the patterns of behavior that that person exhibits or don’t sell that product. It’s as simple as that.

Just like with the dating game from earlier.

Maybe you want to give her flowers and hold her hand while she’s looking at the stars. She wants to wear a dress that shows way too much, hit the club, get drunk and pass out in the bathroom.

You can judge her for wanting that, if you have a different moral system. There’s nothing stopping you from putting a stamp of good or bad. But you really have only two choices – find a girl that wants to hold hands and watch the stars or go to that bar and get drunk with her. What you wish her was doesn’t change what she is.

This is a good life lesson and a critical marketing one. I’ve heard so many customers saying “my market is so ungrateful, they only care about the price”. I sympathize with this because a lot of the people I meet care only about the price too. But being upset about the price or that they’re ungrateful won’t make them grateful overnight. You can simply play to their greed and give them a great value proposition (or price) or you can find another marketplace that is not as greedy.

It’s useless to want others to be different than they are now. You have control only over yourself. You can shape your own mind and psyche but not that of others. To others – you either submit and offer them value, the value they want, not the value you want or you change your market.

The rules of the game are set.

You can not build desire in copywriting. You can only channel it. This was first stated a long time ago by Eugene M. Schwartz but most people don’t get it. When you make someone buy a product or take an action, you’re not pushing that person from “I don’t care” to “I’m in love with the idea”. You are leveraging emotions and needs and cravings and you are positioning your own product as a solution.

So is with all human behavior and interactions.

You don’t change people. You take what is already there and you use it to push them towards a direction or another. Copywriting, selling, marketing and persuasion in general is not kung-fu. It’s not about throwing persuasive punches that will make someone say “yes, yes, please take my money”. Even if you can succeed in that, people snap out of it fast.

No, copywriting is like judo. You use what’s already there to your advantage. If they have a craving for honey, then your product is ideally suited to fulfill that craving, in a way that is far superior than the competition. If they want to feel respected by others, then your product earns them the respect of others. It’s not your job to say if it is right that they wish to be respected by others or not. You can only fulfill it or get out of the way.

Many … all times I’ve failed with people, professionally or personally was because I was operating from a perspective of how I want them to be, not how they really are. I was saying “you should think and act and believe like this because this is right” when they were saying “no, no, you don’t get it, this is me and I’m not going to change”.

So now, I’m carrying a daily battle to drop this form of idealism and to understand that when you deal with another person, you do it in their playing field, playing by their rules, not yours. Understand this and you’ll become a vastly superior copywriter.

Best regards,

Razvan