This email is written to one reader in particular, although it’s relevant to many…
The main topic — which we’ll get to in a minute — is burning your books on copywriting and marketing. But first, the context…
I’m well into the registration process for my upcoming Financial Copywriters Workshop (here’s the initial announcement, including your chance to apply).
I’ve had calls with a bunch of copywriters. I’ve looked at their applications. A few copywriters decided they weren’t a fit. Others, I decided that for them.
And now, I’m reviewing copy. This is the final step of the application process. Before I let you invest $1,995 and come to Lincoln, NE for two days at the end of September, I need to see promise.
Because I’m not just doing this to make money off of another event.
Rather, I’m orienting all the skills-development and content toward helping you help me. I’m lining up a handful of additional copywriters to work alongside me on client projects. So I’m sharing my “secrets” of copywriting success in the lucrative financial publishing business. With the hope that it will lead to you helping me create campaigns that will make us both a lot of money.
It’s not enough to want it.
Of course you want it. I get the clients. I shoulder the responsibility for the final work product. I hand you a big idea and outline on a silver platter. I oversee your work and give you training along the way to help you write better copy for the rest of your life. And you get paid a substantial portion of the project fees and royalties in exchange for following my instructions and writing drafts? Where’s the sign up form?
It’s not enough to want it. Because somewhere in there, you have to turn out quality work. You have to be responsible for your work product. And it has to live up to a standard where I don’t kick you off the project and stop working with you.
And that takes more than wanting it. You have to be able to handle it.
You have to be able to write copy at a professional level, compared to all the other professional copywriters in the financial publishing niche.
You don’t have to be the best. You don’t have to be some A-Plus-List writer legend, whose every keystroke is control-quality.
But you do have to cross that minimum threshold to write pro-level copy for this niche.
And what follows is one of the most important lessons that I think pros know — either subconsciously or consciously — that it really takes to succeed as a financial copywriter.
When it’s time to “burn your books” as an up-and-coming copywriter…
Let’s talk about gears in a car transmission.
When you shift a car into first gear, it’s ideal to get you rolling. It’s necessary. Too high of a gear, and you can’t get enough power into the tires to get started efficiently, and you stall out. No good. So when you’re starting, you put it into the lowest gear.
But there’s a problem with the lowest gear, if you want to speed up. The faster you go in a low gear, the more the engine has to rev to keep you going at that speed. In other words, the more WORK has to go in, just to accomplish the same result.
So if you’re a good driver, you start shifting gears. You change into second gear, and that lets you speed up some. Then third, and you can speed up some more, again without having to rev up the engine and make it do a lot of work. By choosing the right gears, you can actually drive down the highway at 80 miles per hour with the engine doing about the same amount of work as driving down a neighborhood street at 15 miles per hour.
What the heck am I talking about here?
Well, buying and reading all the most important books on copywriting and marketing is like the first gear of a direct response copywriting career.
It will get you started. The more power you put into that, the more it can accelerate you in the early days.
And, in fact, if you hope to get up to speed and getting pro-level results, fast, it’s something you SHOULD NOT skip.
Don’t just buy one program on copywriting and think you have it covered. Buy and consume all of them, as fast as you can, to the best of your ability. Have an insatiable appetite for learning from everyone who came before you.
And don’t just read to read. This isn’t intellectual entertainment. Your goal is to learn what has worked for others so you can apply it for yourself.
So go out there and put it to the test. Build a sandbox side project — some tiny marketing “business” you run on the side that is a way for you to play at everything you’re learning. Also, consider getting a marketing job so you can practice as much of what you learn as your boss will allow. Learn, learn, learn, apply, apply, apply.
But here’s the thing…
You’ll make a lot of mistakes!
This is actually a good thing. Because while we can learn through success, failure makes the lessons far more salient. They stick better.
And what you’ll start to find is that many of your failures will come from one underlying mistake that you’re repeating over and over and over again.
You’re trying to create marketing to the rules.
That is, you’re not creating the marketing for the market. Or for the prospect. Or for product, and its unique benefits. Not for the problem being solved, or the solution itself.
You’re trying to create marketing that conforms to what you learned in all those books and programs.
Dan Kennedy or Jay Abraham or Roy Furr or Eugene Schwartz or whoever said it was the right way to do things, so that’s how I do things.
If there was an award for following all the “rules” of good direct marketing and copywriting, you’d win it.
But you’re still not resonating with your market.
This is when it’s time to shift gears.
This is when it’s time to burn your books. Not literally, of course. That’d be a travesty. But figuratively, yes. Stop referring to your books to follow their advice to the letter. Stop trying to emulate your heroes of copywriting. Stop trying to write like you think you should write.
There comes a time where it’s more valuable to start forgetting the rules of copywriting and marketing than to keep learning more of those rules.
This separates the real pros from the novices…
Two quick examples.
One is the founder of what I believe to be the world’s largest direct response publishing business. I sat down with him years ago and interviewed him. And one thing really stuck with me. That he’d once learned or created maybe 5,000 rules for effective copywriting. But the best thing he’s done as a persuasive writer is to forget all those rules, and instead to focus on finding the story that will resonate most with his audience and telling it in a clear and compelling way that leads to a call-to-action. When he has a story that resonates and the call-to-action makes sense as the next step, it gets response.
Another is a copywriter who, by the time I worked with him, had sold over $5 billion worth of financial products, including a bunch of publications, one of the world’s preeminent investment conferences, mutual funds, an online bank, and more. His copy never read like copy and yet it was too compelling to put down. Because, again, he knew how to write “copy” but he never tried to be “a copywriter.” And instead focused on conveying the most compelling message to his audience that he could, and asking for action at the end.
This is where you get to when you’re in fifth gear, speeding down the highway, doing 85.
You can always downshift if you need to, bringing in some of the classic lessons. But you’re not in first gear anymore. You don’t rely on book learnin’ to dictate how you tackle the writing project in front of you.
And this is especially relevant if you’re in the financial publishing space. Where every piece of copy your market sees is written by someone who has studied the world’s best copywriters and internalized the lessons. And almost every member of the market gets copy written by all those copywriters multiple times per day, every day.
You don’t stand out in that market by writing like Caples, or Schwartz, or anybody else.
You stand out in that market by having internalized all those lessons, and then writing like YOU.
Last chance to work with me?
If you are interested in attending the Financial Copywriters Workshop, you should know registrations will close soon.
I’m not sure exactly when. But I do know the absolute maximum I’ll take is six writers, and I’m happy with a lower number simply to ensure good fit. Frankly, I’d rather have one GREAT fit than to fill six seats with writers I’d never consider working with.
If you’re serious about creating a successful career as a copywriter in the lucrative financial and investment publishing niche — and you’d like to learn my secrets plus have a shot at working with me — watch this video then click the application link below the video.
You’ll schedule a call, and fill out an application. We’ll chat. If we both think it makes sense to move forward, I’ll review your copy. Depending on the quality and my belief in your ability to overcome any novice mistakes under my tutelage, you may get an invite to register for the event.
And all of that has to happen in the next few days, before the window closes. After that, who knows how long it’ll be before this happens again.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,