As a copywriter, I’m always looking for ways to improve my skills and become a better writer. After all, if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward, am I right (cliche alert)?
One way that I do know of, that sadly I had not been doing, is hand copying sales letters and promotions.
This seemingly-rudimentary exercise has been the “secret” of the master copywriters for decades. Gary Halbert, one of the best known and revered copywriters of all time, says this about the practice:
“What you must do now is not just read these classics. No, you need to copy them word-for-word in your own handwriting. If you are really serious about becoming a master copywriter, you will do this over and over. The idea here is not for you to steal these promotions but rather, to be influenced by them. You want good writing to become one of your automatic skills and rewriting superb ads and sales letters in your very own hand is the best way in the world to do this.”
My copywriting career is taking off. If I want to keep up, I need to be doing this to raise my “A” game.
Enter Copy Hour
The premise of Copy Hour is dead simple: “We send you an awesome promotion via email every weekday. You set a timer for an hour, grab a pen and paper, and copy it down.”
It’s an accountability group to do this, and it’s just what I need! Oh, and it’s working: I’ve been spending at least an hour every weekday for two weeks now hand-copying some classic stuff from the likes of Jay Abraham, Gary Halbert, and others.
The group at Location Rebel has opened up a forum thread on the course for us to discuss the course. In the discussion, I see a disturbing trend:
- “I got lazy…”
- “Haven’t been doing them every day…”
- “Just started back up again…”
- “Don’t care for this promotion…”
I’m not here to be a negative guy, or to crap on people who are trying, but I’ll tell you this: they’re never going to be master copywriters. They’ll never make six-figures writing sales copy. Not a chance.
“Do As The Rich Do”
It’s been laid out by more than one of the big-player copywriters in the industry that this is the way to learn. This is the way to go from “good enough” to “great”. Good enough copywriters make a living. Great copywriters make a fortune.
If you’re not willing to do what great copywriters do to become great, then you’ll just be good enough at best.
It’s the same in committing to anything: if you want the results, you have to do what it takes to get them. How do you know what it takes? You have to ask someone who’s already succeeded.
Ever listen to a bunch of broke people sit around and give each other advice on how to manage their money (usually unsolicited)? Or fat people tell you about what’s healthy/unhealthy?
Don’t listen to them. Don’t let someone who hasn’t made it tell you that what you’re trying to do can’t be done. You have to follow the advice of someone who’s done it – and then, get this: you have to actually put that advice into action.
- Lose weight by following the advice of someone who has lost weight
- Be a better writer by following the advice of someone who “made it”
- Make money and get out of debt by following the advice of someone who paid off their debts and built their fortune
- Be happier by following the advice of happy people
The list goes on. As Dave Ramsey says on his radio show and in his books: “If you want to be rich, you have to do what the rich do. Don’t follow the financial advice of broke people.”
It’s Going to be Hard/Uncomfortable
Hand writing stuff for an hour hurts my hand. I almost never write more than a Post-it note in my regular life. I’m a typer. But I tough it out, because on the other side of this is more copywriting success than ever in my life.
If you want to lose weight, you’ll have to make tough decisions about your diet and about your exercise lifestyle. It’s a fact. And it will not only be uncomfortable, but painful at times.
But if you want to lose weight, that’s the only way to do it. If you don’t want to tough it out, then be prepared to be fat for the rest of your life, because nothing will change unless you do.
And so on.
Those people in Location Rebel who aren’t doing all the writing exercises every day, or are cutting corners? They are probably perfectly fine people. They might be great people, actually, and they have great intentions.
But intention is no substitute for action. All the intentions in the world do nothing for you. If you want to be successful at something, you have to do what successful people do or are doing.
If you don’t? Then sit tight, because where you are is where you’ll be at for the next ten, twenty, or thirty years.
Sudden, overnight success is a myth. I’m turning the corner in my copywriting career, but it’s taken me almost six years of work to get here.
And that’s okay. If you want these substantial successes in your life, you have to earn them. This is where you punch me in the face for beating a dead horse into the ground: nothing worthwhile in this life comes easy.
If you want it, go get it. But you’ll need to slog through a lot of crap to get there. The good news is that you can do it – loads of other people in this world have done it, and they’re no smarter or privileged than you.
So roll up your sleeves and get to work.