Chapter 17 How to get good at copywriting

The way to get good at copywriting is to copy good writing. [I knew there would be a pun in there] The author advices copying by hand good ads you come across. Before I decided to read these Boron Letters, I recall more than one person mentioning (on podcasts) that they have copied The Boron Letters by hand. I see now where that idea came from! Power of suggestion.

Anyway, here's why copying good writing works.

You see, what happens when you actually write out a good ad in your own handwriting is that the words and the flow and the sentence structure and the sequence of information and everything else about the writing of that ad becomes a part of you.

This matches with general writing advice I know. Copy good pieces of writing by hand. Read out loud good writing to get the cadence in your ear before you start your own writing. That's the advice I recall reading in On Writing.

The author goes on about how doing this is a good discipline that other marketers are too lazy to do. And so doing this is a competitive advantage.

It is important to do this. It is one of the many disciplines that other lazy “would be” marketing geniuses will not suffer. That’s too bad for them and good for us. I love that my so called “competition” is so lazy. I love it that so many people in advertising and marketing are too sophisticated, too “above” this sort of thing.

That above statement is effective copy in its own right. Because it has persuaded its reader to take action. To copy it by hand. It motivates this action by answering the important reader question of 'what's in it for me'. And the answer is 'well you'll be ahead of your competition, you'll win'.

Some more copywriting tips [some of these apply to writing in general]:

  • Use common everyday words. 'get' instead of 'procure'
  • Write short sentences and short paragraphs
  • Use transitions words and pharses to make your writing flow smoothly. Ex: well, as a matter of fact, now, naturally, and of course
  • Ask questions once in a while and then answer them yourself. Ex: "Bond, do you understand what I am saying? You do. Good, then.." or "How do we get the benefits? The answer is simple. All we have to do is.."
  • Write with 'word pictures', the type of words and vivid details that allow the reader to imagine the benefits of owning your product.

What is a good writer?

Well, in my opinion a good writer is one who makes things perfectly clear. He makes it easy for the reader. Easy-to-understand what he is saying, easy to keep reading.

Agreed. I believe this applies to a good teacher as well.

So why write? The author says to focus on writing for money! Don't write for applause. When someone reads your ad you don't want them to think 'gosh, that advertisement was sure well written!' You want them to actually order from you and take action.

[aside] Write for money. This point is true for writing ads of course. There are other good reasons to write though.

Write to make a point. To make readers think. To bring about change even.

And write to teach, to share knowledge and experience.

Chapter 18 More writing advice

[Lesson] The look and layout of the ad matters. It should be inviting to read. Look easy to read. We have all seen writing that looks too intimidating to even start reading. Generally has long sentences, long paragraphs, narrow side margins, small type, and very little white space. You don't want your ad to look like that.

In other words, don't write a wall of text [as I tend to do. My landing pages in the past have been just that]

The analogy of a reporter reading a book you've written, falling in love with it, and writing a rave review about it in the paper. At the end of the review, even telling readers how to buy the book and how much it is, etc. That's how you want your copy to read. Make it feel personal and natural.

On the Internet this is quite possible to achieve. Someone can blog about your book and include a link to buy at the end or even faster share it on social media. There are so many places to share. This is why book reviews and customer testimonials are so powerful. They can do copy writing (and the selling) for you.

As you are aware, this became one of the most successful sales letters in history. In fact, this simple one page 361-word letter generated more than seven million (actually 7,156,000) cash with order customers.

What letter? is that true? Not sure what the author is referring to at the end of this chapter.

Another story about how a very personal sales letter did better where 'professional' letters didn't work. Something about 40M. I am not sure what to make of all those numbers.

Let's move on.

Chapter 19 You never get a second chance to make a first impression

The author makes the point that many important decisions are made in the first few seconds - during interviews, in a jury trial, and when falling in love. By this theory/logic, your ads should have a pleasing layout, your headlines should give the reader a 'lift' and make their eyes widen a little bit.

So what does it take to give the reader a 'lift'.

One thing that helps is if your promotion has a "crisp" look about it. In other words, the layout should be clean, there should be a lot of contrast and it should look easy and inviting to read. If you use pictures they should be, as a general rule, of an upbeat nature.

He adds in color of paper and envelope and san serif type face and large colorful stamps. And to make the letterhead dignified and non-distracting looking.

On the Internet, all of this translates to design and UX matters.

Chapter 20 Ego and pride and making decisions

There is some sound advice in this one. It is related to copywriting though it doesn't seem like it at first.

First, there is the story about the author playing the radio too loud (in his room in prison), not realizing it, and one of his roommates yelling at him.

He wanted to explain, even apologize. But he didn't say anything and thinks he did the right thing. If he had talked back it would have been good for his ego and pride but wouldn't have been the right decision.

What he did do is write his letter, walk, etc.

What I am doing, Bond, by all this writing and road work is that I am "clearing the deck" and getting (in so far as possible) this garbage out of my system so that my strategic decisions and my future letters and ideas will be clear!

Writing and walking. Indeed, I can attest to this 'clearing the deck' as to make room for more flow and clarify.

[Lesson] HALT hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. You should never make a decision when you are any of those things. Instead write, run, walk, talk, etc.

You see, Bond it really doesn't matter much what the "content" of this letter is. What matters is that I am going through the "process" of writing it. And it is the process or physical act of the writing and the road work that does the therapy.

You don't have to get it right...
You just have to get it MOVING!

Mmm..hm..I suppose that's what I've been doing with my daily writing.