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Can non-native English speakers succeed as copywriters?
Here's the 30-word email that started the
whole debate...

Can non-native English speakers succeed as copywriters?
Here's the 30-word email that started the whole debate...

By Daniel Throssell Published on Dec 2, 2021

Can you succeed as a copywriter even if you’re not a native English speaker?

Ask most copywriting gurus, and they’ll say something like: 

YES!! You can succeed NO MATTER how good your English is! In fact, it’s BETTER if you’re not native, because you have fewer bad habits to unlearn!

(Usually, this is followed by a sales pitch for their course claiming to show you how to become a copywriter.)

But … 

I disagree.

*gasp*

… yes, yes.

Cue the tomatoes, angry comments and accusations of how I’m “LiTeRaLLy HiTLeR” 🥱

Trust me, I’ve heard it all already (as you’re about to see).

It all started with a 30-word email
from a non-native copywriter …

… which I featured (along with my reply) in my newsletter a while back.

My email ignited a HUGE ongoing controversy in the copywriting world. 

Every copywriting “guru” — and every online community — has chimed in with their own take on why I was wrong.

There was plenty of virtue-signalling … accusations of racism … and straw-man arguments.

But … I’ll let you see for yourself.

Below, I’ve compiled the emails I sent that started this whole controversy. 

And by reading, you'll discover:

  • Why I’m actually right about this whole thing
  • What I actually think about non-native copywriters (don’t listen to the straw-man version everyone else gives you)
  • And, why I’m probably the only person honest enough to tell it straight when it comes to this controversial topic.

As you’re about to find out … 

What I really think about non-native copywriters is a lot more interestingcontroversial … and liberating than you could have imagined.

Click through the emails below and see for yourself how the drama unfolded …

How can a 30-word email be this stupid?

Close Up 3

Daniel Throssell

Originally sent on Oct 11, 2021
Close Up 3

Daniel Throssell

Originally sent on Oct 17, 2021

I would like to tell you that I made up the following comment as a parody.

 

But alas, I did not.

 

It is 100% real.

I actually got a reply to my email yesterday that simply said this:

===

 

Hey I’m beginner in copywriting field  but I don’t understand how to do what to do just u say if I ask you can send copywriting tips or swipe email ? 

 

===

I …

 

I just …

 

 

 

… no.

 

Nope, nope, noooope.

 

I just can’t.

 

I can’t work out where to start …

IN POINTING OUT HOW THIS IS THE DUMBEST, MOST DISGRACEFUL EMAIL I’VE EVER RECEIVED.

If this email were meant to be a parody … it would be perfect.

 

Everything about it … from the typos … to the double spaces … to the nonsensical grammar … to the asking for ‘swipes’ … is THE stereotype that I mock in these emails.

 

But … it’s real.

 

Oh, boy.

 

(Trigger warning: If you get offended easily, better stop reading now.)

 

Where to start with a guy like this?

 

Firstly, maybe here:

GIVE UP. NOW.

You are not a copywriter.

 

You are not even a ‘beginner in copywriting’.

 

You are an illiterate person who has been deluded by some stupid guru into thinking this is a get-rich-quick industry that you can succeed in.

 

But … you can’t.

 

So please stop trying. Immediately. 

 

By the way, calling you illiterate is not meant to be an insult.

 

In some other context, maybe it is.

 

But … not this one.

 

I don’t mean it to ‘hurt your feelings’.

 

I’m trying to help you.

 

I mean … did you read the literal TITLE of the job you want?

“COPYWRITER”

Not “copyathlete”.

 

Or “copycook”.

 

Or “copyelectrician”.

 

You are a WRITER.

 

You need to know how to write.

 

And … you clearly cannot write.

 

It’s not even close. You would need several years of English classes just to get to the base acceptable level. And as a copywriter you need to be WELL ABOVE AVERAGE at writing … because you are persuading people with your words.

 

And by the way:

 

If anyone is reading this and even THINKING of lecturing me on how “politically incorrect” or “mean” it is of me to say this … you can hop off my email list right now.

Because YOU
are part of the problem.

All you people that congregate in online Facebook copywriting groups, where guys like this post their copy for “critique” … and instead of telling him the truth about how bad it is … you coat it with so much sugar that he thinks he’s David friggin’ Ogilvy reincarnate.

 

You tell him to “just keep at it!” …

 

Forgetting that while YOU might be some fat rich Westerner who can afford to sit on your butt and learn in your ample free time, many of these people live in poor countries.

 

And that “keeping at it” has a SIGNIFICANT opportunity cost.

 

YOUR “enabling” talk is most of the reason that people like THIS guy are going to spend hundreds, or thousands, of dollars on courses that will NEVER repay them.

 

YOU are destroying his life.

 

But, sure. Keep up that virtue signalling! Tell him he can do it! And not to listen to that “mean” Daniel Throssell! You’re a hero!

 

Ugh. People like that make me sick.

 

Listen:

If you are an aspiring copywriter,
I have your best interests at heart.

If you have promise, I want to nurture you and help you realise that promise.

If you don’t, I want you to realise that as soon as possible. So you can stop wasting your time, and pick a career that actually suits you.

Either way though, it’s out of a heart that wants to help you — not profit from you.

So let me say this very clearly …

Both to the person who sent me this email, and to anyone who is like that …

Please unsubscribe.

Not only from my list, but from EVERY copywriting list you’re on.

 

Heck, the other ones are even MORE dangerous, because they will NOT be this honest with you.

 

But I will be.

 

This career is not for you.

 

And remember …


I AM DOING YOU
A FAVOUR HERE.

The person who looks at your email, drooling, and says “Tips? You need … copywriting tips? Mmmm, sounds … delicious! Just … give me your credit card … and buy my $497 copywriting course … mmm, you look so yummy … *ahem* of course I can show you how to become a well-fed writer …” is a WOLF.

 

They just want your money.

 

I don’t want your money.

 

I want you to go get a job that you can do, that will make your mother proud and put food on the table for your kids.

 

There is nothing noble about copywriting. It’s just a job. Screw all the people who tell you it’s easy, or that anyone can do it. They lied.

 

Actually — give me the names of the people who told you that, so I can publicly shame them in this newsletter. Really. I’ll do it.

 

What a crock!

 

You might think I’m going overboard here.

 

But … I’ve done this before.

And yet these people are still here.

 

So it seems I haven’t gone far enough.

 

And … there sure as heck isn’t anyone ELSE out there willing to be this honest.

 

So it seems that it falls to me.

 

Of course, I bet 90% of the people who I’m writing this email to … won’t get it.

 

They’ll nod their heads and say “Yeh daneil throsell … bro u  always tell it TRUTH lolll

 

Not much I can do about it, sadly.

 

But I DO hope that if you are NOT one of those people …

That you will at least have the guts to speak out when you see one.

You are NOT being cruel to tell them the truth.

 

You are being cruel to let them delude themselves that copywriting is their quick ticket to riches when they can’t even write basic English.

 

Maybe nobody else will thank you … they might even call you a jerk. (Happens to me all the time.)

 

But sometimes, you have to cop it to do the right thing for people … even if they don’t thank you.

 

And if my only legacy in this industry is to embolden a lot more people to tell the truth, and save hundreds of wasted careers … I’ll feel good about what I’ve achieved.

 

But … that’s enough discouraging talk for the soul.

 

We’re supposed to keep things light-hearted around here, right?

 

So here’s something really interesting for the native English copywriters out there…

[Part of this email content has been removed from the blog version.]

Daniel Throssell

This debate would have been way more interesting if you got to see it live in your inbox as it happened...
Join the newsletter to read my full emails.

This email might get me in big trouble in copywriting circles

Close Up 3

Daniel Throssell

Originally sent on Oct 12, 2021
Close Up 3

Daniel Throssell

Originally sent on Oct 17, 2021

Then again, it’s not like I ever let that stop me before.

 

But, an aspiring copywriter from Bangladesh replied to my last email.

 

(The one where I said — very bluntly — that most non-native or illiterate copywriters should just give up on the craft.)

 

And his email contained some … shocking accusations:

===

 

Love your honesty brother. I will name a few people who say it is even an advantage to be a non native to become a copywriter. David Deutsch. I emailed him and he said keep it up.  

 

Tej Dosa, Kevin Rogers, Justin Goff, Filthy Rich Writer, Mike Giannulis and a few others I don’t remember. The main point they put up is, You have to write at 5th grade level. So native writers are at a disadvantage. It’s better to be non native. 

 

Ian Stanley says, if you can send an email to a friend then you can earn online from writing emails. 

 

Thank you for your honesty. 

 

===

 

OOF.

 

I admit …

I winced when I read this.

When I said I would name and shame people … well, I wasn’t expecting some of the names here to come up.

 

So I wasn’t sure if I should write this. It might get me in trouble with people in the ‘inner circles’ of copywriting.

 

But … 

 

Screw it.

 

You have to stick to your principles.

 

I’m not saying this to be popular … I’m saying it because I believe it’s morally the right thing to do.

 

So here goes:

What the heck, guys?

What the actual heck?

 

If what my Bangladeshi reader says is true, this is super disappointing. 

 

Because this list contains a few writers I quite like and respect.

 

Of course, I haven’t heard the words from anyone’s mouth directly.

 

So I’m going to be careful in what I say here.

 

I am NOT directly accusing anyone in particular of saying anything in particular.

 

But I can say this:

“It's better to be non-native!”
is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

There is a HUGE difference in being able to ‘dumb down’ your writing to 5th grade level … and having 5th grade level be the BEST you can write.

 

I’m flabbergasted that anyone would ever make this argument.

 

It’s stupid.

 

It’s dishonest.

 

It’s harmful.

 

And … 

 

The only reason you’d say it is to make more sales from non-native people.

Shame on anyone who does that. Seriously.

 

Even if you want to argue that non-natives can theoretically make it as copywriters in English — which is kinda like saying that midgets can make the NBA because the shortest player ever was 5’3” — that is SO different from them having an advantage. And you know it.

 

But … this is the problem.

 

I’m fighting an uphill battle preaching this message.

 

It’s not very inspiring …

 

It doesn’t sell very well …

 

And it upsets a lot of people.

 

And as everyone knows …

Daniel Throssell ALWAYS avoids saying things that upset people.

 😇

 

 

 

… what?

 

Okay, ya got me.

 

I actually somehow seem to enjoy saying things that people hate.

 

It’s a gift … and a curse 🤷🏻‍♂️

So here is my message to everyone:
Non-native copywriters …

You’re going to seriously struggle to make it writing copy in English.

 

Tip: Try writing copy in your own language instead. I bet you’d clean up. But leave the English market alone. In general (yes of course there are exceptions), you guys are not good at English copy. And that is why nobody has been hiring you. Just givin’ you some tough love 😘

Copywriting gurus who are telling these non-native copywriters they can make it writing copy in English …

Read my comment above. And … pull your head in. It’s not on. And you know it.

 

If you want to fight me on this, challenge me in your emails and let’s have at it. 

 

(Publicly, please, and if you would kindly include my URL when you do.)

Everyone else …

… well, I don’t know, this email wasn’t about you.

 

But if you see someone telling people to “just keep at it!” when that’s not the kind thing to do … even (especially?) if it’s some well-known copywriting guru … call them out on it.

 

Blame me if anyone pushes back on you.

 

(I mean, I’m already gonna be excommunicated from all the copywriting circles for this email anyway, so why not go all the way?)

 

In fact, since this stance makes me decidedly less popular in the copywriting community …

 

I think I’m going to need to make a few more powerful copywriting friends 😅

 

So as a very selfish strategy:

I want to help YOU become more successful, more popular and more influential!

(Y’know … so you can back me up.)

 

And the best way to do that is …

[Part of this email content has been removed from the blog version.]

Daniel Throssell

This debate would have been way more interesting if you got to see it live in your inbox as it happened...
Join the newsletter to read my full emails.

Well, that email went down like AOC at a MAGA rally

Close Up 3

Daniel Throssell

Originally sent on Oct 13, 2021

Close Up 3
Daniel Throssell
Originally sent on Oct 17, 2021

Clearly I touched a nerve yesterday.

 

I called out predatory behaviour in our industry …

 

And also tried to discourage people from buying copywriting courses that won’t help them.

 

Which … apparently makes me a bad person.

 

A bad Christian, even.

At least, according to this person …

===

 

So you read a letter that obviously had shit English, 

which is probably the beginning/basics for every copywriter that wants to write copy intentionally, 

 

And there was no other way you could phrase your language but this way?  

 

I’ve heard of local copywriters who are doing millions of dollars right now but when they started, had shaky English. You didn’t even tell them they could try.  

 

You just point blank told them to go to hell.  

 

And then right underneath, you said you believe in Jesus Christ … 

 

You had the opportunity to be Christlike,  

And you blew it.  

 

What would Jesus do?  

Ask yourself that.  

 

Well done, Daniel.  

 

===

 

After reading this email, I took this stranger’s counsel, and prayed for inspiration.

Then … a strange light shone upon my desk.

 

I looked.

 

It was illuminating … my Bible?

 

Stunned, I opened the pages …

 

And — as if guided by angels — the book landed open upon a page I had never seen before.

And I read the words that must have been divinely meant just for me:

 

“And Jesus opened his mouth and said, 

When a copywriter hath the worst English thou hast ever seen, 

  And thou knowest in thine heart that he will never make money writing copy in English,  

  Thou shalt not warn him with the truth: 

For thou might hurt his feelings, 

  And better to waste his life than hurt his feelings. 

And thus ye shall lie to him, 

  And tell him he is verily Gary Halbert 2.0. 

For with this false hope shall ye deliver his soul to God, 

  And his wallet to the gurus.” 

 

***

I was stunned.

I can’t believe I never saw this verse before!

 

My critic had been right.

 

Jesus was all about feelings — NOT offensive truths.

 

That’s why he told his followers to NEVER preach his gospel. Because saying we’re all sinners in need of redemption is offensive.

 

🧐

 

Okay:

SARCASM OFF.

Serious faces:

 

I didn’t “point blank” tell anyone to “go to hell”, Chadwick.

 

I just bluntly discouraged them from wasting their time and money in a likely dead-end career.

But I'll make ONE distinction:

Instead of specifying “non-native” copywriters, it’s technically more accurate to say “non-fluent”.

 

You can be non-native and yet still write fluent English copy.

 

You can even be non-fluent at English, and write amazing copy in your OWN language.

 

BUT …

It’s basically impossible to be non-fluent at English and write good English copy.

Even if I am the only voice in copywriting saying that, so be it.

 

And just so we’re clear:

 

I teach people how to write copy with my copywriting courses.

 

And yet …

I still do NOT want you buying them if you’re not fluent in English.

UNLESS … you are going to apply what you learn to write copy in your own language.

 

Because I don’t want to profit from you if you’re not going to make your money back.

 

I think that’s the right thing to do.

 

But if you are fluent in English …

[Part of this email content has been removed from the blog version.]

Daniel Throssell

This debate would have been way more interesting if you got to see it live in your inbox as it happened...
Join the newsletter to read my full emails.

You wouldn’t want ANOTHER controversial email now … would you?

Close Up 3

Daniel Throssell

Originally sent on Oct 14, 2021

Since everyone has now had enough of my dunking on non-fluent copywriters and scammy gurus …

 

Let’s change the topic to something even MORE exciting:

Sentence structure.

Don’t yawn!

 

Sentence structure is actually a really important thing for copywriters.

 

And once you get warmed up, it can even be almost fun!

 

Let’s start with Part 1 of 17:

 

Noun Placement!

 

A well-placed noun can—

lolllll just kidding.

I know you just want blood.

 

You know I got a bunch of angry replies …

 

… and you want to see me answer them.

 

Amirite?

 

Amirite?

 

Amirite?

 

Yeah? Yeah? Am I?

 

😏

 

Don’t feel bad.

 

I want that too.

 

So let’s get the gloves on for DAY FOUR of this saga.

 

(I’m milking this cash cow till it goes dry!)

 

Also, the longer I keep this up, the more ‘unsuitable’ copywriters will unsubscribe from my list … which I like!

Like … this angry lady:

I’m Really disappointed by your racist emails. Anyhow, if you remember, you’re also an Asian dwelling in Australia… 

 

Ba bye to your emails… 

 

Unsubscribed! 

 

===

 

The irony in this one is palpable:

 

  1. Calling me “racist” in literally the same paragraph you label me “an Asian” (?)
  2. You capitalised the second word in your sentence … ergo you are exactly one of the copywriters I encourage to unsubscribe from my emails lol
  3. Telling me you’re “disappointed” in me gets you automatically banned from my list anyway.

Verdict:

 

BA BYE 👋

 

Now …

 

The next troll was so ironically delicious, I literally cried “THANK YOU!” out loud when I got the email:

===

 

Lol, Daniel… 

 

Clearly, you don’t speak any other language… You have ZERO idea how multilingual people operate… 

 

For what it’s worth, that guy’s (non-native) copy reads way better than yours!!! 

 

===

 

LOL

 

確かに、僕は馬鹿な英語のネイティブで、他の言語は全く喋れない!

 

You’re right.

 

Aside from Japanese, Esperanto, Koine Greek and Biblical Hebrew, I know absolutely NO other languages 😂

 

As for the guy’s non-native copy reading better than mine …

 

If we are talking about the line that started:

 

Hey I’m beginner in copywriting     but I don’t understand how to do what to do just u say …” 

 

Well …

 

If you are a non-native ‘copywriter’ …

 

And you really think that is good copy …

 

I, um, rest my case.

🤭

Warning: Next hater is long and kinda all over the place (and this is after I cut it down a bit …):

===

 

“Native, non-native what ever the case. The English market like other languages is not owned by anyone. 

 

Nobody and I mean nobody should tell others what they can and cannot do.  

 

It’s a personal choice,  If I want to learn the ins and outs of a regions’s language and culture then why can’t I write and earn a living. All it takes, is proper guidance and determination. Yes it won’t be perfect but than nothing is on earth.” 

 

All true!

 

Also true:

 

Nobody is going to pay you to live out your butterfly-laden dream of learning English to “almost perfect” (i.e. bad).

 

They will pay you if you make them sales with your copy.

 

End of truth.

 

“I and you are no one to tell other people what they can and can’t.“ 

 

Sigh.

 

Well, since I’m already being cast as the villain here, I might as well go ahead and say it:

 

You left out the word “do” on the end of your sentence.

 

And “I and you” is a very unnatural phrase.

 

A client would not like that in their copy.

 

I — and most businesses — simply could not afford to hire a copywriter who made their copy sound unnatural with mistakes like that.

 

This isn’t mean. It’s not bullying. It’s just a fact. idk why so many people are throwing such a wobbly over such an obvious thing.

 

“We subscribe to your email list to learn and to take pride in what we do. We look up to you and want to write like you.  

 

We take out time to read your emails and give you and your work importance.” 

 

BZZZZZT! Wrong.

 

Correction:

 

I ALLOW you to subscribe to my marketing list at my pleasure.

 

You have never paid me a cent, so it actually COSTS me money to send you emails.

 

If I don’t want to send them to you, I don’t have to.

 

And if you disagree with any of this?

 

You can unsubscribe and read someone else’s emails.

 

That’s how this works.

 

“A person in your position should encourage others and lift their spirits rather than calling them to “leave the market you dumbs”.” 

 

No, I should be honest and not lie to make you feel better.

 

You’re all just so used to nobody being allowed to offend you that when someone speaks the truth, you act like they shot your dog.

 

“There is already so much hate and discrimination in the world I think we can’t afford more (I’m disappointed).” 

 

Eh, resorting to labelling my email ‘hate and discrimination!’ is weak sauce. Try harder to understand what I said.

 

Oh, and … 

 

Did you just say you were …

 

DISAPPOINTED?

 

*crazed laugh as finger reaches for the ‘ban’ button*

 

***

 

Oh, what fun.

 

And in a show of peak irony:

 

While I’ve spent the last three days lovingly discouraging people from becoming copywriters …

 

A well-known American institution* has been sharing a “motivational” post the last few days.

 

(*name redacted for legal purposes, but for convenience, we’ll just abbreviate “A Well-known American Institution” to “AWAI”) 

 

It’s one of those cringey selfies of a smiling woman holding a sheet of paper that says:

“YOU ARE ALREADY GOOD ENOUGH”

And …

 

That’s kind of the fundamental difference here.

 

Their encouraging approach will coddle the 1% who will succeed … but also give false hope to the 99%.

 

My discouraging approach will warn off the 99% … and put a fire in the belly of the 1% to try even harder.

 

Because those 1% who do succeed at copywriting … are the ones who aren’t such sooks that they chuck a hissy fit over a few “mean” emails that “offend” them.

 

And on that note …

[Part of this email content has been removed from the blog version.]

Daniel Throssell

This debate would have been way more interesting if you got to see it live in your inbox as it happened...
Join the newsletter to read my full emails.

The hate mail I couldn't publish

Close Up 3

Daniel Throssell

Originally sent on Oct 17, 2021
Close Up 3

Daniel Throssell

Originally sent on Oct 17, 2021

I got so much funny hate mail last week that I could only show you a fraction of it.

 

But now that we’ve had the weekend to refresh, I want to indulge by showing you one more.

 

It was probably the best one I got.

 

And I’m showing you because it’s a great example of an ignorant copywriting belief that most people still seem to have in 2021.

 

Take it away, Anonymous ex-Subscriber …

 

===

An Open Letter to Daniel Thros(sell)

Dear Daniel! 

 

You are having a lot of fun these days. Aren’t you? 

 

And probably making a lot of money as well… 

 

After all, (ill) Fame = Money 

 

Now listen, you so-called native Copywriter 

 

Copywriting is defined as: 

 

“The act of writing to prompt a specific action from the reader.” 

  

Put simply, it is your message that matters, not the language… 

 

You can write all the prose and poems and words that seem to flow like water in the river and can keep patting yourself on the back for that… 

 

But still, readers don’t give a flying fuck if the message does not resonate with them, let alone buy. 

 

And my dear friend, 

 

Because of your arrogance induced blindness, you failed to see the likes of Dan Lok and Evaldo Albuquerque. 

 

They are just as nonnative as that poor Bangladeshi guy whose only crime was to ask you for tips. 

 

Now, I am not saying that anyone, straight outta their bed, can sit in front of their computer, put fingers to keyboard and write copy… 

 

Like other skills, copywriting can be learnt even if English isn’t your first language… 

 

I highly doubt that you have ever heard of Andy Mukolo, Suraj Punjabi, Shahzad Khan or Michael Chibuzor as well. 

 

Are they native English writers? 

 

Fact: Anyone who can research properly and persuade the reader for a specific action is a successful copywriter. 

 

It doesn’t take a Shakespeare or a Shaw to write a sales copy. 

 

I don’t know what you were high on when you wrote that email but put this in your mind that: 

 

your words have demotivated many out there who could be much better than many in the business. 

 

Maybe it’s your insecurity that forced you to write that email… 

 

Do you think we care to read your creepy buy-my-course-ridden emails? 

 

You would better stop writing them now… 

 

Because nobody is interested. 

 

Not us nonnatives certainly… 

 

Good luck selling your courses to natives… Until they too learn how rude and unreasonable you are. 

 

Oh, wait, by now your fingers must be having a bad spasm. No? 

 

Reaching for that Ban button a few thousand times can do that… 

 

Nothing out of ordinary… 

 

So, before I go, I am doing you another favor… 

 

That is unsubscribing from your list. 

 

That will save your finger from doing the exercise yet again… 

 

And don’t worry, next time when I want to read something rude and racist, I will turn to Adolf Hitler. 

 

Wondering if he has an email list… 

 

Your ex-Subscriber, 

Anonymous 

 

===

 

This one had me in stitches.

 

It literally sounds like an angry 12-year-old screaming at her mum before storming off:

“You’re not grounding me — I’M GOING TO MY ROOM MYSELF!!!”

 😂 😂 😂

 

But, I’m not going to bother answering most of these boring accusations again.

After all … I already won that argument last week.

 

 🤭

 

But she did raise one point which is worth addressing.

 

Which is this idea that:

“Copywriting isn't about the words — it’s about making an effective sales argument!”

For some reason, there are still a lot of people who believe this.

 

I assume these people have been reading too many copywriting books and courses from around 30 years ago.

 

The era where copywriters said “If I write your ad, it’s gonna sound like me, not you” and clients accepted that.

 

But outside a few hardcore direct-response circles (where I wouldn’t even want to work anyway) …

This approach is
fundamentally dead now.

I mean …

 

Do you read MY emails for the “effective sales argument” I make each day?

 

If you say ‘yes’, you’re lying.

 

I don’t even make a proper sales argument each day.

 

No.

You read my emails
for the human element.

The personality.

 

The stories.

 

The opinions.

 

The voice.

 

These are what make these “Daniel Throssell” emails, and not just generic copywriting sales emails.

 

Could some other copywriter come along and ghostwrite my emails for me as long as they made a good “sales argument”?

 

lol — no friggin’ way.

It ain’t 1997 anymore,
sunshine.

Today, saying “Look, Mr. Client, my copy won’t sound like you at all, but I’ll sure make a good sales argument!” won’t get you very far.

 

Because these days …

 

It’s not the “sales argument” doing the selling in most cases.

 

It’s the relationship with the seller.

 

That relationship is built on trust.

 

And that trust is violated when you read an email or sales page and think, “That felt wrong … so-and-so doesn’t normally sound that salesy.

 

And guess what that means?

A copywriter’s job isn’t just to know how to sell …
it’s to know how to sell while sounding like the client.

Of course, if you’re not fluent in English you can’t do this, because you make typos and use cringey expressions (like the person who likened me to Hitler above).

 

But don’t worry … I’m not discriminating here.

 

Because most fluent English copywriters don’t know how to do this either.

 

Learning the client’s voice can be one of the hardest parts of market research, no matter your English level.

 

Which is why …

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Daniel Throssell

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Justin & Stefan Talk Australia's Most Controversial Copywriter

Close Up 3

Daniel Throssell

Originally sent on Oct 22, 2021
Close Up 3

Daniel Throssell

Originally sent on Oct 17, 2021

Today I learned of a HUGE discussion thread in the popular Justin & Stefan Talk Copy group on Facebook talking about … me 😁

 

… okay, so not about me.

 

(In fact, it seems the OP was trying hard to avoid identifying me)

 

Rather, it’s about a debate I seem to have started in the copywriting world:

 

The issue of non-native/non-fluent English copywriters … and whether they should be writing copy in English.

I took a look and …
it is GLORIOUS.

Clearly I touched a nerve.

 

The funny thing is that almost everyone seems to have missed the entire point of what I was saying, which isn’t even that controversial:

 

  1. Copywriting is a job where you have to write skilfully in English
  2. If you’re bad at writing in English, you probably can’t do this job
  3. If you probably can’t do a job, you should probably not try to spend years and lots of money trying to learn the job

 

OMG HE’S LITERALLY HITLER IT’S HATE SPEECH REEEEEEE

 

Yeesh.

 

But, so be it.

 

Daniel Throssell welcomes ANY and ALL controversy related to his brand.

 

And so …

 

As the person who STARTED this whole kerfuffle …

I hereby exercise my right to have the final say on any and all opinions I find expressed in this thread.

If you disagree that I have that right … 

 

… too bad, because I have the final say on that opinion too.

 

😎 

 

So … time to offer my final say on things.

Here are some of the most interesting snippets from the thread, along with my replies:

===

 

“A week ago, a well-known copywriter sent many emails to his list on this issue. 

 

It reached the extent that someone likened him to ‘Adolf Hitler’ simply because he advised non-native English copywriters to forget about copywriting if they cannot construct proper English sentences.” 

 

===

 

Well THAT escalated fast.

 

I say that people with bad English shouldn’t take a job where they have to write good English …

 

… and suddenly my name is on par with a dude who committed mass genocide?

 

C-Reich-y!

 

These people need to chill down some …

Next comment:

===

 

“No [brand voice doesn’t matter]. 

 

99% of brands think they have a brand voice, but don’t. 

 

Maaaaaybe they have a few words and phrases they like to use. 

 

As long as you make them sound smart and make sales, they probably won’t care about the branding stuff.” 

 

===

 

I’m sorry but I 100% disagree.

 

This is super easy to disprove:

 

Do you think you could get another copywriter — pick ANYONE you want — and have them write sales emails to MY email list that would pull as well as mine?

 

Of course not.

 

I don’t care who you pick.

 

Because it’s not about the “SaLeS ArGuMeNt” … 

 

It’s about the voice.

 

If I ever hired another copywriter to write sales emails to my list (I wouldn’t, but let’s pretend), the SINGLE most important thing would be whether they could do my voice.

 

If the email did not SOUND like me, it would violate my readers’ trust … which kills sales cold.

 

On the other hand, I send emails literally every day that have a weak sales argument, and they sell very well. Because it sounds like ME.

 

This is not just me though.

 

Do you think I could have written for the Barefoot Investor — a cherished Aussie brand built on TRUST — while doing my best Amway salesman pitch?

 

Or could I have written for Mamamia — with its various mostly-female audiences — while sounding snarky and aggro like I probably do now?

 

Of COURSE not.

 

Because brand voice matters.

 

And to write brand voice … you need to be highly proficient at English.

 

I don’t say you must be native. But you must be GOOD.

Unlike this guy:

===

 

“Build confidence.there is nondifference in the writing only that the native speakers it,s there mother tongue .but us who went thro learning are doing great.somebody can,t tell the difference in the writing so long as the flow of the sentence are good. 

 

Take these as the natives USP. It,s there argument to market there service..” 

 

===

 

… 

 

 

… 

 

… is nobody gonna say it?

 

*sigh* 

 

OKAY I’M GONNA SAY IT, HE SHOULD QUIT COPYWRITING.

 

There. I said it.

 

You all gonna get mad again?

 

Bust out the Hitler jokes?

 

Huh?!?

 

I mean … did … did you even read that right there?

 

Everyone gets so sulky at me for telling people to quit … but WHY?

 

I MEAN DO YOU THINK THIS GUY SHOULD NOT QUIT COPYWRITING.

 

REALLY.

 

TELL ME HE SHOULD NOT QUIT.

 

YOU’RE LYING.

 

If you’re not lying, YOU pay him to write you some copy.

 

Told you you were lying.

Okay, next:

The following few snippets are taken from a long comment by Lukas Resheske.

 

To be clear: I am a big admirer of Lukas, and think he is one of the sharpest minds in copywriting.

 

I used to be on his newsletter and it was dope. The man is incredibly intelligent.

 

And, I agreed with a lot of his comment.

But there are a few parts that irked me …

===

 

“Direct response copywriting works best (most of the time) when it’s written at a 4th-6th grade reading level (based on US educational standards…take that how you will) 

 

So if you’re a non-native writer, you ONLY need to be able to write at a level that a 4th to 6th grade US child can clearly understand.” 

 

===

 

I HATE when people try this argument.

 

There is obviously a HUGE difference between ONLY being able to write at a 4th grade level … and being able to write at a 10th grade level but lower your grade level strategically.

 

This is so basic it’s not even up for debate.

 

I refuse to believe that someone as intelligent as Lukas Resheske — one of the smartest copywriters I know — does not understand this.

 

I can only assume that he has to put on a more virtuous face on Facebook, lest the mob eat him alive like they’re trying to do to me. 

 

===

 

“ANY copywriter…Native, Non-Native, Alien, whatever…needs to be able to write how they speak, in a tone that’s unique to them, and in a way that’s clearly and effectively understood by the intended reader.” 

 

===

 

This is a benign statement, but kinda misleading still.

 

Copywriters also need to be able to replicate their client’s voice with a high degree of accuracy (or at least, produce a voice that is acceptable to the client to be “theirs”).

 

It has nothing to do with how YOU speak. It has to do with how your CLIENT speaks.

 

And that makes proficient English skills highly relevant.

 

===

 

It is harder for ANYONE to learn to communicate naturally in a second or third language than their native language … that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. And it doesn’t mean you need to give up if you’re not quite there. 

 

===

 

Saying some of these people are “not quite there” is like me jumping into the air and then saying “I’m not quite on Mars”.

 

I should probably give up trying to jump to Mars.

 

These people should probably give up trying to make a career out of English writing.

 

===

 

“It’s possible. Keep at it. Don’t get discouraged. The pie is only getting bigger and bigger, there’s room for everyone at the table.” 

 

===

 

Ugh. The “there’s room for everyone” argument. Usually you only hear that when someone’s trying to sell you a course.

 

Sorry, but anyone who says things like this without qualifications is part of the problem.

 

The copywriting industry needs to STOP using this line. 

 

It’s predatory language posing as virtue signalling.

 

The truth is, some people are going to need to work so hard that it’s almost out of the question.

 

Want proof?

 

More comments:

 

===

 

“Grammarly helps a lot (especially the primium version.) Also, why not hire a proof reader? Why not ask friend who writes better in English for help? Their’s solutions everywhere” 

 

===

 

Grammarly primium eh 🤷🏻‍♂️

 

Or how about:

 

===

 

“Its all about a great copy and many western business owners I know can surely do a great copy.” 

 

===

 

🤦‍♂️ 

Look.

 

Am I saying these people can NEVER become good enough to write copy?

 

No.

 

BUT IT’S GOING TO BE SO HARD IT’S ALMOST NOT WORTH TRYING.

 

That is all.

 

It’s not considered “ableist” to tell a guy in a wheelchair that he’s probably not gonna make the NBA.

 

So …

 

Why is it “racist” to tell people who don’t write good English that they can’t do a job where you have to skilfully write English?

 

While I am enjoying the controversy my position is causing, I am completely baffled as to why it is so controversial.

Honestly, I think we can all sum it up the way this commenter did:

===

 

“Why someone who doesn’t speak English would think it’s a good idea to start a career to communicate in English is beyond me.” 

 

===

 

SOMEONE GIVE THIS MAN A MEDAL.

 

He is the only one speaking sense around here.

 

Or perhaps … not the only one.

 

For the very last commenter I saw said:

“Daniel Throssell is everywhere 😂😂😂😂”

And … yes, yes I am.

 

For as the OP replied:

 

“why did you call his name? 

You’re giving him free publicity right 😁😁 

 

Correct!

 

Free publicity is what I do best.

 

I’ve built a very good business on free publicity.

 

And … I know how to turn that publicity into sales.

 

(Unlike other people in this industry, who seem to try to derive their sales from flattering their potential customers … as you can see, I am brutally honest with my good customers — to the point of being insulting — and yet they still buy in droves. Maybe people actually respect honesty …)

 

Anyway …

I can show YOU how to do all this, too.

My methodology for growing my list is

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Why Grammarly WON'T save your copy

Close Up 3

Daniel Throssell

Originally sent Nov 1, 2021
Close Up 3

Daniel Throssell

Originally sent on Oct 17, 2021

A few days ago, my buddy Chris Orzechowski sent an email to his list with a few copywriting gigs he needed writers for.

 

He asked people to apply via reply email.

 

And since I am a “professional troll” …

 

(Literally, that is what my brothers call me when I tell them how I make money)

I decided to send
my own application in 😝

Here’s what I sent Chris …

 

 

 

===

 

hi my name is daneil and i  would like to apply for the job. 

 

here is my sample which i wrote in the style of my hero chris orzekowschi : 

 

*** 

 

Subject: YEET  B*TCHES 

 

YEET! 

 

My new edition of Make Rain Each Month is YEET 

 

it is  luterally hot fire on meth. 

 

if u dont buy it i will come ot your house and break all your necks and your dogs necks 

 

And f**k to canadian gooses 

 

but ,hurry 

 

because the printer is about to die and there will be no more prints 

 

hear is the link to buy it now : 

 

 

 

*** 

 

my rate is 1,00,0000,00$ for each copies i write you 

 

tahnk you for ur time 

 

===

  

 😂

 

(Hey, as someone who has posted copywriting gigs before … I’m gonna level with you. I would NOT be surprised if that landed in my inbox as a real application.)

 

Anyway …

I shared my mock email in my private CopyJunto group on SocialLair.

And for kicks …

 

One of my members, Brent, decided to run it through Grammarly and accept all the suggestions.

 

I’ve seen plenty of non-native copywriters swear that Grammarly can easily cover up all their English mistakes in copy.

 

So … does it actually?

 

Let’s see.

Here was Grammarly’s
“fixed” version:

===

 

Hi, my name is Daniel, and I would like to apply for the job. 

 

here is my sample, which I wrote in the style of my hero Chris orzekowschi : 

 

*** 

 

Subject: YEET B*TCHES 

 

YES! 

 

My new edition of Make Rain Each Month is YEET. 

 

It is a fire on meth. 

 

if you don’t buy it, I will come to your house and break all your necks and your dogs’ necks 

 

And f**k to Canadian gooses. 

 

but, hurry 

 

because the printer is about to die and there will be no more prints 

 

Here is the link to buy it now : 

 

 

 

*** 

 

 

my rate is 1,00,0000,00$ for each copy i write you 

 

tahnk you for ur time 

 

===

 

😳

  

Well …

 

There goes THAT theory😂

 

I honestly feel like the fact that it only partially fixed it up … made it even weirder.

 

Look …

Grammarly ain’t gonna
save your copy if it sucks.

It is yet another reason copywriters writing in English must have impeccable English.

 

But I have no interest in getting any further into this debate today.

 

The only reason I’m bringing it up again …

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Revenge of the Non-Native Copywriters (oh no)

Close Up 3

Daniel Throssell

Originally sent on Nov 28, 2021
Close Up 3

Daniel Throssell

Originally sent on Nov 28, 2021

You probably remember my controversial series of emails about non-natives trying to write English copy.

Well, the controversy
is not over …

Because a young Malaysian copywriter named Visarlini Velusamy just fired a shot back at me.

 

And … it’s hard for even me to answer it.

 

Because Visarlini bought my course Upwork in One Hour last month, and sent me this:

 

 

Hi Daniel. This update is long overdue.  

 

To be honest, [Upwork in One Hour] was my first paid course ever and I say it’s worth every dollar I had spent. 

 

On my second proposal, I got paid $600(which I quote) and there was no need for calls and whatnot the usuals for Upwork. 

 

So you can say for the price of $150 I had an immediate return of 4x, potential long-term work plus portfolio pieces for the niche I have chosen for myself-B2B financial copy. 

 

It’s a triple win from my side. 

 

Thanks a lot, Daniel. This means a lot to me, especially financially. 

 

 

VIRTUE CHECK:

 

Asian: ✅

Female: ✅

Non-native: ✅

Developing country: ✅

ULTRA-WOKE TESTIMONIAL
BONUS UNLOCKED!!!

And, now that my virtue has been signalled, let me get back to my oppressive sales pitch:

 

I am so proud of Visarlini 🥲

 

Not only did she endure my withering rants about copywriters who can’t write in English…

 

She went on to prove that it’s possible for non-native copywriters to succeed, even if Daniel Throssell tells you you can’t.

 

This, you recall, was my whole point.

 

Everyone who rage-quit after my rants didn’t have the spine (let alone the English skills) required to write copy.

 

But Visarlini, it seems, had both.

 

And she is one of those few that proved me wrong … and rubbed her money in my face as proof.

 

THAT is the kind of defeat I’ll gladly accept.

 

And to read the line:

“This means a lot to me,
especially financially.”

Is one of the most satisfying moments in my career.

 

So, congratulations, Visarlini.

 

And while I do NOT think many non-native copywriters will replicate her results…

 

I welcome you to try and prove me wrong, like she did.

 

And a great place to start is

 

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In Summary …

Accusing me of “racism” or “discrimination” or some other woke catch-cry is weak sauce.

To recap what I really think:

1. If you are not a native English speaker, the odds of you succeeding as a copywriter, while not zero, are exceedingly low. This is so true and obvious that anyone who denies it is evil or stupid.

2. There is a difference between being “non-native” and “non-fluent”. Non-natives can be fluent. I have never denied this. But the overlap is extremely high, so I mostly use the terms interchangeably. If that offends you, well, stop being offended so easily.

3. Just because it’s difficult for non-natives to succeed at copywriting, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. But pointing to a handful of success stories — and ignoring the thousands of failures — is foolish.

4. If my words “discourage” people — so be it. That’s the point. I WANT to discourage people from wasting their time and money chasing a job they are not suited for.

5. Most people who preach “anyone can be a copywriter even if they suck at English!” are either virtue signalling, or even worse, trying to sell their courses. I have never met a “guru” who says this who isn’t also trying to sell courses to non-natives.

6. Almost nobody who encourages people with terrible English to become copywriters is actually willing to back it up by hiring someone like that to write copy for them. Thus, they are hypocrites.

7. The idea that people feel they are “entitled” to success in the English market is ridiculous and needs to stop. I speak Japanese fairly well, and I am a world-class copywriter, but still I would never dream of trying to write copy in Japanese.

8. That doesn’t mean you can’t write copy in your own language — and you would be crazy not to press your advantage there.

9. Copywriting is just a career. There’s nothing magical about it. Just like any career, some people are more suited to it than others. It is not a hate crime to say that.

10. Ultimately, there will be a handful of people who read my ‘discouraging’ words, get a fire in their belly, and work day and night for 5 years to improve their English and become a copywriter just so they can “stick it to me”. And if and when that happens … I will be the first to congratulate them with a smile … as they realise that I still did them a huge favour.

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