Before You Ask For A Critique *rant*

26 replies
Please spend some time on your copy. Do not waste other people's time by asking for critiques on copy that you've "just thrown together".

I've noticed quite a few threads asking for critiques of their "sales letter", "landing page", or "squeeze page" copy.

Then, after several people are kind enough to spend THEIR TIME giving helpful (and valid) comments, the OP comes back on and says something to the tune of:

"Gee, thanks for the comments about X, Y, or Z. I know I should have done something like that, but I just threw this page up in, like, 15 minutes/an hour/between American Idol commercials. So I know it needs a lot of work. But thanks anyway."

Frankly, I find this kind of post self-centered, rude, disrespectful, and grossly inconsiderate of other people's time.

If YOU can't be bothered to spend more than a few minutes "throwing" your copy on the page, please don't ask others to waste their time reviewng your lazy, half-assed attempt.
#critique #rant
  • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
    It's for them more than us.

    You write something that takes you three hours. You say "what do you think?" and people rip it a new arsehole.

    Most people don't want to admit that they spent a lot of time and invested their best effort in crap. So they minimise their work and effort, make an excuse, and run away.

    It's expectations again. Everybody wants to say "what do you think of this" and be told they're fantastic wonderful copywriters who should start a business in professional copywriting immediately. The reality is that nobody gets told that.

    Personally, I don't critique someone's stuff extensively unless I'm willing to write off the time. I'll give quick and easy critique, and then if they seem receptive I might delve a little deeper.
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    "The Golden Town is the Golden Town no longer. They have sold their pillars for brass and their temples for money, they have made coins out of their golden doors. It is become a dark town full of trouble, there is no ease in its streets, beauty has left it and the old songs are gone." - Lord Dunsany, The Messengers
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  • Profile picture of the author breaker
    I totally agree with CDARK.

    Plus, one could say it's insulting to the people that offer critiques to help out. They probably don't need someone to stand up for them.... plus if they felt the OP didn't put in their due diligence then they don't have to help/comment. Just saying...
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
      Banned
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      • Profile picture of the author Collette
        Originally Posted by alexa_s View Post

        I also suspect that some of the people asking for critiques imagine that the top professional copywriters here don't ever need to do any research ...churning out their top professional copy in about 2 hours' work rather than a few weeks' work ...
        You might have a point, here. And a more charitable frame of reference than I.
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      • Profile picture of the author zapseo
        Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

        I also suspect that some of the people asking for critiques imagine that the top professional copywriters here don't ever need to do any research and can work at top speed, churning out their top professional copy in about 2 hours' work rather than a few weeks' work (quite flattering to them really, in a sense, if rather unrealistic) and that "therefore" something they've concocted in a couple of hours themselves will just need a little bit of editing and some minor alterations before necessarily becoming a real winner!
        Alexa, I said we're going to be great friends, and we are -- but do you take a breath with that sentence?

        Or is it my need of new glasses that prevents me from seeing any "stop" punctuation until the final exclamation mark?

        Whew!
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    • Profile picture of the author Collette
      Originally Posted by breaker View Post

      I totally agree with CDARK.

      Plus, one could say it's insulting to the people that offer critiques to help out. They probably don't need someone to stand up for them.... plus if they felt the OP didn't put in their due diligence then they don't have to help/comment. Just saying...
      You've completely missed the point.

      If the OP begins by saying, "Please critique something I threw together in between picking my nose and cleaning my teeth.", that would make everything above board.

      But they never do.

      It's only after other Warriors have taken the time - in good faith - to try to help, that the OP reveals that they knew all along that it was a piece of cr*p, and the piece wasn't to be taken seriously anyway.

      That's not only rude, it ultimately hurts those people who geniunely want a real critique.

      I'm talking about people who may not be the world's greatest writers, but who really have sweated to put their best effort forth. People who really want a critique - and who may now get limited or no feedback as a result of someone else's laziness and rudeness.

      Saying that people don't have to help is stating the obvious. However people who abuse the generousity of this forum ultimately make it more difficult for others who would geniunely appreciate help to get it.

      I don't think it's too much to ask for some civility and consideration towards your fellow Warriors.

      However, I have to admit, I find it disturbing that you do. And that you used your first post to say so.

      Just sayin'...
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      • Profile picture of the author breaker
        Originally Posted by Collette View Post

        You've completely missed the point.

        If the OP begins by saying, "Please critique something I threw together in between picking my nose and cleaning my teeth.", that would make everything above board.

        But they never do.

        It's only after other Warriors have taken the time - in good faith - to try to help, that the OP reveals that they knew all along that it was a piece of cr*p, and the piece wasn't to be taken seriously anyway.

        That's not only rude, it ultimately hurts those people who geniunely want a real critique.

        I'm talking about people who may not be the world's greatest writers, but who really have sweated to put their best effort forth. People who really want a critique - and who may now get limited or no feedback as a result of someone else's laziness and rudeness.

        Saying that people don't have to help is stating the obvious. However people who abuse the generousity of this forum ultimately make it more difficult for others who would geniunely appreciate help to get it.

        I don't think it's too much to ask for some civility and consideration towards your fellow Warriors.

        However, I have to admit, I find it disturbing that you do. And that you used your first post to say so.

        Just sayin'...
        Sorry Collette, don't be disturbed... you're right.
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    • Profile picture of the author shirland
      Originally Posted by Paul McQuillan View Post

      Let's not forget the people who ask for critique and disappear into the night.

      At least hit that little thanks in the lower right corner on your way out...
      I feel if the person genuinely wants a critique, then they should indeed follow up on the thread. I have seen in other forums where someone asked for a critique and they never commented back to the feedback. This hurt the person in a future thread who is genuinely looking for feedback. You have to willing to accept constructive criticism to improve your splash page et cetera otherwise don't waste anyone time. We have to learn how to live with the good as well as the bad.
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  • Profile picture of the author LB
    "Gee, thanks for the comments about X, Y, or Z. I know I should have done something like that, but I just threw this page up in, like, 15 minutes/an hour/between American Idol commercials. So I know it needs a lot of work. But thanks anyway."
    I don't believe this to be true at all...these are just ego-savers. In reality, these posters probably DID spend a lot of time creating their pages...but when the harsh criticism comes flying in it's easy to save face by saying, "oh well, it wasn't that important anyway".

    In reality, it's likely they did spend a lot of time on it and honest criticism hurts.

    Kind of like when you're 5 years old and someone steals your ball at recess...."I didn't want that ball anyway you loser!"
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    • Profile picture of the author Collette
      Originally Posted by LB View Post

      ...Kind of like when you're 5 years old ...
      Yeah. Kind of like that.
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  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    The best critiques usually dispense with pleasantries immediately and cut right to the quick.

    You've got to be able to check your ego at the door if you want to sit on the hot seat - at least if you want to get anything out of it besides a red ass.

    When I ask my peers to review or critique something, I'm utterly disappointed unless they give me a pointedly made revelation or two (which they almost always do).

    When Kevin Rogers nails me to the wall for burying the big promise too deep in the copy I don't break down and cry. I thank him profusely for being my eyes "that couldn't see".

    When Kyle Tully pounds on me for proof, proof and more proof, I don't make excuses about it or argue with him. I figure out a way to overcome the reasons that proof was lacking in the first place.

    It's like my Dad said once when I was complaining about a fight I was having with my girlfriend in high-school. She felt like I was doing something, which I was so busy denying that I couldn't see the forest for the trees. He said, "it doesn't matter whether you're actually doing it or not... if that's how she feels, it's TRUE... for HER..."

    Lightbulb moment. A young Brian begins to understand that the world doesn't revolve around how HE feels, but how everyone ELSE feels.

    So, I immediately begin to modify MY behavior... I make a conscious effort to avoid any possibility of whatever it was that was bugging her. And she winds up cheating on me with some douchebag hick in North Carolina that summer...

    ..err, what were we talking about again? Oh yeah...

    A critique is by its very nature an OBJECTIVE top-down view of your sales message. It makes evident that which you are incapable of seeing for yourself. It's not meant to make you feel good or feel bad - it's meant to MAKE YOU MONEY.

    It's not often that you see a really "great" in-depth critique here on the forum because rarely has the person asking demonstrated that they are either ready for or worthy of such a gift - and make no mistake about it... it is a GIFT because many of us charge a pretty penny for delivering just such a "beating".

    I know that sounds pretty arrogant... maybe it is. But it's also true.

    P.S. My dad was one cool dude.
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  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    One more thing...

    When DOING a critique you're not sitting there ridiculing the subject thinking to yourself "what a moron...", but that's often the way you're perceived -*especially by drive-by commenters and others who ought to have no dog in the fight at all.

    They attack the person giving the critique... for being CRITICAL!

    Well DUH...

    They barge in and say utterly stupid and counterproductive things like "Don't listen to the negative people, ____. I think it's AWESOMEE!!!!"

    "Go crap in yer hat", says I.

    Brian
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  • Profile picture of the author Daniel Scott
    I nominate this for a sticky.

    -Dan
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    Always looking for badass direct-response copywriters. PM me if we don't know each other and you're looking for work.

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  • Profile picture of the author HeySal
    Critique on copy?

    Sorry - it's getting bad enough that people expect you to write for 5 bucks a shot...then suddenly they decide that the research for that 5 bucks is your job...too. Now this - critique my work.

    Sure I will critique your work -- It's called an "EDITOR" and they run about 10 bucks a page.

    People need to get over asking others to do professional work for free. Period.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarah_Lyle
    It's worth over $100 to get the real low-down from an expert - if you are serious and want to either freelance or create your own products to sell. How fantastic can it be that you can hire real expertise for so little money - let alone get a free once-over by a kindly person here! I can't believe how some will abuse this privilege and are not serious in what they want to achieve.
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  • Profile picture of the author Keeslover
    Because anyone can write copy, dontcha know. If the folks on here can do it so easily, anyone can. <sarcasm off>
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarah_Lyle
    Blimey, and I thought I was mega-talented...sigh
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  • Profile picture of the author zapseo
    Oh -- and, to the topic at hand...

    I think that's why I stopped giving critiques on the WF. Well, that, and it took me a little (and the forum a little) before I was ready to come back after the earthquake of August 08. Don't get me wrong -- I loved the new forum software, but the number of drive-by one-liner and, I daresay, idiotic posters was a bit more than I could stand.

    I used to say that if people wanted tact with their critique, if they wanted their dear precious feelings taken into consideration, they should pay for a critique. (Widely lauded -- I'm humbled by some of the testimonials I have...).

    The last critique I did, however, for a fellow copywriter (yes, for pay), I thought he wouldn't want to talk to me after I wrote it. He LOVED it.

    So I'm not sure worrying about people's feelings is worth the time. They either want the feedback or they don't. Trust me, the critique of the market can be far more brutal than what I dish out.

    They should be spending a lot more overall than the piddling amount I ask for a critique. And, if not, they are seriously delusional about what success requires.

    I wrote an article on the old pre-earthquake (prior to 8/08) WF about people who
    whine about how little money they have. I'll have to dig it up and re-post it here.

    In brief -- if you are whining about my copywriting fees, you are underfunded, pure and simple.
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    • Profile picture of the author John Taylor
      Charlie,

      Originally Posted by Charlie Houston View Post

      After reading this I will never ask for a critique.
      Why?

      And, yes, that's a serious question. I'm curious
      what it is about the thread that would prompt
      you to say that?

      John
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    • Profile picture of the author dorothydot
      Originally Posted by Charlie Houston View Post

      After reading this I will never ask for a critique.
      I agree with John. Why so dramatic?

      All we ask is that you offer up your best effort for our review. Then we can give you comments that will sincerely help you, rather than repeating what you already know but didn't use in your first draft.

      It's the best use of our experience and time. Why is that too much to ask?

      Dot
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      • Profile picture of the author John Taylor
        Dot,

        Originally Posted by dorothydot View Post

        I agree with John. Why so dramatic?
        I didn't make any judgement about the intent
        of the statement.

        I'm genuinely interested in the "why" as it might
        help to shed some light on what's fundamentally
        wrong in the copywriting forum.


        John
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        • Profile picture of the author dorothydot
          John,

          No judgment intended. But there's an old saying, 'never say never'. That comes across as rather overdramatic, imho.

          I personally believe in critiquing a person by praising what that person does that is good as well as by pointing out what has been done wrong or could be done better.

          There also is a thing called manners. I realize that when you put words to paper, those words are a reflection of you. And when you feel those words are attacked (rightly or wrongly), you tend to feel defensive.

          I also realize that the best way each of us copywriters can learn and improve our copy is by honest and insightful critiques from our fellow copywriters. This is GOLD!

          Each of us has our own writing style and critiquing style. We as writers need to understand and respect this.

          Just the fact that someone took the time and consideration to give a helpful review of your words is a gesture of respect and friendship - usually. ( Deliberate put-downs excepted - there's no room for that.)

          Hope this clarifies,
          Dot
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