I can spot a rookie copywriter within 3 seconds of opening their first sample.
Want to know how?
I simply read the first line of the body copy.
Not the headline, or the subject line — but the first line of the body copy.
And if I’m dealing with a rookie copywriter …
Which (sigh) 99.9% of the time I seem to be …
THE FIRST LINE OF THE COPY IS ALWAYS A QUESTION.
I have yet to figure out why.
I don’t know who’s teaching people this (it’s not any book I’ve read).
But I just sit back and groan.
In fact, by now, I can even pick the ‘genre’ of bad copy I’m about to read from the kind of question they’re asking:
- “Are you tired of not having enough leads?” >> Hyper-formulaic sales email
- “Can you REALLY trust your doctor?” >> Cringey mega-long-form sales page (95% chance “Big Pharma” will be mentioned)
- “Do you wish you could lose 5 lb this week, without boring diets or hard workouts?” >> Newbie copywriter’s first VSL
- “Have you ever seen the movie BLAH? If you haven’t, there’s this scene where …” >> Rambling daily email
Now, some people might raise their eyebrows at this.
How could I say something as broad as QUESTIONS are a bad way to start sales copy?
Well … I’m not.
Of course there are exceptions. Duh.
Heck, one of my favourite ads of all time — the “out-of-shape golfer” ad by John Carlton — starts with a question: “Do you think golf is an easy game?”
And you could even argue that I started this email with a question.
Because there’s nothing inherently wrong with using a question to open a sales pitch. It’s just that newbies almost always resort to it … instead of doing something more natural, like telling a story, or riffing off-the-cuff to the reader.
But if you want help with this, go join
the waitlist my email list for my coaching program, Inbox Detonator, where I’ll actually review your copy and give you feedback.
That’s not why I’m writing this email.
I’m not here to hate on new copywriters.
I am, however, putting out a call for good copywriters.
Because like I’ve told you lately, I have a bunch of clients on my waitlist … and I don’t actually like that.
I’d much rather be able to hook clients up with writers who I trust to help them (for a referral fee, of course … they’re still my leads, after all).
But right now, the list of writers I actually refer work to is short.
There are only two names on it.
I’d like to have more.
Want yours to be there?
Well, here’s your invitation.
I’m literally asking for copywriters to take good, qualified leads off my hands.
You wouldn’t have to do any marketing for them.
You wouldn’t even have to persuade them you were right for the job.
You’d simply get an email from me titled “Hey — got a lead I think you’d be a great fit for”.
And then, a piping hot lead, already sold on working with you, after a good word from me.
Good deal, right?
Well, all I require is that you protect my reputation by delivering good work to any clients I hand over.
So if you think you could deliver good work to the clients who come to me … I’m more than willing for you to convince me.
Reply to this email with something that will impress me.
(Oh, and if your first sample starts with a question … better fix that before you send it to me.)