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RANT Why the 30 Day Copywriting Challenge Doesn't Work. Secrets from OZ and Narnia.

arfadugus

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The Books, The Information, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe! OH MY!

You've read 10 expert books on copywriting. You've handwritten 30 sales letters. You haven't made a cent copywriting. Here's why....

These ten books on copywriting go into detail about benefits vs. features. They give you secret sales tactics that have made millions. They give you everything you need to know about writing advertisements, sales letters, emails, etc.

BUT!!!!

They do not take into account..

-That you are starting fresh on the internet.
-You do not work for an established agency.
-You've never written a single piece of copy in your life.
-
Copy that you will be writing for clients on Upwork and from referrals will be vastly different than copy written 50 years ago.

Let that sink in...

I bet your are waiting to hear why I made a Wizard of OZ reference mixed with a Narnia one..

Dorothy was walking down the yellow brick road with her little pooch Toto. She was headed on a journey to kick a$$ at life. There was a fork in the road. One of the paths led through a dense jungle. The other path was short and clear as day. This path led to a wardrobe. (Fantasy land)

"Which path should I take Toto?"

"Bark bark!"

"I guess I'll check to see what's the wardrobe."

The wardrobe was filled with old books full of life's secrets. Dorothy figured that if she read about life's secrets then she would be able to kick a$$ at life!

"Hurray!"

Dorothy sat and read. Hours and hours passed. She read about how to be happy. She read about how to get through tough times. She read about living in the moment. She read about the best ways to kick a$$ at life. She read, and read, and read.

With a stiff neck and and achy back, Dorothy got up and headed for the dense Jungle. Immediately, Dorothy encountered a nice Faun. Half Goat half man. She read about Fauns and she was excited to meet one! But suddenly...

The faun started viciously attacking and ripping Dorothy's Face off! She was screaming something awful. There was a huge mess that the Lolipop Guild had to clean up soon after. They even had to change some of the yellow bricks on the ground because the blood had stained in between them.

Poor Dorothy. If only she knew that fauns had become infected with a hatred towards humans with dogs. This was long after the books were written. After the ice war. Maybe Dorothy would have been more careful if she didn't read that fauns were nice creatures.

The moral of the story? I'm not sure.

Maybe it is that reading books about will not give you real world experience, and could possibly hinder your growth.

Handwriting an old sales letter will not give you experience writing copy either. Why?

Each and every product solves it's own problem.

A great advertisement will only work for the product or service that it was written for.

Writing a sales letter for an old product does not work because you will never be selling that product in that time, place, situation, etc. There are so many factors that will change an add. Even for the same physical product. You need to write and solve problems for your customer based on their needs. Without real world experience you will not learn this. Because you wont solving any real world problems.

I guess what I'm trying to say is...

The books do not teach you relevant real world experience. You can only do that by putting your copy out there, testing, and getting feedback from it. Yes, you do need to know some information about how to write copy. But most of what you need you will learn on the way.

As MJ Demarco has once said, and pardon me if I butcher the quote, "A+B=C."

If I want to get C, why would I first learn ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOP? I could just learn A+B and learn from the process. Then, when I need to get F, then I will learn U.

Just don't be like Dorothy. Learning from books won't give you the fear or the confidence you need to get real world experience.

So what should you do if you want to become a good copywriter?

Start applying for gigs. Learn how to solve each problem for your clients as they come along. That is the first step to the journey.

That's how I made my first dollar copywriting. And the lesson I learned.

Good luck.
 

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Jakeeck

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I agree.

The books are pretty good, but I get the vibe that Gary didn't actually put much thought into his "challenge." It seems like more of a "go do this you little punk" kind of thing. (Or maybe he put it together to sell the books on the list :D )

Most of them are all about direct mail copywriting, which is such a small aspect of written copy these days, and the language seems... dated.

They each definitely have golden nuggets in there, but after reading Robert Collier's 267th letter, I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that there was a better way to learn how to write copy.

Honestly, most of what you need to know about copywriting is stuff you've already read.

You know how much MJ's book inspired you? Good, go back and learn how he's appealing to his demographic. Analyze it, think about why it gets an emotional rise out of you, and then use it (in your own words, of course).

Now you've got a decent grip on how to write copy for the personal development niche.

Of course, there are some things like NLP that you have to learn along with it, but the blueprint for writing good copy is to... read good copy and pick it apart.

I don't mean to make this sound simple. It still takes a lot of work to be a great copywriter and distance yourself from other writers.

I have personally found this method to be a much more useful approach than reading old books and gaining a bit of knowledge here and there that still applies to today.
 

BlakeIC

Silver Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jan 9, 2014
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You are simply wrong (I don't want to be rude here).

You got only the 2nd book of the challenge, you gave up right in the BEGINNING.

"Most of them are all about direct mail copywriting, which is such a small aspect of written copy these days, and the language seems... dated."

Direct mail is one of the best ways to test whether you can write copy that brings action or not.

I 100% completed this challenge and found 99% of its content to be applicable.

If you can't succeed in direct mail then you aren't a copywriter, you are just a wannabe copywriter.

If there are any of the books in the challenge you end up reading, have them be the following:

- Scientific Advertising
- Tested Advertising Methods
- How To Write a Good Advertisement
- Breakthrough Advertising.

P.S I know you do copywriting, if your sales letters/pages are profitable. Then give direct mail a shot. I know it is not sexy, but it has made many millionaires and will continue to make more.

EDIT: I will agree though, the collier book is BORING. Not only that but it is boring and LONG! It is something I would read gradually and instead of blowing through it in one go.
 
Last edited:

Jakeeck

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Jun 24, 2014
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Phoenix, Arizona
I did only read Scientific Advertising (2x), Boron Letters (2x) and Robert Collier Letter Book (1.5x).

I personally don't believe direct mail is the best way to test.

I think split-testing email campaigns, landing pages, Google/FB ads are the best ways to test whether your copy brings action or not.

If you're a direct mail advertiser, obviously not, but most of my clients hire me for web copy/landing pages/email campaigns.

I will read the rest of those books, but I personally felt the challenge was growing me at a slower pace than throwing myself into the field and learning as I go.
 

BlakeIC

Silver Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jan 9, 2014
844
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Not Washington
I did only read Scientific Advertising (2x), Boron Letters (2x) and Robert Collier Letter Book (1.5x).

I personally don't believe direct mail is the best way to test.

I think split-testing email campaigns, landing pages, Google/FB ads are the best ways to test whether your copy brings action or not.

If you're a direct mail advertiser, obviously not, but most of my clients hire me for web copy/landing pages/email campaigns.

I will read the rest of those books, but I personally felt the challenge was growing me at a slower pace than throwing myself into the field and learning as I go.
I agree Google & FB ads are too a great way to get a quick response.
Now, that I think about. You're right in regards to direct mail not being the best way to test copy.

Although, copy in the digital era follows a great deal of the same principles compared to offline copy.

If I were to tell someone about the challenge I'd tell them this.

- You can get away with reading the books only one time as long as you take extensive notes (except breakthrough advertising, read it several times)
- Skip hand writing the sales letters, I found that to be a total waste of time.

BTW, dude, you have one contagious smile.
 

Jakeeck

Silver Contributor
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Jun 24, 2014
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Phoenix, Arizona
Breakthrough Advertising is one I need to make time to read. Everyone always says it's a gamechanger.

And thanks :D Normally I show teeth, but Dwight Schrute says showing one's teeth is a sign of weakness.

 

Sully1994

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Nov 5, 2016
96
313
176
25
Chicago
Here's the thing . Writing is incredibly subjective . What I may consider steaming dog shit, others may consider golden prose. Vice versa is also true . Often , clients don't know what they want. You must tell them. your confidence and presentation is what will win you a contract , not your writing . No idea is so miraculously good that it will stand on its own two feet without you propping it up .

Get on the phone with your prospective employer. Have a strong opinion. Be funny, be daring, be dorky, be whatever the F*ck it is that you are.

Your writing style will get you the interview . Your personality and unique perspective will get you the job .

( this is especially true if you work for an agency. Your boss is going to have ask themselves, " am I comfortable with this person presenting to our clients ?"

in short , be you! It's the reason you'll get hired.
 

arfadugus

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jun 5, 2014
349
349
186
29
I agree.

The books are pretty good, but I get the vibe that Gary didn't actually put much thought into his "challenge." It seems like more of a "go do this you little punk" kind of thing. (Or maybe he put it together to sell the books on the list :D )

Most of them are all about direct mail copywriting, which is such a small aspect of written copy these days, and the language seems... dated.

They each definitely have golden nuggets in there, but after reading Robert Collier's 267th letter, I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that there was a better way to learn how to write copy.

Honestly, most of what you need to know about copywriting is stuff you've already read.

You know how much MJ's book inspired you? Good, go back and learn how he's appealing to his demographic. Analyze it, think about why it gets an emotional rise out of you, and then use it (in your own words, of course).

Now you've got a decent grip on how to write copy for the personal development niche.

Of course, there are some things like NLP that you have to learn along with it, but the blueprint for writing good copy is to... read good copy and pick it apart.

I don't mean to make this sound simple. It still takes a lot of work to be a great copywriter and distance yourself from other writers.

I have personally found this method to be a much more useful approach than reading old books and gaining a bit of knowledge here and there that still applies to today.
Agreed. The books are great, don't get me wrong. I will probably read all of them if I ever get the spare time. But reading Ca$hvertising is plenty until you make your first 100k (i'm told from reliable sources).

Another point I want to make. By doing a 30 day challenge, you aren't 100% committed. You are saying, I'll start writing copy in 30 days. Really? You are going to start trying to make money 30 days from now? Why don't you start making money right now.

For anyone on this forum, there is plenty of info on copywriting to make money in 15 days or less. (Cough cough) People are doing it. It's laid right in front of you but you still want to procrastinate for 30 days. People are giving advice about copy samples for free. Get after it now.
 

arfadugus

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jun 5, 2014
349
349
186
29
You are simply wrong (I don't want to be rude here).

You got only the 2nd book of the challenge, you gave up right in the BEGINNING.

"Most of them are all about direct mail copywriting, which is such a small aspect of written copy these days, and the language seems... dated."

Direct mail is one of the best ways to test whether you can write copy that brings action or not.

I 100% completed this challenge and found 99% of its content to be applicable.

If you can't succeed in direct mail then you aren't a copywriter, you are just a wannabe copywriter.

If there are any of the books in the challenge you end up reading, have them be the following:

- Scientific Advertising
- Tested Advertising Methods
- How To Write a Good Advertisement
- Breakthrough Advertising.

P.S I know you do copywriting, if your sales letters/pages are profitable. Then give direct mail a shot. I know it is not sexy, but it has made many millionaires and will continue to make more.

EDIT: I will agree though, the collier book is BORING. Not only that but it is boring and LONG! It is something I would read gradually and instead of blowing through it in one go.
I fully agree that everyone should read the books. I'm just saying that you should read Ca$hvertising and start writing copy right away first. And read the other books in your spare time when you absolutely can't write anything.

I have the books and I'm slowly getting to them. I've read Ca$hvertising twice and I'm halfway through scientific advertising. I just want to get across that writing copy is important to getting started, and that you shouldn't delay starting for 30 days.
 

arfadugus

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jun 5, 2014
349
349
186
29
I will read the rest of those books, but I personally felt the challenge was growing me at a slower pace than throwing myself into the field and learning as I go.
This.
 

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arfadugus

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jun 5, 2014
349
349
186
29
Breakthrough Advertising is one I need to make time to read. Everyone always says it's a gamechanger.

And thanks :D Normally I show teeth, but Dwight Schrute says showing one's teeth is a sign of weakness.

Looks like I can take the advice of whoever that is and stop forcing myself to show my teeth. I thought that's what I was supposed to do lol.
 

arfadugus

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jun 5, 2014
349
349
186
29
Here's the thing . Writing is incredibly subjective . What I may consider steaming dog shit, others may consider golden prose. Vice versa is also true . Often , clients don't know what they want. You must tell them. your confidence and presentation is what will win you a contract , not your writing . No idea is so miraculously good that it will stand on its own two feet without you propping it up .

Get on the phone with your prospective employer. Have a strong opinion. Be funny, be daring, be dorky, be whatever the F*ck it is that you are.

Your writing style will get you the interview . Your personality and unique perspective will get you the job .

( this is especially true if you work for an agency. Your boss is going to have ask themselves, " am I comfortable with this person presenting to our clients ?"

in short , be you! It's the reason you'll get hired.
I've been having trouble forcing sales tactics into my copy and then it sounds spammy. I can attest to this.
 

Sully1994

Bronze Contributor
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I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Nov 5, 2016
96
313
176
25
Chicago
I've been having trouble forcing sales tactics into my copy and then it sounds spammy. I can attest to this.
There shouldn't be any sales tactics in the copy itself. This is independent of the copy. I agree that your copy should be genuine and free of aggressive "marketing speak" lol. However, I've found it tremendously helpful to just talk to your client ( on the phone ) and get to know them. The more you can get them to see you as a human being , the more they will trust you , and value your opinion as a creative person.

I get that this is not always possible with cold proposals on Upwork- but you should try.

When I started freelance , I had no idea I would even be on the phone talking to people! But as it turns out - there's a lot of it , and your ability to hold a good conversation surprisingly holds a lot of weight
 

Mac

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Feb 10, 2015
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There weren't any bullets so I didn't read this post
 

Rishi

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I'm just getting started and read the boom (Millionaire Fastlane)

I need a way to make some income as right now I'm at zero...so I think trading my time and effort for money whilst learnng a powerful skill like copywriting - which itself involves getting clients, negotiation, research, psychology, writing etc...... is acceptable for now.

I've got one good course which I'm planning to do but then I'm kinda clueless on even getting a client or how to do work that will help me get that feedback.
 

arfadugus

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jun 5, 2014
349
349
186
29
I'm just getting started and read the boom (Millionaire Fastlane)

I need a way to make some income as right now I'm at zero...so I think trading my time and effort for money whilst learnng a powerful skill like copywriting - which itself involves getting clients, negotiation, research, psychology, writing etc...... is acceptable for now.

I've got one good course which I'm planning to do but then I'm kinda clueless on even getting a client or how to do work that will help me get that feedback.
Read Ca$hvertising. That's literally all you need until you make your first 100k. Do the 15 days to freedom challenge in this forum. But start applying for jobs on Upwork from day one. Find Sinister Lex's Youtube channel and watch all of his videos. He's got stuff on creating your Upwork profile, sending proposals, etc. Let me know if you need any other advice.
 

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Leo Hendrix

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Apr 15, 2014
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Thanks for posting this, I need to get some freelance gigs soon and still not sure about web design vs copywriting so I was thinking to combine the two, while also applying for other gigs I think I can deliver on.

I've finished scientific advertising, now onto Colliers Letter book, then onto Breakthrough Advertising and possibly tested advertising methods and How to Write a Good Advertisement.

But I'm doing this as the 2nd last thing before bed, trying out something I read about for pattern formation. I think it's working already, but heck time is running out so I might finish Cashvertising first and start earning and then maybe still continue the pattern formation process: Read, highlight, type notes, print out read.
 

arfadugus

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jun 5, 2014
349
349
186
29
Thanks for posting this, I need to get some freelance gigs soon and still not sure about web design vs copywriting so I was thinking to combine the two, while also applying for other gigs I think I can deliver on.

I've finished scientific advertising, now onto Colliers Letter book, then onto Breakthrough Advertising and possibly tested advertising methods and How to Write a Good Advertisement.

But I'm doing this as the 2nd last thing before bed, trying out something I read about for pattern formation. I think it's working already, but heck time is running out so I might finish Cashvertising first and start earning and then maybe still continue the pattern formation process: Read, highlight, type notes, print out read.
Maybe focus on one thing at a time? How long will it take you to read those books? You don't need them yet. Read Ca$hvertising and get to work.
 

Leo Hendrix

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Apr 15, 2014
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Maybe focus on one thing at a time? How long will it take you to read those books? You don't need them yet. Read Ca$hvertising and get to work.
Yeah my point is to practice whatever I'm reading via cold emails and sending proposals, outreach etc with the ultimate aim to have it all hardwired from practice. But thanks I think I'll take your advice and give them a rest for a while since I do need cash and clients ASAP.
 

GMSI7D

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Jan 27, 2016
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Maybe focus on one thing at a time? How long will it take you to read those books? You don't need them yet. Read Ca$hvertising and get to work.

reading the 10 books of the gary halbert challenge is not a big deal.

you won't spend months for that. just throw away your TV, your useless small talks with friends at the bar and all the others useless things we do in our society to waste time.

that's it . you now have the time to grow your mind.

reading those books is mandatory because they shape your mind

you are not looking for quick bucks here but for a lifetime of mastery over conditions and circumstances

yes you american guys are all about going right into the fire


kind of soldiers into the battle whether you understand things or not

that's a good thing but sometimes it can fire back because you don't have the right mindset and foundation

that's why the masters above society can't and won't be challenged because nobody takes the time to get their thinking

that's why i see the future and what awaits society
 
Last edited:

raden1

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Dec 31, 2015
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The language is outdated, but I don't think that's the point. The basics of a sales letter are the same no matter the medium. So, if you're inexperienced and you handwrite the letters, it is a nice guide from start to finish. You do have to discern the exact word usage from the underlining salesmanship in the ads.

There is tons of outdated and "old sounding" text that is still read today and still selling.

John Carlton also suggests handwriting ads. He is still alive and worked with Garry Halbert and is an A list copywriter himself.

Hunter S. Thompson typed out The Great Gatsby, I believe. Not because he wanted to imitate his style, but because he wanted to know what it was like to write something great.

Handwriting letters aren't causing inaction, whoever isn't doing actual gigs isn't going to do them regardless if they are handwriting an ad or not.

I'm personally doing the challenge slowly...but I am doing gigs at the same time. I just wrote an email for someone and noticed my first draft looked a lot like one of Garry Halbert's ads I copied.

Isn't this akin to saying "Don't hit pads because you when are actually boxing, your opponent is going to hit back!"? Well, yeah. But there is stuff you can do that isn't exactly what you will be doing, but the underlying principals will help you do that main thing better.

When I played music, I practiced scales, arpeggios and played old music (Mozart, Chopin, etc...) Even if the music I was playing didn't exactly use those exercises, or what I was playing was brand new, what I did before still translated well when I was auditioning or playing later.

Isn't handwriting an ad doing the same thing?

Also, yes, the Collier Letters are boring as hell.
 

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