Tragedy Of The Copy Writer

13 replies
I'm guilty.

When I first started writing copy, I thought I was dang good because I could copy the hype I saw in other sales letters. I saw outlandish claims, so I used outlandish claims. I saw exclamation marks, so I used exclamation marks - a lot of them. I saw "But wait, there's more," so I piled on the bonuses too.

And my ego only grew. Because everyone I shared my copy with thought my copy was amazing.

Except for my visitors, apparently. Because they weren't buying a thing.

Turns out I was a "copy" writer and not a copywriter. And the people who liked my copy were also "copy" writers, and rarely copywriters or, sadly, customers.

That's how I found out the hard way that ideas are more important than words. The ads I copied were often successful ads, but I didn't see the strategy, the logic, or the MARKET RESEARCH that made them winners.

All I could see was the excitement. It took me a year or so of writing copy before I started to "get it" and see what was behind the hype.

But now I know how to research a market effectively (thanks Michel Fortin).

And I know how to judge market awareness (thanks Eugene Schwartzthanks Eugene Schwartz ).

I know how to craft a logical sales argument from the ground up (thanks Clayton Makepeace).

I know how use "service" as a sales tool instead of shallow sounding promises. (Thanks Claude Hopkins.)

And I know how to write a great advertisement... thanks Victor SchwabVictor Schwab

Once you put in the time, do the studying, and actually WRITE copy for a while, you switch from "copy" writer to copywriter.

And then it's almost too easy to write consistent winners. I'm in my 7th year of writing awesome copy now and going strong.

Hats off to all the copywriters in this forum!

Cheers!
Stephen Dean
#copy #copywriter #tragedy #writer
  • Profile picture of the author Marc Rodill
    Hi Guilty. I'm Guilty too.

    It's like Robert Ringer says, "Cash, not kudos."

    If people are showering you with their awe and moral support, that's fine and dandy. But you wanted them to buy, not receive a thumbs up and pat on the head.

    Clearly the bank and your landlord don't accept "moral support" or "wow that was well-written" as payment. They just want to know where the damn money is.
    Signature
    Long Lost Warriors! The Secret Sales System! Act Now! Buy Now! Right Now!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4125477].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author DanielleLynnCopy
    Some great resources right there.

    I absolutely love the research that goes into writing good copy. It's like being a marketing detective or playing an intense real time strategy game.

    I still get a rush when I find the perfect USP

    Cheers Stephen
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4125895].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Stephen Dean
      Originally Posted by DanielleLynnCopy View Post

      It's like being a marketing detective or playing an intense real time strategy game.
      That's what I love about writing copy! It's a puzzle without a right answer.
      Signature
      Free Coaching WSO: How to finish all your 2013 "Goals" in JANUARY with my proven productivity secrets - taken from 9 years working as a freelance copywriter. Click Here

      Occupation: Best Copywriter Ever.
      Clients:
      Matt Bacak, Jim Edwards, Ryan Deiss and more.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4125916].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author lemonarian
    Great post Stephen!

    An interesting note might be that ol' Gene Schwartz actually spelt it out as "copy writer" in Breakthrough Advertising. ("I am a mail order copy writer who makes his living by producing results--in carefully-measured dollars of profit--from the written word.")

    But yes, great resources mate.

    Linus
    Signature

    * Do You REALLY Need A Million Bucks?
    (Three-part crash-course in how to build a "minimalist" business online)

    * My "fix-all" solution to ANY marketing problem
    (whether you don't even have a website... or you're running a multi-million biz)

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4126004].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Stephen Dean
    Thanks all! I feel like I should have ended my post with "Can I get an AMEN!?"

    How about some help citing advanced resources. Who helped you master proof elements? Writing bullets? The hook?

    If we compile enough solid links maybe we can consolidate in another thread and make it a sticky.

    Cheers,
    Stephen Dean
    Signature
    Free Coaching WSO: How to finish all your 2013 "Goals" in JANUARY with my proven productivity secrets - taken from 9 years working as a freelance copywriter. Click Here

    Occupation: Best Copywriter Ever.
    Clients:
    Matt Bacak, Jim Edwards, Ryan Deiss and more.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4127329].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author seobro
      Hi Scott Lambency:

      I prefer the One Legged Accountant.

      From 21


      Ben, last year,
      the Robinson went to Hyum Jae Wook,


      a Korean immigrant who has only one leg.


      Well, I have both my legs.


      Well, have you considered
      cutting one of them off?
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4138726].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Scott Lambency
    As for bullets, John Carlton may very well be the best in the industry. He goes way beyond ordinary copywrtiting. His bullets are like mini-stories, maybe even short paragraphs.

    And his one-legged golfer headline was quite a hook too.
    Signature

    Greatness is difficult to appreciate from close up. The great mountain on the horizon is only the ground when you are standing on it.

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4127469].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Stephen Dean
      Originally Posted by Scott Lambency View Post

      As for bullets, John Carlton may very well be the best in the industry. He goes way beyond ordinary copywrtiting. His bullets are like mini-stories, maybe even short paragraphs.

      And his one-legged golfer headline was quite a hook too.
      Absolutely. Got any links to John teaching these techniques?

      I need to find a link to Ben Settle teaching bullet writing, because these bullets are awesome: http://www.crackerjackselling.com

      Cheers,
      Stephen Dean
      Signature
      Free Coaching WSO: How to finish all your 2013 "Goals" in JANUARY with my proven productivity secrets - taken from 9 years working as a freelance copywriter. Click Here

      Occupation: Best Copywriter Ever.
      Clients:
      Matt Bacak, Jim Edwards, Ryan Deiss and more.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4127480].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author lemonarian
    For proof elements, Bencivenga is the man. Don't exactly have a link laying around though, wish I did.

    Here's a fantastic article from Perry Marshall (amazing copywriter who no-one really thinks of as such - cuz he's the adwords guy, right?) about proof and religion:
    Miracles, Proof and Persuasion

    It also includes 18 different forms of proof elements, and the linked article demonstrates each of them.
    Signature

    * Do You REALLY Need A Million Bucks?
    (Three-part crash-course in how to build a "minimalist" business online)

    * My "fix-all" solution to ANY marketing problem
    (whether you don't even have a website... or you're running a multi-million biz)

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4127519].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Dannyboy12
    I'm glad to see a post like this because I swear: 99% of the WSO cover letters out there are awful. I know virtually nothing about copy that sells in this environment but to me; every ad, every sales page, every product endorsement that I have seen in the IM world looks like a dogs breakfast. Everything looks like a scam. Visually there are too many bright colours, capital letters and exclamation marks. Not to mention the horrendous content: Claims that I was sure would only fool a complete idiot are being made, fake timers and limited supply threats shamelessly added.
    I dunno, maybe all this stuff gets conversions, I'd just like to think that if I was selling a product, I'd want it to seem real. All the crappy sales pages I've seen look like scams. Maybe thats just the culture of IM and what is getting conversions but seriously? Im yet to see a good, piece of copy in this world.

    I think Ive found the right place here though. Even from the forum posts in here, its evident that there are some excellent copy writers in the IM industry. would it be possible to see some of your work?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4130023].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    Hey Stephen, interesting article.

    @lemonarian - at Bencivenga's last conference in NY, he went into proof elements in quite a bit of detail - very interesting. I'll see if I can post some of the highlights...

    ...the "cracker jack" approach was also something he coined that apparently Ben Settles followed up on.

    It's interesting to study some of the great ads of the past, but remember that in some of these cases, the controls were eventually beat by someone else - it's interesting to also see how they were beat.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4130712].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      Writing copy is a delicate balance. It's easy to see the "plan" in a hyped sales page. But that's not all there is to it.

      The other day I was reading copy on a sales page and was thinking "this guy is really good at writing copy". But - it wasn't that great, was it? I was noticing the writing instead of focusing on the product being sold.

      I didn't realize the difference until a few days later when I was reading sales copy and totally engrossed in the description of the product itself - now THAT is copywriting.

      kay
      Signature

      Saving one dog will not change the world - but the world will change forever for that one dog.
      It takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[4130800].message }}

Trending Topics