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Archive for June, 2013

The 5 worst mistakes I ever made

June 28th, 2013 by Bob Bly

I’ve made a large number of mistakes in my life. These flubs
have cost me more in lost income, career success, and happiness
than I could possibly keep track of.

Here are my 5 worst screw-ups, presented in the hopes that I can
help you avoid making the same errors I did:

1-Not jumping on opportunities.

When Internet marketing arrived on the scene, I both resisted
and ignored it.

I could have gotten into online information marketing in the

Instead, I waited until 2004, until my colleague FG pushed me
into doing it.

As a result, others gained the leadership position I could have
owned, and I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales I
could have made during that time.

Joe Vitale and others have said, “Money loves speed.” The faster
you act, the more likely you are to succeed.

2-Not having an ultra-narrow niche.

At the beginning of my copywriting career, I wrote only
industrial copy, and was well positioned in that niche. I loved
it! Industrial clients wanted to hire ME, not my generalist

As time went on, more people outside that niche wanted to hire
me, and so I became less focused, although today I do have four
niches: financial, health, high tech, and business-to-business.

I love writing for the variety of clients I have today, but from
a purely business point of view, life would be easier if I were
more narrowly niched.

I think copywriters who laser focus on a narrow niche are smart,
like Pam Foster who specializes in the marketing of pet
products. Now that’s a narrow niche!

3-Turning down book contracts.

There have been a few times over the last three decades when I
turned down a major publisher who wanted me to write a book for

In each case I came to regret turning down the book offer — and
wished I had accepted and had written the book.

Every book I have written has helped my career in some way –
even my satire, sex, and Star Trek books!

My advice: writing traditional paper books is good for your
career or business, so if you are offered a contract by a real
publisher, take it.

4-Not saving your accomplishments and kudos.

Any time I get a letter of praise, I drop it in a file labeled
“kudos.” I then excerpt these favorable comments and post them
on my site:

Any time you produce something for an employer or client, like a
video or a brochure, save a copy as an electronic file.

Clients today increasingly want to see that you have done work
similar to what they need done now.

The more samples you can show them, and the closer those samples
match their current project requirements, the more comfortable
they will be hiring you.

Although I saved a lot of my work, every once in a while a
prospect asks for a sample in a field where I have done work –
but don’t have the sample. And I kick myself every time.

5-Not having children at an early age.

This we couldn’t help: although I got married at 25, my wife was
diagnosed with cancer a few months after the wedding, and we
could not have kids for several years following her treatment.
Then we went through infertility and didn’t have our kids until
we were in our 30s.

If I could change all that, I would have had kids when we were
still in our 20s. Doing so increases the odds that the parents
will be around for the kids and grandkids longer. And, younger
parents have more energy.

Steve Martin became a first-time dad at age 67. When his
daughter graduates college, her father will be 88. That’s not
ideal for either parent or child, in my opinion.


Category: General | 72 Comments »

A Serius Scam

June 19th, 2013 by Bob Bly

SiriusXM Satellite Radio is now a direct mail scammer.

I just received a mailing from them with “Statement Enclosed” printed on the outer envelope — even though I am not a subscriber.

I immediately opened it, fearing that I somehow owed them money.

What was inside was not a statement. It was a direct mail promotion inviting me to subscribe to their satellite radio.

This is total deception, pure and simple.

It was a common practice years ago, what with envelopes containing faux checks or designed like notices from the IRS.

The practice is rare and frowned upon today.

Shame on you, radio guys. Seriusly.




Category: General | 139 Comments »

The virtue of being concise

June 19th, 2013 by Bob Bly

Subscriber SM isn’t happy with me.

A week or so ago, he e-mailed and asked me a yes/no question
about his career.

I immediately e-mailed him the answer, which was one word: “Yes.”

I was proud of getting to the point so succinctly. But my answer
made SM unhappy. He wrote:

“Thank you for your one-word reply. It is obvious to me now that
I have to spend $$$$ with you to be a friend.

“I must tell you I have spent Aussie dollars on two of your
books The Copywriters Handbook and How to Write and Sell Simple
Information. Obviously an e-mail with a few words of hope or
incouragement [sic] must be too much.”

As a professional writer for 34 years, I feel compelled to point
out to SM that being concise in writing is a virtue. Its main
benefit is an important one: it saves the reader time.

I like to think I have mastered the art of concise writing, and
I have to tell you that many of my subscribers who e-mail me
have not.

They send long, convoluted e-mails in which they have buried a
point or question somewhere, then expect me to do the work to
dig it out.

Since I am incredibly busy, I won’t. My usual reply is: “Can you
ask me your question in fewer words, please?”

I think what bothered SM was that I wasn’t more chatty and
leisurely in my e-mail to him.

He also thinks his having bought a couple of my books (on which
I earned a total of about $2 in royalties) obligates me to spend
a certain minimum amount of time with him. Obviously he feels I
did not take enough time in answering his question.

What he does not understand is that I get a large number of
questions and requests by e-mail daily.

I do answer every one, which is something that, as far as I can
see, most of my peers do not do. And I answer them as soon as I
get them.

But to answer them all, I necessarily have to keep my responses

Otherwise, I would be spending the whole day answering queries,
for which I am not paid, and would have no time to write copy
for my clients, for which I am paid.

I am generally cordial to my readers (unless they are rude to
me) and I have warm feelings toward them – and I want them to

So I gladly answer short questions without charge … just as I
would do for any friend.

But I do not believe I am required to be your unpaid mentor or
coach. Do you?

And since I don’t offer paid coaching or mentoring, you will
have to look elsewhere for a private teacher.

I am often asked, “Many of your colleagues offer paid coaching
programs and make good money from it. Why don’t you?”

The reason is simple: I don’t enjoy coaching. And that’s it.

If someone needs advice or instruction, they can either read my
books – or if that’s not enough, I will happily recommend a
coach to them – someone I know and trust.

I don’t know about you, but the whole reason I am self-employed
is so I can do the things I like to do – which is write – and
avoid things I don’t like to do.

Isn’t that what you desire, too?



Category: General | 67 Comments »