THIS GUY WROTE FOR 17 YEARS BEFORE EARNING A PENNY (HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM HIM)

Steven Pressfield is an American author of historical fiction.

Like most writers, success did not come easy. In fact, it was 17 years before he earned a penny from writing and another 27 before his first novel got published (The Legend of Bagger Vance, which was later turned into a movie starring Will Smith and Matt Damon.)

But his real break-through came when he wrote a book called “The War of Art.”

Maybe you’ve heard of it?

To give you a brief summary, this book is basically a guide to pressing through the barriers which hold you back from doing creative work. It’s sold well over a million copies and even after all these years, is still incredibly popular.

But there’s a good reason for this.

First of all, the title – which is basically a play on the “Art of War” – is brilliant.

Second, this book is primarily aimed at people in the creative field – writers, artists etc.

(More specifically, it’s aimed at people who want to write or make art.)

And this is really why the book is so popular.

You see, these kinds of products are a dime a dozen. There are literally hundreds on goal setting, motivation, success, and spirituality. Unfortunately, 99% of these books sink without a trace. But the reason why the War of Art succeeds – and continues to succeed – is because if differentiates itself.

Instead of being aimed at the general public, this book targets people in the creative field.

And this is why it continues to sell…year after year after year.

Moral of the story?

Whether you’re writing a book, creating a course, or designing a new product, it’s critical that you do something different. Whether it’s targeting a subset of the market (like The War of Art does) your packaging, or what the product does, you have to find a way to make yourself different and stand out.

Do this and you’ll drastically increase your chances of success.

Alastair Walton  

HOW TO BUILD YOUR LIST WITH A STRATEGY USED BY THE WORLD’S BIGGEST RETAILERS

A “loss leader” is essentially an item sold at or below cost.

These products are primarily used to attract new customers.

Their purpose is simply to get you through the door in the hope that you’ll buy more products.

(This is also why they’re known as “door busters.”)

This strategy is widely used in the retail industry and has worked for decades.

It’s also a strategy which online entrepreneurs can use with equal success. More importantly, it’s a fantastic way to build your list. Remember, the bigger your list, the more money you’ll make. Not only that, people who have already purchased something are more likely to purchase something else. Another benefit of this idea is that it’s cheaper than advertising on Google, Facebook, or Twitter.

If you’re interested in using this strategy, then here are the steps you need to follow:

1. Find affiliates and joint venture partners

Look for people with big lists who sell similar products to yours. Get in contact with these people and let them know what you have on offer (just note that it’s best to establish a relationship before you launch into the business side of things.)

2. Create your product

At this point you should already have a product to sell. Price this product at $39 (I’ll explain why in minute.) If you don’t have a product then it’s time to create one. The most important thing is that your book is highly valuable and appeals to the market. Creating a quality product also increases the chance that affiliates will choose to promote it.

3. Offer affiliates 100% commission

Approach affiliates and suggest they sell your $39 book to their subscribers for only $19. This way they can give their subscribers a $20 discount. Doing this greatly increases the appeal of your product. Also tell these affiliates that you’re not going to offer the usual 50% commission. Instead you’ll give them 100% commission. This also greatly increases your chances of recruiting affiliates.

4. Provide email swipes

Most affiliates are lazy and don’t want to write their own emails. This why it’s a good idea to provide them with email swipes. Writing these also increases your chances of making sales. After all, as the product creator you’re the person most familiar with your product…and can therefore write the best copy.

At this point you’re set.

If everything goes according to plan, affiliates will send out your emails, make sales…

…and you’ll add hundreds of names to your list.

(With almost no effort.)

What’s more, you can then market additional products to these subscribers…

…and actually start making some real money.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton  

WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM THIS REPUBLICAN GUERILLA MARKETING CAMPAIGN

The other day I spotted a brilliant piece of viral marketing…

In fact, this idea is so downright clever, I wish that I had thought of it.

You see, there’s a guy out there selling Joe Biden stickers.

To give you an idea of what they look like, these stickers feature Joe Biden pointing with his index finger, and the words “I did that” written beneath. The idea is that you place the sticker on a gas pump with Biden’s finger directed at the gas price (i.e. the idea being that Biden is responsible for high gas prices.) These stickers retail at $6.99, come in packs of 100, and going by Amazon reviews, are selling by the hundreds. I have no idea who’s behind this, but they’re obviously making money (actually according to the Boston Herald these stickers are part of a Republican guerrilla campaign to undermine the Democratic administration.)

What’s brilliant about this idea is that it takes advantage of deeply held emotions.

For example, let’s say you’re a foaming at the mouth Trump supporter.

(Or maybe you’re a diehard Republican or someone who really, really hates Joe Biden.)

There’s a reasonably good chance that you’d buy these stickers and gleefully cover as many gas pumps as possible. In fact, you’d probably put them wherever you could (The New York Post recently reported that they were spotted on a cop car in NYC.) Not only that, when you finish the stickers, you’ll more than likely go out and buy more.

Ka-Ching!

The lesson here is that you have to find out what your audience loves…

…more importantly, you need to understand what they HATE.

For example, let’s say you’re selling diet products.

In this market diet gurus are a dime a dozen.

Dr. Atkins is probably the first person who comes to mind.

In this case, all you have to do is mention the person in your copy…

…write negative things about them…

…and point out why your product is the superior option.

(Just be careful of going overboard.)

Basically people LOVE it when you tear down their enemies.

This is why market research is so critical.

You need to learn what your market hates…

…and mention that you feel EXACTLY the same way.

Doing this helps you connect with your audience.

What’s more, it also creates an almost unbreakable bond.

See you later…

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

WHY SELLING CHEAP DIGITAL PRODUCTS IS HURTING YOUR BUSINESS

A lot of people think that selling cheap digital products is the easy way to make money online

But there’s a huge problem with this business model.

You see, I once knew a guy who was literally ADDICTED to downloading. His lounge was like an Aladdin’s cave for digital hoarders. I’m serious. Along with about 10 or 11 hard drive’s there were stacks and stacks of CD-ROMs. This guy would go onto torrent site’s and grab anything he could get. Movies, TV shows, books, install files, magazines, digital products you name it. And even though he received numerous letters from his ISP nothing ever happened to him. The funniest thing was that he was completely unable to use any of this stuff. For example, it would have taken him about 20 years to watch all of the TV shows and movies he collected.

(Let alone read the books and magazines or use the software!)

In fact, most of it was dumped on this ever growing collection of hard drives.

And this brings me to the point:

What you have to understand is that there are hundreds of guys like this.

In a quest to make money online these guys will grab whatever they can find.

A few of them may even pay money for this stuff.

But here’s the problem:

They immediately forget about it and do nothing.

The digital product sits on their computer growing digital cobwebs.

There’s a good reason why this happens.

Very few people care about digital content. Your product may seem highly appealing, but there’s very little chance that anyone will engage with it. These types of products are seen as low value (which is why they are so cheap in the first place) and this is a massive problem if you’re in the business of selling information.

After all, if no one engages with your product then no one benefits from it.

If customers don’t benefit they get buyer’s remorse.

The customer feels as if they’ve wasted their money.

And the next thing you know they want a refund.

In this way THIER laziness becomes YOUR problem.

Even worse, these customers aren’t going to buy more products.

So what’s the solution to these problems?

First of all, raise your prices.

Doing this will weed out lazy people.

More importantly, you need to start selling physical products.

People don’t forget about physical products.

This is because your product is REAL.

It’s not some abstract collection of 1s and 0s on a computer.

What’s more, every time they see your product the buyer knows they actually got something.

They’re reminded that it’s their responsibility to consume the product.

They are the one at fault…not YOU.

And eventually they may even read the book or go through your course…

…have a great experience and buy more stuff.

The takeaway is this:

You need to start selling physical products.

This is the key to increasing engagement as well as growing your brand and business.

Make sense?

Cheers,

Alastair Walton  

THE BEST WAY TO WRITE A NURTURE EMAIL SEQUENCE

What’s the best way to write a nurture email sequence?

In case you don’t know this is a series of emails designed to warm up prospects.

The idea is that you use this sequence to build a relationship, get people interested in your product…and…at some point ask for the sale. But how do you do this? Most copywriters have their own opinion on writing these sequences…

…but IMHO the easiest way is simply not to bother.

You see, if you want to “nurture” leads all you have to do is email them at regular intervals.

This is because the best buyers don’t need “warming up.”

Serious people are usually ready to buy from the get go.

(Not only that, if you take too long to ask for the sale you may end up losing it.)

Sending out a sequence of 3,5,10 or however many emails isn’t going do anything.

People who want your product will buy it immediately…

On the other hand you have people who are less keen.

These people will never buy or will buy at a later stage.

Converting them is far more difficult…

…but that doesn’t mean you need some special sequence of emails.

All you have to do is continue emailing them.

Doing this will build a relationship all by itself.

The bottom line is this:

Don’t worry about creating a fancy nurture email sequence.

It’s completely pointless.

People who are ready to buy will buy.

People who are less ready will buy later on.

People who were never going to buy…well…will never buy.

The most important thing is that you simply continue to email.

Whether you’re sending daily or weekly emails the idea is that you carry on going.

Over time you’ll naturally build a relationship…

…without really even trying.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

IS PRIVATE SOCIAL MEDIA THE HOTTEST TEND IN INTERNET MARKETING?

What fuelled the astonishing rise of Face Book?

Why did this site become so enormous so quickly?

There are dozens of reasons…the biggest being the sheer addictiveness of the platform.

Another good reason (at least at the start) was exclusivity.

Unless you went to a certain college you simply couldn’t open up an account.

And that’s what I want to talk about today.

You see, I’ve noticed an interesting new trend in internet marketing.

This trend can basically be described as “private social media.”

It’s basically the idea that you set up a social media type website and then charge for the pleasure of using it. The most common way of doing this is to allow people to join for free and then charge them for things like making posts, adding an avatar, sending private messages and so on.

This stuff has actually been around forever.

(The best example is the Something Awful forums.)

It’s only due to the fact that social media is now so restrictive that it’s becoming more popular.

Not only that, private social media offers a number of advantages to marketers.

For starters, as I said, there’s the exclusivity factor.

People LOVE being part of a secret club.

Another huge advantage is that you own the platform and therefore control everything.

You don’t have to worry about being banned or interfered with.

There’s also the fact that social media is highly addictive.

And this is why these platforms are such a great way to turn followers into buyers.

If someone joins they may end up purchasing something later on.

They don’t even have to use the paid version of the platform.

(Although people that pay are obviously better prospects.)

BTW, this is why these platforms are usually dirt cheap.

Most people charge between $1-5 i.e. the same price as your average streaming service.

This way even if members don’t buy your products you can create a nice little revenue stream.

Now this is a great idea but it’s not something everyone can pull off.

For starters you need to be somewhat well known.

If you’re a YouTuber, social media star, gamer, famous copywriter, or have some kind of following…well…this might just work.

You’ll also have to spend time developing your user base.

Especially in the beginning.

This means actually posting on the platform and interacting with users.

(You can taper this off later on.)

Anyway, food for thought.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

WANT TO BE A FREELANCE WRITER? DO THIS FIRST

I’ve had a lot of success in this business.

On the other hand, there were times when things went pear shaped

One thing I’ve learnt about freelance writing is that it definitely goes in cycles.

One minute you’re swamped with work…the next it’s crickets.

On top of this, clients come and go.

And in my experience this usually happens at the worst moment possible.

What you also have to realize is this:

Freelancing is, by its nature, a highly unstable business model.

It’s really a thing of feast or famine.

So if you’re just starting out (or you have hopes of doing this one day) then here’s a massive piece of advice: start building up your emergency fund.  You’ve probably heard it said that you should have at least 3-6 months of living expenses saved. This is good advice, but a year is even better. In fact, you should actually go beyond this, and save up as much money as possible.

What’s more, learn to spend within your means.

Don’t blow every cent that you make

Better yet, create products which you can sell as a sideline to your freelancing career.

The bottom line is this:

You need a bankroll that will help you ride out the bad times.

Do this and you’ll survive long enough to make writing into a viable career.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

P.S. Another big advantage of a bank roll is that it helps you deal with deadbeat clients. If you have money saved up then it’s very easy to dump a crummy client. On the other hand, if you’re desperate for money then you’ll have to take whatever you can get…

BUSINESS LESSONS FROM WALTER WHITE

I recently re-watched Breaking Bad.

In case you don’t know, this show charts the rise and fall of meth baron Walter White.

It’s said to be one of the best shows ever created and I’m inclined to agree.

Believe it or not it can also teach you a great deal about the copywriting business.

For example:

1. Be the absolute best at what you do

The secret behind Walters success is simple: throughout the show he works to be the best and refuses to sell an “inferior product.”

2. Raise prices and ask for more money

Walter always wants more and it’s never enough. He pushes his buyers to make bigger orders and always asks for more money.

3. Work for yourself

Walter refuses to be under the thumb of anyone else. This is critical if you’re going to make big bucks as a copywriter. Don’t waste your time working for other people. Starting your own business is the way to go if you’re going to reach the top.

4. Defend your territory

One of the best scenes in this show is where Walter confronts a pair of rival meth cooks. The point is that success relies on ruthlessly defending yourself against the competition.

5. Avoid hubris

The reason why Walter eventually gets caught is mostly due to his ego. After getting to the top he develops massive hubris and this leads to his downfall. You need do avoid this. Always assume you’re the underdog and have more to learn. Search for weaknesses in yourself and finds ways to improve.

(BTW, if you haven’t watched this show do yourself a favor…it really is excellent).

Bye for now.  

Alastair Walton

P.S. One more point: realize that you’re never too old. At the start of the show Walter is a burnt out 50 year old with a cancer diagnosis. Despite this he manages to go toe to toe with the big dogs. If he can do it so can you…

THE EASIEST WAY TO MAKE MORE MONEY

A lot of copywriters are looking for the “ultimate secret.”

That one tip or technique that will make them maximum money in minimum time.

The unfortunate truth is that nothing like this exists.

That being said, there is one thing you can do…

…which is simply this…

Be excellent!

This might sound simple or even stupid but there’s a reason why I say this…

You see, the biggest problem with freelance copywriting is that getting work can be seriously difficult (maybe you’ve experienced this yourself). Most of the time it’s not the actual writing which is the hard part. Nope, it’s the getting clients part that people struggle with. You’ve probably heard it said that selling to existing buyers is vastly easier than finding new ones.

It’s exactly the same with clients.

Getting new clients can be a major hassle…

…but selling to existing clients is a breeze.

The hard part, of course, is keeping any client you’re lucky enough to get.

And this is why excellence is the best skill you can have.

You need to be excellence in everything you do.

From the copy you write to delivering on time, replying to messages etc. etc.

Do this and people will continue to hire you.

Not only that, you’ll find yourself working with better clients and therefore earning more.

Now, not everyone wants to hear this.

They want some sexy “hack” that will generate millions overnight.  

And to be honest, I used to think this way as well.

But like I’ve said, shortcuts don’t exist.

The only real shortcut to success is being excellent.

Until next time.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

P.S. The idea of excellence can apply to any industry. Even if you mow lawns for a living, you should strive to be the best you can possibly be.

WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID “COPYWRITING VIRGINS”

I’ve mentioned this time and time again but it bears repeating:

Nothing is more important than carefully selecting your clients.

Working with the wrong people means enduring stress, sleepless nights, and worse.

(Not only that, you’re likely to get cheated out of your money).

So how do you select your clients?

Well, that answer goes well beyond the scope of this post, but here’s a quick tip:

Do everything you can to avoid what I call “copywriting virgins.”

You see, marketing and more specifically copywriting is a deeply complex topic. What this means is that you’re going to want to work with people who know how the game operates. People who understand how copy works and ideally have some experience with direct response marketing.

Basically you’ll want to avoid “first timers.”

Doing this will save you a great deal of hassle and heartache.

And here’s something even more important.

You should also avoid people who haven’t made a buck in business.

Not only do these inexperienced newbies have no clue, but they’re usually a pain to deal with.

What’s more, most of them are flat broke. This means they’ll usually have a problem with paying your fee. On the other hand, experienced business people usually know the score.

Even better, they know what good copy is worth, and have no problem paying for your work.

What’s more, they’re usually a pleasure to deal with.

You basically want to find someone who has an actual business which makes money.

That way they can actually pay you.

The bottom line is this:

Avoid clients who have no experience with copywriting and marketing…

…and clients who aren’t making money and therefore cannot pay you.

Hopefully this helps.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton