“We are not in the business of being original. We are in the business of reusing things that work.”
– Robert W. Bly, The Copywriter’s Handbook
Why you have to read the “The Copywriter’s Handbook” right now
I didn’t know anything about copywriting until March of this year. In fact, when I first heard the term I thought that copywriting had to do with patents and intellectual properties.
Learning that copywriting is sales writing was a huge surprise to me. Even more shocking was the pay. A simple content writer will only make pennies an hour. Two bucks for a 500 word article, five if he’s lucky. A copywriter, those guys can basically print their own money. There are men who rake in millions every year.
Once I heard about the pay I decided to try it out.
How “The Copywriter’s Handbook” personally affected me
Below is my actual story of how this book helped me to become a successful freelance writer. I went from doing okay to roping in some big jobs that paid incredibly well.
Four U’s formula
The four U’s are, as I mentioned in my video, tools that will make you money forever. Once you know what each one is you can become an unstoppable salesman.
Honestly, these four tips alone will probably put you in the top 25% of all salespeople.
You need to have a deadline. “Make $10,000” doesn’t have any urgency. “Make $10,000 by Tuesday” does.
People need some kind of reference. They have to have a set time-frame. 30 Days of Discipline lasts for a specific duration. Super Squats: How to Gain 30 Pounds of Muscle in 6 Weeks gives you a time-frame.
By having a deadline or end date your product or claim will come across as being more effective.
“How to meet women” is old news. Nobody finds that interesting anymore. “How to meet women at chili cook-offs” gives a tired genre new life. Even if some of the information is still the same, the overall package and delivery looks different.
“How to raise testosterone” is another horse that’s been beat to death. “This $5 product restored my testosterone levels” sounds way more novel.
You need to have an edge. Otherwise you’re just another generic face in a sea forgettable content.
You need to dial-in to a certain audience. While I hate their site, BuzzFeed is a master at this. “Five songs only 90’s kids will understand” and “10 weird things that Russians think are normal” are a great attention grabbers. When you write you need to grab your reader by the balls and drag him into your world.
Obscure language or vague titles will get passed over. “Discover the impeccable literary sensation that will allow you to inflate your ledger” is a horrible title.
“Why you have to read the ‘The Copywriter’s Handbook’ right now” gives you the name of the product, a teaser showing value (the “why” portion), and even a time-frame. There’s specific information that appeals to a certain group of people.
“How to hot glue top hats onto stray dogs” might have some shock value, but there’s no practical appeal. If you’re trying to sell something and make a living you need to provide value.
“How to meet women” and “How to raise your testosterone” both solve a certain need.
Even The Copywriter’s Handbook itself addresses an issue and solves it. You need to learn about sales, here’s a book that can help.
Anyone who can’t create value will lose their audience.
Six other helpful lessons
There are a lot of other great lessons in here too. Flipping through the book, I found six important pieces of information that you can benefit from. These tidbits were all taken from single sections within chapters. If you like what you see you’ll really enjoy The Copywriter’s Handbook:
1. Always ask yourself “Who is my customer?”
The wrong product with the wrong audience makes selling near impossible. Be sure to appeal to the people you are trying to persuade.
2. Most people will never read anything.
A bank in Minneapolis gave out some 4,500 word booklets about their services. At the end of each one was a coupon for a free ten-dollar bill. If you brought this in the bank would honor it. Nobody read to the end of the book and the bank never had to give out any of the money.
3. When you finish your thought stop writing.
A “good” sentence is usually less than 16 words in length. Even academic writing and scientific papers gets tedious beyond this point. Try to make your thoughts concise. Nobody wants to wade through a long-winded rant.
4. Don’t be a clown.
Trying to be funny or entertain readers will usually backfire. You’ll come across as desperate, or people will forget about your message. There are tons of funny ads every year and they rarely convince people to buy something.
5. More readers doesn’t mean more business.
If you have a blog, increased readership doesn’t automatically translate to more money. There are lots of tire-kickers and lurkers who will never spend a nickel. These people will also clog up your email with stupid questions, and they’ll leave all kinds of spam comments. As The Copywriter’s Handbook notes: 99.9% of people online will never become one of your customers.
6. Blogging is a great “testing area.”
Blogs are cheap. If you have an idea for a book or product you can easily start a site and put up some ideas. By looking at traffic and readership you can see if your idea is worth following through on. If no one reads your site you aren’t out much, if thousands of people start clamoring for more content than you’ve got a winner on your hands. Blogs are like free PR for whatever else you are working on.
There are a few let downs in here. The Copywriter’s Handbook is great, but the first chapter is a slog (the author just gets all his sales friends to pat him on the back) and the sections about Internet marketing are a little lacking.
Most of the information on websites just feels a bit dated. Making banner ads and pop-ups is a little excessive for the average man who is running a simple blog or website. While this is disappointing, the rest of the material is pretty timeless and can easily be used for web marketing and blog promotion.
The Copywriter’s Handbook is a good book. It helped me immensely and really allowed my business to grow. If you have an interest in sales, advertising, marketing, or blogging this is the perfect book for you. Every chapter, save the first one, has great information and you’ll learn how to captivate an audience without having to resort to trickery or shady practices.
If you have a blog, work as a freelance writer, or have any ties to sales you’ll get a lot out of this.
Anyone with eight dollars to invest should be checking out The Copywriter’s Handbook. It has a lot to offer and will pay for itself in no time at all.