Copywriting Is Dead Part One

by Harlan
68 replies
In the past year, copywriting as we knew it died.

I'm talking about multiple aspects of copywriting but for today, I'm talking about the business of copywriting.

Namely - the days of the super high paying jobs are OVER.

I'm talking about the days when you could quote a job from 25K-60K and have a wait list.

Those clients are gone.

There are a number of reasons why.

1. The buyers are out of credit. Their credit cards can't afford to pay for a copywriter. Similarly, they can't get home equity loans to fund new businesses.

2. The rise of video sales letters. People think there is an art to copywriting but think any shmuck can create a powerpoint video.

3. The gurus who spent a lot of money on copy are doing their own copy in the form of the videos.

4. The clients know the market for their products isn't as strong.

5. Google AdWords banning most copywriting sites as "make money" sites.

So if you're a copywriter just waiting for your ship to come in. It hit an iceberg.

There's a whole new world you are dealing with.

It's a world of hurt.

In the past few weeks, I've spoken to a lot of copywriters and they are all feeling the pain.

My students - who listened to me - have launched their own products and that's where there money is coming from.

But for people waiting to jump into the field, it's a new game.

All of the old advice out there is pretty much worthless.

And no one is teaching copywritingbusiness 2.0

I'm not one to be politically correct but the business has changed.

If you can adapt and carve out a new path, you'll make money.

Do things the old way?

You're in for a surprise.

Peace,
#copywriting #dead #part
  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    Copywriting is the same as it's always been.

    What's changed is all the internet "get rich quick" copywriters are feeling the pinch of the internet correcting itself - the days of writing some vodoo, hypnotic, magical letter that would put the reader into some kind of a trance are over, partly because the internet has grown up - beyond the wide eyed, green pea internet surfer.

    Too many people have been burnt by false promises of some pie in the sky scheme.

    The hot shot gurus who've sold the wanna be's a load of chit, have quietly sulked off to enjoy their riches - most of the guru's were never copywriters to begin with - they were just savvy marketers.

    Some of us that have been in the business way before the internet...before the gurus...and before all the work at home copywriters...are still doing great.

    Everyday I see the new "copywriters" on the forums - they pass on something that they've just read some big name guru say...most of these type of copywriters will never last in the business - they're looking for a way to supplement their income...or replace income from a job they've lost - they'll spend a couple years writing copy for a few hundred bucks...then fade off into the next big money making idea.

    I still average well over a million dollars a year in the business - and I'm sure there are many others who do also.

    If you're sitting around listening to only the names you've heard of in copywriting...you may have a gloomy outlook - most of them haven't written copy for anything other than their own product or mentoring program they're trying to sell - they're clueless when it comes to real life action - when you're out there dealing face to face with real clients who are depending on you.

    Just because there's a rash of wealth seekers who aren't doing crap in the way of earning a living, is no reflection on the business as a whole.

    If anything, I can't keep up with my clients lately - there's a load of opportunity out there with all the new technology.

    These are great times for real copywriters.
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    • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
      Hmm, if copywriting is dead, I wonder why I constantly have old clients coming back requesting additional work. Three just this week, in fact, when the media are talking about nothing other than gloom and doom.

      Oh, it must be because I never bought into the business model Harlan is describing.

      I'm sure much of what Harlan said is based in reality, but if so, what he wrote about affects only a limited segment of copywriters. It is not the whole truth. It is very far from the whole truth.

      Marcia Yudkin
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      • Profile picture of the author SusanLandry
        I have to agree with max5ty and Marcia here. Maybe the days of the maniacal, "This Secret Will Fill Your Pockets and Change Your Life!" sales letter are coming to a close, but that doesn't mean copywriting as a profession is dead.

        Personally speaking, although requests for direct response sales letters are down, I've never been busier with projects like case studies, white papers, blog writing, email marketing and the like. My clients are now focused on building relationships with their prospects and customers, versus going after the quick sale. As max5ty indicated, consumers and businesses are savvier and more skeptical now (and more reluctant to part with their cash). Competition for their attention is fierce, and the need for businesses to "step up their game" has never been more significant. Smart companies understand the benefit of using a professional copywriter to help them craft a powerful message. They know having their intern pen their marketing materials isn't going to get them too far in this kind of environment.

        It all just boils down to how you define "copywriting." It's a very broad term.
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      • Profile picture of the author tpw
        Originally Posted by marciayudkin View Post

        Hmm, if copywriting is dead, I wonder why I constantly have old clients coming back requesting additional work. Three just this week, in fact, when the media are talking about nothing other than gloom and doom.

        Oh, it must be because I never bought into the business model Harlan is describing.

        I'm sure much of what Harlan said is based in reality, but if so, what he wrote about affects only a limited segment of copywriters. It is not the whole truth. It is very far from the whole truth.

        Marcia Yudkin

        Marcia: It could be that only Harlan and his friends are suffering in this downturn...

        Negative thinking attracts negative results....

        Positive thinking attracts positive results....
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    • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
      Banned
      Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

      I still average well over a million dollars a year in the business - and I'm sure there are many others who do also.
      Gee Dude - You're right up there with Vin and Kevin and John and Harlan and all the other top I.M. writers. And yet we've never heard of you.

      I call B.S.

      But you gave us all a good laugh.
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      • Profile picture of the author tpw
        Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

        Gee Dude - You're right up there with Vin and Kevin and John and Harlan and all the other top I.M. writers. And yet we've never heard of you.

        I call B.S.

        But you gave us all a good laugh.

        Why do you call it B.S.?

        Do you feel that if you cannot do it, no one else can either?

        Do you think all of the "great copy writers" have egos that won't let them stay hidden from the Warriors of the world?
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        • Profile picture of the author Harlan
          First, FWIW, I've largely pulled out of the copywriting biz 2 years ago.

          Wound down my coaching business as I said and have not re-opened it.

          I do maybe 2 or 3 letters a year now for previous clients.

          I have a business to run and sell my own products.

          And I wasn't speaking about my own copywriting business at all.

          Within the past few weeks, I've spoken with some of the most recognizable gurus in the niche.

          They all agree with my assessment.

          Yes, there will always be a low end to the market.

          It doesn't interest me.

          I'm not planning on jumping back in any time.

          Someone on the forum recently offered me a pile of money to write a letter.

          I turned them down.

          Because I can make more money with less effort doing what I love.
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          Harlan D. Kilstein Ed.D.
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          • Profile picture of the author tpw
            Originally Posted by Harlan View Post

            Within the past few weeks, I've spoken with some of the most recognizable gurus in the niche.

            They all agree with my assessment.

            All I have to say to that is that you must live in a small circle of people, whom likely only you will call gurus.

            My interpretation of your assessment and the "guru's agreement with it" is that, for the most part, you are only talking to people who let their negative thinking get in the way of positive results.
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            • Profile picture of the author Harlan
              Originally Posted by tpw View Post

              All I have to say to that is that you must live in a small circle of people, whom likely only you will call gurus.

              My interpretation of your assessment and the "guru's agreement with it" is that, for the most part, you are only talking to people who let their negative thinking get in the way of positive results.
              I have no intention in entering into a pissing contest with you.

              If you have an endless supply of clients paying you tens of thousands of dollars for your sales copy, well more power to you.

              Best of luck in your flourishing business.
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              • Profile picture of the author tpw
                Originally Posted by Harlan View Post

                I have no intention in entering into a pissing contest with you.

                If you have an endless supply of clients paying you tens of thousands of dollars for your sales copy, well more power to you.

                Best of luck in your flourishing business.

                Pissing contest? Is that best you can do in your attempt to keep your audience crooning over you and your perfect insight? Figures...

                The fact is that I don't need "an endless supply of clients paying tens of thousands of dollars for sales copy" for my point of view to be right and yours to be wrong...

                If only one copy writer is not hindered by your world view, in his/her prospects and income levels, then I am right and you are wrong. A few of those folks have poked their heads up in this thread to contradict your world view and your followers have tried to discredit their opinions so that you don't have to do so yourself.

                Especially when you create stories using the paint brush of an "absolute", it only really takes one person to prove you wrong.

                Originally Posted by Harlan View Post

                In the past year, copywriting as we knew it died.

                I'm talking about multiple aspects of copywriting but for today, I'm talking about the business of copywriting.

                Namely - the days of the super high paying jobs are OVER.

                I'm talking about the days when you could quote a job from 25K-60K and have a wait list.

                Those clients are gone.

                In the past few weeks, I've spoken to a lot of copywriters and they are all feeling the pain.

                My students - who listened to me - have launched their own products and that's where there money is coming from.
                Originally Posted by Harlan View Post

                Within the past few weeks, I've spoken with some of the most recognizable gurus in the niche.

                They all agree with my assessment.

                Are the "recognizable experts" with whom you have been talking mostly your students and others who share your dismal and short-sighted outlook on the world around you? :p

                Copywriting Business 2.0? Writing copy for videos? Nice. LOL
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                Bill Platt, Oklahoma USA, PlattPublishing.com
                Publish Coloring Books for Profit (WSOTD 7-30-2015)
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      • Profile picture of the author max5ty
        Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

        Gee Dude - You're right up there with Vin and Kevin and John and Harlan and all the other top I.M. writers. And yet we've never heard of you.

        I call B.S.

        But you gave us all a good laugh.
        Funny you should say that. I've been in the business 25 years and had never heard of you outside of this forum.

        As far as your laugh - I couldn't care less how hard you laugh - couldn't even care less whether you've heard of me or not.

        You must be one of those who needs idols...and if you haven't heard of them, you don't believe.

        There's lots of wealthy people in the business that I'm quite sure you've never heard of - odd how in your mind they must not be real because you haven't heard of them in your little circle.
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      • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
        Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

        Gee Dude - You're right up there with Vin and Kevin and John and Harlan and all the other top I.M. writers. And yet we've never heard of you.

        I call B.S.

        But you gave us all a good laugh.
        There are a lot of top copywriters who don't seek out the spotlight. They'd rather make a ton of money for their clients and themselves... then spend the rest of their free time hanging out with friends and family.
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        • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
          Banned
          Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

          There are a lot of top copywriters who don't seek out the spotlight. They'd rather make a ton of money for their clients and themselves... then spend the rest of their free time hanging out with friends and family.
          Perhaps. It was the "I still average well over a million dollars a year in the business" that got up my nose.

          Yeah and I've got a big one too.

          Anyway...good luck to him.
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    • Profile picture of the author Enis
      Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

      Copywriting is the same as it's always been.

      What's changed is all the internet "get rich quick" copywriters are feeling the pinch of the internet correcting itself - the days of writing some vodoo, hypnotic, magical letter that would put the reader into some kind of a trance are over, partly because the internet has grown up - beyond the wide eyed, green pea internet surfer.

      Too many people have been burnt by false promises of some pie in the sky scheme.

      The hot shot gurus who've sold the wanna be's a load of chit, have quietly sulked off to enjoy their riches - most of the guru's were never copywriters to begin with - they were just savvy marketers.

      Some of us that have been in the business way before the internet...before the gurus...and before all the work at home copywriters...are still doing great.

      Everyday I see the new "copywriters" on the forums - they pass on something that they've just read some big name guru say...most of these type of copywriters will never last in the business - they're looking for a way to supplement their income...or replace income from a job they've lost - they'll spend a couple years writing copy for a few hundred bucks...then fade off into the next big money making idea.

      I still average well over a million dollars a year in the business - and I'm sure there are many others who do also.

      If you're sitting around listening to only the names you've heard of in copywriting...you may have a gloomy outlook - most of them haven't written copy for anything other than their own product or mentoring program they're trying to sell - they're clueless when it comes to real life action - when you're out there dealing face to face with real clients who are depending on you.

      Just because there's a rash of wealth seekers who aren't doing crap in the way of earning a living, is no reflection on the business as a whole.

      If anything, I can't keep up with my clients lately - there's a load of opportunity out there with all the new technology.

      These are great times for real copywriters.
      Couldn't agree more.
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  • Profile picture of the author WillDL
    This made me laugh. You assume that most of the big money copywriting has anything to do with make money sites or gurus. It doesn't.
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  • Profile picture of the author TracyNeedham
    Anyone who just "waits for their ship to come in" is in trouble. You should always be analyzing and looking for opportunities and shifts to make. That's just smart business.

    Sure, people are using video sales letters more. But they're idiots if they think any old video will do the job of a good sales letter. The copy in the script has to be just as good if not better to hold people's attention to the end--there's only so long viewers will put up with not having a fast forward option.

    Hell, I don't even watch sales videos. Granted, maybe that's unusual. But it's a total waste of time for me to spend 10 minutes (or more) just to find out what they're trying to sell is not what I need. If you can't give me something to scan, I'm out of there.

    Product creation isn't the end-all solution either. Sales are down for products, events, etc. The same people who don't have credit to pay copywriters don't have credit to pay for big ticket items either.

    Yes, you have to carve your own path. But you really should be doing that anyway or else you'll constantly find yourself behind the 8 ball.
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    Banned
    I don't very often agree with you Harlan...but on this you're dead right. Racking my brain trying to think of an old adage...something about when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Like you say - If you can adapt and carve out a new path, you'll make money.

    Meanwhile the sheep will be rolling out their copywriting salespage templates and wondering why they don't convert. Baa

    Oh yeah - great thread title (as usual from you).
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    • Profile picture of the author Harlan
      Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

      I don't very often agree with you Harlan...but on this you're dead right. Racking my brain trying to think of an old adage...something about when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Like you say - If you can adapt and carve out a new path, you'll make money.

      Meanwhile the sheep will be rolling out their copywriting salespage templates and wondering why they don't convert. Baa

      Oh yeah - great thread title (as usual from you).
      As Coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her.
      And she's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead.
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      Harlan D. Kilstein Ed.D.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steadyon
    Harlan,

    What a pile of feeling sorry for yourself horse dung.

    The whole world is having a bit of a tough time right now.

    People are much more cautious about what they spend money on and most are beginning to recognize the smell of dung. Too many have learnt the lesson "once bitten, twice shy".

    I guess "Copywriting is Dead Part Two" is about how "someone" just happens to have discovered a magic solution that is only available for a limited time, and for a limited number of people, that surprisingly costs just $497, $997 or $1,997 depending upon how the market reacts to the spiel.

    If I am wrong then tell me.

    Sam
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  • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
    Originally Posted by Harlan View Post

    1. The buyers are out of credit. Their credit cards can't afford to pay for a copywriter. Similarly, they can't get home equity loans to fund new businesses.
    Quality copywriting is an investment. When businesses can no longer afford to pay for copywriters, then they likely weren't getting a good return on their investments, possibly because their copywriters sucked.
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    I believe I've figured out part of the problem...

    Some of you base your whole career off the internet -

    - it's all you've ever known - it's where you got your training and some of your clients. Everyone else you know in the business is also on the internet.

    Here's something you probably didn't realize - there's a whole world of professionals who do their daily business in the real world. By that I mean they actually deal with real clients in brick and mortar offices. If you're narrowing your focus down to only the internet - your business probably has suffered.

    I can guarantee you...without a doubt...I could name some names of very successful people in the business that you've never heard of - simply because you've only focused on the internet. For example, there are some very good copywriters who do work for the boardroom, etc. that write some killer copy...and yet they're an unknown on the internet.

    If you've started as a copywriter since the internet age, I can understand how your world is all narrowed down to the online community .

    All I'm saying is that there's a whole other world out there.
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    • ....I've heard it all before... (during the last recession and the one before that...).

      Although I don't chase clients who (supposedly) spend $60,000 on a sales pitch.

      I do charge a reasonable amount - and it always gets busier during an economic downturn.

      Because that's when clients really need the skills that an experienced copywriter brings.
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      • And what is an ideal business for all economies...

        I would say copywriting.

        Because you have...

        Unlimited clients in every sector.

        A desperate need for good, excellent, outstanding copywriting (you can do well in any of the three categories).

        In good times clients want to capitalize on the money flow.

        And in bad times they urgently want an increase in business.
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    • Profile picture of the author Ross Bowring
      Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

      I believe I've figured out part of the problem...

      Some of you base your whole career off the internet -

      - it's all you've ever known - it's where you got your training and some of your clients. Everyone else you know in the business is also on the internet.

      Here's something you probably didn't realize - there's a whole world of professionals who do their daily business in the real world. By that I mean they actually deal with real clients in brick and mortar offices. If you're narrowing your focus down to only the internet - you're business probably has suffered.

      I can guarantee you...without a doubt...I could name some names of very successful people in the business that you've never heard of - simply because you've only focused on the internet. For example, there are some very good copywriters who do work for the boardroom, etc. that write some killer copy...and yet they're an unknown on the internet.

      If you've started as a copywriter since the internet age, I can understand how your world is all narrowed down to the online community .

      All I'm saying is that there's a whole other world out there.
      Very much correct.

      But to address this thread topic...

      Our offline leads are less of our business... but the ones that come to us are strong.

      To speak to the Internet side of the business...

      Judging from our bookings in place and the frequency and quality of marketers who regularly approach us...

      ...entrepreneurial spirits are undiminished... and a willingness to invest in the tens of thousands of dollars for sales copy is alive 'n' well.

      --- Ross
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

      I believe I've figured out part of the problem...

      Some of you base your whole career off the internet -

      - it's all you've ever known - it's where you got your training and some of your clients. Everyone else you know in the business is also on the internet.
      And it's very incestuous. Many of them are so busy ingratiating themselves with each other, it's a wonder they get any work done.

      Sometimes the flattery and hero worship is downright stomach retching.

      Alex
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      • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
        Hi Harlan,

        It's always nice to see you Harlan, slaughtering some sacred cows.

        By the way, I agree with you 1000%. The copywriting business has changed. But I think it's for reasons different than the ones you offer.

        - Rick Duris
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  • Profile picture of the author SusanLandry
    In good times clients want to capitalize on the money flow.

    And in bad times they urgently want an increase in business.


    Precisely.
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    • Profile picture of the author arfasaira
      Some of my best clients are offline. In fact, three of my best clients are offline and have me on retainer. I don't charge megabucks, probably because I've never plucked up the courage to do so, but I definitely don't put all my eggs in one basket.

      I think copywriters who rely on just the Internet will plod along and perhaps suffer when things go bad, but it's those who have several projects in place that should hopefully do better. I'm currently working on another product, two websites, a blog, I have a book in the pipeline and have several offline clients who I work regularly for. And I still get lots of business through the Internet. I wish I could say I was earning hundreds of thousands of dollars, but perhaps I may save that dream for the following year.

      Having copy chops definitely helps and those who have built a reputation for themselves will usually shine through. It is hard though and I'm not well-known by any standard, but I do ok - I get booked out months in advance and I'm thankful for that. It's what's enabling me to move in a few weeks with my two kids.

      The secret is how well you market yourself which will determine how well you do and whether or not you survive. At the beginning of the year, I made my first $4000 in one month - at a time when most of my friends and family were struggling to make half of that. To some of you here, it's no big deal. But it's a big deal to someone who has found copywriting as a way to live, as a way to flourish and as a way to do something worthwhile with their life.

      My situation was pretty dim, so I knew I had to get good at marketing or die with all the other copywriting wannabes out there. And that's when I discovered the secret of how to keep the money rolling in.

      Copywriting isn't dead. It's simply going through a state of flux as it always has - you just got to know how to ride with the changes and adapt your marketing accordingly. I'm not worried about my business because I know how to market myself when the going gets tough. Those who know me know that whenever things are a little slow, I market that bit harder - and see big results.

      Truthfully speaking, if you can't market yourself and thrive rather than survive, you should be ashamed to call yourself a copywriter.
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  • Profile picture of the author RefundHost
    Originally Posted by Harlan View Post

    In the past year, copywriting as we knew it died.

    I'm talking about multiple aspects of copywriting but for today, I'm talking about the business of copywriting.

    Namely - the days of the super high paying jobs are OVER.

    I'm talking about the days when you could quote a job from 25K-60K and have a wait list.

    Those clients are gone.

    There are a number of reasons why.
    1. The buyers are out of credit. Their credit cards can't afford to pay for a copywriter.
    Long-Copy writing was wounded when
    another media form other than newspaper ( radio ) came to be
    and people had something to do other than sit and read the paper.

    But if you used to charge $25K - $60K and your clients are now broke ...

    this will explain exactly and precisely why that is so:

    wiki Dunning Kruger Effect
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  • Profile picture of the author ThomasOMalley
    As long as human beings are selling stuff (which I don't see ending anytime soon), copywriters will have work to do.

    No matter what new technology comes around the corner, copy that sells will always have a role for marketing and selling stuff.

    So don't worry, my fellow copywriters.
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  • Profile picture of the author JakeDaly
    As long as something is sold somewhere, good copywriters will find work.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
    Banned
    The only thing that is dead about copywriting Harlan is perhaps copywriters like yourself who cannot or will not adapt to changes in the marketplace.

    I've never been busier. Orders are pouring in. And I'm pretty much sure they are for other copywriters and savvy marketers too who can spot new trends and opportunities on the open market.

    You might be right that the old 'gooroo' style sales letter is pretty a much a done and dusted product but with the advent of the Internet this was pretty much a given anyway. People will only believe that crap for so long before they begin to smell a rat. Hellooo... wake up and smell the roses.

    If you've buried your head in the sand... no wonder you believe copywriting is dead. I'll tell you now, it's not dead, far from it. It's still there very much alive and kicking IF you know how to position yourself in the current marketplace. And if you understand what business owners are demanding from this profession today.

    Copywriting dead? Don't be daft, it's just in flux. The market is changing. Either accept this fact or your copywriting business dies. If you don't adapt reflexively to the changes happening in the market - you're a goner.

    Stories will always be around whilst humans are on the planet. And whilst we're here... people will always want and demand more goods, products, and services. And whether it's by the spoken word, visuals or plain print the demand for excellent copywriters won't go away any time soon!

    NLP copywriting - I mean come on Harlan! Embedded subconscious commands deftly inserted into a sales message - what a load of baloney. That's like saying to the market, "We write in English but it's not English as we/you know it. It might look like English, you might even think you understand what we're selling but everything isn't as it appears." What a load of bumkum.

    Look into my eyes. Look into my eyes. Trust in meeeee, trusttt in meeeee. Piffle. What an absolute load of baloney and hogwash.

    It's a gimmick, a fad nothing more which worked for a time. But people today? They've wised up. They're not going to fall for such tactical positioning in the future. Yeah, yeah sure - some clients might still be fascinated with the pitch, think it's something 'hip' or 'cool' to try out but the wider business market and the buying public? No way.

    People today don't want flowery English talking gobbledegook - they want the facts, plain and simple.

    Which is why storytelling in copywriting will last forever. Why? Because unlike NLP, storytelling is embedded right into our subconscious mind after thousands of years of stories and real life experiences being handed down and shared from one generation to the next.

    If your words sell a product, or goods, or services, that is copywriting pure and simple.

    And believe you me with how many billion people arec on the planet today the demand for very good copywriters will continue to be around for some time to come.

    Best,


    Pete Walker
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  • Profile picture of the author om4457
    I don't think that copywriting is dead, I think it's just people got smarter with their spending habits in general. When I lived in California around 2000, I worked at Pontiac dealership and very often, someone would buy brand new Bonneville, drive it for about 4 - 6 months and come back for an "upgrade" despite $7000 - $10,000 depreciation loss. And it was happening left and right.

    Right now stuff like that gets rare and paying $60K for a copy is not something people will jump on.

    I'm sure people who were ordering copies in the past were making more money themselves.

    I think copywriting is not dying. I think it's transforming.
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  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    I'll add my two cents here. The MMO market as we know it is about to be buried and I say good riddance. And with it many writers who know nothing else will wither as well. But copywriting overall is strong. And I also agree wholeheartedly with Harlan about creating your own products and writing for them. That’s a really smart thing.
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    • I like rummaging around in the archives with a magnifying glass and a meerschaum pipe, dusting off threads with a riding crop. Here are a couple of related threads:

      http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...pywriters.html

      http://www.warriorforum.com/copywrit...ing-dying.html
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      - Jack Trout
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      • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
        In 2006, Michel Fortin published a document titled, "The Death of The Salesletter". And it got him a lot of attention.

        Four years later Michel writing about the document said, "(it) became one of the most downloaded, most controversial, and most talked about documents in the history of my career."

        The title, "Copywriting is Dead" reminds me of the above.

        Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author BlairBarnes
    I do not think copywriting can die because it is a form of sales, just through the written word. Businesses will always need sales...its the only way to make money. Saying copywriting is dead is like saying there is no need for salesman anymore. I find that in a recession people are more likely to want a rockstar copywriter or salesman that can bring them sales. I believe a good salesman will be successful no matter what and that applies to copywriters too.
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    • Profile picture of the author Ashley Gable
      Your post, Harlan, kind of reminds me of an old man I once knew.

      To him, something was either the best thing in the world, or its worthless.

      Its either dead as a door nail, or the life of the party.

      People were either nasty horrible people, or he thought they were a gift from god.

      You seem to be doing the same with this. Cant if just be, like others have said, that the market is changing.

      Cant both employees (copywriters) and employers (those who hire) just be thinking a little different then they were a few years or months ago?


      I think that just like in high school when I changed my lawn mowing business pitch from fast and reliable to eco and earth friendly, that the market is changing and if one is too ignorant to notice and adapt with it, then it just comes down to plain ole' survival of the fittest. Whoever they may be.

      Ashley

      And btw, I gotta admit your addition of the phrase "copywritingbusiness 2.0" seems a little fishy to me.

      You wouldnt be introducing a new program would you?? :rolleyes:
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      • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
        Nobody wants to buy any copy anymore... Sales Letters are dead... Offline marketing is dead... Online marketing is too competitive... No one's willing to spend money on a decent copywriter anymore and the world is going to hell... {sigh} Who is John Galt?



        Seriously tho, there will always be great Copywriters out there who will capitalize on opportunities for success in any market.
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  • Profile picture of the author TiffLee
    Copywriting is dead?

    ... man, I'd better tell all those people who are helping to explode my bank account that their money and orders are no longer needed.

    Because, 'ya know, copywriting is dead.
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    • Profile picture of the author Harlan
      Originally Posted by TiffLee View Post

      Copywriting is dead?

      ... man, I'd better tell all those people who are helping to explode my bank account that their money and orders are no longer needed.

      Because, 'ya know, copywriting is dead.
      I'm so happy your bank account is exploding.

      Remember not to keep more than $100,000 in any one account to be covered by the FDIC.

      Commercial accounts may not be covered so make sure to consult with your account about transferring money to a covered account.

      I've never heard of a bank account exploding so you must be doing something right.
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      • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
        Remember not to keep more than $100,000 in any one account to be covered by the FDIC.
        Presented as a public service...

        Actually, the limit for FDIC coverage is currently $250,000. Here is the exact reference:

        FDIC: Your Insured Deposits

        Marcia Yudkin
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    Copywriting isn't dead.

    It's more valuable and consequential now than ever.

    What's dead are people who don't have the guts and audacity to exhibit original thought and go against the grain of what the supposed gurus say is crucial to massively convert.

    If the cheesy, "I gotta persuade you to want something you don't need" kind of nonsense is dying...

    ...if more entrepreneurs with fan-bloody-tastic solutions are revealing the courage to give their prospects REAL information and INSPIRE sales...

    ...well...

    ...Good riddance to the old, over-used, prostituted copywriting...

    Hello genuine copy that doesn't need fluff and cheese to sell.

    ...And yes, good story telling is ageless...
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  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    God is a concept,
    By which we can measure,
    Our pain,
    I'll say it again,
    God is a concept,
    By which we can measure,
    Our pain,
    I don't believe in magic,
    I don't believe in I-ching,
    I don't believe in bible,
    I don't believe in tarot,
    I don't believe in Hitler,
    I don't believe in Jesus,
    I don't believe in Kennedy,
    I don't believe in Buddha,
    I don't believe in mantra,
    I don't believe in Gita,
    I don't believe in yoga,
    I don't believe in kings,
    I don't believe in Elvis,
    I don't believe in Zimmerman,
    I don't believe in Beatles,
    I just believe in me,
    Yoko and me,
    And that's reality.
    The dream is over,
    What can I say?
    The dream is over,
    Yesterday,
    I was dreamweaver,
    But now I'm reborn,
    I was the walrus,
    But now I'm John,
    And so dear friends,
    You just have to carry on,
    The dream is over.
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    • Profile picture of the author Johnny12345
      Originally Posted by BrianMcLeod View Post

      I don't believe in Zimmerman,
      I don't believe in Elvis,
      Umm... I don't know about all that other stuff, but Bryan Zimmerman is REAL. Seriously. I've seen a picture of him.

      -John

      P.S. And Elvis lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Where have you been?! Everyone knows that.)

      P.P.S. And, yes, copywriting is DEAD. Finished. Over. Done. So everyone here can send me their copy customers... you obviously won't be needing them anymore.
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  • Profile picture of the author YasirYar
    It's just matured to a level where people are being hired to write useful informative articles for blogs and etc. I'm personally thankful for the change because it shows internet marketing is evolving and becoming more established as opposed to the earlier get rich quick schemes and scams.
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  • Profile picture of the author Scott Murdaugh
    Yeah, I agree. It's dead.

    I've been combining "The Law Of Attraction" with "Finger Healing" to attract money into my life so I can spend my free time using my NLP skillz to score free happy meals at McDonald's (it feeds me and I resell the toys to supplement my old, dried up copy income).

    I'm obviously being sarcastic, and I respect you. Actually met you briefly, it was only a minute or so, and I thought you came off as a really smart and genuinely nice guy.

    So that's not a personal shot at you.

    But the only constant in the copywriting biz is that it's always changing.

    If you're talking about the new CB rules, I welcome them with open arms. No exaggerated claims, no fake earnings shot, taking away the ability to prey on desperate people who don't know any better? Good, I'm all for it.

    And yeah, for the guys pushing out those offers it's changed big time.

    But there are a more clients than good copywriters out there. There are plenty of players with money who are desperate for the right copywriter to come along and pay them handsomely for the help.

    Anyone who's just starting out faces the same challenges that we all have. They need the drive to get good and then get paid.

    That all comes down to hard work and marketing savvy.

    I still stand by Halbert's saying... “If you’re a good copywriter, there’s no reason why you can’t find work!”

    It was true 50 years ago. It was true 5 years ago. And it'll be true for the foreseeable future.

    How do you adapt?

    Get hip to what's selling. Learn about sales funnels, learn how to market your services, learn how to produce amazing results for clients. Keep up on the trends.

    But I know it and you know it, there are still plenty of clients out there.

    And even the greenest of newbies, if they have the ambition and ability to learn, will have no problems becoming successful.

    This post no doubt has generated and will generate a lot of attention. If that was your goal nice work.

    I'm just not down with the fear mongering.

    The copywriters I talk to are doing just fine.

    And advertising is alive and well.

    Learn and adapt? Totally, but that's nothing new.

    Copywriting is dead? Maybe in certain niches. I'm of the mindset that a good copywriter can research and effectively sell in any market that has an in demand product and a hungry client base.

    Again, not a personal shot. I just disagree with about 99% of your post. I DO agree that copywriters on all levels should be creating their own products. Or at the least using royalties to make this a passive income business.

    Particularly... "All of the old advice out there is pretty much worthless."

    What old advice? Actively market your business? Figure out who's hiring copywriters, who can afford you and target them? Manage your money responsibly? Treat it like a business?

    Throw the classics out the window? Ignore what Carlton teaches? Start a petition to have the Halbert Letters removed for being outdated? Ignore anything Kennedy/Abraham/Etc have taught?

    What "old advice" is worthless?

    Just curious.

    Take care.

    -Scott

    P.S. Eagerly awaiting "part 2". You've obviously raised the (perceived) problem here, I'd love to hear the solution.
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  • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
    Originally Posted by Harlan View Post

    In the past year, copywriting as we knew it died.

    I'm talking about multiple aspects of copywriting but for today, I'm talking about the business of copywriting.

    Namely - the days of the super high paying jobs are OVER.

    I'm talking about the days when you could quote a job from 25K-60K and have a wait list.

    Those clients are gone.

    There are a number of reasons why.

    1. The buyers are out of credit. Their credit cards can't afford to pay for a copywriter. Similarly, they can't get home equity loans to fund new businesses.

    2. The rise of video sales letters. People think there is an art to copywriting but think any shmuck can create a powerpoint video.

    3. The gurus who spent a lot of money on copy are doing their own copy in the form of the videos.

    4. The clients know the market for their products isn't as strong.

    5. Google AdWords banning most copywriting sites as "make money" sites.

    So if you're a copywriter just waiting for your ship to come in. It hit an iceberg.

    There's a whole new world you are dealing with.

    It's a world of hurt.

    In the past few weeks, I've spoken to a lot of copywriters and they are all feeling the pain.

    My students - who listened to me - have launched their own products and that's where there money is coming from.

    But for people waiting to jump into the field, it's a new game.

    All of the old advice out there is pretty much worthless.

    And no one is teaching copywritingbusiness 2.0

    I'm not one to be politically correct but the business has changed.

    If you can adapt and carve out a new path, you'll make money.

    Do things the old way?

    You're in for a surprise.

    Peace,
    This isn't surprising coming from someone who believes in NLP copywriting.

    1. The buyers are out of credit. Their credit cards can't afford to pay for a copywriter. Similarly, they can't get home equity loans to fund new businesses.

    ...yeah, now they actually have to invest in writers who know how to get results instead of copywriters who ride the wave of the internet novelty buying frenzy and then claim that Copywriting is dead.

    2. The rise of video sales letters. People think there is an art to copywriting but think any shmuck can create a powerpoint video.

    Yeah, and the voice over scripts for these videos don't get created by copywriters right? They must spring out of holes in the ground.

    3. The gurus who spent a lot of money on copy are doing their own copy in the form of the videos.

    Yeah, and magically when something is delivered on video, the copywriting can be written by anyone right? What about all those TV commercial copywriters? Guess copywriting doesn't apply to the spoken word. Good to know, I'll have someone from Pakistan write my next seminar speech.

    4. The clients know the market for their products isn't as strong.

    Good statement...short but pointless.

    5. Google AdWords banning most copywriting sites as "make money" sites.

    You mean sites that sell copywriting or sites that use copywriting? Oh wait, every site has writing on it....and copywriting sites are "make money" sites. Hopefully every site is a "make money" site...unless maybe you wrote the copy for it.

    But by all means, keep believing this though. More money to be made for the rest of us.

    Riveting post man...so when is "Part I" coming? I'm on the edge of my seat, praying for the resurrection of my craft.
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    • Copywriting is just "selling in print" (or any media you like).

      You'll never, ever run out of people who need to sell their stuff.

      Just choose good clients with great stuff...

      And all will be well.
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      • Profile picture of the author donaldwilson
        Well you did a good job on the thread title.

        Lot's of interest.....

        The body copy is very controversial.....

        Lot's of anticipation for part 2....

        All good copy, but when did content not become important?

        I'm not a copywriter, so maybe I'm missing something here.

        Lot's of triggers, but the copy in the thread entails not a single drop of valuable content to come in part 2...

        Am I missing something here?

        Thanks in advance for clearing things up here as I'm a copy noob.

        -don
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  • Profile picture of the author Scott Murdaugh
    Am I missing something here?
    Even though I disagree with him on this, Harlan is very smart.

    He's doing *something* here and I don't know exactly what.

    He could be teaching a lesson to his students about how generate a bunch of free publicity with a simple forum post and a controversial topic.

    He could be setting people up for his next coaching/product or whatever, I *think* he'd be a little more subtle but I can't say I know.

    He could be getting PM's from struggling/newbie copywriters asking him for help. Perfect candidates for group coaching, etc.

    He could have no ulterior motive and actually just sharing his experience, the follow-up could be some solid tips, who knows...

    What I do know is that all of the problems he's raising have pretty simple solutions...

    1. The buyers are out of credit. Their credit cards can't afford to pay for a copywriter. Similarly, they can't get home equity loans to fund new businesses.
    I've never worked with a client (that I know of) who had to take out a loan to pay me. And I wouldn't want to. If they can't afford me, if all of their money is tied up in my copy succeeding, screw that, I don't need that level of pressure. And while I don't charge the numbers he's throwing out, I've worked with a lot of big names, I stay busy and I'm not cheap.
    I get that a lot of businesses rely on credit to operate.
    I also know for a fact that a lot of potential clients have more than enough cash on hand to pay for solid copy, especially the ones who know it’s an investment.

    2. The rise of video sales letters. People think there is an art to copywriting but think any shmuck can create a powerpoint video.
    Funny. My last 3 projects, in fact most of my work this year, have involved me scripting a video. Savvy marketers are VERY aware that writing an engaging, captivating video script that keeps viewers hooked and buying has its own set of challenges but is every bit as difficult as selling in print.

    In fact, I'm in the middle of a video script as I write this.

    3. The gurus who spent a lot of money on copy are doing their own copy in the form of the videos.
    See above. I also know some very busy and successful guys who've scripted the videos for some of the biggest guru launches around. They primarily do videos, and they're fine.

    4. The clients know the market for their products isn't as strong.
    If it's not "as strong", but there's still demand there, that's an opportunity to profit, not a problem.

    If their buyers are just not buying, it may be time to move into another market. If they have previous customer lists, another big opportunity to profit, for you and the client.


    5. Google AdWords banning most copywriting sites as "make money" sites.
    How many "guru" launches rely on Adwords? The IM guru's all rely on JV's and email. And if Adwords, Facebook, MSN, all dried up tomorrow, a good copywriter will adapt and thrive.

    He would put together deals, find JV partners... Heck, adding THAT into your list of services is a HUGE tip for any copywriters. I have a lot of clients with similar, non-competing products, and if you can hook up profitable JV's there's serious money in it.

    And one thing I didn't mention before...

    I'm talking about the days when you could quote a job from 25K-60K and have a wait list.
    Dude, no one (that I know of) on this forum charges $25k-$60k for a typical project. In fact, the best of the best usually charge $10k or less, and make their real money by getting a big piece of the back.

    I do not doubt that Harlan has charged that. And I'm sure there are guys who routinely do, but you're getting into like Carlton, Abraham, Etc prices.

    The guys I know who do charge that, they do so because they've built up businesses that they work on, and they're charging that because that's what it costs them to take time away from their own businesses.

    I'd say that your average "up and coming" copywriter would be absolutely stoked at getting $2-$3k flat for a letter and staying busy.

    There are a lot of ways to make more than a comfortable living in this biz than charging clients $60k upfront for sales copy. Yeah, longer term projects, bigger mailing projects, etc could warrant that. But if you're talking a typical 40-100 hour job, nah.

    Not for most of us mere mortals anyway.

    Another BIG lesson here...

    Harlan has me taking time away from a project to argue with him... I’m literally spending money to reply to this, and I guard my time as much as anyone I know…

    ... This thread has almost 1k views in a day, if it stays up it'll have a whole lot more, that's a lot of eyeballs for a little bit of controversy...

    Harlin is smart, and this is a great example of what it takes to get attention (I haven't posted here in weeks, haha).

    So if attention was his goal, he's doing a pretty good job.

    He got me emotionally stirred up enough to post here. And he's not all wrong, the economy is in the tank, it's not as easy today, things ARE changing.

    But adapting is the name of the game.

    And I just wanted to kind of clarify that to anyone who may be struggling right now and considering giving up after reading that from a well-known copywriter...

    ...Everyone has a "shameless whore" phase. There are VERY few writers who haven't struggled at some point.

    But if you watch your market, watch what's going on, learn your craft well, treat your clients right and just treat this as a business instead of a get rich quick scheme, and you WORK HARD at it, there are more than enough clients and money out there for people to do VERY well.

    -Scott
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    • Profile picture of the author donaldwilson
      Originally Posted by Scott Murdaugh View Post

      Even though I disagreed with him on this, Harlan is very smart.
      Couldn't agree more.

      Originally Posted by Scott Murdaugh View Post


      He's doing *something* here and I don't know exactly what.

      He could be teaching a lesson to his students about how generate a bunch of free publicity with a simple forum post and a controversial topic.
      That is what I was thinking....

      And I was also thinking of what Alex said earlier about "The Death of the Sales Letter"

      One thing he definitely has done is caught my attention and given me a thread that i'll save in the STUDY THIS AGAIN folder.

      -don
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  • Profile picture of the author Blake King
    Copywriting is just a way to learn to sell. Just like door to door selling is a way to become a true salesman.

    Learn to sell to be successful in any business. The EASIEST and most convenient way to learn to sell is to learn copywriting.

    The fastest way would be door to door sales. Ofcourse door to door is also dangerous if you have a sensitive ego...
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  • Profile picture of the author kellyburdes
    This is a gem of a thread, and it should go into everyone's swipe file.

    Even if you think Harlan is full of sh** and don't agree with a single world he said.

    This is perfect "prelaunch material", exactly the type of stuff you want to send out in your first or second email of a major launch. (I know this is a copy writing thread, but in my mind Product Launch's are really just copy, but drawn out in time. One point that I have heard Jeff Walker make a bunch of times is that your first piece of content is the headline for your entire launch, it better draw them in. If you think about it and stretch your mind a little on how you think of copy, Product Launch Formula and Mass Control are probably the two best selling copy writing courses of all time)

    It gets people buzzing, gets them going, get's them talking.

    I have no idea what Harlan is up to - he might just be sharing his opinion on the current state of the market. I don't have my finger on the pulse of the copy writing market at all, so I have no opinion.

    But boy oh boy, this is great stuff.

    Think about how you can use this in your niche, the concept, the strategy and the tactic's to put the strategy into place.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by kellyburdes View Post

      This is a gem of a thread, and it should go into everyone's swipe file.
      For sure, Kelly. The law of polarity at work.

      Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author HaRrY84
    Copywrirting is not dead, has just evolved only. New trend is video copywriting and social media engagement.
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    • Profile picture of the author ThomasOMalley
      Originally Posted by HaRrY84 View Post

      Copywrirting is not dead, has just evolved only. New trend is video copywriting and social media engagement.
      What you are saying is true to a certain extent.

      But no matter what social media techniques you are using, you have to get to the point where you have to sell the "d..." thing...and you do that with excellent copy....that will never change.
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  • Profile picture of the author JasonParker
    Caaaaaaan you feeeeeeel the love toniiiiiiight

    I'm not in the freelancing business but enjoying the insights anyway.

    All I can say is... In any business... Things change. You adapt with the change or go extinct.

    People will always blame economies or different business climates.

    That's when you have to stop being a pansy, stop blaming other things for your failures, and make a profit anyway.
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  • Profile picture of the author gjabiz
    If true, me thinks the Salty Droid just had a nuts and bolts orgasm. What will he do now?

    AH, let's wait for Copywriting 2.0... should be FUN.

    gjabiz
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