Got a bit of a humble-brag for you today:
I was checking out some copy I wrote a couple of years ago…
And it was god-awful.
It didn’t flow like I thought it did when I wrote it way back when.
It lacked a bunch of crucial persuasive elements.
And it was kinda embarrassing to re-read.
But it was also empowering.
It’s hard to “track” how much you improve in any new skill.
That’s one of my biggest gripes with many of these self-proclaimed copywriting gurus. They preach how “easy” learning copywriting is. They trick you into thinking you can learn how to write good copy in a couple months. And they dazzle you with how much monies you can add to your bank account once you learn.
They oversimplify it because they want you to buy their course.
And, it works.
This is the same phenomenon behind get rich quick schemes, magical weight loss schemes, and many such cases of other schemes.
People want results. They want them now. And they don’t wanna do any work for them. It’s a psychological “quirk” everyone has. And good marketers know it and capitalize on it. It’s not nefarious if their product actually works… but it’s a scumbag trait to promise the world and deliver nothing, which many of these schemes do.
Anyway, back to the email:
My 2+ old copy wasn’t the worst you’d ever laid your eyes on. But it doesn’t compare to my work today.
And that’s the rub:
You can’t get good at copy by only reading about it, taking courses on it, or hand copying ads until you riddle your fingers with arthritis.
You can only get better by practicing—day in and day out.
But here’s the kicker:
You don’t realize how much you improve each day. It’s like losing weight or getting stronger. You don’t notice much when you look at yourself in the mirror, but you can’t believe the changes when you look back at old photos.
So what were some mistakes my old copy made?
1. I relied too heavily on transition words like “so,” “and,” “but,” “anyway,” and several others.
These are good transitions to use. I still use them today. But using them too much causes wrinkles in your writing flow, which leads me to my next point…
2. My emails didn’t flow as well as they do now.
Partly because of my overreliance on transition words. But they were more jumbled in general. Hopping from one point to another without much explanation.
3. They didn’t use as much visual language.
The late, great Jim Camp, known as the most feared negotiator in the land, always said:
“Vision drives decisions.”
In copywriting land, that means using visual language.
Let’s use an example I wrote in this email to keep things simple:
I wrote “hand copying ads until you riddle your fingers with arthritis” because it’s visual. You can “feel” your hands aching. It’s more visual than saying “hand copying ads until your hand hurts.” Yes, that’s a pain of hand copying ads. But it’s not as visual as riddling your fingers with arthritis.
4. Not emotional enough.
This kinda ties into the visual lesson. The more emotional you make your copy feel, the more you tap into the emotional side of your audience’s brain.
For example, saying you could get kidney stones by doing XYZ isn’t emotional.
But describing how women report that kidney stone pain is worse than childbirth, ruptured ovarian cysts, and severe stomach viruses combined. And how it’s even more agonizing for men. And then going on to explain that brutal, agonizing process… that’s emotional. That’s visceral. It hits your readers in the gut like a ton of bricks and makes them want to avoid it at all costs.
5. Didn’t tap into the benefits of whichever product I promoted enough.
This is copywriting 101.
Benefits > Features
A feature is that your course contains 16 video modules.
A benefit is that your course helps you avoid silly mistakes, prevents you from going out of business, and lets you raise your prices.
Benefits are about your readers. What they gain from your course, product, or service. Features are about you and what you created.
This is easier said than done.
Anyway, there were a bunch of other problems I had with my old copy.
And, in two years, I’ll look back at the copy I wrote today and cringe.
Such is the way of a copywriter.
Constant improvement is the only way forward. (Which is something every copywriting guru “accidentally” leaves out.)
If you need help slanging more of your product with email—and don't want to go through this painstaking and long process of improving your copy chops in order to sell more with email—book a discovery call. We’ll see if we’re a good fit to work together and get the ball rolling.