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James Altucher


10 Essentials to Be a Good Copywriter

The first time someone wrote an ad for my newsletters I hated it. So I told the people, let me write an article for my stuff. I know how to write. It will sell.

So they did a test. My article went to half of the email list. A copywriter's ad went to the other half. The copywriter out-sold me 10-1. I couldn't believe it.

Copywriting doesn't mean write something sleazy and salesy. To work, it all has to be true. But copywriting is writing to sell. There is no other purpose. When I write, I write to entertain, to inform, to share and to express myself.

People might enjoy it. But it doesn't mean they will buy. Copywriting well is a superpower.

Good copywriters with good ideas to sell can live anywhere in the world, can make money at will. Perhaps if I were in my 20s I would learn this skill, figure out some newsletter idea or course to sell, and then do that for the rest of my life.

VERY IMPORTANT: Copywriting sounds like the techniques that untrustworthy products use. Like some bS diet or investment advice.

This is what I learned early on: the sleazy and dishonest people DO use these techniques. Because they work.

So if you have a product that you believe in and feel people should see, then you have to use these techniques as well, else the dishonest people will get subscribers and you won't.

Alain de Botton has a video about this.

"Machiavelli's Advice for Nice Guys".

I had to watch this over and over during the worst moments when people were critical of my ads.

Here are some essentials to know about copywriting.

    1. Urgency

    You have to solve an urgent problem and be able to express why it is urgent.

    For instance, let's say you are selling a newsletter about cryptocurrencies.

    The urgency (as I see it right now) would be that Ethereum is about to change into Ethereum 2.0. They are changing from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake.

    This will drastically change the supply of Ethereum out there, the number of transactions per second, the gas fees, etc. This will effect not only ETH but many other cryptocurrencies.

    The urgency is that the market will anticipate these changes and within weeks or even sooner, the currencies most effected will start to move up (or down) very quickly.

    "So find out what the critical days are for Ethereum 2.0 and which coins are set to move up 1000% or more!"

    2. Unique solution

    Why is your solution unique compared to anyone else's.

    Do you have software you wrote that has a track record?

    Do you have some insight that nobody else has into a problem?

    If you are writing a newsletter or course about a new diet do you have specific medical expertise or research?

    If you are selling a special report on "where to buy a home?" maybe you noticed a sudden trend in change-of-address data at the post office in various cities. Data that nobody else has (or it's hard to get) and you have figured out which cities are about to pop because of it.

    3. Ultra-Specific

    Be specific about the benefits. Let's say it's the real estate example above: "The last time there were so many change-of-addresses filed in NYC and SF and LA, prices in these five cities we will describe rose, 17%, 23%, 31%, 42% and 9% respectively. The same thing can happen now."

    Imagine if you are selling the Uber service. You wouldn't just say, "Use our app to find a car."

    You can say, ""Our app knows where you are. Your credit card is pre-loaded. You hit a button and a car shows up in 4-5 minutes and takes you the address you typed in."

    People don't want to guess. They want to be told what will happen.

    4. User-friendly

    In other words, make it as easy as possible for someone to say "yes". Like a money back guarantee, for instance. Or a giveaway. Or higher equity. Or testimonials from people you both know. Etc.

    5. Unquestionable Proof

    This can be in the form of profits that the writer has expderenced. Or some measurable statistic. Or testimonials. Or a good wing-man. Whatever it takes.

    Three types of proof:

    - statistics (use a similar example and show what happened)
    - testimonials
    - authority . e.g. "Elon Musk says the creator of this course is the smartest person he's ever met".

    6. Write to "you"

    You aren't writing to a general audience. Write as if you are writing to a specific person.

    "Have you ever been really happy with your job? What would you do if you could quit your job and travel the world without the stress of money?"

    (btw, I know this all sounds sleazy. I really dislike how copywriting reads. But this is the issue (as stated above), if everyone else is selling a product this way and you feel your product is honest and better than what is out there, you have to use the techniques of the sleazy people so you get subscribers and they don't).

    7. Ask "yes" questions.

    Get people in the habit of saying "yes" while reading your article.

    I do this above with "Have you ever wanted to quit your job?"

    Or, "Would it feel good to lose 12 pounds?"

    Throw in urgency. "Prom is coming up in six weeks. Would it feel good to lose 12 pounds?'

    Throw in ultra specific: "Prom is coming up in six weeks. Would it feel good to lose 12 pounds? Our technique, based on research being done right now at MIT and Stanford, not only will help you lose 12 pounds, but does it by increasing the overall health of your metabolic system and you still can eat three meals a day."

    Btw, the above example also has "authority" by mentioning MIT and Stanford.

    (Note again: everything MUST be true).

    Throw in testimonials: "Sandra Dee tried the ABC MIT Diet and lost 12 pounds. 'I never had this much energy before. Everyone noticed the weight loss. I felt better than ever going to prom."

    8. Tell stories

    If you are selling an investment newsletter which recommends a specific stock, talk about why the founder / CEO started the company. Talk about the troubles he or she had along the way. Talk about how he overcame those struggles and discovered the secret sauce which led him to his first customers. And tell the story of why nobody seems to know about this company.

    9. Call to Action

    It must be very clear at the end what you are offering. "If you don't want this, no problem. But click here right now to participate in this offer."

    10. Scarcity

    "Only 100 people can get this at this price and the offer expires at midnight."

    11. Use this mnemonic for other essentials in the copywriting process: "A Forest".

    Alliteration - A pleasant play on words has a positive effect.
    Facts - Hard data can help readers rationalize an emotional decision.
    Opinions - Reviews and user opinions can help sway potential customers.
    Repetition - Repeat key benefits to drive the point home.
    Examples - Tell stories and solve problems the reader can relate to.
    Statistics - Be specific. For example, "364" homes sold is better than “hundreds.”
    Threes - Repeating something three times helps make it memorable.

    12. Very important: Anticipate all the questions and answer them.

    For instance, if you are selling a house:
    - why is the owner selling?
    - what have other homes in this area sold for?
    - what about the empty area next door - will that bring down value if homes are built and sold there?
    - if in a hurricane area: has this home ever been flooded?
    - how are the schools?


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