Ray EdwardsWriting – Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com Prosperity With Purpose Wed, 04 May 2016 10:00:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://rayedwards.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/cropped-REI-Color-Logo-Only-32x32.png Writing – Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com 32 32 Are you an entrepreneur who wants to change the world, but struggles with how to do well and also do good? I know how that feels. And I can assure you, if you want to start your own business from scratch, or just grow the business you already have; if you are a believer, and a follower of Jesus; or even if you just consider yourself “spiritual, but not religious”… and especially if you long to reconcile your pursuit of prosperity with your desire to have a positive impact on the world…<br /> …then you’ve arrived at the perfect place, and this podcast is for you. My name is Ray Edwards, and I help “believing achievers” start, run, and grow their Internet based businesses. If that’s you, this means you can have more joy, experience more passion, and achieve prosperity with purpose. Ray Edwards clean Ray Edwards rayedwards@gmail.com rayedwards@gmail.com (Ray Edwards) Start, Run, and Grow Your Internet Based Business... & Change The World! Writing – Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/The-Ray-Edwards-Show.jpg http://rayedwards.com/category/writing/ 7 Apps Every Writer Should Own http://rayedwards.com/7-apps-every-writer-should-own/ http://rayedwards.com/7-apps-every-writer-should-own/#comments Fri, 13 Nov 2015 11:01:35 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=10050 Like most writers I know, I have a fondness for paper and ink. Despite this, most of my work is done on a computer or tablet. Specifically on Apple products.

7-Writer-Apps

Every now and then, I share a list of my most-used apps for writers and writing. These always tend to be fairly popular posts. They get shared a lot.

This tells me if you want a hot market to sell apps to, writers would be a good place to start. That being said, I don’t have any stock in any of these companies, but here are the 7 apps I think every writer should own and use…

  1. Scrivener. Might as well start with the granddaddy of them all, the app I use for the big research projects and book manuscripts. Scrivener has a bit of a learning curve, but that can be mitigated by picking up this easy-to-use course. Regardless of whether you use a training course to show you how to use Scrivener or not, I think this should definitely be an app you turn to regularly. If your experience is like mine, it will increase your output, your speed, and your accuracy.
  2. Word. For the longest time, I claimed to hate Microsoft Word. It was true. But as the years have passed, either I have gotten more patient or Microsoft has gotten better. This is the standard application you must use if you’re going to interface with publishers in today’s modern world. And I do believe Microsoft has made this app a lot better than it used to be, especially for Mac users. Gotta have it.
  3. Mindjet MindManager. I am a visual thinker. When I discovered mind-mapping, I was like a kid in the candy store. This is how I visualize ideas! It literally set my brain free, allowing me to capture, catalog, and organize my thoughts, concepts, and ideas into logical structures. Mindjet has been pivotal in this process for me.
  4. Evernote. I refer to Evernote as “my backup brain”. Most of us have come to realize we need some kind of external storage system to keep all our thoughts and ideas in. They are not always easily retrievable from our own gray matter, so we need an “external brain”. For me, that means Evernote. It’s available on any device I own (MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iPhone, iPad… and even my Android. Yes, I have one of those. Shhhh…).
  5. DayOne. I have never been able to keep up a journal – at least not until I discovered DayOne. For some reason, this elegantly constructed app makes me actually want to journal every day. Instant, in-the-cloud backup, and also available on every device I own.
  6. TextExpander. Even if you are an excellent typist, chances are there are sentences, phrases, paragraphs – even entire documents – that you routinely type and retype. This is a total waste of time. Anything you need to type more than once should be a template. You can enter those templates into this app, and then in the future, with the stroke of two or three keys, that entire block of text is instantly “typed” for you. If you happen to be a terrible typist (like me), this app is very nearly a miracle from God. Saves me hours every week.
  7. ByWord. Yes, I know if I want a simple, distraction-free writing experience, I could just use TextEdit. But for some reason that’s just not as graceful as using ByWord. Something about the design, function, and simplicity of this program seems to instantly put me in a state of calm. Makes me ready to write. Keeps me focused on what I’m writing. Winner.

Those are my essential apps for the writing life. I bet you have a list of your own. Maybe even suggestions that I haven’t ever seen before. I would love it if you shared below.

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The Most Successful Sales Letter You’ve Never Heard Of http://rayedwards.com/the-most-successful-sales-letter-youve-never-heard-of/ http://rayedwards.com/the-most-successful-sales-letter-youve-never-heard-of/#comments Fri, 02 Oct 2015 11:46:46 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=9857 The Story Of Two Copywriters

On a sunny day one late afternoon two copywriters graduated from the same copywriting school. These two copywriters were roughly the same age, with roughly the same writing ability. They had both been trained by the same copywriting instructors in the art and science of writing to sell and persuade. Both were filled with dreams of becoming rich by writing ads to sell products and services.

Recently, these men ran into one another at the same direct marketing conference, 10 years after their graduation. They were both still very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had young children. And both, as it turned out, had written copy for some of the biggest direct mail publishing houses in the world.

But there was one difference…

One of these copywriters was on staff at a publishing house, making a comfortable $100,000 per year salary. The other was not an employee, but rather had started his own business, and used his copywriting skills to create copy that was raking in over $1 million dollars a year in net profits.

What Made The Difference?

If you’re like me, when you hear a story like that, you wonder: what made the difference between those two men? We all know stories like this, and we all have evidence demonstrating it isn’t always raw talent or intelligence or even perseverance or dedication. It isn’t that one person has “a burning desire” and the other doesn’t.

The difference lies in this: what each person knows, and how that person makes use of their knowledge. The difference is in continuously growing and using their knowledge.

And that is why I’m writing to you today, to let you know about how you can grow your knowledge and learn from what is arguably the most successful sales letter you’ve never heard of…

And It’s Not The Wall Street Journal Sales Letter!

You may recognize that I didn’t really come up with the preceding copy you just read – you probably in fact recognize it as an “adaptation” of the famous Wall Street Journal Sales Letter written by Martin Conroy.

You may download the Wall Street Journal Sales Letter here (and I would suggest you add it to your swipe file if you haven’t already).

You may even be thinking, “Ray, this is not ‘the most successful sales letter I’ve never heard of’, because… well… I have heard of it. A lot.”

Now, if the Wall Street Journal Sales Letter were actually the letter I was referring to in today’s title, you would be correct.

Here’s What You May Not Know

Just as I didn’t really come up with today’s article “from scratch”, Martin Conroy did not cook up the Wall Street Journal ad out of thin air, either.

In fact, he “swiped” the Big Idea for the Wall Street Journal ad (which by some accounts has made the Journal over $2 billion in sales) from another ad, this one by the legendary copywriter Bruce Barton.

In 1919, Barton wrote an ad for The Alexander Hamilton Institute.

The headline for the ad was “The Story of Two Men Who Fought the Civil War”, and the copy began like this:

“From a certain little town in Massachusetts two men went to the Civil War. Each of them had enjoyed the same educational advantage, and so far as anyone could judge, their prospects for success were equally good.

One man accumulated a fortune. The other spent his last years almost entirely dependent upon his children for support.”

Obviously, Conroy’s ad was based on Barton’s. You may download “The Story of Two Men Who Fought the Civil War” in its entirety here.

You may now be assuming that “The Story of Two Men Who Fought the Civil War” is the letter I was referring to in today’s title. But that is incorrect, also.

The Most Famous Sales Letter You’ve Never Heard Of

Just as my opening paragraphs were inspired by Conroy, and Conroy was inspired by Barton, Barton lifted the story for his own ad from one written a year earlier, in 1918. The 1918 ad began like this:

“The story of two clerks in New York City who started together a few years ago, side by side, each earning $12 a week.”

This 1918 ad was written to sell a memory course, the Roth Memory Course. I’m sure you noticed “the story of two clerks.”

The clerk “with the memory” became the head of a giant publishing company. The other guy became “a petty bill collector.”

This ad was written by the Ruthrauff & Ryan ad agency, and it’s unclear which of their staff copywriters wrote the ad. You may download the “The Story of Two Clerks in New York City” ad here.

(By the way, today’s little advertising history lesson itself was inspired by Lawrence Bernstein’s excellent blog post entitled “A Tale of Two Copywriters”.)

Because it was original inspiration for what became the $2 billion dollar Wall Street Journal Sales Letter, “The Story of Two Clerks in New York City” may in fact be the most successful sales letter you’ve never heard of.

Or … Is It?

Because long before any of those ads, there was this story…

This is the tale of two brothers, both born to wealth, privilege, and power, over 4,000 years ago.

Both were sons of the ruler of the known world. Both were princes of a vast empire.

They received the same education and upbringing. They were very much alike.

But a few decades later, one was the King, and the other was hiding in the hills far away, living as a humble shepherd.

But that’s not the end of the story – the shepherd eventually came storming back to the land of his youth, conquered his brother and his brother’s empire, and left that empire a smoking ruin.

What made the difference between these two brothers?

You may already recognize this story from the Biblical story of the Exodus. One brother was Ramses, the Pharaoh of Egypt. The other was named Moses, and he was the humble shepherd who heard the voice of God, and came back to Egypt to free the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.

This may be part of the most successful sales letter in history. I’ll leave that for you to ponder on your own.

Here’s the point of this whole article…

To Persuade Powerfully, Tell a Story That Resonates

Storytelling is the most powerful form of persuasion known to humans.

The original “tale of two young men” can be traced all the way back to the work of The Great Storyteller. It is the tale of brothers Cain and Abel, in the Book of Genesis.

To write the most successful and effective copy you are capable of, you must learn to tell great stories that resonate with the deepest fears and desires of your reader.

Now get to work on your story!

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Selling From the Dark Side: Is Fear-Based Copy Morally Wrong? http://rayedwards.com/selling-from-the-dark-side-is-fear-based-copy-morally-wrong/ http://rayedwards.com/selling-from-the-dark-side-is-fear-based-copy-morally-wrong/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 13:23:27 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=9671 Male lion attack huge buffalo bull

Male lion attack huge buffalo bull

In the copywriting class I’m currently teaching (the now-closed Copywriting Academy), one question has come up several times during our Q&A sessions. The question is posed a little differently each time, but is accurately summarized this way: “Is it morally wrong to sell based on fear as a motivation?”

This question comes up because part of the framework I use to teach copywriting involves the Principle of Amplification. In this section of the training, I teach that once we have identified the problem we are solving for our customer (with our product or service), we must then Amplify the consequences of not solving the problem. We are, in effect, helping the customer to understand the cost of not buying our solution. All of this proceeds from the assumption that your product or service actually does solve a problem, and that not solving the problem actually does involve a cost.

Is Selling Evil?

Each time I teach this material, a few students recognize that the Principle of Amplification does in fact evoke a certain fear-based response in the heart of the reader. The question they are asking is: are we wrong, as copywriters, to “exploit” the fear in a person, to even amplify that fear, in order to get them to buy our product or service. Isn’t that manipulation? (For the record, I believe manipulation is wrong. I have written and spoken elsewhere about the difference between persuasion and manipulation.)

For the purposes of this article, let me sum up my position in this way: using illegitimate fear to induce a purchase that is not in the best interest of the customer is wrong. Using legitimate fear to suggest a purchase that is in the best interest of the customer is absolutely right.

What is the Difference Between Legitimate and Illegitimate Fear?

Legitimate fear is our body and mind’s response to a real and present danger to our health, wealth, or well-being. Or to the health, wealth, or well-being of those we love and care about. If your child is about to step out in front of an oncoming truck – shouting at them, causing them a moment of fear, so that their senses are heightened and they realize the danger they are in, is a legitimate use of fear in their best interest.

Their body and brain are instantly changed in a way that may well save their life. This is not hyperbole. There is biology at work here.

The “fight or flight” response has gotten a lot of bad press in the last few years. But the “fight or flight” response is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. This response is part of your body’s natural defense system, designed to keep you alive.

According to Dr. Henry S. Lodge, in the book he co-authored with Chris Crowley, Younger Next Year,  “When the lion jumps out from behind the bush, adrenaline floods your bloodstream … and hundreds of other chemicals, too, in a surge that changes the activity and biology of virtually every organ and muscle in your body. Two things happen. Your emergency powers-physical strength, visual acuity, and mental focus-jump to their maximum intensity …  Your brain abandons long-term thinking and the development of long-term memory or higher cognitive function and focuses exclusively on the present. … in life or death situations, every scrap of energy and every effort swings from long-term to immediate, from infrastructure to survival.”

Nothing wrong with that – if you are being attacked by a lion.

Lots wrong with it, if it is knowingly invoked to sell you a $1,000 vacuum cleaner.

You see, it is a bad thing is when the “fight or flight” response kicks in outside the presence of real danger. This is at the root of the life-destroying “stress diseases” from which large segments of modern society suffer: depression, anxiety, panic attacks, ulcers, and arguably things like heart disease, diabetes, and even perhaps some forms of cancer.

Some illegitimate stimuli which trigger a false “fight or flight” response: fears about a meeting with the boss… fears about what the neighbors will think of your junky car… fears about whether your appearance matches that of the fitness models on the cover of magazines. These fears are not stimulated by life or death situations. They are not the same as the lion that jumps out of the bushes, intent upon making you his dinner. And here is the important thing to remember: your body does not know the difference. Neither does your brain.

What Does All This Have to do With Copywriting?

Everything, it turns out.

If, as a copywriter, I invoke a real and legitimate fear in order to induce people to take an action, one that is in their best interest, I am morally in the right. For instance, if I am writing copy that convinces the reader to take better care of their physical body by eating well and exercising regularly, and I do so by showing them the consequences of not taking that course of action (the results being diabetes, heart disease, stroke, early and debilitating death and illness, etc.), I am writing persuasively in their best interest.

If provoking a little shot of adrenaline results in the reader putting down that doughnut, and choosing to eat an apple instead… Or results in them getting their butt out of the chair, and taking a 30-minute walk, then fear has served its proper function.

I don’t think anyone would argue with this.

If, on the other hand, you write copy that constructs a convincing but false argument about a fanciful “economic apocalypse” that is a complete fabrication on your part, designed to evoke fear and cause the reader to sink their hard-earned money into a risky and marginally ethical investment scheme… If, in other words, you’re evoking the fear response, flooding their body and brain with chemicals that put them in “fight or flight” mode, so that they are more suggestible to your sales pitch… you have crossed the line. You have moved from persuasion and into the dark territory of manipulation, where you are writing in your own best interest, with total disregard of what is best for the reader.

In other words, writing only to get the sale, regardless of what that means to the customer. Regardless of whether it is in his or her best interest.

“So Is It Okay to Use Fear In My Copy … or Not?”

I often hear a question similar to the one above when I teach on this subject. The students who ask it are not lazy – they just recognize that answering the question requires work – it requires thinking. On the part of you – the copywriter. This is not work for dullards. It is hard work… work requiring moral discipline and total, naked honesty with yourself.

But because I know the above paragraph will prove to be infuriatingly obtuse to many of my readers, here is my answer:

I propose that not only is it “okay” to use fear in your copy to cause your prospects to take an action that is in their own best interest, but it is part of your responsibility to do so.

However, using illegitimate fear, and using artfully constructed but ultimately fantasy-based conspiracy theories and logic chains designed to make your prospects fearful, so that they will buy your questionable product… that is clearly wrong.

Like any tool or emotion, fear is morally agnostic. Morality only comes into the picture when a human agent steps in with an agenda for its use. Fear motivates behavior. You can use it to produce truth or lies; life or death. Choose life.

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How To Write A Sales Page That Rakes In $10 Million http://rayedwards.com/how-to-write-a-sales-page-that-rakes-in-10-million/ http://rayedwards.com/how-to-write-a-sales-page-that-rakes-in-10-million/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 21:14:09 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=9443 You’re invited to join me for a free, live Masterclass on Tuesday, June 2, from 7 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. Central, 4 p.m. Pacific).

Academy-Masterclass

I’ve had the honor and privilege of writing sales copy for some amazing clients, including Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Jeff Walker, and many others. Some of my best work has been with clients you’ve likely never heard of – “mom & pop” companies and solo entrepreneurs (maybe just like you).

On this Masterclass, I’ll show you how I write for all those clients – including the single sales page that has hauled in $10,000,000 so far. That’s ten MILLION dollars. And that’s just part of the estimated $100 Million in products and services my copywriting has sold. On the Masterclass I show you how I do it, and how you can do it for your own products and services.

Click Here To Register For The FREE Masterclass

Do You Dread Writing Copy?

I know someone who absolutely hates writing sales copy for her products. She actually calls it “the dreaded sales page”. The mere thought of writing out a persuasive sales message makes her nauseous.

Many people would rather have a root canal than write a sales page. They find it difficult, tedious, and boring. And they hate sounding “salesy”.

All of which adds up to this: their sales copy is terrible, and nobody buys the product. Crickets.

This is usually when they call me, asking if I can help save their promotion or product launch (which is dying a slow, agonizing death).

I can often breathe life right back into that dead product launch or business, and raise it from the dead. I don’t have to start the copy over from scratch. It’s often just a matter of rearranging the copy, smoothing out the language, and adding a powerful headline. Voilà -the dead come to life!

The product begins selling. The profits roll in. I collect my ridiculously high fee, and everybody wins.

Click Here To Claim Your Free Seat On The Masterclass

All You Need Is The Blueprint

The reason I’m able to perform these “copywriting miracles” is not because I am some kind of genius (but thank you for suggesting that). It’s something much more interesting and exciting.

I have a Blueprint.

A Copywriting Blueprint.

And I can simply compare any existing sales copy to that Blueprint, and instantly see what needs to be added, deleted, or rearranged.

I can also use the Blueprint to build a high-performance sales page from the ground up. Here’s the most beautiful thing about the Blueprint:

As long as you are offering the right product to the right people, the Blueprint always works. Always.

In this Masterclass, which is 100% free, you will discover:

  • The 7 words that can make you rich. Once you master these words, you’ll have the astonishing power to revive failing products with drooping sales… and cause sales to take off like a rocket.
  • How to “beat the blank page blues”, and never have writer’s block again. This trick is so simple, you’re gonna slap yourself in the forehead for not thinking of it yourself.
  • The fastest way to crank out a sales page in a single afternoon that can bring you money overnight. Sure, this sounds “over the top” – but when you realize I’ve done this hundreds of times…. and that it always works… you might want to try it yourself.
  • The “Insidious Seven” Mindsets that destroy your business. As Frank Herbert wrote: “Fear is the mind-killer.” And these Seven Mindsets are most likekly already at work in your life, taking you apart piece by piece, and sabotaging your copywriting in the process. How to banish the “Insidious Seven”, and make sure they never return.
  • And, of course, I’ll give you the Sales Copy Blueprint I use to write all my copy – including that one letter that has brought in over $10,000,000 in revenue. You’ll be able to download it and start working on your own $10,000,000 sales page!

Click Here To Register For The FREE Masterclass

You Don’t Have To Be A Writer

In fact, if you don’t feel like you’re a writer, this Masterclass will probably be easier for you.

I will tell you this: if you’re a speaker, entrepreneur, pastor, financial planner, author, platform builder, or just someone who has a message you want to get out to the world, you’re gonna love this Masterclass.

How To Register

The Masterclass is free, and you can participate from home or the office, or even an airport terminal (if you’re between flights).

Important: because we only have room for 1,000 people on this class, it’s important that your register now, and show up early for the Online Masterclass. You don’t want to arrive to late and find the Class is at capacity.

Click Here To Register For The FREE Masterclass

I’ve seen firsthand how simply changing the words on a webpage can take a product from failing straight to meteoric success ($10,000,000 and more). Just by changing the words.

The trick is, you have to know the right words, and how to put them in the right order. That’s what I’m giving you during this Masterclass, That, plus the Blueprint which you can download and keep. Free.

 

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Seven Reasons Why I Still Blog, 7 Years Later http://rayedwards.com/seven-reasons-why-i-still-blog-7-years-later/ http://rayedwards.com/seven-reasons-why-i-still-blog-7-years-later/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:04:12 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=8583 On Wednesday, February 14, 2007, I published a post entitled “5 Reasons Why I Blog”. I just finished reviewing that post, and I reached two conclusions: first, I still think blogging is relevant and important for professionals and entrepreneurs. Second, some of my reasons have changed, and some have not.

Ray-Edwards-Blog

Ray-Edwards-Blog

This is an update of that original post, over 7 years later. Here are 7 reasons I still blog, over 7 years later.

  1. It’s good for business. It wasn’t always this way. When I started blogging it was more about self-expression. It didn’t take long for me to realize blogging was building my business, too. I get a steady flow of new business from people who say something like, “Well, I started reading your blog and finally decided I would call you.”
  2. Self-expression. As I said above, this is why I started blogging. Once upon a time, I was a radio DJ. Highly-rated, successful, and loving it. Being on the radio was my own personal megaphone. It was my way of being heard. Now I get that same satisfaction from blogging. You can too. Now everyone’s a DJ!
  3. Building a relationship with my readers. There’s nothing like a blog to build a relationship with your readers. My blog (and its extension, the Ray Edwards Podcast) is the source of most of the conversations I have with my readers.
  4. The podcast. When I started doing the Ray Edwards Podcast, my blog took on a whole new life. It started to feel like more of a community, instead of just a website. Some would suggest that I only need the podcast now – but I feel that is incorrect. In my opinion, the podcast would not exist without the blog. I can’t imagine having one without the other.
  5. Marketing. I know there are many who say you can’t “monetize” a blog. Really? My own blog has brought me… well, let’s call it “a substantial amount” of revenue. I know many others for whom this is true.
  6. Research and testing. The quickest way I know to test a new idea, get some feedback, or get an answer is… make an appropriate post on my blog.
  7. Crystalizes and clarifies my thinking and ideas. The very act of gathering my thoughts and ideas to share with you requires me to focus and distill my thinking to its best, clearest expression.

Those are 7 reasons why I still blog.

Question: Do you blog, and if so, why?

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7 Reasons You Should Switch to Scrivener for Your Writing http://rayedwards.com/7-reasons-you-should-switch-to-scrivener-for-your-writing/ http://rayedwards.com/7-reasons-you-should-switch-to-scrivener-for-your-writing/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 13:25:11 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=8483 I have a picture of EB White hanging on the wall in my office. He is sitting at his writing desk, which is in a boathouse. White sits on a stark bench, hands poised over his typewriter. The only other items in the room are the ashtray on the table, and the waste can. To me, this photo represents the essence of writing. No distractions. No procrastinating. Just a man, his writing tool of choice, and the words.

04 E_B_ WHITE-240

Once upon a time, I loved the writing tools more than the writing itself. I loved to talk about writing, to speculate about writing, and to collect writing pens, writing paper, and writing software. One day, when I was complaining about not having time to actually write, my wife asked me, “Why does it bother you?”

“Because I want to write,” I said. I am certain it came out in an exasperated tone.

“No you don’t,” she said. “If you wanted to write, you would write.”

Ouch.

I started to write, and I haven’t been able to stop since.

I have experimented with lots of tools, but I have reached a point where the tools themselves have lost their luster, and what matters most to me is being able to get the words. And, ironically, now that I have reached this point, the tools I use to do my writing has become very important.

I have tried a lot of word processors, “distraction-free writing” apps, etc. And I have settled on one tool to do virtually all of my writing. If you are a serious writer I think you should consider switching to this tool for your writing, too. The tool? Scrivener.

7 Reasons You Should Switch to Scrivener for Your Writing

  1. Scrivener – One Tool to Rule Them All. In the past, I used different writing software, depending on what stage of writing I happened to be in. For capturing random notes and ideas, for instance, I used TextWrangler or ByWord. For more formalized note taking, I used Evernote, or even the Notes app on my Mac (only God knows why I did that, but I did.) The result was I had notes and bits of writing scattered across all sorts of apps and in various folders, making them difficult to find and nearly impossible to organize. Now I am committed to one tool-Scrivener. All the functionality I need for my writing is contained in this one app. I always know where to find what I wrote, because there’s only one place where I wrote it.
  2. Scrivener Works Like Writers Think. The software uses metaphors familiar to any writer. It uses a binder for organizing the various pieces of your writing. You can view your writing in composition mode, or in the outline view, and you can move your notes around as if they were separate sheets of paper, organizing and reorganizing them until you get the flow you really want. There’s even a corkboard view, where you can make your notes on virtual 3 x 5 cards and spread them out, just like the great copywriter Gary Halbert used to do. Beautiful.
  3. Scrivener Is a Great Outliner. Once upon a time, I used mindmaps quite a bit to plan my writing. I discovered, however, that I seemed to spend more time mindmapping that I did actually writing. A friend of mine, Armand Morin, told me once: “Mindmaps are not how people think. Mindmaps are cartoons. It’s not how you write. It’s not how you create. You do all that linearly. Make outlines. Steps.” He was right. I am now a great proponent of outlining, and I have also tried many different outlining tools. There are some very good ones available. Scrivener has an outlining tool built-in, which makes my outliner part of the software I actually use to do my writing. So there’s no need to switch programs or get distracted from the work I’m doing. Mindmaps are cartoons, but we are not cartoonists, we are writers. Outlines are for writers.
  4. Scrivener Has a Fantastic “Distraction-Free Writing Mode”. I think of this as “EB White mode”. Sure, there are plenty of other apps on the market that give you a distraction-free writing mode. But once again, this feature is built into Scrivener and there’s no need to switch programs. What’s more, it turns out that I find Scrivener’s version of this feature to be the best implementation I’ve seen; a single, pristine column of text.
  5. In Scrivener, You Are Writing in Plain Text (Sort Of). Over the years, I’ve done quite a bit of writing in text editors like TextWrangler. I like those tools, because they keep me from getting caught up in playing around with fonts, typefaces, and other design elements I should leave alone (because I’m not a designer, I’m a writer.) When you write in Scrivener, you are writing in plain text, but the software does offer multi-markdown functionality. If you don’t know what this means, don’t worry about it. It’s just a way to introduce some very basic formatting to the text that you are writing, using some simple “markdown” commands that are universally translatable to other file formats. This way your document always looks the way you intended it to look. You don’t need to know anything about multi-markdown to use Scrivener, but once you learn a few simple commands, I predict you’ll be using it quite a bit. It becomes second nature.
  6. Scrivener Allows You to Export To Almost Any Format. This is one of the software’s strongest features. Even though you are writing in plain text, you can easily export your work to Microsoft Word, HTML, multi-markdown, PDF, EPUB, Kindle, or iBooks author formats. All your work is easily exportable to other tools so that you can work with publishers and editors no matter what software they may be using. No need to work with bloated, overly complex software like Microsoft Word, when all you are trying to do is write.
  7. Scrivener Keeps Score. As a working writer, it’s important to me to keep up with my daily word count. I have deadlines, goals, and milestones that have to be met if I am to keep on schedule. For me, that means keeping score. Scrivener has built-in tools for showing you your word count, giving you stats about your writing, even letting you track your progress against goals you have set. It makes writing feel sort of like playing a video game.

Scrivener Has One Downside, But There Is a Solution

The price you have to pay for all of this power and functionality is: Scrivener has a bit of a learning curve. To say the least. Which is not to say that it is difficult to use, but the way it works is so different from other writing software, it does take a little getting used to. And I have found that the most powerful features are not intuitively available-you really do have to learn how to use it in order to get the most out of it.

The power Scrivener gives you to improve your writing is well worth the small investment in time and effort it will take to learn the software. The company that makes a Scrivener provides some very good tutorials and instructions.

But recently, I discovered a much better resource for learning how to truly unleash the power of Scrivener: my good friend Joseph Michael of LearnScrivenerFast.com. I highly recommend his online training course on learning to use Scrivener quickly. This material has really ramped up my knowledge and mastery of Scrivener in record time.

And here’s some good news: I’ve invited Joseph to share some of his best tips and tricks, during a free educational online workshop for my readers. Some of the things you’ll discover include:

  1. How To Get Up & Running With Scrivener Quickly.
  2. Simple Tricks For Organizing & Working With All of Your Writing Using The Binder
  3. How To Export Your Book Into Various Formats Including .Mobi, .ePub, .PDF, Doc, & more.
  4. How To Edit & Save Every Single Version of Your Work (Worry Free)
  5. A Few Jaw-Dropping Tips & Tricks To Wow Your Peers With 😉

Simply click here to register your seat for the webinar workshop. The online workshop is Wednesday, October 1, 2014, at 4 PM Eastern time.

What to Do Now

If you are not currently using Scrivener, I urge you to take a look at the software and give it strong consideration. I’ve given you 7 reasons why I think you should switch to the software for your writing.

Once you’ve made the decision, go ahead and get Scrivener, and dive in. Commit to the time it will take up front to learn this new tool, so that you can get the tool out of the way, and get to the important part: the writing.

Question: if you use Scrivener already, what is your favorite feature, and why?

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Writing Lessons from Naked Men in the Trunk of My Car http://rayedwards.com/writing-lessons-from-naked-men-in-the-trunk-of-my-car/ http://rayedwards.com/writing-lessons-from-naked-men-in-the-trunk-of-my-car/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:00:15 +0000 Rebecca Livermore http://rayedwards.com/?p=8336 Today’s post is a guest post by Rebecca Livermore, a freelance writer, professional web content creator, and friend. She works with some of the top names in social media, and is a gifted writer. Enjoy!

After dropping my husband off at work, I made my way toward the gate of the Army base to head home. There was a lineup of slowly moving cars waiting to exit through the partially closed gate.

Woman Looking In Car

There must be some kind of threat, I thought, as I drove slowly toward the gate.

I Need to See Your ID

Just as I was about to reach the gate, a soldier dre ssed in camouflage jumped in front of my car, with his hand up, a silent gesture that clearly indicated that I had no choice but to stop immediately.

A moment later, another soldier approached the driver’s side of the car.

“I need to see your ID,” the soldier calmly stated.

“Sure thing,” I replied, as I reached for my purse, pulled out my military dependent ID card and handed it to him.

By Order of the Base Commander. . .

“By order of the base commander, you need to exit your vehicle,” he informed me.

I got out of the car and stood on the side of the road and watched as one soldier searched my glove compartment, and two other soldiers looked through the trunk of my car, before giving me permission to leave.

Later that Day. . .

A bit later that day, I went back on base to go to the commissary.

“Here, let me get the trunk,” I said to the bagger who had helped me to my car with my groceries.

As I opened the trunk, I gasped, when I saw stacks of photos on canvas of naked, emaciated men.

Shocked, I quickly flipped the photos over, hoping the bagger hadn’t seen them.

My Husband Had Some Explaining to Do

“Honey, why are there photos of naked men in the trunk of our car?!?” I asked, as soon as my husband answered the phone.

“Oh, those were for a Holocaust display I was working on, but I decided not to use them because I thought they might be too disturbing.”

No kidding.

And then I remembered. . . the soldiers who had inspected my car. No wonder they spent so much time looking at what was in the trunk.

How embarrassing.

Hidden Things

What I learned through that experience is that when we least expect it, our “trunk” may be searched, and our secrets that appear to be safely hidden away, will be exposed.

The lesson in this for writers  is that if you’re less than ethical in the content you create, you’ll eventually be found out. And embarrassed. . . or worse.

Are any of these shameful things hidden in your writing?

Plagiarized Content

I’ll be the first to admit that it can be hard to come up with compelling content on a regular basis. It takes time. And effort. And there’s so much content out there already; why not just “borrow” a bit of it? You know, grab something and change a few words here and there. Who would ever know?

Here’s the deal: if you do this, it will eventually be discovered, and the dirty little secret hidden in your “trunk” will be exposed.

Fabricated stories

Some writers write about hard things. Horrific things. Tales of abuse. Others write about inspiring things, heroic feats that warm the heart.

Blogging in particular opens up the opportunity for everyone to share about the events of their lives, and often this sharing helps to bring hope, healing, and inspiration to others.

Exaggerated Accomplishments

But some writers  make things up. For example, some writers exaggerate their accomplishments. One place this happens is on the “about” page on websites.

The about page on your site should tell people about who you and your company are, not who you wish you were.

Though you don’t have to tell people you dropped out of high school, if that was your reality, don’t pretend to have an advanced degree.

Or maybe you won a writing contest in the third grade. That doesn’t make you an award-winning author.

It’s fine to write about aspirations, as long as it’s clear that’s what you’re doing, but in order to avoid embarrassment and loss of credibility in the future, cut the crap. Write the truth. Be honest about who you are and what you’ve done.

If you’re honest in what you write, you’ll never have to be embarrassed about what your readers might discover when the content in your “trunk” is unexpectedly exposed.

Question: How have, or would you respond if you discovered a writer you admired was less than honest? Click here to comment.

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It’s Not Always About The Money http://rayedwards.com/its-not-always-about-the-money/ http://rayedwards.com/its-not-always-about-the-money/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 11:15:17 +0000 Brian Kurtz http://rayedwards.com/?p=8268 Brian Kurtz is the Executive Vice President of Boardroom, Inc., and the host of the upcoming Titans of Direct Response event in September (which I strongly recommend to you, if you do any sort of direct marketing or copywriting. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime event, and you can get more details when you click here.)

I was blessed to know Gene Schwartz…and not just casually, either. Gene was my friend, mentor and business partner…and I learned so many lessons from him. Those of you who don’t know who I am talking about, Eugene “Gene” Schwartz was one of the most successful and prolific direct response copywriters who ever lived.

FIRST DRAFT

His classic book, Breakthrough Advertising, may be the most important book ever written on copy and creative.

It was important enough for Marty (Edelston) and I to re-publish it as a “Boardroom Book” when we saw a live bid on eBay for an out-of-print copy at $950.

Actually, calling it a book about “copy and creative” does it a disservice… it is the most timeless book ever written on human behavior as well.

The fact that not one word has been changed from its 1966 version proves that point.

During the 1980’s, Gene wrote many of Boardroom’s most successful direct mail packages–and he also wrote some of the biggest winners for Rodale Books (publishers of more health books than anyone at that time).

And here’s the kicker: Boardroom and Rodale never paid him a dime for any of those landmark packages.

Here’s how that came to pass…

Gene had his own company called “Instant Improvement” which published health books on many esoteric and eclectic topics which were sold with some of the most famous direct mail packages ever written.

Classic headlines included “How To Rub Your Stomach Away” and “The Tao of Sexology.”

But I digress…

Instant Improvement was a small but mighty company…and Gene got there because he understood that without being able to mail the best lists of other health book buyers, he didn’t have a business.

His house list was quite small–while Boardroom and Rodale had the most responsive and largest lists in the category of health book buyers.

Since Boardroom and Rodale needed world class copy and Instant Improvement needed world class lists, these three direct marketing leaders comprised the most powerful group of allies since World War II…(excuse the hyperbole…but it was a huge alliance).

Gene exchanged copy for names…even though he could have commanded the highest fees of any copywriter at that time.

This amazing relationship led to millions of books sold and also a much more efficient way to get the best health information distributed to as many people as possible.

Boardroom and Rodale were able to mail millions of names using Gene Schwartz controls for years…even after his death…and Gene was able to mail millions of Boardroom and Rodale names “on exchange” at an acceptable return on investment for his much smaller books…

But there was nothing “small” about Gene Schwartz…I never met a man who played larger.

He traded his talent for the asset he needed most at the time…and money was a by-product, not the starting point…

And that brings me to this quote:

“Reciprocation is about you, then me, then you, then me…and be the first to give service, information, concessions”

-Dr. Robert Cialdini

Understanding how to be a true partner with those you work with leads to exponential growth and true business building…

…which beats a series of “revenue events” by a mile.

When I say that I was a close friend to Gene Schwartz, it makes me proud; when I say I was his partner to help build three multi-million dollar businesses, businesses that had as their mission to disseminate the most useful and life-saving health information to consumers, I know I made a real difference in the world.

And of course this also means I’m just old…but as Marty used to say, “I like getting old because now I know so much.”

Thank you, Gene, for being one of the wisest entrepreneurs I ever met. And for writing my favorite book about human behavior (and copywriting)…

 

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How To Write A Book In 30 Days Or Less http://rayedwards.com/how-to-write-a-book-in-30-days-or-less/ http://rayedwards.com/how-to-write-a-book-in-30-days-or-less/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 11:00:59 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=8128 I have a question for you… do you feel like you “have a book inside of you”, but just never seem to get around to writing it? Have you ever wondered why you don’t ever seem to get that book written? Maybe you tell yourself you’ll do it “someday”.

the-young-writer
Let me tell you the truth: “someday” is usually code for “never”.

It’s like that sign that hanging in the coffee shop which reads “Free Coffee Tomorrow”. No matter how many times you show up at the coffee shop, to get your free coffee, you’ll have to come back “tomorrow”.

“Tomorrow”… and “someday”… will never actually come.

Look, if you have decided you’re just never going to actually write a book, that’s cool. You certainly don’t need to write one to be a worthy human.

But if you want to write a book, isn’t it time you get it done?

It’s possible to write books much faster than most people think.

I wrote two books in a single weekend not long ago. (Admittedly, I used a “trick” – I re-assembled collections of old blog posts – but I did it, nonetheless. Using existing assets does count!)

And it’s possible for just about anyone to write a book, start-to-finish, in less than a month. For sure.

Michael Moorcock, a science fiction and fantasy author, has cranked out complete novels in as little as three days. There’s even a contest where hundreds of people do just that – write a novel in three days – every year. This year, I plan to participate in the Three-Day Novel Contest myself. I figure an extra book this year can’t hurt.

In the meantime, here are some keys to getting your book written fast…

Key #1: Know What You Are Writing About

I am sorry that it is necessary to include this, but it is. There are a lot of books published (PUBLISHED!) each year that sadly don’t seem to know what their subject is.

At the very least, you need to know what your subject is, and most importantly, the Thesis Statement of your book. (The Thesis Statement is a single sentence that answers this question: “Why should I read your book?”)

Key #2: Proper Preparation

You need to write about something you already know, and that you know well. But knowing is not enough. You have to prepare and organize your knowledge into a coherent system that is self-contained, relevant, and usable.

Most of us have certain “riffs” (or little mini-talks) we can give on our core topics.

Take some time to think through what your usual “riffs” are on your subject, and make a list of those. You’ll assemble these pieces into your final book.

Key #3: Create The Proper Structure

Depending on the type of book you are writing, there are proven structures used by successful books already published in that genre.

Study the structure (the “bones”) of popular books on your topic, and look for the Universally Successful Structure. This is the outline… the “skeleton”…. the “bones” of the most successful books in your chosen subject area. Self-help books with vastly different styles and approaches all tend to use the same underlying structure.

The same is true of all other subjects and genres. (NOTE: Obviously, don’t copy other people’s work! Just look for the underlying structures.)

Key #4: Focused Blocks Of Writing Time

This part is basically math. If you know you write 2,500 words per hour, and you need 60,000 words for a complete book, you need 24 writing hours to complete the book. Think about that, by the way…

24 writing hours.

You could, conceivably, crank out a full manuscript in two 12-hour days! (Yes, it can and has been done.)

Or you could take it easy on yourself, and do it in three 8-hour days.

It’s up to you to block out the time to do the writing, and then just do the work. For instance, in the above scenario (60,000 words written at 2,500 words per hour)… a very reasonable way to approach this might be 6 days where you write for 4 hours each day. You could set aside the next three weekends, and write for 4 hours on each Saturday-Sunday… and in 3 weeks your book would be done!

Don’t tell me it’s not possible. I know it is. I have done it. I know plenty of others who have done it. All that is needed is a plan, and liberal amounts of butt applied to chair. As long as the chair sits in front of a keyboard.

The key is that whatever your schedule, your writing time must be sacred. During these focused blocks of time, the only thing you do is write. No phone calls, no emails, no Facebook, no exceptions. Write until your quota for that block of time is complete, or until the clock runs out. Period.

The Master Key: Write Before The Fire Goes Out

This is the real reason why most writers never finish a book.

Book ideas and inspiration have a remarkably short half-life.

You have an idea for a great book, and you get fired up about it. Maybe you write an outline and the first few pages, and then you get busy with other stuff. 3 days later your enthusiasm is at about half what it was initially. A week passes and the enthusiasm has diminished by half again… and in 2-3 weeks all the fire is gone, and that idea is dead.

Oh, you may drag the corpse out for the next 10 years and look at it, and show it off to other people (“I’m working on a book…”)

…but there will be no resurrection of that idea, short of a miracle.

What To Do Right Now

Review the steps above, and get started.

That’s what you need to do right now.

Writers don’t talk about writing; writers write.

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Want To Write For My Blog? http://rayedwards.com/want-to-write-for-my-blog/ http://rayedwards.com/want-to-write-for-my-blog/#comments Sat, 21 Dec 2013 10:30:44 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=7501 Would you like to write an article for my blog? Starting today, I am accepting guest posts. I plan to publish approximately one guest post per week.

Formal invitation

Formal invitation

So how do you get published on my blog? Read on…

My Guest Posting Guidelines

Your post must focus on one of five topics:

  • Business
  • Marketing
  • Writing
  • Productivity
  • Spirituality

To make sure we’re both clear on what the expectations are, here are a few simple guidelines to help you submit your guest post.

  1. Your post must be your own original work.
  2. It’s okay if you have previously published the post elsewhere – submit your very best work!
  3. Generally, your post should be 500 to 800 words, but if it’s a great post I’ll definitely consider other lengths.
  4. Please read the following before submitting a post: “The 7-Point Template For Better Blog Posts”
  5. You are encouraged, but not required, to post a brief sample or summary on your own site that links back to the post on my site.
  6. A really cool thing to do is to create a special customized  “About” page that I can link to in your post. Here’s an example of one such page I created when I wrote a guest post for Michael Hyatt.
  7. Your post must not be blatantly self-promotional, and cannot be an advertisement.
  8. Your post may include up to three byline links: one for your website, one for your bio or about page, and one for your Twitter username.
  9. You may not include your own affiliate links, or links to your own products, in the body of your post. You may only include links in your post to independent third-party sites that are extraordinarily relevant to the content of the post itself.
  10. I do not currently accept advertising on this blog.
  11. You agree that I may edit your post for punctuation, spelling, grammar, etc. If I make any big changes, I will email the edited post to you before publishing, so that you may approve it. Small changes will not be sent to you for pre-approval.

How to Submit Your Post

If you have read the above guidelines, and your post meets those requirements:

  • Please email your posts to me for consideration. Due to the high volume of submissions, it may take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks for you to receive a response.
  • Please acknowledge that you will be able to participate in the comments about your post on my blog. This is an absolute requirement. If you cannot commit to this, please wait And submit your post when you are able to engage with my readers.
  • Please include information about you and about your own blog: number of RSS subscribers, number of Twitter followers, number of Facebook connections, and number of email subscribers.
  • Please include a 1 to 2 sentence byline that explains what you do, along with your blog address and your Twitter and/or Facebook URLs.
  • Please include your post in the body of your email. Do not send it as an attachment, and do not include the HTML.
  • Posts submitted that do not meet these requirements will not receive a response, and will not be considered for publication.
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The 7-Point Template For Better Blog Posts http://rayedwards.com/the-7-point-template-for-better-blog-posts/ http://rayedwards.com/the-7-point-template-for-better-blog-posts/#comments Fri, 20 Dec 2013 23:17:41 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=7509 I am often asked whether there is a template for writing compelling blog posts. The fact is, I use several such templates myself, and today I will share one.

attractive woman writer thinking

Follow this template, and you too will be writing more compelling blog posts in the time at all.

The 7-Point Template For Better Blog Posts

  1. Headline. Those of us who write marketing copy know that the most important piece of copy is the headline. The headline’s job is to get the reader to keep reading. Your headlines must be compelling and magnetic. You can read more about how to write good headlines here.
  2. Attention-Getting Story.  Nothing teaches like a good story. There’s a reason Jesus did most of his teaching through parables (stories). Starting your blog post with an interesting story “hooks” people into reading the rest of the post. The story doesn’t have to be long. In fact 2 to 3 sentences is usually enough.
  3. Question.  The most popular posts tend to be those that point out a problem with some existing system, and suggest that there is a better way to solve that problem. For example: “How can you get more people to read your blog posts when the web is so crowded and cluttered with junk? Is the solution really to write more and more content? Or is the solution to write a specific kind of content?”
  4. Proposal. Suggest a solution to the reader’s problem. Be clear about your proposal: “It is possible to write more compelling blog posts by simply following a proven template.”
  5. Proof. Give your readers a clear rationale that supports your proposal. Show them examples of your solution in action. Share your principles, keys, rules, etc.
  6. Conclusion. Summarize how your advice solves the reader’s problem. “If you follow my seven-point template for writing more compelling blog posts, you’ll find more people reading, sharing, and commenting on those same posts.”
  7. Call To Action. When possible, I like to challenge my readers to take action on what they’ve read and share their results. Sometimes, I may simply ask them if they have a similar experience or solution to a problem. Whatever the case, it’s always best to end your blog post by making a request of your reader. This engages them in the material.

As you might’ve guessed…if you follow my seven-point template for writing more compelling blog posts, you’ll find more people reading, sharing, and commenting on those same posts.

Today’s challenge: put this blog post template to work, write a post using these seven points, and let me know your results. You can post your response below.

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Warning: You’re Losing Money by Not Using Copy Cosmetics http://rayedwards.com/warning-youre-losing-money-by-not-using-copy-cosmetics/ http://rayedwards.com/warning-youre-losing-money-by-not-using-copy-cosmetics/#comments Mon, 11 Nov 2013 14:07:45 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=7348 Copy “cosmetics” matter. But probably not in the way you think. Most entrepreneurs want to produce sales copy in a way that doesn’t look like sales copy.

Copywriter

Most wouldn’t be caught dead sending out a “sales letter”, but are happy to send out a “brochure” or a “prospectus”…

In their minds, copy is made better if it was designed by an artiste, and had won some sort of award for aesthetics. Often, such works are very pretty to look at, but impossible to decipher for any practical or usable meaning. You know, meaning such as: asking someone to buy some of your products or services. Crass commercial messages. And yet…

Proven again and again, time after time: “ugly” copy that looks like copy-you know what I’m talking about, or soon will-almost always wins the day.

Think it won’t work with modern day, 2.0 style companies? Think the old-style “direct marketing” school of copywriting is not fitting for today’s eco-friendly, sensitivity-conscious, “enlightened entrepreneur” crowd? I’m sure you and I can agree that one of the primary retail establishments that cater to this group is Trader Joe’s. Well-known and much beloved, this little “market” somehow defies many of the rules of retail and does a bang-up business.

And they do much of it through “cheesy” Direct marketing style promotions. Take as example of such Exhibit A. This is from the Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer”, which is really little more than a catalog with much brilliantly-written copy.

TJ-AD

What’s more interesting to me about this example: the fact that it employs “copy cosmetics” pioneered in the direct response marketing field. How many pieces of direct mail have you received which has been apparently “marked up” by a red or blue pen?

Now, you and I both know that no human being marked up those sales letters. And we certainly know that is true of the sales letters we see on the Internet that employ this very same device. I mean, really, did someone sneak in with a red Sharpie and mark up the screen of my MacBook Air? Of course not.

We all know this. We know those marked up, “doodled on” sales letters are a mere affectation. They fool no one. Yet…this old-fashioned, hackneyed, clichéd and artificial device has been proven over and over again to boost conversions… yes, even on the good old-fashioned inter-webs. (My friend Mike Capuzzi, by the way, offers a great service that allows you to use just such devices at CopyDoodles.com.)

Here, we see Trader Joe’s using selfsame “copy doodles” in their cleverly written (some would say TOO clever) catalog.

My point is simply that the tried-and-true principles of direct response marketing seem to stand the test of time.

Despite our various attempts to bypass or circumvent them with some newfangled “social media powered” system, it would appear human psychology doesn’t really change.

Not that I’m against social media or the Internet. If it weren’t for these things I would not have a business, at least not business such as the one I enjoy today. So you can officially put me down as a fan of Al Gore’s infamous invention, and a devout capitalist in pursuit of mining its riches.

But for those who would say that this kind of stuff “won’t work in my business” because of their really–tired–by–now claim that “my business is different”… no, it’s not.

In the words of the Talking Heads: “same as it ever was.” Witness the ad in Exhibit B, one of the famous series of direct response ads from Hume.

Hume-Ad

This one was, I believe, written by Gary Bencivenga. Note the use of devices we have grown accustomed to on the Internet: headlines, sub heads, testimonials, product shot, response device (order area with dashed box, still in use online) etc.

Presented for your perusal and approval, and for your edification and reassurance that “this stuff works”. Same as it ever did.

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7 Contrarian Copywriting Tips http://rayedwards.com/7-contrarian-copywriting-tips/ http://rayedwards.com/7-contrarian-copywriting-tips/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2013 11:49:33 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=6509 Copywriting is the art of persuasion in print. The right words, in the right order, for the right people, lead to profitable results. They get someone to buy. Maybe they’re buying product, a service, or even an idea.

When Everyone Zigs You Zag Sticky Notes Saying Quote

The world of copywriting is filled with maxims, rules, and truisms. I have taught many of those tried-and-true tidbits on this very blog. Today, I offer some contrarian thoughts on the art and science of copywriting.

Ray Edwards’ 7 Contrarian Copywriting Tips

  1. Short copy wins. I know, I know. Elsewhere I say otherwise. The deeper truth about persuasive short copy is this: it’s harder to write. Lincoln’s Gettysburg address was very short. The guy who took the platform after Lincoln spoke for over two hours. Whose speech do we remember?
  2. Try fragments. Editors generally hate my writing. Sentence fragments. Dangling participles. Ending with prepositions. But. Staccato, punchy, pithy fragments cut through the clutter. Think Hemingway. Leonard. Parker.
  3. Design matters. Old-school copywriters claim design is superfluous. Poppycock. Design always matters. The choice to flout design is in itself an intentional design.
  4. Copy is not magic. The pre-framing of the copy is where the power lies. How I approach what I read influences how I read it. Which is more persuasive: a handwritten note from a friend, or an annoying pop-up ad? Why?
  5. Swiping stinks. Yup. I said it. While there is enormous value in learning from successful ads, you must already know this: the more closely you copy a successful ad, the more diminished its effectiveness in your new “swiped” version.
  6. Testing is not scientific. Oh sure, it gives hints. And the bigger the numbers in the broader the test parameters, the better the hint. But those who have seen enough test results know the truth. Too many variables mean you should take those microscopic tests with a grain of salt.
  7. Breakthrough advertising breaks the rules. When the legendary “who else” headline burst onto the scene, it was new. Not “proven” as a trusty old saw from the swipe file warchest.

My purpose in writing this post is not to throw out all the hard-won truths of the copywriting craft. It is, however, to suggest that there comes a point when it’s time to throw out the rules and try something new. That’s the only way breakthrough results are achieved.

Question: do you have a contrarian copywriting tip of your own? Click here to add yours to the comments.

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Five Simple Ways to Get More People to Read What You Write http://rayedwards.com/five-simple-ways-to-get-more-people-to-read-what-you-write/ http://rayedwards.com/five-simple-ways-to-get-more-people-to-read-what-you-write/#comments Mon, 01 Jul 2013 10:23:06 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=6340 All writers want someone to read what we write. We may not admit this openly, we may dress up our explanations of why we write in more noble sounding language, but the bottom line is: we want to be read.

Old fashioned bald writer in glasses writing book on a vintage typewriter

In this post, I’ll give you five simple ways you can get more people to read what you write.

  1. Get clear about who your writing is for. Many writers are completely out of touch with their own audience. Put more clearly, they don’t even know who the audience is. Get clear on who it is you’re writing to, and keep them in mind while you’re writing.
  2. Write about things your tribe is interested in. I know this sounds like the simplest of advice, but I’m astounded at how often it is ignored by writers. Just because you are interested in a subject, don’t assume that your audience will be. How do you know? Once you’ve figured out who your audience actually is, it’s pretty easy to see what they’re already reading. Pay attention to the kinds of blog posts, books, and discussions that are already popular with your intended audience. Write like that.
  3. Use short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs. Yes, I am once again repeating the advice of Hemingway. If it was good enough for him, it’s good enough for you and me.
  4. Use magnetic headlines. The headline, or post title, is the primary tool at your disposal for persuading people to read your stuff. If you write pithy, provocative, persuasive headlines, people will read what follows. Write boring headlines, and people will skip you without a second thought. I’ve written several posts about how to write headlines-you might want to read them.
  5. Use the momentum of popular trends. One of the most popular blog posts I have written in a long time is entitled “The Stephen King Guide to Writing As a Business”. Why did I write this post? First of all, because I admire Stephen King and I’m currently rereading his book On Writing. Secondly, I knew that he was on the minds of many other people (because of the new TV miniseries based on his novel Under the Dome.) And sure enough, I have received “search engine love” for writing that post. You can do the same. All it takes is a little bit of thinking about what is going on in popular culture right now.

Follow these five simple points, and do it consistently over time, and you too will find that more people are reading what you write.

Question: what techniques have you successfully used to grow your audience?

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How to Write a Week’s Worth of Blog Posts in One Hour http://rayedwards.com/how-to-write-a-weeks-worth-of-blog-posts-in-one-hour/ http://rayedwards.com/how-to-write-a-weeks-worth-of-blog-posts-in-one-hour/#comments Fri, 21 Jun 2013 10:30:27 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=6264 It is possible to write an entire week’s worth of blog posts in just an hour. In fact, I just started my digital timer to prove the point. In this post I’m going to explain exactly how I accomplished this feat, and how you can too.

Blog-Post-Workflow

Above is a screenshot of the two tools I use most when writing my blog posts: Evernote and Scrivener. But don’t get hung up on the tools that I use to write my posts. Even though I use them for specific reasons, you could just as easily do this yourself with nothing more than Notepad or TextEditor.

Here are the steps that allow me to write an entire week’s worth of blog posts-seven in all-in about an hour…

  1. Decide that you’re going to do it. I can’t over emphasize this enough. Just taking the step of believing it’s possible will open up your brain, and enable you to do it. Think about Roger Bannister and the four minute mile. Before he ran a mile in four minutes, doctors believed it was impossible for a human being to accomplish this physical act. After Bannister broke the four-minute mile barrier, it became commonplace for others to do the same.
  2. Choose your seven blog post titles. As you can see from the illustration at the beginning of this blog post, I use Evernote to catalog my ideas for blog post titles. I am continually adding to this list. When I sit down to write the week’s posts, I have a treasure chest of titles to choose from. I pick the ones I feel I have the knowledge and energy to complete in this session.
  3. Set up your writing environment. I clear my desk of physical clutter, and I usually do a quick review of all my tasks and inboxes to make sure nothing is lurking in the shadows. That way both my mind and my physical environment are clear and uncluttered. Then I paste my chosen blog post titles into the draft section of Scrivener, which is the software I used to do all my writing these days (thanks to a tip from my friend Michael Hyatt).
  4. Set a digital timer for the allotted 60 minutes. By the way, it’s okay if you want to take two hours or even three hours to write your weeks worth of blog posts. Do what is comfortable for you. I am a pretty fast writer (and some would say that is evident), and I chose one hour because it seemed challenging. I’ve currently used up seven minutes as I write this. Once you’ve started your digital timer let nothing distracts you from your writing. No checking email, Facebook, instant messenger, voicemail, or any of the other 1000 distractions available to you. You either write, or sit and stare at the screen until you think of something to write.
  5. Write recklessly. Now is not the time to try and edit your work. I never promised you you would have the final draft of all seven posts in an hour. But you certainly can complete the first draft of all seven in 60 minutes. Write without fear, right knowing that you will produce what and Lamont refers to as “lousy first drafts”, and learn to be okay with that.
  6. Once finished, let your first drafts “marinate”. I like to give myself a period of time away from the writing, so that I can come back to it with fresh eyes. Ideally, this would be a few days. Sometimes deadlines demand that I give myself only a few hours.
  7. Edit ruthlessly. You have now allowed your Blog posts to marinate for a while. When you come back to your writing with those “fresh eyes”, you will see things that obviously need correcting. You will see things that you can make so much better. You have already written recklessly… Now is the time to edit ruthlessly.

That’s it. I know you were perhaps expecting a magic formula, but I don’t have one. I set up the environment in favor of my accomplishing what I set out to do, and then I have to just do the writing. That being said, here are a few tips that you may find helpful:

  • I use Evernote to capture ideas for blog posts. I generally keep them in one constantly growing note. I don’t write outlines for the posts in this note, I only capture title ideas.
  • If I have more thoughts on the blog post at the time I come up with the idea, I will start a new note in Evernote and do a basic outline of that blog post. This will save me time when it comes to the writing.
  • I use Scrivener to do all my writing these days. There is a bit of a learning curve with the software, but I believe it is the best I have ever used. Michael Hyatt wrote a great post about why he switched to Scrivener for all his writing, and I suggest you read his post.
  • Stick to one simple idea per blog post. This may sound elementary, but only making a single point forces you to write shorter blog posts.
  • Write list posts. I know, I know, the advice to write list posts is old. There is a reason why we love to write them, and to read them. They are easy to write, and they are easy to read. More importantly, they tend to be useful. Writing a list post encourages you to jettison the fluff and just get to the point.

I have now used 15 minutes to write this first post, and it will be the hardest one I write. Only six more to go. I will update this post after I’m finished, and let you know how I did. (Note: I finished the entire week’s worth of blog posts with one minute and 55 seconds to spare!)

Question: what “tricks” do you use to write your blog posts more rapidly?

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The Stephen King Guide to Writing as a Business http://rayedwards.com/the-stephen-king-guide-to-writing-as-a-business/ http://rayedwards.com/the-stephen-king-guide-to-writing-as-a-business/#comments Mon, 10 Jun 2013 11:49:16 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=6204 Stephen King. He is the Charles Dickens of this century. People either love him or hate him. My churchgoing friends are often shocked to learn that I read his work, and admire it.

stephen-king

Stephen King is a writing and marketing machine, having accomplished the unusual feat of being successful as a craftsman, and as an entrepreneur.  He has sold well over 350 million books, and spawned countless movies and television shows. His latest novel-to-screen adaptation is Under The Dome. How?

I have written extensively elsewhere about writing for the purpose of strategic influence. I can point to no better model of how to do this right than King.

There are seven key lessons you can learn from Stephen King, and the way he conducts his business (the business of writing). And for those of you who are offended by my saying “the business of writing”… perhaps if you thought about your writing as a business, you wouldn’t be so easily offended. Food for thought.

Seven Lessons From Stephen King

  1. Learn your craft. Whether his subject matter is always to your taste or not, you would have to be willfully ignorant to declare Stephen King anything other than a master of the art of writing stories. He has honed his craft to a fine edge, and without this particular weapon in his arsenal, the rest of what you’re about to read would not be possible. You must master the craft.
  2. Be prolific. King has stated that he writes every day, including his birthday and Christmas day. He has since admitted that this might be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. His ethic of working every day is plainly demonstrated by his amazing output. You don’t publish 50 novels,  five nonfiction works, and over 200 short stories by goofing off.  you do it by applying liberal amounts of fingers to keyboard.
  3. Be real. One reason people are often uncomfortable with King’s writing is that he tends to bring heavy doses of reality into his stories. I’m not talking about the vampires, giant spiders, and ghosts, of course. I’m talking about the sometimes embarrassing, sometimes offensive, sometimes infuriatingly irrational ways that people talk and behave. King unabashedly presents people as they really are. And this makes his detractors uncomfortable… And his fans love him.
  4. Have a personality. When King began his career, he decided to be exactly who he is. I have no way of knowing this, but I’m pretty certain this was a conscious decision made in the full knowledge that it might backfire financially. He could have been more “respectable” by writing that vaguely named thing called “literary fiction”, but instead he chose to write what fascinated him.
  5. Be fearless. Stephen King has never shied away from the potential criticism he might get from atheists, believers, Democrats, Republicans, or  the League of Decency. He’s written some ugly scenes, and seems that many writers would have shied away from because they didn’t want to be associated with that material. For better or worse, that fearlessness has catapulted him from the mass of mediocrity to the pinnacle of literary success.
  6. Try new things. King was one of the first to take advantage of the digital publishing medium. He was one of the first to publish a novel in serial form online. He has branched out into music, comic books, and of course films and television. Some of his experiments have fallen flat. Others have been a meteoric success, both critically and financially (remember Stand by Me and The Green Mile?)
  7. Do many things simultaneously. One of the ways King manages to stay so prolific is that he is doing many things simultaneously. He’s always working on a new book or story, and usually has more than one project cooking in the background (a movie, a TV series, and audiobook, or the radio stations that he owns in Maine).

While you may or may not ever be his equal on the bestseller lists (he has a pretty strong head start on most of us), you definitely can learn from the career and methodologies of Stephen King.

Question: what have you learned about writing, or the business of writing, from Stephen King… Or any other modern writers? Share below…

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The Strangest Copywriting Secret http://rayedwards.com/the-strangest-copywriting-secret/ http://rayedwards.com/the-strangest-copywriting-secret/#comments Fri, 07 Jun 2013 11:49:47 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=6195 Copywriters – those who write the words that sell products and services – are always looking for new “secrets”.

Portrait of a bald writer

We always want to know the latest techniques, the latest nuances that can give our copy that extra edge of persuasion.

After all, as a copywriter, one’s objective is to get people to do what we are asking them to do. It may be changing their mind about a subject, it may be considering a new idea, or it may be buying a product or service.

Copywriters tend to be suckers for gimmicks. We love to read about hypnotic language patterns, NLP copywriting techniques, or the “secret combinations” of words that will unlock the keys to the prospect’s heart and mind.

I propose to you that this is misguided.

The oldest, and most effective copyrighting secret is one that is so simple, we overlook it. We get so focused on talking about ourselves, our products, our companies, the structure of our offer, that we forget the one person whose opinion really matters: the reader.

The fastest, easiest, best, most ethical way to influence the reader is by knowing what is already influencing them. Once you understand that, the words you need to say become obvious.

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How Words Create Wealth http://rayedwards.com/how-words-create-wealth/ http://rayedwards.com/how-words-create-wealth/#comments Thu, 30 May 2013 10:18:32 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=6134 There is a saying: little hinges swing big doors. Meaning tiny changes can make a big difference.

rusty hinges

Copywriting is persuasion in print. Simple words, chosen carefully and put in the right order, can create wealth.

These days, “print” can mean ink on paper or more likely words on a screen.

The copywriter’s job is to tell a story that persuades the reader to take action. This skill is really about more than mere advertising and marketing. It’s about impacting human behavior.

One of the greatest copywriters to ever work in the advertising field was a man named Rosser Reeves.  He’s best known for creating the USP, or Unique Selling Proposition –  an idea taught in nearly every marketing course. Reeves created the tagline for M&M candies: “melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”

One day Reeves and a coworker were having lunch in Central Park. On their way back to Madison Avenue they passed a beggar, who was holding a sign and donation cup. The sign read: I am blind.

The beggar was mostly ignored by passersby.

Reeves turned to his colleague and said, “I bet I can change just a few words on that sign, and dramatically improve his results.”

Reeves explained to the blind man that he was one of the world’s greatest copywriters and he wanted to help. The blind man allowed Reeves to rewrite his sign.

Almost instantly, after rewriting the sign, Reeves and his colleague watched as people began to stop, look around, and then make donations.

What did Reeves write?

It is springtime. And I’m blind.

A tiny shift in words can make a powerful impact on how they are received.

Copywriting is a tiny hinge and it does swing a mighty big door.

Question: do you have a story that shows the power of copywriting?

 

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What Is Copywriting? http://rayedwards.com/what-is-copywriting/ http://rayedwards.com/what-is-copywriting/#comments Tue, 28 May 2013 10:56:50 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=6121 Maybe you’ve noticed it. You can hardly open your in-box or  get on Facebook without being bombarded with ads about how to “make a million dollars” in a ridiculously short time from home. Working part-time. In your pajamas.

DEEP IN THOUGHT

Here’s the big problem with those ads: in many cases, they’re true!

There are thousands of people making boatloads of money every day on the Internet. Many of those people make their money by teaching others how to make money themselves.  And if you’re wondering how you might get some of that money for yourself, there are hundreds of programs teaching you how to develop a product, build a Web site, and attract traffic to it. Some are really good. Most aren’t worth the hard drives they’re printed on.

There’s one key element that most of those teachers are missing, however…

  • One element that will make your online venture a huge success or a crashing failure.
  • One element that most people ignore, or take for granted, or think that they don’t need to learn.
  • One element that has consistently remained the most important sales factor in the marketing realm for over a century.

That element is: copywriting.

So What Is Copywriting?

In 1904, an unknown copywriter named Joseph E. Kennedy was sitting in a saloon.

He scribbled a note and sent it upstairs to Albert Lasker, one of the most powerful men in the advertising world at that time.

The note said, “I can tell you what advertising is. I know that you don’t know.” He had no idea that Lasker had been searching for the answer to this question for seven years.

Lasker’s curiosity was sparked, so he met with Kennedy, who told him the three-word definition of advertising: “salesmanship in print.”

This meeting changed Kennedy’s fortune—within four years, he was making well over six figures as Lasker’s chief copywriter. The nature of advertising was also forever changed.

I believe the same definition applies to copywriting.

Copywriting is simply salesmanship in print.

It’s vitally important to your success, whether you realize it or not.

In the coming days, I have a few posts planned to help you understand and implement good copywriting practices. If you take my advice to heart, these practices could make a big difference to your bottom line.

Meanwhile… here’s a question for you: what has been your level of experience with copywriting up until this point?

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Skip The Boring Parts http://rayedwards.com/skip-the-boring-parts/ http://rayedwards.com/skip-the-boring-parts/#comments Sat, 27 Apr 2013 12:45:41 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=5847 For some reason, I’m fixated on Elmore Leonard these days.

I think he’s one of the best writers working today, despite the fact that his subject matter can be a little rough.

One of my favorite quotes about writing comes from Leonard, who advises: “skip the boring parts.”

Just as true for marketing copy as it is for novels.

And the reason this post is only five lines long.

 

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How Copywriting Creates Six-Figure Incomes http://rayedwards.com/how-copywriting-creates-six-figure-incomes/ http://rayedwards.com/how-copywriting-creates-six-figure-incomes/#comments Thu, 28 Mar 2013 16:12:53 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=5681 If you think “copywriting” (writing words that persuade people to do or buy something) is only about creating ads, you’re missing the point. Copywriting is a skill has created more six-figure incomes than you might imagine. In some cases, seven-figure incomes.

Type writer

For instance, one of my best friends generates a healthy $150,000 per month from his home-based business, and at its core, that business is fueled by my friend’s copywriting skill.

If you truly want to start your own business, or create a second income stream, one of the first things I would recommend you learn is the basic skill of powerful copywriting.

Now, this is not some “get rich quick” scheme…

This is a serious business skill than can provide you with a comfortable six-figure annual income for the rest of your life.

You can run your business from anywhere. You can dream up promotions and campaigns, write the copy, and put the plan into profit… all in the same day.

And yes, you could “retire” from your present job, and use your copywriting skills to build your own marketing empire – working wherever and whenever you want.

I have run my business from all over the USA, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the UK:

  • Working form home in the Northwest US (sometimes at my house, sometimes from my office 5 minutes away, and sometimes from Starbucks!)…
  • On the road in my motorhome (summer-before-last we put 8,000 miles on the coach, the last winter we spent in California)…
  • Traveling to Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle, Toronto and New York…
  • On vacation with family in Michigan, the Carolinas, Utah, and Montana…
  • And from England and Scotland…

My results are not typical – you’ll have your own results. Want to join me in the “not typical” club? Want to know how I managed to get these unusual results?

It comes down to one skill: copywriting. Now, ask yourself… if you learned how to master the art of “persuasion in print”, how could that change your life?

  • Will you finally get your online business started?
  • Will you write copy freelance, and live a life free from offices, meetings, and memos?
  • Will you take your existing online business and multiply your profits using the power of copy?

Or will you keep struggling along like most “Internet Marketers”? That road leads nowhere. You don’t need to learn the new “shiny object of the week” system. You don’t need the latest greatest website.  You just need a skill that is valued, and that has the power to give you leverage. The skill I recommend starting with is the ability to write persuasive copy.

If you have decided that I am right about this, give life to that decision and do something about it. Pick up a book, take a copywriting course, or just sit down and write a piece of copy. Today. Maybe even right now.

A good place to start would be with my book on copywriting. An even better place to start would be with the live webinar training about copywriting I’m doing next Tuesday.

Question: How can you profitably apply the power of persuasive copy in your business?

 

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Copywriters: Beat The Blank Page Blues http://rayedwards.com/copywriters-beat-the-blank-page-blues/ http://rayedwards.com/copywriters-beat-the-blank-page-blues/#comments Fri, 08 Jun 2012 10:00:00 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=3738 Do you find yourself staring at a blank page (or in more modern terms, screen)?

blues

Stuck for how to get started writing your copy and singing the blues?

I’ve found that I get much better results if I use some “quick start tactics”.

These keep me focused, and get me started on the right track with a copy project.

Here are 3 “tricks” I use…

Maybe they’ll work for you, too:

  1. Write the benefit bullets. Don’t worry about writing body copy just yet. Just start banging out all the benefits of owning the product. This will be more extensive list than the one in the order box (which is our next “jump-starter”).
  2. Write the order box copy (the offer!). This is the part of the copy where you clearly spell out the price of your offer, and the bullet points of all the main benefits of owning the product. Select the MAIN benefits (the one with the most “persuasion power” for the order box.
  3. Write 10 possible headlines for your copy. Don’t worry if they’re not “good enough”. You can even use some of the bullets you’ve written as starting points. Use a headline “swipe file” to spark ideas. Just get 10 headlines written.

Once you’ve finished the 3 “jump-starters” above, you will have written quite a bit of copy. It will be focused on the benefits of owning the product. You’ll be off to a good start on your copy project.

Question: what tricks do you use to give yourself a copywriting “jump-start”?

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Empathetic Copywriting http://rayedwards.com/empathetic-copywriting/ http://rayedwards.com/empathetic-copywriting/#comments Thu, 07 Jun 2012 10:00:00 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=3737 Would you like a “formula” for powerful copywriting? Copywriting that sells your products and services?

Magic Copywriting Formula

I’d like to give you the “magic formula”  for writing web site and ad copy that sells.

Magic Copywriting Formula

I’d like to… but I have some disappointing news: there isn’t one.

“But Ray,” I hear you say, “Haven’t you yourself taught several different copywriting ‘formulas’?”

Yes.

But.

They are not “magic” and they don’t work universally.

What a formula can do is give you a basic structure on which to hang your “argument” (your logic for why someone should buy your stuff).

What the formula cannot do is: somehow magically compel people to buy something they don’t really want or need.

More importantly, what a copywriting formula can’t do is teach you the fears and aspirations of your readers, so that your persuasion power comes from the point of intersection between your audience’s needs/desires and your product’s features/benefits.

Only you, as an empathetic copywriter, can do that.

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Copywriting Cheat Sheet [Info-Graphic] http://rayedwards.com/copywriting-cheat-sheet-info-graphic/ http://rayedwards.com/copywriting-cheat-sheet-info-graphic/#comments Thu, 31 May 2012 10:22:28 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=3689 Copywriting can seem complex.

Ray_Edwards_Copywriting__Guide_Infographic

Because I’m best known for my work as a direct response copywriter, I’m often asked for tips about copywriting. I thought it might be helpful to have this info-graphic created, which serves as a one-page copywriting “cheat sheet”.

This will help make sure you don’t miss any of the important elements of a sales message when you’re writing copy. Even if you are an experienced copywriter, my guess is it may serve as a helpful refresher. I think it’ll help strengthen your copywriting.

Feel free to share this info-graphic. I’ve even supplied code (below the info graphic) to allow you to embed it on your own website!

Include this on your website:

 

Question: Is this info-graphic helpful? Post your comments below.

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5 Good Reasons to Blog http://rayedwards.com/5-good-reasons-to-blog/ http://rayedwards.com/5-good-reasons-to-blog/#comments Tue, 28 Feb 2012 12:05:36 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=3341 Many business owners, freelancers, and solo professionals wonder, “Should I have a blog? Is it worth the effort? What does a blog do for me?”
My answer: yes, you need a blog. And here are 5 good reasons why:
  1. It’s good for business. It wasn’t always this way. When I started blogging, it didn’t take long for me to realize blogging was building my business, too. I get a steady flow of new business from people who say something like, “Well, I started reading your blog and finally decided I would call you.”
  2. Self-expression. Once upon a time, I was a radio DJ. Highly-rated, successful, and loving it. Being on the radio was my own personal megaphone. It was my way of being heard. Now I get that same satisfaction from blogging. You can too. Now everyone’s a DJ!
  3. Building a relationship with my readers. There’s nothing like a blog to build a relationship with your readers. My blog is the source of most of the conversations I have with my readers.
  4. Marketing. I know there are many who say you can’t “monetize” a blog. Really? My own blog has brought me… well, let’s call it “a substantial amount” of revenue. And I don’t even use Adsense (as of this writing). One of the very best Internet Marketers is a guy name Dave Winer. And you’d never categorize him as a marketer… but he is a consummate marketer, though most of his readers probably don’t realize it.
  5. Research and testing. The quickest way I know to test a new idea, get some feedback, or get an answer is… make an appropriate post on my blog.

Those are just 5 reasons – there are dozens more.

superwriter

How about you? Do you blog – and if so, why?

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Simple Tricks Top Copywriters Use To Sell More http://rayedwards.com/simple-tricks-top-copywriters-use-to-sell-more/ http://rayedwards.com/simple-tricks-top-copywriters-use-to-sell-more/#comments Fri, 24 Feb 2012 12:35:17 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1798 Writing persuasive copy is simple – but not always easy.

The most persuasive techniques usually are the ones that are simplest. Here are three simple tricks the top copywriters know will help them sell more (of whatever they’re selling)…

  1. Know your prospects. This means doing your homework, and knowing the audience you’re writing to (and selling to) inside out. You must know, at the very least their FFA’s (fears, frustrations, and aspirations). If you know those three things, you have some powerful mojo at your disposal.
  2. Speak the language of your audience. If you are writing to golfers, for instance, you absolutely must not call the instruments of play anything other than clubs. Referring to “ball striking sticks” will earn your copy a quick trip to the trashcan. I know the example is ridiculous, but I see copywriters making mistakes equally as ridiculous all the time. Just sayin’.
  3. Know your product. Again, a seemingly obvious point, yet one of the most frequently violated principles of writing persuasive copy. The more you know about your product, the more persuasively you will be able to communicate about it. Newbie copywriters would do well to study the greats, particularly Eugene Schwartz, who often read a book four (or more) times, and had 100 pages of notes written in his own hand, when he finally sat down to write the copy that would sell the book.

As I said, simple. Not necessarily easy.

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The 2 Most Important Words in Copywriting http://rayedwards.com/the-2-most-important-words-in-copywriting/ http://rayedwards.com/the-2-most-important-words-in-copywriting/#comments Thu, 23 Feb 2012 09:00:00 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/the-2-most-important-words-in-copywriting/ …they are: “So what?”

idea

If your copy provokes that reaction in the reader, you lose.

Make sure your copy — and all your marketing — passes the “so what” test.

Freelance copywriter? Join the VIP early-bird list about my upcoming print newsletter just for folks like you.

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Top 5 iPad Apps For Copywriters http://rayedwards.com/top-5-ipad-apps-for-copywriters/ http://rayedwards.com/top-5-ipad-apps-for-copywriters/#comments Tue, 21 Feb 2012 12:46:11 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1806 I love my iPad. It’s become nearly as indispensable as my iPhone or Macbook Pro.

And the thing I love most? Apps, of course!

Here are the 5 iPad apps I use the most for my copywriting business, and a word or two about how I use them.

  1. Mindmeister. This is a simple online mind-mapping app, and it synchronizes with the website of the developer. That means I can create a mind-map on my iPad, and access it later on my MacBook Pro. Mindmeister allows me to export the mind map in different formats, including rich text-ideal for outlining sales copy, white papers, or book chapters. Indispensable.
  2. OmniFocus. I am an unvarnished fan of David Allen’s GTD methodology for managing one’s time and tasks. This is my app of choice for implementing GTD. It synchronizes with the Omnifocus app on my iPhone and on my MacBook Pro… but the iPad app is my favorite iteration of the software.
  3. Instapaper. The perfect way to “clip” articles, blog posts, and websites that I want to look at later. I frequently find bits and pieces I want to use for copy projects, and I simply save them to Instapaper. Beautiful.
  4. Evernote. How do I describe Evernote? It’s my universal notepad, perfect for saving images, business cards, websites, notes (including hand-scribbled ones) and so much more. Try it. You will understand.
  5. Angry Birds. Hey, what can I say? Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is play.

What about you? What are your most-used iPad apps?

By the way, here’s one more recommendation that is only for copywriters who want more customers, more often, for more money…  get on the VIP early-bird list about my upcoming print newsletter.

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What It Takes To Succeed as a Freelance Copywriter http://rayedwards.com/what-it-takes-to-succeed-as-a-freelance-copywriter/ http://rayedwards.com/what-it-takes-to-succeed-as-a-freelance-copywriter/#comments Fri, 17 Feb 2012 12:23:11 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1810 What does it take to succeed as a freelance copywriter?

Well, I suppose it should go without saying that the first requirement is the ability to write good copy. But just for safety’s sake, I will say it anyway.

That detail out of the way, here are some qualities less common among copywriters that are of equal importance.

The ability to treat your service like a business.
Too many copywriters are woefully ignorant of the realities of running a business (and a copywriting practice is a business, just like a law practice or any other professional service provider). If you are playing the role of the “temperamental artist as copywriter” it probably means you’re a dreadful business person. Your clients (almost all of them skilled entrepreneurs) hold that sort of mentality in great disdain. Want more respect as a copywriter? Start acting like a businessperson.

The commitment to meet deadlines. Clients expect you to do what you say you were going to do, and they expect you to do it on the schedule you agreed to. There are no excuses. I have never missed a deadline. I have, on occasion renegotiated a deadline-but always ahead of time. Repeat after me: “Deadlines are sacred. I shall not break them.”

The skin of a rhinoceros. Look, I understand; writing is hard, and taking criticism is harder. But clients pay you to write, and they have an expectation that their input will be accepted by you. After all, they’re paying for the end product. They are going to be critical of what you write. You’re writing about their baby-their business. You’ve got to be able to smile when your clients are offering “constructive criticism”… even when they’re wrong. You must be able to handle such situations with grace. A crucial skill for you: the ability to subtly persuade clients that your way is the correct way. Even more difficult, you’ve got to be able swallow your pride when your client has a good point… such as a point about some weakness in  your copy (which is accurate more often than most copywriters would like to admit).

These skills are more difficult to develop than the skills of actually writing copy-at least for most copywriters.

Most copywriters tend to be more right-brained and creative instead of left-brained and logical; I was gifted with a weird 50-50 combination of “artist/businessman” genetics.

I understand that not everyone was so fortunate.

But trust me… being conscious of the need for the skills I’ve outlined in this article, and becoming diligent in the development of these skills, will make you a much happier (and much richer) copywriter.

You might also avail yourself of my soon-to-be-released print newsletter designed just for you. You can’t buy it as of today, but you can get on the Early-Bird VIP Notification List – that way you will be the first to know the minute it becomes available.

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Ben Settle, Email Marketing Contrarian [Interview] http://rayedwards.com/ben-settle-email-marketing-contrarian-interview/ http://rayedwards.com/ben-settle-email-marketing-contrarian-interview/#respond Wed, 15 Feb 2012 11:13:09 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=2476 I just completed a really fun and informative interview with one of the top email marketers working today.

Ben really knows what he’s talking about when it comes to selling by email. What’s remarkable about him is he is one of the very few “Internet Marketing teachers” who actually practices what he teaches. Ben’s blog is here, and his “Email Players Newsletter” is available here.

In this interview you will hear:

  • Why Ben does the exact opposite of what most “Internet Marketing” gurus teach.
  • Why mailing your list every day is a good thing.
  • Why it’s not always bad to have a high unsubscribe rate.
  • The secret “autoresponder feature” that saves you money.
  • The simple little trick Ben does once a month that saves him money and makes more sales.
  • Why Ben laughs at what almost every other “email marketing course” teaches… and what you can learn from this.
  • How to generate an endless stream of ideas for email copy, effortlessly and quickly.
  • Why Ben doesn’t own a membership site, doesn’t do social media, and doesn’t do marketing like most of the “Internet Marketing Gurus”.
  • How Ben makes his money easily every month by working about 3 hours! Not for everyone – but really fascinating!

Two Notes:

To hear the full “inner circle” version of this interview, get yourself over to this page and register for either the GOLD or PLATINUM levels of our Inner Circle.

If you’re a copywriter who wants more customers, more often, for more money… you probably want to get on the VIP early-bird list about my upcoming print newsletter.

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http://rayedwards.com/ben-settle-email-marketing-contrarian-interview/feed/ 0 I just completed a really fun and informative interview with one of the top email marketers working today. Ben really knows what he’s talking about when it comes to selling by email. What’s remarkable about him is he is one of the very few “Internet Ma... I just completed a really fun and informative interview with one of the top email marketers working today. Ben really knows what he’s talking about when it comes to selling by email. What’s remarkable about him is he is one of the very few “Internet Marketing teachers” who actually practices what he teaches. Ben’s blog is here, […] Ray Edwards clean 34:54
The Captain Kirk Valentine’s Day Guide To Romancing Your Customers http://rayedwards.com/the-captain-kirk-guide-to-romancing-your-customers/ http://rayedwards.com/the-captain-kirk-guide-to-romancing-your-customers/#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2012 12:23:02 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1794 What does Captain Kirk have to do with Valentine’s Day? Nothing, far as I know… except perhaps that the legendary Captain of the Starship Enterprise was a renowned ladies man. He was good at the art of love.

Here’s what this has to do with you and your business: wooing customers is a lot like wooing a lover. You want them. You want them to want you. Here’s what we can learn from Captain Kirk that will help us woo our customers.

  1. Let them know you’re interested. No time to be coy, no time to be subtle. Look him in the eye and tell them, “you are beautiful to me.”
  2. Strut. Look, Captain Kirk was not a slump-shouldered mealy-mouth. He stood up straight, looked women in the eye, and was supremely confident in what he had to offer. Somehow, he managed to do all that without seeming arrogant (most of the time). Your business could learn a thing or two from the confidence of the Captain.
  3. Have the goods to back it up. Face it, it’s probably easy for Captain Kirk to be confident at least in part because he commands a starship. He has hundreds of people ready to do exactly what he tells them. He’s got the goods. If your business does not have the goods to satisfy your customers… well, you know what you need to work on.

I know, I know. You’re doubtless impressed that I was able to somehow work Star Trek into a Valentine’s Day post about copywriting and marketing. Or you’re revolted. Either way, I think my points remain valid.

Captain’s log: if you’re excited about learning more ways to woo more customers, more often, for more money… you probably want to get on the VIP early-bird list about my upcoming print newsletter.

Kirk out.

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Freebie Friday: The Writer’s Edition http://rayedwards.com/freebie-friday-the-writers-edition/ http://rayedwards.com/freebie-friday-the-writers-edition/#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2012 12:15:52 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=2004 In which I point you to five fabulous sources of free treasures any writer would love…

Five Best Distraction-Free Writing Tools

50 Free Resources to Improve Your Writing

Open Source Novel Writing Software

10 Free Writing Software Downloads

Free MindMapping Software

And here’s a bonus link…

Newsletter for copywriters who want more clients… juicier assignments… and bigger fees… fast.

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3 Habits of Successful Freelance Copywriters http://rayedwards.com/3-habits-of-successful-freelance-copywriters/ http://rayedwards.com/3-habits-of-successful-freelance-copywriters/#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2012 12:22:33 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1821 Interestingly, there are three habits that are shared by every successful freelance copywriter I know. They are…

  1. A love of the craft. Successful freelance copywriters simply love writing. They love doing it. And they love reading the work of others who love doing it. Make no mistake; we are making ads, but we are also making art.
  2. Discipline. Get rid of the preconception that copywriters are irresponsible, disheveled, professorial types. The successful copywriter is a creature of sometimes frightening single-minded focus. That’s why clients who find such a creature become loyal for life.
  3. Discontent. While this might not be a great personal quality (or maybe it is… but that debate is not the topic of this post), successful freelance copywriters are never satisfied with their work. Yes, they deliver on time, and they deliver excellent output. But they are forever obsessing over how to make the copy better, how to improve the conversion rate, and how to beat the control. In my book, that kind of self-motivation and positive discontent is a good quality when it comes to business.

If you are a person or a company who hires copywriters, look for these qualities.

If you are a copywriter who wants to be hired, look in the mirror. Possession of the three qualities outlined in this post will make you a happy, healthy, and wealthy writer.

And by the way, any copywriter who wants more clients, bigger fees, and so many prospects bangin’ on your door you have to start screening them… should definitely know about this soon-to-be-released resource.

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3 Tactics For Writing Faster Copy http://rayedwards.com/3-tactics-for-writing-faster-copy/ http://rayedwards.com/3-tactics-for-writing-faster-copy/#respond Tue, 07 Feb 2012 11:15:54 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=2092 One of the keys to making more money as a freelance copywriter is being able to write good copy quickly. The faster you write, the more you can write. The more you can write, the more money you can make. Here are three tips on how to write copy faster (and probably better, to):

  1. Work from an outline. If you’re a copywriter who’s earned your stripes, you already have an intuitive sense of the structure of good sales copy (different structure for different media or format, of course… But always a basic structure for each). It’s a good idea to have that outline available to use as a template (in Microsoft Word, for instance). Save yourself the mental effort of having to create the structure from scratch each time; organize your notes, clippings, and bits of copy within the outline. That way, when you’re ready to start writing, all your preliminary scribblings are at least in the right order.
  2. Speak, don’t type. As long as you aren’t experiencing physiological or neurological problems, you speak much faster than you type. If you’re working from an outline (as suggested above) you should be able to dictate your copy at an incredibly rapid pace. You can either use software, such as DragonDictate, or you can pay to have a human being transcribe your copy. Either way, it’ll be much faster and more efficient. Unless you’re my friend Michel Fortin, who has supernatural typing ability.
  3. Build up a bank of “copy chunks”. Chances are, if you do much writing for clients, you end up writing very similar opens, guarantees, closing segments, and so forth. Why not start collecting those “chunks” of copy, so you can simply cut and paste them into your first draft? This technique alone can save you many hours of laborious and needlessly repetitive work.

Here’s to speedier copy for you!

By the way, if you make your living writing copy (or you want to), you might be interested in my new project.

I’ll be launching a brand-new print newsletter very soon, and it’s just for copywriters who want more clients… juicier assignments… and bigger fees… fast. Sign up for the Early-Bird Notification List by clicking here.


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How to Be a Professional Writer http://rayedwards.com/how-to-be-a-professional-writer/ http://rayedwards.com/how-to-be-a-professional-writer/#comments Mon, 06 Feb 2012 11:22:04 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=2128 The secret to being a writer is really no secret at all. It is simply this: Write.

Writers write.

That is it. I cannot guarantee that writing will make you into a great writer, but I can guarantee that you will not be a great writer if you don’t write.

Writing is simply another form of communication, a very specific form. I believe that each of us is born with a certain amount of talent for writing. But make no mistake, it takes work to write well. In fact, my friend, Dave Lakhani says that “writing is the doing part of thinking”. That sounds true to me.

No matter what your level of innate talent, writing will make you a better writer. If you write every day, you will be a better writer than you would have been had you not written every day.

Now, as to being a professional (paid) writer… that’s a different story. You still have to be able to write well, yes. But…

The truth is that being a professional writer has less to do with how great a writer you are, and more to do with how good you are at marketing your professional writing services. That is an art unto itself – which is exactly what we’ll be dealing with in my upcoming print newsletter.

It hasn’t launched yet (I’m hammering out the first few issues and bonus reports first). If you want to be notified when “Marketing Your Copywriting Services” becomes available, you can get notified here.

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Bought or Sold? http://rayedwards.com/bought-or-sold/ http://rayedwards.com/bought-or-sold/#comments Wed, 25 Jan 2012 22:14:55 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=2268 Seth Godin points out on his blog that there are products that are “bought”, and there’re products that are “sold”. Ice cream is bought. Life insurance is sold.

Seth’s point was: knowing which one you offer.

My point is: decide to offer products that are bought, thereby bypassing the need for selling altogether.

This doesn’t mean, by the way that no storytelling (copywriting) is required. Apple products are bought, but stories are told just the same. The “little hinge that swings big doors”: it’s often the storytelling that fuels the buying.

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A Day In The Life of A Six-Figure Freelance Writer http://rayedwards.com/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-six-figure-freelance-writer/ http://rayedwards.com/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-six-figure-freelance-writer/#comments Thu, 14 Jul 2011 19:14:30 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=2116 This is an update to one of my more popular posts.

I receive many questions about how I work, how I manage my time, and what my “systems” are for working as a writer and consultant.

First, this caveat: There are some significant changes now that we are operating in the “new economy”.

What’s different about the “new economy”? A few key points for freelancers and entrepreneurs – these must be understood and internalized:

The bubble has burst. Easy credit is gone. Houses of cards in the banking industry have come tumbling down. People have lost their jobs, their houses, their credit cards. The spending habits and market behaviors of almost all people have irrevocably changed, altered forever by the economic shift that took place recently. And if you’re waiting for things to get “back to normal”, this is your wake-up call… it’s never going back. This is the new normal. Get used to it. Adapt.

Competition is at an all time high. And thanks to Google it is easier than ever before to find all your competitors in a few seconds.

Nobody needs anything. In the Western World, even though we have experienced an economic shake up, we still have everything we need already. Yes, I know some people are in need and I am not ignoring them nor minimizing their needs – but I am also acknowledging that for most people, their needs are over-supplied. Do you have a roof over your head, clean water, and at least one meal per day? Then you are better off than most of the people in the world. To see how good you have it, check out how wealthy you rank in the world by clicking here.

What does all this mean? It’s time to review and evaluate how you do everything you do within your business or practice. Does it measure up? Is it effective? Does it produce profit? Is it the best possible use of your time?

That’s what I’m doing here – reviewing my current systems an findings. Hopefully it’s helpful.

I offer the following with this caveat: I’m still workin’ on it, and I don’t always follow the system perfectly. But each time I fall “off the wagon”, I get up, dust off my britches, and climb back on. So far it’s worked pretty well.

A “day in the life of Ray” is a busy one. Here are current projects I’m working on:

1. Private Client Copy Project.
This was a big project, comprising 3 full video salesletters, email campaigns, affiliate email copy, and text versions of the sales videos. This project was a beast in terms of time invested, but it was fun. And it paid well.

2. Private Consulting Client
. This relationship translates to regular phone meetings, a small in-house launch every quarter or so, and reams of copy generated for upsells, ridealongs, retention, phone scripts, etc. This is a retainer + revenue deal, just like all my deals these days.

3. Private Retainer Client. This client retains me strictly for two sales letters per month, for different products each month; again, I have a piece of revenue.

4. Private Client in the business opportunity market; this is only the third time I have been ripped off by a client. I collected the fee and wrote the initial copy. My client has, so far, stiffed me for 6 months worth of royalties. I did have some misgivings about this project in the beginning but suppressed them and took the job anyway. Lesson learned: trust my inner promptings. Just a note to my client, V. If you’re reading this, just know that if you want to make it right, send me the check for what you owe me and all will be forgiven. And if you simply can’t pay for some reason… at least answer my messages and let me know what’s going on. Maybe I can help.

5. Writing Riches Member Site. This is a “coaching club” I run for those who cannot necessarily afford to hire me but who want to learn from my work, get me input, and receive training from me each month.

6. Book Promotion. My new book on copywriting, Writing Riches, is a #1 Best-Seller on Amazon.com. It’s the best deal I offer on training and is available as a softcover or on the Kindle.

7. Three books in progress. One is a business book (first draft completed), one is a book for Christ-followers on the importance and power of forgiveness (first draft about 75% complete) (this book is being folded into the next one), and one is a book about achieving true, lasting success, called Taking Back Tomorrow.

8. Two monthly newsletters. I write one for my clients, and one for paying subscribers.

9. Workshops. I am planning a small, exclusive workshop in my offices this Fall. It will be me and four guests… and you’ll get my hands-on help with your project. Plus, my team will even build your site for you! This won’t be cheap – the price is $5,000. If you’re interested, please call my assistant Kathy at 509-624-2220 and let her know. Acceptance is not guaranteed, as this is not for everyone.

10. Copywriting Protege Program.
My students write for clients who either (a) can’t get on my schedule soon enough or (b) can’t afford my fees. My team writes your copy, I critique the drafts for re-writes, and then I approve the final work that is delivered to you. This means we can deliver affordable copy that still receives my “touch”. (To inquire about a project, please submit your request here: http://RayEdwards.com/contact )

The Big Question

How is it I’m able to juggle so many priorities and projects? Through careful conscious choice, and good systems.

And quite frankly: it’s a work in progress.

In order to deliver the very best work to my clients and partners, and to still leave room in my schedule for rejuvenation (sleep, family time, time with God, and time to just plain relax)… I have to guard my time vigorously. And I have to be on guard against what Dan Kennedy calls “Time Vampires”. Some tactics that work for me in my current system:

MSR
My Morning Success Ritual is vital to my most productive days. While I don’t manage to get this in every day, I’m getting better at it. My goal between now and the New Year is to achieve 95%+ compliance with this ritual every day.

The MSR is summed up by the acronym WWW B PREP, which stands for:

  • Wake
  • Water (16 oz. filtered)
  • Walk (at least 20 minutes)
  • Bible
  • Prayer
  • Eat
  • Plan (the day)

The days when I follow this MSR, starting the minute my feet hit the floor out of bed, are invariably my best days (most productive, most joyous, most satisfying). Probably because the most important things were done first – and when I’m still in the “NDZ”: No Distraction Zone (meaning no email, no voicemail, no phone calls, etc.)

Writing
The first thing I *must* do each day, after my MSR is complete (and after I have showered, driven to the office, etc.) is WRITING. I am primarily a writer. So this is my #1 Revenue Producing Activity (RPA). At this point my phone is off, I have still not checked email, not checked voicemail, etc. Still in the NDZ. I write for a large block of time at the beginning of the day — often 4 hours. NOTHING gets to interrupt the writing — including (and even especially) the clients for whom I may be writing.

Email
My auto-check feature in Apple Mail is turned OFF. I only get email when I press the “Check Mail” button. I check it twice once per day, Monday thru Thursday Tuesday thru Friday. Usually around 11am Pacific and 4pm Pacific. This is one of my policies that tends to be unpopular with those who are “urgency addicts”, and who want me to have a constant email discussion about minutia with them. I refuse to sacrifice my highest valued commodity (time) for the sake of what usually amounts to trivia. I suggest you adopt the same policy.

Meetings
Any meeting that lasts longer than 15 minutes is probably too long. Not always, but most of the time. Any project that requires multiple meetings each week is probably in trouble. Long meetings = inefficiency at best, and postponement of the inevitable at worst. (As a sidebar: frequent short meetings are just a disguised way of having long meetings. HEAR ME: if you have “meeting-itis”, either you just want an excuse to talk about work instead of doing it, or something is wrong with the project … something another meeting won’t solve).

Phone Meetings / Conversations
Same as meetings, only worse. Conversations and phone meetings should be 15 minutes or less. Anything longer and you’re probably wasting time for at least some people in the group.

Instant Messenger
Just say no. The only time I use it is when I have SCHEDULED events on Skype (usually interviews). Also, I occasionally chat with family or friends — but again, this is SCHEDULED. I am NEVER “just available” to be interrupted. (If I was, that would mean that I was either doing something unimportant, or that I was doing NOTHING. If I’m doing something unimportant… WHY? And if I’m doing NOTHING, it’s a PLANNED nothing and it’s important that this not be interrupted!).

Office Hours
Yes, I have an office outside my home. I lease currently. I’m considering buying an office building. I keep regular business hours most of the time: Mon – Thurs, Tuesday – Friday, 8am – 5pm Pacific.

By the way, my office phone is answered by a LIVE HUMAN (not some stupid voicemail torture device) Monday – Saturday, 8am – 6pm Pacific time. Why do I have the phone covered even when I am out of the office? Because other members of my team keep different hours… and because emergencies DO happen, and I like to be available if a TRUE emergency arises. My phone team knows how to reach me in those cases.

Why The Emphasis On Not Being Interrupted?

Interruptions cost you dearly.

As a writer, I know that allowing myself to be interrupted by a client or vendor (“Hey Ray – got a minute to talk about the new logo?”) can seem harmless… but it isn’t. That interruption costs me (a) the state of “flow” I was in while working, maybe impossible to recover, (b) the time of the interruption itself, and (c) the time it takes me to get back into the “zone” with what I was working on… minimum 20 minutes, maybe longer.

I can’t afford to let that happen. Especially not in the “New Economy”.

My clients and customers can’t afford for me to let that happen.

I once had a client who loved to call me at 11pm at night and talk for two hours. I tried to tell him I worked set hours and was available at those times, but he didn’t seem to understand. When our first project was finished, I fired him. His dysfunction did not automatically become my problem. Be warned – people will WASTE your time if you let them. Will you let them? be polite, be loving… but don’t be a victim.

In the end, if you guard your time, you are being most respectful of other people. Think about it: if you allow yourself to be interrupted, or your time wasted when you should have been doing something else… who suffers? Your clients. Your customers. Your family (“Sorry honey, I have to stay late because I wasted 2 hours today listening to the web team make excuses…”).

You’re not serving anyone by being a poor steward of your time.

New Experiments In Time Management

I’m currently going through a re-vamping, refining, and re-evaluating phase and I thought it might be useful to you if I shared some ideas I’m trying out. While I’m sold on the stuff I mentioned previously, I’m telling you right now these next items are EXPERIMENTAL. If they prove successful, I’ll have more to say here in the future about them.

1.Three-Sentence Emails.
If you receive a lot of email, you know what it’s like to feel overloaded by it. This is a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be three sentences or less. Read more at http://three.sentenc.es/
This practice, I have abandoned. I also am not using the ubquitous “I’m so busy I can’t answer your email for at least 2 days” autoresponders. I have come to view these as slightly (at best) obnoxious. I still only check email once per day, and even though I have abandoned the “email policy” signature and autoresponder, I don’t get any complaints.

2. Fifteen Minute Meetings. Just like the above, only not quite so regimented. *Most* meetings will be 15 minutes or less. That’s my default meeting length. If it needs to be longer, we can negotiate in 15 minute blocks. If it needs to be longer than 45 minutes, we better be working on something like the Middle East Peace Talks.

3. Free Days. I used to cheat on this. I’m sorry to admit it. But no more. I “fell of the wagon” on this one again. Embarrassing. But, as it says in the Book of Proverbs, “though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again”. So here’s the practice I’m aiming for… a “free day” is one in which there is NO business activity of any kind: no emails, no blogs, no IMs, no phone calls, no reading articles, no business books… NOTHING. Right now, I have at least one scheduled FREE DAY per week (Sundays). The purpose is to allow for real refreshing, rejuvenation, and creativity to arise. My goal is to eventually reach 3 FREE DAYS per week. This does not mean that I’ll be spending 3 days a week doing NOTHING… these days will be filled with family time, spiritual and charitable pursuits, and yes, even recreation. For more on this, see Dan Sullivan’s “The Time Breakthrough”.

This was a long post – I hope it was useful to you. If you have questions or want to add some ideas of your own, please do it below!

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Ray Edwards Copywriting Week In Review http://rayedwards.com/ray-edwards-copywriting-week-in-review/ http://rayedwards.com/ray-edwards-copywriting-week-in-review/#comments Sat, 19 Feb 2011 12:04:13 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1814 This week was all about the copywriters. Here’s what you missed, with links to each article all in one handy place.

The Captain Kirk Guide To Romancing Your Customers

Simple Tricks Top Copywriters Use To Sell More

3 Ways To Write Better Copy Faster

Top 5 iPad Apps For Copywriters

What It Takes To Succeed as a Freelance Copywriter

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3 Ways To Write Better Copy Faster http://rayedwards.com/3-ways-to-write-copy-faster/ http://rayedwards.com/3-ways-to-write-copy-faster/#comments Wed, 16 Feb 2011 12:40:45 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1801 One of the keys to making more money as a freelance copywriter is being able to write good copy quickly. The faster you write, the more you can write. The more you can write, the more money you can make. Here are three tips on how to write copy faster (and probably better, to):

  1. Work from an outline. If you’re a copywriter who’s earned your stripes, you already have an intuitive sense of the structure of good sales copy (different structure for different media or format, of course… But always a basic structure for each). It’s a good idea to have that outline available to use as a template (in Microsoft Word, for instance). Save yourself the mental effort of having to create the structure from scratch each time; organize your notes, clippings, and bits of copy within the outline. That way, when you’re ready to start writing, all your preliminart scribblings are at least in the right order.
  2. Speak, don’t type. As long as you aren’t experiencing physiological or neurological problems, you speak much faster than you type. If you’re working from an outline (as suggested above) you should be able to dictate your copy at an incredibly rapid pace. You can either use software, such as DragonDictate, or you can pay to have a human being transcribe your copy. Either way, it’ll be much faster and more efficient. Unless you’re my friend Michel Fortin, who has supernatural typing ability.
  3. Build up a bank of “copy chunks”. Chances are, if you do much writing for clients, you end up writing very similar opens, guarantees, closing segments, and so forth. Why not start collecting those “chunks” of copy, so you can simply cut and paste them into your first draft? This technique alone can save you many hours of laborious and needlessly repetitive work.

Here’s to speedier copy for you.

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Thank You. http://rayedwards.com/thank-you-2/ http://rayedwards.com/thank-you-2/#comments Thu, 27 Jan 2011 20:44:06 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1772 I will admit, I didn’t really expect this outcome.

My book, “Writing Riches”, is now officially an Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestseller. We hit #1 in two different categories on Amazon, and peaked at #9 out of all books on Barnes & Noble.

I want to thank everyone who bought a copy of my book, and also want to thank all the generous souls who helped get the word out over the last few days. I know who you are, and I will not forget your support.

Thank you!

You can, of course, still purchase a copy if you haven’t done so yet. Just click here, pick your favorite vendor, and order as many as you like. 🙂

In the midst of all the hubbub about the book, I realized that there is another opportunity you run the risk of missing.

Here’s the story…

Quietly, last month, I launched an online community for those who want to learn to make money with their writing. It is called, not coincidentally, WritingRiches.com.

This too has been a resounding success.

As a member of this community, you get an unprecedented level of help and access from me personally.

For instance…

We do a website critique webinar once per month

We do a live Q&A call once per month

And we have a discussion forum that is becoming more and more active.

What this all means is you get to receive the benefit of my consulting, and the experience I have with my various clients, all for a fraction of my normal fees.

For example, to hire me to do consulting for your company on a retainer basis, you would invest $10,000 per month (that’s what actual clients really pay).

But to become a member of the Writing Riches community is a mere $97 per month — that comes out to less than three dollars a day.

However…

For the next three days, you can become a Charter Member of the site for only $47 per month.

This is a $50 savings, and absolutely comes to an end at midnight January 31st.

So if you wait to make your decision, and you log onto the website on February 1, you’ll discover that the monthly rate has gone up to $97.

Which, quite frankly, will still be an extraordinary value-but why not get in at the “grandfathered” rate of only $47?

Aside from the live interaction we have each month, there’s a ton of other content already inside the web site, including video tutorials, audio trainings, and lots more.

Get the details here.

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Book Recommendation: “Writing Riches” http://rayedwards.com/book-recommendation-writing-riches/ http://rayedwards.com/book-recommendation-writing-riches/#comments Tue, 25 Jan 2011 22:50:34 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1764 Okay, cards on the table: I’m the author, so of course I would recommend this book!

Even so, you might want to buy a copy right now:

Order from Amazon: click here.

I have taken all my most valuable copywriting secrets… all my best tips, tricks, and checklists… and put them into a step-by-step handbook.

Think about it.

You’re getting the same systems and copywriting tips I use myself when creating copy for my $50,000 clients… for less than a fine dinner for two — at McDonalds!

Inside “Writing Riches”, you’ll discover:

  • The 14 Magic Building Blocks of Sales Copy That Sells Your Products Like Crazy (page 1)
  • How To Create Headlines That Grab Your Readers By The Eyeballs and Suck Them Into Your Message (page 19)
  • The Secrets Of Quickly Writing Magic Emails That Make You Money (page 35)
  • How To Write Bullet Points That Virtually Force Your Prospects to Buy (page 57)
  • The Secret, Triangular “Vice Grip” That Always Sells More (page 77)
  • The Most Explosive Tactics For Making More Sales, More Often, With Less Human Effort Than You Ever Dreamed Possible (page 95)
  • The Effortless Way To Attract A Flood Of Web Site Visitors As Easily As Turning On A Water Spigot (page 109)
  • The Secrets Of Getting Your Prospects So Excited About You They’ll FIGHT For The Privilege Of Buying Your Stuff (page 129)
  • Secrets Of Writing Blockbuster Sales Copy… By Watching Movies (page 149)

Grab your copy of the book right now by clicking here:

Order from Amazon: click here.

As if this weren’t a great deal already, I have really made this an irresistible offer — like any good copywriter would! Here’s the story…

…when you buy the book this week (and this week only), you get a free, “live” web class taught me personally. The estimated retail value of the online class is $197.

It’s called “7 Simple Ways To Double Your Profits In The Next 12 Months”… and registration is easy! You simply send me your online receipt for your book purchase, and you get a free pass to the class!

Get the book here:

Order from Amazon: click here.
Do this right now, while you’re thinking about it.

Then email your receipt to support [at] rayedwards.com

And thanks in advance for buying the book!

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3 Essential Skills Every Freelance Copywriter Should Have http://rayedwards.com/3-essential-skills-every-freelance-copywriter-should-have/ http://rayedwards.com/3-essential-skills-every-freelance-copywriter-should-have/#comments Thu, 30 Dec 2010 14:00:00 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1688 There are, in fact, essential skills that anyone who wants to make their living as a freelance writer needs to possess. You may be surprised to learn that these are not exotic skills, limited to a talented few.

They are skills that few possess; this is, however, by choice and by habit, not by gift or talent. While this is not the exhaustive list of skills required to succeed as a freelance writer, these are three crucial skills absent from most of those unable to make a go of it:

  1. Discipline. To get lots of copy written, one must apply liberal amounts of backside to chair, and repeat daily. Your results may vary (but if you fail to apply this skill, your results will be depressingly uniform).
  2. Chops. In the world of music, if you are a talented player, you are said to possess “chops”. The same is true of writing as is true of music: if you want people to listen, you’ve got to be able to play. This is distressing news to some, who for some inexplicable reason believe they can be a writer without being able to write. For information on how to become a better writer, see skill number one.
  3. Invulnerability. To make it in this business, it’s essential you are invulnerable to unjust criticism. You’ll get plenty of it. Because writing is so akin to speaking, everyone thinks they can do it. Which is, of course, amusing – since very few people seem able to do either. You get to ascend one full level of mastery when you learn to distinguish just criticism from unjust. Take a moment to let that one sink in.

Yes, you will need other skills in addition to these three; but these three can cover for a multitude of other sins. Try them on for a while. They are all eminently learnable.

If this topic of making money with your writing skills interests you, then you might want to join me for a live, once-only, no-recording-available later webinar. It is entitled: The Hidden Opportunity For Anyone Who Can Write (In 2011 and Beyond)”.

Long title. Short path to a new profit paradigm if you’re a writer.

Do you have the discipline to show up and learn something? Then click here and register now.

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Opportunities To Watch For In Copywriting 2011 http://rayedwards.com/opportunities-to-watch-for-in-copywriting-2011/ http://rayedwards.com/opportunities-to-watch-for-in-copywriting-2011/#comments Wed, 29 Dec 2010 22:00:00 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1687 I sent an email about this to most of my email subscribers late the evening before the Christmas Holiday.

And I didn’t check email over the Holiday, so I was shocked to see what a huge response we got.

After all, the email wasn’t about a “magic button”.

And I made it clear I had identified an opportunity, but that the opportunity would require work

…but for those who can write, and want to make their living from doing so, I believe this can be a true game-changer.

If that’s you, this is important.

I have identified what I believe to be the biggest “hidden opportunity” I have seen in a long, long time.

If you have any writing chops, you need to see this.

If you also have some marketing know-how… you’d be foolish to ignore this.

Strong words? Yes. But I think I can back them up.

This is a potential windfall for anyone who can write a basic business memo.

I believe this to be the most potentially lucrative, high-leverage, low-risk opportunity for anyone with writing skills that I’ve seen since I started writing copy.

I think (with good reasons for thinking it) anyone who ignores this opportunity, who fails to make this distinction, faces more potential “hard times” in 2011…

…while those who can grasp the reality of the situation stand to profit (with relative ease).

I am sharing this opportunity during a live webinar tomorrow (Thursday) evening.

Click here to register for that webinar now.

This webinar WILL NOT BE REPEATED, and there is NO replay.

You need to  decide right now if this is important to you.

AND YOU NEED TO SHOW UP FOR THE WEBINAR.

I wonder if you’ll take the time to register right now? Click this link:

Click here to register for the webinar now.

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The Art of Framing http://rayedwards.com/the-art-of-framing/ http://rayedwards.com/the-art-of-framing/#respond Sat, 18 Dec 2010 14:24:48 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1656 You’re going to like this…

“Framing” is how you set the stage for what comes next in a given communication. It is, in essence, what you say before you say what you want to say.

If you start a conversation by saying, “You’re not going to like this…” your message will be received in a certain way.

It will be responded to in a certain way. A different way than if you had started the conversation by saying, instead, something like, “This is really important.”

It might be useful to examine the way in which you routinely frame your conversations.

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Atrocious Copy (and What to Do About It) http://rayedwards.com/atrocious-copy-and-what-to-do-about-it/ http://rayedwards.com/atrocious-copy-and-what-to-do-about-it/#comments Wed, 08 Dec 2010 14:00:42 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1617 The web is filled with atrocious copy.

In fact, I sometimes find myself muttering, “I see illiterate people…” (apologies to M. Night Shyamalan).

So what’s the problem? Why is there so much bad copy? I think the answer is rather simple. It’s contained in some advice Stephen King offers in his book, On Writing. King says that the two keys to being a good writer are, “read a lot, and write a lot.”

If you say that you just don’t have the time to read very much, you’re kidding yourself. You’re not serious about your craft. Even more so if your excuse is you don’t have time to write very much.

If you want to improve your skill as a writer, you have your marching orders: read more, and write more.

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5 Essential Skills For Freelance Writers http://rayedwards.com/5-essential-skills-for-freelance-writers/ http://rayedwards.com/5-essential-skills-for-freelance-writers/#respond Wed, 08 Dec 2010 01:08:14 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1615 There probably is not a comprehensive list of “perfect skills” every freelance copywriter should have-but here are five I feel need to be in every copywriters toolkit. Surprisingly, none of them are about writing copy. Let’s assume for the moment that you already know how to do that (please… if you say your copywriter, please tell me you know how to write copy). Here are the five essentials that will keep you happy, healthy, and wealthy:

  1. The ability to understand other people and empathize with them.
  2. Face-to-face selling skills.
  3. The ability to shrug off rejection and criticism.
  4. Discipline that enables you to sit down and actually do the work (lack of this skill is more common than you might think).
  5. The ability to set realistic goals that stretch you, and then to employ pigheaded discipline in the achievement of those goals.

If you possess those five skills, you’re way ahead of most other writers in the race. In fact, those five skills (along with your craft) can get you pretty much any others you need-either through instruction, or by hiring someone else.

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All I Really Need to Know About Online Community http://rayedwards.com/all-i-really-need-to-know-about-online-community/ http://rayedwards.com/all-i-really-need-to-know-about-online-community/#comments Sat, 04 Dec 2010 16:11:39 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1605 Chris Garrett gave an excellent talk yesterday at Wishlist Live about online community. I was struck — not for the first time — by the thought that online community is no different than “real world” community. I need this reminder every now and then.

This morning, while thinking about all this, I remembered a delightful piece written by Robert Fulghum called “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarden”. It seems to me this piece by Fulgum provides some good starting points for how to approach online community:

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

What would you add to the list?

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Which Is Better: Long Blog Posts or Short? http://rayedwards.com/which-is-better-long-blog-posts-or-short/ http://rayedwards.com/which-is-better-long-blog-posts-or-short/#comments Tue, 23 Nov 2010 12:23:01 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1517 As much as I would like to think that my longer, carefully plotted essays are the most popular items I write, such is not the case.

I get higher readership, more comments, and more reactions with shorter posts.

What may not be obvious is this: it’s often harder to write the shorter posts. This is especially true if you’re trying to write conceptual, idea-based material (a non-issue if you’re simply posting links, for example).

So, shorter posts it is.

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How to Write a Blog Post Every Day http://rayedwards.com/how-to-write-a-blog-post-every-day/ http://rayedwards.com/how-to-write-a-blog-post-every-day/#comments Mon, 22 Nov 2010 12:15:14 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1513 I talk to a lot of people about blogging. One of the most common questions I get is, “Ray, how do you manage to write a blog post every single day?”

It’s a good question. I believe that writing frequently and consistently is key to your blogging success.  A few months ago I committed to writing daily as an experiment, to see what the practice would yield. I won’t share the detailed results in this post, but I will say it has been well worth the effort, and I plan to continue.

Here are my best tips on how to manage writing a blog post every day:

Write in batches. It’s rare for me to write a single blog post at a time. Instead, I schedule a block of time (usually an hour or more), and write several blog posts in a row. This may not work for everyone, but it works for me. Once I’m in the flow of writing, it’s better for me to keep on writing.

Write shorter posts. The best reason for writing shorter posts is very straightforward: people read them. I’ve carefully observed the activity on this blog and noted that when I write longer posts I get fewer reactions. So I know for certain that my readers prefer it when I write shorter posts. This has the advantage of allowing me to write more of them–making it easier to write something every day.

Keep a list of possible titles. I have a text file on my desktop that contains nothing but blog post title ideas. I get these ideas from a variety of sources: magazine covers, book titles, intriguing phrases I encounter when I’m reading, questions that I get via e-mail or this blog, and from other blogs I read. I capture these ideas when I’m on the go by entering them into Omnifocus on my iPhone, which automatically synchronizes with my MacBook Pro. Having this list of titles makes it easy to write when those scheduled blocks of writing time come up on my calendar. I’m never sitting at the keyboard wondering, “What shall I write about?”

Stay one week ahead. While I am not perfect at this, I do my best to stay a full week ahead in my post writing. This gives me the advantage of being able to write something topical if I want, but never being “squeezed” by deadlines. At times, I’m as much as 14 days ahead of schedule. This relieves a great deal of stress in my writing life.

Those are a few of the tips that allow me to produce a blog post every day.

And just in case you think one post a day is impressive… while I was writing this post, I found an article by Chris Brogan on how to write three blog posts a day. As a writer, I’m always interested in what other writers have to say about this subject. So please add your thoughts below.

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3 Quick Ways to Improve Your Writing http://rayedwards.com/3-quick-ways-to-improve-your-writing/ http://rayedwards.com/3-quick-ways-to-improve-your-writing/#comments Sun, 21 Nov 2010 12:00:58 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1507 Want to improve your writing as quickly as possible? Here are the 3 best ways I know to do it.

  1. Write every day. Writing is like any skill – it improves only with practice. The more you write, the better your chances of improvement.
  2. Re-write. Put your writing away for a day or two and come back to it. You’ll find ways to improve it. I know, it doesn’t sound sexy – but it’s still true.
  3. Read every day. Good writers are readers first and foremost. Reading well-written material is instructive in itself, and more so if you’re reading not only for content but also for the purpose of observing the craftsmanship. If you say you don’t have time to read – you’re kidding yourself about wanting to be a better writer.

Do you have quick ways to improve your writing? Share them below.

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Writing to Create Bonding http://rayedwards.com/writing-to-create-bonding/ http://rayedwards.com/writing-to-create-bonding/#respond Fri, 19 Nov 2010 10:00:32 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1476 We allow ourselves to be influenced by the people we like. The reason good salespeople are known to be friendly (some even hyper-friendly) is because they understand this core principle: being likable is one of the quickest ways to being influential.

The reason we are turned off by “pushy” salespeople is their attempts to be likable are almost laughably transparent. And absolutely inauthentic.

The key to creating a bond through your writing (and any other form of communication that involves language) is surprisingly simple.

Be yourself.

For sure, be the best self you can authentically be. But don’t try to be something you’re not; people can smell that incongruence a mile away, and it’s definitely a turnoff.

So how does this apply to writing in order to achieve bonding?

In my experience, most people who write for the purpose of strategic influence (to get other people to do something) develop a rather formal way of writing. Part of what happens when they adopt that formal style of writing is their natural voice disappears. It’s as if this particular style of writing sends the unspoken message, “I’m not going to let you know anything about me, because if you did you wouldn’t like me.”

This is where we get rules of thumb like, “never talk about religion or politics”. That’s good advice if you don’t want to offend anyone. But how will you bond with people if you never let them know who you really are?

I’m not suggesting you try being purposely offensive. I’m simply saying let people see the “real you”.

You don’t have to write long diatribes about politics or religion. But you can certainly mention who you voted for, where you go to church… as well as the fact that you like to bowl, you’re vegan, you raise greyhounds, and even more unusual things (like your fear of wigs, or how you still watch Saturday morning cartoons).

All of this does start from a premise, which you need to be aware of: it is that you are, in ways that count, very similar to your prospective audience. I’m assuming that you’re in business because you have a love of certain things, and that you share those things in common with your customers and potential customers.

Thus, as you strategically reveal true qualities of your personality, your customers will be struck by a sense of recognition. And what they recognize is themselves. This, my friends, creates bonding. And it’s not the result of manipulation; it’s the result of being real.

Fair warning: this technique will not work if you’re the exact opposite of your customers.

I once worked with a client with a rather substantial business. During our first meeting we were discussing his customers and his prospects. I asked him, “What can you tell me about your customers?”

His answer startled me: “I don’t like them very much.”

It wasn’t difficult to figure out why his company was experiencing a downturn in business.

Do you like your customers very much?

And, more telling: are you very much like your customers?

While you don’t have to be like the people you sell to, it certainly doesn’t hurt.

And I propose to you that if you don’t like the people you sell to, it might be time to consider another line of work.

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Writing to Be “Fascinating!” http://rayedwards.com/writing-to-be-fascinating/ http://rayedwards.com/writing-to-be-fascinating/#comments Thu, 18 Nov 2010 10:00:11 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1472 We are a world of people who love to be fascinated.

We obsess over our favorite celebrities, their lifestyles, relationships, and illnesses.

In her book, Fascinate, Sally Hogshead claims that the ability to create fascination is one of the most powerful ways of influencing behavior. She says, in fact, that it is “more persuasive than marketing, advertising, or any other form of communication.” While I don’t agree with all her conclusions, I do recommend her book.

So how do you make yourself, your ideas, your products and services more fascinating? The answer is surprisingly simple. Human beings are fascinated by a fairly narrow band of phenomena. Some things to keep in mind when writing to influence, with the end of creating more fascination in mind:

  1. Curiosity. Who among us does not understand the intense allure of curiosity? This powerful point of fascination is magnetic in its ability to draw people into your story, to make them want to hear your message.
  2. Fear. While I absolutely do not advocate the invocation of fear as a tool of manipulation, the recognition of pre-existing fears can be a powerful illumination for your communications. Know what makes people afraid, and you know how to engage them in conversation.
  3. Power. Whether they admit it or not, nearly everyone wants more influence over others, in some way. “Power” in itself is neither good nor evil, but its appeal is nearly universal.
  4. Identification with the object of their admiration. This is the very source of intense devotion, the driving force behind “fans” of all kinds. When we grant a person or even an organization our admiration, we experience an intense desire to be identified with that person or organization.

What is it about you, your company, your organization or product that already fascinates your customers?  Are there ways in which you can focus more on those aspects that are natural points of fascination for your audience? Are people fascinated with the wrong things about you? Are you?

All questions worth considering.

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Writing to Create Advocacy http://rayedwards.com/writing-to-create-advocacy/ http://rayedwards.com/writing-to-create-advocacy/#respond Wed, 17 Nov 2010 10:00:30 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1466 Whenever you are writing for the purpose of influencing other people (which pretty much includes all writing, doesn’t it?), it’s essential to know your strategic objective.

Strategy in this context means: the overall approach to achieving the outcome you want.

This may not be as simple as you think.

Even if you know your desired outcome is the sale of a product, you have only identified the target; that is not an answer to the question of strategy. The question of strategy is: how will I hit the target?

One possible strategy is: the creation of advocacy in the mind of your prospects. Let me explain.

The most straightforward product sale can be strongly influenced by first defining a position of advocacy you want the reader to adopt.

For instance: let’s assume you sell a highly commoditized product, like machine screws. How on earth could advocacy for some position or other influence the purchase of machine screws? Well..

Perhaps you begin by realizing your company has a commitment to using only the finest quality materials in the manufacture of your machine screws. Perhaps you further realize that you have unusual attention to detail in your manufacturing facility, and that this grows from the quality philosophy of your business. Maybe you believe that a lack of such strong standards is one of the things that have contributed to our current economic woes.

In the above scenario, you might choose to write and publish an essay on the importance of high standards not only in the manufacturing process, but also as the foundation of success upon which our country was built.

You might even go so far as to suggest that the solution to the economic problems facing our country is rooted in a return to this kind of commitment to quality.

If you publish this essay (or blog post, or podcast, or brochure, newsletter, even postcard) in a place where your potential buyers will encounter it, and if it is written powerfully, you stand a good chance of influencing their buying decisions about machine screws without ever overtly writing about that particular subject.

Of course, before you can authentically write to persuade people to adopt a position of advocacy, you first have to possess such a position yourself.

A worthwhile question to ponder: what do you stand for, and how does that relate to the world of the people you wish to influence?

Changing behaviors of your audience can be merely temporary; changing mindsets is more permanent, and changes behaviors automatically.

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Writing With Mythology In Mind http://rayedwards.com/writing-with-mythology-in-mind/ http://rayedwards.com/writing-with-mythology-in-mind/#comments Tue, 16 Nov 2010 10:00:07 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1460 When writing for strategic influence, whether your outcome is intended to be the sale of a product or service, the adoption of an idea, or a certain outcome for your political candidate, you must begin with knowing your mythology.

No, I’m not talking about ancient Greece. When I say “mythology”, I’m referring to “story”.

I believe great marketing-and thus, great influence-starts with great stories. I’m not alone in this thought.

Seth Godin writes in his book All Marketers Are Storytellers, “Either you’re going to tell stories that spread, or you will become irrelevant.”

All the ground-shaking movements in history started with great stories. Our ancestors sat around the hearth and told stories that transmitted their values, their ideas, their wisdom and faith.

Jesus taught primarily through the telling of stories.

John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Martin Luther King all told stories that moved people to take action. You don’t have to agree with the ideologies of any of these people, by the way, to get the benefit of what I’m saying. All I’m attempting to do is point out the power of the story as a form of persuasion.

It’s important to understand that the story must be true. Telling lies simply won’t work, not to mention the fact that it’s wrong.

Before you begin your next writing project, whether it’s the book you’re working on, the sales material for your website, or the next speech you’re giving, become aware of the stories you’re telling (or the ones you’re not telling that you should be). Here are some qualities your stories (or mythology) should possess:

  1. The stories you tell must, first of all, be true.
  2. They must be told in the service of others. The goal of your story should be to impart something to hearer, not to manipulate them.
  3. Your stories should appeal to emotion. No matter what people tell you, they buy your ideas, your products, and your services based on emotion-not based on logic.
  4. Your stories should be told quickly, and in an entertaining fashion. In today’s world, people have limited patience for long-winded stories.
  5. Don’t hit them over the head. The more subtle your story, the less overtly self-serving, the more you allow your reader to come to their own conclusions… the better.

So, what stories are you telling? Are they the right ones? How do you know?

Something to think about.

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Writing For Strategic Influence http://rayedwards.com/writing-for-strategic-influence/ http://rayedwards.com/writing-for-strategic-influence/#comments Mon, 15 Nov 2010 10:00:55 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1452 Today, I’m beginning a new series on the subject of “writing for strategic influence”.

This will be of interest if you want to use the power of persuasive writing to change, improve, expand, and empower your business.

But first, I’ll need you to bear with me; it’s necessary to explain the ideas behind this new series of articles.

The time has come to move beyond our old models of writing to persuade.

In the world of old media (radio, newspaper, and television) there was a clear distinction between writing that was intended as content, and writing that was intended to be persuasive.

The “content writing” took the form of entertainment, commentary, and news; the “persuasive” forms of writing were self-promotional, advertising, and marketing.

Today, the Internet has fundamentally shifted the way we receive, process, and act upon information. The walls that separated content from marketing have not just been taken down, they have been obliterated.

Michel Fortin has written convincingly about “The Death Of The Sales Letter”. With seemingly prophetic insight, Michel accurately predicted the coming trend that would spell the end of the stunning effectiveness of traditional online “sales letter websites”. They still work-only not nearly as well as they once did. Things have changed. I recommend you read his work on this subject.

Seth Godin writes with equal prescience about the end of what he calls the “TV industrial complex”, and the advent of the “Linchpin” (the essential individual who makes a powerful difference).

These are striking insights into the new world of persuasion and marketing; and I propose to you that they are only partial glimpses of the reality that has already begun to manifest around us.

I propose that far from simply being a different way of delivering persuasive copy, the new “content marketing model” is actually a reflection of something far more significant.

No longer do our customers accept our neatly packaged, carefully honed, isolated messages about our own products and services.

In today’s world, our customers (and our prospective customers) are able to see the entire persona of an individual or company with startling accuracy. They can read praise from clients and customers, read articles written by and about the company, and see reviews from actual buyers.

They can also easily identify complaints against a person or company by doing a simple search on the Internet. They can assess how the person or company deals with such complaints. They can read the market’s response to mistakes the person or company may make in the pursuit of their business. In other words, everything is marketing, and marketing is accurate because it’s no longer possible to control it.

Thus it becomes more important than ever to think about the written words we generate, both content and marketing. In fact, my proposal is that we stop thinking about them as two different forms of writing.

I find it more useful to adopt a new paradigm: that of writing for strategic influence. Let me explain…

Let’s begin with this tacit assumption: if everything our company (or an individual, if the person is a solopreneur) engages in is in fact visible, transparent, and available for public inspection… gone are the days we could “have a marketing message”.

A new day has arrived. Instead of “having” a marketing message, we must “be” a message.

Every communication we engage in with our customers and our prospective customers should be thought of as simply writing another page in our “book of communication”.

What this means is: we have arrived at a time when accountability is no longer optional, it is simply reality.

We have to think more carefully about everything we say, and everything we do. This is a good thing. It raises the bar for all of us who work in the service of other people (and what is work, or business, if it is not being in the service of other people?).

So if every communication (answering the telephone, handing off a business card, putting out a flyer, a Google ad, a blog post, e-mail, or public talk) is in fact marketing… it becomes necessary to be conscious of what sort of influence we wish to have in the marketplace.

The marketplace is, ultimately, a marketplace of ideas. Spread your idea far and wide, and see it have an impact on the world. Good or ill, time will tell.

Ideas have always been influenced by the written word. Literature has been the medium that molds mindsets. Literature has now expanded and moved off the printed page. Literature now includes blogs, e-mails, and YouTube. Writing happens in all sorts of formats-from essays like this one, to 140 character blurbs on twitter.

It’s time to start thinking about what sort of strategic influence we wish to have on the world around us-and how we are going to craft our messages to achieve that influence.

This is “the new copywriting”.

Your life (and your business) is literally an open book. The pages, starting today, are blank, and yours to write. What story will you write?

I can’t tell you what your message should be; first, as I have already alluded to, I think you must become your message. Whatever you’re selling, you first have to live. That part, I cannot do for you.

The upcoming articles in this series will focus, instead, on the actual techniques you might wish to consider in the process of spreading your ideas through persuasive writing.

To be clear, these techniques will apply whether what you are selling are concepts, products, or services. The techniques we will discuss should be applicable whether the group you wish to influence is your family, your city government, your church, your Board of Directors, or customers and prospects.

I look forward to your feedback.

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Ray Edwards Week In Review http://rayedwards.com/ray-edwards-week-in-review-6/ http://rayedwards.com/ray-edwards-week-in-review-6/#respond Sat, 23 Oct 2010 09:30:18 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1299 Here are juicy posts you might have missed this week:

The Art of Discipline

I Am a Reverse Paranoid

Your Hour of Power

Become a “However” Person

7 Things That Make Customers Love You

Business Panic and How to Deal With It


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The Art of Discipline http://rayedwards.com/the-art-of-discipline/ http://rayedwards.com/the-art-of-discipline/#comments Sun, 17 Oct 2010 23:10:07 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/the-art-of-discipline/ The word discipline gets a bad rap. It shouldn’t. Discipline is not the same thing as punishment (which is what most people seem to think).

The kind of discipline I’m talking about is an “activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training.” That’s from the dictionary, so it must be true.

Writing this blog is a form of discipline for me. I do it every day. Not as punishment and not as obsessive adherence to arbitrary routine but as a purposed and consistent activity that is aimed at something.

I think the world could use more discipline of that kind.

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3 Ways to Improve Your Copywriting http://rayedwards.com/3-ways-to-improve-your-copywriting/ http://rayedwards.com/3-ways-to-improve-your-copywriting/#comments Wed, 13 Oct 2010 08:30:07 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1256 1. Understand your audience.
2. Understand your audience.
3. Understand your audience.

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How I Work Each Day As a Writer http://rayedwards.com/how-i-work-each-day-as-a-writer/ http://rayedwards.com/how-i-work-each-day-as-a-writer/#comments Tue, 12 Oct 2010 08:30:41 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1260 I receive many questions about how I work, how I manage my time, and what my “systems” are for working as a writer and consultant.

Open notebook with a pen on white

I offer the following with this caveat: I’m still workin’ on it, and I don’t always follow the system perfectly. But each time I fall “off the wagon”, I get up, dust off my britches, and climb back on. So far it’s worked pretty well.

A “day in the life of Ray” is a busy one. Here are current projects I’m working on:

1. Private Client product launch.
This is for a new product that teaches a system of “workforce leverage”; this is a sophisticated product that is aimed squarely at real business owners, not “biz opp” seekers, and includes a robust web application. This one keeps me very busy; and it has huge potential. Of course I get a piece of the sales, so my hard work should pay off handsomely.

2. Private Consulting Client
. This relationship translates to weekly phone meetings, a small in-house launch every quarter or so, and reams of copy generated for upsells, ridealongs, retention, phone scripts, etc. This is a retainer + revenue deal, just like the one above.

3. Private Retainer Client. This client retains me strictly for two sales letters per month, for different products each month; again, I have a piece of revenue.

4. Private Client in the real estate market; we did a product launch together (for which I still receive royalties over a year later — than God for honest clients!), and we also work on periodic promotions. And, once again, I share in the revenue (detecting a theme?).

5. Inner Circle Program. This is a monthly “coaching club” I run for those who cannot necessarily afford to hire me but who want to learn from my work, get me input, and receive training from me each month.

6. Book Promotion. My new book on copywriting for the web will hit store shelves soon, and I’m working with my publisher on developing the sales promotion for this book.

7. Three books in progress. One is a business book (first draft completed), one is a book for Christ-followers on the importance and power of forgiveness (first draft about 75% complete), and one is a book I’m not ready to talk about publicly just yet (still in outlining phase).

8. Two monthly newsletters. I write one for my clients, and one for paying members of my inner circle.

9. Workshops. I have three scheduled for the next 4 months, each taking place in my offices in Spokane. These workshops are small, for 5 participants only, and focused on Strategic Writing for the purpose of Influence.

10. Copywriting Protege Program.
My students write for clients who either (a) can’t get on my schedule soon enough or (b) can’t afford my fees. My team writes your copy, I critique the drafts for re-writes, and then I approve the final work that is delivered to you. This means we can deliver affordable copy that still receives my “touch”. (To inquire about a project, please submit your request here: http://RayEdwards.com/contact )

The Big Question

How is it I’m able to juggle so many priorities and projects? Through careful conscious choice, and good systems.

And quite frankly: it’s a work in progress.

In order to deliver the very best work to my clients and partners, and to still leave room in my schedule for rejuvenation (sleep, family time, time with God, and time to just plain relax)… I have to guard my time vigorously. And I have to be on guard against what Dan Kennedy calls “Time Vampires”. Some tactics that work for me in my current system:

MSR
My Morning Success Ritual is vital to my most productive days. While I don’t manage to get this in every day, I’m getting better at it. My goal between now and the New Year is to achieve 95%+ compliance with this ritual every day.

The MSR is summed up by the acronym WWW B PREP, which stands for:

  • Wake
  • Water (16 oz. filtered)
  • Walk (at least 20 minutes)
  • Bible
  • Prayer
  • Eat
  • Plan (the day)

The days when I follow this MSR, starting the minute my feet hit the floor out of bed, are invariably my best days (most productive, most joyous, most satisfying). Probably because the most important things were done first – and when I’m still in the “NDZ”: No Distraction Zone (meaning no email, no voicemail, no phone calls, etc.)

Writing
The first thing I *must* do each day, after my MSR is complete (and after I have showered, driven to the office, etc.) is WRITING. I am primarily a writer. So this is my #1 Revenue Producing Activity (RPA). At this point my phone is off, I have still not checked email, not checked voicemail, etc. Still in the NDZ. I write for a large block of time at the beginning of the day — often 4 hours. NOTHING gets to interrupt the writing — including (and even especially) the clients for whom I may be writing.

Email
My auto-check feature in Apple Mail is turned OFF. I only get email when I press the “Check Mail” button. I check it twice per day, Monday thru Thursday. Usually around 11am Pacific and 4pm Pacific.  This is one of my policies that tends to be unpopular with those who are “urgency addicts”, and who want me to have a constant email discussion about minutia with them. I refuse to sacrifice my highest valued commodity (time) for the sake of what usually amounts to trivia. I suggest you adopt the same policy.

Meetings
Any meeting that lasts longer than 15 minutes is probably too long. Not always, but most of  the time. Any project that requires multiple meetings each week is probably in trouble. Long meetings = inefficiency at best, and postponement of the inevitable at worst. (As a sidebar: frequent short meetings are just a disguised way of having long meetings. HEAR ME: if you have “meeting-itis”, either you just want an excuse to talk about work instead of doing it, or something is wrong with the project … something another meeting won’t solve).

Phone Meetings / Conversations
Same as meetings, only worse. Conversations and phone meetings should be 15 minutes or less. Anything longer and you’re probably wasting time for at least some people in the group.

Instant Messenger
Just say no. The only time I use it is when I have SCHEDULED events on Skype (usually interviews). Also, I occasionally chat with family or friends — but again, this is SCHEDULED. I am NEVER “just available” to be interrupted. (If I was, that would mean that I was either doing something unimportant, or that I was doing NOTHING. If I’m doing something unimportant… WHY? And if I’m doing NOTHING, it’s a PLANNED nothing and it’s important that this not be interrupted!).

Office Hours
Yes, I have an office outside my home. I lease currently. I’m considering buying an office building. I keep regular business hours most of the time: Mon – Thurs, 8am – 5pm Pacific.

By the way, my office phone is answered by a LIVE HUMAN (not some stupid voicemail torture device) Monday – Saturday, 8am – 6pm Pacific time. Why do I have the phone covered even when I am out of the office? Because other members of my team keep different hours… and because emergencies DO happen, and I like to be available if a TRUE emergency arises. My  phone team knows how to reach me in those cases.

Why The Emphasis On Not Being Interrupted?

Interruptions cost you dearly.

As a writer, I know that allowing myself to be interrupted by a client or vendor (“Hey Ray – got a minute to talk about the new logo?”) can seem harmless… but it isn’t. That interruption costs me (a) the state of “flow” I was in while working, maybe impossible to recover, (b) the time of the interruption itself, and (c) the time it takes me to get back into the “zone” with what I was working on… minimum 20 minutes, maybe longer.

I can’t afford to let that happen.

My clients and customers can’t afford for me to let that happen.

I once had a client who loved to call me at 11pm at night and talk for two hours. I tried to tell him I worked set hours and was available at those times, but he didn’t seem to understand. When our first project was finished, I fired him. His dysfunction did not automatically become my problem. Be warned – people will WASTE your time if you let them. Will you let them? be polite, be loving… but don’t be a victim.

In the end, if you guard your time, you are being most respectful of other people. Think about it: if you allow yourself to be interrupted, or your time wasted when you should have been doing something else… who suffers? Your clients. Your customers. Your family (“Sorry honey, I have to stay late because I wasted 2 hours today listening to the web team make excuses…”).

You’re not serving anyone by being a poor steward of your time.

New Experiments In Time Management

I’m currently going through a re-vamping, refining, and re-evaluating phase and I thought it might be useful to you if I shared some ideas I’m trying out. While I’m sold on the stuff I mentioned previously, I’m telling you right now these next items are EXPERIMENTAL. If they prove successful, I’ll have more to say here in the future about them.

1.Three-Sentence Emails.
If you receive a lot of email, you know what it’s like to feel overloaded by it. This is a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be three sentences or less. Read more at http://three.sentenc.es/

2. Fifteen Minute Meetings. Just like the above, only not quite so regimented. *Most* meetings will be 15 minutes or less. That’s my default meeting length. If it needs to be longer, we can negotiate in 15 minute blocks. If it needs to be longer than 45 minutes, we better be working on something like the Middle East Peace Talks.

3. Free Days. I used to cheat on this. I’m sorry to admit it. But no more. A “free day” is one in which there is NO business activity of any kind: no emails, no blogs, no IMs, no phone calls, no reading articles, no business books… NOTHING. Right now, I have at least one scheduled FREE DAY per week (Sundays). The purpose is to allow for real refreshing, rejuvenation, and creativity to arise. My goal is to eventually reach 3 FREE DAYS per week. This does not mean that I’ll be spending 3 days a week doing NOTHING… these days will be filled with family time, spiritual and charitable pursuits, and yes, even recreation. For more on this, see Dan Sullivan’s “The Time Breakthrough”.

This was a long post – I hope it was useful to you. If you have questions or want to add some ideas of your own, please do it below!

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Recommended Internet Marketing Teachers http://rayedwards.com/recommended-internet-marketing-teachers/ http://rayedwards.com/recommended-internet-marketing-teachers/#comments Fri, 08 Oct 2010 08:30:20 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1242 Lately I’ve been asked by more than a few people: “Which Internet Marketing teachers should I listen to?”

Often that question is followed up with: “And who are the ‘Bad Guys’ I should avoid?”

I’m not in the business of judging who the so-called ‘bad guys’ are. But what I can do is recommend the people who have helped me. I was going to write up such a post, and then I realized I had already done so — back on January 1, 2009. As I went back and read it, I realized it needed very little editing… so I present the updated (only aesthetic updates, really) list of people I have been helped by.

When I originally wrote this, it was at the beginning of a New Year. I had been reflecting on who I owe my success to in the copywriting and internet marketing world. Because you know, none of us do this “internet business thing” on our own. I’m not an island. I’ve been helped by a number of people along the way. And I wanted to publicly thank and acknowledge a number of them.

Disclaimer: making a list like this always opens up the risk that I’ll leave someone out. If you have helped me, and I somehow forget to mention you, remind me privately and I’ll add your name to the list. Also, this list includes people who have strong points of view on some matters – in many cases, points of view that are in conflict. I think a diversity of opinions is a good thing, don’t you? I don’t agree with everything any one person says. But I do value and recommend them all. How do I reconcile their differing opinions or approaches? I take personal responsibility for making my own decisions, after having considered their advice.

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)

Armand Morin. Armand is the guy who has taught me the most about Internet Marketing, and he pushed and prodded me to create my own info-products (I went from zero to over 20 in less than a year) and to get serious about my speaking career. Without a doubt, I recommend Armand’s Big Seminar and his Internet Marketing Newsletter.

Alex Mandossian. Alex taught me how to use Teleseminars to build my business (even though I was a copywriter at the time, my first year using Alex’s techniques easily made me over $100,000). He’s also a man of deep integrity.

Brad Callen. One of my top clients, I am actually involved in a site with Brad and his brother Matt. These guys have been with me as clients for a long time now, and have been a great encouragement to me.

Willie Crawford. One of the first friends I made in this business. Willie and I had some pretty amusing adventures together.

John Carlton. Possibly the world’s greatest living copywriter. I have learned so much from John, I can’t even begin to tell you. I attended a seminar once just so I could buy his “mother of all offers” where he sold a $5,000 box of his materials. Pay attention: I went to a seminar so that I could spend $5,000 with John. That ought to tell you something. I had the privilege of hanging out with John in Vegas recently, and it was the highlight of my trip.

Harlan Kilstein. Killer copywriter and Carlton’s top student, Harlan is also a master of hypnosis and NLP. Harlan taught me how to get paid what I’m worth as a copywriter. Seriously. After attending one of his seminars, I TRIPLED my fees. Thanks Harlan.

Matt Bacak. One of my top clients, Matt was one of the very first people to hire me to write copy. We met because I saw him sitting in the bar… with his laptop! I knew he was a kindred spirit. We’ve done some great things together (recently we did a $3.5 million promotion), and I’ve learned a lot from Matt. He’s also been a good friend.

Mike Litman. Mike was the first Internet Marketer to pay me for copy. He paid me a scandalously low amount of money. When he ordered 2 more sales letters from me, he coached me on raising my prices – on his project! His was the first IM event I ever attended, and it’s where I met my long-term friends (and now clients) Armand Morin and Matt Bacak.

Mike Stewart. Mike showed me “lifestyle business” at its best when he invited me to spend a couple of days at his lake place in Georgia. We played around on the lake, ate a lot of good food, and created a new video product (on copywriting) in his home studio (said product to be released soon).

Frank Kern. I’ve learned a lot from Frank, and he’s hired me more than once to write copy for him. Frank gave me my all-time favorite testimonial (it’s a bit off-color, so I won’t quote it here). It’s through Frank I first met John Carlton, Sarkis, Neil Strauss, and a bunch of other “fancy people”. And Frank recommended me to Tony Robbins for some copywriting work – so how could I not acknowledge Captain Kern?

Ed Dale. I actually met Frank Kern and Ed Dale at the same time. They had hired me to write copy for their Underachiever Conference before we ever actually met. What endeared me to Ed first was his love for all things Apple. Instant bonding. And Ed actually gave me the testimonial that ties with Frank’s for my all-time favorite. Since it doesn’t contain the “F Word” I’ll quote it in full: “Ray, I bless the day your copy met my bank account”.

Jeff Walker. The creator of the Product Launch Formula, Jeff taught me the art of Product Launches. I was one of the first customers for the original PLF, and ended up in Jeff’s high-end Platinum Coaching group. Jeff coached me through my first launch (of my own product). Jeff has made me… well, a lot of money. And he’s also a good friend. Jeff credits me with being the first person he’s ever actually paid to write copy for him. I can’t thank him enough for all the guidance, encouragement, and generosity he has shown me.

Jon Walker. Jon is Jeff’s brother. I actually got to know him before I got to know Jeff, and I count Jon as one of my very favorite people. He’s kind, diplomatic, and has a razor-sharp business mind. He is truly one of those “guys behind the scenes” who is responsible for some big stuff in the online world. Jon has given me some invaluable counsel, advice and insight on my own business, and he’s one of the people I love to bounce ideas around with.

Michel Fortin. One of the first people I got to know in the copywriting world, I owe Michel several debts of gratitude. I’ve learned a lot from him about copy, marketing, and online technology (Michel convinced me to migrate from Movable Type to WordPress, for instance… and was at least partially responsible for getting me hooked on Photoshop). He’s also helped me navigate through a couple of difficult situations, and has unselfishly helped me grow my business.

Sylvie Fortin. Sylvie is one of the most vibrant, determined and principled people I know. She has the courage to speak her mind even when it might be unpopular to do so. I am astounded by her willingness to share personal challenges publicly so that others may benefit. And her keen insight played a crucial role in rescuing me from total burn-out in 2008. Really. I love Sylvie Fortin for these reasons and more.

Craig Perrine. Smart, funny, intelligent, and willing to encourage me in my tendency to sit in the back of the room and cause trouble, Craig is a great friend and a smart marketer.

Kirt Christensen. One of the first people I bought an information product from, Kirt agreed to meet with me not knowing for sure whether I might be a stalker. We ended up become friends and business partners. Kirt helped me define my pursuit of the “ideal business”: working 20 hours a week and making $100,000 per month. That’s not too much to ask, right? (Still workin’ on it, FYI…)

Christina Hills. Christina is the CEO of “Shopping Cart Queen” – a company that educates online businesses on how to use their shopping cart software. They also teach a lot more stuff, including other software and systems. Christina was crucial to my first product launch coming off well, and she’s helped me in a pinch on more than one occasion.

Stu McLaren. Stu was one of my early clients. I wrote the copy for his Idea Incubator Seminar. I was so excited by it I decided to attend. Stu and I became friends, and through him I met Stephen Pierce, David Frey, Alex Mandossian, Jeff Walker and many others. Now Stu not only is a big-shot Internet Marketer but is now working with his wife Amy to change the world. Bravo!

Mike Filsaime . I met Mike before he was “famous”. We had a conversation outside the seminar room in Denver where Mike told me the story of this new product he was creating called “Butterfly Marketing”. We have remained friends over the years, and Mike recently had me work on the “7 Figure Code” launch with him (which was a blast). We’ve worked together on several other projects, too. I’m amazed by Mike’s willingness to work harder than just about anyone else I know, and his adaptability to changing trends and technologies.

Tom Beal. Tom and I were in a Mastermind Group together for a while, and when we met through that group I only had a vague idea that he worked with Mike Filsaime. Tom and I have laughed together, hung out in the back of many a seminar room, and worked together on a few projects. I count him as both a friend and a great marketing mind.

Joel Comm. Joel and I knew each other a while before we ever did any work together. Joel has been a true friend, and has done a lot to help me as a person and on a business level. Joel got me my publishing deal, invited me to be a guest expert on The Next Internet Millionaire, hired me to write copy, and has been a true supporter.

Andy Jenkins. You know him as the StomperNet guy – and so do I. I’ve written some copy for the Stomper guys (Andy and Brad Fallon). Andy has been encouraging, enthusiastic, and promoted me in places where it counted.

Rich Schefren. Controversial, smart, challenging, and able to wear you down. And that was just my first dinner with Rich! Rich is not only a client, he’s one of the people I’ve learned some of my most valuable business lessons from.

Brian Johnson. You may know him as Schefren’s right-hand guy. I know him as a trustworthy friend and tireless supporter. He’s also a guy who will be there to get the job done, even when other people have gone home.

Ryan Healy, Ben Settle, John Angel and Daniel Levis are all part of a secret mastermind group I belong to. The weird thing is we’re all copywriters. And it’s one of the most profitable and enjoyable groups I’m a member of. This group has been referred to as “The Five Horsemen of the Copywriting Apocalypse”.

Jeanette Cates. She’s organized, she’s diligent, and she’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever met. She’s also fun to hang around with.

Dave Bernstein. One of the first products I ever created, I created with Dave. He’s absolutely nuts about all things audio. And he is smart enough to live where it’s warm all year.

George Callens. George works with Armand to run a $25 million dollar a year company and makes it looks easy. He’s on top of things, he’s in charge, and he’s one of the most stunningly competent people I know. George has helped me sort through some important challenges in my business.

Chris & Jim Howard. I’ve been friends with Jim & Chris just about as long as anyone in this business. They are a continuous inspiration, and “go to” people when I need help or advice.

Dr Mike Woo-Ming. He’s a friend, he’s a client, and he’s an International Man of Mystery.Remember that time you rented that house in Vegas and we all hung out there? That was awesome.

Howie Schwartz. One of the smartest and funniest people I have ever met and someone I am proud to know and call friend.

Yanik Silver. Brilliant marketer, tireless entrepreneur, and peerless promoter. I love the Underground Seminar, and his YSS is brilliant. I’m also inspired by what he’s been doing with the Maverick Brand.

Dan Kennedy. What can I say about Dan that hasn’t been said? I think he mostly invented the info-product/coaching business. He’s a writer’s writer. He lives the life he chose to live. And he seems to be a true genius when it comes to this stuff.

Jason Moffatt. Jason and I are probably about a much alike as East and West – but I count him as a friend, a keen marketing mind, and one of the very best salesmen I have ever met.

Tracy Childers. Tracy and I have held a few late-night brainstorming sessions involving large quantities of what another friend of mine calls “barley pop”. Every time I talk to him, I get about two dozen new ideas. And Tracy is inspiring in his ability to get products created, and his integrity and kindness.

Marlon Sanders. The first marketing product I ever bought was “The Amazing Formula”. It blew me away. Since then I’ve had a chance to get to know Marlon as one of the funniest, most intelligent, and most interesting people I know. Plus, have you seen this guy’s hats?

David Frey. He’s the “gentle giant” of Internet Marketing, He’s been an encourager, a good teacher, and someone I’ve felt inspired by since we first met at Stu McLaren’s Idea Incubator.

Ken McArthur. One of my favorite clients, Ken has been another ardent supporter of mine. He’s someone who is universally loved by everyone who knows him. And he invited me to speak in Orlando in February (Orlando is always a great place to visit in February!).

Clayton Makepeace. One of my copywriting “heroes”, Clayton is one sharp guy. And Clayton is the guy about whom I have the strangest “how we met” story of all. Sorry, I’m not telling. Not today, anyway.

Mary Mazzullo. She took the pictures that make me look good. Of course, that ‘s what she does. She also got me into the mysterious “Club 33”. And she’s a true friend.

Bob Bly. The copywriter’s copywriter, a scholar, and a gentleman. Bob really got me started down this road, and one of the highlights of my career was being quoted on the cover of his “Secrets of a Freelance Writer”.

Mari Smith. First she was my student (in copywriting) and now she is my teacher (in Social Media Marketing). Thanks Mari!

Seth Godin. Some of the most intense learning I ever did, I did at Seth’s office. His books are amazing. His blog is legendary. He is generous. Thanks Seth!

This post grew as I was writing it.

The truth is, there are so many people I should thank I probably could never write it all down. So please, if you don’t see your name here, don’t take it personally. I love and appreciate you — and if you know me at all, I hope you know that’s true.

Bear with me, I have a couple more acknowledgments: my business could not exist without the support of my family (both near and far).

My wife and son are the two most important people on earth to me. I love you both with complete and reckless abandon.

Finally, and most importantly, I would be nothing if not for the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Every good thing I have (or ever will have) comes from Him.

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Copy Written By Monkey? http://rayedwards.com/copy-written-by-monkey/ http://rayedwards.com/copy-written-by-monkey/#comments Fri, 24 Sep 2010 08:30:24 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1180 I was on a conference call where marketing was being discussed.

The discussion turned to “back end promotions”. Which means, “what you sell people after they bought your entry-level product”.

And the topic was the copy used to sell “back-end promotions”. One of the well-known, high-profile marketers on the call said something like, “Heck, you don’t need a great copywriter to write  that stuff. Those people are already your customers. A monkey could write that stuff.”

BUZZER.

That player is out of the game.

If you think any piece of your copy can be written by “a monkey”, you’re in trouble.

Because if that’s what you think, you’re saying your customers are monkeys, too. See how that works?

And if you still think there’s nothing wrong with all that, try this exercise: imagine your mother or your grandmother is the customer in question. Now imagine telling Mom or Grandma you hired a monkey to handle this part of their transaction, because that’s all the respect you needed to give them.

How’s that working for you?

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Are Good Writers Born – Or Made? http://rayedwards.com/are-good-writers-born-or-made/ http://rayedwards.com/are-good-writers-born-or-made/#comments Tue, 21 Sep 2010 08:30:12 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1167 There is a myth in the marketing world that anyone can write good copy. When this myth is spoken, it’s usually followed by the advice that all one needs is a good swipe file (successful ads of the past that one can “borrow” from).

This myth has always struck me as false — or at least only partially true.

I believe that when it comes right down to it, you must have some writing talent. If you don’t, your copy will not be brilliant. It may not even be good. In most cases, it will just be bad.

I see plenty of evidence that the last is the most common result.

There is another myth that if one studies enough of the right manuals, or attends enough of the right seminars, one can learn to write well. Frankly, if you don’t have some native talent — a “knack”, if you will — I don’t think all the classes, courses, or seminars in the world can help you much.

Stephen King would agree with me, I suspect. In a recent article he penned for the Washington Post, King wrote: “The only things that can teach writing are reading, writing and the semi-domestication of one’s muse.”

So there it is, then.

My opinion is that not everyone can learn to be a great (or even good) writer. Everyone is born with a certain aptitude (or lack of it), and they’re pretty much stuck with that aptitude. They can take classes or be taught to make the most of it, but they are always limited to a certain range in the development of their craft.

What do you think?

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Break Through Writer’s Block http://rayedwards.com/break-through-writers-block/ http://rayedwards.com/break-through-writers-block/#comments Mon, 20 Sep 2010 08:30:03 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1163 I have to be honest.

I don’t believe in “writer’s block”. You shouldn’t either. I think it’s a myth. Worse, I think it’s an excuse for just not doing your job.

I’m not saying that it isn’t sometimes difficult to sit down and start writing. It often is difficult, for one reason or another.

However, the same could be said of a plumber, a carpenter or even a doctor. Have you ever heard of a surgeon saying, “I just can’t do this surgery today. I’ve got surgeon’s block.”?

Of course not.

But there are undoubtedly days where even surgeons don’t feel like doing their job. Maybe they’re distracted, they’re tired, or they have other things on their minds. But there is no such thing as “surgeon’s block”… or “writer’s block”.

What should you do on days when you just don’t feel like writing anything?

I’ve found the quickest cure is to decide: there’s no such thing as writer’s block… and just start writing.

Write anything. Start with the easy stuff.

Write the contact information that’s going to go on your sales letter or website.

Write the copyright information.

Write filler text such as “Insert Brilliant Headline Goes Here”.

Write the details of what you’re offering. I’m talking about the simple stuff you don’t have to think in order to write.

What’s the price? What’s the address of your company? Where do customers send the checks?

Just start writing.

Once you’ve loosened up a bit, start writing some bullet points. Write as many bullets as you possibly can, remembering to keep each of them focused on benefits of the product (not just features of the product).

You can just write pages of bullets and eventually you’ll get into the flow of writing.

Most of the time, you’ll discover you can use a lot of the bullets you’ve written as thought starters for headlines, for sub-heads, for section heads, etc. Heck, maybe you’ll even use them as bullets.

And guess what?

Now you’ve “broken through your writer’s block”.

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Simple Trick Strengthens Copy http://rayedwards.com/simple-trick-strengthens-copy/ http://rayedwards.com/simple-trick-strengthens-copy/#comments Sun, 19 Sep 2010 08:30:52 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1159 Want to make your copy stronger with one simple “trick”?

Eliminate all the adverbs.

What’s an adverb?

It’s a word – often ending in the letters “ly” – that modifies a verb (or even adjectives or adverbial phrases). Examples of adverbs: quickly, instantly, amazingly, powerfully.

If you find the above passage puzzling, don’t worry about it; just go through your copy and try to eliminate as many of those “ly” words as you can. Here’s an example:

“Quickly and easily motivate clients to buy stuff.”

~ becomes ~

“Motivate clients to buy stuff.”

Now you may be tempted to ask: “But Ray, I want them to know it happens quickly and easily!”

No problem. Just be specific.

“Motivate clients to buy stuff starting the minute you install the software, without any extra effort on your part.”

You may need to do a bit of rewriting to make the copy flow without the adverbs, but your language will be stronger and more persuasive for the effort.

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How To Overcome Skepticism http://rayedwards.com/how-to-overcome-skepticism/ http://rayedwards.com/how-to-overcome-skepticism/#comments Fri, 17 Sep 2010 20:19:37 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1152 You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but prospects are more skeptical online than ever before.

The Holy Grail of online marketing is getting the prospect’s email address (so you can start building a permission-based marketing relationship with them).

In the not-too-distant past, you could generate leads online simply by offering a free newsletter or special report. This doesn’t work so well anymore. Why?

The reason is simple: there’s too much ‘junk’ being offered, and prospects are wise to this. People just won’t give up their email address for a junky ‘special report’ like they used to.

So what’s a marketer to do? Here are three ways to break through skepticism and get your prospects to give you their email address:

1. Offer Superior Premiums

Offering a superior premium will help you “cut through the clutter”, but to be effective your premium must be clearly superior.

Commonplace and boring: “Special Reports” and “Free Tele-Seminars”.

Better: software that performs a specific task, a free telephone consultation (make it clear this is not a sales pitch), or a free membership website.

2. Use Video Testimonials

There’s a reason infomercial producers make their 30-minute ads over 70% testimonials: testimonials overcome skepticism.

These days, it’s cheap and easy to make video testimonials for your website. Get your best customers singing your praises on video, and put these snippets on your website. Lots of them.

3. Use The “Reciprocity Sequence Method”

You’ve no doubt heard of the ‘Reciprocity’ principal: If I give you a gift, you feel compelled to reciprocate.

The trouble is, your prospects often have heard of it too, rendering it somewhat less effective.

I use a technique I call the “Reciprocity Sequence Method”… which is simply giving your prospects a series of gifts so that the “Reciprocity Impulse” becomes almost overwhelming.

It sounds elementary, but few people do it. And it’s very powerful.

Think about how you can ‘stack’ a sequence of 3-5 gifts in a short period of time, and THEN make an offer to your prospect.

Key points to remember: keep the sequence confined to a short time period, make the gifts relevant to (and an enhancement of) your core offer, and make the offer immediately after giving the final gift.

While it’s true that skepticism is at a higher level than ever, it’s also true that breaking through is easy when you know how.

What do you think? Have you run into increased skepticism in your marketing – and if so, how have you successfully over come it? Post your comments below!

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Free One-Page Copywriting Guide http://rayedwards.com/free-one-page-copywriting-guide/ http://rayedwards.com/free-one-page-copywriting-guide/#comments Tue, 07 Sep 2010 11:37:09 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=1091 Does giving stuff away for free — in the clear, with no email required — work as a way to get new readers, more traffic, and subscribers?

Let’s find out.

Today I’m giving away a “Mind Map” (a visual outline) that gives you an overview of the keys to writing effective copy.

Whether you’re writing email copy, a blog post, a sales page, or a sermon – the same principles apply. This mind-map is a great tool to clarify your writing and make it more persuasive. You might thing of it as a one-page copywriting course.

Click here to download the full-size, suitable-for-printing Copywriting Overview Mind Map.

No email required.

If you like this, and want me to offer up more free resources like this in the future, my request is simple: spread the word. I’ll be watching the number of “like” button submissions and re-tweets on Twitter. If it makes sense (based on response), I’ll have more “in the clear” freebies for you in the near future.

No promises – this is an experiment.

Call in your questions or comments to our new, fancy “request line” at (509) 713-2679

Click for the Podcast Audio:

Click Here

Get Ray Edwards in iTunes Podcast

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http://rayedwards.com/free-one-page-copywriting-guide/feed/ 12 Does giving stuff away for free — in the clear, with no email required — work as a way to get new readers, more traffic, and subscribers? Let’s find out. Today I’m giving away a “Mind Map” (a visual outline) that gives you an overview of the keys to wr... Does giving stuff away for free — in the clear, with no email required — work as a way to get new readers, more traffic, and subscribers? Let’s find out. Today I’m giving away a “Mind Map” (a visual outline) that gives you an overview of the keys to writing effective copy. Whether you’re writing […] Ray Edwards clean
How To Get Famous And Make More Money http://rayedwards.com/how-to-get-famous-and-make-more-money/ http://rayedwards.com/how-to-get-famous-and-make-more-money/#comments Mon, 02 Aug 2010 18:44:59 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=958 Write an ebook.

I know a lot of people will tell you “ebooks are dead”. To paraphrase Rick Blaine from the film Casablanca, they are misinformed.

Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon.com) told USA Today recently that he sees a future where ebook sales will “surpass paperback sales sometime in the next 9 to 12 months.”

That alone ought to put the old “ebooks are dead” rumor to rest once and for all.

Why write an ebook?

  1. Authors get listened to. Because they’re authors, that’s why.
  2. Your idea has more perceived value if it’s in an ebook than a “mere” blog post or article.
  3. Ebooks are easy for people to spread – which makes your idea easy to spread.

About 10 years ago, Seth Godin made an indelible impression on the web by writing an ebook and giving it away. His premise was that free ideas spread faster than expensive ones. He was (and still is) right.

Seth eventually created the site ChangeThis as a platform for ebook authors – but you don’t have to use his platform. You can do this all on your own (if you want to).

Here are the steps:

  1. Write your ebook. (Here is a Squidoo Lens on How to Write an Ebook).
  2. Make sure you know how NOT to write a book.
  3. Finish your book.
  4. Give away as many copies as you can.
  5. Find ways to encourage others to share it. (One way is to ask them: “Please share this with as many people as  you can.”)

Now. Get to work.

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What You Really Get Paid For http://rayedwards.com/what-you-really-get-paid-for/ http://rayedwards.com/what-you-really-get-paid-for/#comments Wed, 21 Jul 2010 11:08:13 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=866 This article is only for those who already have a website that’s making money online.

I’m about to show you how you can double or triple your conversions without lifting a finger.

Seriously.

So, if you have a money-making site online right now, keep reading.

The rest of you may be excused (sorry, just figured I might as well be up front about who this is for).

Here’s the deal…

Have you ever heard that story about the ocean-going ship engine that failed?

In the version I heard, it was the Queen Elizabeth luxury liner.

The vessel’s owners brought in all their on-staff engineers to fix it, but none of them could get the engine running.

Finally, they brought in an expert who had been fixing ships all his life.

The old expert hauled in his bag of tools and looked around a bit.

He crawled all over that engine room, looking, touching, thinking.

Finally, he went to his bag, pulled out a small hammer, and tapped a few times on a valve.

The engine roared to life.

A week later, the owners of the ship received a bill for ten thousand dollars.

They were outraged. After all, the man had only tapped on a valve with a hammer!

They immediately demanded he send them an itemized bill explaining his charges. He sent them a bill that read:

“Tapping with a hammer…………………$2

Knowing where to tap………………$9,998”

Knowing where to tap is important to your sales copy, too.

The simplest changes can make the most profound difference in your results.

There is an art to writing copy, but there is also a science to getting the maximum result. And that science is called “testing”.

Here’s the “magic formula”: get a sales letter that makes SOME money.

That gets SOME conversions and sales.

Then TEST the heck out of new headlines, deck copy, subheads, offers, guarantees, pictures,etc.

In other words, use the ART of copywriting plus the SCIENCE of testing to find out…

WHERE TO TAP.

As marketers and copywriters – knowing where to tap is what we get paid for.

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Ray Edwards Week In Review http://rayedwards.com/ray-edwards-week-in-review/ http://rayedwards.com/ray-edwards-week-in-review/#respond Sat, 17 Jul 2010 10:58:53 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=857 Here is your week in review, with super-convenient links from the blog…

Triple Your Productivity Instantly

Tonight, We Try To Take Over The World

7 Reasons Why You Must Start a Business Now

5 Fundamentals Of Bulletproof Business Profits

Strength: The Secret Power of Achievement

And here’s the latest podcast – remember, if you want to ask questions we now have a “request line” phone number: (509) 713-2679

Podcast: BS Lies That Hold You Back

Featured Product:

ecover3

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How To Write A Book In 7 Days http://rayedwards.com/how-to-write-a-book-in-7-days/ http://rayedwards.com/how-to-write-a-book-in-7-days/#comments Thu, 24 Jun 2010 15:01:15 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=793 writing-riches-coverOne of the very best ways to establish your authority in a given field is to write a book about it.

After all, when we want to acknowledge someone as a bonafide expert, one of the figures of speech we use is: “they wrote the book” on that subject. Meaning: they know all there is to know about it.

But writing a book seems like a lot of work.

It doesn’t have to be. If you really know your topic well, you could probably complete your first draft in a week. Here’s a simple plan for doing just that:

“Prep Day” – Day ZERO: Come up with your title. Something like “The Insider’s Secrets of Raising Chinchillas” (or whatever your topic is). Then write an outline of what you want to say about your topic: 7 main subjects (chapters) with 3 points about each chapter. Sample:

“The Insider’s Secrets of Raising Chinchillas”

Chapter 1: Why Raising Chinchillas Is A Great Business

1.    The facts about the Chinchilla business

2.    What other Chinchilla ranchers have to say about it

3.    My personal Chinchilla story

…and so on, for 7 “Chapters”. Then, you keep going…

Day 1: Record yourself just talking through your outline of Chapters 1 & 2.

Day 2: Record yourself just talking through Chapters 3 & 4.

Day 3: Record yourself just talking through Chapters 5&6.

Day 4: Record yourself just talking through Chapter 7 … and a short talk on “About this book” that will serve as the book’s “Introduction” (It’s best to do this after you have finished dictation of the whole book. You’ll have a better idea what to say.)

Day 5: Send off your audios for transcription. Use someone who will “clean up” all your stumbles and false starts, etc.

Day 6: Do nothing.

Day 7:
Receive your transcriptions back. You now have a first draft of your book.

The average person, speaking at a normal pace, will dictate about 20 pages per hour. That’s 140 pages in 7 hours (1 hour per chapter). After editing, that will be about 120 pages – a good length for a non-fiction book.

Depending on the transcription service you use, they may take longer than two days to turn all this around. But your part is done on Day 4!

That’s it – you’ve written a book in less than a week.

You could even hire someone to polish your first draft into a final draft. That should take a good writer no more than a couple of weeks.

So in less than one month from today, you could have your own, original, 120-page book. That will make you the expert who “wrote the book” on your topic.

While it took me considerably longer than a week… I do believe in the value of publishing one’s own, real books. My new book, “Writing Riches” will be released in November: http://amzn.to/9Dj7GA (you can pre-order it now on Amazon).

Now get busy and write that book, willya?

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Social Media Telesummit And a Free Ebook http://rayedwards.com/social-media-telesummit-and-a-free-ebook/ http://rayedwards.com/social-media-telesummit-and-a-free-ebook/#comments Fri, 16 Apr 2010 16:03:53 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=734 npr-lgI’ve just started contributing a couple of articles per month to Charlie Cook’s Small Business Marketing Blog.

And I’ve been reviewing quite a bit of Charlie’s material. He’s good.

Worth checking out: his free “New Profit Rules” ebook.

If your business is slow, and you’re thinking maybe it’s time to start doing some things differently — this ebook might be right up your alley. I found it fresh, generous, and filled with good ideas. You do have to cough up your email address, but I think you’ll find it worth the “investment”:

Also, Charlie is sponsoring a Social Media Telesummit next week that should be VERY helpful if you’re just getting into the whole Social Media thing.

I know several of the experts on the panel (Warren Whitlock, Ryan Healy, Jack Humphrey, and Carrie Wilkerson) and I think this will be quite different from the usual “teleseminars” you may be accustomed to.

If you want to unravel this whole social media “mystery”… this seems like a good place to start.

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Story: How To Finally Change Your Life http://rayedwards.com/story-how-to-finally-change-your-life/ http://rayedwards.com/story-how-to-finally-change-your-life/#comments Tue, 13 Apr 2010 00:19:15 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=730 Imagine yourself in this scenario…

You’ve tried to make a life change: grow your business, boost your career, lose weight, quite smoking, increase your income, improve your relationships.

Sometimes you’ve had limited success, and sometimes none at all.

Oh, you can make a temporary change, but it never seems to last.

Until…

You read that one book… or attend that one workshop… or hear that one piece of advice from a friend… and something clicks.

You make the shift instantly.

How do you do that?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the ability to replicate that experience so you could just draw on it whenever needed?

I think I know why it happens, and I think I have at least part of the key to replicating the experience.

What finally makes the shift for you, and gets you to make the change you desire… is not that you discovered some long-sought “secret” that had always held you back.

No, it’s much simpler than that.

It’s this: you finally found a story that you believed deeply enough, and then the change became effortless.

That’s why we can read 10 books on getting our financial act together but make zero progress; and then something about book #11 sparks us to action and suddenly we’re doing what we should have been doing all along.

And that’s another key thought: usually we knew what to do all along, we just couldn’t get ourselves to do it. For instance, most people who want to get rid of that extra fat around their midsection know what to do: eat less, exercise more. Yet there’s a new diet book, plan, or pill every day. The reason is, we’re all looking for that story that will finally make a believer out of us… and spur us into action.

The message to consumers: don’t feel bad that you bought 20 books on marketing before you found the one that got you to actually do something… celebrate the fact that you took action until you found the story that worked for you.

And the message to marketers is: the story you tell your prospects is crucial to your success. Find a story that connects with your audience, one that gets them telling the story to their friends (Zappos, Disney, Four Hour Workweek, Trust Agents)… and you can transform your business.

Story. More important than you thought.

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Avoid The Obnoxious Bully Copywriter http://rayedwards.com/avoid-the-obnoxious-bully-copywriter/ http://rayedwards.com/avoid-the-obnoxious-bully-copywriter/#comments Mon, 29 Mar 2010 12:03:36 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=703 If you’re a copywriter, please take note: the “obnoxious bully copywriter persona” is overdone, possibly destructive and certainly no longer unique positioning.

You probably know what I’m talking about: the kind of copywriter who positions himself as a “badass” and a “rockstar”. Usually this persona comes with a large dose of attitude. Often the persona is accompanied by disdain or even contempt for his customers — who are often portrayed by the “rockstar copywriter” as mentally challenged at best… and complete idiots at worst.

I hope, Constant Copywriter, you are not guilty of this.

Because it doesn’t help anyone.

It’s also ugly and mean-spirited.

So if you, as a copywriter, have been guilty of patterning yourself after a “badass copywriter” – stop it. Just be yourself, respect and honor your clients, and you will experience the prosperity you’re after.

To The Clients Of The Bully Copywriter

If you happen to be a client of one of these copywriters, or you’re thinking of becoming a client of one – stop. Trust your gut. There are people who can write your copy and treat you with the respect and honor you deserve.

Take the time to find one of those people – and don’t fall into a co-dependent relationship where you are the victim and the copywriter is the bully.

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The Toyota Effect: Wash Your Own Brain http://rayedwards.com/the-toyota-effect-wash-your-own-brain/ http://rayedwards.com/the-toyota-effect-wash-your-own-brain/#comments Wed, 24 Mar 2010 13:42:54 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=694 Why do you believe what you believe?

How often do you stop to consider that question?

For decades, a majority of American car buyers thought Toyota made the highest quality and safest cars for the money.

What do you suppose the majority of American car buyers think about Toyota cars right about now?

Key question: what caused the change?

The easy answer is: the recalls caused the change.

A more sophisticated answer is: the news coverage of the recalls caused the change.

But neither of those answers recognizes the deeper lesson: management (or mismanagement) of how and when a story is told powerfully influences the stories we believe and tell ourselves.

How many of your beliefs did you choose consciously?

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How To Read Minds http://rayedwards.com/how-to-read-minds/ http://rayedwards.com/how-to-read-minds/#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2010 14:34:57 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=643 Most copywriters and marketers would agree  that if you could read your prospect’s mind, you could be a lot more successful writing copy for – and selling stuff to – those prospects.

Because you’d know their world.

You’d understand their pain.

You’d know their deepest fears, and you’d understand their highest aspirations.

So how do you do that? Here are 7 practical tips. They sound simple, but when you actually use them their impact can be profound.

  1. Learn everything you can about your prospect. If you’re in direct marketing, it’s easy: just look at their data cards. When you have demographics, you can infer a lot about the “average” person who represents the group. If you don’t have that kind of data… guess. It’s a lot more accurate  than what most marketers do (which is: they don’t bother with any of this stuff).
  2. Imagine yourself living your prospect’s typical day. Go through it step by step – from rising out of bed in the morning to getting back into the sack at night. Use all five of your senses: what do you see, hear, feel, taste, touch and smell? Make notes.
  3. Think about their biggest fear – the one that wakes them up at 3 in the morning in a cold sweat.
  4. Think about  their highest aspiration – what do they dream of? Not the little dreams (the ones we all tell our buddies), but the big dream in their “secret heart” (the dream that they don’t dare tell anyone).
  5. Go where they live. Find a neighborhood that is like your prospect’s and walk through it (driving doesn’t work – looking at it through a window is just more TV… nice to look at but not REAL). Talk to people.
  6. Read what they read. Read their magazines, newspapers, blogs and Twitter.
  7. Watch what they watch. Watch the TV shows your prospects watch. Especially the ones  that don’t interest you.

If you do this, you’ll develop the apparent ability to read your prospect’s mind.

And you’ll sell more.

But something funny about this is: you’ll also most likely care more. And that’s far more important than any selling technique.

The world’s a funny place, ain’t it?

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When To Question Someone Else’s Motives http://rayedwards.com/when-to-question-someone-elses-motives/ http://rayedwards.com/when-to-question-someone-elses-motives/#comments Fri, 08 Jan 2010 13:15:53 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=611 My answer: never. Here’s why…

Disputes of almost any kind always seem to devolve when one party questions the motives of another party.

The funny thing is, it’s virtually impossible to know for certain someone else’s motive for any given action or statement.

“Thought experiment” to see if I’m right: the next time you think you know why someone says or does a particular thing, stop and see if you can come up with 2 or 3 other explanations for why they may have said or done that same thing.

An even more interesting (and instructive) “thought experiment”: try coming up with explanations that are only positive in the motives you attribute to the other person… and then come up with an equal number of explanations that are only negatively motivated. Compare the two lists, and ask yourself: which ones look like the motives I most often instinctively ascribe to other people?

What did you learn?

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The Magic Formula For Writing Copy That Sells http://rayedwards.com/the-magic-formula-for-writing-copy-that-sells/ http://rayedwards.com/the-magic-formula-for-writing-copy-that-sells/#comments Mon, 04 Jan 2010 15:29:29 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=609 Many people want to know the “magic formula” is for writing web site and ad copy that sells.

If you’re one of those folks who would like to know that formula, I have some disappointing news: there isn’t one.

“But Ray,” I hear you say, “Haven’t you yourself  taught several different copywriting ‘formulas’?”

Yes.

But.

They are not “magic” and they don’t work universally.

What a formula can do is give you a basic structure on which to hang your “argument” (your logic for why someone should buy your stuff); what the formula cannot do is somehow magically compel people to buy something they don’t really want or need.

What a formula can’t do is teach you the fears and aspirations of your readers, so that your persuasion power comes from the point of intersection between your audience’s needs/desires and your product’s features/benefits.

Only you, as an empathetic writer, can do that.

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Freelancers: Do Clients Suck? http://rayedwards.com/freelancers-do-clients-suck/ http://rayedwards.com/freelancers-do-clients-suck/#comments Sat, 02 Jan 2010 13:01:55 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=615 This one is for those of us who are freelancers, service providers, or who have ongoing relationships where we work with clients.

Gary Halbert – one of the greatest copywriters to ever work in the field – used to wear a hat that had two works embroidered on it: “Clients Suck”.

Do they?

A lot of people say they do.

For a long time I bought into that idea. I had good reasons. Most of my clients seemed to be too demanding, too unwilling to follow my advice, and too determined to carry out some weird idea even though it was clearly not in  their best interest. Some of my clients were even abusive, taking advantage of me in ways I don’t want to go into here (it wouldn’t help anybody to do so).

The one day I realized I was making a contribution to each of those relationships that helped create that situation. My contribution was three-fold, and it directly contributed to making those relationships miserable for me (though they were, in fact, great for my clients). One lesson for you: if the relationship is only great on one side… it’s not great. It’s dysfunctional, and somebody is getting hurt.

Here are the three things I was doing that made it seem as though “clients suck”:

  1. Not carefully selecting clients from the beginning, screening out those with whom I was not a good match.
  2. Not setting boundaries for the relationship so that both parties know what those boundaries are, and teh reasons tehy are in place.
  3. Not realizing that I was free to “fire” clients who were “problem children”.

Once I finally figured those three things out, and changed the way I selected clients, how I set boundaries with them, and how I communicated with them when those boundaries were crossed, I was completely freed from the notion that “clients suck”.

Because mine don’t … now.

And that’s the lesson: you too can quickly reach a place where you love and appreciate your clients, where they don’t trample on your schedule or your value, and where you can easily resolve any conflicts that might arise.

All you have to do is:

  1. Develop criteria that describe your ideal client and use those criteria to screen out any clients who don’t meet them.
  2. Carefully and respectfully set the boundaries in your relationship from the beginning – and stick to them.
  3. Communicate immediately with the client when those boundaries are crossed – and when you suspect that you need to “fire” a client, do it sooner rather than later. Trust me, you’ll know when it is time.

If you will do those three things, then when someone says to you that “clients suck”, you’ll be able to give them the same response I do: “Mine don’t.”

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Pavlov’s Blog http://rayedwards.com/pavlovs-blog/ http://rayedwards.com/pavlovs-blog/#comments Wed, 30 Dec 2009 13:39:33 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=597 We like to think we make our decisions based on logic and reason.

But as Jonah Lehrer observes in his book “How We Decide”, the evidence suggest our decisions are based on completely irrational factors. We do, it turns out, judge books by their covers.

In the context of marketing, this fact is fairly important to remember.

While none of us like to think we salivate on command like one of Pavlov’s famous dogs, we do act impulsively in response to certain colors, language patterns, and page layouts.

The question to ask yourself is: what response does my current marketing elicit? Buying behavior – or something else?

I suggest that in most cases, the answer is the latter.

If you think you’ve got this all taken care of, watch what “regular people” (aka your customers) do when they visit your site… and be prepared to be shocked.

What people actually do at your website is probably quite different than what you think they do.

The kind of exercise I describe above is called a “usability study” – and they can be quite expensive if you have a professional conduct the study.

The good news is you can conduct a “do it yourself” usability study inexpensively.

Jakob Nielsen is the guru of usability, and has a very simple “discount usability” model you can follow.

It’s worth the effort.

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7 Questions And A Why http://rayedwards.com/7-questions-and-a-why/ http://rayedwards.com/7-questions-and-a-why/#comments Mon, 28 Dec 2009 12:21:14 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=584 questionsInspired by Seth Godin.

As you’re crafting your next marketing campaign, here are 7 questions to ask yourself.

Answering them will virtually write your sales copy for you.

It’s easy to do.

But very powerful. Try it and see.

  1. What problem are you solving?
  2. What is your solution?
  3. Who is it right for?
  4. What will it do for those people?
  5. How does it work?
  6. What are the reasons someone might NOT buy it?
  7. Why should they trust you?

After each answer, ask ‘why is that so important?’

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The Fantastic Mr. Dahl http://rayedwards.com/the-fantastic-mr-dahl/ http://rayedwards.com/the-fantastic-mr-dahl/#respond Wed, 23 Dec 2009 00:34:55 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=582 Roald Dahl, one of our great storytellers. He didn’t just tell great stories, he lived them. For instance, he once accidentally set his eyebrows on fire. If this video doesn’t stir your writer’s soul, just blunt your nibs, and consider doing something else.

Watch Part 2 On Roald Dahl – Click Here

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How To Become A Superhero http://rayedwards.com/how-to-become-a-superhero/ http://rayedwards.com/how-to-become-a-superhero/#comments Mon, 23 Nov 2009 21:25:08 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=573 superheroYou probably know who Clark Kent is.

He’s the fumbling, bumbling, mild-mannered newspaper reporter who wears the big geeky glasses.

A nice guy, but not exactly a role-model for manhood.

After all, we can ALL identify with Clark.

But when an emergency arises, Clark sheds the glasses and the business suit, revealing a being of extraordinary strength and power: Superman.

The Man of Steel.

The “strange visitor from another planet … [who] … fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!”

You don’t really need me to explain Superman to you.

And that’s the point of this piece.

If you’d like to really amplify  your marketing message, one of the best ways to do it is to become the superhero of choice for your prospects.

Here’s how you do that…

Identify The Villains Your Customers Face

These could be economic villains like rising interest rates, or psychological villains like poor self-esteem, or even health-related villains like arthritis. Once you’ve identified the villain – get specific and identify the villains superpowers and weapons.

Name Your Hero And His Powers

This could be you personally or your company – but you need to have a “title” or “superhero name”. Something that sums up who you are and what you’re about. It should be short, catchy, and self-explnanatory.

Clearly State Your Mission

Superman’s mission statement is a great model: “Superman … fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!”

Build  your own mission statement – it should be short (ideally one sentence like Superman’s – more like a “slogan” than anything else).

A Real Life Example


VILLAIN:
Anemic Advertising. This creepy character sucks the life our of small business advertising budgets – by spending all your money on ads that get very little response. Ad dollars go out, but revenue doesn’t come in. Leaves victims penniless and discouraged. Destroys many businesses.

HERO: Captain Copywriter. Magically transforms limp, lazy, lackluster ads into profit-pulling powerhouses. Multiplies revenue while at the SAME TIME slashes your ad spending. Produces sales, profits, and peace of mind.

MISSION STATEMENT: “Captain Copywriter fights a never-ending battle for better ads, producing more profits, more often.”

Use Your Identity

So how do you use your “superhero identity”?

Well, first of all, start “living it”.

If you were a copywriter who had now become Captain Copywriter — how would the Captain behave?

How would he talk?

What would his costume (web site) look like?

Does he have an insignia?

What are his sayings and catch-phrases? (Superman had “Up, up and away!” – what would YOURS be?)

Even more important than all of this: once you start putting yourself into the state of mind of your “superhero character”, you’ll easily start thinking like he would think!

Let me prove it.

If you came across a bank robbery in progress, you might not know what to do (other than maybe call the police).

But let’s say you were Clark Kent and you came across that same robbery in progress. NOW what would you do?

You’d intervene, of course.

You’d duck behind a door or into a hallway, put on your super-suit, and then move into action.

See how simply IMAGINING a super hero identity gives you access to superhero strategies?

The only thing you need to do is step into the ROLE of your business superhero… and then just as yourself, “What would Captain Copywriter do about this?”

And then walk it out.

So.

What are you waiting for?

Take off those glasses, snap on that cape, and commence your crusade!

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Dead Men Don’t Blog http://rayedwards.com/dead-men-dont-blog/ http://rayedwards.com/dead-men-dont-blog/#comments Mon, 12 Oct 2009 12:37:24 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=571 If I died today, nobody would be able to log into my blog.

I’ve suddenly realized that is an important problem that could become an urgent one in the blink of an eye.

But wait. It gets worse.

I own HUNDREDS of domain names, and have DOZENS of live, active websites. You can see that this multiplies my problem. Not only can nobody log into my blog, they also can’t log into my other sites.

Obviously, as the subject line of this email intimates, “dead men don’t blog”.

And they also don’t market.

Or Twitter.

Or Facebook.

So I’ve got some work to do, preparing for the inevitable day when my keyboard will go silent.

Why Am I Even Writing About This Today?

Well, I’m not being morbid. And I don’t mean to depress you or weird you out. But I was reading a post over at Dave Winer’s blog, about how he’s maintaining two online archives for relatives who have passed away.

Reading Dave’s article on this subject made me realize…

  1. If I die and want my work to live beyong the next hosting bill, I need to have a post-mortem plan for my blog.
  2. If I die and DON’T want my work to live on, there needs to be a plan for how to get it OFF the web (some of my hosting is paid WAY in advance or is on auto-pay).

Regardless, I Need A Plan. And So Do You.

What about your sites?

Especially if you have a business (and even if you don’t), you need to have a plan.

At the very least, you could create a simple set of instructions and a list of your logins.  My plan, in case you’re interested, includes the following steps:

  1. Create a list of all my domain/blogs/hosting accounts login URL’s and passwords.
  2. Specific instructions about what needs to be done with each site.
  3. Create some “post-Ray” emails that will let any readers or subscribers know what the status of the website is.
  4. Create instructions about what to do with any merhcant or payment systems that are set up for the sites.

That’s just the rough draft of my plan, written on the fly. I’m sure I’ll refine it. It’ll take some time. But it will save someone (probably someone I love) a lot of work and frustration.

It is also good service to my readers and customers.

What about you?

Do you have a “Dead Man Plan” for your websites? Do you have suggestions for something I should add to my plan? If so – add your voice to the discussion below.

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Magic Power Gets Anyone To Do Anything http://rayedwards.com/magic-power-gets-anyone-to-do-anything/ http://rayedwards.com/magic-power-gets-anyone-to-do-anything/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2009 15:01:51 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=549 [flowplayer src=’http://rayedwards.s3.amazonaws.com/x11Video2.flv’ splashend=show splash=’http://rayedwards.com/images/magicpower.png’]

(NOTE: This is an update of a previous post… enhanced with video. Please be sure and let me know what you think of this “multi-media” approach, okay? It’s quite a bit of work, and I’m happy to do it if you think it’s worthwhile.)

As marketers and entrepreneurs, we have a simple job – to get other people to do what we want them to do.

I’ll leave the discussion about the ethical side of this for another time; let’s just assume that you and I will always work for the best interests of our customers and prospects, okay?

So. We want to get people to do what we want. It will help them. It will help us. But exactly how do we do it?

There is a tactic that gives almost magical powers of persuasion.

You can, quite simply, get practically anyone to do practically anything.

It’s so simple you’ll be tempted to shrug it off.

Don’t.

Take just a moment to think about the fact that you already know this works, because you already know people who have this power. Don’t you know at least one person who seems to be able to persuade people on just about any issue?

Don’t you know at least one person who can seemingly “sell ice to the Eskimos”?

So how is it that some people are able to do that – and more importantly, how can you do the same? Wouldn’t that make an enormous impact on your business?

Here is the big secret…

“Enter the conversation already taking place in your prospect’s mind.”

As far as I know, that idea originated with the late, great copywriter Robert Collier.

If you can “join up” with what your prospects are already feeling and thinking, get in synch with them, and get them to identify you as a “friendly” in a hostile world… they will listen to what you have to say.

Think of it this way: the easiest way to influence someone is with whatever is already influencing them.

It’s a simple principle, but not easy to do.

So how do you do it? Here are some tips that will help you harness this seemingly magic power:

  1. Listen. Pay attention to what people say. Hang out in online forums. Track trends on twitter. Collect the words, phrases and ideas your market uses. Speak back to them in their own words.
  2. Watch. Be conscious of what your store or website visitors actually do. What causes them to opt in? To opt out? To buy? To ask for a refund? Nothing teaches like behavior. People vote with their feet. Watch their feet.
  3. Think. How can you solve their problems? How can you solve them quickly… easily… and with simplicity? Be the “aspirin for their headache” – and abundance will be yours.

If you can do these things, your readers/visitors/ listeners will be nodding their heads, slapping the table top, and saying, “Yes! That’s exactly how I feel!”

And when that happens, Constant Reader, they will do anything you ask.

Because anything you ask will be in alignment with what they already desire.

That’s a deep well I just pushed you into. Follow it all the way down, and be rewarded with the cool fresh water of more sales, more often.

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Teddy Roosevelt Business Secrets http://rayedwards.com/teddy-roosevelt-business-secrets/ http://rayedwards.com/teddy-roosevelt-business-secrets/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2009 23:33:47 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=543 rise-of-rooseveltI’m reading a book about Teddy Roosevelt.

I wanted to share something with you I just read from President Roosevelt.

Stick with me, Hoss – it’s worth it.

If you’ve ever been falsely accused…

If you’ve ever had anyone spread lies or deceit about you…

Celebrate!

Vocal critics are sending you a signal…

The signal is: you’re on the right track.

Don’t take my word for it – here’s what Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt had to say about critics:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

Now don’t get me wrong.

I’m talking about UN-JUST criticism.

I’m assuming you’re doing good things, with right intentions, and you’re being honest and fair in your dealings.

If you’re doing BAD things, you have bigger problems than being criticized.

So let’s say you’re creating value.

You’re being honest and fair.

And then for some reason – WHAMO! Somebody you never even met starts criticizing you.

Congratulations!

The only reason you’re a target for these trouble making complainers is… you’re DOING something.

Most people never do ANYTHING.

Especially the critics.

In fact, in my mind, the letters of the word “C.R.I.T.I.C.” actually stand for:

C – an’t
R – eally
I – nvent
T – hings
I – nstead
C – riticizes

And rest assured, the only way to be sure you’re never criticized is: don’t do anything.

CERTAINLY, if you’re having any success at all, you’re going to get criticism.

Welcome it.

And remember the business twist on all this that President Roosevelt certainly understood.

Your place “shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

’nuff Said,

Ray Edwards

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Weak Link In Your Selling Process? http://rayedwards.com/weak-link-in-your-selling-process/ http://rayedwards.com/weak-link-in-your-selling-process/#comments Sat, 13 Jun 2009 00:46:45 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=512 (NOTE: This is an update of a previous post… enhanced with video. Please be sure and let me know what you think of this “multi-media” approach, okay? It’s quite a bit of work, and I’m happy to do it if you think it’s worthwhile.)

[flashvideo file=http://rayedwards.s3.amazonaws.com/x11Video1.flv image=http://rayedwards.com/images/forge.png /]

Every piece of your website is a link in the sales chain.

Each link leads to the next, and at the end of the chain is the sale – and profits for you and your business.

Of course, as we all know, any chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

One way to get quick sales boost is: find the weak or broken links in your sales process and strengthen or repair them. And almost every website has at least a few week or broken links. I’m not just talking about hyperlinks, here… I’m talking about any crucial part of the sales process.

No website is perfect – no website is ever optimized fully. There’s always room for improvement. In most websites I look at for clients, there are some basic fixes that can pay off in a big way.

Here are three examples of things you might want to do on your own website:

  • Fix Broken Links. The most obvious example is actual broken links. These are frustrating at best for your visitors, and for many it will kill the sale instantly (“if they can’t get their links fixed, what must their product be like?”).
  • Remove Inconsistencies. In the world of direct mail, there’s a proven response boost when the message on the outside of the envelope matches the message on the headline of the letter inside; the reason this is so is, we are wired to respond positively to consistency. We like getting what we expect. Even seemingly small inconsistencies send a subconscious signal to your prospects that all is not right. Some specifics to look for: different typefaces or look & feel on your pages; lack of consistent layout from one section of your site to the next; jarring differences between your major sales pages (opt-in page, salesletter page, order page, thank you page). Get fanatical about consistency.
  • Remove “Mind Stoppers”. Some things just cause us to “stop our mind” when reading a website. For example, strange or unnatural wording can cause us to stop in the flow of reading and ask “What? Huh?” Even though these “Mind Stoppers” may only cause a pause of 1 or 2 seconds, they interrupt the flow of your sales message. Avoid “Mind Stoppers” at all costs. The best way to find them: read your copy aloud, to another human being, in a natural tone and at an easy pace. Then have them read it aloud back to you. In each case, mark any section that causes you to pause or stumble. Re-write those sections and remove the “Mind Stoppers”.

When you forge stronger links in your “Sales Chain”, you’ll increase your sales results. And that means more profits for you and your small business.

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“I Dreamed a Dream” – The Amazing Susan Boyle http://rayedwards.com/i-dreamed-a-dream/ http://rayedwards.com/i-dreamed-a-dream/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2009 19:09:17 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=390 It had been a long day on the road, and last night I was wiped out. Tired. Exhausted.

So I was not thrilled when my wife called to me from our home office saying I just had to come watch this video on YouTube.

Yet, a few minutes later, I was watching it with tears in my eyes.

I decided I would write a post about the video today, only to find my colleague Clayton Makepeace beat me to the punch. Read Clayton Makepeace’s post on Susan Boyle here.

And watch the video for yourself by clicking here.

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Copywriting Monkey http://rayedwards.com/copywriting-monkey/ http://rayedwards.com/copywriting-monkey/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2009 14:39:34 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=383 I was on a conference call where marketing was being discussed.

The discussion turned to “back end promotions”. Which means, “what you sell people after they bought your entry-level product”.

And the topic was the copy used to sell “back-end promotions”. One of the well-known, high-profile marketers on the call said something like, “Heck, you don’t need a great copywriter to write  that stuff. Those people are already your customers. A monkey could write that stuff.”

BUZZER.

That player is out of the game.

If you think any piece of your copy can be written by “a monkey”, you’re in trouble.

Because if that’s what you think, you’re saying your customers are monkeys, too. See how that works?

And if you still think there’s nothing wrong with all that, try this exercise: imagine your mother or your grandmother is the customer in question. Now imagine telling Mom or Grandma you hired a monkey to handle this part of their transaction, because that’s all the respect you needed to give them.

How’s that working for you?

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How To Go From “Surviving” To “Thriving” http://rayedwards.com/how-to-go-from-surviving-to-thriving/ http://rayedwards.com/how-to-go-from-surviving-to-thriving/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2009 18:10:45 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=380 It astounds me.

At every seminar I attend, someone asks me this question: “Does anybody really make a living selling information online?”

I also hear this one: “You can’t make any money as a copywriter or marketer now that the economy has gone down the toilet.”

What a load of garbage! Aaarrrgh!

Here’s why…

It’s easier than ever to make money online.

Especially if you’re a copywriter.

Why would I say that? Simple.

If you know how to write great copy, you have three ways to make money online:

1. You can get paid to write copy for others.

2. You can make money writing copy for your own products that you sell online (that may have nothing to do with copywriting or marketing).

3. You can make money as an affiliate for other people’s products (because you have copy skills, your promos will be far more effective than those of mere mortal marketers).

Not one way to make income, but three ways.

You might think I’m exaggerating. Heck, you might even think I’m lying.

Doesn’t matter.

Because I’m proving every day that what I’m saying is true.

And I look around me and I see lots of evidence that the “economy” has not “stopped” the wheels of commerce.

For instance, I’m traveling the country in my new motor home. Over the last 2 months I have visited both Disney parks in the USA (Disney World in Florida, and Disney Land in California)…

…plus I’ve been to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and a few other sunny places.

And looking out my window right now, I see lots of motor homes (which cost anywhere from $80,000 – $700,000 or more).

Nobody told all these people the economy was “in trouble”.

And…

While I was in Vegas, I visited the Coach store, the Apple Store, and many others. Crammed with people spending money.

Now, some people are spending money, right?

OBVIOUSLY.

And just as in the retail business, and in the RV business, and in the exotic car business… in the marketing business, people are still buying.

(Look, I’m not minimizing anyone’s pain here; I understand that there are many people experiencing real problems. Far from criticizing them or minimizing the seriousness of their situation, I’m simply pointing to one possible way out of those problems.)

And the good news, if you’re a copywriter, is that you have three ways to make money.

Trust me, other marketers will pay you LOADS to write killer copy for them. Because they  hate writing their own, in most cases.

And… it gets even better.

Because when you can write your own copy, you can roll out as many of your own products as you like.

One little online money machine after another. See how that works? And because you write YOUR OWN COPY, you bypass the single biggest expense in marketing. Copy.

So my message in today’s post is really quite simple: whatever you have to do…

GET GOOD AT WRITING COPY.

It’s the one skill that pays you back for the rest of your life. I know it has for me.

So do what it takes. Get good at copy.

If you need fast cash, you can write for other people.

Then, if you want to build long-term income, write copy for your own products. And/or promote affiliate products.

It’s the winning skill in today’s “economy”.

(If you’re curious about how you could start a career as a copywriter, or learn the skill for your own business, you might want to take a look at this resource.)

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Is a 10% Sales Conversion Rate Good? http://rayedwards.com/is-a-10-sales-conversion-rate-good/ http://rayedwards.com/is-a-10-sales-conversion-rate-good/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2009 23:13:18 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=371 In the Internet Marketing world, a 10% conversion rate is often considered outstanding.

But is it?

Not really.

Online retailers do much better.

Check out Futurenow’s posting on “the top 10 converting websites for December 2008“.

Here are the top five:

1. ProFlowers 31.1%
2. LL Bean 25.7%
3. Amazon 23.7%
4. VitaCost 23.0%
5. Coldwater Creek 22.4%

Hmmm.

What do they know that you don’t? Something to think about.

If you’re not already getting at least 10% conversions, I suggest reading this site.

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5 Easy Ways to Scan Your Market’s Brain http://rayedwards.com/5-easy-ways-to-scan-your-markets-brain/ http://rayedwards.com/5-easy-ways-to-scan-your-markets-brain/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2009 17:22:36 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=364 You need content for your blog or newsletter or ezine.

It needs to be relevant – in other words, you need to write about stuff your market cares about.

Most bloggers (and newsletter/ezine publishers, and speakers, and authors, etc.) don’t have a clue what their market cares about.

Oh, they think they know what the market wants. That’s the problem. Don’t be too upset if this has happened to you, because I’m about to give you 5 easy ways to always know exactly what’s on the mind of your market.

It’s almost as if they were wearing signs around their necks proclaiming, “Here’s what has my attention right now…”
This is going to seem brain-dead simple.

Just find out what they’re already talking about, or what they’re already paying attention to, and give them more of that – but with your own unique spin.

And of course, in a way that adds value to their lives (and at the same time leads them to your door).

So here are the “5 Easy Ways”… really they are 5 websites that are like magical marketing x-ray machines. Just look at the screen, and see what’s inside the mind of your market.

http://del.icio.us
http://digg.com
http://answers.yahoo.com
http://stumbleupon.com
http://google.com/news

Of course, it’s up to you (or your copywriter) to figure out how and why today’s hot topics matter to your market. And how they relate to your message about who you are and what you bring to the world.

We’ll be talking more about exactly how to do this at my upcoming workshop in Las Vegas (there are only 5 seats left, so you might want to take a look and see if it’s right for you).

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Jump Start Your Sales Copy: 21 Small Business Profit Boosters (#18) http://rayedwards.com/jump-start-your-sales-copy-21-small-business-profit-boosters-18/ http://rayedwards.com/jump-start-your-sales-copy-21-small-business-profit-boosters-18/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2009 12:13:04 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=340 launchgraph.jpgDo you find yourself staring at a blank screen?

Wondering how to get started writing your copy?

I’ve found that I get much better results if I use some “jump starters”.

They keep me focused, and get me started on the right track with a copy project.

Here are 3 “tricks” I use…

Maybe they’ll work for you, too:

  1. Write the benefit bullets. Don’t worry about writing body copy just yet. Just start banging out all the benefits of owning the product. This will be more extensive list than the one in the order box (which is our next “jump-starter”).
  2. Write the order box copy. This is the part of the copy where you clearly spell out the price of your offer, and the bullet points of all the main benefits of owning the product. Select the MAIN benefits (the one with the most “persuasion power” for the order box.
  3. Write 10 possible headlines for your copy. Don’t worry if they’re not “good enough”. You can even use some of the bullets you’ve written as starting points. Use a headline “swipe file” to spark ideas. Just get 10 headlines written.

Once you’ve finished the 3 “jump-starters” above, you will have written quite a bit of copy. It will be focused on the benefits of owning the product. You’ll be off to a good start on your copy project.

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Stop Trying So Hard: 21 Small Business Profit Boosters (#17) http://rayedwards.com/stop-trying-so-hard-21-small-business-profit-boosters-17/ http://rayedwards.com/stop-trying-so-hard-21-small-business-profit-boosters-17/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2009 14:03:31 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=335 I was on the phone with Jack.

“I just don’t think I can make a living online,” said Jack.

I was on the phone with Jack because he’s one of my subscribers. He sent me an email saying his back was to the wall.

He had been trying and trying to make this “online business thing” work, and had spent thousands of dollars over the last year or so.

He had only made about $200 to show for all his efforts.

Jack was ready to give up.

“Jack,” I said, “if you’re willing to listen, I think I can help.”

“I’m ready to try anything,” he said.

I smiled.

“And that is your first problem,” I answered…

Which leads me to the reason for writing this article.

Maybe you’re not in Jack’s situation. Maybe you’re not desperate.

But I know that a lot of people are asking the same questions as Jack. Among those questions:

  • Can I really make a living online and quit my day job?
  • If I put in all this effort and work, will I make money?
  • Am I being ripped off by people who sell me all this “make money” stuff on the Internet?
  • Are there secrets being held back that I don’t know about?

My best answer is the same one I gave to Jack (not his real name, by the way): yes, you can make a living online…and yes, you are probably wasting some money right now.

The good news is, if you’d start taking the right actions, you could turn it all around in just a day or two.

Here’s what I mean:

Most people struggling to build an online business are too busy buying the latest “system” or “course” or “software” or “service”…too busy BUYING stuff to ever MAKE any money.

For these people, their primary online “business” activity consists of evaluating their next purchase!

Think about it.

How much time do you spend reading salesletters, or reviews of products, courses, and seminars?

How much time do you spend reading and posting in online forums, discussing the merits of this or that new program?

And once you buy that new “thing” – whatever it is – how far do you get with it?

Do you have any big courses sitting on a shelf that you haven’t finished yet? Haven’t watched all the DVDs or listened to all the audios?

Have you any courses that you DID watch all the stuff, and got all excited by it…but didn’t follow through with all the STEPS?

Be honest.

It’s just you and me here.

My guess is that this line of thinking leaves you a bit uncomfortable.

Don’t worry – I think we’re all at least a little bit “guilty” of this syndrome.

But there is a solution – and I’m going to offer you three steps that may help you finally get your business “off the ground”.

The same three suggestions I offered to Jack.

Action Step 1: Set an Achievable Short-Term Goal

We spend too much time trying to figure out how to achieve some huge goal, like “make $10,000 a month”.

Set a more achievable, short-range goal.

For instance, why not just shoot for $500?

Once you make $500 online, you can work on increasing it, right?

The power in this is simple: once you MAKE that $500, you have a lot more BELIEF that you can do it again…and again…and again.

And there is REAL power in that belief.

And if $500 seems out of reach for you, then just set a goal you CAN believe in. Even if it’s only $100.

On the other hand, there are those reading this letter who are already making $10,000 or $20,000 per month…you’ll need a bigger goal, but the principle is the same no matter where you are.

Action Step 2: Pick a Tactic For Achieving That Goal

Notice I didn’t say pick a “Strategy”.

That’s because if you’re struggling to get your business off the ground, “Strategy” may be too big for you to tackle right now.

What you need is one effective “tactic”: a specific set of actions you can take to achieve your objective.

For instance, if you want to build a list of subscribers, one tactic to use is: post in forums to drive traffic to your “squeeze page” (a forced opt-in page used to get subscribers). Make your posts helpful and informative, and put the link to your “squeeze page” in the signature block.

If you work at the above tactic diligently, you WILL start seeing subsribers signing up for your list within a few short days.

There are many other tactics you might choose, I only offer this one as an example.

There a lots of tactics that do in fact work.

Your problem is likely not a lack of good ideas for tactics. It’s that you have too many good ideas and can’t focus on any one of them! Which leads us to…

Action Step 3: Stick With It Until You Achieve The Goal

Too often, I see people get started with a tactic they’re excited about – only to watch them give up on it too early.

Stay with your tactic.

Notice what works.

Notice what doesn’t.

Adjust your approach accordingly – but stick it out until you’ve made your $500 (or whatever your goal was).

Until that time, keep blinders on.

Ignore all the other offers, emails, and attractive “tactics of the week” that come along.

Just focus on YOUR chosen tactic until you have that $500!

And Then What Do You Do?

Once you’ve achieved your goal, you’ll be faced with a decision: what do you do next?

Do you keep at it, employ the same tactic for the next $500? Maybe.

That choice will be up to you, and is beyond the scope of this article.

But keep this in mind: what you will have learned from this exercise is vital.

You will have proven to yourself that:

  1. You can make money with your online business.
  2. You can achieve a goal you set for yourself.
  3. And you know at least one tactic for doing it.

Don’t you think the next step will seem just a little bit easier now?

I hope that if you, like Jack, have been wondering whether you can “really” make it in your online business, you will take this message to heart and at least give my suggestions a shot.

And if you do, I hope you’ll let me know about your success story!

It doesn’t have to take long. In fact, it can be done in as little as one weekend.

Have a great weekend.

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Squeeze Pages Build Lists: 21 Small Business Profit Boosters (#16) http://rayedwards.com/squeeze-pages-build-lists-21-small-business-profit-boosters-16/ http://rayedwards.com/squeeze-pages-build-lists-21-small-business-profit-boosters-16/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2009 13:52:04 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=331 emailer.jpgShould you use a “squeeze page” on your website, or have these pages lost their effectiveness?

A “squeeze page” is one that forces your site visitors to give you their name and email address in exchange for some kind of bribe… an audio training, a special report, or piece of software.

Making a free offer to your site visitors in exchange for their name and e-mail address is a great way to grow your e-mail list, but it has to be done carefully so that you don’t also drive away potential customers.

Here are some things to think about…

You know it’s important to grow your e-mail list. The bigger the list, the more people will see your offers, and the more money you will make.

The challenge in today’s internet marketing world is it’s harder than ever to convince people to opt in. A squeeze page is probably the best list building tool available, but you must be careful. Using a squeeze page the wrong way can hurt your business more than it helps.

It’s best to use a squeeze page on a site that is built to sell one product. For example, if you have a site that features a sales letter selling a particular product or service, placing a squeeze page in front of the information about that product or service is a good idea. This keeps readers from being distracted; it sifts and sorts potential buyers by level of seriousness; and it gives you a list of interested parties that you can go back and market to repeatedly.

One of the biggest mistakes I see being made online is putting a squeeze page in front of the wrong kinds of sites.

Don’t put a squeeze page in front of your portal site, your branding site, or your blog. Putting a squeeze page in front of those kinds of sites does not make sense. Those sites have a very different purpose than sites that are intended to sell one targeted product or promotion.

Remember that your squeeze page is a gate.

It keeps people out of your website and it can potentially scare off your customers.

If you have a strong enough offer, a video, an audio, or special report, you may be able to get people to opt in and build a very targeted list using a squeeze page.

The growing problems of spam, viruses and spyware have made people more reluctant than ever to give up their name and e-mail address.

Squeeze pages can definitely build your list fast. These pages are a powerful tool that I recommend to all of my clients; just be sure to use them in the appropriate situation.

What do you think? Are squeeze pages more or less effective than they once were? Post your comments below.

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Profits Hidden In Your Business: 21 Small Business Profit Boosters (#15) http://rayedwards.com/profits-hidden-in-your-business-21-small-business-profit-boosters-15/ http://rayedwards.com/profits-hidden-in-your-business-21-small-business-profit-boosters-15/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2009 13:40:24 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=325 dollar_sign.jpgThere is money hidden in your business. Money that you could be using. Money that, unless you do something about it, will slip through your fingers and vanish without a trace.

Where is this money – and how do you get it?

Most businesses have many hidden opportunities for discovering “windfall profits” – but I want to focus on just one of those opportunities in this article.

That “opportunity pocket” is: marketing and advertising.

In my experience, almost every business – whether it be retail, service, professional practice, or “business to business” in its nature – is unconsciously letting profits slip away.

Your biggest opportunity most likely lies hidden inside your underperforming sales copy (copy that isn’t selling as many units/contracts/ memberships as it potentially could be).

If you want to make more sales without spending a single dime in additional ad costs, this article might be the most important document you read this year…

Make Piles of Money With “Upside Leverage”

“Upside Leverage” is a concept I learned from marketing genius Jay Abraham.

We all know what leverage is: using other people’s money to build your business, or other people’s efforts (through delegation, for instance) to increase your own productivity.

“Leverage” involves using one asset (the lever) to increase the value or power of another. The only problem with using “leverage” is the potential downside: if you use financial leverage to borrow money for a business project, the project could possibly fail, and you would be forced to pay back the money. If you use the leverage of delegation in order to make yourself more productive, there’s a chance the person you’re relying on might let you down.

“Upside” leverage is leverage that involves little or no potential downside.

It’s my belief that underperforming sales copy is the most potentially profitable of all forms of “upside leverage”.

Please read that sentence again, because it’s too easy to let the profound meaning it contains slip past you:

Underperforming sales copy is the most potentially profitable of all forms of “upside leverage”.

Think of it this way: any ad or promotion costs the same whether it performs well or not, right? If you spend $100 on an ad, and you get $500 in business as a result, you made a 5-1 return on your investment. That’s a good return. You did what you set out to do, you made a profit.

But… what if you could take that same ad, and change it in some way that made it 10 times more effective?

What if now it returned $5,000?

You spent the same $100 for the ad… but you got back $5,000.

Instead of a 5-1 return, now you’re getting 50-1! That, my marketing friend, is “upside leverage”!

Change Your Copy, Change Your Income

There is so much bad copy on the web, it’s almost laughably easy to be better than most of your competitors.

Why is that?

I believe there are a number of reasons, but here are a few of the common ones:

1. Some people just don’t realize their copy is bad. They wrote it themselves, or their brother or their niece wrote it. They think it’s wonderful – but in reality it stinks like a dead skunk.

2. Others don’t realize how important their sales copy is. This is a naive belief, and it astounds me that so many people hold it – but they do. Some people seem to think that as long at the copy has “just the facts”, that’ll be good enough. It never is.

3. Some people are just cheap. They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to start a business, buy furniture, hire staff, provide benefits, etc., but when it comes to the one piece of communication that might actually cause someone to buy from them – they don’t want to pay for it. They “delegate” this crucial task. Big mistake.

Are you making any of these mistakes? If you are, this is your wake-up call.

Take advantage of the potential “upside leverage” that exists in every ad or promotion. Make sure you ads are performing – that they are making you sales every day. And that they are making you more sales this week than they did last week, etc.

You do this through constant improvement and testing/tracking.

You also do it by either hiring a copywriter, or investing in educational materials that will teach you how to write your own copy. Either one can work – it’s up to you. If you love to write, and you think you have a knack for it, then by all means get a good home-study course on copywriting and do it yourself.

Don’t put it off – do it right now. Otherwise, you’re throwing money away that rightfully belongs to you.

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Armand Morin, Seth Godin, Frank Kern and A Cast Of Thousands. (Thank You) http://rayedwards.com/armand-morin-seth-godin-frank-kern-and-a-cast-of-thousands-thank-you/ http://rayedwards.com/armand-morin-seth-godin-frank-kern-and-a-cast-of-thousands-thank-you/#comments Thu, 01 Jan 2009 17:06:39 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=352 thankyousignIt’s the first day of the New Year.

I should be working on other stuff.

For instance, I have 8 more small business profit boosters to write for you (I’m up to #13 and I promised 21). But…

I felt compelled to write this post instead.

I’ve been reflecting on who I owe my success to in the copywriting and internet marketing world. Because you know, none of us do this on our own. I’m not an island. I’ve been helped by a number of people along the way. And as we move into the new year, I want to publicly thank and acknowledge a number of them.

Disclaimer: making a list like this always opens up the risk that I’ll leave someone out. If you have helped me, and I somehow forget to mention you, remind me privately and I’ll add your name to the list.

Armand Morin. Armand is the guy who has taught me the most about Internet Marketing, and he pushed and prodded me to create my own info-products (I went from zero to over 20 in less than a year) and to get serious about my speaking career. Without a doubt, I recommend Armand’s Big Seminar and his Internet Marketing Newsletter.

Alex Mandossian. Alex taught me how to use Teleseminars to build my business (even though I was a copywriter at the time, my first year using Alex’s techniques easily made me over $100,000). He’s also a man of deep integrity.

Brad Callen. One of my top clients, I am actually involved in a site with Brad and his brother Matt. These guys have been with me as clients for a long time now, and have been a great encouragement to me.

Willie Crawford. One of the first friends I made in this business. Willie and I had some pretty amusing adventures together.

John Carlton. Possibly the world’s greatest living copywriter. I have learned so much from John, I can’t even begin to tell you. I attended a seminar once just so I could buy his “mother of all offers” where he sold a $5,000 box of his materials. Pay attention: I went to a seminar so that I could spend $5,000 with John. That ought to tell you something. I had the privilege of hanging out with John in Vegas recently, and it was the highlight of my trip.

Harlan Kilstein. Killer copywriter and Carlton’s top student, Harlan is also a master of hypnosis and NLP. Harlan taught me how to get paid what I’m worth as a copywriter. Seriously. After attending one of his seminars, I TRIPLED my fees. Thanks Harlan.

Matt Bacak. One of my top clients, Matt was one of the very first people to hire me to write copy. We met because I saw him sitting in the bar… with his laptop! I knew he was a kindred spirit. We’ve done some great things together (recently we did a $3.5 million promotion), and I’ve learned a lot from Matt. He’s also been a good friend.

Mike Litman. Mike was the first Internet Marketer to pay me for copy. He paid me a scandalously low amount of money. When he ordered 2 more sales letters from me, he coached me on raising my prices – on his project! His was the first IM event I ever attended, and it’s where I met my long-term friends (and now clients) Armand Morin and Matt Bacak.

Mike Stewart. Mike showed me “lifestyle business” at its best when he invited me to spend a couple of days at his lake place in Georgia. We played around on the lake, ate a lot of good food, and created a new video product (on copywriting) in his home studio (said product to be released soon).

Frank Kern. I’ve learned a lot from Frank, and he’s hired more than once to write copy for him. Frank gave me my all-time favorite testimonial (it’s a bit off-color, so I won’t quote it here). It’s through Frank I first met John Carlton, Sarkis, Neil Strauss, and a bunch of other “fancy people”. And Frank recommended me to Tony Robbins for some copywriting work – so how could I not acknowledge Captain Kern?

Ed Dale. I actually met Frank Kern and Ed Dale at the same time. They had hired me to write copy for their Underachiever Conference before we ever actually met. What endeared me to Ed first was his love for all things Apple. Instant bonding. And Ed actually gave me the testimonial that ties with Frank’s for my all-time favorite. Since it doesn’t contain the “F Word” I’ll quote it in full: “Ray, I bless the day your copy met my bank account”.

Jeff Walker. The creator of the Product Launch Formula, Jeff taught me the art of Product Launches. I was one of the first customers for the original PLF, and ended up in Jeff’s high-end Platinum Coaching group. Jeff coached me through my first launch (of my own product). Jeff had made me… well, a lot of money. And he’s also a good friend. Jeff credits me with being the first person he’s ever actually paid to write copy for him. I can’t thank him enough for all the guidance, encouragement, and generosity he has shown me.

Jon Walker. Jon is Jeff’s brother. I actually got to know him before I got to know Jeff, and I count Jon as one of my very favorite people. He’s kind, diplomatic, and has a razor-sharp business mind. He is truly one of those “guys behind the scenes” who is responsible for some big stuff in the online world. Jon has given me some invaluable counsel, advice and insight on my own business, and he’s one of the people I love to bounce ideas around with.

Michel Fortin. One of the first people I got to know in the copywriting world, I owe Michel several debts of gratitude. I’ve learned a lot from him about copy, marketing, and online technology (Michel convinced me to migrate from Movable Type to WordPress, for instance… and was at least partially responsible for getting me hooked on Photoshop). He’s also helped me navigate through a couple of difficult situations, and has unselfishly helped me grow my business.

Sylvie Fortin. Sylvie is one of the most vibrant, determined and principled people I know. She has the courage to speak her mind even when it might be unpopular to do so. I am astounded by her willingness to share personal challenges publicly so that others may benefit. And her keen insight played a crucial role in rescuing me from total burn-out in 2008. Really. I love Sylvie Fortin for these reasons and more.

Craig Perrine. Smart, funny, intelligent, and willing to encourage me in my tendency to sit in the back of the room and cause trouble, Craig is a great friend and a smart marketer.

Kirt Christensen. One of the first people I bought an information product from, Kirt agreed to meet with me not knowing for sure whether I might be a stalker. We ended up become friends and business partners. Kirt helped me form my pursuit of the ideal business: working 20 hours a week and making $100,000 per month. That’s not too much to ask, right?

Eric Graham. I’ve never met a person more dedicated to rigorous scientific testing of copy, marketing tactics, and web page factors. Eric takes the “voodoo” of marketing and makes it science. From him I’ve learned discipline and tenacity. Plus, he flies stunt planes. Yep, upside down, loop-the-loops, and all that stuff.

Christina Hills. Christina is the CEO of “Shopping Cart Queen” – a company that educates online businesses on how to use their shopping cart software. They also teach a lot more stuff, including other software and systems. Christina was crucial to my first product launch coming off well, and she’s helped me in a pinch on more than one occasion.

Stu McLaren. Stu was one of my early clients. I wrote the copy for his Idea Incubator Seminar. I was so excited by it I decided to attend. Stu and I became friends, and through him I met Stephen Pierce, David Frey, Alex Mandossian, Jeff Walker and many others. Now Stu not only is a big-shot Internet Marketer but is now working with his wife Amy to change the world. Bravo!

Mike Filsaime . I met Mike before he was “famous”. We had a conversation outside the seminar room in Denver where Mike told me the story of this new product he was creating called “Butterfly Marketing”. We have remained friends over the years, and Mike recently had me work on the “7 Figure Code” launch with him (which was a blast).

Tom Beal. Tom and I were in a Mastermind Group together for a while, and when we met through that group I only had a vague idea that he worked with Mike Filsaime. Tom and I have laughed together, hung out in the back of many a seminar room, and worked together on a few projects. I count him as both a friend and a great marketing mind.

Joel Comm. Joel and I knew each other a while before we ever did any work together. Joel has been a true friend, and has done a lot to help me as a person and on a business level. Joel got me my publishing deal, invited me to be a guest expert on The Next Internet Millionaire, hired me to write copy, and has been a true supporter.

Andy Jenkins. You know him as the StomperNet guy – and so do I. I’ve written some copy for the Stomper guys (Andy and Brad Fallon). Andy has been encouraging, enthusiastic, and promoted me in places where it counted.

Rich Schefren. Controversial, smart, challenging, and able to wear you down. And that was just my first dinner with Rich! Rich is not only a client, he’s one of the people I’ve learned some of my most valuable business lessons from.

Brian Johnson. You may know him as Schefren’s right-hand guy. I know him as a trustworthy friend and tireless supporter. He’s also a guy who will be there to get the job done, even when other people have gone home.

Ryan Healy, Ben Settle, John Angel and Daniel Levis are all part of a secret mastermind group I belong to. The weird thing is we’re all copywriters. And it’s one of the most profitable and enjoyable groups I’m a member of. This group has been referred to as “The Five Horsemen of the Copywriting Apocalypse”.

Jeanette Cates. She’s organized, she’s diligent, and she’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever met. She’s also fun to hang around with.

Dave Bernstein. One of the first products I ever created, I created with Dave. He’s absolutely nuts about all things audio. And he is smart enough to live where it’s warm all year.

George Callens. George works with Armand to run a $25 million dollar a year company and makes it looks easy. He’s on top of things, he’s in charge, and he’s one of the most stunningly competent people I know. George has helped me sort through some important challenges in my business.

Chris & Jim Howard. I’ve been friends with Jim & Chris just about as long as anyone in this business. They are a continuous inspiration, and “go to” people when I need help or advice.

Dr Mike Woo-Ming. He’s a friend, he’s a client, and he’s an International Man of Mystery.Remember that time you rented that house in Vegas and we all hung out there? That was awesome.

Howie Schwartz. One of the smartest and funniest people I have ever met and someone I am proud to know and call friend.

Yanik Silver. Brilliant marketer, tireless entrepreneur, and peerless promoter. I love the Underground Seminar, and his YSS is brilliant. I’m also inspired by what he’s been doing with the Maverick Brand.

Dan Kennedy. What can I say about Dan that hasn’t been said? I think he mostly invented the info-product/coaching business. He’s a writer’s writer. He lives the life he chose to live. And he seems to be a true genius when it comes to this stuff.

Jason Moffatt. Jason and I are probably about a much alike as East and West – but I count him as a friend, a keen marketing mind, and one of the very best salesmen I have ever met.

Tracy Childers. Tracy and I have held a few late-night brainstorming sessions involving large quantities of what another friend of mine calls “barley pop”. Every time I talk to him, I get about two dozen new ideas. And Tracy is inspiring in his ability to get products created, and his integrity and kindness.

Marlon Sanders. The first marketing product I ever bought was “The Amazing Formula”. It blew me away. Since then I’ve had a chance to get to know Marlon as one of the funniest, most intelligent, and most interesting people I know. Plus, have you seen this guy’s hats?

David Frey. He’s the “gentle giant” of Internet Marketing, He’s been an encourager, a good teacher, and someone I’ve felt inspired by since we first met at Stu McLaren’s Idea Incubator.

Ken McArthur. One of my favorite clients, Ken has been another ardent supporter of mine. He’s someone who is universally loved by everyone who knows him. And he invited me to speak in Orlando in February (Disney, here I come).

Clayton Makepeace. One of my copywriting “heroes”, Clayton is one sharp guy. And Clayton is the guy about whom I have the strangest “how we met” story of all. Sorry, I’m not telling. Not today, anyway.

Mary Mazzullo. She took the pictures that make me look good. Of course, that ‘s what she does. She also got me into the mysterious “Club 33”. And she’s a true friend.

Bob Bly. The copywriter’s copywriter, a scholar, and a gentleman. Bob really got me started down this road, and one of the highlights of my career was being quoted on the cover of “Secrets of a Freelance Writer”.

Mari Smith. First she was my student (in copywriting) and now she is my teacher (in Social Media Marketing). Thanks Mari!

Seth Godin. Some of the most intense learning I ever did, I did at Seth’s office. Thanks Seth!

This post grew as I was writing it.

The truth is, there are so many people I should thank I probably could never write it all down. So please, if you don’t see your name here, don’t take it personally. I love and appreciate you — and if you know me at all, I hope you know that’s true.

Bear with me, I have a couple more acknowledgments: my business could not exist without the support of my family (both near and far).

My wife and son are the two most important people on earth to me. I love you both with complete and reckless abandon.

Finally, and most importantly, I would be nothing if not for the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Every good thing I have (or ever will have) comes from Him.

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“Dumbing Down” Gets More Sales: 21 Small Business Profit Boosters (#13) http://rayedwards.com/dumbing-down-gets-more-sales-21-small-business-profit-boosters-13/ http://rayedwards.com/dumbing-down-gets-more-sales-21-small-business-profit-boosters-13/#comments Wed, 31 Dec 2008 13:23:18 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=318 Have you ever read a website and it just seemed to “stiff” or “formal” to you?

Or you felt like they were talking over your head, using a lot of buzzwords and lingo you didn’t understand?

Me too.

That leads to this little tip that will REALLY help your copy make more sales (or generate more leads, or whatever you need it to do)…

Keep it simple! Yes, even “dumb it down”.

Copy should read like conversation; it should flow naturally and be easy to listen to (or read).

By the way, this does not mean your readers are “dumb” (they’re not). It means they are busy and distracted: simplifying your copy respects your reader’s time.

Using big words and jargon might sound impressive, but it won’t get you sales. Which would you prefer?

Use strong, punchy words. Write simply and clearly.

Read Strunk & White’s Elements of Style – and follow its advice.

Avoid jargon.

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Magic Power Gets Anyone To Do Anything: 21 Small Business Profit Boosters (#5) http://rayedwards.com/magic-power-gets-anyone-to-do-anything-21-small-business-profit-boosters-5/ http://rayedwards.com/magic-power-gets-anyone-to-do-anything-21-small-business-profit-boosters-5/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2008 03:13:35 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=291 As marketers and entrepreneurs, we have a simple job.

To get other people to do what we want them to do.

There is a tactic that gives almost magical powers of persuasion.

You can, quite simply, get practically anyone to do practically anything.

It’s so simple you’ll be tempted to shrug it off.

Don’t.

Here it is…

“Enter the conversation already taking place in your prospect’s mind.”

As far as I know, that idea originated with Robert Collier. It’s a simple principle, but not easy to do. So how do you do it?

Listen. Pay attention to what people say. Hang out in online forums. Track trends on twitter. Collect the words, phrases and ideas your market uses. Speak back to them in their own words.

Watch. Be conscious of what your store or website visitors actually do. What causes them to opt in? To opt out? To buy? To ask for a refund? Nothing teaches like behavior. People vote with their feet. Watch their feet.

Think. How can you solve their problems? How can you solve them quickly… easily… and with simplicity? Be the aspirin for their headache and abundance will be yours.

If you can do these things, your readers/visitors/ listeners will be nodding their heads, slapping the table top, and saying, “Yes! That’s exactly how I feel!”

And when that happens, Constant Reader, they will do anything you ask.

Because anything you ask will be in alignment with what they already desire.

That’s a deep well I just pushed you into. Follow it all the way down, and be rewarded with the cool fresh water of more sales, more often.

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Thanks-Giving = Thanks-Getting: 21 Small Business Profit Boosters (#2) http://rayedwards.com/thanks-giving-thanks-getting-21-small-business-profit-boosters-2/ http://rayedwards.com/thanks-giving-thanks-getting-21-small-business-profit-boosters-2/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2008 00:15:02 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=283 Thanks-Giving is Thanks-Getting

In the United States, we’re celebrating Thanksgiving. In our tradition, this means expressing our gratitude for the bountiful harvest. It is a long-standing tradition, steeped in the mythology of the birth of our nation.

For many people, it is one of the very few times of the year they pause to truly reflect on what they’re thankful for.

In keeping with the idea of giving thanks, I’m about to suggest a simple strategy of thanks-giving that can also have a “boomerang effect”; by giving thanks, it’s possible to get thanks back in return. In the form of dollars in your bank account.

Which leads us to Tactic #2 in our 21-part series. Here’s the tactic…

Get out your trusty list of all past customers.

Even the ones who only spent a few dollars with you.

Now send each one of them a hand-written thank you note.

Yes, I said a hand-written thank you note.

Not one printed by computer, using a handwriting font.

Not a photocopied “hand-written” note. No, I’m suggesting you send each individual customer a short, quickly-written, perhaps even a little tough to read… hand written note. (HINT: I never said you personally had to write each one; just that it be written by a human hand.)

“But That Will Take Forever!”

I can already hear the protests that this is much too time-consuming.

I beg to differ.

Follow my reasoning: which has more impact on you… a computer printed note (which you can always detect, right?), or an obviously hand-written one?

My questions are a setup, of course. We all know that hand-written note is magnitudes more important and attention-getting to each of us.

How important do you think it is to create those emotions in your customers?

If you can reach a large number of your past customers, and grab a little piece of their attention, and make them feel a little special… do you think that’s likely to result in new or repeat business? Do you think it’s possible that they will recommend you to their friends and loved ones? Do you think it’s possible that when one of your competitors starts marketing aggressively to this customer, they’ll remember that handwritten note from you?

Now, if you simply stop with the thank-you note I don’t think your results are going to be very outstanding; although I do predict you’ll get some business if that’s all you ever do. But here comes the real power play…

How To Follow Up Your Thanks-giving Note With a Thanks-getting Note

The timing on this nextmaneuver is crucial.  If you wait too long, it won’t work nearly as well. Within two days of sending the thank you note, send a marketing communication.

My suggestion is this marketing communication be simple and to the point. It might say something like, “as an added thank you for being a loyal customer in the past, I’d like to make you aware of a special opportunity right now…”.

The keys to this tactic working  are:

  1. The fact that the first note is genuinely handwritten.
  2. The proximity (in time) of the second note to the first
  3. The words “added thank you”. Because they evoke the memory of the thank you note.

Mess up one of those variables, and your results will diminish.

Is this groundbreaking?

Is it earth shattering?

No.

But it will work. The hand-written note will stand out from among all of the “fake” thank you notes your customers are getting from other businesses. Trust me. You’re going to be on a whole different level.

If you send a marketing communication within 48 hours of your customer receiving your hand-written note, your marketing communication will be at least seven times more effective than it would have been on its own.

Many of your past customers will thank you for your personal attention-and they’ll thank you in the form of new business.

Tomorrow’s profit booster: Bobby Fischer marketing.

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Can Good Writing Be Taught? http://rayedwards.com/can-good-writing-be-taught/ http://rayedwards.com/can-good-writing-be-taught/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2008 00:24:17 +0000 Ray Edwards http://rayedwards.com/?p=297 books.jpgThere is a myth in the marketing world that anyone can write good copy. When this myth is spoken, it’s usually followed by the advice that all one needs is a good swipe file (successful ads of the past that one can “borrow” from).

This myth has always struck me as false — or at least only partially true.

I believe that when it comes right down to it, you must have some writing talent. If you don’t, your copy will not be brilliant. It may not even be good. In most cases, it will just be bad.

I see plenty of evidence that the last is the most common result.

There is another myth that if one studies enough of the right manuals, or attends enough of the right seminars, one can learn to write well. Frankly, if you don’t have some native talent — a “knack”, if you will — I don’t think all the classes, courses, or seminars in the world can help you much.

Stephen King would agree with me, I suspect. In a recent article he penned for the Washington Post, King wrote: “The only things that can teach writing are reading, writing and the semi-domestication of one’s muse.”

So there it is, then.

My opinion is that not everyone can learn to be a great (or even good) writer. Everyone is born with a certain aptitude (or lack of it), and they’re pretty much stuck with that aptitude. They can take classes or be taught to make the most of it, but they are always limited to a certain range in the development of their craft.
What do you think?

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