Category Archives: Copywriting

Editors – Anywhere, Anytime – Always Valuable


Suzanne Richardson has a great, short article in today’s ETR newsletter.

The address for the article is listed as a trackback with this post – but I’m still not clear about how trackbacks work. So, this link takes you there (I hope  😉  ).

There are also several past articles Suzanne has written listed at the bottom of the page. You should take some time to read those, too.

What I’d like to add is that almost anyone can help you as an editor. The only real qualification is that they have to be willing to be honest with you.

Yes, professional editors have more qualifications than that. But your sister, neighbour, or co-worker can read your piece and tell you if they understand it (reading for clarity). The fact that Charlie took a while to pick up on Suzanne’s use of “and” shows you that even good editors can miss something.

Take your work and show it to several people. Get their honest opinion and make use of it.

There’s a bonus in this for you, too.

You know how we all have this thing about showing our work before it’s finished? Heck, sometimes it’s even hard to show it to our editor. Well, when you start to think of everyone as a potential editor it’s a little bit easier to let them read that unfinished piece.

And guess what? Letting someone read a piece, getting their opinion, and using it to make the writing stronger – ALSO BUILDS CONFIDENCE.

I didn’t even realise that until I was reading Suzanne’s article this morning.

I used to be really afraid of showing anyone my writing until it was done. Working with a mastermind group and making the effort to do exactly what I’ve just suggested has helped me get over that fear.

Sure, I still get a little twinge when I send something out for feedback, critique, editing – whatever you want to call it. Then when it comes back, it’s like sitting down to a good supper when you’re really hungry.

It’s invigorating to dig into the comments someone makes and look at how to make your own writing better.

Give it a try. Soon you’ll be able to find an editor anywhere at anytime.


Free Reports – How To NOT Give Away The Farm


I’ve been reading the latest newsletter from Trendwatching. It’s all about Generation G and how we, as a society, are becoming more caring and generous. There was also some information about how businesses need to balance philanthropy and profit.

So how do you do that with the reports you intend to use as premiums?

Start by realising that you are NEVER going to use a free report.

What you are going to use is a report with an assigned value (a price) that you give away in exchange for something other than money. In most cases, the price you receive will be a name and e-mail address.

That changes the picture a little doesn’t it? Instead of worrying about how much you should give away for free, you can think about how much information belongs in a report priced at $19, or $29, or whatever you set the price at.

And here’s a quick way to work out a ratio of price to content.

Let’s say the price is set at $19. You want a short, attention getting report that’s useful and encourages prospects to follow up for more information. It also has to be well focussed on one aspect of your area of expertise.

Plan to charge your customers a penny per word for the information you supply. That means they get 1900 words for a $19 report – or about eight pages typed and double spaced. (Next time you buy a magazine, look at the cost and divide it by the number of words inside. You’ll see a penny per word is a high price.)

You can already see that 1900 words is not going to let you cover a lot, or go into great depth.

What it will let you do is show someone a number of steps to getting something done. Under each of those steps you will be able to give readers basic information about what to do, and point them to where they can find more information or instructions.

Have you noticed this is a little backward to what most folks are telling you? You usually get told to write a report, e-book or other information product and then put a price on it. Only the big problem so many of us have is not knowing what limits to set so we know when to stop writing and start selling.

Well, now you can set that limit.

And here’s the great secrect about this method…Setting your writing limit is just like writing an outline.

Set the limit – write the outline. And then if you want to make a change as you go along, just go ahead and make it. Because now you can balance adding another 1,000 words with knowing you have to bump up the price by $1.00.

Is it still worth adding that extra bit of material? Or is it better to write a separate, second report?

Here’s a peek inside the product funnel for you: In getting a customer, you give away four reports. Three priced at $19 and one priced at $29. Plus you have the set costs of maintaining your e-mail list and web site.

The customer you get has a lifetime value of $5300 when you add up prices for the products and services she will buy from you. Now you’re getting an idea of the return on you investment in acquiring that customer.

And, you’re seeing why a product funnel (a series of products and services to offer) is essential to the success of your business. After all, when is the last time you walked into a barber shop or hairdresser and all they offered was a haircut?

Tell everyone what you think. Post a comment or question and start a conversation.


Editing – Moving Past the First Draft


This happens to be a big thing in my mind right now because I’m working on the second draft of two books, and the first draft of another.

It’s the first time I’ve been in this situation. Being able to look at my editor’s comments on two books while working on a third has turned out to be a great learning opportunity. Let me share a couple of insights so you can make your first drafts stronger, and get more benefit from your editor’s comments.

The first thing to keep in mind is that an editor’s comments are not “aimed” at you. I know it feels bad when anyone says your writing is unclear, off topic or in any way less than perfect. This is something I struggle with, and it helps me to just keep reminding myself that the editor is thinking about how readers will react to the book.

Your editor’s comments are “aimed” at making you a better writer, and your current work more marketable.

Now what do you do with those edits?

My suggestion is to read through the draft with the edits and make notes about what you agree with, don’t agree with, and what you don’t understand. This is the first step in planning the changes you’ll make in the next draft.

The edits you agree with are easy to handle. Just put a mark next to them that shows you accept the edit. By the way, I do this with pen and paper so making marks is easy for me. If you’re doing this in Word, then you can use the Accept features of Track Changes.

Edits you don’t agree with are only a tiny bit harder to handle than the ones you do agree with. You can’t just throw the edit away – that defeats the purpose of having an editor. The trick is to find a wording that gives you a compromise between what you want to say and how your editor wants it said.

When the edits suggests additional content, or replacing content, you have to step back and look at the whole project. Ask yourself whether the additional content belongs in that spot or might be better used elsewhere.

In the case of being asked to replace content, the same question applies. Is the content you are removing still useful somewhere else? And, have you connected the content you are inserting to the rest of the manuscript? (Update the table of contents, index, text references, etc.)

Something I have noticed about editors is that most of their comments come in the first couple of chapters. For me, that makes those first chapters hard to read because it seems everything is being criticised.

I get past this by reading through all the edits and making my notes, then I start making changes a quarter or halfway through the draft.

It helps me to get rolling because there are fewer edits. There are lots of pages that I get to just flip past because there are no changes to make. This gives my ego a boost, and builds my momentum to handle the harder first chapters.

When there happens to be a lot of edits in a particular chapter, I sometimes skip that chapter. I know it means leaving the harder stuff for last. That’s balanced by the harder stuff being the smallest part of the work. By the time I get to the chapters with lots of edits, most of the changes are done.

At that point, I make a list of the chapters left to work on and tick them off as they’re done. It’s usually a short list so it feels great to check each one off.

Something I use to give me a break between the easier edits and the hard parts is making the “global” changes.

Sometimes you will use a phrase in the manuscript that gets changed. For example, I used “Amazon Push Campaign” in one of the drafts I’m working on now. That’s being changed, and there are lots of places to change it. In addition, there are places where I’m going to add the new phrase.

To do this, I’ll search for every occurrence of “Amazon” and make the necessary changes as I go. You can see how this is a real change of pace from working on edits. It makes for a nice break, and gives you the opportunity to get some necessary work done.

One last thing to keep in mind about working on the edits is to keep a copy of them.

By the time you’re finished the second draft of your manuscript, you should have three distinct files. One file for the first draft, another for the first draft with edits, and the third file is your second draft.

When a similar project comes up, I often go back to files where I can read the edits. Seeing some of the spots where my writing was weak, or where I got new ideas for research, helps me to make new projects stronger.

There’s my two cent’s worth. Let me know what you think. I enjoy reading your comments, and would like to know how you deal with your editor and the editing process.


Writing – The Horrors of a First Draft

Good Morning,

Yes, submitting your first draft to an editor can be a self-imposed nightmare.

I just submitted a first draft (first for him – third for me) to Bob Bly for an e-book we are working on. There are some good parts in the book and a couple that are just not what I want.

The horror part is that Bob and I wanted the first draft done before Christmas. I have been holding on to it because of the parts I don’t like. Do you see where this is going?

Think of a truck stuck in the mud with its wheels spinning.

If any one of us were driving the truck, we’d have sense enough to use a winch, get some help or put something under the tires for traction. When it comes to writing, you would think I’d know better than to keep wallowing around and just get the draft off to my editor so he can lend me a hand. Right?

Yea. And I never eat two desserts or spit in public.

The most important thing to remember about your first draft is that it is a FIRST draft. You’re supposed to make changes.

Being afraid of the impression your first draft will make is normal. At least it’s normal for me, and I know two other writers who feel the same way. We always think people will believe we’ve lost our “touch” when the read a first draft.

The ironic thing is that our editors have always seen our first drafts. For some irrational, artistic-ego reason, we forget that the biggest part of why editors like our writing is because they know we’ll take their suggestions and end up with something ten times better than the first draft.

I think we might all be the same in this. I hope it helps you to know that. Maybe knowing that we all get at least a little scared every time a first draft is submitted will make it just a little easier to gather our courage and make the submission.


E-Mail Marketing – A Good (No Cost) Resource

Good Morning,

Everyone – and I mean everyone – asks about e-mail marketing.

The questions range from the general “How do I do it?” to the specific “What is e-mail segmentation and how do I use it?” Then there are all kinds of questions about e-mail managers, using autoresponders, and how to write a good e-mail.

Since I try to keep my writing time down to 15 minutes for blog posts, let me give you a helping hand with writing good e-mails. After all, everything else is fluff unless you have a good message to send.

Look up a site called Web Marketing Today ( Specifically, use this link they sent in an e-mail today:

That link will take you to a page where you can download 10 e-mail templates and a guide on HTML basics. I’ve looked at these templates and they can really save you a lot of time and energy.

And be sure to actually look at each of the templates. Look at them with the idea in mind that most prospects need to see your message 7 to 10 times before they make a purchasing decision. In fact, I just had this conversation with Jeff yesterday. (Jeff was referred to me by David Hancock and wants to do an e-mail campaign.)

Consider how you can use each template as part of a broadcast series of e-mails.

The basic message stays the same throughout the series, but you want the wording to be just different enough that your prospect doesn’t feel like you’re droning on at them. These templates will help you do that, and show you how you can change the look a little, too.

The nice thing about templates is that they take the grunt work out of the way. A template can free you up to be creative and adventurous – so give it a try.

And, yes, you are welcome to reply here with questions and comments. I’d like to know what you think of the templates – and tell me what you think of Web Marketing Today, too. They have a lot of good resources on their site in addition to these templates.


Why SEO really doesn’t matter


People ask me about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) all the time.

There are courses you can take to learn about SEO – and I’ve taken a couple. Some copywriters are even making money by promoting themselves as SEO copywriters.

The thing is, all SEO means is using the keywords relevant to your topic wisely.

Let’s say you want a web page written about model trains. You hire a copywriter to do the copy and tell her the copy is for a web page. Don’t you think the first thing that copywriter should do is ask for a list of keywords? I do.

Then you compare the keywords with the content you intend to put into the page. Any writer worth the title of copywriter is going to use as many of the keywords as possible – as often as possible – while still crafting a strong, persuasive message. That’s what copywriting is – online or offline.

The only reason you’re seeing a lot of hype about SEO, and making sure you have a copywriter who can do it, is because that hype raises the perceived value of a skill every copywriter should already possess. It’s good marketing by the copywriters.

I just had another client send me an estimate from a web designer that had the same sort of issue. This web designer was giving a huge discount on the cost of putting a site together as long as Tim signed up for monthly keyword maintenance for his site. Forgive me folks, but what a crock of pooh!

I explained the truth to Tim, and now he’s saving himself $400 a month. You should be on the lookout for anyone who tries to pull the same kind of thing with you when it comes to SEO. If a copywriter agrees to write your copy, then suggests you pay extra for SEO, start asking questions.

Folks, there is something sorely lacking in the information and internet marketing community. We need a Ralph Nader – someone looking out for us and telling us the truth about how things work. Okay. I nominate me.

You already know I’m a straight shooter. The books I”ve written show I work hard to produce complete, definitive information products. So, when you have a question about something or someone – send it to me. I’ll do the research and give everyone an answer right here on this blog.

That’s all for today. Have a happy New Year, everyone.


Writing for an Audience


It’s always good to get your blog post, article, or report finished and out to your audience.

The tough part is when you hand it over to someone like me for the editing. You just know the editor is going to change something – we always do.

Sometimes what we change is where you start your story.

For some reason, everyone wants to start at the beginning when they write a story. But that isn’t how to tell stories.

You don’t believe me? Let’s think about it…The last time you started telling a story, did you really start at the beginning? Or did you start by saying something about the story, and when you had eveyrone’s attention you backed up to the beginning?

Now here’s the tought part. Your answer probably corresponds to how well people listen to your stories.

Everyone who said “yes” knows how to tell a good story, and capture people’s attention. Ypu’re the “life of the party” type.

Everyone who kind of shook their head and thought “But I always start at the beginning of the story” probably gets their best reviews when reading bedtime stories.

A client of mine, Tim, just got an e-mail like this from me. I revised some writing he did and gave him the same advice you’re getting now.

Start in the middle. It worked for Aristotle, Shakespear and Dean Koontz.

We’ve all read books that grabbed us at the start with some really cool action. Then they go back and fill in some of the blanks. It’s a great way to tell a story.

It’s also a great way for you to write your article, report or blog post. Did I do it? You tell me…did I start with the advice I wanted to share, or did I start with something that drew you in and encouraged you to read more?

Are you still reading? Must have got it right this time.  😉

Want more help? Good. Send me an e-mail:

Which reminds me – more work to do on my site.

Have a good weekend, everyone.



Sorry about missing yesterday. The Canadian Auto Workers are in town for contract negotiations. There was a press conference yesterday, and lots of stories to collect.