The sad truth about copywriting that can keep you broke...

by max5ty
20 replies
A few years ago I did a post on here about some of the headlines I've used.

One was "To all the ugly people".

I was slammed for saying I'd used that headline. I got comments like: "You should never go negative". "So and so said...". "Blah, blah, blah". Can't recall if that was one of the posts I had gotten some infractions over or not. Funny thing is the so-called experts that caused me to get the infractions are no longer around. Actually, they've been banned.

The article I used the headline on ended up having over 12 million views and took the cosmetic company to a multi-million dollar payday.

Here's a fact...most of the copywriting courses with all their tips and tricks are just based on writing a good short story.

If you study story writing you'll get a basic understanding of writing good copy.

There's a guy with a book out about having "the big idea". That was actually something that was talked about in books that were written decades ago. His big idea was to bring up the fact of a big idea. I'm 100% in agreement with his idea, but it's something that you'd learn if you were learning how to write a good short story.

Too many times a new copywriter will pay big money and spend hours trying to find all the secrets to writing something that makes people want to buy. The secrets have been around for centuries. It doesn't take money to learn them.

Too many would-be copywriters are sitting around waiting for just the right phrases or sequences to follow. Stop doing that.

There are copywriting courses that tell you a good headline has to have a benefit, etc. There was a guy that built a million-plus following just by doing one-word headlines in full-page ads in the New York Times...and that was before the internet. NYT was never cheap to do one-page ads.

Every single principle you've read about in any copywriting course has been proven to not be the only way. Everything they tell you to do has had someone do the exact opposite and be super successful.

The problem with the "internet age" is that hoards of people have discovered copywriting and marketing and web design and video production and porn and...on and on. Someone who may or may not have ever been successful at any of the above will always have a course telling you how you can do it.

There's a whole business telling you how to do something by people who have never done it. I know this for a fact because I know some who are selling courses on how to succeed and they've never succeeded other than selling courses on how to succeed.

I've been called a troll on here by another guy that is doing VSL's for the health industry now...even though I doubt they're even breaking even with the ads they're running.

I've never sold anything on here and never intend to. Everything I post is to help those that are copywriters or plan on being one. Plus, I doubt anyone on here could afford my fees haha. And no, if you ask, I will politely turn you down because I'm semi-retired and don't need the income.

Here's what I tell new copywriters that ask for advice:

First...have you ever walked into a business and looked around and found something that blows your mind? Something you didn't think they offered? That's the stuff that only research will find. Research and research until you're exhausted.

Second thing to do...decide what emotion you want to use. I could write a whole post on this...but decide what emotion your would-be customers are going to feel when you tell them the news. You should always have some news. People love news.

Then tell the story of your offer. No hard sell required. Just the news.

Whatever you're selling, make sure you have something that is new. Something that will make people think that they've tried the other stuff and now here is something different.

If you're just selling the same old thing as everyone else then you'll fail.

Everybody has seen a million ads. They've seen a million offers. They're looking for something new that will solve their problems. They've tried everything else.

The sad news is not everyone will be a copywriter. Not everyone will be an artist. I've watched videos on Facebook where people can paint the most beautiful pictures...and yet I know I'll never be able to have their skills. It's ok. That's when you learn to outsource your work.

You can be very successful and very wealthy if you just learn to outsource the stuff you're not good at. That's another whole post.

So, back to my headline...if you try to follow all the rules that every course tells you to follow, you'll still be stuck where you are today.

Be yourself. Learn how to tell a good story. Learn how to outsource if you need to.

Would appreciate your feedback and any comments on this post.
#broke #copywriting #sad #truth
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

    A few years ago I did a post on here about some of the headlines I've used.

    One was "To all the ugly people".
    When I read that, my first thought was "How could anyone not read that ad?"

    A few will laugh, and read the ad.
    A few will think you are talking to them, and read the ad.
    Many will think you are talking about some other people, and read the ad.
    A few will be upset, scream about "Prejudice against the visually challenged" and read the ad through squinted eyes.

    I didn't see the rest of the ad, but I'm assuming it was done with humor. ...maybe because that's the reaction I had to the headline.


    I have to agree with the rest of the post, based on my limited knowledge of copywriting.

    In my ads, I really only learned what doesn't work.

    Trying to be clever for the sake of cleverness.

    Being incongruent from the headline to the body.

    But telling a story? A solid approach.

    I watch Rachel Maddow. Like her or hate her, she's the best I've ever seen at telling a story, to pull you in and make you watch the rest of her hour.

    I also watched several shows with Joel Osteen. Again, like him or hate him, he has a formula to sell his view, and it works.

    Thanks for the insights.
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    • Profile picture of the author max5ty
      Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

      When I read that, my first thought was "How could anyone not read that ad?"

      A few will laugh, and read the ad.
      A few will think you are talking to them, and read the ad.
      Many will think you are talking about some other people, and read the ad.
      A few will be upset, scream about "Prejudice against the visually challenged" and read the ad through squinted eyes.

      I didn't see the rest of the ad, but I'm assuming it was done with humor. ...maybe because that's the reaction I had to the headline.


      I have to agree with the rest of the post, based on my limited knowledge of copywriting.

      In my ads, I really only learned what doesn't work.

      Trying to be clever for the sake of cleverness.

      Being incongruent from the headline to the body.

      But telling a story? A solid approach.

      I watch Rachel Maddow. Like her or hate her, she's the best I've ever seen at telling a story, to pull you in and make you watch the rest of her hour.

      I also watched several shows with Joel Osteen. Again, like him or hate him, he has a formula to sell his view, and it works.

      Thanks for the insights.
      Haha, over 12 million read it.

      I did a headline: "For those about to cheat on their spouse" and it got over 4 million views and sold over a million dollars in product.

      Thanks for your feedback.

      What I was trying to say is that there are no rules. Be creative. Be new. Be bold. Be brave. Make some cash.
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      • Profile picture of the author harrygalbert
        Do all of your headlines call out to the reader?
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        • Profile picture of the author max5ty
          Originally Posted by harrygalbert View Post

          Do all of your headlines call out to the reader?
          I must say that is a unique name.

          I always liked to do a pre headline, then the main headline, then the subheadline.

          The pre headline usually called out the reader...not always, but usually.
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          • Profile picture of the author harrygalbert
            Long-time lurker, and finally mustered up the courage to make an account and mingle. I figured I'd pay hommage to the late, great, GH.

            Btw, your post is the reason I signed up.

            And speaking of your post...

            The reason I asked if all your headlines call out to the prospect is because, when I read your two headlines:

            "To all the ugly people" and...

            "For those about to cheat on their spouse"...

            You're calling out a specific audience. In addition, you're sprinkling curiosity into each headline. The curiosity factor would make me click on both.

            Was this the full headline or was there a subhead too?
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            • Profile picture of the author max5ty
              Originally Posted by harrygalbert View Post

              Long-time lurker, and finally mustered up the courage to make an account and mingle. I figured I'd pay hommage to the late, great, GH.

              Btw, your post is the reason I signed up.

              And speaking of your post...

              The reason I asked if all your headlines call out to the prospect is because, when I read your two headlines:

              "To all the ugly people" and...

              "For those about to cheat on their spouse"...

              You're calling out a specific audience. In addition, you're sprinkling curiosity into each headline. The curiosity factor would make me click on both.

              Was this the full headline or was there a subhead too?
              Glad you signed up.

              Would like to hear your ideas on copywriting. Everyone has some good ideas...sometimes they're different, but it's good to hear other opinions.

              Those headlines were stand-alone headlines.

              It's important to know that where you're advertising has an effect on what headline you use...

              if you're advertising in a golf magazine or website, you know everyone there is probably a golf addict.

              Magazines like cosmo...most are women...etc.
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              • Profile picture of the author tonyna
                Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

                Glad you signed up.

                Would like to hear your ideas on copywriting. Everyone has some good ideas...sometimes they're different, but it's good to hear other opinions.

                Those headlines were stand-alone headlines.

                It's important to know that where you're advertising has an effect on what headline you use...

                if you're advertising in a golf magazine or website, you know everyone there is probably a golf addict.

                Magazines like cosmo...most are women...etc.
                Talking about the two headlines you brought reminds me of the pioneer of fascinations aka bullets , Mel Martins.

                He came up with headlines such as....

                "For people who are almost (but not quite) satisfied with their own cooking -- and can't figure out what's missing."

                "For golfers who are almost (but not quite) satisfied with their golf --- and can't figure out what they're doing wrong"

                "What airlines won't tell you"

                And the very popular one...

                "What Never to Eat on an Airplane"

                Intriguing and eye grabbing headlines if you ask me
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                • Originally Posted by tonyna View Post

                  "For people who are almost (but not quite) satisfied with their own cooking -- and can't figure out what's missing."

                  I ain't nevah been satisfied with my own cookin' -- an' neithah (have been) my (so-called) 'pukisti' house guests -- but I would nevah wanna chomp into no (say) excloosive sausage offah less'n I got no srs tastah.


                  Thusly am I minded to wondah -- more frequently than is mebbe healthy for Moi -- wtf is gowin' on, actschwlly ... ?
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      • Profile picture of the author Diego Aguirre
        "For those about to cheat on their spouse"
        Hmm very interesting approach, I am sure lots of curious eyes wanted to discover what you had to say.
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    And to Claude:

    Hopefully, you know that all these big dollar blogs have copywriters that write the posts right?

    I've written a ton and know other copywriter friends that have too. Don't do it anymore because it was in the 1800s but I always had to chuckle when a news outlet carried the post and credited them with the story...
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

      And to Claude:

      Hopefully, you know that all these big dollar blogs have copywriters that write the posts right?
      I strongly assumed that the blog posts that are infrequently posted, were professionally written....or written by the blogger that has studied copywriting extensively.

      I also assumed that the copywritten blog posts were the ones that get shared and linked to.

      I also assumed that the books that are given away for "Free plus shipping" were largely written professionally....as these are really just long form sales letters and positioning statements.

      I have now exhausted everything I know about anything.
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      "Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle".....Ian Maclaren
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  • Profile picture of the author Matthew Stanley
    So, back to my headline...if you try to follow all the rules that every course tells you to follow, you'll still be stuck where you are today.

    Be yourself. Learn how to tell a good story.
    Fantastic advice, and a great thread to bookmark and reference. And I totally agree. Rote memorization of countless "rules" can all too often have the effect of being impractical and thus forgotten, or something that can impair differentiation and make writing uninteresting. That is definitely not to say some of these rules don't work -- many are tried and tested, and folks should use what they've found success with -- but a greater premium should be placed on writing that's *interesting* to the reader - and stories are probably the best way to achieve that. What's more is that they're also fun to write! Keeping a collection of different story ideas in a reference file is imo one of the better habits for copywriters to practice...
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  • Profile picture of the author Matthew Stanley
    related and informative thread on story telling ICYMI: https://www.warriorforum.com/email-m...ments#comments
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  • Late in here, so chew my butt if'n evrythin' been said already ovah an' ovah.

    Prolly the story evrywan gaht is ...

    I was born ... gonna die one day ... & now I figurin' this weirdsy MIDDLE PART.

    Baseline in evry movie, novel, ad -- or merely no kinda drunken afternoon spent watchin' wrestlin' guys -- hey, this is your undercurrent gravitas shazam.

    2 undeniable absoloots.

    1 massive fluxhole within which to hook & string up whatevah.

    An' bcs we so versatile & diverso HOOMAN, you gaht plenty twixtypoints of story meetup between bein' born an' bein' dead (less'n you onea them people believes they gonna live forevah -- coincidentally the same kinda person will gladly pay BIG DOLLARS to the Tooth Fairy for that whole '4yo glitsnin' ain't nevah gonna die' look).

    Stories play 'creative' but they are inevitable.

    The inaudible & eternal growl of time snuffin' out the brief howl of mortal anguish.

    What possible positive outcomes may be hurled into such a maelstrom as may actschwlly turn out good?

    Eithah you script 'em -- or they prolly nevah happen.

    Time is a whipcrackin' taskmastah, story is choice.

    So here's a stoopid example you may find profitabyool.

    Durin' my yogah flopout today, I found musself reachin' for sum healthy grapes I gaht from the store.

    Then I figured: what spitityool stillness is this that demands I blend Nirvana with the chompin' actschwaahn of a crazed wolverine intent on sprayin' juice evrywhere?

    So I hitched up my T an' placed a single grape in my navel.

    "Gonna cup my greed in the pursuit of balance" kinda thing -- though by the time I navelized said grape there were only 3 left.

    Prolly I shoulda saved 'em for a treat aftah I was done, but in the spirit of balance, I tried to pile 'em up -- yanno, like a non-hooman syrahmid.

    So ... jus' interested to know ...

    anywan here beat 2 grapes?

    I bit the top off the lower one to make it more squishy an' accommodatin', but I do naht believe this is cheatin'.
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    @Princess Balestra - I have never attempted the grape thing, although one time I did eat 4 whoppers from Burger King in the same meal. Which I'm not proud to say I accomplished, because for years I've gotten up every morning and ran...

    whether I was having a meltdown of some type I'm not sure because It was never diagnosed.

    But anyway, you were talking about living and dying and in between and it made me think of some books I've been reading again lately. They're about the subconscious mind and the secrets that it contains.

    The subconscious mind is considered by some to be the soul of a person...and some believe it lives forever. But, a couple of reasons I bring that up...

    one of the books is by Robert Collier, the great copywriter. He wrote the book "The Secret Of The Ages," which I read again.

    If you ever study the truly gifted, artistic people throughout history, you will find they virtually were all believers in using the subconscious mind to achieve phenomenal things. Great Authors have even described how they used their minds in dreams to write stories...great copywriters have described how they've gone to places in their mind where they've had meetings with those from the past...

    so, thanks for your comment, it made me think of all that
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    • Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

      so, thanks for your comment, it made me think of all that
      I guess the thing always is how evry empty comment box here -- same as evry empty sales page -- evenshwlly gets loaded up with sum combination of letters, punkchwayshaan etc.

      All legible, meaningful & potentially persuasive to sum degree, I guess.

      But this is the 'etchin' of marks 'pon the slate' -- an' before we get to this point, there is so much gowin' on.

      As a hooman person, natchrlly I am drawin' inflooences from all ovah.

      Sumtimes, I am real diligent ... othah times I am more fanciful ... so before any woids get whacked out on the page, there is all kindsa conflux gowin' down.

      An' 'course -- I ain't alone here.

      Evrywan evah to give voice to thought here on WF manifests their own individyool swirl of bein' via the medium of A-Z an' the occasional apostrophe.

      Jus' gotta hope always there is plenty juicy stuff in the mixture for evrywan to lap up.

      Thing 'bout copy is how we figure it is more 'constructed' than 'created' -- hence the proliferation of formulae an' 'method'.

      "Follow these 5 simple copywriting rules, and you too can develop the Tourettes of a Kern!"

      So while there may be advantage in telepathically maulin' the keyboard while surfin' the astral plane -- yo subconscious -- I would want always for copy persons to step back from The Rules once in a while an' see what happens.

      It's darn hard sumtimes to tame sumone else's Success Monstah, but incredible creachers unleashed from yuh own trap can always be reined in.

      Leastaways, that is how I approach DATIN'.

      Hey, but like you say, history is rich with zamples of creation "seen in a flash" -- insights seemingly from outta noplace, demandin' enthoosiasm to haul 'em into the world of sensation.

      Sumtimes you jus' gotta throw stuff into the mix howevah an' whenevah -- an' trust to your inner zhoozhie to come up with sumthin' ain't too stoopid.
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    Best thing to remember is that everything you think about is in the now...

    all the past that you remember, you remember in the now. Every thought you have is in the now. Your life is always in the now. You may remember things from the past, but when you remember them, they're always in the now.

    The future is always in the now. The past is always in the now.

    Your mind doesn't travel back and forth...it's always in the now.

    When we sell something...it's always solving a problem that is in the now.

    We don't prevent and we don't go back in time

    This all may sound a little quacky...but once you understand, it'll help your thinking when it comes to selling...
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    • Profile picture of the author tonyna
      Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

      Best thing to remember is that everything you think about is in the now...

      all the past that you remember, you remember in the now. Every thought you have is in the now. Your life is always in the now. You may remember things from the past, but when you remember them, they're always in the now.

      The future is always in the now. The past is always in the now.

      Your mind doesn't travel back and forth...it's always in the now.

      When we sell something...it's always solving a problem that is in the now.

      We don't prevent and we don't go back in time

      This all may sound a little quacky...but once you understand, it'll help your thinking when it comes to selling...
      max5ty,

      I love you Sir.

      Your ideas and your manner of presenting them are always fascinating to me.

      When you write, my eyes are glued and ready to read and study.

      It will be the greatest honour of my life to meet you beyond this WF Sir
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      • Originally Posted by tonyna View Post


        When you write, my eyes are glued and ready to read and study.

        Just a tad difficult I'd say, particularly if it's Gorilla glue.
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        • Profile picture of the author max5ty
          Originally Posted by Devil Reincarnated View Post

          Just a tad difficult I'd say, particularly if it's Gorilla glue.
          Thank you.

          I worked with them before. They actually started in the late 90's and we came up with a marketing plan that got them national attention
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