Bob Bly Direct Response Copywriter Official Banner

Archive for August, 2018

Copywriting for clients or for your own products — which is right for you?

August 31st, 2018 by Bob Bly

Ben Settle and I had a brief email exchange last week on the
fact that there are two types of copywriters today:

“Traditional” copywriters write copy on a contract basis for
clients.

“Alt” copywriters write copy to sell their own information
products.

So which do I recommend for you — the first? The second? Both?

I recommend you either become a traditional copywriter or do both
… but do NOT limit yourself to being an alt-copywriter only.

Today, I am primarily a full-time traditional copywriter earning
a six-figure active income stream from writing copy for clients.

I have a second, spare-time, passive income stream writing copy
to sell my own line of information products and at one site,
merchandise.

I like this set-up because I think it’s beneficial for writers to
have multiple streams of income.

I have several including contract copywriting, info marketing,
writing books, professional speaking, and consulting.

Ideally, strive to have two six-figure income streams, one active
and one passive.

This is the surest path to financial stability and even security
for freelance writers.

Now, while I love info marketing, I think that, if you want to
develop into an A-level copywriter, you cannot limit yourself to
writing for your own products only.

Reason: An essential skill to become an A-level copywriter is the
ability to rapidly understand all sorts of products and markets,
and to write copy to sell those varied products to those
different markets successfully.

In other words, you must be a quick study. Here — yours free — is
my “discovery process” for rapidly getting up to speed on
different products and markets:

https://www.bly.com/newsite/Pages/documents/HTPFAC.html

But if the only products you write copy for are your own —
products you created and sell to an audience which you know well
— you will not master the discovery process, which in turn will
hold you back from being the best copywriter you can be.

And if your product line is strictly about marketing and
copywriting, you’ll be even more limited and less well-rounded as
a copywriter.

I always tell my subscribers that if the only thing an author of
expensive courses in copywriting and marketing has sold is
courses in copywriting and marketing, save your money and run in
the opposite direction.

Share

Category: Writing | 7 Comments »

Can’t decide which book you want to write?

August 28th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber TT writes:

“Maybe you can help me with my issue: If you have three ideas for
books in your head — how do you go about deciding to commit to
one?”

Many writers, including me, face this problem frequently.

We have so many interests, so many subjects we want to write
about, that we have a hard time choosing the one we want to do
next — especially with bigger projects like books.

So I told TT my simple formula for deciding which of multiple
book ideas will be the one that I commit to writing.

To begin with, here are the 6 criteria I evaluate when deciding
whether I want to write a given book:

1–Will it be fun for me to write?

2–Do readers need yet another book on this topic?

3–Will having written it benefit me in some way; e.g., elevate my
reputation or bring me more business?

4–Is it important to me personally to write it and get it
published?

5–Do I have something worthwhile to say in it?

6–Does it have the potential to sell many thousands of copies,
and am I in a position to help make that happen?

Rate each book idea in each of these six categories on a scale of
1 to 5 with 5 = highest and 1 = lowest.

Then add up the total score. And do this for each book you are
thinking about writing.

And whichever book has the highest total score is the next one
you should write.

TT also asks: “If you DO commit to writing a book, how do you
stay committed until it’s done?”

I accomplish this by writing virtually all my books for
mainstream publishers.

When you do that, it is easy to stay committed — because you have
signed a contract promising to deliver the manuscript to a
publishing house on or before a given date.

If you don’t hand in a publishable manuscript by the deadline,
you don’t get your money … the book won’t be published … and your
name will be mud with your publisher.

That’s all the motivation and incentive I need to stay committed
… and probably all you will need, too.

Share

Category: Writing | 7 Comments »

On turning 61

August 24th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Last month, I turned 61.

Which means if I live to be 90, my life is more than two-thirds
over.

Now, as I sail into the sunset of that final third of my
existence, here’s some of what I’m going through … and what I
see, feel, and think.

#1–Energy.

I feel fortunate that I still have enormous energy during the
work day — and I still work 60 hours a week.

But after quitting time, then I feel drained, don’t have much
energy, and am content to sit in my favorite easy chair and read
a book or newspaper.

I even turn on the boob tube, look for a good movie, and watch it
for half an hour or so — more than that is too much TV and brain
rot.

This routine is not a huge problem for me, as work, writing, and
reading are most of what I like to do best anyway.

When I was younger, my major energy-consuming activity was
playing vigorously with my kids — a lot.

Now they are 25 and 28, and the play is less vigorous — mainly
board games (which I play with them) and video games (which I
watch but do not play myself).

#2–Materialism.

I was never terribly materialistic, though I liked having a lot
of vinyl records and books.

But when we moved a few years ago, my wife made my get rid of
most of these collections.

And much to my surprise, I was happy to do so.

The older I get, the less stuff I want.

#3–Marriage.

The love of our marriage deepens, at least for me, with each
passing year.

My wife Amy, along with my sons, is the center of my universe.

#4–Dog.

I have always liked dogs and we have had a few over the years.
They were all wonderful.

But our latest, Bailey — a rescue dog from North Carolina and a
Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever — is the most affectionate of
all.

Other people with rescue dogs say the same. I think because these
dogs were abandoned, they appreciate their new owners and homes
even more than other dogs.

I just love him to pieces, and he wants to be with us all the
time.

#5–Patience.

I have never suffered fools gladly.

And as I age, my tolerance for rudeness, ignorance, and stupidity
declines with each passing year.

#6–Socializing.

I prefer to be at home, read and write, spend time with my family
and my dog, and stay in the comfortable, familiar environment of
the house.

My wife drags me out to socialize, and while I enjoy it when we
do, I probably would do it very little if left to my own devices.

#7–Travel.

Pure torture for me. If my wife, my oldest son, and his wife did
not want me to travel with them, my only travel would be to give
seminars, an activity I love.

#8–Books.

I am addicted to reading books and even more so to writing them.

Perhaps paperbound books will vanish one day, and I’ll stop.

But as long as I have publishers who will have me write paper
books for them, I’ll keep doing it.

#9–Mortality.

If I live to be 90, I have only 30 years left, and there is so
much I still want to do that I am running out of time. And it’s
beginning to bug me.

#10–Risk-taking.

If you are over 60 and lose a big chunk of money in the market or
another investment, you may not have the time or future earning
potential to make up for the loss. So I am less of a risk-taker
as an investor, though I was never a big one to begin with. (My
biggest speculation was buying thousands of ounces of silver
years ago when it was at $10 an ounce.)

“Grow old along with me; the best is yet to be.” — Robert
Browning

Share

Category: General | 12 Comments »

“Unbelievable truth” often fails in sales copy

August 21st, 2018 by Bob Bly

Recently I got an email about FN, a successful marketing
consultant.

In it, FN tells the reader: “I bill out at $2750 an hour. So in a
40-hour week, I gross $110,000 in fees.”

Although I know FN casually, and believe him to be ethical, his
claim of six-figure weekly earnings as a consultant caused me to
raise a skeptical eyebrow.

So I did the math.

If FN works 40 hours a week, well, I don’t know any consultant
who will every hour he is in the office.

For many consultants, billable hours comprise only 50% to 60% of
the time they put in.

The other hours are spent on what is known as “administrivia.”

It’s a catchall term for routine tasks such as reading emails,
handling paperwork, dealing with staff and vendors, paying taxes,
putting out fires — most of which they don’t get paid for.

Also, if FN works 50 weeks a year as a consultant, at $110,000 a
week, he makes $5.5 million a year — a claim that raised my
skeptical eyebrow higher while sending my B.S. alarm into red alert.

No doubt FN or his copywriter intend for these facts about his
achievements to build credibility.

But this type of outrageous marketing often repels prospects who
might otherwise buy — for two reasons.

First, the claims are so beyond what most readers have ever
achieved, they reject it as false.

Second, many prospects are turned off by brag-and-boast marketing
… when means you should think twice about doing it, even if all
you say is true.

One technique to soften the boast and make readers more accepting
of it is to use this phrase from Joe Karbo’s ad: “I tell you this
not to brag, but…”

Another is for the superstar to remind the readers that he too
came from a more humble start. Example: Joe Vitale writes about
once being homeless.

Bottom line: Even if your incredible claims of wealth and success
beyond compare are true, you should perhaps tone them down a tad
to avoid making the reader skeptical.

Of course, I may be wrong about this. I often am.

Share

Category: Direct Marketing | 10 Comments »

The power of one good idea

August 17th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Here’s a recent incident that illustrates a valuable idea — “the
power of one good tip” — I want to share with you.

What happened was this: my subscriber KW ordered one of our
how-to business guides.

The next day, she sent the following email to me:

“Bob, I just ordered this and went through it quickly. This looks
like a great book for beginners. Unfortunately, it’s too remedial
for me, and it’s the first purchase from you that I am requesting
a refund on, please.”

We issued the refund immediately, without question or quibble, as
all marketers should.

Then KW, being a straight arrow, said to be fair to me, she had
deleted the PDF from her hard drive.

But … my guarantee says clearly: “You can keep the ebook even if
you ask for refund.”

I told KW this — and offered, at no charge, to resend the ebook
PDF.

KW replied:

“Seriously?! Wow! I would be happy to have it back. There were a
couple of items in Section IV that were quite helpful. Thanks
Bob! Much appreciated.”

Wait a second, KW, I thought. Hold the phone.

You mean you LIKED the ebook, got something out of it, and you
still told me to give you your money back?

I immediately replied:

“It’s my pleasure.

“But here’s something to remember before you ask for a refund on
anyone’s info product again:

“Namely, if there is even ONE item in a book that is helpful to
you, that one idea or tip alone could easily be worth 10X or more
what you paid for the product.

“My attitude as a consumer is that if I learn just one new thing
from an info product, I know my time and money have been well
spent.

“And in that case, since you have gotten your money’s worth —
hasn’t the producer earned his pay?

“Think about it.”

There are 2 valuable take-away points here, one for you as a
consumer of info products, and one for you as an info marketer.

First, as a consumer of info products, understand that you should
read for repetition as well as for new ideas.

Repetition has value, because we need to hear an idea or
instruction multiple times for it to sink in.

So if 95% of an info product tells you things you already know,
it is providing value by reinforcing your learning.

Then, if you also get one or two useful new ideas or strategies
in addition, consider it a bonus.

Second, as an info marketer, make the above points explicitly in
your sales copy.

This is typically done by writing on your landing page: “If you
get even just one new idea from my course, it can easily pay back
the cost 10X over or more.”

That way, you set a realistic expectation with buyers that
increases customer satisfaction and reduces refund requests.

Now, do I include that copy consistently on all my sales pages?

No.

Should I?

Yes.

When I returned the ebook to KW, she thanked me and offered
to pay for it again, which was highly ethical and admirable. And
to answer your question, I thanked her for that but did not take
the money, insisting she keep the product free “on the house.”

Why? Because it is always better to under-promise and
over-deliver than vice versa.

Share

Category: General | 10 Comments »

The #1 mistake writers make when trying to get published

August 14th, 2018 by Bob Bly

In the pre-internet days, the most popular assignment for
freelance writers was doing magazine articles.

The way it works: You sent a “query letter” outlining the article
you propose to write.

Based on the strength of your query letter, the editor said yay
or nay.

Freelance writers typically got the name and address of the right
editor from a reference volume called Writer’s Market, which is
still published today.

And so many writers made a terrible mistake that got them
rejection after rejection on their queries.

Namely, they never actually looked at or read the magazine they
were pitching.

As a result:

>> They did not know whether the magazine was entirely staff
written or also used freelancers.

>> They did not know what stories the magazine had run recently
and so often pitched something the editor had just published —
which meant the magazine was unlikely to buy another article on the
same topic.

>> They did not understand the audience for the magazine — who
they were, what interested them, and what they wanted to know.

>> They did not know the departments and columns that were most
open to freelance contributions.

So most of their queries were off the mark and fell on deaf ears.

If you want to freelance for a magazine, get and read a number of
issues to get a feel for the points above.

Likewise, if you are a copywriter, and you get an inquiry, spend
a few minutes reviewing the company’s website before you call
them.

Today, the thing seems to be writers (and marketers) asking if
they can write a guest post for someone else’s blog. I get
several such requests a month.

And they are making the same stupid mistake magazine writers made
in the old day: not reading the blog they want to post to!

For instance, my blog is about writing, marketing, and business
success.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from HB who was looking to write
guest posts for me.

The guest posts he offered were all about cryptocurrencies; e.g.,
Bitcoin.

Anyone even glancing at my blog would instantly know this is not
a good fit for me, as I do not write about investing.

So HB’s post would be completely irrelevant to my readers. And I
politely turned down HB’s offer.

Frankly — not that he would care if he knew, which he doesn’t —
my opinion of him as a marketer is, based on this one contact
with him, pretty low.

Share

Category: Writing | 11 Comments »

Boost your ranking with these SEO hacks

August 10th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Many SEO experts advising you on optimizing your website for
Google focus on just a few things, mainly use of keywords in web
pages.

But here are some website problems and errors that cause search
engines to have a poor opinion of your site — and by fixing these
harmful errors, you can boost your SEO significantly higher:

1–Broken internal links.

An internal link is a hyperlink on one of your site pages that
clicks to another page on the site.

Not only do broken internal links frustrate visitors, but they cause
search engines to rank your site lower.

2–Broken external links.

Links from your site that do not work to other sites or pages can
lower your search engine ranking.

3–Duplicate content.

Duplication of page titles or copy may ultimately cause the
search engine to ban both pages from search results. In
particular, duplicate title tags can also confuse the search
engines. H1 tags and the HTML title on pages should not be
redundant but should use different wording.

4–Site map errors.

An error in site map code may make it impossible for search
engine crawlers to find certain pages.

5–Missing alt tags.

Without an alt tag to define the purpose of an image, the search
algorithms may find the whole page less relevant.

6–Pages that take more than 7 seconds to load can hurt your
search engine ranking.

7–Missing meta description tags.

Both users and search engines use description tags to understand
the content and value of pages.

8–Low word count.

Text length on web pages should be 200 words or more. Fewer make
it difficult for search engines to assign the page a topic and
index it.

9–Keywords.

Judiciously use keywords on pages while maintaining a natural
conversational tone. Overuse of keywords that render the page
awkward to read can depress the page ranking.

10–Title too short.

Pages with titles of less than 10 characters may not show up in
search results for different keywords.

Share

Category: Online Marketing | 10 Comments »

Increase your email open rates

August 7th, 2018 by Bob Bly

CMO Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media produced an excellent article
recently on how to boost your email open rates.

Most people on your list getting your emails just click away
without opening them. “Open rate” is the percentage of
subscribers who do open them, ostensibly to read even the lead if
nothing else.

To boost your open rates:

1–In the from line, have the email come from both a person as
well as their company. Spell them out; do not use an email
address.

2–Use a short and punchy subject line; ideally 4 to 7 words.

3–Make sure the most important five words and phrases are in the
first sentence of the copy, as this may be all a mobile user
might see.

4–Use numbers and make them odd numbers; e.g. “7 steps” is better
than “6 words.”

5–Use words and phrases proven to increase open rates; some of
these include: special, now, get this now, get your, what,
latest, can, new, just, introduction, latest, available,
upgrade, go, offer expires Friday; and alert.

6–Use questions you are frequently asked as subject lines.

7–Use opt-in e-lists including your own. If recipients aren’t
expecting your email or did not ask for it, they are unlikely to open
and more likely to unsubscribe.

8–Make sure your email reaches the recipient; use an email
service provide that averages 99% deliverability.

Share

Category: Writing and the Internet | 17 Comments »