Top o’ the morning to ya!
Here’s another one from the (lately, overflowing) Persuasive Page mailbag:
Thanks for the great emails you’ve been sending, especially your stories.
It’s inspired me to level up my storyselling chops.
I’m 6 days into a self-imposed 30 days story writing intensive.
So far, I’ve been copying out your emails by hand…analyzing engaging stories from Reader’s Digest and writing my own stories (with a pitch of course.)
I’d like to know if you’ve got any tip or roadmap for a copywriter who admires your skill so much.
Quick anecdote before I answer that:
I read a quote recently that “emails are where keystrokes go to die”.
The idea was something like, you only have a finite amount of keystrokes in your lifetime … and most of them ‘die’ in private emails only one person will read.
So by answering this question in public, I hope at least these keystrokes can die a glorious, noble death, teaching myriads of people as they go …
(Is that weird? haha)
Anyway, to M’s question:
I think you’re on the right track there, my friend.
Doing your own writing — every day, if possible — is a great way to get better.
That said, practice without feedback isn’t very useful. So the best thing (in my opinion) is to try to use your writing to win clients — by writing proposals for jobs.
Sites like Upwork are good for this, because you can get feedback fast on whether it’s working or not.
Or you could do cold emails to businesses. Or pitch yourself to podcasts. Or try and build an email list and send emails to it.
Whatever you do, try and make it a good test of your ‘direct response’ skills:
i.e. you know it’s working when people respond to you with a ‘yes’!
As to copying stuff out by hand …
I have literally NEVER copied a single sales letter (or even part of one) by hand.
I find the whole idea weird.
And the reason I say that is when I was younger I came up with this brainwave …
That I was going to hand-copy out the entire Bible!
No, really. I read people saying that it was a great way to get to know the text deeply. And I liked that.
So I bought a stack of notebooks, and off I went.
I quickly found that I was spending all my effort on copying and spelling the words right (Ma-ha-la-le-el?) … and NONE on actually thinking about what the text said!
So a few days after I started, I quit … somewhere in the teens in Genesis.
I’m not convinced it’s much better if you do it for sales letters.
Instead of hand-copying a letter, I’d spend the time asking critical questions like:
– Why did the writer use that lead?
– What are the stages of the argument here?
– How does the writer link those stages?
And the most important question of all:
– How would I write this if it were my job to beat this ad?
Same deal for even my emails. I wouldn’t hand-copy them … instead, step back and ask big-picture questions about what I’m doing and why.
Oh, and one more option if you’re looking to get better:
Soon I’m planning to offer one-on-one copy coaching for people who are serious about writing better copy.
But this coaching will NOT be about getting clients.
All the best and biggest clients I’ve landed sought ME out … and they did so because I wrote such good COPY.
i.e. I think that if you’re an amazing copywriter, the clients end up taking care of themselves to some extent.
Up to you whether you agree with me.
But if you do — and you’d like one-on-one copy coaching (and you’re willing to invest in it, it won’t be cheap) — reply to this email and let me know.
I’m only working with one student right now as a ‘test’, but soon I’ll be looking at ramping up. I already have a few people with their hands up though, so realistically I can’t take many more on.
And … would you look at that?
I just sent many more keystrokes to die than I intended 😱
So I’d best end this email here before I get arrested for mass keystroke murder.
(Which sure would be a new type of crime … tee-hee-hee)
Catch ya tomorrow,