There’s a million courses you can buy…
There’s books more than 100 years old, and less than 100 days old.
You can go to seminars. You can listen to podcasts. You can read my daily essays.
There’s an overabundance of places you can go to learn copywriting.
So the question is: which one is the best?
My first (but probably disappointing) answer: The absolute best way to learn copywriting is getting a mentor. Work as a junior copywriter under a seasoned pro, who is able to give you consistent feedback on your copy. Work hand-in-hand with them on projects, getting their insight along the way. That’s the best.
BUT, those opportunities are rare. And you often have to EARN them. Meaning, you have to have already progressed your skills to a point where they’re happy to sign you on for something like that. I rejected requests like that for years, and most top copywriters I know reject similar requests, too, unless the writer has already made themselves ready for the opportunity.
How do you go from complete novice copywriter to ready when the big opportunity comes along?
Despite the fact that I have copywriting training to sell you, and books, I’ll admit… These will only get you so far.
Because for everything you can watch, listen to, or read, you won’t become a better copywriter until you THINK.
That is, you have to look at an ad or sales letter, or a video script, or whatever piece of copy. And you have to read it carefully. Line-by-line. And start to ask yourself:
“What are they doing here?”
“Why did they present that in that way?”
“How does this bit of copy fit into the bigger selling narrative?”
And so on…
There’s a million questions you can ask.
Get Socratic. Ask yourself why. Then, to that answer, ask why. And then again, why.
This analysis will be informed by all the studying you’ve done. Every book or program or training you’ve gone through will help you ask these questions better, and answer them better.
My analysis of why a top copywriter wrote something they way they did is as deep today as it’s ever been — and I’ve been absorbing copy strategies this way since 2005. The more experience you have, the more fruitful this becomes.
But you have to start somewhere…
The only way to learn the thinking of a top copywriter — is to get in the heads of top copywriters!
Side story: when I was in high school, I spent my lunch breaks break dancing in the basement of my high school. Me and a small group of friends — all dancers — would just go down and practice for hours.
Well, one of the guys in the group was also an incredible rapper. He was technically proficient in a ton of styles.
I asked him how he did it.
He said that you can get as good as any rapper. All you have to do is sit down and learn all their songs. Learn the words. Learn the rhythm and cadence. Learn the intonation. Learn the delivery. And practice each song until you’re starting to sound a lot like that rapper.
That’s enough to make you sound like a wannabe of that rapper’s style. But his next advice was critical.
Do the same thing over and over again, with all your favorite artists. Learn to mimic one great artist after another, and pretty soon you’re blending their varied styles. And because of your unique mix of interests, and your unique take on it, suddenly you have your own unique rap style that’s inspired by all your heroes.
In case you’re wondering, this story isn’t just about learning to rap.
Same could be said for any skill. There’s the obvious crossover, such as learning to play guitar or some other instrument. But the same goes for copywriting.
What if you were to take ads written by some of the top copywriters, and not just read or copy them by hand, but really break them down to develop a deep understanding?
What if you were to consider all the elements? Formatting. Language choice. Sentence structure. Deeper structure of the ads. Use of proof and credibility elements. Offer presentation. And so on, and so on.
Copying it by hand — like practicing your favorite rappers’ songs — would take on new meaning, if you were to do that. You’d be practicing their thinking, as well as writing the same words.
This is one of the daily habits expected of one of the top copywriting teams in the world…
Agora Financial has a team of a few dozen of the world’s best copywriters. Not all of the best copywriters, by any means. But maybe the highest concentration in the world, in one business.
And every day, they expect their copywriters to do three things:
— Read and analyze a proven ad.
— Journal your thoughts and learning.
— Write one page of copy.
Note that there’s not an expectation to read one copywriting book, or even copy an ad by hand. Both of those can be valuable, and some of their copywriters do or have done those things to get better.
But they consistently practice copy analysis.
They consistently are looking at ads, and asking why they work.
Let me give you a jump start on this skill…
If this process seems at all foreign to you, or you’re not sure where to start, I’ll do you a favor.
I’ve started doing this as an occasional addition to the BTMSinsiders training catalog.
The series is called Why Ads Worked. And for the first ad breakdown, I analyzed the classic “Do You Make These Mistakes In English?” ad by Max Sackheim that was an unbeaten control for 40+ years.
This is one of the most successful ads of all time, and for good reason, when you truly understand what Sackheim did on a deep level.
And if you don’t sell English correspondence courses by mail, don’t worry. The wrong way to look at an ad is to say, “This isn’t from my industry, so I can’t use anything from it.” The right way is to look at the deep principles and strategies that can be adapted to any offer, any market, any industry. And that’s what I’ve done in that video.
And whether or not you look to me to help you develop this analytical skill, I’ll recommend you do it for yourself. It truly is the best way to learn copywriting.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,