Last Updated on September 17, 2021
How I Started as a Freelance Copywriter
Eleven years ago I had only three things, I had a beat-up chewed on Bic ballpoint pen. I had a piece of brown wrapping paper. And I had an idea.
Three months later – I had enough money to buy a pretty good house. I was able to quit working for anyone else for the rest of my life.
Let me tell you the whole story of what I did, and how you can do the same thing.
In August 2009. I got an idea. It wasn’t even my original idea. I got it from a book about marketing. The idea was incredibly simple. Go to someone with a product and a customer list a list of people who have at some time in the past, bought something anything.
Then think of a follow-up product or service that you can offer to everyone on that list of previous buyers. Make an offer on the web in very enticing language.
With a simple marketing letter sent to a responsive list, your investment in time and money will be small. Your returns on one or two ads should make you more than you’d save from your job in the next ten years.
I write for a living. But, I am not a novelist, poet, or playwright. Most of them don’t make as much money as I do. What is it I do to make money? I write advertising copy.
Originally on a contingent fee basis, but now I often get paid in advance! You can make it big too if you apply yourself to learning how to market things.
I earn serious money because my sales letters sell. If you can teach yourself (or learn from me, right here, right now) a few simple advertising principles, then you will have the ability to write your way to success.
I started with zero bucks. No money. Nada.
I didn’t even have a credit card to order anything online.
Here’s how I made my first $400 online as a complete stranger (or newbie) in the industry.
My First Money as A Copywriter
I surfed around for a total of one day. It wasn’t a problem to identify at least ten sites directly selling something. I sent an email or called website owners.
How to get contact telephone numbers? You can see who is the registered website owner if you go to godaddy.com. Then enter the website address and click for owner details.
I introduced myself, and made them a proposal something like this:
“If I could make your website 10% more effective by converting 10% more visitors into paying customers, how much would it be worth to you?”
They were relatively small businessmen or women all extremely easy to approach! I gave them a no-risk offer, and they all were interested. One said I’d gladly pay you $500 per month and one guy said “up to $20,000” per month.
“Great. What do you think of an informal contract where I get 50% of an additional profit that your site generates as a result of my help? If I don’t make you any significant profit, you don’t owe me a dime.”
Two of my first ten prospects agreed, and we exchanged an informal memo by email to cover a 3-month trial. They would use my copy and a few promotional techniques I had learned from a mail-order marketing book, and if they worked, I would get a juicy commission.
I kept my fingers crossed, wrote a dynamite letter to my new client’s old customer mailing list, and then, “Bingo!” He made a quick $18,000 profit solely due to my efforts.
Things I’ve Learned as a Copywriter
I learned not everyone is honest. My first client instead of paying me the $9,000 due says:
“I could have done that myself.”
He then said,
“Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”
The bottom line was that I didn’t get paid. I didn’t have any money for lawyers, and I didn’t want to start my new career chasing a deadbeat, so I decided to learn from my bad experience.
The next guy… I did pretty much everything the same, just I told him:
“Sometimes my concepts are very easy and obvious. You aren’t using them now. If I apply them for you, will you pay me my share, no matter how obvious and simple the change I’ve done is?”
He said yes. This time I put the agreement on paper, and we both signed it. Doing a binding legal contract does not require a lawyer.
I added some important copy to his sales pitch (don’t worry I will tell all!) and I also placed 3 links “click here to order now” asking for an order. The second guy’s sales jumped by 19%.
This time I got my first check for $500. “Wow,” I figured “not so bad for 1 hour of work?” My confidence and self-esteem were greatly enhanced and I knew I was onto something.
The most satisfying, the most rewarding, and the one most profitable online professions today!
What’s that? Marketing! If you can help people sell more of their existing products or services, successful entrepreneurs will hire you.
Why? Because you are making them money without any risk or downside to them. Every business needs one thing more than any other – sales.
If they sell, they make money. If they don’t, they are either a charity organization or they are on a path to insolvency.
What would you say if I would offer you this power… here and now… to be able to write amazingly effective sales letters, advertisements that are proven to work and bring in hordes of customers?
Wanna learn it? Okay, Here we go.
Learn a Copywriting Technique
My ads aren’t creative they are scientific
Now, I’ll show you some tricks from my magic bag of successful promotions.
You’ll get right here, right now an advantage over those institutional advertising agencies that are still counting on “creativity” or “originality” to create winning advertisements. Funny thing, those ads may win prizes and grab attention, but all too often, they don’t bring in much new business.
Have a reason for every word you put in. No guessing, no luck elements. Use word-themes-elements that worked in previous promotions. In the beginning, you will need to read and study what kind of approach really worked.
There are only a few proven response-getting customer-bringing-in tricks that will almost always work.
Here’s the formula for effective sales letters that can make you rich.
You don’t have to be a writer to do it. In fact, if you are a professional writer you are handicapped because you’ll have to first unlearn what you learned about proper English. All you need to learn is how to sell.
If you can explain your sales-pitching ideas in person, then you are over 80% done. Record your conversation where you are persuading someone to buy your service, product… or whatever you are selling… Make a transcript of it. Now, clean that transcript from “umm”… “hmm”… “aaa” and you are ready to follow this formula.
A Formula for Ads That Work. First, you need a headline.
The headline is 85% of the ad. It is like an ad for an ad. If people don’t find it interesting to them, they won’t read the rest of your advertisement.
So, create that all-important headline with the following in mind:
- Focus on identifying your targeted customer.
- Raise his curiosity and intensify his desire.
- Get them to read the whole ad, or at least up to the point where he clicks on your “free offer.”
You can imagine, my advertisements aren’t one or two lines. My ads are long. Very long. My longest was 34 pages.
Many clients ask me how long the advertisement should be. How long? My answer is… they will read as much or as little of it as appeals to their self-interest.
If you are selling female cosmetics to a list of male construction workers, they won’t read past your first paragraph.
On the other hand… if you are solving some urgent, red-hot problem in your prospect’s mind… like sex, money, or whatever s/he is really keen on, he will happily read four… eight… twelve pages of your text – as long as it about something he cares about something that will improve his life.
So your advertising copy should be as long as it takes you to sell the product. Cut out the fluff or puff.
Formula For Creating a Headline
Here’s one formula you can use to create a good headline:
“How to…” How to headlines have sold millions of products over the years. They still work like a charm.
“How to” headline is considered one of the safest and most effective.
“If you can ____, then you have almost everything you need to _____”
“If you can smile, then you have almost everything you need to get that job you want as a hotel receptionist…”
Then you go on to offer a course or some appropriate product to help get that job.
If you can write headlines, some will work well by implying that your potential client needs something that he/she already has in order to benefit from your product. The Prospect gets a feeling as if he has passed some test after reading the headline. The prospect is hooked and will value more and appreciate more what you have to say next.
Glamour building headlines. I use this one myself to get business!
“Announcing a direct response copywriter who will GUARANTEE to out pull your BEST ad by at least 10% or no charge.”
Amazing secrets revealed.
“Amazing speed-seduction secrets revealed by a California former Nerd.”
Post Scriptum Is the Second Headline
Great… now let’s go to the second most important part. The end of your letter.
P.S. This is your LAST chance
P.S. This part is your last chance to sell a potential customer into reading the entire ad if he hasn’t already or convincing him to make an urgent, instant action.
P.S. is the second most important part after the headline. It is like a second headline. And, although that important, many marketing agencies leave it out for no other reason than pure stupidity and ignorance. This is where you have an advantage over them. And we have just started.
- I want you!
- I need you!
- I love you!
When writing, focus on your customer’s egoistic self-benefit. It is not about you, it is about your customer… use more “you” sentences than “I” sentences. When it comes to selling, no one cares about you. They are looking at what’s in it for them. Use “YOU” wisely.
Ask for an order.
I cannot think of simpler… easier… more fun way to quickly add more profits and increase the effectiveness of your advertisement than by simply asking for an order.
I have a website where all I did was to add a few “click here to order now” links and my conversion rate (rate of visitors that become paying customers) jumped by 22%. Now, isn’t that amazing? Adding three exactly the same sentences (actually, copy-pasting them), generated 22% more sales… and even more, profit because
Advertisement space costs the same whether it pulls zero orders… ten orders… or 55 or more orders!
That’s why our little persuasion tricks are so crucially important – they add on like brick on brick, building you a pile of cash.
All you have to do is create an effective advertisement that generates more profit than it costs to deliver the sales pitch and the product. If it is an information product, then your only goal is to earn more than what you are paying for advertisement, because info products like internet downloads cost you very little to send to the customer.
Needless to say, your products should be good and always deliver more value than they promise because there is nothing more profitable than repeat and referral business from satisfied customers.
Combining all the tricks of the trade I am outlining here will increase the effectiveness of your sales letters and make you at least a nice second income… or… if you keep at it, and keep testing and refining your techniques and it will make you successful.
In the direct marketing business… it is actually harder to make $100, than to make $10,000. Once you have an effective advertisement, you want to publish it with variations, so that millions of people will see it and act on it.
Your first customers probably won’t have a million names on their mailing lists. If they do, they probably have a successful business model with guys just as good (or better) than you are. But 99% of the smaller businesses don’t have very good copywriters.
Why? Mom&Pop run the show and they believe that if you build a better mousetrap or bake a better cake, the world will come a-knockin at your door. If you or I visit these people and offer to increase their sales for a % of the increase. Half the time they will hire you on a trial basis.
Once they hire you, you should start making some money, and also, you will have to start building an impressive achievement album to put on your website. You can show and tell new clients how effective you are, and your career takes off.
That’s why I consider this as one of the best businesses today.
Best Product to Sale Online
The best product to sell online is information. It can be an ebook, audio course, webinar, seminars.
Here’s why. They are cheap to create taking mainly your time.
The reproduction or replication costs to deliver additional copies to any number of new customers is nominal.
It is an easy to manage business and you don’t need any inventory or big investments to launch your product.
You can demand what the traffic will bear… because information today has huge value.
Your goal here is to create.
- A product that will sell.
- A product that will be valuable to your prospects.
- A product that has huge potential.
Easier said than done or is it? One of the ways you can go is to be a bit creative… Think outside the box.
First idea that pops in my mind is, if you don’t have a product. Find one that already exists!
Approach sellers who already have an info product that isn’t selling as well as it might. Or one that is selling offline? Then make a deal where you’ll split with them profits 50-50, after all expenses? They provide the product, you provide the marketing.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? You don’t need any money to start. Just somebody else’s good idea.
That way you can get one high-quality, saleable product and quickly position yourself as an expert in that niche and start making money.
Create Your Product
I’ll tell you how I am doing it now. Before I used to do it all by myself, now I outsource most of the work.
Here’s how my product creation and product launch process looks now.
Find a niche – a little segment of the market that you can position yourself as an expert in and do keyword research. I use free Google keyword tool to give me suggestions on the keywords I’ll need.
For example, I am going to create a course called “training your parrot to speak.” If I input in google “parrot training”, it will suggest me related keywords… like african grey parrot training, training birds, train parrots, parrot talk, parrot training cd… etc. It will show me how popular each keyword is (how many monthly searches it gets)… so I can accurately estimate on how much traffic I can expect and how big my market is…. plus it shows me, other advertisers, in competition.
I know from the start how challenging it will be to enter the niche. Pretty cool tool, huh? And it costs nothing to do this market research.
Once I know the general outline of my new product; these days I hire a writer to create an ebook… a book… special reports… whatever I want. It may cost me about $1000. Of course, you can do it yourself, for free.
Then, I write the sales letter. I don’t want to outsource this, as supreme egotist that I am, I know there is no one better than me in writing web sales letters that sell.
So I do it myself using the tricks I outlined above.
Once it is done…
I test it. I upload the blank version of the sales letter (no design or anything), give the project a little budget in AdWords (www.adwords.com), and it places ads for me on Google. For example, when someone enters the keyword “parrot training”, my ad will show up, and bring targeted traffic to my website. I will pay about $350 for this test traffic. I want to see how many orders I’ll get.
From those orders… I’ll know whether my product is going to be profitable… or if it isn’t. In some of the more competitive niches, I’ll get results that are nearly breakeven or just a little above the breakeven point.
In that case, I have to test the price… the offer… the bonuses… the length and strength of my guarantee (I prefer 1-year money-back offers), etc.
Once I have settled on the price that works best, I start tweaking my letter, having my designer create a 3d image of your e-book– or whatever your product is.
I then, contact old customers to give me some testimonials. If I don’t get many, I’ll either boost the quality of the product or if I didn’t get many sales… I’ll approach some guys who are willing to review my product for free. That way I get real people to give me their honest testimonials. This always boosts the image of my product.
Now… everything is designed up and ready. I am launching an official campaign where I am checking how many dollars I get for each dollar invested. If I like what I see, I set up the daily and monthly budget in my AdWords account, and create a few variations of the headlines. P.S. fields and offers and I put in a free tool that comes with AdWords called Website Optimizer.
All these variations will test and track to see which advertisements bring me the most sales and which ones are the most profitable. You get reports showing only that variation.
Then finally, I reduce the costs of AdWords by seeing which keywords are profitable, which aren’t bringing in cash customers. After that… I look for and always find other sources of traffic to test like banners, Bing network, etc.
That’s my product creation and launch in an easy steps. Of course, nothing is ever so easy. You have to like what you are doing and get into it like a workaholic.
Obviously, there are many possible variations on the above but my goal here is to get you started and to let you find out for yourself how easy it is to make money as an internet marketer.
Following this process, IMO you or anyone can easily be making $2k to $10k per month, doing nothing but selling a digital product.
P.S. Remember the P.S.? Great, you learned something that most guys won’t figure out even after spending thousands of dollars on advertisements that don’t work. You can do it all by yourself. Just follow my simple formula.
P.P.S. Keep on trying. It took me 9 years to make a six figure profit. After that, it only took me three months to make the same amount. It may sound impossible, but hundreds of people with less talent than you are already doing it.
Your biggest joy will be in launching a no-time-consuming site to make you about $30k per month from perhaps only one sales letter, one ebook, 2 or 3 “free” bonuses, and an AdWords campaign. That kind of Web Business gives you the freedom to enjoy life from wherever you want. It’s worth trying, No?
I know a guy who is an expert author in a niche market. I contacted him and asked him… “If I write a sales letter, are you willing to create a product based on it and promote it to your list of clients”.
He knew who I was and immediately said “yes!”.
Why wouldn’t he – after all, no risk! From my sales of a new download product, it’s all additional profit to him without any cash investment whatsoever. Let me explain how my pitch to someone with an already good selling information product works.
The semi-famous author of printed “How to” books doesn’t risk a dime. Once I create a sales letter for him (and I’ve already taught you, exactly how to do it), we can test it even before he has any product to sell.
So I did it. I created the letter that brought in $3.20 for each $1 we put in. He created the product and mailed it to his 30k+ e-mailing former book-buyer list. Before we spent a dime on paid advertising, the profit we generated from his list exceeded $32,000.
That was all done with 8 hours of my total work time – emailing, communicating back and forth – everything calculated!
But, that’s NOT how I started…
I started with zero as you remember.
And now it’s your turn to get off your bottom and start your new career and become a copywriter.