How did you learn copywriting?

24 replies
Hey everyone,

I have been studying and learning about how to become a copywriter. I have always been into sales and I love IM. There is a lot of information on "how to" when it comes to writing great sales pages, but my question to everyone is how did you get into copywriting and become successful at it?

Did you need a sales letter and not want to hire someone so you wrote it yourself and continued to tweek it until it was converting well? Or did the whole concept of writing sales letters interest you so you wanted to learn? How did you get where you are today as a successful copywriter?

I am reading books and I need to write a letter soon. I want to do it myself though because I really want to learn the art/science of it all. Thanks in advance for your input!
#copywriting #learn
  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Koop
    I'm sure that most everyone who responds will have a different story to tell but I got my start about 21 years ago...

    I was an Art major in college and worked as a Graphic Designer for a company responsible for creating all of Pacific Bell's "yellow page" ads as well as many other types of marketing pieces.

    After a short time, they opened up a new division that would require the designer to not only design the ad, but write all of the copy from scratch too.

    I interviewed/tested for the position and was selected. This particular department was very small (only 8 of us vs. more than 200 "regular" designers). They hired a copywriting pro and put us all through one full week of training.

    After that, we went to work and in the nearly 2 years I worked in that capacity, I designed/wrote well over 1,000 ad pieces in total.

    If you already have a sound background in sales, you will likely do very well. I would encourage you to keep studying anything/everything you can get your hands on and don't just stick to "copy-specific" stuff... you'll want to learn more about persuasion tactics, conversion tactics and testing methods.

    Best of luck,
    Kevin

    PS - I highly recommend the book, "Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways To Be Persuasive" by Robert B. Cialdini (and Goldstein/Martin)
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    Banned
    I started by writing ads on public toilet walls and it went from there.
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    • Profile picture of the author Keithyt
      I saw a paid for magazine in a major newsagent in Liverpool, UK back in '88 and noticed that the publisher was only yards away. I rang him and he asked me immediately if I could sell ads. I didn't want to do that thankless task again. I told him I could write. I wasn't very good back then actually but I was better than him. You develop your style as you go along. By doing it you learn it.

      Since then I have been writing as a public relations pro almost non stop for a living. As Kevin says, stick with the studies and you can easily adapt to each challenge as you go along. In my experience, clients want an angle on a subject whether it's a news angle, a product review a sales letter or whatever it is. I remember once being nervous about writing a sales letter for a print company who were inviting prospective customers to their premises. Sales letter writing wasn't my strong point at that time but I did it and they received two new clients from that one letter. As Nike says "Just Do It."
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    • Profile picture of the author scrofford
      Originally Posted by Metronicity View Post

      I started by writing ads on public toilet walls and it went from there.
      Nice! So that's where those came from!
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      • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
        Originally Posted by scrofford View Post

        Nice! So that's where those came from!
        Metro invented the headline "For a good time call."
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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 mmzcreates
    Thank you scrofford for posting this topic. I was searching the forum for a similar topic.
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    Marilyn
    http://www.mmzcreates.com - Personal Blog on Writing and Stages of the Writing Process

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    • Profile picture of the author scrofford
      Originally Posted by mmzcreates View Post

      Thank you scrofford for posting this topic. I was searching the forum for a similar topic.
      Not a problem! I really want to become an excellent copywriter and I thought that this would be a good way to find books to read on the subject and places to get started.
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    • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
      Originally Posted by mmzcreates View Post

      Thank you scrofford for posting this topic. I was searching the forum for a similar topic.
      Ok, so that's the real question.

      If you're serious about learning the craft, and shortening the time to competency/proficiency--and most importantly, making some money at it... it would pay dividends GALORE to get individually mentored.


      Look at it this way: If I'm gonna climb Everest and make it back down alive, you can bet I am going to search for THE person who can make that happen.


      And nothing less will do.


      - Rick Duris

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      • Profile picture of the author gjabiz
        Originally Posted by RickDuris View Post



        t... it would pay dividends GALORE to get individually mentored.




        - Rick Duris

        Thanks Rick, great advice.

        There was a post made today at our forum at Seeds Of Wisdom by Richard Dennis, who relates his days at Gary Halbert's kitchen table during the Seminar by the Sea.

        Richard went on, after being mentored by Gary Halbert, to write some great copy including the famous Dead Doctors Don't Lie letter. I met Richard at Bill Myers seminar in Arkansas and compared notes about our copywriting "mentors".

        I had the good fortune to fall under the wing of Ben Suarez and his copywriting staff, many of whom are niche specific names but have never been heard of in the general world of copy.

        Even then, I was more attracted to Gary Halbert's "personality" style than I was to Ben Suarez' "Q and A" style. Both styles served those guys well and I've been able to establish my own voice over the years, BUT, can do a good impression of the Client I might be working for.

        GET a mentor. Lots of em right here. Pick one you like to read. Go through the posts and find out more about them. You get a good sampling of the different types and styles right here.

        Get a mentor and write baby write. And let them tear you a new one until you get a pat on the head...it makes up for all the sore butts you'll get too.

        gjabiz

        PS. Of course, your voice and style may change for the audience and/or the media you use, but with the guidance of a good mentor, and pick someone who has spent his own money to test, you'll accelerate your copy career.
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  • Profile picture of the author thewealthywiseman
    Me I used to love the biz-op mags... Income Opportunities in particular. God I loved those ads... I'd say the one that really lit my fire was the famous (infamous? -- no I love Jeff and have spoken with him on the phone) "How To Make $4K a Day At Your Kitchen Table in Your underwear" ad and the front end booklet that went with it. I thought Him and DK did a fab job on that. That led me to too many sources to name here.
    And I wrote practice sales letters lots of sales letters, got swipe files etc... my first paid client was a 2k per month email writing gig about 10 years ago-- very heady stuff for me back then, lol.
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  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    I guess I was too dumb to know that copywriting was different than any other kind of writing. After I created my first product I just assumed I'd have to sell it. So I wrote the sales page and it sold... That's it. Kinda like the Forrest Gump approach to copywriting.
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  • Profile picture of the author Toby.T
    I think I learned it out of need. Once I had a product to sell, I had to find a way to sell it so it took its course that way. Wouldn't say thats the right way.
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  • Profile picture of the author DinoVedo
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    • Profile picture of the author scrofford
      Originally Posted by DinoVedo View Post

      Look at other sales pages... thats my best suggestion and test and test and test and see which one converts better... good luck!
      Is that how you got started? By looking at other sales pages? Or were you trying to give advice thinking that I wanted to know how to get started?
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  • Profile picture of the author FiverrGuru
    Everyday I copied by hand for an hour all of the Halbert's salesletters.
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
    Originally Posted by scrofford View Post

    Hey everyone,

    I have been studying and learning about how to become a copywriter. I have always been into sales and I love IM. There is a lot of information on "how to" when it comes to writing great sales pages, but my question to everyone is how did you get into copywriting and become successful at it?
    The full story is on my copywriting site. The short version is I fell into the industry. My friend who had introduced me to my wife guilted me into rewriting his business's home page. His site's conversion skyrocketed and he immediately referred four other people to me for marketing help. The referrals were unsolicited so I had to quickly come up with a game plan and a copywriting website.

    Did you need a sales letter and not want to hire someone so you wrote it yourself and continued to tweek it until it was converting well? Or did the whole concept of writing sales letters interest you so you wanted to learn?
    I started learning how to write my own marketing in 1993 because I need to get more clients for my offline massage therapy business. I pretty much every single "classic" marketing book there is during that time.

    In 1999 when I turned that one-person business into a massage office/center with multiple therapists, the stakes became higher and other people were relying on me to get them clients. So I had to write better marketing. In 2003, I expanded my business again into a full-blown massage therapy center, it was gun to the head marketing because I had nine other people working for me. Failure was not an option.

    I tried more than once to outsource my marketing to lighten my load. Everytime it was a disaster. In 2003-2004, I hired a well-known marketing firm (Y2 Marketing) to take over my marketing. My marketing was 25-30 online and offline marketing weapons created and in action every month. For 8 months they tried to write better marketing for me. They never beat a single control of mine. That's when I knew I might be pretty good at writing marketing.

    I didn't read my first copywriting book until 2004 and that was John Caples' Tested Advertising Methods. Of course, studying marketing from people like Dan Kennedy, Jay Abraham, and more means you still are learning something about how to write copy. The copywriting training books go into much more depth on the art of copywriting than any marketing books or courses I've seen to date.

    How did you get where you are today as a successful copywriter?
    With a lot of hard work. I've spent the last 3-4 years studying and writing copy pretty much every day to keep improving my copywriting skills. Early on, I spent a lot of time each week marketing my copywriting business. Now that I'm established, I don't need to spend as much time each week... but I still do regular marketing & networking for my business.

    Take care,

    Mike
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    • Profile picture of the author Fie
      Hello everyone,

      I'm new here, but I'd like to share my story with you.

      A couple of years ago, right after I graduated (I have a degree in language & literature), I got a job at an advertisement agency. I had to write a lot of texts and got good feedback from the senior copywriter.

      After working there for several months, I started my own copywriting business and even got freelance jobs from the agency where I used to work.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
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    The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
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    • Profile picture of the author scrofford
      Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

      Hey Ray I watched a video of you yesterday showing the best books in your opinion to read about learning copywriting. It was a big help! Thank you!
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      • Profile picture of the author Raydal
        Originally Posted by scrofford View Post

        Hey Ray I watched a video of you yesterday showing the best books in your opinion to read about learning copywriting. It was a big help! Thank you!
        For sure you can't beat the classics if you are looking
        for PRINCIPLES---times and methods change, but
        the principles are the same.

        Glad you loved it!

        -Ray Edwards
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        The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
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        • Profile picture of the author wordwizard
          I started with the AWAI accelerated 6 figure copywriting course quite a few years back, lured by their promise of making 6 figures from home...

          But the magalogs and those "complete sales packages" that their stuff is geared towards just aren't quite my style, and intimidated the heck out of me.

          But I started getting very intrigued with internet marketing sales letters, especially as I observed myself buying product after product.

          I kept wondering how they got me to do that, and started studying them. I also read a bunch of books and took more courses, including several from Jason Fladlien, which were the ones that finally pulled it all together for me and gave me the confidence to offer my copywriting services.

          After that, more occasional traininig (Jason's most recent course really rocked!) and lots of reviewing the materials I have on my hard drive, and just writing lots of copy.... ;-)

          One thing I have discovered recently is that I especially enjoy writing autoresponder emails... So I have added that service and have even started offering it all by itself.
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          Let Me Help You Sell: Sales Letters, Email Series, Pre-Sell Reports... PM me & we'll talk!
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  • Profile picture of the author James Foster
    For me it was Carlton's book, Fladlien's "3 Hour Ad", and a whole lot of practice.

    I try to write about a sales letter, or promotion, a week.

    Maybe it's a helpful hint, maybe it's not - try to get as many offline clients as you can. They pay way better, trust what you write, and don't complain about high fees.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
    I never did learn. So you can imagine my surprise when people actually pay me to write for them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Zentech
    Self-taught. I have always had an intuitive understanding of sales, and I study a lot of psychology and sociology. I also just enjoy the game of working on people's minds. It's like chess with words, and checkmate means getting the credit card to come out.
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    * Stupid Offer: Killer Sales Letters ***$897*** Just For Warriors. Ethical Clients & Legit Products Only. *
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  • Profile picture of the author scrofford
    I just started reading Robert Colliers Letter Book, and I also have Web Copy that Sells by Maria Veloso. I think this is some good reading to start with.

    So far, the Robert Collier book is excellent even though it has to do with sales letters that are mailed to people. I think the principles are all the same though.
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