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Why you gotta protect biz owners from themselves


One of the downsides of working with clients is not having the final say on stuff. I just got reamed out in a Slack channel, not because I suck at my job of writing the most persuasive copy possible, but oddly enough, because I’m too good at writing persuasive copy. 

For example: 

One of my clients has a podcast, where I write the title, write the bullets, and write the show notes. 

Well, after listening to this 98 minute heater, I came up with a few title selections including my favorite: You’re Not Walking Enough—And It’s Killing You. 

This title has a lot going for it: 

First, it’s something that was mentioned in the actual podcast episode more times to count. 

Second, it makes something obvious and “too simple” sounding to actually mean something. 

Third, it gives the audience an opportunity to think differently. 

Fourth, it’s clickbait-y enough to attract views (without being overtly “Snapchat Discover” clickbait—as Peanut is quick to remind me about how much clickbait infects that page of Snapchat). 

Fifth, it’s short enough to demand attention, but long enough to reveal how significant the problem is. 

Sixth, it defies expectations: “How could something so simple be killing me?” 

Seventh, it makes the audience ask themselves a question (which, in turn, enlists their help to sell themselves on listening): “How much do I need to be walking?” 

And I could go on and on. 

Alas, I wasn’t allowed to run this title because it’s too “sensationalist.” 

Now, does it have a sensationalist flair? Of course it does, otherwise it wouldn’t fit the “clickbait adjacent” category I explained above. 

But is it the same as a sensationalist headline you’d read about Disease X on the news?

No, absolutely not. 

And yet… we had to select a more boring title, which gives anyone who sees it far fewer reasons to check it out. This means it will get fewer views and have a much smaller impact than using my first title suggestion. 

Here’s the point of my ranting: 

This is a common problem entrepreneurs have:

They fear not being taken seriously—and this usually comes at the expense of making less moolah. 


Well, nobody actually likes when content takes itself too seriously. This is why clickbait, as annoying as it can be, works as effectively as it does. This is why you walk into a stuffy corporate boardroom at the most boring business, crack a joke, and have them licking off your teet. And this is why, above all, you shouldn’t fear making too big of an impact. 

But this happens all the time. 

Whether your clients don’t want to send more emails because they fear “backlash” (aka a few people who never were gonna buy anyways unsubscribe). 

Whether they don’t want to run the best title because they fear being too sensationalist and would rather make a smaller impact than getting backlash from a few bad apples who would call “clickbait.” (This is a common comment under Pat McAfee’s YouTube channel, who is, to my knowledge, the first YouTube channel to land a major TV deal since ESPN also broadcasts Pat’s show.) 

Or whether they have too much “head gunk” to be confident enough to know that the content behind what looks like clickbait isn’t actually clickbait at all. 

Moral of the story?

Sometimes you gotta learn your clients up or they’ll sabotage the impact you could make. 

This is especially true with copywriting, but I’m sure it applies to other industries as well. 


If you’re not afraid of the sensationalist podcast title, subject line, or headline so you can grow your views, opens, and revenue faster… 

Hit reply, and let’s chat. 


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