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Ask Me Anything About Copywriting

Discussion in 'Copywriting & Sales Persuasion' started by leonardos, Sep 19, 2019.

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  1. leonardos

    leonardos Newbie

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    Hi members,

    I've been a member for quite some time but just this month I decided to step in and start contributing something back to the community.

    As I'm a direct response copywriter, I thought on opening a thread to reply to questions you may have in regards to copywriting.

    A few clarifications though:

    1) I'm not sure that opening a AMA thread is acceptable considering I'm a "newbie" to the forum. If it's not, I 'd ask moderators to take it down.

    2) This is not a promotional thread, so no personal information or references will be provided. Please don't ask.

    3) Copywriting is neither black-hat nor a money-making method per-se. It's a skill that can be used to grow any business. Consequently, no earning claims will be made. I'll only answer questions directly related to the copywriting process or application, and ONLY in this thread (No PMs please)

    4) I'm not sure how popular/useful can be this subject to members. So let's see. If I find it's of no use, I'll close the thread.


    With that out of the way, I just want to make one more thing clear: when I say "copywriting", I'm not referring to writing content, articles, blog posts, etc. I'm referring to writing copy that sells stuff.

    Now I'm ready for your questions... Let's roll!
     
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  2. Topiano

    Topiano Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Does a great writer makes a good copywriter?
     
  3. Spats

    Spats Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    How did you learn your craft?
     
  4. ContentExpert

    ContentExpert Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    What procedural protocols do you follow for authoring quality-focused content? Do you make use of editorial software? If so, which do you use?

    In terms of collecting and understanding client requirements, what measures do you take to ensure your delivered product is on-point with customer requests?

    Do you source images for your content? If so, from where do you pull them from and how do you strategize their placement within content?
     
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  5. pwetty

    pwetty Newbie

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    How has copywriting changed over the last 10 years?
     
  6. Eat You

    Eat You Junior Member

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    Scraping blogs and cold emailing them to write as a ghostwriter a good way to get clients?
     
  7. leonardos

    leonardos Newbie

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    I started by studying online sales letters back in 2004-2009. And of course, I wrote a lot of sales letters myself, trying to follow the basic structure of what I saw working at the time.

    I should mention that during this period I was writing in Spanish, which is my native language.

    Around 2009-2010, I moved my online business to the English market, so I had to re-do the process in English.

    Fortunately, there are lots of resources to learn copy in English, as most of the psychology used has been derived from direct response copywriting practices used to sell physical products to customers in the US back in the 60s and 70s. Most of it holds true today.

    Over the years, I had the chance of studying many of the classic copywriting books, test a lot of offers in the marketplace, and even take part in high-end copywriting courses and masterminds.

    But the ONE thing you can do to get good at copywriting -in fact, the TWO best things- are:

    1) Read a piece of good copy EVERY SINGLE DAY (I'm talking about pieces that YOU KNOW have produced sales into the millions. Not just anything you think is good).

    2) Write a piece of copy EVERY DAY.

    It might sound simple.... but do it for a few months and you'll be surprised hoe more effective as a copywriter and a salesman have you become.


    Great question.

    For years I used MS Word and basically wrote the full salesletter in one sitting (it would take me 3-4 hours in average). Then I'd revisit it a day later with fresh eyes to edit it.

    However, when I started writing more complex copy last year for financial, I saw that Word/Pages are not flexible enough to really work copy in a structured way. And copy is all about structure!

    So I started using Scrivener, and for the most part it's great (thinking on building a software that adapts better to my process, though).

    The good thing about scrivener is that allows you to have all the research on the same project, work through different drafts, reorganize sections easily, etc.

    RESEARCH is a BIG part of the copywriting process, so any tool that helps you conduct your research and keep it organized and easily accesible for your projects is a great help.

    A sample of me using Scrivener for copy:

    [​IMG]

    Let me go for the second question first: First, I want to clarify again that I DO NOT write content, in any case. But I do write copy that, sometimes, looks a lot like content.

    How do I source the images to be used -if images are being used for that particular piece of copy- varies a lot. I'd try to source or create the images myself for the draft, since almost every time, if I decide to add an image is because that image is used as proof. So, I don't leave it to chance.

    If it's for a client -although I don't have a lot of experience working with clients, to be sincere-, and depending on the client, they could decide to replace my image placeholder for one of their own.

    Many clients have graphic designers on staff that follow specific editorial guidelines for formatting, images, and so forth. Others have a full compliance department that every part of your copy, not only your images, has to be approved by (these are a massive pain in the b*** to work with, IMHO).

    But as I said before, I don't use images if there is no purpose to them.

    If I decide an image has to be there.... well, on one side that replies to your question, doesn't it? Copy calls for the media, not the other way around.

    And If I know it has to be there to improve conversions... then I'll fight with the client to ensure it's there.


    On your first question...

    I used to have a questionnaire prepared.... But requirements, and what each client needs -even if they don't know they need it- change so much from case to case that these days I prefer having a series of really open interviews with the client.

    I've always said that Positioning is 80% of copywriting, so if you want to write high-converting copy, you need to become more of a business strategist and be able to help clients with strategy. In an ideal world, you'll define the product, not the client.

    Or at least, you'll have a say on the features that need to be added to make it a bestseller.

    The best copy in the world won't sell a crappy product -at least not for long.
     
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    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2019
  8. gentzalli

    gentzalli Regular Member

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    how much money is actually in copywriting, at the higher levels? Like how much is the average pay for a typical sales page, and how much is the average pay for the top-notch sales pages?

    And how do you find your clients? or do your clients find you?
     
  9. leonardos

    leonardos Newbie

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    Good question.

    The phycology behind writing solid copy has not changed and will never change, since it's based on human behavior and emotional triggers.

    The way you write copy do need to change a bit depending on the culture you're addressing though.

    I mean, certain copy that works wonders when targeting the US public won't work that well in Latin America, Europe or other parts of the world. So you should know well not only your target language, but your target culture and idiosyncrasy as well.

    That being said, the market has evolved, of course.

    This needs to be considered from niche to niche, but in general, markets are a lot more sophisticated now that they were 10 years ago.

    Talking about levels of marketing sophistication would be a lengthy discussion, but if you're interested, I recommend you go to the source: Breakthrough Advertising, by Eugene Schwartz. In my opinion, one of the best copywriting books ever written, by one of the best copywriters ever to live.

    The short answer to this?

    Stop writing blatant ads, and make your ads look like content.

    As the great Gary Bencivenga used to say: "Make your ad itself VALUABLE".

    No idea, since I never tried. I don't do ghostwriting either.

    HOWEVER, I do think that if you want to make good money –in the copywriting business or IN ANY BUSINESS– you need to pay attention to the way you "position" yourself.

    Spamming and showing you're desperate are two of the worst things you can do to position yourself as an expert.

    So not only your closing rate will be really low, but if you do close a client, it'll be a pain-in-the-ass client that will take advantage of you, making you work your ass off for pennies, or even scamming you outright.

    I don't think I can give you a figure for the high end. I know of copywriters charging literally millions for copy, especially if you consider royalties. Some will even ask for equity in the company.

    A decade ago or so, Ted Nicholas was considered to be the highest-paid living copywriter, at $1MM per page. The record may have been broken by now, I don't know.

    I'd say that average is $15,000 to $25,000 advance for a sales letter or VSL, plus 5-6% on gross sales, for a decent copywriter. For a AAA Copywriter, is $100,000 upfront per copy or more.

    About how you find clients.... that's a complete course in itself. There are many ways, and as always, the first clients are the toughest to get.

    Of course, when you're at the point in your career that you can afford to charge $50k or more for a single piece of copy, you don't need to look for clients anymore. They'll find you... and you'll have a looong waiting list for people wanting to carve a space in your calendar.

    Great question.

    Contrarily to what's to be expected... good writers don't usually make for good copywriters.

    The problem with good writers is that we tend to try too hard to be creative and clever. And in copywriting CLARITY trumps CLEVERNESS any day.

    Copywriting is more about using proven writing structures to build an effective sales message than about good writing. I've seen copy with LOTS of grammar mistakes, and even misspellings, that the publishers didn't care enough to correct because the copy is pulling in millions.

    Now, a good writer can obviously become a good copywriter. She only needs the discipline to keep herself on track and edit all of that unnecessary prose and cleverness out of her sales copy.
     
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    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2019
  10. Total Noob

    Total Noob Jr. Executive VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    1. Any types of copy that you focus on in particular? Email sequences, VSLs, PPC campaigns, etc.
    2. Is there any copy that you won't write, either due to the type of copy or the subject matter of the copy?
    3. What copywriting projects are generally in the most demand?
    4. So you learned English and now write English copy? That's impressive if so.
    5. What does your portfolio look like, and what did it look like when you started?
     
  11. leonardos

    leonardos Newbie

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    1. I've started focusing on Email a few months ago, mainly because it makes for a good and justifiable retainer + royalty for clients (email campaigns, not email sequences). But I like sales copy better. Never did much PPC campaigns. I guess I could, but I don't have experience in that field.


    2. I won't touch anything related to the sex industry, hate speech, or any products that collide with my principles, of course. I firmly believe that there is responsibility in our words, and as copywriters we have the great responsibility that comes along with the great power...


    3. I probably can't give a definitive answer to that because I don't have an eye on every single market and industry out there than employs copywriters. But for sure emails and sales letters always will have a demand for them, since new products need to be sold every day.


    4. It's true. Even more: I didn't have any formal English training. I learned mostly on my own, by reading a lot and then listening to a lot of trainings in English. My English is far from perfect though, but it has improved a lot over the years.

    I decided to write copy exclusively in English for the same reason I decided to port over my business to the English market almost a decade ago: here's where the money is (and there are a few solid reasons why this will most likely always be the case... unless you can write in Chinese!).


    5. For many years I didn't have a portfolio since I only wrote for my own products and projects and had zero interest in working with clients. I wrote a lot of sales letters, but as I didn't collect any of that copy... many of them are now lost forever.

    A year ago or so, I started entertaining the idea of doing some client word... so I put kind of a portfolio together.

    But I don't send my whole portfolio to anybody that wants to take a look at it.

    No. That's terrible positioning.

    I may send a specific sample as appropriate if I see the client is serious.

    What I have in there?

    As of now, I few long-form sales letters (one being reaaally long, for a financial promo), a couple of short ones, and editorial one, a VSL... a webinar or two... oh and some copy critiques in video.

    But again, I usually send only the specific sample that's pertinent to the work I'm applying for. And I hardly apply for work, but that's another story...
     
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  12. Spats

    Spats Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    That's definitely the biggest challenge for people.

    How did you get your first few clients?
     
  13. leonardos

    leonardos Newbie

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    In my case, Facebook groups.

    Two things:

    First, if you join several copywriting FB groups and keep an eye out for jobs posting, you'll find that's always someone looking for copywriters.

    I got several jobs just replying to people wanting a copywriting job done... some with urgency because their copywriter failed to meet a deadline, or was missing in action.

    There are also long-term copywriting positions posted in groups all the time.

    Second suggestion: make a commitment to post valuable content in these groups.

    I should do more of this myself, but the truth is that I got a $3k retainer at the beginning of the year just because a SAAS company's CEO happened to read one of the couple articles I had posted in a particular FB group.

    There are a thousand ways of going about getting clients, but I'm not a people person, so I don't do networking nor cold calling nor anything like that.
     
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  14. Sweetrevenge

    Sweetrevenge Junior Member

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    Great AMA so far ! Thanks for doing it.

    Now, my question is : If you have only 3 books to recommend to someone who want badly to become a copywriter, what would be those books ?
     
  15. IncognitoSince2002

    IncognitoSince2002 Registered Member

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    I am learning a new skill ie copywriting . Can you recommend any useful sources
     
  16. YoungArt

    YoungArt Power Member

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    OP have u ever read breakthrough advertising?
     
  17. TheVigilante

    TheVigilante Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    The one aspect of Copywriting I love is that it is something that won't saturate like other methods on this forum :)
     
  18. akshay_saini

    akshay_saini Newbie Premium Member

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    please suggest What are the different types of copywriting?