World-class copywriter Clayton Makepeace launched a health revolution – and he did it in a weekend.
That’s how long it took him to write the blockbuster promotion called “Give Me 90 Days”. It was for a newsletter called Health & Healing.
Back in 1991, that promotion mailed MILLIONS of pieces each month for over 2 years. I know – at the time, I was the marketing manager responsible for finding the mailing lists for that fantabulous promo!
My mentor Clayton Makepeace wrote that package in less than 48 hours, sitting poolside and tanning his cute cheeks.
So why does it take ME 6 to 8 weeks to write a half-way decent health promo?
Back in 2005, I gave myself a huge challenge: cut my writing time in half without sacrificing quality and profitability of my work.
How’d I do?
Not only did I achieve my goal, I BEAT IT in spades!
Back then, I was writing about six direct mail packages a year. These are mostly 24-page magalogs/tabloids. I also completed a few other smaller projects – inserts, renewal programs, etc …
My success rate was around 66% – in other words, 4 out of 6 packages became controls.
In 2006, I put into practice my speedwriting program and I wrote 14 magalogs/tabloids… provided copy for a new website launch… wrote several inserts, calendars, other small projects and copy chiefed a half dozen junior copywriters on other projects.
Phenomenal, right? But that’s not all…
… I wrote 6 of the tabloid packages in less than 3 weeks – one package launch took me just 10 days! (Watch out Clayton, I’m moving in on your record!)
Plus … I more than DOUBLED my copywriting income and my success rate shot up to 86%!
In other words, I’m getting 20% more royalty income from 6 additional packages!
Now, fast forward to the present. In 2008-2009, I wrote 9 packages in less than 12 days – and 8 of them became controls!
And just last month, I finished a project so fast it made my client’s head spin. He subtly accused me of rushing to finish the job. But when he read the copy – he loved it – and had little to no changes to the copy!
(I have to admit I was a little ticked off by the accusation. So if I ever decide to write for that client again, do you think I’ll change my writing approach? Heck no! I’m sticking to this winning formula – so I’ll just let his copy “sit” for a couple or 3 weeks longer before sending it to him!)
Now, I’m not telling you all this stuff just to brag (well, maybe just a little) – I want you to know that the secret to my success isn’t rocket science. You too can put a few of these little tricks to work – and you’ll see your copywriting income SKYROCKET too! So follow my advice…
7 keys to writing faster and making lots of moolah!
1. Before you write one single word: Know what the heck you’re talking about. In other words, do your research. Spend time getting into the mind of your prospect.
My clients usually send me a copywriter research kit. But if they’re struggling to find credible and usable info, I always recommend my top-dawg researcher Sandy Ferguson at www.fergusonresearchgroup.com to them.
You’ve got to convince yourself this is the best product ever and everyone needs to know about it. And, if at all possible, use the product!
I always request samples and use whatever I’m working on (with the exception of the male potency stuff. Doesn’t work for me and my husband swears he’ll never need it).
I want to see and feel a difference the product makes on ME. In other words, I’m convincing myself before I try to sell anybody else!
Many times, I’m so certain the product works, I write my own testimonial in my package!
If you’re working on a product and don’t believe its value – do yourself a favor and turn down the job. The odds of failure are great – and why do you want to sell a crappy product anyway?
2. Work with a few clients – and really get to know their business! I’m nearing my 11th year as a freelance copywriter. And I’ve found the years I worked with just 2 or 3 clients produced more revenue than when I worked for 6 or more companies!
Of the 14 packages I wrote last year, 10 were from 2 clients. They were a variety of nutritional products – but all were going to the same demographics and files! That means I knew immediately who I was writing to.
I didn’t have to “learn” my market every time – just had to get into the benefits of the product. And because I was familiar with the companies, I knew their risk tolerance. That helped avoid a lot of edits from the legal department!
Let me also say this: I do believe it’s important not to “put all your eggs in one basket” – in other words, I make it a point to write for at least 2 new clients every year to pump new blood into my business. But I make sure that new clients fit my niche. That way I don’t have to re-learn an industry.
(Of course, one exception to this rule was the opportunity to work on an Oprah project – how could I turn THAT down! )
Limiting yourself to one client – without a sweet exclusivity arrangement – means if your only client is having a bad year – so are you!
Now, this next tip is my #1 way to handle “writer’s block”!
3. Stop staring at the blank screen! If ideas aren’t coming to you, get up and do something else. Give yourself permission to goof off.
When I’m stuck, I take my 98-year-old grandmother to Wal-Mart … tackle a new recipe in my favorite crock-pot cookbook … or take a nap. Sounds contrary to SPEEDwriting, doesn’t it? Well it’s not. Here’s why …
Before I enjoy these diversions, I tell myself, “Ok, Carline, you can take a break, but you need to come up with a headline, or lead, or whatever.” Then I get up from my computer.
What I’ve done is given my subconscious a direct order to start working. While I’m “goofing off,” my subconscious is free to be as creative as possible.
Many times I’ve burned a meal because right in the middle of cooking, an idea pops in my head. I start writing it down and am usually back at my computer and raring to go!
Don’t believe me? Then read the book, Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. You’ll discover how to unleash the power of the subconscious mind. Then, try it for yourself. I promise – it’ll work for you!
4. Never start with a blank screen! You get writer’s block ’cause you don’t know what to say.’ Plus that blank page can be very scary!
So the first thing I do when I start writing is to quickly fill up the blank page. For example, you know you’ll need an order form, guarantee, testimonials and other static elements – so go ahead and cut and paste some standard ones into your document.
Then write the words, “Big Freakin’ Headline Goes Here!” – Hey, look, you’ve already got at least three pages of copy – and you haven’t even written a word yet!
Don’t worry, you’ll eventually tweak your original headline and make it stronger – but at least for now, you’ve got something!
5. Take rest breaks. Tell yourself you’re only going to write for 15 minutes and then you’ll take a break. That’s easy right? What you’re doing is called “baby steps” – take a huge project and break it down into easy-to-handle segments.
After 15 minutes, you can take a break. But most likely, you’ll find you’re writing for 30 … 45 … even an hour or more!
6. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Ask clients if they have standard elements of a package they prefer to use.
For example, one of my clients uses a standard order form for his promotions. Why spend time writing a new order form when it’s going to get dumped and replaced by the standard one?
Instead, focus your time on writing a strong headline for the order form and killer copy for the positive acceptance statement (the “YES! I want to … section of the order form).
7. Minimize distractions. When you’re in heavy-duty writing mode, keep your momentum by eliminating distractions.
In the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, Will Smith’s character found out he could save 8 minutes a day just by pushing the hang-up button instead of physically hanging up the phone after every sales call. And he saved even more time by not drinking water so he wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom.
What he did was maximize productivity by minimizing distractions. You can too.
Put your phone on mute while you’re working. Contact your client and request any additional info by e-mail only…
… let your neighbors know you really do have a job and not to “pop in” …
… and post a sign on your door for your kids that says, “WARNING: DON’T BOTHER ME UNLESS YOU’RE BLEEDING FROM YOUR EYE!”
In other words, do whatever you need to protect your writing time!
I know I promised you 7 keys to speedwriting. And I hope these are helpful to you. But a good copywriter always delivers more than promised. So here’s probably the real key to my success …
8. Love what you do and “niche your passion. “When I first started copywriting, I took whatever job I could get. I needed the money and the experience. But I didn’t achieve real success until I focused on just one area and made myself an expert.
I love the alternative health field and I love writing about nutritional supplements. So now, 90% of my projects are for the nutritional health field.
I turn down projects that push me too far away from my niche. That way, I stay focused on the pulse of my market … and write faster, more profitable copy!
And I count my blessings . . .
Last week I sent an email to my clients saying I would be out of the office for a week. That’s it. No explanations. No request for “time off” or wondering if I had enough sick leave to cover me. Just said I wasn’t working that week.
What they didn’t know was I took the week off to take care of Mama Da, my 98-year old grandmother. My mom needed a break as a full-time caregiver. She went to Florida for vacation and I volunteered to move into her house and provide the necessary care for Mama Da.
Sure, I could’ve juggled my schedule to get some work done. But I didn’t want to. I wanted that time for my grandmother.
Copywriting is the only job I’ve ever had in my entire life where I have that much freedom – and can still make a decent income. Talk about a blessing!
Carline Anglade-Cole writes multi-year controls for clients including Healthy Directions, True Health, Weiss, Health Resources, NatureCity, Soundview Publications, Boardroom and Sun Chlorella USA. She also helps nutritional supplement companies launch extensive e-zine promotions.
Carline shares her million-dollar copywriting secrets through her CopyStar e-zine. To subscribe for free toCopyStar and receive her special report, How to Write Magalogs, Tabloids and Other Monster Promos (a $39.95 value)