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Ask GH: How do growth hackers learn copywriting?
Which resources do you use? Which tactics, strategies and systems?
Something I learned from Dane Maxwell was to find the best direct mail copywriters and physically hand write their letters onto paper. I did this for a few months every morning and it defiantly helped me with absorbing the tactics they were using in the letters. Here's an example of an old school letter I copied: http://www.stopyourdivorce.com/
Also, here's a check-list Dane made from a Mixergy interview a few years ago: http://mixergy.com/Master-Class/Copywriting/TheCopywritingChecklist.pdf
@davehowe, great resource, I learned about that strategy thanks to Dane too. However, he took that idea from one of the greatest copywriters still alive: Gary Halbert.
@chrisout, if you want to learn more about the strategy Dave shared, read this post: http://www.thegaryhalbertletter.com/newsletters/zfkj_hands_on_experience.htm
Basically, what Mr. Halbert recommends to learn copywriting is to:
- Read 9 specific books (“Tested Advertising Methods”, “Scientific Advertising”, and so on)
- Study them without taking notes
- Read 9 specific ads and sales letters (you’ll see them in the post)
- Copy them by hand
- Reread everything
- Examine the specific product you want to advertise
- Take notes on that product
- Rest for a few days
- Write the ad’s draft
- Write the ad
- Do the happy dance
Maybe that’s not the entire process, but a simplification of it. Still, it gives you an idea to start learning copywriting.
If you want to take this even further, I'd recommend you take CopyHour course, which is based on this particular strategy: http://copyhour.com/
Hope it helps!
Rewriting in general really helps learning how people construct sentences. I rewrote a lot of Joe Vitale's Hypnotic Writing sections and Wallace Wattles "the Science of Getting rich" because they used storytelling to sell/illustrate points and I always thought that was such a great way to get someone's attention.
Unfortunately, Gary has passed away.
Whoops. Thanks for letting me know
great @ivankreimer ! thanks!
Thanks @davehowe ! I agree that Dane is very strong at copywriting
Do you know more resources where we can find the best direct mail pieces to study?
+1! Any other pieces? I really liked the one you referenced
Sure thing // cc @chrisout
These may seem very random and old school, but they sell like hell to their target audiences:
http://www.infomarketingblog.com/images/changmailing.pdf <----- This one is gold. The headline is "How Modern Chinese Medicine Helps Both Men and Women Burn Disease Out of Your Body - using nothing more than the palm of your hand!
Thanks @davehowe !
Going through this very process right now. Chosen 3 great sales letters and just writing them out by hand. Helping me to spot certain techniques and generally give me a refresh.
Whoa. This is super helpful @davehowe. Thank you!!!
I think the first step is to know your audience intimately. Figure out which words *they* use to describe their pains and use that in your copy.
Another important aspect is tone--is your audience okay with a casual tone? The word "awesome"?
I learned lots from Joanna Wiebe. I bought her CopyHackers ebook bundle, but you can also Google "Joanna Wiebe podcast" and find lots of free advice from her.
Thanks Rob! I have also read her ebook bundle, I bought them through an appsumo deal from @noahkagan . I found a lot of value in it!
Copyblogger has a bunch of resources on copywriting which tend to be both informative and fun to read. Articles hit on a variety to topics, so you can find something specific to your needs (website copy versus headlines, etc).
Thank you Rob! Looks like this site has some great content
Totally agree. This would have been my advice. Copyblogger has some great stuff :)
Another great resource is the Gary Halbert Newsletters
Thanks Schonne! Really curious about the content of this site
The Boron letters on there are a must read
I recommend the Boron Letters also
"This device isn't a spaceship, it's a time machine. It goes backwards and forwards and takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It's not called the Wheel, it's called the Carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels........." Don Draper
Best 3 minute introduction to how to approach product messaging (and client pitching) ever.
Nice video Joseph!
This is a little crazy and intensive, but I advocate a brute force approach. The single most important thing that has made me a better writer is to write thousands and thousands of words. Over time you develop a taste for them, almost independently of anything else.
What helps a lot is to go back and rewrite your older work. But to do that, you first need a body of older work. Few people seem to consider this, but it works. Write copy for everything around you. Sell your coffee. Sell your mouse. Publish all of it on a blog. See what sticks.
An interesting approach @visakanv I will try this one.
On a personal note, I wrote about this regarding songwriting. A lot of songwriters want "to be great" or "to have fun", or both. Both are rather difficult to do. They're vague instructions. If you strive "to be PROLIFIC", though, it's likelier that you will have fun, and likelier that you'll come in contact with greatness.
Full blogpost here, if you're interested: http://www.visakanv.com/blog/2014/08/0152-letter-to-a-young-songwriter/
Great advice @visakanv
If you're down to read, there's the work of Maxwell Sackheim. He's a famous copywriter from the time of mail order advertising. Personally, I haven't read it. But there's a place to start.
Writing good copy has so many factors, that it's hard to just come up with a simple solution that works everywhere. Ultimately, testing headlines, copy, and content will get you results. Learn how to A/B test your copy and read up on the topic.
thank you for pointing out this resource @angelolireezy
Copyhackers is great:
Suprised to see nobody mentioned Neville Medhora and his blog: http://www.nevblog.com/
I found his book very helpful:
2 things I've been using a lot off late that have been immensely useful:
The AIDA framework: http://growthhackers.com/the-lizard-brain-and-email/ - which can apply to anything you write not just email
Once I've written something, I push it through Hemingway: http://growthhackers.com/questions/show-gh-hemingway-app-that-shows-you-how-to-make-your-writing-bold-and-clear/
There's clearly more systematic ways to learn as others have pointed out but to get up and going quickly, I've found these have made a drastic improvement in how I write (anything)
Thank you @anujadhiya , Oren Klaff has written an amazing book on the lizard brain. http://pitchanything.com/ This might interest you.
I took a college course on writing in general through a program called "The Little Red Schoolhouse" http://writing-program.uchicago.edu/
Although it is largely about writing convincing papers, the general background is writing in context of how people actually read. The guys who created the course have a number of books on amazon, all of which are good
This would be the basic textbook, if they used one. http://www.amazon.com/Style-Lessons-Clarity-Grace-11th/dp/0321898680/ref=la_B001H6MZ40_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410010141&sr=1-1
I also highly recommend Strunk and White's Elements of Style as a general reference when dealing with nuances of grammar.
Don't bother buying it, unless you are getting the illustrated edition for your desk: the first edition is out of copyright, and is available for free in many places on the internet
Ogilivy "On Advertising" has a number of notes on copy.
That, and I've noticed that a lot of good copywriters take improv training at some point. Something about learning how to be funny.
thanks @shanac , improv sounds great to learn
One great read by legendary copy writer is the book by Dan Kennedy "The Ultimate Sales Letter"
For great copy writing tips (and a whole lots of marketing psychology), I'd recommend you visit websites related to direct marketing. One of my favorite is www.ilovemarketing.com. You'll be surprise how the host, Joe Polish and Dean Jackson, have networked their way to interview the worlds greatest copywriter and business man (e.g. Richard Brandson ,Jay Abraham, Dan Kennedy, Michael E.Gerber (The E-Myth), Tony Horton (P90X) and Dan Sullivan (Strategic Coach) etc"
This is what his marketing does to me, to refer organically with passio
I think the best thing to do is offer something of value - think of documenting your past experiences or following your own journey towards something. Research the topic if you have to, and offer your own insights.
You can always get ideas from other people's content, really..There is so much out there.
I agree with what @DaveHowe said. Find newsletters and landing pages that made you purchase something and copy it down using pen and paper - not on a computer.
Next (you can do this on paper), break out each paragraph and try to figure out what the psychology of the text is. Are they using social proof? Are they using scarcity? Are they using collection set theory? Are they trying to demonstrate higher value? What is the psychology behind each paragraph?
Finally, what's the positioning that they're using? What are they trying to convey. What's the subtle difference from their competitors?
In addition to a couple of ones already mentioned (Copyblogger & Copyhackers), I really like some of Amy Hoy's recent posts. This one from July features a video case study where she goes through her process of helping rescue a local Kickstarter project by improving the clarity of the copy on their project page:
Another great one featuring advice from Amy is a long and detailed post by Nathan Barry on the process they used when creating the copy for the ConvertKit landing page:
Anyone took the American Writers & Artists Inc course? Or has an idea if it is recommendable?
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From Gary Halbert - you can get his swipe files here: http://www.thegaryhalbertletter.com/
Also John Carlton is awesome sauce.
Frank Kern has a great style that is very powerful with his chosen market.
For an inbound approach, check out HubSpot's inbound certification: http://academy.hubspot.com/certification
Thank you @nichole ! It didn't know this resource.
I'm curious, what are the benefits of having this certification?
You'll learn how to use copywriting for inbound marketing methodologies.
Another way to learn how to write effectively is to read. Not just tech articles and books, read for pleasure about whatever you're interested in.
You'd be surprised how much easier it gets to express an idea when you read different things regularly. If you want to write well, you can't just go to class, you have to live it.
You can only read so many copy writing books before your head explodes, and 9 times out of 10 if you read too many articles you'll start over thinking every word and start spiting out some real junk.
Best tip I ever got was "Get to the point" , which obviously I still struggle with.
Totally agree with this. In the days I was sending out letters (by post with a stamp and everything!) I had a flash of inspiration and wrote what turned out to be a two page letter of introduction styled after Terry Pratchett. It broke every rule about brevity and getting to the point and instead meandered its way towards a somewhat subtle call to action.
I sent it out more out of curiosity than expecting anything to a couple of dozen people and got two people call me off the back of it, one of whom went on to be a quite profitable client. Meandering it might have been, but the pair of them said it was a refreshing and entertaining read. The one who didn't become a client told me they made it laugh, which is pretty good for a sales letter!
Have to admit I didn't use it again (and damned if I can find it) but I guess that sometimes we forget that business people don't just read boring sales letters.
I have a folder where I save all the great copy I encounter. Especially ones that address the same audience I target.
I analyze their
to inspire my writing.
Formulas and frameworks are great to nail the basics. For example, a well-known basic: describe how something benefits the customer, not its features.
However, the basics are not longer effective because everybody else is doing it. You need to develop an unique voice on top of the basics to wow people.
thank you Sapph!
Resources to Learn Copywriting
Declaring War on Bland
The 87-Point Sales Page Checklist
The Content Marketing Institute
Thank you for including all these resources @garysvpa
You are welcome.
To learn storytelling, seek out the writings of Jon Morrow. Also read Problogger, CopyBlogger, ConvinceandConvert. As DaveHowe mentioned, the strongest copywriters are direct mail experts. Today we also have conversion optimization testing to improve skills.
Knowing what to do is one thing. What really grows skills is actually doing it. The challenge is there are so many skills to learn and those who are actually doing them rarely make mentoring their priority. This is unfortunate, as the transfer of skills is much faster when experience gets transferred directly.
What we need is to create teams with various specialties willing to mentor each other and/or trade work. If anyone is interested please contact me.
This is a great discussion; thanks to all.
PS: It seems as if copywriters have a bit of an advantage while planning their own product! :)
Single best copywriting book out there - Cashvertising:
There is a great playlist on Gibbon full of free resources about copywriting and how to engage people in your content, might be useful. check it out:
great thought. https://shaayridilse.blogspot.com/
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