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  

6 WAYS TO REVEAL YOUR PRICE (AND DO IT WITHOUT PUTTING CUSTOMERS OFF)

My buddy collects knives.

So one morning we go to a knife show. Eventually something catches his eye. We walk over to look at the piece and within a minute or two, a salesman arrives and tries to sell us on buying it. Everything’s going well until Mr. Salesman mentions the price. I can’t remember the exact cost, but it was extremely expensive…and…the instant this happened, my friend lost interest completely.

This story illustrates an important point.

Basically, the way you present your price is critical.

Doing this incorrectly could result in something known as “sticker shock.”

(i.e. your price shocks people and they are immediately put off buying.)

Now, while price is not always the determining factor, it does play a major role.

The point is that presenting your price the wrong way could destroy the sale.

To help you out here are some of my favorite strategies for avoiding this:

1. Compare apples to oranges

The easiest way to bring up your price is simply by comparing your product to something else. Let’s say you’re selling a get-better-at-golf DVD. What you could do is compare the product to the cost of hiring a PGA pro (in this case you’d also want to mention things like the cost of travelling to lessons etc.)

2. Sell the size

People associate size with value. Mention how much your product weights, the volume, or amount of space it takes up. If you’re selling information products, then talk about how many tips, techniques, and so on are in the product (i.e. “this course contains 99+ tips for improving your golf swing.”)

3. Talk about the cost of development

Go into detail discussing the amount of people it took to create the product. Mention their qualifications and experience, the amount of money you spent, the quality of the components, how difficult it was to build this product, and the rigorous testing it went through.

4. Make the parts worth more than the whole

This is a classic technique used when selling information products. You simply mention everything they get when buying the product. This includes things like bonuses, and other additional components.

5. Use installments

This strategy is often used in television commercials. Rather than presenting the price you say something like: “Just three small monthly installments of $11.95 charged to your credit card.”

6. The cup of coffee technique

This technique works well if you’re selling a subscription based product. What you do is break your price down into a daily cost and then compare that to something else. You could, for example, be selling a product which costs $99 per month. In this case you’d say “costs only $3.20 per day. Less than a cup of coffee!”

Anyway, using these techniques makes your price a little easier to swallow…

….which should, in the long run, help to increase conversions.

Stay tuned for more,

Alastair Walton

HOW TO CREATE A PEN NAME FOR MAXIMUM SALES AND IMPACT

If you’re struggling to come up with a pen name (and looking for inspiration) …then here’s a tip from one of the world’s most successful crime fiction authors. I’m talking about “Lee Child” – real name James Dover Grant –  the author behind the international mega smash hit Jack Reacher series. In case you don’t know, this series has sold more than 60 million copies. Not only that, a movie version – starring Tom Cruise – was filmed back in 2012, plus there’s also a TV series out on Amazon Prime Video.

I recently read an interview where the author described how he came up with this pen name…and it’s actually quit brilliant. You see, he choose the name “Child” because it would place his book alphabetically on the shelves between Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie.

Anyone can use this technique.

(The catch being that your book has to appear in bookstores and libraries.)

Simply find the biggest or two of the biggest authors in your genre.

Then create a pen name similar to them.

For example, if you’re writing in the fantasy genre (where J.R.R. Tolkien is by far the most famous author) your name could be something like…

…James Tollman or maybe even Rebecca  Teleman.

(Ok, these are extremely bad examples but you get the point.)

Anyway, until next time…

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

HOW TO MAKE IT AS A FREELANCE WRITER

It’s safe to say that thousands of people dream of writing for a living.

So what does it take to do this?

The first thing I can tell you is that it’s NOT about the writing.

You see, the biggest assumption people have is that being a “good” writer is important.

Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

Writing is only a small piece of the puzzle.

In fact, your writing ability accounts for maybe 10-20% of your success. It’s vastly more important to learn how to market yourself, deal with clients, manage your time, and meet deadlines. Out of all this, being able to deal with clients is probably the most important.

You HAVE to learn how to weed out and avoid bad clients…

…and also how to cultivate, motivate, and manage your good clients.

The point is this:

If you want to do this for a living then stop worrying about being a “good” writer.

It’s easy to get by as long as you’ve competent.

Instead, focus on learning the abovementioned skills.

Do this and you’re almost guaranteed success.

Until next time…

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

6 TIPS FOR WRITING PERSUASIVE COPY (FROM DALE CARNEGIE)

Dale Carnegie is one of the world’s most popular personal development writers.

How to Win Friends and Influence People (first published in 1937) has now sold more than 30 million copies, making it one of the best-selling books of all time. Even more popular is than this was his guide to public speaking titled How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking.

This book contains dozens of fascinating insights for copywriters.

For example, I found the section on opening your speech especially useful.

According to Carnegie there are 6 ways to do this:

1. Start with a story

This works best if you’re sharing something from your personal life. Your story should also have some kind of action in it. This helps to engage the audience and grabs their attention. You could say something like, “Three nights ago, a dog was run over in the street outside my house.”

2. Trigger their curiosity

There are dozens of ways to do this. The easiest is to simply make a statement which leaves your audience wanting more. For example, “I was walking down main street this morning when I saw a man dressed in a bunny suit.” This type of statement makes the audience wonder. Who was he? Why was he dressed that way? Where was he going?

3. Use pictures

Instead of opening up the copy with words, why not use a picture? Before and after pictures are one of the best ways to do this. You could also use a picture that seems weird, unsettling, or confuses the viewer.

4. Talk about their personal interests

What does your audience care about? What affects them deeply? Here are two examples of this: “Do you know how long statistics say you are expected to live?”, “What I am about to discuss will affect your business, the price of food, and your quality of life.”

6. State a shocking fact

Surprising facts will always get your audience’s attention. “Did you know that leprosy still exists in 15 countries in the world today.”

More tomorrow,

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

A SIMPLE HACK FOR WRITING PERSUASIVE EMAILS

Here’s a simple hack for creating persuasive emails.

You see, if you’re writing an email…you may be stuck wondering what to actually write about.

What theme, subject, or idea do you base your email around?

Now, most people will simply default to writing about their product.

Alternatively, they might write about the problem their product solves…

…or some type of pain point the market is experiencing.

The problem is that this can get boring after a while.

Especially if you’ve said everything there is to say about your product or market.

But there is another topic you can use when everything else is exhausted.

What is this?

Quite simply, MOTIVATION.

Basically, if you have nothing left to write, write something motivating.

The reason why this works is simple:

Everyone needs motivation from time to time.

The fact is that achieving certain goals can be immensely difficult.

This is true, whether you’re starting a business or trying to lose weight.

But by providing motivation you can make people feel good.

Not only that, you can inspire them to change their life or reach new heights.

Naturally, this will mean taking some kind of action.

Which of course is where your product comes in…

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

P.S. This secret can be used when creating any type of copy. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing emails, sales letters, or articles. Simply weaving motivation into the mix makes the whole thing more persuasive.

4 THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT WRITING FROM ANTHONY BOURDAIN

I recently read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.

IMHO this is probably one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Not only that, it also contains dozens of lessons for writers.

For example, here are just a few of the things I picked up:

1. Be passionate and the best at what you do

Why was Anthony Bourdain able to rise to the top of the cut throat New York restaurant business? Simply because he was extremely good at what he did (as well as passionate). The point is simple: be excellent at what you do. While this may seem overly simplistic you’d be surprised at how many people simply don’t care.

2. Write conversationally

If you’ve ever watched one of his TV shows this book will really surprise you. The reason why is because it reads exactly the way he talks. There’s almost no distinction between the way he sounds on TV and the tone of this book. It’s really amazing. This is something you have to apply to your writing. It’s highly important that you write in a conversational tone and avoid sounding overly formal.

3. Work fast

The most important thing I learnt from this book is the importance of speed. In the restaurant business speed is paramount. No one wants to wait hours for their food. If this happens they will simply walk out. This is why restaurant kitchens operate like a production line. The only goal is getting orders out as quickly as possible…while still maintaining quality. This is something you absolutely have to apply to your writing. In my experience most clients are extremely impatient. They want the job done NOW.

4. Tell stories

Kitchen Confidential is basically a series of anecdotes involving Anthony Bourdain’s time in the restaurant business. One of the most famous of these is his, “why you shouldn’t order fish on a Monday” story. In this story he basically promises to reveal insider information. He does this throughout the book and this is what makes it so compelling and hard to put down.

Anyway, if you haven’t read this book yet it’s certainly worth picking up.

More tomorrow.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

P.S. The reason why you don’t want to order fish on Monday’s is because fish isn’t sold over the weekend…meaning any fish you order on Monday is old fish from the week before.

HOW POLITICIANS CAN PERSUADE PEOPLE TO TAKE THE COVID-19 VACCINE

Why are people so resistant to taking the COVID-19 vaccine?

There are a number of reasons for this…

…but the biggest is the inconsistent messages put out by authorities.

You see, I recently read an extremely interesting thread on Twitter.

The person who wrote this thread claims to be involved in high level political messaging.

According to them * this * is what politicians need to do:

1. Stop using guilt

Understand that guilt will never makeanyone take the vaccine. This is because guilt only works when people buy into your premises and moral frameworks. In fact, if people think you’re using guilt as a persuasion tool their views will only harden.

2. Respect people

Normal people are concerned that power will be used against them. If there’s no respect they will expect these abuses of power and they will naturally distrust you. At this point they become impossible to persuade.

3. Understand your audience

The powers that be seem to believe that it’s enough to announce their credentials and expertise. Instead you need to understand your audience and validate their concerns.

4. Build trust

Remember, if people don’t trust you nothing matters. Without trust they see you the same way they see a used car salesman. In this case all of your persuasion attempts will only serve to increase their skepticism of vaccines.

5. Avoid contradictions

The governments messaging has been contradictory, inconsistent, and cynical. A good example of this is politicians who go to restaurants and hair salons without masks…while ordinary people stayed inside and had their businesses shut down.

6. Admit to mistakes

These contradictions are the biggest reason why people are so skeptical. Politicians need to admit this skepticism is somewhat justified. They also need to admit that many mistakes were made.  

These points can be combined into a message which reads something like this.   

“We are sorry. We blew it at the start when we said masks don’t help. It turns out they do. We blew it when we said closing the border was racist. It was actually a good idea. We blew it with the vaccine roll out. We didn’t explain it well…”

Once this is done we move onto the meat of the message…

“We have earned your scorn and distrust. That is our fault. As a gesture of good will, we will not force you to take it…”

Doing this takes abuse of power off the table.

It also opens people up to hearing you out.

Then…

“The vaccines work. They do have side effects, and sometimes they can be severe. I want to say that first, so that you know and can make an informed decision. It is important that you have all the information. Even the downsides…”

This section is powerful because you’re not “fact checking” them.

You’re not treating their concerns as trivial, or acting pretentious, or as if you are a holier-than-thou smarty pants. Nor are you placing yourself above them or condemning them. You’re telling them that they do have concerns that must be addressed.

Next…

“The severe side effects are rare. They exist, but no more than with the flu shot or the malaria vaccine. The vaccine makes most people immune to Covid. About 95% of people who get vaccinated never get Covid. Most vaccines are like this…”

“There is always a small group of vaccinated people who get sick anyway. However, it still means that once you take it you really lower your risk for Covid. There are exceptions, again 95% is not 100%, and there will still be people who get it and pass it on, but it really lowers your risk of getting sick.”

What’s great about this section is that you’re not overselling the vaccine’s effectiveness.

What’s more, you’re not threatening people with another lockdown.

Finally…

“The vaccine isn’t perfect, and will not make Covid go extinct. What it will do is lower the odds of people getting Covid, and if enough people do that we can make most of the Covid go away, and we can lower the risks of Covid for people…”

“Given how prevalent Covid is and that the severe vaccine side effects are no more common that with other vaccines, this is the best and safest way to protect yourself from Covid…”

Again, notice that you’re not talking down to people, threatening them, or shaming them.

This type of messaging can be effective, but only if it’s done consistently…

…and even then it will take time to work.

Feeling convinced?

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

THE SECRET TO WRITING “BULLET PROOF” COPY

In recent years Bullet Proof Coffee has grown into one of the most successful online brands.

A while back it was all you heard about.

In case you don’t know “Bullet Proof” coffee is basically regular coffee that contains added ingredients such as butter, coconut oil and other things. Supposedly, drinking this coffee gives you all sorts of wondrous benefits. These include rapid weight loss, increased stamina, and improved mental functioning.

Whether or not this is true who knows.

Some people swear by this drink while others think it’s a sham.

The point I’m trying to make is that there’s a lot you can learn from this company.

You see, many years ago I worked for a guy in the self-help business.

This person was mostly a snake oil salesman but one thing he told me made a huge impact.

(Actually this was taken from one of his seminars).

What this guy mentioned was that, “people want to be enhanced.”

This is an extremely good point when it comes to writing copy.

Most people want to upgrade their lives as if they’re playing a video game.

They want “cool” futuristic techniques for doing things.

Little known insider secrets that can be implemented with no extra effort…

…but which accelerate their progress at light speed.

You need to convey this feeling in your copy…especially in your bullet points.

Do this wherever you can.

Make it sound as if what you’re selling is the equivalent to rocket boots, a jet pack, or life extension technology.

Basically make it sound as cool and futuristic as possible.

In fact, you want to make it seem as if your product is almost magical…

This is the secret to writing bullet proof copy.

More tomorrow:

Cheers,

Alastair Walton