Holiday Copywriting Thoughts. Direct Response Copywriting Email Archive December 2018.


From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Holiday Thoughts

It’s the holiday season, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, and it’s the time of year when I have a few days NOT writing copy and not getting any communication from current or potential clients.

I’m fortunate to have many great clients and I’m fortunate to have communication from them. But it's pleasant to have a bit of a break, even though I love my work.

I know that many of you want/need more clients, more often.

This time of the year, I’m actually really busy, regularly waking up around 5 to catch a bus at 6:45 a.m. to be ready to teach skiing all day beginning at 9. It’s wonderful to have a ‘bonus’ career that complements and augments my ‘regular’ work.

I don’t know how or where you’re spending the next couple of weeks. I hope it’s a fun time and mostly peaceful.

But even though I’m busy and active, I’m thinking about what’s next for me in this upcoming year when it comes to copywriting.

Who do I want to work with? Which categories? What type of clients? Do I want to start selling my own stuff instead of helping clients? I've helped a lot of people generate a massive amount of revenue.

If there’s ONE thing I really want YOU to focus on in the upcoming months, it’s being more proactive instead of reactive when it comes to building and expanding your copywriting business.

In fact, and here’s something that might seem really controversial, if you’re getting going and you’re frustrated with stupid clients and bad work, I’d rather see you have some type of side job that keeps you solvent while you do two things …

One. Improve your portfolio with spec pieces. Create a product or service and write copy for that product or service.

Two. Make a point to start contacting great potential clients. This requires persistence, intelligence, and patience.

End the insanity of Upwork and Facebook groups and other platforms where grim potential clients offer nothing but slow payment, bad pay, and constant headaches.

Perhaps your next step is to find a full-time gig with an agency or with a company. This will provide you with some stability plus some valuable experience. Then, if you want the freedom that comes with freelancing, you have a sprinboard.

Then there’s one more thing. Make a point to read more about direct response copywriting and direct marketing next year. Want to know what I read? Click here.

Have a great holiday season.

And think about this thought from one of the world’s top direct response copywriters.

“There’s an ocean of work out there. And you’re a thimble.”

All the best,

Scott Martin

Effective Ways to Find Copywriting Clients Part 7. Clients are Everywhere. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive October 2018 3

October 2018 3

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

The Most Effective Ways to Find Great Clients. Part 7.

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

So … I see all these ads at the bottom of websites I visit.

So … I get a link to an internet marketing event with 12 speakers who are ALL Internet marketers.

So … I see a list of the top “up and coming” marketers in a business magazine.

So … I know a way to find out who is marketing online and how much they’re spending.

So … I see all these ads on Facebook.

So … I hear there’s a conference that’s replete with companies that sell dietary supplements.

So ... I hear there's a conference that's choc-full of financial publishing companies.

So … I look in my local newspaper and see a ton of ads. I look in the New York Post and see a ton of ads.

So … I see that The Denver Business Journal and The Charlotte Business Journal and every other Business Journal in the country has a list of the “Top 25 Advertising Agencies” and other complementary lists.

So … I see a prominent direct marketer on Linked In. He consults with marketing companies and I see all his connections.

So … what do I see?


What are you seeing?

Right now, you’re seeing clueless Upwork clients who want the lowest possible price.

You’re seeing shoddy potential clients who come to Facebook groups looking, supposedly, for quality copy … and then you see a stampede of mendicants desperate to work for these awful clients.


I’m trying to instill a big change in how you think about finding clients.

Spend the next few hours and the next few days thinking about this. Let your subconscious start to figure this out for you. It will.

Let's go back to that list of 'Top 25' Advertising Agencies in those business journals. Guess what? They all need copy. I would BET THE FARM that no freelance copywriters EVER contact them.

All the best,

Scott Martin 

Effective Ways to Find Copywriting Clients Part 6. AWAI Bootcamp Review. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive October 2018 2

October 2018 2

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

The Most Effective Ways to Find Great Clients. Part 6.

AWAI Bootcamp This Week

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

I’m not in Colorado right now. I’m in Delray Beach, which is one of my favorite places to visit.

But I’m not here for the AWAI Bootcamp which starts on Wednesday, tomorrow.

A client needed me to be in Palm Beach last week and the timing/travel didn’t work out for Bootcamp this year. But I’ve been to Bootcamp at least 6 times.

It’s a fun event and I love being in Delray. The main reason I used to attend Bootcamp was the opportunity to meet potential clients. Bootcamp includes a 3-hour meet and greet known as Job Fair. I also liked many of the speakers and I had the opportunity to have lunch with Herschell Gordon Lewis before he passed away. What an amazing guy and I'm a big fan of HGL. I really enjoy Bootcamp and part of me is sad I won't be there.

Job fair is a scrum at first but once things calm down, it’s a chance to meet over 40 potential clients. I’ve actually secured over $20,000 worth of work from the Job Fair over the years and met some potential clients.

At least 1/3 of the potential clients are part of the Agora empire. They’re not typically looking for freelancers. But they are quite often eager to find and hire apprentices. Here’s the deal with them. You move to Delray Beach or Baltimore and you earn about $40,000 a year with the potential for bonuses and big royalties. You get training from some of the world’s top copywriters. It’s a GREAT way to get started.

Not all the clients at Job Fair are great potential clients. Two of the companies I started working with turned out to be difficult and disorganized. One client told me I was terrible and my name is mud there ... I did everything I was asked to do. This same client told an assembled group he didn’t care about a copywriter’s website. That’s sheer lunacy. With another client, I had to fight to get paid after they decided not to run my promotion. And the owner of the company is a friend of mine.

And then I’ve had companies at Bootcamp be rude. It’s rare but it happens.

I saw some of the same faces year after year. They all need copywriters and they know I write copy and that I’ve had plenty of success. But they never return emails. Makes no sense. You’d think they would want to chat. But maybe they don’t like me. Whatever.

These are just part of the frustrations of the client-finding journey. I enjoy these frustrations because it means I’m making the effort to find great clients.

If you’re going to Bootcamp then I’m sorry I’m going to miss you. I really enjoy meeting fellow copywriters, with two notable exceptions. Let’s not go there. But I enjoy meeting other people in the trade … even when they are competitors.

A lot of copywriters find some great work at the job fair. I’m told the bar at the host hotel is a great place to meet clients. Is hanging out at a bar the greatest way to meet clients? I’m not sold on that one.

Are you going to find tens of thousands of dollars worth of work at Bootcamp? Maybe. I recommend you complete all of the spec assignments and follow up with potential clients you meet if you’re going. Definitely speak with the Agora people if you want to get into an apprentice program.

But the job fair at Bootcamp is, ultimately, a passive event. I want you to be active and aggressive. I want you to change your mindset and start contacting the clients you really want.

This means looking around at the landscape and starting to identify the companies who are advertising … the companies with great products … the companies who want to be successful.

When a company is advertising a lot, what does this mean? It means they need copy and people to write that copy and feed that testing beast. Just saying …

All the best,

Scott Martin

P.S. Speaking of mindset, have you seen the book about the growth mindset? You can read my review of this fascinating and inspirational book here. You'll also see reviews of books by HGL. 

Effective Ways to Find Copywriting Clients Part 4. The Raw Folly of Online Copywriter Groups. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive September 2018 3.

September 2018 3

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

The Most Effective Way to Find Great Clients. Part 4.

Groups ... The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly ...

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!

I'm a member of several Facebook groups dedicated to copywriting. I'm also in some Linked In groups.

There’s quite a bit of action in the Facebook groups, with quite a few clients looking for copywriters. I’ve contacted some of these clients and it’s always been a waste of time. D-grade clients looking for cheap work but expecting A-grade work. In fact, I saw a former client looking for copywriters in one of the Facebook groups. This client was disorganized and not that good a marketer. Good luck to him.

Last week, on a Facebook group posting, I saw some advice that was totally wrong. So I wrote a post saying, “that advice was totally wrong.” The moderator lambasted me for criticizing the advice and the person giving the advice. What am I supposed to do? Say something is great when it's clearly awful?

So there are two things happening in those groups. Bad clients. Bad advice.

I’m writing a book about copywriting and it’s close to being ready for a publisher. It’s a book for copywriters. There’s a section about who to follow and who to listen to. You MUST be extremely careful. There’s a TON of really bad advice out there from people who have never actually written much copy.

You’ll find more serious people and more serious groups on Linked In. Not a huge surprise, perhaps. So let me ask you a question. How active are you on Linked In? It’s a great place to find clients. I’m not going to give away my Linked In secrets but, remember, the goal of this series is to get you thinking differently about finding clients so you don’t rely on those Facebook groups and other really bad sources.

So your homework this week is cruising around Linked In and also looking for information about how to make the most of this powerful tool. There’s a lot of free information out there about making the most of Linked In. Read it.

You’ll start to think differently about finding the right clients … and contacting them.

As promised, here are my thoughts about choosing a niche.

In one niche, in a sport, I’m probably the #1 copywriter. And work in this niche is about 30% of my revenue. But I also write in health, financial, and biz-opp. In fact, I’ll pretty much write anything for anyone, provided the company and product are all above board.

Let’s say you decide to work in just one niche … health. There’s plenty of work in that niche but you may end up limiting yourself because one company won’t want you working for the competition. Ditto for financial publishing.

When I started writing copy full-time, I sought out advertising agencies and digital marketing agencies. One day, I was writing for a plumbing company. The next day, I was writing to sell information about Australian real estate investing. I like this variety.

There’s something to be said for being the #1 knee surgeon on the planet. You might find some joy if you ultimately become the #1 financial copywriter but it will be a long road getting there.

But if you look at the careers of the most successful copywriters, they have NOT limited themselves to one niche. Study them and you’ll see what I’m talking about. A bit more homework there for you.

As you start to think differently about finding clients and you become more active instead of passive, think about finding clients who really value copy and copywriters. If you’re going to pursue a niche, think more about the client and not the actual niche itself.

I'm updating my database of 2,000 current clients and and I'm simply asking, "will this be a good client if we work together?" I'm not concerned about the niche.

All the best,

Scott Martin

Different Paths to Copywriting Success. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive August 2018 1

August 2018 1

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Different Paths. Same Results.

Quite a few writers and marketers have joined the list of people who receive these emails. Welcome!


Dan Kennedy says, and I’m paraphrasing quite a bit, “if you want to be successful, follow someone who has been successful and find out how they became great … then do what they did.”

If you want to be a lawyer, a doctor, or a dentist, then the career path is fairly predictable. It’s sort of the same with a corporate career.

However, take a look at the careers of productive, and even famous, copywriters and you’ll find a panoply of paths.

Bob Bly started in a corporate marketing department and went freelance fairly early in his career.

Eric Betuel, who wrote several powerful controls for Boardroom, went door-to-door selling encyclopedias before discovering direct marketing and direct response copywriting. And he was selling door-to-door in his teens to support his family. He HAD to make sales.

One of my mentors, Andrew Wood, was sitting around in his empty Karate studio in southern California when he went to the library and read Ogilvy on Advertising. He then built a karate school empire before turning to golf marketing and copywriting.

David Ogilvy did just about everything before starting his agency. He was a researcher, cook, farmer, and door-to-door salesman, selling AGA stoves. To learn to write advertising copy, he took what was then called a "correspondence course." He found his first clients through a direct mail campaign.

Gary Bencivenga spent several years working in Madison Avenue advertising agencies, working under greats like John Caples, before heading toward a direct marketing agency. Then he went out on his own.

John Caples went directly into the advertising world after a stint in the Navy.

Kim Schwalm started in the marketing side of direct marketing before moving to direct response copywriting. So she worked with a number of top copywriters before becoming a copywriter herself.

I started my career as a copywriter in the advertising department of a department store chain and I’ve always written copy. But I’ve taken detours into corporate communications, magazine publishing, books, publishing sales, ski instruction, and waiting tables.

Fortunately, I discovered direct marketing and direct response copywriting in 2002 and went full-time with only direct response copywriting in 2010. And it’s been a great 8 years.

In my career, I’ve published something like 10,000 pages of magazine content and this background has helped me tremendously. You can discover a TON about direct response copywriting by studying the world’s top newspapers and magazines and how they grab your attention and then keep you reading.

My first clients were mostly advertising agencies and direct marketing agencies. They had a ton of work for me. The pay wasn’t stratospheric but it was enough and I got some super-valuable things: training, mentoring, feedback based on metrics, experience, and samples for my portfolio.

Before getting into direct response copywriting all the time, my career was mostly peripatetic. All those experiences helped me move into copy fairly easily. But I know several people who have arrived at copywriting from crazily different backgrounds … sales … engineering … academia … nursing … Wall Street … the corporate world.

John Caples was the exception because he was so productive, so quickly, so early in his career … his mid-20s. But I believe you have to have been out there in the real world for a long time before you can really understand human nature … but not from an academic standpoint.

Copywriting is about selling but it’s more about understanding what really makes people tick and what they really want in life.

Everyone must study the work and thoughts of the hyper-successful copywriters. You should know who they are. But also study how they learned and how they became super-successful. They also failed a lot. You’ll get a blueprint for success from the big names in our business.


Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Proof Elements Part 2. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive May 2018.

May 2018

Proof Elements

I’m going to continue with my series about proof elements. I'll go through the following.

Comparisons Scientific findings Research findings Unique mechanism


I’m quite a big fan of Car and Driver Magazine, a publication that routinely runs comparison articles. They’ll test 2-5 different cars and tell you which car they liked the best … and then rank all the contestants. It’s fun reading plus it motivates car lovers to open the magazine to see which car won.

In direct response copy, comparisons can be a proof element, usually in some type of table that compares your product to others in the market. You have to be careful and I’m NEVER a big fan of bashing the competition, even if the competition is eminently bashable. In fact, I'm working on copy where the control bashes doctors, drug companies, and pretty much everyone. My new copy doesn't bash anyone.

The comparison I prefer is what I call the “self-comparison” where I provide two offers for the product, each with different levels of features. It’s the old, GOOD-BETTER-BEST self-comparison.

I like this approach much more than creating a table that beats up the competition.


I’m going to group these together because they’re very similar … and mostly self-explanatory.

It’s not hugely difficult, although it takes a lot of time, to come up with research to back up claims. Many times, the client will have this research ready to go.

And it’s not hugely difficult to pump a ton of research and related content into a promotion. But you have to be careful.

In the last email, I talked about how it’s really important to be careful with specificity. You can include a lot of numbers and specificity but you can end up bombarding the reader with too much information and the surfeit of specificity can confuse everyone.

So … with your scientific and research findings, choose wisely and only include the most salient findings that really back up your claims. Perhaps there’s something from a big-name source like Harvard Medical School, or Time Magazine, or The Mayo Clinic. In the financial space, can you get something from The Wall Street Journal?

If you have a lot of “leftover” research that you really like, you can create a Johnson Box with a subhead saying … “Here’s Additional Research About Product X” or you can include it after the P.S. in a Q and A.


I could write a book about this proof element and, in fact, I am writing a couple of books about copywriting and the “unique mechanism” will play a big part in both books.

The unique mechanism is not just a proof element. It can be a core element of profitable copy. Over the next couple of days, pay close attention to the advertising you see and hear and you’ll see the unique mechanism tactic used over and over. It’s such a vital way to differentiate a product or service.

But you can’t just plop down the unique mechanism and say, “here’s a unique mechanism so that’s why you have to buy.” The prospective client will say, “yeah, right.”

You have to explain the basis behind the unique mechanism plus you have to prove that the unique mechanism actually works and makes the product better than other products.

If you have a dietary supplement then you can highlight a new ingredient but then you have to show that it performs.

Let’s say you’re selling a ski with a new technology that makes it easier to turn the ski. You have to explain the new technology with video plus images and copy. Then you have to show it actually works. You can use before and after images, testimonials, and celebrity skier endorsements.

What are we discovering here?

All the proof elements must work together. Proof elements do not work in isolation.

In the next email, I’ll go through the following proof elements.

Reasons why Logical argument Specialization Third party verifications

If you want the full list of proof elements from the ad agency in Australia, click here.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

P.S. As you read and hear copy, check the copy for proof elements.

Finding Great Clients Instead of Plonkers and Punters. Direct Response Copywriting Archive March 2018

March 2018 1

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Some Thoughts About Refining Your Client Search ... So You Find Great Clients Instead of Total Plonkers and Punters.

I wrote a PDF last year titled, “The 17 Worst Ways to Find Clients” … or something like that … and maybe one of these days, maybe in a few weeks, I’ll dig it out and send it to this database. It makes for interesting reading. Many of the ways you've heard are really great are, in fact, a total waste of time.

If you’re a copywriter, then I’m certain you have tried several different ways to find clients, likely with mixed results. Or just really poor results.

I have ample work, especially from a couple of clients, and I’m fortunate that my website generates leads ... over 700 in the past 5 years.

Some of the people who contact me are serious direct marketers; others are serious but have “one and done” project work, which is fine, but it’s always preferable to have regular assignments from a company: you get to know them and their list plus you're not constantly searching for clients.

Still, having a website that generates leads is ultimately a passive exercise.

So … over the next few months, I’m going on the offensive. I’m going to keep working for the two clients I just mentioned, provided they still like me, but I’m going to FIND two, maybe three, additional clients.

What do these clients look like?

Great traffic. Great list. Excellent traffic buyer. Superb products that really appeal to their current and prospective customers. The need and desire to keep selling products and services. Total compliance and dedication to ethical business practices. The willingness, if not rampant desire, to invest in copy and PAY THEIR COPYWRITER. A direct marketing mindset. One of my current clients has a copy of Breakthrough Advertising in the bathroom. A growth mindset. The constant desire to improve. A general disdain for all things branding. The ability to test like crazy … and celebrate both success and failure. Generally amenable and pleasant people in the organization. A paucity of corporate bureaucracy. An entrepreneurial mindset … plus ambition. Speed … getting products to market quickly. No copy police looking over my every word. They trust me. Ample cash in the bank. Size: between 10-30 employees. The potential to work together for many years. A need for direct marketing expertise.

I could probably think of a few other criteria but that’s a pretty good list above.

As you can see, I’m not going to work with a lot of punters. And if you don’t know what a “punter” is then search a little … for the British meaning … it’s one of my favorite words and extremely malleable.

But I digress.

Some of you who receive this email might be extremely experienced. Others might be more nascent. Either way, it’s VITAL to define your ideal client profile.

Eight years ago, that client was a digital advertising agency with regular copy needs.

Once you have a sense of your ideal client, you can ignore all the ads and online guff you see asking for copywriters.

Most of these potential clients are like people who walk into a Ferrari dealership with precisely $500 to spend on a car ... but still think they can get a Ferrari.

But most importantly, once you have a sense of your ideal client, you can search with much more precision.

Look … there’s triage involved here. I might cruise around looking at more than 300 potential clients before I find one that matches my criteria. That’s great, if you ask me.

Why should I settle for a client who is not a good fit?

Let’s remember something crucially vital. Yes … it’s important to have a great list. Yes … it’s important to have great products. But without copy, there isn’t a sale … there isn’t a phone call made to a 1-800 number.

So why am I settling for clients who will make my life miserable? Why are you?

Be aggressive. Find those great clients. Don’t work for companies that don’t deserve to work with a copywriter who can produce results.

Two more things to consider.

One. All those so called “A Lister” copywriters … were they actually really great copywriters? Or did they find and work with the top clients? Hmmmmmm …

Two. Notice I haven’t said the “niche” word. You can focus on a niche to the point where you’re willing to take on bad clients.

My niche … especially in the next few months? Finding the top clients … clients who are a good fit with my career goals over the next decade.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

P.S. If I seem mean or even snobby then my apologies. I don't want to sound like either. I simply want serious copywriters to work with excellent clients. Is that too much to ask?

Advice to Freshly-Minted Copywriters. Direct Response Copywriting Email Archive February 2018

February 2018 1

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Why "Which Niche?" is the Wrong Question ... Plus Advice to Freshly-Minted Copywriters Who are Looking for Work ...

First … hello to new subscribers to this email. Welcome.

You’ve heard, I’m sure, the direct response copywriting commandment … “thou shalt specialize.”


After hearing this, hundreds of copywriters plunge head first into a niche, desperately hoping their chosen area of specialization will attract throngs of eager super-duper clients.

And then nothing happens.

I hear two things all the time.

The first from copywriters: “I’m not getting enough work.”

The second from marketers: “We’re desperate for copywriters ... we're always looking for copywriters."

Hmmmmm … what’s wrong with this picture?

I have an area of expertise. I have written 11 books in this niche and it’s about 1/3 of my work as a direct response copywriter. My main client is in this niche is a rock-star direct marketer who reads direct marketing books when he’s on the plane and even when he’s on the lavatory.

My type of client.

But what would happen if this niche was full of marketers who DID NOT fully understand the value of a direct response copywriter? I could stay in this niche, because I’m following the “thou shalt specialize” commandment and be broke and miserable.

If I couldn’t find the right type of client in this niche, I would not work in this niche. It just so happens, thankfully, there's a strong client in a niche I like.

Remember this …

Finding the right type of client is much more important than the niche.

Now … in the world of direct marketing, there are more top clients in the health and financial fields than other niches ... which explains why many of the top copywriters “specialize” in health and wealth. These copywriters work in these niches because it’s where the money is … usually. It's also where you'll find plenty of serious direct marketers.

I address this directly on this page on my website.

Maybe you’ll find 3 great clients in the health space … and suddenly you’re a health specialist. Maybe you’ll find a great client in the pet supplies space … suddenly you’re in the direct-to-consumer space.

You might like the health niche and write copy for clients in this space but remember … focus on the quality of the client before the niche.

Is the client bonkers about direct marketing? Does the client read “Breakthrough Advertising” while moving their bowels? Do they have a strong portfolio of superb products? Can they generate big-time traffic? What sort of list do they have?

A lot of nascent copywriters ask me, “how should I get started finding clients?”

Here’s one way …

Google “digital marketing agencies” and start contacting these agencies. There are thousands of these companies around the world.

Contact 200 of them in the next 30 days ... and follow up.

These agencies need a TON of copy. Some will provide some training. Their needs are fairly basic … emails … AR series … squeeze pages. You will need to turn work around quickly, always a good thing, and most will pay quickly … even if the pay isn’t epic. But it’s a place to get started.

It's how I started, writing a ton of copy for a digital marketing agency in Australia.

And there’s something else about these agencies: you don’t need to specialize. You’ll write for a wide range of products and services … everything from plumbing companies to real estate agencies.

In the next email, I’ll discuss ways to build a portfolio before you get clients. It’s not complicated.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

P.S. I fully understand my "niche" advice flies right in the face of conventional wisdom. But remember ... the quality of the client is more important than the niche.

The World's Highest Paid Copywriters. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive January 2018 2

January 2018 2

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Should You Specialize?

The Surprising Answer and ... Are These the World's Highest Paid Copywriters?

Here’s a question that vexes a lot of copywriters, from the totally nascent to the mega-experienced (even).

"Should I specialize?"

You’ll hear a lot of different answers.

Some people say, “look at the medical and legal professions … the highest paid lawyers and doctors are the specialists.”

And that’s mostly true. In copywriting, there are just as many options and more decisions. Most of the people who signed up for my list are interested in direct response copywriting and I’ll get to specializing in this field in a minute.

But who says you have to be a direct response copywriter? Maybe you should venture into the world of branding copywriting.

“HERESY!” you scream … but let me explain.

A company, which shall remain nameless but with which I’m extremely familiar, decided, at the “C” suite level, it needed a new slogan and company statement ... or whatever it’s called.

So this company hired a branding company. In fact, they hired this one.

Here’s the copy you see on the agency's home page.


We believe smart communications have an impact on the world. We empower foundations to shape a better future, help nonprofits get the attention they deserve, and enable consumers to make better choices.

We Grow the Good


It gets better ...

"We’re passionate about design that informs, clarifies, persuades, and communicates the possibilities of working together for positive change. When bringing on new clients and new employees, Vermilion places a premium on meaningful relationships, curiosity, and crafting remarkable, effective work that nurtures community karma."

Their copywriter is "a writer of words and lover of dessert" according to the website.


When I read copy like that, I want to vomit.

What does "grow the good" mean? Can the copywriter motivate readers to pull a credit card out of their wallet? Or does she just love chocolate cake?

BUT … the client company gleefully paid this “communications” company well into six figures to create a new slogan.

The slogan has exactly four words. Two of them are 'love' and 'unity.'

Run the numbers and that’s over $25,000 per word and I don’t know a copywriter on the planet who gets paid like that.

There’s no accountability and no connection between revenue and copy. And that’s exactly how the client wants it. And that’s exactly how the agency wants it. It's only direct marketers and direct response copywriters who are brave enough to want to see the results of their work.

In the creation of the new slogan, there were brainstorming sessions with flip charts, I'm sure, plus pleasant lunches, and a lot of self-congratulation. The agency, I’m certain, will enter the work into a competition judged by others in the communication/branding space. And suddenly it's an "award-winning" campaign. An orgy of back slapping will then commence.

There will be no talk of ROI, testing, and refining the creative to maximize revenue. Plus who can argue with love and unity?

But here’s the bottom line: a company run by a lot of experienced business people, many with MBAs, paid another company for precisely FOUR words of copy, even though the copy is essentially meaningless twaddle.

Yes ... people who are a TON more experienced in business saw it fit to write a whopping check for meaningless twaddle. Who am I to argue?

Maybe I’m in the wrong part of copywriting.

There are lots of ways to get paid, often handsomely, to write copy, without the pressure and accountability that comes with direct response copywriting. • B2B • Corporate • Branding • Speeches • Technical I could come up with a long list … so could you. And there's nothing wrong with any of this. I know plenty of successful copywriters who avoid direct response and despise this approach to marketing.

But if you’re committed to direct response copy, like me, should you specialize?

Here’s my answer.

No. I don’t know any super-successful copywriter who works in just one niche. I know some who focus on two, like health and financial. I focus on four areas but I’m happy to venture outside these areas when I like the client … and they like me.

I often work in a highly-defined niche. Bob Bly told the assembled copywriters at the last AWAI conference that I’m #1 in this niche. I really only work for one client in this niche and this client generally requests I avoid other clients in this space ... and with good reason: they don’t want me working for competitors.

So I work in other niches and I like the variety.

Clients are more interested in whether you can convert than your level of expertise in a given niche.

In the next email, I'll write about why the "which niche?" question is essentially the wrong question.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

The Bencivenga Headline Secret. Direct Response Copywriting Email Archive December 2017

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Gary Bencivenga and His Headline Secret

I’d like to continue this series about what you can learn from Gary Bencivenga, now retired, and generally considered one of the greatest copywriters of all time, certainly in the 80s, 90s, and into the 21st Century.

Bencivnega rarely spoke but I was fortunate that a client bought me the videos of Bencivnega’s retirement seminar. These cost $5,000 and if you feel like reading the over 30,000 words of copy selling the DVDs, you can click here. No affiliate commission here, in case you're wondering.

Let me divulge something from the DVDs when it comes to headlines. Bencivnega talked about the inspiration for many of his headlines: book titles. Take a look at book titles and you can get a sense of what Bencivnega was talking about.

How to Work From Home and Make Money in 2017: 13 Proven Home-Based Businesses You Can Start Today (Work from Home Series: Book 1)
Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
15 Minutes to a Better Interview: What I Wish EVERY Job Candidate Knew

What are we seeing here?

An all-out “how to” headline. Numbers (specificity) in the headlines. The “tease” factor. Intrigue. Classic headline techniques.

There’s an irony here. Book publishers are among the WORST marketers on the planet. That’s based on my personal experience with this book I wrote. I sometimes wonder how any of them make any money. I wrote a VSL for a client. The VSL sold an ebook about dementia. The client was selling 1.5 million of these ebooks a month. That would put the book at the top of EVERY bestseller list on the planet for several weeks.

Now … there are lots of super-weak book titles. Take a look at these.

Leaders Eat Last
The Player: Target: The Executive Suite
Principles: Life and Work
The One Page Marketing Plan

Look at the first three. What do they mean? What’s the benefit? What’s in it for me? The final one offers a bit of a benefit but the premise is not believable … especially to someone who is in marketing.

Now let’s take a look at some direct marketing book titles.

The Direct Mail Solution: A Business Owner's Guide to Building a Lead-Generating, Sales-Driving, Money-Making Direct-Mail Campaign.
Direct Marketing Doesn't Have to Make Sense, It Just Has to Make Money.
Confessions of a Direct Response Copywriter: An “Old School” Advertising Man Reveals How to Make Your Marketing Twice as Effective at Half the Cost - ... Secrets of Success in Business and in Life.

Better book titles/headlines … especially those long ones; the latter is for a Bob Bly book so it's no surprise the title is excellent.

I’m working on a book about copywriting and I’ve chosen the title based on a believable benefit. It’s based on a headline template I like to use.

So … the next time you’re in a bookstore … or your looking at a book site, take a few minutes to rate the titles/headlines. Put the good ones in your headline templates.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Free Resources for Copywriters. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive November 2017 1

November 2017 1

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

One of the Best Free Resources for Direct Response Copywriters

I'm confident you've heard of Gary Bencivenga. He only writes sporadically these days, for his olive oil company, and he's mostly retired but, until his retirement, he was the #1 direct response copywriter on the planet.

He wrote several controls for Boardroom, back when Boardroom was rocking out those powerful magalogs. He worked for other direct marketers too. He earned millions in royalties plus he charged $25,000 just to show up for a project. That’s around $50,000 in today’s money.

$50,000 a month for 12 months. Plus royalties. "You do the math." And that was 20 years ago.

I have closely studied Bencivenga’s work and I try to model my style after his style. His style is very “non-hype” and it's super-clear. The clarity of the offer is perfect and this clarity is something I strive to emulate every time I write copy.

Here’s an example of what I consider the most perfect copy I have every seen. Click here.

I met Bencivenga at the Titans of Marketing event. You can see my review of the event here.

I was having a pleasant conversation with him until three extremely rude people barged in. Don’t do that.

You can get a copy of Bencivenga’s retirement seminar DVDs for $5,000. A client bought the DVDs for me and they are superb.

Thankfully, if you don’t have $5,000 lying around in your house/apartment/office/manse, Gary published what he called “The Bencivenga Bullets.” These are totally free.

These will give you more direct response wisdom than you’ll find in 20 direct marketing books.

Here’s a link to the first one. This link will lead you to the other bullets.

If you want to learn something today, pay extremely close attention to Bencivenga's syntax.

In the next few emails, I’m going to discuss and dissect some Gary Bencivenga copy. And in the next couple of weeks, at some stage, I’m also going to obliterate an archaic old-school copywriting notion: A-Listers, B-Listers, and so on.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

AWAI Bootcamp Review. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive October 2017 3

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

AWAI Bootcamp Notes

So I'm (almost) back home in Colorado after a few days in Florida attending the AWAI Bootcamp and Job Fair.

As promised, here’s a report.

It was wonderful to be in Delray Beach, which is one of my favorite places to visit, not just in Florida, but pretty much anywhere.

There was quite a variety of content. Clayton Makepeace spoke about mistakes he sees in direct response copy. Another speaker, who specializes in B2B copy, talked about … you guessed it … B2B copy.

Programs started at 7:15 in the morning and some of them finished at 9 p.m. It’s a long day but AWAI packs in the content.

I see many of the same faces, but there’s definitely some ‘churn’ with many people arriving one year, then not returning.

On Wednesday afternoon, I had a drink with Bob Bly, who was in excellent form. He’s still writing copy, pounding it out 10 hours a day, at least five days a week. He gave a presentation about marketing.

On Friday at lunch, I met one of the copy chiefs from Agora. He seemed to know me and my work. He told me the copywriters in his division were earning well over $500,000 a year … “if you’re interested,” he said.

The Agora “model” for hiring copywriters is quite well known. They want you to move, usually to Delray Beach or Baltimore. The initial pay is around $40,000 a year. They provide training … some of the best copywriting training in the world. They expect you to earn significant royalties in the first 2 years or they show you the door.

The allure of half a million dollars is quite strong, for sure, but if you’re actually serious about me moving and working with you and you’re implying I can make big money, here’s my number one thought … WRITE ME A CHECK.

There’s a line from a somewhat famous movie … SHOW ME THE MONEY … or something like that. Be careful about the promises potential clients make.

At Job Fair, the usual suspects were present. I saw some current clients. I saw some people I’d like to work with. I saw some people who have fired me from projects.

I also briefly met with a copywriting agency. I met the owner. I’m not normally aggressive … but you have to be at job fair. I’m not elbowing fellow copywriters out of the way but, when I meet someone, I quickly let them know about my track record. Why? Because 95% of the attendees are new to copywriting. I have experience. Nothing wrong with being a newcomer but I want to differentiate myself.

Every company at job fair is looking for copywriters, otherwise they would not be there. They’re usually especially eager to meet experienced copywriters. So I told the owner of the agency I was experienced and had some results and he REFUSED to take my business card and the attached thumb drive which included a short VSL about my work plus a word doc with links to my portfolio.

He said, “just do the spec challenge” and was generally extremely rude. I was tempted to jettison the rattle out of the pram and tell him to speak with everyone … especially if he’s looking for copywriters.

Aside from my semi-angst, what’s the biggest lesson here?

An event like job fair can lead to some work and it’s always good to see some current clients … BUT … ultimately, you have to go and find the clients you really want to work with. You might find a couple at the job fair … you might not.

This year’s bootcamp, for some reason I don’t fully understand, moved me to think about my business in a totally different way. More on that in the next few weeks.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Having Fun With Copywriting. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive September 2017

September 2017

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Labor ... Or Ease?

I generally dislike meetings … for a wide variety of reasons. But a big company recently bought one of my clients and so I found myself in a drab meeting room in a drab office building, meeting the people from the big company.

These people are not really direct marketers, although they seem genuinely interested to discover more about direct marketing and direct response copywriting. The executives asked me to explain how direct response copywriting works. I had 15 minutes so the explanation was super-basic but I poured a lot of enthusiasm into the presentation.

A friend from the company that was acquired was in the meeting. After the meeting, he commented on my enthusiasm for direct response copywriting.

My friend was right, of course. I love writing direct response copy. I’ll be sitting down with my laptop, and this could be almost anywhere, and I’ll be working on some copy, and I’ll be thinking, “I’m loving this and I’m really fortunate to have something in my life that’s not really work, but generates a solid income.”

I know well over 100 copywriters. Some are good friends. Some are acquaintances. Some are just starting out. Others are extremely famous. But I can only think of a handful of copywriters who tell me they really love writing copy. One friend told me he hates writing copy. Another really famous copywriter rarely writes copy because he no longer enjoys it. Many top-level copywriters are no longer writing copy; they're coaching aspiring copywriters because it’s easier and the money is excellent … upwards of $1,000 an hour. For these copywriters, writing copy is labor.

Now, there are times when being a direct response copywriter is a major challenge to the point where it’s not a lot of fun. When does this happen? When clients don’t pay and I have to chase them. When clients use the 4.0 peer review process and other copywriters are critiquing my copy … totally randomly. When clients don’t communicate. When clients get super-critical about copy and get super-slow. I start to feel the natural loneliness that freelancers can experience. So … here are my ways to maintain my enthusiasm. Keep reading about direct response copywriting, sales psychology, sales, and direct marketing. At least 30 minutes a day. I also listen to MP3s and watch videos. Find great clients and avoid the bad ones. Fire the bad ones if you need to. Work with clients whose products and services get you excited. And work with clients who move quickly. Find diversions outside direct response copywriting. Dan Kennedy is one of the top harness racers in the country. I’m a part-time ski instructor. Make some friends who are also copywriters and stay in touch with them. Vent if you need to vent. Relish the process of finding great clients. It’s a little like a hunting expedition. Be patient but be persistent. Keep improving and learning more about direct response copywriting. Attend events where you can hang out with other copywriters. Remember the power you have to help companies and entrepreneurs. Vary your schedule and your routine. Find clients who share your passion for direct marketing. Find clients who really want to succeed and really value direct response copywriters. Some copywriters find they can only write copy for a few hours a day, usually in the morning. I can write copy all day … at any time of day … pretty much anywhere.

I feel sorry for the copywriters whose enthusiasm for writing copy has waned. It’s almost a tragedy. Writing direct response copy can be one of the greatest gigs on the face of planet earth.

So this labor day, ask yourself, “is copywriting going to be hard work … or fun?”

It’s fun for me … in part because I make a point to make it fun.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

What Are Copywriting Clients Looking For? Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive July 2017 4

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

What are Potential Clients Looking For?

I hear it all the time. And maybe you've heard it.

"Where are all the copywriters?"

I also hear ... from direct marketing companies ... and others ...

"We're always looking for copywriters." "We need copy." "It's hard to find copywriters."

There are 350 people listed as direct response copywriters on LinkedIn. There are 90,000 people who call themselves copywriters on LinkedIn. Either way, the demand for copy outstrips the number of copywriters. But clients are still fussy and won't hire just anyone. What are clients typically looking for?

• Solid samples in the portfolio. • Evidence of training. • A commitment to being a copywriter. • Professionalism. • Specialization (but not always). • Proof that you can actually do the work. • Previous results. • Testimonials.

Where/how are you supposed to communicate the above? It helps if you have a website and every copywriter should strive to have a superb website; but it's not disaster if you don't have one yet. You must have a strong LinkedIn page.

Remember ... companies need copywriters but they are still selective ... especially the top companies.

In the next email, I'm going to discuss how to tell if a client is going to be solid, or a dud.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Free Gary Bencivenga Resources. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive July 2017 2/3

July 2017 2/3

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

What You Can Learn from One of the World's Top Copywriters

Is Gary Bencivenga the greatest living direct response copywriter? I'm not big, personally, on sentences containing words like "personally" and I'm not keen on rankings and the "greatest" and the like ... even though I have massive respect for the person (and people) who call Bencivenga the greatest.

In golf, is Jack Nicklaus the greatest? Tiger Woods? Bobby Jones? It's fun to debate but all three golfers are superb. But in direct response copywriting, it's not about being the greatest: the goal is generating revenue for clients. Gary generated tens of millions for his and so I follow him extremely closely ... and so can you ... for free ... I'll show you how in a minute. But I can see why Gary's clients called him "the greatest." Bencivenga brought them customers and revenue and made them seriously wealthy.

I met Gary Bencivenga at The Titans of Marketing event that Brian Kurtz organized 3 years ago. Gary was in the lobby of the venue with his wife and I introduced myself. Both Gary and his wife were extremely cordial and we were having a pleasant conversation until three extremely rude people literally pushed me out of the way to speak with Gary. I was not a happy camper.

So here’s some advice … it’s great to want to speak with someone famous but wait until they are free to speak. I have waited upwards of 15 minutes when I’ve attended an event and patience is not a strong suit. I wait out of respect for the person who is speaking to the person I’d like to meet.

By the way, if you want videos of the Titans event, click here. The best direct marketing event I've been to, by far.

What are the Gary Bencivenga character traits I admire? Here’s a short list.

  1. Competitive fire. Bencivenga wanted to be the best by beating controls, even his own.
  2. Epic copy. My all-time favorite piece of copy is by Bencivenga. You can see it here.
  3. Clarity of writing. Bencivenga, unlike Gary Halbert and his raft of imitators, sought clarity and ease of reading. Bencivenga’s writing rarely gets “disco” and rarely includes contrived metaphors and hyperventilating. I strive to reach Bencivenga’s level of pure clarity.
  4. A little bit of “hard to get-ness” without comic pomposity. I’ve tried to meet Bencivenga in person twice have been told “no.” When he was writing and he said he was booked, he was booked, and you had to request a time on his schedule. I HATE it when a copywriter writes on his/her website, “let me see if I can fit you in on my schedule” when I know they don't have much work. I don’t do the “schedule” thing even though I’m busy. My message to all potential clients is, “let’s talk about your goals and how I can help you.”
  5. Study. You can tell that Bencivenga has read everything in the direct marketing and direct response genre. Have you?
  6. Research. You can tell that Bencivenga did his homework.
  7. Being easy to work with. A colleague once worked with Bencivenga and said he was polite, pleasant, humble, and amenable.
  8. An aggressive approach. In person, Bencivenga is well-mannered. But he was aggressive about getting the work he wanted and contacting clients to get that work. I could spend hours writing about my admiration for Gary Bencivenga and I hope, one day, that I get to sit down with him … if nothing else for just a cup of coffee.

If you’re feeling flush (UK slang) then you can buy videos of his retirement seminar. They are $5,000 and a client bought them for me a few years ago. Epic wisdom. The sales copy is about 30,000 words and you can read it here. No affiliate commission for me!

But there are some free resources.

First … Bencivenga Bullets. A MUST READ for everyone in direct marketing. In just 3 hours of reading, you’ll treble your direct marketing nous. Second … this rare interview with Clayton Makepeace. Third … fresh copy from Bencivenga, who now runs his own olive oil business.

I hope you make the time to discover more about Gary Bencivenga.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

The Joy of Handling Rejection. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive June 2017 3.

June 2017 3

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Who likes to be rejected? Nobody.

But there’s something extremely important you have to remember if you’re a direct response copywriter: you’re a salesperson. Your copy must sell the client’s product or service. Plus you must sell yourself to the client.

Being rejected is part of the sales process.

One of four things will happen when you start to contact potential clients.

They won’t reply. They will say no. They will ask for more information. They will say yes.

You have … and I have … something extremely important to marketers … the ability to motivate people to buy products and services. If a marketer won’t reply to me after several attempts to contact them, then do I really want to do business with them?

Many potential clients will ask for more information, usually samples.

Many will say “no” right off the bat. It’s usually the first thing someone says when you ask them to buy something. I don’t get upset about hearing “no.” Why? Because with some persistence, I can turn that “no” into a “yes.”

If I keep hearing “no” then maybe the client isn’t a good fit. Sometimes you have to find the right person in a big company. That happened to me with a big client a few months ago. I heard “no” from four employees before finding the person who would say, “yes.”

The key word here is persistence. Most people, according to Dan Kennedy, give up when there’s a mere zephyr of a headwind. Don’t be one of these people.

I know the first thing I’m usually going to hear from a potential client is “no.” So I’m not upset with the rejection. It’s simply the first step on the road to making a sale.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Defining Your Perfect Clients. Direct Response Copywriter Email Archive June 2017 1

June 2017 1

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Over the next 8-12 weeks, I’ve set a goal of finding one, maybe two additional long-term clients. I have plenty of work to keep me going right now, and I’m enjoying some additional free time, but it would be prudent to find some new clients.

Here are some notes from this assignment.

My first step is to define who is a good fit for me. I have a mental checklist that will soon be a physical checklist and I’ll share this with you in the upcoming weeks. But here are the thoughts.

They must be serious direct marketers with a marketing director who knows a ton about direct marketing.
They must be an organization built around selling tons of stuff through direct response copy. This makes me, a direct response copywriter, indispensible. Get rid of me and it’s like turning off the electricity.
They must have a big list or be really good at traffic.
They must be “white hat” with a strong product portfolio.
For some reason, the ideal size company is 10-25 people. This size means they’re big enough to be serious but not big enough to have an in-house copywriter.
They must have a solid budget and be open to a royalty.
They must understand the key role of a copywriter in their success and not view the copywriter as a commodity.
They must not be meddlers who change my copy… unless there are factual errors or compliance issues.
They must love testing.
How quickly can they move? Are they likely to be super-slow and bureaucratic? Are they going to move as quickly as one of my clients? One client gives me a week to write a promotion and has it live the next week. That’s my type of client.

Well there’s my physical checklist!

Notice something here? I’m starting to go after the clients I’d like to work with, instead of hoping that these near-perfect clients arrive out of thin air. I’m going through my lists and I’ve identified about 400 potential strong clients. This week, I’ll send the first of a bi-monthly newsletter to this list, even though I’m currently speaking with four strong potential clients.

Just because you may be relatively new to copywriting doesn’t mean you can’t define your perfect client. Take a few minutes when you can to write down the traits of your perfect client based on where you are in your copywriting journey.

One more thing … I’m also working with a couple of clients to help them with more copy. Remember … once you have a client and things are going well, you MUST ask them for more work.

In the next email, I’ll discuss the importance of speed and why you don’t want to be like a lawyer when it comes to billing.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Lessons from a Manhattan Bookstore. Direct Response Copywriting Email Archive May 2017 3.

May 2017 3

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Bookstore Lessons

I just spent a few days in Manhattan. One of my favorite activities there is a visit to Strand Bookstore. If you haven’t been there, it’s a haven for readers: three floors of new and used books with bookshelves so high even LeBron James would need help reaching those top tomes.

It’s usually extremely crowded with book lovers and store associates jostling for position. The associates are almost universally rude. Rude isn’t exactly the correct word. They have this “detached ennui” and usually treat me, at least, like a complete muppet. Maybe I deserve this.

“Where’s the fiction section,” I asked. “Just over there, where it says ‘fiction starts here.’” comes the reply. “Thank you.”

There’s a fairly extensive business section in the basement and within that section, you’ll find a deep selection of advertising and marketing books … well over 400 books.

Let’s remember that it’s a used section … these are the books that people sold or donated. But the selection got me thinking …

Only about 2% of the books were about direct marketing. About 15% of the books were about general advertising, including the excellent Ogilvy on Advertising. The remainder were books by authors, gurus, and “marketing experts” claiming to have something new and amazing that will “reinvent” marketing and “change it forever." I understand the latter: the same-old/same-old doesn’t sound sexy. But I wonder if any of these marketing experts, many of whom speak for whopping fees or teach at business schools, have ever actually sold anything. Have they been face to face with a potential buyer, working hard to overcome objections and getting smacked around a little? Probably not. How did that “new” stuff work out? Probably disastrous.

In among the gurus was a double treat: Scientific Advertising and My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins. It’s a must read for every direct marketer and if you’re a direct response copywriter then you’re a direct marketer.

I try to read something about direct marketing every day, even it’s only for a five minutes. I also listen to podcasts when I’m on the bus or I watch YouTube videos featuring copywriters. Reading/listening/watching will improve your knowledge and also get you fired up about our wonderful business.

And one more thing … on my way to the fiction section, I saw a table of books about writing. I’ve read a lot of books about direct marketing but only a few about writing. We can learn a ton from the top fiction and non-fiction writers. My first book will be Stephen King On Writing by, you guessed it, Stephen King. Think I’ll learn a thing or two about keeping readers reading? You know the answer.

In the next email, I’m going to talk about something I discovered when I was in the fiction section that applies to direct response copywriting. And then I’m going to talk about the most important lesson we can learn from the book industry and visits to magnificent places like Strand.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

A Sad Tale About a Failed Copywriter. Direct Response Copywriter Talks About an Old Friend. Email Archive April 2017 3.

April 2017 3

From the desk of Scott Martin, direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

A Sad Event ... And One You Can Avoid ...

Last week, I visited my former home town. I moved a year ago and I had a few loose ends to tidy up, including clearing out a storage unit. Oh joy.

I had some items to box up so I went into the hardware store to buy packing tape.

Nothing too exciting there EXCEPT … I ran into another copywriter. To protect this person, I’ll use the name Cooper.

When I moved to my former home town, Cooper was the top copywriter. Cooper won all the awards and wrote for the top agency in town. You could see Cooper’s copy in the prestigious publications like Communication Arts.

But Cooper bounced around agencies and companies, which can be normal in advertising, before becoming a freelancer.

The freelancing life, despite whopping opportunities, never worked out so Cooper had to work for a “big box” retailer. When I saw Cooper in the hardware store just last weekend, Cooper was working in the store as a sales associate.

I really looked up to Cooper when I was a young copywriter. What happened to Cooper? Cooper no longer writes copy even though Cooper is an outstanding copywriter.

So what happened?

Pay close attention to the answer because it will impact your career.

Cooper was, and is, a branding copywriter, never really embracing direct response copy because it’s not clever or witty. If Cooper had become a direct response copywriter then Cooper would not be working in a hardware store, even though it’s a wonderful hardware store and there’s nothing wrong with working in a hardware store.

A friend who hired Cooper was impressed with Cooper’s copy but not Cooper’s professionalism. Missed deadlines, poor communication, etc.

Did Cooper ever make an effort to market Cooper’s copywriting services? You know the answer to this question. What about Cooper’s website? Ummm … no such thing.

I'm not sure Cooper really ever liked copywriting. I love copywriting and to keep my fire stoked, I read books about direct marketing and direct response copywriting. I watch videos. I listen to podcasts. Did Cooper ever read about copy?

Cooper is at or near retirement age. But if Cooper reached out to me, I would help get Cooper’s career going again, provided Cooper wanted to enter the direct marketing world. Cooper helped me when I was starting out and I would help Cooper today.

This leads to a decision you have to make.

Are you going to be like Cooper, helping people find hammers, fertilizer, packing tape, and related items in a hardware store?

OR …

Are you going to be a super-successful copywriter taking advantage of all the massive opportunities in direct marketing?

I hope you make the right decision.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter

Should You Operate on the Commodity Sites Like Upwork? The Answer from a Direct Response Copywriter. Email archive April 2017 1.

From the Desk of Scott Martin. Direct response copywriter, Aspen, Colorado.

Should You Bid on the "Commodity" Sites?

First, I have an admission. I haven’t spent any time on the commodity sites in the past six years. In fact, someone had to tell me that elance no longer exists and has since become Upwork.

Does Fiverr even exist? I hope not. And if you’re one of the copywriters on this total disaster of a website, then leave there now.

What’s happening here is the commoditization of copywriting. People who need copy visit the sites I just mentioned and look for the lowest price. You know the drill. But they get awful work and wonder why it doesn't convert.

The upside is there are thousands of people looking for copy. The downside? You can write a ton of copy for the price of a sandwich … and not much of a sandwich at that. A cheese sandwich, perhaps, but not a turkey and bacon sandwich.

I used to bid on work on elance and I got a few gigs but the work was “one and done” and usually for people working from a kitchen table, trying to build some type of Internet business. All this nonsense can, and should be, avoided.

Many copywriters use Upwork and the commodity sites to build a portfolio. There’s an easier way to build that portfolio and I’ll reveal this in the next email.

I will also discuss the other places find work.

Scott Martin Direct Response Copywriter