THE SALT AND PEPPER TECHNIQUE FOR WRITING HEADLINES

How do you write the perfect headline?

Every copywriting guru has a different take on this.

And seriously, there are a million and one ways to approach this topic.

Personally, I like to think of it as adding salt and pepper to your food.

Here’s what I mean:

You want to start with a base benefit, topic, or something that grabs your readers attention.

Some examples of this might include…

“Lose weight”

“Save money”

“Look younger”

Or even something like…

“Donald Trump”

Or…

“Climate change”

(Just note that these are BAD examples. They’re too simple. When doing this you want to be as ultra-specific as possible and zero in on something that the reader is extremely interested in.)

This topic or benefit forms the base of your headline.

I call this the “salt” and it’s the thing that grabs or hooks your readers attention.

In this post our salt is the phrase “writing headlines.”

If you’re still reading this, it’s because you want to learn how to do that.

Now, everything else which surrounds the salt is what I call the “pepper.”

These are basically words which add to the flavor of your headline.

A lot of the time this pepper includes your standard headline formats.

I’m talking about things like…

“Why…”

“What…”

“How to…”

“10 ways to…”

The pepper can also include other words which enhance the flavor.

Things like:

“Weird”

“Strange”

“Unusual”

“Groundbreaking”

You’ll also want to add in curiosity generating phrases like:

“What you don’t know about xyz could kill you.”

“Why most people never discover the truth about xyz before it’s too late.”

“10 reasons why your xyz isn’t working.”

And so on and so on.

(In this post our pepper is “The salt and pepper technique…”)

When we mix it all up we get:

“The salt and pepper technique for writing headlines”

Believe it or not it’s really that simple.

Start with your salt.

Find a benefit or topic that excites your audience and grabs their attention.

Next, add in your pepper.

Use weird, colorful, or strange words and surround them with curiosity generating phrases.

With this simple technique you can write headlines quickly.

Not only that, you can use it to write email subject lines, sales letter headlines, article titles, YouTube titles…

…or anything really.

Until we meet again,

Alastair Walton

GET CLIENTS QUICKLY WITH THIS UNUSUAL METHOD

Many years ago I was trying to break into the world of freelance copywriting.

At that point I was really struggling.

No matter what I did, no one would hire me.

But then I heard about an interesting way to find work.

With this technique you can quickly get as many clients as you need.

Not only that, it provides copywriters with a few additional benefits as you’ll see below.

What is this technique?

Well, what you basically want to do is find people with existing sales pages (one way to do this is by visiting Clickbank and getting in touch with product owners.) Send these people a message and tell them about yourself and that you’re a copywriter. Then tell them that you want to rewrite their sales letter…for free…and that they only need to pay if you write something that converts higher than what they’ve got at the moment.

Now, before you turn your nose up at this idea, there’s a good reason why you should try it.

First of all, this is a no-brainer offer because there’s zero risk to the client – which means you’ll actually GET clients. What’s more, offer this service to enough people and you’ll eventually strike gold i.e. you’ll actually write a letter that converts and get paid for your efforts. In fact, this may even turn into ongoing work if you’re lucky.

There’s also another benefit which most people don’t think about.

You see, when starting out as a copywriter there’s one thing you need more than anything else.

What is this?

EXPERIENCE.

You need to get to the point where you’ve worked with a handful of clients…

…and written at least 2-5 sales letters or other pieces of copy.

More importantly…

You need to have written copy that actually converts.

Only by doing this will you gain the experience needed to move onto more serious projects.

Bottom line:

If you want to break into freelance copywriting then consider offering a free sales letter rewrite.

Doing this is a great way to gain experience and confidence.

Plus it helps you build up a portfolio…

…plus you might actually earn some money.

Alastair Walton

P.S. One more thing before I go: If you’re going to do this make sure you have another source of income i.e. don’t quit your day job to become a copywriter and then work for free. The reason why is because you’re probably not going to make a lot of money (or even get paid.) In my experience most people don’t run your copy and will ignore you after it’s delivered. If they do use the copy and it makes money…well…there’s no guarantee they’ll honor the agreement. Remember, you’re doing this purely for experience and not money, so don’t concentrate on that until later…

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.