It’s Monday — that means it’s time to open up the mailbox and answer YOUR questions!

Which copywriting training should you choose?

Well, well, well.  Another Mailbox Monday, another question about which copywriting training to choose.

Last week it was The Best Way to Learn Copywriting.  The week before, Learn The Copywriting Basics, Fast.

And today, the question is all about how to pick the best copywriting training for you.

As always, I’m happy to answer.  And with the subtle differences in each question, you get me going down different paths, for a new and hopefully illuminating answer.

That’s what we’ll do today.  And I’ll promise not to plug my copywriting training or training library too hard.  😉

Do you have a question you want to have answered here?

Every Monday I open up the ol’ Mailbox and answer YOUR questions about marketing, copywriting, business-building, life, and more.

Submit your question here and I may answer it in an upcoming Mailbox Monday.

Here’s today’s question…


I’m a fledgling copywriter. And I’m learning that there is a LOT of copywriting training out there. I can name at least a half a dozen “circles”, “clubs”, or “memberships” that all promise to deliver fabulous results for me and my business by plugging me into a copywriting network.

Not to mention specific training modules, conferences, webinars, and more. I feel overwhelmed, and, at the same time, like I’m not doing enough to keep up with the competition, if apparently “everyone else is in on this!”

How do I decide which, if any, to pursue?

– S

PS: I’m attending the AWAI Bootcamp in October. Will I get a chance to introduce myself there?

Can I share some dirty secrets of the copywriting training business?

While copywriting as a skill can be highly lucrative, you have to separate that from the copywriting training market.

Realize that the copywriting training market is its own thing.

It’s a different monster.

It’s primarily a collection of “work at home” and “business opportunity” offers that are meant to promise you the core three freedoms these markets ALWAYS promise:

— Freedom to control your time, no boss controlling your schedule.

— Freedom to control your location, no need to be locked up in a cubicle.

— Freedom to control your money, make as much or as little as your work can earn.

And if I, as a copywriting training marketer, know how to hit those hot buttons, I can sell you copywriting training whether it’s good or not.

In fact, if I’m really shady, I have another dirty secret that it pays to know: these are all offshoots of the “shelf-help business.”  That is, people buy things they think will let them live a better life, but the product goes on the shelf and never leaves.  They buy and buy and buy but never use.

And so the less scrupulous players in the market know they can manipulate your emotions into believing they have the secret key to living the three freedoms, knowing when you buy you probably won’t even remove the (literal of metaphorical) shrink wrap, and instead the product will sit on your (digital or physical) shelf, collecting dust.

80/20 and the copywriting training market…

If we apply the 80/20 rule here, many trainers know this to be true: it’s 20% of buyers who do 80% of the consumption of their products.  And even among those 20%, only the top 20% (or 4% of the total) actually go out and apply stuff.  And even then, only 20% of those (.8%) are actually following all the directions.

I know, it’s not pretty.  But it’s pretty dang true.

Maybe 20% of people actually go through the training and programs they buy.  But even for most of them, it’s intellectual entertainment more than anything.

4% are at a buffet of content.  They pick what they like, try it, and hopefully the content was good enough that they get results.  (And actually, they probably will.  Because they use the content as motivation to do things, and doing SOMETHING is usually better than doing nothing.)

And only .8% — 8 in every 1,000 — will really follow directions and do what they’re recommended to do.

And heck — if they hate it, a .8% compliant rate is actually pretty low!  So…

That’s a hardcore cynical view of the copywriting training market — here’s a better perspective…

While all of the above is largely true, I believe that a lot of people who do copywriting training — at least those who I hang around — do want the best for their students.

Jay Abraham can be the most adamant.  He used to get up on stage at his seminars — which his attendees had paid from $15k to $25k to attend — and rant that the vast majority of people who came were there largely for intellectual entertainment.  That most didn’t take him seriously.  That they’d show up, get their brain buzz, and go home and not implement.  And it pissed him off!  He’s cooled a bit with age — now he registers the same comments with more lament than anger — but it’s still a perpetual problem in the industry, that frustrates the most ethical sellers.

There are diamonds in the rough.  The challenge is finding them.

Here are a couple recommendations.

Buy training that appears to solve an immediate problem.

One of my best barometers for what training I’ve invested in, in the past, was whether or not I could apply it immediately.  Especially when it came to investing a lot of money (always a relative measurement), my goal was to have immediate applicability.

So when I was doing AdWords, I’d buy training focused on AdWords.  When I wanted to get started in long-form direct response, I bought training about that.  And so on.

You can’t use all the training.  Buy the training you’re most likely to use soon, within 30 to 90 days.

Buy training that emphasizes implementation.

If a trainer (or marketer) emphasizes going out and doing what their teaching, it’s probably because it’s at least worked for them.  That’s not a guarantee it’ll work for you, but it’s a start.

On the other hand, if they’re just selling you the dream and not telling you what to do, you may have someone who has gotten good at selling training, not actually doing what they’re training you on.

Buy training that’s about principles and strategies, not situational tactics.

I’m a bit biased here, because this is my emphasis.  But principles and strategies are enduring, and will continue to pay back for life.  Situational techniques and tactics can be useful, in a specific situation (e.g. the type of language you have to use to comply with Facebook Advertising policy) but has less ongoing value.

On the other hand, if you understand things like Customer Lifetime Value, value-first education-based marketing, and using proof and credibility to maximize believability, those are skills that will benefit you forever.

Buy training that is backed by a guarantee.

…  And take advantage of it, if the quality isn’t there.  This means you have to take off the shrink wrap.  And you’re still at risk of getting burned if the marketer is unscrupulous.  But for the most part, marketers will work to avoid the headaches of charge-backs and other financial nasties, so they’ll take you up on a refund request.

So look for what they offer (I offer a first-month guarantee on my monthly subscription), and use it if you need to, if the training doesn’t live up to the hype.

When all else fails, don’t spend too much.

Most of what you need to know about copywriting to make a good living can be learned from sub-$20 books.  That doesn’t mean you should never invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but there’s a whole lot you can learn for less.  And with cheap digital media (podcasts, etc.) you can even get a whole pile of marketing education for free.

Be willing to spend for quality content.  Consider it an investment in yourself that will pay back dividends.  (Investing in yourself is actually a pretty smart way to accelerate your success.)  But don’t assume that just because something has a higher price tag, it will be better.

Will I be at AWAI?

Short answer, as I’m approaching press time…  No.  It’s a great conference, and I launched my career from going to Bootcamp in 2009.  I was on the fence — but scheduling didn’t work out this year.

I hope you get a lot out of it (I always do), and maybe I’ll see you there next year.

Or, if (when?) I do a repeat of this Financial Copywriters Workshop that I have later this week, maybe I’ll see you there.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr