Writing Copy That Sells

Writing Copy That Sells: The Secret to Breakthrough Words

Is there a secret to writing copy that sells? Some dark-magic formula that breaks through the barriers, barricades, and psychological bulwarks?

Yes.

And I have proof.

The year was 1976 and Martin Edelston, founder of the now more than $50-million annually producing and direct-marketing powerhouse Boardroom Inc., was broke.

Well, not quite broke broke. More like down to the nubs.

42 years old and working out of his basement, Edelston had burned through half his start-up capital with nothing to show for it save an empty desk … furnace adjacent.

Enter Eugene Schwartz: the hero of our story and a man who knew what words were worth.

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biggest-decision-not-money-love

The Biggest Career Decision of My Life Isn’t About Money … It’s About Love (And Yours Should Be Too)

How do you make career decisions?

Not the little ones. The big, looming, “This choice will shape everything I do for the next few years and impact the rest of my working life” kind of career decisions.

It’s tough. In fact, you don’t even have to be staring down that barrel for it to be a front-line issue. If you’re a leader, someone on your team is facing the question right now. How do you help them navigate the waters? How do you acquire, develop, and retain talent?

In both groups, the temptation is to go after the money. We live — to paraphrase the great philosopher Madonna — in a material world and I am a material boy.

As natural as that feels, it’s the wrong path. There’s a better way …

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The Only Copywriting Formula You’ll Ever Need: How to Unleash the Most Primal Human Motivator

Let’s start with a warning.

This post is about the only copywriting formula you’ll ever need: fear. Like any psychologically informed method of persuasion, fear is ripe for abuse and manipulation.

So, I’m going assuming one thing: you will use this copywriting formula for good … not evil.

That means the problem your business solves is a real problem and your solution is equally real. In other words, this post isn’t just about using fear effectively. It’s about using it ethically.

In other words, this post isn’t just about using fear effectively. It’s about using it ethically.

This is because every piece of content you create has to do two things: (1) rescue its audience from their own personal hell and (2) deliver them unto their own personal heaven. Great copywriting is about salvation … not sales. So if you’re not in the business of actually helping people, just stop now.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into it …

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Love Lives in the Details

Love Lives in the Details: A 21 Point “Thank You” Letter … to My Dad

Eleven years ago this month, I read an article in The Sun Magazine about gratitude, love, details, and diapers.

I had the magazine because back when I lived in Portland, OR as a graduate student my mom gifted it to me for my birthday … five years in a row.

It was one of those “hippy rags” that always had black-and-white photos on their cover of urban landscapes or elderly people whose weathered faces were suppose to make you rethink what the word “beautiful” meant. Its articles offered a rare mix of homespun wisdom from well-educated English majors with just a hint of political and philosophical seasoning.

I rarely read it.

(Sorry, mom.)

But in December of 2004, I did.

The article was entitled “Many Thanks: Gregg Kretch on the Revolutionary Practice of Gratitude.”

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Small Things

An Ode to Small Things: All You Need Is What’s Next

I’m coaching one of the keynoters at this year’s NextCon16 (no, it’s not Steve Wozniak or Guy Kawasaki).

We wrapped up our first one-on-one session today with a question to bridge the tactical first half of the presentation and the deeply personal second half, both of which are all about overcoming what feel like huge problems with small solutions.

“What we need,” I said, “is a story completely about life, totally unrelated to business, that makes the audience feel this whole connection between small and big. What comes to mind?”

The client paused. Then said …

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How to Attend a Conference and Take It Over

How to Attend a Conference and Take It Over (Even If You’re Not a Speaker)

This is the true story of how a friend and I went to one of the largest marketing conferences in the world — Content Marketing Institute’s CMWorld — as nothing more than lowly attendees and burnt the mother down.

Before you head off to your next event, let’s spend a few minutes unearthing exactly how we turned one conference into …

Four blog posts (two of which were guest spots at major outlets)
Thousands of social shares and counting
A host of on-going relationships with key influencers
A one-on-one sit down with Joe Pulizzi
Two full interviews where we were the subjects
Countless links and mentions
Tons of new friendships
And an invitation to be a speaker next year … all without being keynoters ourselves.

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The Best Copywriters on the (Very) Best Copywriting Books

Want to become a top copywriter?

Easy.

Just one word: read. Well actually, three words would be better: read … a lot.

And that’s not my opinion. That’s according to literary master Stephen King himself:

You become a writer simply by reading and writing. You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.

At the risk of contradicting the King … while the most valuable copywriting lessons of all are “the ones you teach yourself,” it’d be nice if you could shortcut the more painful elements of top copywriting’s learning curve.

So let’s make that answer eight words: read the very best copywriting books … a lot.

And how do you find the very best copywriting books? You ask the very best copywriters, which is exactly what I did.

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Guest Posting Secrets

Guest Posting Secrets for Making Six-Figures [Podcast]

Guest posting can be intimidating.

We both know that.

On one side stands fear: the fear of rejection, the fear of failure, the fear of hearing “No!” … or worst of all, the fear of hearing nothing.

On the other, vanity. Sure it’d be great to get your byline up … but what goals are you trying to achieve? What websites have the audiences you want to reach? How do you transform shares and links into clients and money?

These are just some of the questions you should be asking yourself if you want to start guest posting, especially if you want to make it into huge publications.

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Our struggles … and thankfulness

The past month’s been — in a word — hard.

Ghostwriting, pitching articles, ten or so cold emails with nothing back but digital dial tones, teaching full time at the college, new clients, old clients, tackling more than a few subjects I really have no business writing about (like fifteen blog posts on cloud security and mining “unstructured” data).

I lost my righthand blogger to “personal issues” and two others I lean on for production are down for the count.

Not to mention my own messy set of “personal issues.”

All that to say to say … life’s a struggle.

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Copywriting with Passion

Copywriting with Passion: 10 Proven Formulas to Amplify Your Words

We all struggle to communicate passion.

Nowhere is this struggle more painful than copywriting.

Mastering the ability to create an emotional connection with your audience — a shared experience of desire, delight, excitement, and awe — is the primary challenge all copywriters face.

That’s why today I’ve compiled 10 powerful rhetorical tools to amplify your copywriting.

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