As part of my coaching program, students can ask me unlimited questions via email. One common question I seem to get is, “I'm new to copywriting, where do I start?”
Since my coaching students also get access to any of my digital programs, they also get access to my Copy Doctor website, where I share over 50 hours of salesletter and copy critiques, recorded on video. It's a great start.
But one student said something that struck me:
“I learn better by doing than by watching. Is there anything you can recommend?”
Great question. Some people are more visual (they learn better by watching), some are more aural or auditory (by hearing), others are more kinesthetic (by doing or feeling). And I also thought it would be a great question to cover on my blog. So, here goes…
If you want some basic guidance to get you started, there's a course I recommend, which is really popular and pretty well-rounded. It's theSix-Figure Copywriting course by the American Writers And Artists Institute (AWAI). I own a copy myself, and it's pretty good.
It's a great primer if you're just starting out and want to learn the fundamentals of writing good copy. There are some advanced topics, but I like it more for its basic training.
The reason I also recommend it is, for those kinesthetic students who prefer to do the work, which I applaud, the AWAI course offers assignments with the curriculum. And you get graded on those, too, and they give you feedback along the way.
(I've never handed in any work myself, so I'm not exactly sure how the process is done. But even with just buying the course, I've pulled a few gems and used them.)
One course I've co-authored and recommend is The Copywriting Success System with Ken Calhoun. This course offers training from basic to advanced, including understanding the writing process, formulas, and using tools to boost your chops.
In it, I also offer my formulas I recommend and personally use, such as my OATH formula (for determining the stage of awareness of your market), QUEST formula (the proper structure of a salesletter), FAB formula, the storytelling process, and more.
Finally, here's a product I intimately know and highly recommend.
Daniel Levis is not only an amazing copywriter himself, but he also created a product that packages brilliant interviews with some of the best copywriters on the planet. He grills top names in the business — some of whom have never given interviews before.
Those interviews are worth the price of admission.
Next, check out this blog and look on the right for “most popular posts.” It contains links to some of the most viewed articles, which I recommend for someone learning the ropes — including some of the formulas I talk about in my copywriting course above.
Another fantastic resource is Brian Clark, a lawyer-turned-copywriter who has some of the best copywriting articles online. His blog, CopyBlogger, offers an entire section called Copywriting 101, which contains articles I recommend to anyone just starting out.
There are many other sources, too. There are tons of copywriting blogs out there. Or ask other copywriters in popular forums. There are also copywriting forums, too.
But the very best learning process I've found, particularly for kinesthetics (and visuals alike), is to take a successful salesletter and write it out, word for word, by hand. This is by far the best way to learn because it enables you to internalize the information.
There are tons of copywriting newsletters out there, too. One I particularly love is John Forde's Copywriters Rountable, of which I've been a subscriber for years. Some of these blogs and newsletters offer swipe files or examples you can easily copy by hand.
Another great way to get your hands on some of the best salesletters out there is to visit Clickbank's Marketplace. Just click on the “Marketplace” link at the top of the page.
Look at some of the most popular items being sold. But don't stop there. Check out the listings in your preferred category (I tend to check the “Marketing and Ads” section).
With each product they list, which are listed in order of rank (by sales and popularity), you get the actually sales copy link, with a number of useful stats to gauge how good the salesletter is — such as payouts, percentages, gravity score, and more.
Reason is, you want to do this exercise with only salesletters that are proven to sell.
Finally, let's not forgot some of the most popular books on copywriting. Many of these are timeless classics, which all copywriters should have in their library. I certainly do.
There are quite a few of them. So rather than list them all here, let me share with you my top favorite ones. (I own a copy of all of these. And my copies are note-filled, dog-eared and heavily used. For good reason. So I highly recommend them.)
- Scientific Advertising (Claude Hopkins)
- The Robert Collier Letter Book (Robert Collier)
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Dr. Robert Cialdini)
- Breakthrough Advertising (Eugene Schwartz)
- Tested Advertising Methods (John Caples)
- On Writing (Stephen King)
Hopefully, these resources will get you started and point you in the right direction.
Michel Fortin is a senior marketing specialist, renowned copywriter, and digital marketing expert. For the better part of 30 years, he's produced countless successful marketing communications and profitable campaigns that generated in excess of $300 million in sales. He's broken many industry sales records, including being instrumental behind the first ever “million-dollar day” online marketing campaign in 2004. He's worked with thousands of businesses and entrepreneurs around the world in a wide variety of industries on building their businesses, improving their marketing, and increasing their profits. He's a published author and often speaks at industry events. To connect with him, visit his LinkedIn profile where he is most active.