“Can you write a letter like this one?”
If you’ve been around the copywriting, marketing, or work-at-home world for very long, you probably recognize that question.
It’s the headline to one of many successful sales letters AWAI has used to promote their Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.
The letter is based on a simple premise.
That you can make a six-figure income, from home, writing simple persuasive letters.
And for nearly a decade, that’s been my life and career, except…
I almost never just write…
And that’s where I think that fundamental promise falls down.
To be fair, once you get past the pitch that brings in you in the door, I don’t think AWAI stops at the writing bit, either.
But usually by that point, most newbies and wannabes have the idea so deeply embedded in their mind that it’s all they pay attention to.
“Get paid to write” is the promise.
“Will write for food” becomes the mantra.
And they take on any and all writing projects that pay, believing that’s the path to big riches in the copywriting niche.
(Sidebar: the copywriting business training from BTMSinsiders is the anecdote to the “will write for food” offer. Developing a core offer that’s not about words on page is the secret to greater success in your copywriting business.)
Here’s the thing. The “will write for food” mentality leads to working hard, for long hours, just to scrape by. Because the secret to getting paid well as a copywriter goes beyond the words you actually put on the page.
I’ll get to what to do IN ADDITION TO WRITING in a moment. But first, a little look at the perils of being “a writer,” first and foremost.
This copywriter salary survey reveals a devastating truth…
Only 10% of copywriters make six-figures per year!
… And most don’t even make half that! That’s right: 1 in 2 copywriters — across in-house and freelance — make less than $50,000 per year.
And how about this, work-from-homers…
The most reliable way to make over $50,000 per year as a copywriter… Is to get an in-house gig. That is, while very few copywriters in general have crossed the $50k/year threshold, it’s easier to do so by getting a J-O-B than by going it alone.
You’re actually 4.2X as likely to make $200,000 or more per year as a freelancer as you are as an in-house writer.
According to this survey, while it’s easier to make a middle-class income as an in-house writer, your surest way to growing wealthy from copywriting is in NOT tying yourself down.
What’s this all about?
What I’ve observed about the best, highest-paid copywriters…
In short, while the well-paid in-house writers crank out volumes of writing…
And the poorly-paid freelancers bounce from client-to-client-to-client unable to keep pace on sheer output…
The world’s highest-paid freelance copywriters seldom think of themselves as “copywriters” at all.
Yes, they know what copy is, and they know how to write it. And engaged in a conversation with the masses of “copywriters” who’ve bought into the opportunity pitch, they’ll use that name to refer to it.
But that ain’t what they’re bringin’ to the table — or using to put food on their tables.
Copywriting doesn’t hold a candle to strategy…
For years now, I haven’t referred to myself as just a copywriter. I’ve always tied my copywriting to marketing and business growth strategy. Copywriter-plus-consultant, with an emphasis on getting measurable business results.
The bulk of my deliverables in client work? Yes, still words-on-paper, at least for now.
The bulk of my value in terms of results generated? Ideas and strategy.
Two copywriters walk into a bar…
No, this isn’t a joke.
Imagine two copywriters walking into the bar at a marketing conference. An ideal client is sitting there, and the three strike up a conversation.
The client, interested in getting more sales from their current marketing funnel, opts for a “beat the control” test.
“My current VSL is making about $100,000 per month, and has been running for 12 months. I’m willing to keep sending this much or more traffic to it, as long as it remains profitable. So let me propose a challenge. You each write a new VSL script. Assuming I like it, I’ll test it. You’ll get $5,000 to begin work, and $5,000 when I decide to record your approved script. If your script does better than my current control, I’ll give you a $5,000 bonus. The overall winner will also get 5% royalties. You have 30 days to get me your script, and here’s a check for $5,000.”
Copywriter 1 sees this as a WRITING assignment. So they sit down and try to write a better script. And since they’re a good copywriter, they succeed. They get the $5,000 up front, they get the $5,000 for the approved script, and they beat the initial control for another $5,000 bonus. $15,000 for 30 days work, and they’re happy.
Copywriter 2 does not limit themselves to writing better copy. So they get home from the conference, and call the client.
“I didn’t want to ask you this there, because it’s my secret weapon. But would you be willing to test a brand new funnel instead of just an alternative VSL?”
The client agreed, and so this copywriter worked with them for a week to structure a new funnel, including new value-first education-based marketing content leading up to the sale, stacked offers at 1X, 2.2X, and 5X the main offer’s price, and a series of emails designed to go out tied to the prospect’s location in and engagement with the funnel, plus a new targeting strategy for the paid ads.
They didn’t ask for a penny more up front, so the client was happy to oblige. And after an initial plan was agreed-upon, Copywriter 2 got to work and cranked out all the complimentary communications and moving pieces that would make this more sophisticated strategy work.
The client agreed to test it, so this copywriter got the first $5,000 and the second $5,000. Their VSL beat the control, so they also got the $5,000 bonus.
And then something crazy happened…
The client started looking at their stats, and realized the revenue per visitor was more than DOUBLE the original VSL, and Copywriter 1’s test version.
Copywriter 2 won the test, hands-down. And started collecting their 5% royalty with the next month’s sales.
But then they got to talking with the client, and they agreed to be more aggressive with their testing and traffic buying. After all, since they were making more than 2X per visitor, they could afford to go a bit more broad.
Before long, this “copywriter’s” marketing strategies and consultative work helped grow the funnel from $100,000 per month to $500,000 per month. At 5% royalties, that means they were making more every month than the initial project fee. With barely a shred more work after all that initial copywriting.
This, of course, is a parable — but the principle is sound…
I’ve often cited the client whose PROFITS I increased by $500,000 per year in a 5-minute conversation, before I wrote a word of copy for the product.
Another client made $450,000 in a few short weeks based on a strategy I introduced — it was so successful, they shifted nearly 100% of their marketing to match my model.
Opportunities abound for this kind of success story if-and-only-if you’re willing to think beyond “I write copy” as your fundamental value proposition.
Yes, writing better, more effective, more persuasive copy is one secret to getting more leads, more customers, more sales, and more profits. For clients, or for your own business.
But a much bigger opportunity is being able to make strategic shifts that can:
- Create bigger breakthroughs than better copy could on its own, and…
- Get even bigger results from the same copy, with the right systems and strategies.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
PS: If you’re looking for the kind of strategic thinking that will instantly juice the selling power of your current copywriting and persuasion skills… Check out The Value-First Funnel Strategy as well as The Most Valuable Customer Strategy.