Today I’ll share one of my biggest copywriting breakthroughs…
This is one of two giant things I discovered right before going out on my own, as a freelance copywriter.
It completely changed the way I looked at copywriting — especially long-form direct response.
And, it completely transformed my ability to get results.
Before this one thing, I wasn’t really able to launch my copywriting business.
Then suddenly, I was writing sales letters and landing pages that were generating a ton of sales.
I quit my job and was fully booked in my client copywriting business.
I very quickly broke multiple clients’ sales records.
And I haven’t looked back since.
This article comes from a reader question…
Remember, every Monday is Mailbox Monday. Where I answer your questions, about copywriting, marketing, selling, business-building, and more.
If you’d like to submit a question to be answered in an upcoming article, click here.
Here’s today’s question…
I’m currently subscribed to your email and I love your newsletters. My favorite one is a recent one on the Stefan Georgi “Problem Mechanism” formula. It was very eye opening.
I’m a newbie copywriter and I have a question that I’ll really appreciate if you can answer.
I just finished AWAI’s course on Copywriting and also hand copied sales letters for 30 days straight.
But my writing is not as smooth and punchy as I want it to be.
How can I improve my writing?
Another thing. I want to start writing copy everyday. But I don’t know what to write about.
Thanks for your time.
Okay, story time…
Back in 2007, I wrote my very first long-form sales letter. For David Bullock, selling his Taguchi testing training, for internet marketers.
Basically, I sat down with David’s program, and took notes on the story he told on the DVDs (which were a recording of a seminar).
Then, I told his story, in the best way I could.
I followed that up by writing a bunch of teases of what you could learn.
David’s story was interesting. And the promises and case studies he offered were compelling.
So it came together quickly, easily.
In fact, it came together so well that I got the attention of the ORIGINAL guru of internet marketing, Ken McCarthy, who I’d work with shortly thereafter — but that’s another story.
I was a couple years into my copywriting journey, having mostly written very short copy for the IT training publisher I worked with.
I was sure this was my ticket out of there, to the freedoms of building my own client copywriting business.
Then reality struck me in the face…
Over the next few months, I wrote a few more sales letters for clients.
They seemed to be getting progressively worse.
One client completely trashed me for just trying to sound like John Carlton (he was right).
Another wouldn’t even let me write the full sales letter, after I’d written the lead. It was too all over the place.
When I tried to write more sales letters, I just kept getting stuck.
I’d studied the classics. I’d copied letters by hand (as in today’s question).
And frankly, I’d written a ton of short copy — including some that had sold a lot of IT training.
But there was still a disconnect.
Because when I tried to copy what I saw, I just kept failing!
Then Fall 2009 rolled around…
And I ended up at AWAI’s Bootcamp and Job Fair.
At the Job Fair, I went to Clayton Makepeace’s booth.
And his wife was there handing out a big piece of paper.
On that paper, an outline.
Clayton’s “Pretty Darned Good Outline.”
I’d spent my entire copywriting career focused on the superficial, surface details of really good sales copy.
The words. The sentences.
Occasionally, closes, and elements much deeper in the copy.
I had failed to realize that there’s a DEEP STRUCTURE to effective copy…
That is, the words you say are often far less important than what you’re saying, in what order.
It’s easy to get excited over headline formulas.
It’s easy to go gaga for fun wording.
And yes, wording can pull readers in.
But what’s far more important is the underlying message. How you’re leading the reader through one thought, to another… Through the decision-making process they have to make in order to make the purchase.
Using the classic AIDA formula…
… How you’re capturing their Attention…
… What you do to build their Interest in what you have to say…
… The way to stimulate Desire for the solution you offer…
… And how to get them to take Action, with a compelling offer presentation.
Now, Clayton’s outline went much deeper than this. And since then, I’ve refined even what I learned from him, to make it more useful in more areas.
But this point stands.
What I realized is that if you don’t have the deep structure right, your copy “flourishes” are irrelevant…
On the other hand…
Figure out what to say first… Then second… Then third… And so on… Throughout your sales letter…
And you will dramatically improve your writing.
Focus on learning what to say.
Then all the infinite lessons out there for beginners on how to say it will gain a whole new power.
Beyond this, do these things daily…
First, continue to study effective ads. But rather than asking, “How did the copywriter write this?” ask “What are they doing here?”
Go through each section. Analyze the intent behind the lines.
Great copy puts intention into every line, every paragraph.
And it’s not evident necessarily by studying the words, but by asking what they’re trying to accomplish.
As was suggested by the question, it’s also smart to practice writing every day.
The best thing to practice writing on is client projects. Go out and get clients, and you won’t struggle for things to write.
Alternately, create or source your own products, and write for those.
One more idea? Become an affiliate. I’m not a huge fan of becoming an affiliate as your exclusive income source, but it’s a great way to practice copy. Get a product, and write your own version of a sales letter for it. Drive traffic to it, and see how the copy you write can lead to more (or less) clicks. Use this as copywriting school.
Also, don’t stop studying…
I am biased in believing my program, High-Velocity Copywriting, is your best next step.
There are a lot of copywriting training programs out there. But mine is the only one I’m aware of that has an ultimate focus on the structure of effective sales messages.
There are three Big Idea types I’ve identified. As far as I’ve been able to identify, every single powerful piece of Big Idea copy ever written falls into one of these three categories. And I’ve created customized templates for how to write each one, beginning to end.
Plus I teach a whole pile of other valuable copywriting skills. Including copy chunks you can plug-and-play into your copy, to make it more powerful. Other copy elements outside of the main sales message, and how to write each. How to analyze your copy before you send it out, to see if it will be a winner. And more.
Plus I did a webinar where I walked through how I used the Clayton Makepeace outline to write my first million-dollar winners for clients. Which is worth the price of the program by itself.
Save $100 on High-Velocity Copywriting today…
I’m feeling generous, so I’ve decided to run a sale on this program. Actually, a bigger sale than I ever remember offering.
I’m reducing the price by $100 — from $297 to $197.
This is a limited-time sale, with coupon hvcsale012020.
By the time you’re done, you’ll have a breakthrough-level understanding of the deep structure of high-converting direct response copy.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,