I had a great interview the other day with Ben Settle. You can check it out here.
And in case you would prefer the written word, the transcription is below.
All the best,
Ben Settle Teleseminar Transcription
Doberman Dan: Welcome, everybody, to another edition of The Doberman Dan Show. This is Doberman Dan from DobermanDan.com. I’ve got the pleasure this evening of interviewing a very successful copywriter, and I also believe I can call him a kitchen table entrepreneur, like myself, Ben Settle, from BenSettle.com. How you doin’, Ben?
Ben Settle: I am doin’ great.
Doberman Dan: Good, I really appreciate you doin’ this. We’re just going to have fun. I didn’t give you much of an outline at all for this call, so you’re probably wondering what we’re going to do, but this will be just like me and you talkin’. And don’t get nervous that there’s about 20 people on the phone line and another 300 on the webcast; don’t be nervous at all. I’m lyin’, man. [Laughter]
Ben Settle: Well, yeah, that would be pretty cool if there was that many people.
Doberman Dan: There’s about 10 percent of that many people, but I could lie about that and nobody would know. I hear these guys on teleconferences all the time say, “Well geez, we’ve got 750 people on the line!”
Ben Settle: Yeah, right. [Laughter] Yeah, the old inflated number game.
Doberman Dan: Yeah, exactly. Nah, this’ll be just like a conversation between me and you. And the cool thing about it is I will learn more about you and get to know you better ‘cause I’m gonna ask you questions that we’ve never spoken about before.
With that brief and improvised introduction, I would like you to tell me a little bit about yourself. Tell me about if you were born and if you have a mother and then take it from there. Keep it brief. I don’t need to know about you falling down, skinning your knee when you were three. Tell me about your background your family, your work background and stuff like that and how you got involved in direct response and copywriting.
Ben Settle: Well, I’ll give you the condensed version for the sake of time. Basically, I got involved business back in late 1990s. Like a lot of people, I started out in network marketing, multilevel marketing and was really, really bad at it. I mean, just terrible at it.
Low and behold, I got married, and we were both doin’ the business together; had all these big plans and everything. One thing led to another, and about nine months after we were married we were pretty much homeless. I mean, we were livin’ in an office. That’s all we could afford because we were spendin’ all of our money on leads and that sort of thing. Neither of us was very good at it.
I don’t know if it was – what you want to call it. I considered it an answer to pray, but, basically, I just kind of ran into copywriting one night when I was just sort of sitting there staring at the ceiling. I just didn’t know what to do. I mean, we’re livin’ in this dinky little office for like $200.00 a month ‘cause we couldn’t afford a real apartment keeping it a secret from my family. It was kind of embarrassing.
I don’t know what it was, but I guess I kind of picked up this book that I had read several times before ‘cause it’s very short, but it always inspired me. It’s called The Seven Lost Secrets of Success, by Joe Vitale. It’s about an old-time ad guy named Bruce Barton. A lot of people don’t know who is today, but back in the early to mid 1900s, he was the man in advertising. Everyone knew who he was. I guess he was an advisor to certain politicians and he had a lot of influence.
Basically, he told a story in that book about – it was during the Depression, and it was some big city, maybe New York or Chicago or something like that. This guy came to Bruce Barton and he said, “You know, I just can’t get anyone to hire me. I don’t know what I’m gonna do.” But this guy had a talent. I guess he had a reputation for writing sales letters. Bruce Barton took him over to the window and he’s like, “Now look at all those buildings out there.” Like I said, I don’t know what city it was, but it was one of those big cities. And he goes, “You say you’re good at writing sales letter. Why don’t you write a sales letter to sell one of those companies on hiring you?” There was somethin’ about that that just clicked.
From then on, I just started pursuing it with reckless abandon; everything I could get my hands on. If I made a little bit of money working on a project, I’d reinvest it back into copywriting education and marketing education, found Dan Kennedy and Gary Halbert and all them and you know how it goes from there. You just get the bug and you just start tearin’ through everything you can.
Eventually, I made my way up the rings and now I have the glorious pleasure of talking on The Doberman Dan Show.
Doberman Dan: Thanks. Well, I’m glad to have ya’. I didn’t know that. I knew that you were in multilevel marketing, but I had no idea things were that bad for ya’.
Ben Settle: I was in it for about four years, and then when I got out of it – it’s a good steppingstone. I mean, that kind of business is a great steppingstone because you have to do face-to-face sales eventually, or phone sales or something. So you’re kind of forced to kind of discover who you are and you start seeing through the mists of what sales actually work and what doesn’t.
In my case, we were taught the basic stuff that you learn in most sales books, which, in my opinion, is all crap. I mean, almost none of it works. It’s all based on persistence and tricks and tactics and all that. So I won’t say it’s a bad thing, but it’s a great way to get started in business and it gets you goin’.
Doberman Dan: Yeah, like you said, a lot of it’s face-to-face or phone selling and, woo buddy, it can be brutal. You’ve got to learn really fast or you’ll just get really beat-up. [Laughter]
Ben Settle: One of the adventures we had – [Laughter] – we were livin’ in that office, and I don’t know which guru it was – [Laughter] – of network marketing that recommended this. They’re like, “Take these tapes and go pass ‘em around town.” [Laughter] So we’re goin’ door-to-door to all the business around the town, and people are tellin’ us to get the hell out of their store! [Laughter] It was not fun. I mean, you start learning real fast that the stuff they tell you to do is just not what to do.
Doberman Dan: Well, you separated yourself from 99 percent of all the other people in network marketing in that you actually did something. Most people do nothing. So even though – I can relate to you story – being completely broke and homeless – ‘cause I’ve been there done that; a couple times, actually. [Laughter] But it was part of your education and it led you to direct marketing and copywriting so thank god for that.
Ben Settle: Yeah, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If anything, I wish I’d ran into copywriting earlier.
Doberman Dan: When you found all these guys, like you found Dan Kennedy and Gary Halbert, and started learnin’ about this stuff, then what was the next step? I mean, did you have to get a job, or did you immediately go into being a copywriter, or how’d that all evolve?
Ben Settle: Well, for some reason I have a very strategic way of thinking. Sometimes it gets me in trouble ‘cause I’ll think too long term. I’ll try to think too many moves ahead, like in a chess game. I play a lot of chess, by the way, but I’m not very good at it, but I think it helps to think strategically.
In this case what I would do, I had a job. I was duplicating videos for a major video duplication company in Illinois. I was part time. By that I mean I was working 30 hours a week because when my wife and I got married, she started a cleaning business. Well, I was helping her clean offices, too, so I kind of went part time at the job and helpin’ her.
Then I found this opportunity later on to get on the second shift at my job, which was the [2:30]-[11:00] shift. And I don’t know if anyone listening to this knows what I mean by duplicating tapes. I mean, I’m literally was just videotapes in machines and pushing record, and then I had nothing to do, often for an hour or two. And I wanted to get on the second shift ‘cause no one’s there, so I did. Just thinkin’ ahead, “I should get on second shift,” because now I had all this time at work where, yeah, I’m doin’ a job, but I’m also studying copywriting and marketing stuff and I’m writing ads. I spent a lot of time handwriting ads out back then.
Doberman Dan: I’m sorry to interrupt. You really did that?
Ben Settle: Yeah.
Doberman Dan: That’s awesome. I’m sorry. Keep goin’ ‘cause I tell people to do that all the time, very few actually do.
Ben Settle: Yeah, what I would do is – that was a big part of my education. On the way to work ‘cause I worked about 20-some miles from where I lived and through a lot of heavy traffic, I would listen to audios and that sort of thing. If I was working on a project, I was doing a lot of projects with Michael Senoff at the time, and what he does is he likes to interview product creators when he’s helping them sell something.
So I would have his interview, and would always listen to it over and over for whatever project I was working on. So on the way there, I was sort of working on an ad. When I got there, I was pretty much working on my ads. When I was on my breaks, I’d work on my ads. During lunch, I’d go out to the car and work on ads or read or something. Then at night, when everyone was gone from there for a few hours, if I had an ad to work on, I would do that, or I would just handwrite ads out. This was before I had any clients or anything. You have nothing to do but write ads out and that sort of thing and I did that a lot. I mean, I think anything Gary Halbert wrote I would just copy out by hand; even his entire Boron Letters book, which I think is just a fascinating book. I mean, it’s just a real good way to get it ingrained in your head how to structure ads and that sort of thing.
Doberman Dan: Wow, I didn’t know you’d done all that, but a lot of people have been told to do that and they don’t but, yet, you did. Look at the result: You’ve been making your fulltime living from this for quite a while now.
Ben Settle: Oh yeah, I went full time in this in 2005. That’s when I officially quit that job and my wife and I, we moved to another state after that. Pretty much had no choice but to do your own business at that point.
I think copying out ads is essential, but the problem is most people aren’t that into it. So unless someone’s really into it, they’re probably not gonna do it. And even if they do do it, they’ll copy out the wrong ads, for one thing. Then for second thing, they’re not going to copy out ads that are actually interesting and entertaining. Like, it’s easy to copy Gary Halbert ads out ‘cause they’re so freaking entertaining and they’re just fun. I mean, it’s just fun to read his stuff. It’s almost like reading a book sometimes.
But then you’ll see guys – well, I love – sometimes I’ll kind read marketing forms and that sort of thing and the people’ll be braggin’ about their swipe files and stuff, “Well, I’ve got this ad in my swipe file.” I don’t ever poke my nose into these things. I just kind of lurk. A lot of times, people are copying ads that really maybe they were good, maybe they weren’t, but they weren’t tested, like maybe big launch ads in some cases where these marketers are just such geniuses. They’ll sell their product whether the ad is any good or not.
In some cases, some of these guys will say, “Well, I only put a few hours into writin’ that ad. I just slapped it up there.” And then you’ll have copywriters, “Well, hey, it made all this money. I’m copying it out by hand.” or, “I’m studying it,” or, “It’s in my swipe file.” I’m just shakin’ my head sayin’, “You don’t get it. You’ve got to go back to the masters and you’ve got to see how they did it when they were sellin’ to cold people, skeptical people. It was a whole different ballgame back then. It’s not like you could just slap somethin’ up on the Internet like you can now. Send it out to thousands of affiliates who all hype it up for ya’ first.
Doberman Dan: Yeah, exactly. If you’re gonna copy out ads by hand to ingrain that in your cranium there and improve your ad writing ability, you really need to copy out what’s a proven winner. That’s going back to the classics, or the stuff that we know is, what they call a control, which have been tested and shown to be a winner and then rolled out to millions of names.
So you had the job, you’re workin’ nights. You were takin’ advantage of that time and copyin’ ads out by hand. So what was the next step? How’d you get into direct marketing? Did you start your own project, or did you start out being a freelance copywriter? What happened then?
Ben Settle: Well, yeah, I started out just freelancing. In fact, if I could go back, I would have done more freelancing and less joint ventures. I’ll explain what I mean by that. When I got into this – the one good thing I can – well, one of the few good things I could say I got out of network marketing was it got me reading Robert Kiyosaki books. A lot of people know his main flagship book, Rich Dad Poor Dad. It just such a huge impact on me because it talked about multiple streams of income, like you don’t want to have just one. You want to have income coming in automatically as much as possible.
So what I, and this is kind of will have the strategic part of my brain kind of got me in trouble in some ways, I said, “Well, I’m just gonna do joint ventures. Well, I’ll write the ad essentially for free, but then I’ll get paid on sales perpetually.” That worked with – for example, when I worked with Michael Senoff that worked fine. He’s an honest guy, and he’s a real marketer and stuff. But a lot of people out there try to take advantage of that, which happened to me sometimes.
I guess what my point is if I could go back, I would do joint ventures like that, and I should have done a lot more just straight freelance stuff, which a lot of times I would turn down at the time because I wanted that long-term income stream coming in.
Doberman Dan: When you say “straight freelance stuff,” you mean possible offered you, “Hey, I’ll pay you x and you write my ad and we’re done?”
Ben Settle: Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean by that.
Doberman Dan: So to get your first clients, you approached people and said, “Hey, I will write this ad for nothing up front. I just want x percentage of the gross.” Is that how you approached it?
Ben Settle: Well, yeah, and here’s kind of the way it worked. I actually stumbled into this, in a lot of ways, on accident. What happened was I read a newsletter Gary Halbert wrote called, Why Multilevel Marketing Sucks, ironically. In that newsletter he talked about how you can take your skills, you can find somebody selling something and you can basically be like a commissioned salesperson where you sell it with your ad and then they give you a percentage. So I found that very intriguing.
It just so happens, though, that I ran into Michael Senoff. He actually had been reading my website at the time. I was just writing these little newsletters, and he just happened to be in that same mindset. He was willing to do that, so that was cool. I thought, “Well, this is great. This is workin’ out really good,” ‘cause I’d done a project or two with him and it worked out very well. I mean, like the first project, at the time, I paid off my car and everything. At that time, that was a big deal, a really big deal when you’re kind of struggling and everything.
But the problem was is when I went to other people, I thought, “Well, I’ll mimic this. I’ll duplicate this and I’ll go find some other people to work with, too, while I’m workin’ with him. Maybe I’ll have four or five of these things comin’ in at once.” So I just kind of compiled a list of marketers, or people I knew who were using sales letters, and I just wrote them each a letter.
I got one response from – I’m not going to name who they are because I’d probably get in some kind of legal trouble if I did because I don’t have anything nice to say about ‘em. But basically it’s a company that sets up Nevada corporations and that sort of thing. I’d spent a lot of time writing one of their ads, dealt with the founder of the company. He’s like, “I’m an old marketing guy. I know exactly what this is all about. Let’s do this.” The problem is that he decided to retire when I was halfway through the sales letter, handed it over to someone in his family who didn’t know anything about marketing, couldn’t even understand the concept behind doin’ a joint venture like this. It kind of left a sour taste in my mouth ‘cause it was just a big waste of time.
At that point, I decided, “Well, I better start tryin’ to get some real freelance, then, too, at the same time.” So I kind of learned that the hard way.
Doberman Dan: But that’s a pretty irresistible offer for somebody who wants to do that. Approach a business, hopefully with an honest owner.
Ben Settle: It is an irresistible offer, but I just wouldn’t even recommend it any more. I used to recommend. I wouldn’t say I would never recommend doing it, but they should have some skin in the game, if nothin’ else. They should have something invested in it otherwise you could be putting yourself on the hook for a lot of your time. Unless, of course, you really want to get smart about it, and it’s your ad. Once you write it you own the copyright to it and you can always take it to a competitor or something and just tweak it for their product, but then you go through the same thing again. It’s still kind of a long shot.
I’ll say this, after that incident, I still did some of these jobs. I did that with Ken McCarthy and that turned out to be a very good joint venture. I mean, there’s just certain people that you could probably do it with, but going back I would have done more the straight freelance stuff and did the joint venture stuff on the side and taken my time with it and not made it a priority.
Doberman Dan: I got ya’. I got ya’. Hey, I just want to say somethin’ real quick to the folks. We’ve got a bunch of people listenin’ to us on the webcast. On that website, there’s a box that you can submit questions. I can see questions that are being submitted. So if you have any questions for Ben, submit those now on the website and we’ll definitely get to those. As soon as you send your question, I can see it on the website here that I’m lookin’ at.
Freelance work you did and some joint ventures. Here’s the biggest question that came up when I interviewed Caleb last week I guess it was. Everybody wants to know – all the copywriters on the line, or all the people who are considering becoming a freelance copywriter – want to know how do you get your clients?
You told us how you got the joint venture clients. You don’t necessarily recommend that right now. But what is the quickest way to get clients, or what are the best ways to get copywriting clients?
Ben Settle: Well, the first thing you gotta do, and this is gonna sound kind of strange probably, but it needs to be said because there’s not a lot of people out there saying it. That is you’ve got to stop thinkin’ like a copywriter because you gotta think like a marketer, a salesperson. And the problem, and I see this all the time and other people work – I’m in two Mastermind groups. I’m in yours, but I’m also in another one and in that group, we’re all copywriters. Two of them got together and actually created a whole course on freelancing. They were saying what I’m about to say, too.
That everywhere you look you see people trying to write these long sales letters selling people on why they need copywriting, which is just a huge, huge mistake. I mean, I don’t know why people are doin’ it. I don’t know where this all started. I don’t even understand why anybody would bother doin’ it. Why try to convince someone they need copywriting when you could be attracting people already looking for copywriters?
I mean, that’s what it all comes down to: Who’s already hiring copywriters? Go to them. You don’t have to explain to them why they need good copywriting. You don’t have to explain to them what it’ll mean to have a super control and all that. They already know that. They’re lookin’ for people ‘cause they’re tryin’ to pump out more ads. And believe me, there are a lot of people out there like that who just have nothing but projects right now and they’re looking for copywriters.
I mean, that’s going after the starving crowd, as Gary Halbert would say, right? I mean, you can sell them burgers all day long, but if you sit there and try to convince someone who’s full why they need to have your hamburger, it’s kind of like an uphill battle.
Doberman Dan: [Laughter] That’s great. That is so true. You just probably saved people a lot of wasted time and money chasing after the wrong prospects.
Ben Settle: Yeah, I hope so. Well, you just see it all over. I mean, I live reading other copywriters sites ‘cause I just like to see what people are up to and everything. You can learn something from everybody, but one thing, I just notice it all over the place, it’s like their ads are written to people who have no idea what copywriting is. “Well, here’s what copywriting is, and if you hire me, I studied under guru A and guru B,” but unless those people know who those gurus that you studied under are, they don’t care. If you’re going after the right people, they’re already looking for copywriters. All you’ve got to do is explain to them why they should choose you and give you a shot.
Doberman Dan: Boy, if people were paying for this call, which they probably should be, they would have gotten their money’s worth from just that one tip there.
I didn’t properly set you up at the beginning. I mean, you’ve written copy for some really heavy hitters in the direct marketing world and online marketing world. So we’re getting advice not from some young kid that just started. We’re getting advice from – well, you are young, but. We’re getting advice from a young, up and coming copywriter that’s highly in demand, turning away clients as matter of fact he’s just so booked, and is on the list of many top marketers as one of the first-call copywriters. If you’re thinking about getting into the copywriting business, you need to listen to what Ben says.
So we talked about getting clients. This is another question that came up quite a bit: How do you get good at copywriting as quickly as possible, and what did you do specifically – I mean, because you’ve become really successful in a very short period of time, so what do you recommend for getting good at copywriting quickly?
Ben Settle: Well, the problem I’m about to – actually, I have three things that I think everybody should do, and almost nobody will do the first thing. But I promise you, if you did the first thing I’m about to say, even though it goes against what a lot of people are telling people to do and it goes against the urge to buy everything that comes into your email box that’s in a major launch and all that. If you just did these three things, I mean, these are basically the three things I did. I can’t guarantee you anything, but I’m just sayin’. I mean, this worked very well for me.
And the first thing that I would recommend, and, again, I’m going to preface this with nobody ever does it – everybody says that they want to do what I’m about to suggest, but no one actually ever does it – and that is when you find a good resource, for example – I can give you all kinds of examples. I did this with Breakthrough Advertising, which is a book by Eugene Schwartz; and John Carlton’s original Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets Course; and all the copywriting issues of The Gary Halbert Letter; more recently Gary Bencivenga DVD and some other products.
Go through the best stuff you have at least 10 times. If it’s a book, read through it 10 times. I know that sounds really tedious. I know it sounds boring. I know it sounds like, well, all the marketers out there like to brag about how they have $10,000.00 worth of books on their shelves. Well, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think I even have more than other than Bencivenga DVD, which was kind of big investment, I don’t think I even have close to that on my shelf. And yet, I know people who have everything and they’re still struggling, and I think it all comes down to just mastering the basics.
So if you find a book or a course or anything that you know is giving good information and that you resonate with – that’s really important because everybody resonates differently with different teachers – go through it 10 times minimum. Just highlight, take notes. If you’re working on an ad, I can almost guarantee you will get ideas for that ad that you never would have gotten otherwise, really good ideas. It’s almost like you’re tapping into the brains of the people who wrote or created those products. That’s the first thing. I mean, I know it’s hard work and all that, but trust me, if you’re into this and your serious, just do it. Trust me on this and just give it a try.
Doberman Dan: Extremely good advice. Well, actually, I got in this trap a few years ago, just buying everything having to do with direct response marketing and copywriting. Some of it was good; some of it not so good, but I think for some people it almost turns into – it’s almost kind of a delusion. They feel like they’re making forward progress because they have growing library. When in fact, they’re not really making forward progress ‘cause they’re not getting the value out of the stuff they should have.
I mean, when I read something one time, I get something out of it, but every subsequent time I get more and more out of it. For me, if I really need to get the maximum value out of a book or some sort of information product, the minimum for me is seven times. So your advice about don’t spend every dime you got on building a library worth of stuff. Get less stuff that resonates with you and is exceptionally good information and read it 10 times each.
Ben Settle: Yeah, this’ll actually make and save you money because now you’re not buying everything coming down the pike. And I’m not saying not to buy multiple things. I’m just saying don’t go on to the next thing until you’ve gone through the first thing 10 times. If something bores you right away, just throw it aside and start with something else. I’m talking about things that engage you and that you like.
You’d be amazed at what you get out of it on the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, tenth time especially. I mean, oh my gosh, whenever I write an ad, even to this day, when I write a sales letter, I don’t let it leave even for anyone to look at until I’ve read it out loud 10 times because repetition just does something. You just keep getting ideas and your brain just produces all these solutions to problems. I mean, I can’t tell you how many ads wrote themselves when I was reading Breakthrough Advertising. It was almost like crazy. I almost didn’t ever want to stop reading that ‘cause it just made life so much easier.
I just think that’s a huge, huge thing. I can’t tell you how many people tell me, “Ben, I know I need to start doing that. I intend to do that. I have all these books,” and then they never do it. Then they’re on the next launch circle jerk there and they just go on and on and on. They’re like, “Well, what do I do next? What do I do next?” Just cut all the noise out, focus on the basics, master those basics like nothing else and you’ll just rise to the top much faster. I can almost guarantee it.
Doberman Dan: I don’t want to get you off track of the next point you were gonna cover, but I do want to ask you if you could reiterate the things, either the course or the books that you consider, or at least were for you, essential reading. You talked about John Carlton’s Kick-Ass Copywriting Course.
Ben Settle: Oh yeah, in fact, I’m actually rereading that right now. I mean, I never stop readin’ that stuff, but I definitely went through that 10 or 15 times before I moved on to the next thing.
Doberman Dan: You mentioned Breakthrough Advertising. You mentioned TheGaryHalbertLetter.com.
Ben Settle: Well, yeah. I have a point to make about that that I think will – people might think I’m a little stupid for this, but I honestly think it made a huge difference. There’s another Gary Halbert-trained professional, awesome copywriter. His name is Scott Haynes. And I don’t have a lot of his ads, but the few that I do, I just study those things like crazy.
Early on, he used to have a newsletter. This was back in 2002 or 2003. He sold a few info products, and one of the products that he sold that I have since read 25 times probably, was he just took the copywriting issues of The Gary Halbert Letter, he had them bound and he sold them for like $200.00. Now, almost all of those were free on his site, but I just bought it because I knew if I bought it, especially since I really didn’t even have $200.00, I think I’d gotten a copywriting job of Elance at the time when I bought it, I just invested it in that. Gosh, that made a huge difference. I mean, just once you buy something, you’re putting yourself on the line. It doesn’t just sit on a desk if you really needed that money, you kind of have to get your invest back somehow. So I just want to add it wasn’t just all The Gary Halbert Letters necessarily, but especially those copywriting issues.
Doberman Dan: Good point. Yeah, there’s a problem with free, actually, and the problem with free is people don’t value it. I can tell you from personal experience that the information on TheGaryHalbertLetter.com can make you an absolute fortune. You can learn how to be a copywriter on there, you can learn how to be a successful freelancer, you can learn how to start your own mail-order business, you can learn how to make $1 million or more, however much you want to make. The problem is it’s available free and people don’t value it. I have gut feeling that you’ve placed a higher value on that information and actually reading the information from TheGaryHalbertLetter.com when you invested the $200.00 to buy it in printed form. Is that right?
Ben Settle: Absolutely and you know what else he did? At the time, I was annoyed for about five seconds when he did this. None of the Boron Letters are free on there, but there was a time when he sold ‘em for like $97.00, and they were bound. It was actually kind of cool how they did it. They were his handwritten letters to his son bound together. I mean, everything you need to know about copywriting and marketing is basically in there.
But I’ll tell you what, had I not spent the $97.00 on that I never would have read it and extracted the value I got from it than I had seen it free. In a way, he almost did people a disservice by putting ‘em up free sort of in a way. I mean, I’m glad they’re up there free, but I’m just saying if you don’t have the proper mindset, it can kind of backfire on ya’.
Doberman Dan: I may be hurting my subscribers by giving all my content away free. [Laughter]
Ben Settle: Well, won’t comment on that necessarily, but I will say that I have severely restricted the level of information I give away. I used to give away the farm. I even wrote about this last summer ‘cause I remember this. I kept getting people complaining. How can you complain when something’s free?
It made me realize that the people who are actually applying information were buying stuff. If that means you’ve got to buy something to apply it, I haven’t done anyone any good if they don’t actually apply what I say. I’m not saying I never give value or anything, but I don’t get into strict, hard stuff that I would put in a product any more. Some of it’s in there, but, really, it’s like you’re almost doing people a disservice.
Doberman Dan: Yep, good point. I agree. What else did you do to get good so fast?
Ben Settle: Well, the other products – it’s funny you asked this question ‘cause there was a subscriber to my newsletter. His name is Collin. He asked me this exact same question on Saturday night, so it’s kind of fresh in my head.
Another course that I just went through, not because I bought it but because I was writing an ad for it – so that’s kind of nice perk to being a copywriter, actually, you get all these cool products you get to use them free – is Ken McCarthy’s copywriting product, which I believe you have. In fact, I know you have it ‘cause you gave him a testimonial for it. Man, I went through that thing about 10, 15 times too ‘cause I was writing an ad I really wanted to impress him. I didn’t want to just throw him some crappy little piece of ad and say, “Here, look what I did.”
As a side note on that, I also want to say that if you can find someone who will rip your stuff apart the way he ripped my stuff apart, man, that will make you light years ahead. You will leap light years ahead in your abilities in one second, literally. When somebody can just take it and objectively say, “Look, this needs to be fixed, this needs to be fixed, that needs to be fixed.” He did that for me in some ways; I should have paid him for the ad, if I think about it. Anyway, that was another product is Ken McCarthy’s Advanced Copywriting for Serious Info Marketers, I think it’s called.
There was the Gary Bencivenga DVDs, which I think I’m still going through those. I mean, I’ve lost count how many times I’ve gone through it. Paul Hartunian’s Publicity System, which is really good. There’s probably some other ones. They’re just not on the top of my mind right now. The key is just to find the ones that appeal to you and just tear right through ‘em 10 times at a minimum. More, I’ve gone through some of this stuff more than 10 times and I always will. I mean, why stop.
Doberman Dan: Good advice. Hey, I want to tell you something about the Ken McCarthy copywriting course that I probably haven’t ever told ya’. He came out with that – when did he come – what year did he come out with that?
Ben Settle: I believe it’s been around probably since early 2005.
Doberman Dan: That’s what I thought because – anyway, I bought his course, which is just awesome. You’ll learn stuff in there that I’ve not heard anybody else teach, none of the people who teach copywriting so that’s a great course.
But I can’t remember what blog I was on, but I was on a blog for copywriters and there was a discussion about the promotion for Ken McCarthy’s copywriting course and somebody knew that you had written it. So somebody said, “Ah, yeah, Ben Settle wrote it.” That’s the first time I’d ever heard your name, and then I kept hearing more and more and more about Ben Settle. I hadn’t met you yet, but the only thing I could think of is, “Man, this Ben Settle guy has some brass balls because he took on a job – first of all, took on a job for Ken McCarthy, which is a really heavy hitter in Internet marketing.”
Ben Settle: He does not suffer fools. I’ll just put it this way. I mean, he’s like – in a way, he’s like the best client you could have, but also a nightmare in a way because he will not let anything but your absolute best. He’s just not going to put anything out with his name on it that’s not top shape.
Doberman Dan: For that reason, there are few copywriters who would have accepted that gig. And the second reason is, my god man, you’re writing copy for a copywriting course. You’re going to have every copywriter in the world with their arms crossed critiquing your piece like, “Oh, geez.”
There’s an old joke – I play guitar. There’s an old joke. How many guitars players does it take to change a light bulb? Well, it takes six. One to change a light bulb and five to stand around with our arms crossed talking about how much better they could have done it. That’s kind of the same way with the copywriting world.
Actually, I take it back. I read your name on that blog first, and then I actually sought out the promotion for Ken’s copywriting course. The interesting thing about that piece that you wrote was I expected this copy I’m just going to be completely blown away by it, which isn’t what happened. What happened was I was drawn into the copy, of course, but the copy almost became invisible, like I didn’t notice the copy. And I was reading it as a copywriter with the intention of critiquing it, but I got sucked into it and I got so – it’s like I didn’t even notice the copy at that point. I was sucked in and I was so rabid for the product. Does that make sense?
Ben Settle: Yeah, unfortunately, that happens a lot where people are trying to impress other copywriters. This, by the way, I do not – there’s only about – let’s see – four, five – maybe seven people, ten at the most, who I even let read my ads that are in copywriting. I mean, you would be one of ‘em. You did actually look at one of my ads recently. And that’s because most people don’t know how to separate – they’re tryin’ to – they’re looking for some kind of cool factor, but a good ad is not cool.
I mean, it’s supposed to speak to the market. I like to let the market read things. What does the market think? I couldn’t care less what any guru thinks, as far as a copywriter or something, not because I don’t respect them or anything, but because who cares what they think as an advertising critic. What I care about is what does that guy who has the problem that the product is supposed to help with, what does he think? How is he going to be affected by this?
Doberman Dan: That was just an incredible piece of work you did. Like I said, it was a great example of how to write copy and it’s a great example of what the copy’s job should actually be. Not drawing attention to itself, but drawing the reader into it and sellin’ a product. Kudos to you for that because you had the brass balls to accept that gig and then you just did an exceptional job.
Ben Settle: Like I say, I’d love to take all the credit, but he really – I mean, believe me the first draft I handed in was not good enough – [Laughter] – in many ways. At the time, I thought, “Well, what the hell does this guy know?” But I came to really take his advice to heart. I mean, it changed my writing in a lot of ways that you can never get from a book or anything. I mean, you just kind of have to have someone who’s better than you dissect what you’re doing. It’s kind of like if you’re in golf and you play with Tiger Woods, no matter how good you are, you’re probably going to learn something life changing about your game just by having someone like that look at what you’re doing.
I consider Ken to be one of the top copywriters, even though he doesn’t bill himself as one, but he really knows his stuff. Like you were sayin’ in his course, yeah, he talks about the basics and the stuff you’re gonna find. I mean, there’s always going to be overlap with other products and stuff, but when he gets into positioning and the inner game stuff and some of that creepy stuff he talks about toward the end about other marketers out there and how to stop yourself, prevent yourself from getting scammed and hurt by other marketers and clients. You just can’t get most of that anywhere but from real life, school of hard knocks.
Doberman Dan: That’s right. Hey, I want to ask you one more of my questions, and then I’ve got a bunch of people have submitted a bunch of questions I’d like to get into real quick.
You’ve got a great blog, by the way, at BenSettle.com. You’ve built up a real nice fan base, too. Two things, basically, I remember you saying awhile back, I guess, I don’t know if it was the BenSettle.com blog, but when you were first starting copywriting and didn’t have work you took that as an opportunity to write something every day for your blog. You viewed that as, first of all, a way to get better at writing, and second of all, a way to consistently put copy up on your blogs. Do you recommend that for copywriters just starting out?
Ben Settle: Oh man, even more so. I’ll tell you exactly what happened. I was having a year where just there wasn’t a lot happening. I mean, I was making a lot of mistakes and that sort thing. I just had a lot of time on my hands, and I thought, “Well, I might as well write,” because you can always – and when I say write, I was writing articles for ezine directories and stuff, which is the same as if I was writing for a blog or my website. What happens is you start saying, “Okay, I’ve learned all this stuff about writing ads. I can practice writing ads. I can practice persuading people just to click a link at the end of my article just like it was a sales letter. So you structure. You’ve got your intro, you tell the story, you lead into some kind of a lesson. You’re not selling anything, but you’re kind of selling them on the click. So it’s practice, practice; you’re constantly honing your abilities to sell in print, so to speak.
What I did was I was submitting something like 10 per day and this went on for a while. What I ended up doing was I didn’t put them all on my website, but what happened was I compiled a bunch of them into an ebook that I gave away to people who opted in to my newsletter on my website. And that ebook, which was just articles I had written when I had too much time on my hands, well, like I said, I was saying how there’s all these marketers already looking for copywriters. When I say that, I mean literally they’re out looking for copywriters. They’re just turned off by the hype and nonsense that they see from people trying to – probably from people trying to impress other copywriters instead of write good ads.
I can tell you now that two of my biggest clients just came ‘cause the read that ebook. They didn’t even see my – they never saw any of my ads. They never looked at any of my work that I’d done. They didn’t know anyone I knew. They were out looking for copywriters, or looking for someone they could believe in and trust, and they just happened to read that ebook. I mean, they both told me, “I read your ebook. I mean, I think your style is perfect for what I’m trying to do. When can you start?” I mean, always be writing, and that was number two of the three things I was going to say anyway about how to build your skills up fast is always, always, always be writing ads constantly.
Doberman Dan: Good point. I probably cut you off. You were gonna say of three different things how to get better at writing. Let’s go back that.
Ben Settle: Yeah, the third thing was – you know, there’s actually like 10 things I could say. Besides writing ads out by hand, which we already talked about, another is just to become really, really good at sales in general. I mean, the more you learn about selling, and I’m not talking about the kind of Mickey Mouse stuff that you see people talk about, like tactics and all that.
I’m talking about learning how to identify problems people have and then figuring out how to talk to those problems. You can only do that really by learning sales. They don’t really teach that in copywriting necessarily. So that’s the third thing is just either just try to sell something, even if you’re just selling yourself to other clients. Just get out there and try to sell people something and that alone will give you another quantum leap in your knowledge and you’ll start realizing that you can only learn so much from a book. I mean, sometimes you’ve got to go out there and just do things.
Doberman Dan: Good advice. You’re basically a salesman in print. It doesn’t have anything to do with being a good writer, so to speak; it has evening to do with being a good salesman in print. So, yeah, very good point.
I take it back. There’s one – I said I was only going to ask one question, but one more question I want to ask you – one of my questions before we get into the subscriber questions. How’d you build up such a nice fan base for your blog? What have you specifically done to do that, or what do you recommend?
Ben Settle: This is another thing where I – I mean, there’s a lot of things that I’ve done. One thing I’m purposely and deliberately not going to reveal ever for free anywhere so I’ll leave that out, but this is something I was teasing my list about a few weeks back saying, “What’s the real key to selling on the Internet?” People were saying, “Well, it’s value,” or, “It’s teaching,” or, “Putting out lots of content.” I’m like, “No, no, it’s none of that stuff.” That’s all important don’t get me wrong, all that stuff’s important and those are things that I definitely do, but there is one thing that almost nobody is teaching and if they just did that, I don’t think they’d ever have a problem getting a following.
To answer you question, one thing that I definitely do, and I did this basically because through observation I noticed that Gary Halbert did it and I noticed guys like Dan Kennedy do it and I noticed a lot of other people who are very successful do it so I just started doing it, is you just let you personality shine through.
I mean, I’m the first person to admit I’m not the coolest guy in the world. I’ve got some kind of weird interests and tastes. I’m sittin’ here putting videos about Bigfoot up on site and things like that. I mean, let’s face it; I’m not exactly the most popular kid in school. But that personality, people know that they’re dealing with a real person.
An example of this would be I used to collect comic books when I was a kid. I probably still would if I had more time. But I was always intrigued by some of these comics. I mean, they’ve really got rabid fans if you’ve ever been to a comic book convention. I was thinking about Spider-Man in particular. This character’s been worth billions dollars to Marvel Comics. I remember reading an interview with one of the writers of Spider-Man at the time, and he was like, “I realize that people are not just buying the comic book to see Spider-Man kick someone’s ass. They also want to see what’s going on in Peter Parker’s love life and stuff.” It’s almost a soap opera aspect of it. There was a lot of personality in those comics.
If you look at any really successful marketer, they’re not cold fish. They’re out there giving their personality. You’re not always going to like it, but it’s like a real person. I mean, even guys who are really polarizing, for example, take a guy like Rush Limbaugh, for example. I heard something like 50 percent of the people who listen to him hate him, but they sure love his personality ‘cause they’re listening every day. They may hate his guts and everything he stands for, but a lot of the people just like his personality. A lot of TV shows are like that, like sports shows on ESPN and stuff. A lot of the shows are driven by some personality. It’s not necessarily the content of the information.
I would say personality is a big, big thing. Don’t hold back. I mean, be who you are, and if people don’t like it, there’s a little link on there that says “Unsubscribe” and go fly a kite, man. It’s not for everybody. [Laughter]
Doberman Dan: I’ve never actually heard anybody say that for building a base of fans for your blog but so true. I mean, I hear stuff like, “Well, you’ve gotta consistently put up content.” Well, okay, yeah, but – yeah, if your content has no personality, I don’t think they’re going to return.
Ben Settle: I don’t think so either. If they do, it’s probably on a freebie mindset, “Well, this is free.” It’s not because they’re engaged by it. I would say that’s almost as important as the one thing that I’m deliberately withholding. Personality alone will take you a long way.
Doberman Dan: I’m glad you shared that. I think I probably need to start incorporating more of that in my blog, too.
Ben Settle: I think you do a good job of it, especially on your Doberman Dan Show. I mean, it’s the real Doberman Dan. It’s not some shadow of someone else. It’s not you’re trying to be like someone else. It’s almost like if you send a photocopy, right? You take a photocopy of a driver’s license and then you fax that to someone else and that fax looks blurry and then you take that fax and photocopy that. This is what a lot of people are doing out there. It’s like they’re trying to be like someone else and they’re not being themselves.
Doberman Dan: That’s true. I do my best to try to let my personality show through in my articles, but the few videos I’ve actually made for the site I’ve stifled myself because I’ve wanted to make a few jokes here and there and I thought, “No, I better not.” But you know what? I probably shouldn’t worry about that. If I make a joke and nobody likes it, well, big deal. I think I should probably, warts and all, you get Doberman Dan, at least that’s been the goal of my articles. I don’t think I’m going to stifle myself in the future on any audios or videos based on that advice.
I want to get into some questions, and the first one I’m going to start with is Dean from London because he stayed up really late to be on this call. What? It’s almost [9:00] Eastern time. It’s probably almost, holy smokes, like [3:00] in the morning over there or something. So thanks, Dean; appreciate it. I hope missing sleep – I hope all this was worth the missing sleep you did. Anyway, he says, “Hi, great interview. Ben has an awesome blog, and I’d be interested to hear any tips he has for starting out blogging and generate an audience from scratch. Thanks for the opportunity of this material.” We basically already covered that, but I just wanted to give as shout-out to Dean for staying up late to listen to us. Do you have anything else to add to that for starting out blogging and generate an audience from scratch?
Ben Settle: Well, yeah, we did cover the personality aspect and all that. I would say this isn’t going to genuine a lot of traffic, but it will steadily build you some traffic and some good back links. And that is, blog every single day, or at least five days a week, and then take that blog and put it on EzineArticles.com and try to maybe keyword optimize the title. That’s a whole other thing in and of itself and there’s lots written on that for free on the Internet. You’ll make Google happy. You’ll make EzineArticles.com happy and you’ll make yourself happy because you’ll start getting some more traffic that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. And you already did the work. I mean, you already wrote the articles.
Doberman Dan: That’s right, so just recycle it and put it up there. What was the website again, Ezine – [Crosstalk]
Ben Settle: EzineArcticles.com, and you can also – one cool thing you can do, too, is you can have, for example, some social media sites, like Facebook, you can have them pull your feed automatically. You have to go on there to see how to do it. So now you’ll syndicate it on Facebook, too, and all your friends there will see it. Then maybe put a link on Twitter, too, and now you’re getting out there in multiple different places.
Doberman Dan: Good idea. Thanks for the question, Dean, and thanks for staying up late. Check this out, Ben: Kyle Tully in Sydney, Australia.
Ben Settle: Oh, Kyle, I know Kyle.
Doberman Dan: Do you know Kyle? Really? Okay.
Ben Settle: I know Kyle. He’s a cool guy.
Doberman Dan: I would like to know, I’d like to have the opportunity to get to know Kyle ‘cause check out his message. He says, “I’ve actually got 749 guys in the room with me right now, so your stats are off.” [Laughter] So big shout-out to Kyle in Australia. I have no idea what time it is down there. I’m assuming it’s Sydney, Australia.
Let’s see, Angel Suarez in Palm Bay, “What do you find to be the most effective way to create trust and remove distrust?” Very good question.
Ben Settle: Well, there’s a lot of people who, unfortunately, all they’ll do is say, “Well, you’ve got to get testimonials,” like that’s some magical thing. I’m glad that recently people are coming to the realization that testimonials are probably the weakest form of proof and trust and you can get these days ‘cause they’re so easily manufactured.
Man, I will tell you this: there’s lots and lots of ways to do this. But the easiest way that I know of to do it is to tell a story in you’re ad about someone who’s in the market who’s facing the exact same problem as the people in your market and how they overcame that problem – you’re doing this in story form – by finding your product. They will feel like they were talking to a kindred soul.
I mean, people talk a lot about, “Well, here’s how you use proof. You do this. You do that. You show numbers. You show screenshots.” You can do that. I’m not saying don’t do it, but if you just learn how to tell a story from the point of view of someone going through the exact same problem that your product solves in your ad, whether it be you or somebody else, it will go a long way toward building trust and getting people just to not only believe you but they just can’t get enough of what you’re saying.
Doberman Dan: Good tip and thanks for the question, Angel; good question. Hey, Ben, I want to ask a favor. It’s [8:56] now. I told you we’d only be on the phone ‘til [9:00]. Can you stick around a few minutes more to get through the rest of these?
Ben Settle: We can spend another hour if you want. We can keep rollin’ as long as you want.
Doberman Dan: Okay, we’ve got more subscriber questions. I got more questions for ya’. If people need to jump off the line, then do what you got to do. But I’m recording this so if they’ve got to run, they can catch the rest of it later.
Tammy, in Pennington Gap, asks, “Do you think the majority of written copy will eventually be mostly persuasion by video? Which do you think is the best to learn?”
Ben Settle: That’s a very good question because, man, there’s so much – so many people who, for example, people who sell audio, they’re going to tell you audio’s the best. People who sell video stuff, they’re going to tell you video’s the best. People who are hardcore copywriters and text, they’re going to tell you, you only need a sales letter.
My take on this is do whatever works for you market. I mean, some people absolutely hate reading, and this an absolute – from what I understand, this is a neurological fact, like neurologists – and I’m going on memory here, this is something Ken McCarthy told me, actually, ‘cause he studies neurology I guess. He was saying that neurologists can’t even understand how the human brain can even communicate through the written text, something like that. So it’s really hard for – I mean, a lot of people just don’t like reading.
Those of us in marketing who are buying all these books and stuff, we love it, but we’re kind of like freaks compared to the rest of the population. I mean, most people don’t like it. I don’t what the statistic is, like 42 percent of people never read another book when they graduate college or something. I would say use anything that works.
I mean, I’ll give you an example. Just six months ago, I bought a $1,000.00 info product based solely on a teleseminar. I didn’t even read the ad. I didn’t see a video either. But there have been times where I’ve only bought from ads, like Gary Bencivenga’s $5,000.00 DVD seminar. There’s no audio or video on that at all. I don’t even think there’s a picture in it other than the top graphic. So text can work. Audio can work. Video can work.
The most important thing you can do is get your message-to-market match down first. Get that down first and then you can start experimenting with whether video or audio or text or whatever works better, but the message-to-market is most important.
Doberman Dan: That is extremely important. I have a theory. One of the niches that I have a business in is the bodybuilding market because, if anybody didn’t know this, this DobermanDan.com site is not my business. It’s a passion. At this point, I don’t make a dime from it. I got real work to do and I own real businesses and I’ve got to steal time when I can to do this stuff for DobermanDan.com. Brief little rant there.
My bodybuilding niche I’ve noticed somethin’. It appears to me that they younger guys in that niche, a lot of them are almost functionally illiterate. People my age, I’m going to be 45 in December, it seems like people my age and older, as a general rule, are still readers and definitely the boomers are readers. Market to somebody in their 60s and 70s, and send ‘em a magalog or a direct mail, those guys are readers.
But I don’t have anything to back this up, Ben, but I think a lot of people in my market, especially if they went to public schools, are functionally illiterate. They cannot understand what they read, or possibly they can’t even really read and they definitely can’t communicate by the written word. I just judge that based on the customer service calls that my customer service center getaways and the emails that they get. So, I don’t know, I just have a gut feeling that video may be – or audio, or both, may be more effective for that crowd, as opposed to the baby boomer market. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Ben Settle: Yeah, that wouldn’t surprise me one bit. On the other hand, and this is no reflection on anybody in particular, I’m just sayin, personally, I wouldn’t – this is an old Gary Halbert teaching that I always remembered is go after players with money, and usually they tend to be readers, but that doesn’t mean who doesn’t like reading isn’t a player with money.
But I was just thinkin’, I don’t know if this means anything to anyone in any way, shape or form, but I’m just using myself as an example, I have probably the lowest attention span of anybody I know in my age – like Generation X. Honestly, I just cannot, unless there’s like light sabers or hobbits or superheroes in a movie or TV show – [Laughter] – unless Jack Bauer’s got someone strung up to a lamp post and is electrocuting them to get information or someone lost on an island out in the middle of nowhere. I’m just going down my favorite TV shows.
But anyway, my point is that I have a really low attention span, and they a short video is good for people with – I’ve heard this at least – is good for people with low attention spans. I can’t even sit through a video. I mean, this is why I say test everything ‘cause you never know what your market’s going to respond to.
Doberman Dan: Yeah, that’s true. Here’s one from Jim in Bellevue, Colorado, another good question. These are all really good questions. Yeah, man, I get this a lot, so I’m glad you’re going to answer this. “How do you write a persuasive piece without all the hype that so many copywriters these days use?”
Ben Settle: That is a good question ‘cause – I mean, it’s like if you get grounded in the basics, in the fundamentals of selling and writing an ad, hype has – it amazes me that people actually believe they’ve got to hype things up, and this is the problem with just studying any old sales letter out there just ‘cause it pulls a lot of sales in. Again, some of these launches, for example, are so masterful done that nobody’s even reading the ads, but people will say, “Well, that launch brought in $10 million and, man, I’m going to copy that. I’m going to get sales letter and I’m going to mimic it in my swipe file and I’m going to use it. I’m stud copywriter now.”
Well, nothing can be further from the truth. If they just threw the thing together. Yeah, you have like these 30-word headlines that are just nothin’ but hype and adjectives. It really doesn’t even matter what they say. They could put an “Order here” button and they would buy.
My point is you don’t need all that hype if you have substance, if you do your research right, if you know exactly what that prospect that you’re writing to needs to hear at that particular time in his life, talking to his most urgent problem or desire. You just tell them how you can solve that problem or get that whatever it is they want. You don’t need all that hype. You just have to show them – remember, if you’re going after people who already want something, remember the starving crowd, you don’t have to hype up how good your hamburger is; just tell ‘em you have a hamburger and here’s why you should buy mine instead of someone else’s, and do your research. You don’t need all that hype.
One way to really tone things down, I think, if you’re worried this is right your sales letter in a blank email as if you were writing to your own mother and see how it reads. Would you use five exclamation points to and the word “free” every five seconds? Or would you talk like a rational human being to someone you care about showing them the answer to their most urgent problem? It’s really that simple. That’s a great way to do a gut check.
Of course, you may be writing to a market that your mom’s not in. I mean, think of someone else maybe who fits the bill there. The point is you don’t have to use all that hype; just talk to their problems. The message-to-market match is everything.
Doberman Dan: That’s a good technique, the blank email technique you were talking about: write like you were writing to your mother.
Ben Settle: Or someone in the market. Remember that ad I sent you guys, the one about the grappling, a few weeks ago?
Doberman Dan: Yeah.
Ben Settle: Okay, my mom’s not in that market, right? But it’s easy to picture someone – I know who that market is and it’s not actually the martial arts crowd in this guys case. It’s a different segment of the market. I mean, I know people who are in that market and it’s very easy for me just to kind of write that like I’m writing to them. I’m just telling an interesting story and it just leads into the product, which leads into the benefits, which leads into the sale. There’s no hype in that. I mean, I don’t remember any hype in it.
So I’d just say it doesn’t have to be your mom – I just use that as an example – just someone in the market that you love or care about.
Doberman Dan: Yeah, good example. I’m looking at Kyle Tully’s message again. Is he from Sydney, Australia, or is there another Sydney I don’t know about?
Ben Settle: I’m not sure. I know he’s in Australia, but I’m not sure what city.
Doberman Dan: Oh, then it’s got to be Sydney, Australia. You think he really has 749 guys in the room with him? [Laughter]
Ben Settle: Hey, you never know. He’s got a big-time consulting course out there, which it sounds like it’s doing really good. Knowing what I know about him, I’ve seen what he says in forums and stuff, he’s one of the extremely knowledgeable guys, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of the better ones out there.
Doberman Dan: Cool. Well, it’s good to have him on the call. Shawn in Toledo, this is another excellent question. He asks, “Ben, how did you know when you really ready to take on your first client? Did you have some type of success with one of your own ads that led you to believe you were ready?”
Ben Settle: I didn’t think I was ready. [Laughter] I’ll tell you what kind of happened. I was still sort of flirting in the MLM industry at the time, and what I did was I wrote some sales letters. I bought some leads and I got their snail mail addresses and I wrote – I did one of those Dan Kennedy three sequence-type things, and those were my first ones. I think I did get a couple people who called me back. I don’t remember what happened after that, but I knew at that point at least there was something worth – I had something to offer.
So what I did was there was this email list I was part of called the _____ ____ Roundtable, and I have no idea if it’s still around or not. But it was basically like a little group you could join on the Internet and everybody could kind of send an offer to the whole group. I mean, it’s kind of like a Yahoo group-type thing and it welcomed you sending offers as long as it wasn’t – they probably wouldn’t do it anymore like this, but back then, early 2000s, the hype factor wasn’t quite like it is today.
I did an offer. I just wanted to get something going. I just wanted to get a client just so I could get some real-world experience and I offered to write ads in that joint venture fashion, but only for like five percent. I mean, I was just stupid at the time. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I wrote three or four ads out of that. Didn’t make much money out of any of those, but I knew at that point that I was at least worth getting paid to do it, let’s put it that way, after I had those ads in my portfolio and stuff. You’ve just got to get out there.
One thing you can do is just find something to sell on eBay and write an ad for it, and if it’s something people want, you’re going to make sales and you’ll that, really, writing has almost nothing to do with it. I mean, at its highest level, really, writing is just that kind of greased thing that kind of greases the slide there so people can get to order form, but it’s mostly sales and psychology.
Doberman Dan: Good tip. I just noticed we got somebody else with us from the UK who’s up extremely late. John Canning from the UK says, “Ben, loved your book, Copywriter’s Crib Sheet. I need to know what you think about headlines.” Let me see. Sorry, I may not have read that right. “I need to know what you think about Headlines, the book name; one line only or a longer subtitle as well?” _______ talking about – I don’t know if he’s talking about headlines for just books or just headlines in general. I think he’s just talking about headlines in general.
Ben Settle: Well, this is the thing. I’m not a big fan of rules. You test everything. If it’s something you’re concerned about, I’m assuming that you can test. I mean, there are some cases where people just have one shot and they don’t intend to test, or maybe they don’t have the traffic where it’s even worth the time you have to test, which people will probably get on me for saying that. If you only have five visitors coming to your site, what are you testing?
The point is if you can test it, you’ll found out. I mean, test the long one, test the short one, test the subheadline under it. Hey, this is going to sound really crazy: test without a headline and just see what happens. I mean, what does it hurt? I mean, wasn’t Gary Halbert’s big coat-of-arms letter, that had no headline on it, and yet, that was like the most mailed letter in history. Of course, that was a different media. That was direct mail. But still, test everything just for the fun of it.
I mean, you’ll find that a lot rules are made to be broken so, in my opinion, there’s no one size fits all. Some people have one-word headlines. Some people like to do these Reader’s Digest headlines, like three or four words, and they all work. But, really, if you get the message-to-market match down, and you’re saying exactly what that person needs to hear at that exact time in his life about a very specific problem that’s bothering him and keeping him up at night, just say it. I wouldn’t worry about length too much.
Doberman Dan: What is Copywriter’s Crib Sheet? Is that a book of yours?
Ben Settle: Well, on one of my websites, or the Copywriting Grab Bag book that I sell there’s a pop-up that comes up where you can opt-in to get a free ebook, and I called it the Copywriter’s Crib Sheet. It’s basically some articles I’ve written a long time ago, some of which are floating around the Internet, some of which aren’t, but they’re all complied together. I just came up with the word “crib sheet” ‘cause everybody’s using the word “cheat sheet” these days and I didn’t want to sound like everybody else.
Yeah, in fact, that’s the ebook that has landed me a couple of my best clients.
Doberman Dan: Okay, ‘cause I got your book, but that’s the first time I ever heard about this one.
Ben Settle: Yeah, that’s a free one, though, an opt-in one.
Doberman Dan: Here’s a question, a couple questions from Frank in Newfoundland, Canada, “Is the copy Ben wrote for Ken McCarthy’s copywriting course available to review? Is it up on Ben’s site as a sample, or is the current promo at Ken’s site Ben’s copy?”
Ben Settle: As far as I know, it’s still up. I mean, you could find it through KenMcCarthy.com. You could also go to SecretCopywritingTactics.com, which is my affiliate link for it, not that you have to go there or anything. But it should still be up, as far as I know. If it’s not, then I’m not sure where you’d find it.
Doberman Dan: Yeah, everybody should go to that site. What was it? Secret Copywriting?
Ben Settle: Oh, SecretCopywritingTactics.com. I will say, it doesn’t look like a sales letter that a – I hope it doesn’t look like something a copywriter wrote. I mean, the headline is about as far from hypey as you can get, but it’s written to people who know a little bit about copywriting but struggling with it, they don’t know where to turn and yada, yada, yada. It’s not really actually written to someone who’s never heard about copywriting before.
Doberman Dan: Yeah, everybody should check out that site ‘cause that’s just a great example of great copy, of how to write copy. Like I said earlier, it doesn’t draw attention to itself. It does what it’s supposed to do. It gets you reading about the product and excited about the product.
Frank in Canada has another question, but I’m not gonna ask it ‘cause, I’m sorry, you’re limited to just one question. Nah, I’m just kidding. [Laughter] “Ben mentioned Eugene Schwartz, Bencivenga, Halbert, Carlton, etc. What’s Ben’s opinion on Clayton Makepeace?”
Ben Settle: I haven’t read a lot of his stuff. I mean, obviously, I know who Clayton Makepeace is, and I have tremendous respect for him, but there’s just only – not every teacher resonates with everyone. He’s just not necessarily my cup of tea as far as teaching style, which makes some people probably throw their hands up and shriek at me or something. But again, everyone has different teaching styles that they resonant with.
I’ve read a lot of his stuff, don’t get me wrong. I think his – I’ll tell what, he wrote an article about how to get inside the mind of your prospect. I think he wrote it back in 2006 or something. That one issue is just solid gold. I mean, I just couldn’t believe how much value I got out of that one issue. I’m a big fan of his. I’m certainly not a groupie or anything.
I do drink the kool aid of some people, like Bencivenga or Gary Halbert and that sort of thing, but I can’t say I know a lot about Mr. Makepeace.
Doberman Dan: Yeah, his website is at MakepeaceTotalPackage.com, and he just gives away a ton of content so you should definitely check him out.
Ben Settle: That might be why I haven’t done it. Maybe it’s because he gives away free and I just need to pay for content, – [Laughter] – which is kind of weird. Most people want it free. I want to pay for it.
Doberman Dan: Well, here’s the deal, there’s a lot of great information on Clayton’s site but you know what? Don’t go there. I’m gonna charge you $1,000.00, so send me a check for $1,000.00. As soon as I get your check, then you can go on and look at his info.
Well, Frank asks a third question here. I’m sorry, I’m cutting you off, Frank. Nah, I’m only kidding. He says, “I purchased Ben’s Copywriting Grab Bag. Is it the same product as the Copywriter’s Crib Sheet?” Well, we kind of already answered that, right?
Ben Settle: Yeah, I get this question a lot, though, and maybe I should probably answer it just publicly. A lot of times people will buy the Copywriting Grab Bag, either they bought it before I put the Crib Sheet up there in a pop-up, or they just bought it first time they visited that sales letter. So if they go to the main CopywritingGrabBag.com, there’s a pop-up box so even if you bought the book, you can just opt-in and then get the book and opt-out if you want. That’s how you can get it for free.
Doberman Dan: Okay. All right, good, thanks. Most everybody seems to be on the webcast page, but we do have a few people with us on the phone. If anybody’s actually listening in on the phone wants to ask Ben a question, you can press *2, and the will raise your hand on my little website I’m looking at, if the technology works like it’s supposed to. So if you want to ask Ben a question right now, punch in – that is if you’re on the phone listening to this teleconference – punch in asterisk and the number two and that’ll raise your hand. Then, again, if the technology works, I supposedly can unmute you and we can take your question live.
In the meantime, I got a couple more if you can hang out with us a few more minutes.
Ben Settle: Yeah, I’ve got the next hour blocked off, so whatever we’ve got to do to get to everyone’s questions.
Doberman Dan: Here’s one that came up a lot, I get asked a lot and I believe it came up during a previous teleseminar: How do you come up with big idea when you’re writing copy? How do you come up with that hook or big idea? Do you have techniques for that?”
Ben Settle: Yeah, I do, actually, ‘cause I remember you had this in your little bullet points so I was expecting this one.
Remember that ad we were just talking about, the one about the grappling product?
Doberman Dan: Yes.
Ben Settle: Okay, grappling, the market that he’s selling to is not martial arts fanatics who would even know what grappling is. So how do you make something like grappling sexy to someone who doesn’t want to have to practice, they don’t want to have to learn anything, they just want to kind of kick someone’s butt; push a button, basically? Well, that was a charge. How do you do that?
Well, all I did was a lot of research. The big idea was very obvious to me when I learned that people use to use grappling back in ancient Rome to wrestle lions and stuff. There was my hook. I just did a lot of research. I found out some things about the topic and I put it in the ad, into a story form and that was the big idea. By the time we got to the product, whether it was grappling or karate or whatever, it really didn’t matter. They just knew they wanted to be able to fight people like gladiators and samurai and that sort of thing.
That’s your big idea. Just find some interesting little tidbit that you know the market will be turned on by and, boom, you’ve got it. You’ve got your idea. You can center your whole ad around that and then the benefits and all that follow after you tell your story. Really, the big idea, it’s just digging it up; dig, dig, dig.
Doberman Dan: Good stuff. Hey, Dean in London has another question. He says – one other thing, I’ll just say this real briefly. I really like the people from the UK. It seems like every now and then, my customer service people will forward certain emails to me that I need to handle, and every single time, almost without exception, I get an email from somebody from the UK. They’re just so polite and nice and well-spoken, as opposed to some of the other emails I get from people who are like, “I-E-oh-ah-ah-bing-bang-walla-walla-bing-bang,” or like, “Hey, gimme a training program now!”
Ben Settle: Yeah, they are. They’re very polite, and same with Australia. I’ve never met anyone from Australia I didn’t like.
Doberman Dan: That’s right. I get these emails from people in the US like, “Hey, give me a training program ‘cause I need one!”
Ben Settle: “I want it free!”
Doberman Dan: Yeah. [Laughter] The people from the UK and Australia are so nice and polite and so well-spoken. I probably shouldn’t have said that. Now people in the US are going to be offended.
Anyway, Dean says, “Hey guys, still here and enjoying the information. It’s 2:15 a.m. right now and I’m glad I stayed up. I actually have a history based on sales, and I’ve been very interested in Ben’s points about sales and psychology being key. Many salespeople I know have relied on being order takers for a long while and are suffering right now. My personally style is to play to the very basic needs of the individual. In business, it generally comes down to profit; and in the consumer market, it is generally security and relationships. Would Ben agree that you need to break even the most complex sales down to very basic needs like this?”
Ben Settle: Yeah, and in fact, I have a perfect story to illustrate exactly what Dean is saying. There’s this guy. His name is Jim Camp, and he’s the negotiation master of the world. He’s the man when it comes to negotiation. Michael Senoff interviewed him, I think it was last year. These days I just don’t have a lot of time to listen to newer stuff. I like to just kind of read, like explained, I like to kind of go over stuff I’ve already heard. But this interview Michael did with Jim Camp was just phenomenally good. I mean, that was one of the 10 time things I listened to.
He told this story about, and this changed a lot of the way I thought about sales by the way, he told the story about when he was just starting out selling water filters door to door. I guess he was kind of a younger guy, maybe even a teenager at the time. He’d read all the books and all the tricks and all the tactics and all that stuff. He was ready to go out there with whatever the books were telling him to do and all that, and all the fake enthusiasm and all that stuff, fast talking.
Three weeks he said. He did everything the company told him to do. Three weeks he was in a neighborhood which actually had problems with their local water supply so they would be good prospects, and yet in three weeks, not one sale. He said he finally just said the heck with this. He threw the stupid script out, knocked on the door and said, “Just tell you don’t want soft hair and I’ll leave you alone.” He said people started opening doors. He got it down to that one basic need that his thing could solve that was in that neighborhood. People had that problem. They could relate to that. “Yeah, my hair’s all greasy,” or whatever. And that is breaking it down to its most basic benefit and need, and I think Dean is absolutely right about that.
Doberman Dan: That’s a great story. “Hey, just tell me you don’t want soft hair and I’m gone.”
Ben Settle: Yeah, you can do that even cold calling, whatever. I mean, let’s say you’re calling marketers up who you think are looking for copywriters cause they’re using sales letters. “Hey, my name is so-and-so. I know that you’re using sales letters now, and I just want to let you know I can write some sales letters. I you don’t need that, well, that’s fine.” You don’t take it personally, right?
But you’ve just told them what you do and you’ve given them that chance to tell you, yes, they want it or, no, they don’t. If they don’t, you haven’t wasted any more time on it. Just tell ___ _____ ___. I wouldn’t say, “Just tell me you need a good sales letter and I’ll leave you alone,” but you know what I mean. Basically, you want to use that same approach of that you know they want somethin’, here’s how you can get it and if the don’t, next, move on to the next thing. It’s really that simple.
Doberman Dan: That is true. That’s breaking it down to its most simple component there. That’s true.
You’ve developed this – I guess you’re just launching it, or you can fill me in. But you’ve developed the Crackerjack Selling System, which is not specifically about copywriting. It’s basically about selling in general and persuasion really, too. So I’d like to know how do you sharpen your persuasion – well, first of all, tell me more about the Crackerjack Selling System and where you’re at with it right now, and then tell me how do you sharpen your persuasion skills.
Ben Settle: Well, the Crackerjack Selling Secrets is a book that I’ve written. I wanted to do something like this for a long time. It’s almost like a 101 – I mean, it is 101 ways to sell ethically, legally, morally; no black hat stuff, no pressure, no hype, no rejection-type stuff. I mean, it’s like 101 ways that anybody can use to sell whatever they have to sell. The thing about it is, though, it’s a book that I’m giving away to people who join CD of the month thing I’m developing right now where I’m going to interview top sales people, and by that I mean they could be social media experts, they could be email experts, copywriting experts, negotiating experts. I mean, they’re just experts in selling and persuasion in some form.
Jim Yagi, who is in our Mastermind group, he’s agreed to do it. He’s going to talk about paper click selling. So all these different ways to sell that everybody is either exposed to or maybe want to know more about. So every month I’ll be talking to a different expert, basically, on that.
The book, yeah, it’s selling tips, but you can pretty much apply most of them to any kind of selling you’re doing. I mean, this is stuff – it’s almost like I wrote this just because I wanted to have the stuff that I use almost in like a list form, and then I decided to turn it into book and flushed it out. That’s what that is and that’s a couple months off. I’m just really behind on it, but that’ll be launched probably in another couple months or so.
Doberman Dan: Yeah, I know. I’m still waiting on my copy. [Laughter]
Ben Settle: Well, it’s coming. You know what’s funny? I swear I’m not doing this stuff on purpose, and I’ve been accused of doing this on purpose. It took almost a year to launch the Copywriting Grab Bag book. People are waiting sitting on my notification list, like, “When’s this book coming out and are you just jerking me around? It’s like eight months later.” I’m like, “No, I just,” – it’s kind of like it’s my passion __ ____. My real income comes from doing what I’m teaching. But I’m not dragging it out on purpose; it’s just taking me awhile. I want to do it right, and I’d rather do it right and make everyone happy than do it half-assed and make everyone mad. That’s the explanation for that.
Doberman Dan: Okay. Well, we’ll wait for it. We’ll give you the time you need, but I do want my copy so don’t forget about me.
So in the research that you’ve been doing for this project, what tips have you got about how to sharpen your persuasion skills?
Ben Settle: You know what? Just to kind of make up for taking my sweet old time on this and making everybody angry at me for not getting it out, I’m going to give away Crackerjack Selling Secret Number 2 in the book. So this is in the book. It’s number – I believe I have it as Number 2. That I think it’s the second most important thing. It could even be the most important thing, but either way.
I’m going to tell you a story that this guy told me, and I think it’ll make the whole idea of persuasion sales, again, down to its most basic, fundamental level. And that is, there’s this guy, Doug Dianna, he’s a top, top, top magalog copywriter. He’s one of the few copywriters I believe Gary Bencivenga recommends people go to, like clients and stuff. I mean, he’s just up there in the upper reaches of the whole A-list copywriting world. He agreed to let me interview him for my Copywriting Grab Bag book a couple years ago.
At the time, I had just gotten a dog and like most new dogs, and even now, two years later, she still doesn’t listen to me very well, but at the time, she didn’t listen to me at all. I guess I had mentioned that to him or something, and he goes, we were talking about what’s the key to selling and he goes, “Ben, do you have a dog?” I said, “I have dog. Yeah, I just got it.” He goes, “Okay, does your dog listen to you?” I said, “No, she doesn’t listen to me at all.” He goes, “Well, I’m a stranger. Your dog has never seen me before, never caught my scent before, has no idea who I am and yet I bet you I could walk into your house and I could get your dog to run up into my lap and jump in my lap no matter what.” I said, “Well, how would you do that?” He goes, “I’d simply walk in and hold up her favorite dog cookie and she’d come runnin’ to me.” And you know what? I don’t think there’s a dog owner in the world who couldn’t relate to that story, even your Doberman, I would guess would probably do something like that.
That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about tricks and tactics, as Jim Camp taught in that story I related to you. It’s just about finding out what people want and then here’s how you get it. Here’s what they want. How can what I sell give them what they want? It’s really no more complicated than that.
So I guess the answer to the question is not so much concentrate on a lot of tactics but use more strategies to find out what people already want, become an expert at digging up what people really want and then selling becomes much, much easier.
Doberman Dan: That’s a great analogy with the dog. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I gotta ask you this because I just couldn’t let you get by without answering this question. [Laughter] I’m real curious about your answer, too. What are the selling secrets you learned from Bigfoot? First of all, tell everybody about your Bigfoot trip, and then tell us what, if any, selling secrets you learned from it.
Ben Settle: Well, I’ve learned two things from Bigfoot. Bigfoot could be one of my, if he had a book, I’d probably read it 10 times _______. Basically, the first thing I can is if you think about it – you know what? I tell the story of the trip and then the last ones will become very clear.
My wife and I took a two-week road trip recently, and on our back we stopped in a town called Willow Creek, California, which is not too far from where live and it’s not too far from where that original Bigfoot sighting was where you see that video, they call it the Patterson-Gimlin video. Everyone’s probably seen this video at some point or another where it kind of looks at the camera and keeps walking. Well, that’s where it was at. I mean, we’re just a hop, skip and a jump from there.
So this town, though, apparently is just all Bigfoot. I mean, the whole town just loves Bigfoot. I mean, everywhere you go in this town, there’s the Bigfoot motel, there’s a Bigfoot burger, there’s Bigfoot books, there’s Bigfoot statues everywhere, there’s a Bigfoot museum, there’s even a Bigfoot golf course there; everything is Bigfoot in this town.
We went to this museum and we were just going to stop in and see what they got, maybe look at the displays and all that and we walked out with like $300.00 worth of merchandise: sweatshirts and I got a shot glass, which I use to measure fish oil in now and gave it a practical use ‘cause I take liquid fish oil. Everything’s Bigfoot so we came out with all this Bigfoot stuff that we had never intended to buy, and that’s when you realize Bigfoot’s like big money. I mean, people will crowd to this town just to buy Bigfoot stuff. The reason why is because Bigfoot has this tremendously powerful personal brand. I mean, everyone knows who Bigfoot is, for the most part. Maybe you’re in a different part of the country, you probably have your own version of Bigfoot and it’s probably just as recognizable with a name.
So my thought was, “Man, if you can become sort of the Bigfoot of your niche, the Bigfoot of your market, like a Dan Kennedy, everyone knows who he is, or Bill Gates in the computer industry. Everyone knows Bill Gates. He’s like the Bigfoot of computers. Warren Buffett in investing. If you can become that Bigfoot in whatever it is you do, you will sell even without trying. I mean, people will come to you to buy things just because you’re the main guy, you’re like the top brand, the top person. So that’s the first thing I learned from our hairy little friend out there.
The second thing is when you go to a town like Willow Creek, California, and there are other towns like that in the United States, but they’re just right next to where the Bigfoot sighting was, you realize these people have a real passion for Bigfoot. They really do. This is probably why we walked out with all this stuff. I mean, they eat, sleep, drink, poop Bigfoot; everything is Bigfoot and that enthusiasm is just contagious. I mean, you just kind of want to be a part of it.
I’ve noticed that with our bookkeepers. We recently got a new bookkeeper. Actually, we’ve had him for a while, but we’re dealing with him more and more. He’s just really into bookkeeping, he’s just really into payroll and taxes and figuring out things. He’s so into it you can’t help but get into it, too. So that was the second thing. That enthusiasm, if it’s real, is really contagious no matter what you’re selling. You sell muscle supplement stuff, I bet you could probably talk for hours about it and give really fascinating information about it. Right now we’re talking about copywriting and there’s people, it’s 3:00 a.m. in the UK, and they’re listening to this. They’re just into it ‘cause we’re all just kind of into this.
If you’re just really that into it at that level, you’re going to attract business and sales automatically.
Doberman Dan: So be the Bigfoot. Whatever your niche is, be the Bigfoot.
Ben Settle: Yeah, and make sure someone captures the video of you and don’t show your face ever again. [Laughter]
Doberman Dan: Did you get to actually meet Bigfoot while you there? Shook his hand, get an autograph?
Ben Settle: Well, I did get a picture in front of his statue, but I didn’t get to meet the real Bigfoot. Not yet, maybe some day. I don’t live too far from where that is. I mean, there’s Bigfoot sightings everywhere these days in this part of the world.
Doberman Dan: All right, I’ve got to ask you this, and then I’m going to let all these night owls in the UK, and everybody else, go to bed. But we gotta talk about this ‘cause one of my bullet points was: the best way to make money as a copywriter when you’re between clients or maybe can’t find any.
So you’re what I would consider a fellow kitchen table entrepreneur like myself. You have started your own projects. Was that to basically go along with that multiple stream of income thing? Or was that one day out of necessity when you didn’t have any clients you’re thinking, “Holy crap, the mortgage is going to be due in two weeks. I better get some money comin’ in?”
First of all, how did that come about, you startin’ your own Internet marketing projects or direct marketing projects, how did that come about? Then would you recommend that for other copywriters?
Ben Settle: Yeah, and I’ll say this, there’s another lesson from the old multilevel marketing industry, something I did not know about when I was in it, which would have probably made it a lot more profitable, but you can definitely take this in any industry.
I’ve written some ads for someone, kind of the top marketing guy in that industry and he would teach something called funded proposals. That is where, okay, you’re out there selling your MLM or whatever but you’re also selling them an info product that kind of pays the bills until they join your group or even if they do join your group. It’s just like an extra way of financing what you’re doing. I don’t see any reason why copywriters can’t do the same thing.
I mean, like we were saying, if you’re writing every day, basically you’ll have a book within 20 or 30 days. Now, that book, you can sell it. This is kind of how I did it. I had written all these newsletters before and I just compiled them into a book and that makes up about a third of the Copywriting Grab Bag. I mean, the other two-thirds is interviews, you’re in it, for example, and Ken McCarthy and Doug Dianna and stuff. But, really, while you’re putting that content out, while you’re writing to build your blog or your website, some of that stuff you can take off your website and make it exclusive, put it in a book. And not only do you have a book that you can sell people, to your audience, it also gives you a lot of positioning in your market ‘cause you’re not just some guy or gal out there talking about copywriting. You’ve got a real book. There’s all kinds of publishing companies that you can use to do it real cheap instead of just using an ebook.
I’m a big, big believer in whatever you’re doing write a book about it, too, and you can sell it. Of course, if you’re selling money at a discount, you can charge more for it, then, otherwise, even better in copywriting.
Doberman Dan: Explain that, please, selling money at a discount.
Ben Settle: Well, you’re selling someone information on how to make money. So basically if what you’re selling is the real deal, they should make back way more than what they spent on your book or whatever product you have. It’s like selling money at a discount so to speak. You’re not just selling – I mean, selling how to make money is the easiest thing in the world to sell because it pays for itself. It’s not like selling a book on – for example, I wrote a book about dogs once and that’s not selling money at a discount at all, except for I had a chapter in there on how to save money on vet bills. But, basically, it’s a harder sell then here’s how you make money on the Internet. It’s a no-brainer to pay $30.00 for something like that if you think you can make $100.00 or $200.00 a month after that.
Doberman Dan: Exactly. It sounds like you think that the info business is just a natural progression for a copywriter. That you should write a book or write a course, or if you’re writing anyway, you could be in the process of developing an info product.
Ben Settle: Well, what is the most powerful selling tool someone can have, or one of them at least, is demonstration and what better demonstration that you know what you’re doing. Look, let’s face it. We can say this. It’s an absolute truth, and if somebody doesn’t like this, is just living in a dream world and probably drinking their own kool-aid I guess. Copywriters, as a whole, are very flaky. I mean, it is amazing to me just how flaky they are and how unreliable they are.
I mean, believe me, I told you there’s all these clients out there looking for copywriters, not even necessarily someone who’s the best copywriter in the world, but just someone who will turn something in on time that they’re not embarrassed to send to their list.
And while you write a book or info product, you’re demonstrating that (a) you can actually put information together in an organized way and you’re kind of business men or business woman, too. It just demonstrates that you’re a lot more trustworthy and you get to kind of show off what you know in the book without bragging or hyping yourself up.
Doberman Dan: So not only an extra stream of income, but really establishing your credibility also.
Ben Settle: There’s something that I’ve been – I kept trying to remember what this was during the call. I meant to write it down, and I just remembered it. We were talking about ways to get clients and all that, and this is kind of off the subject a little bit, but I think people listening to this will really benefit from it. Is that whole idea of social proof?
I mean, when I worked, when I wrote an ad for Ken McCarthy, many doors opened for me at that point. When I wrote an ad for this guy in the network marketing industry, Mike Dillard, a lot of doors opened for me just automatically just because his name, I was attached to something he was doing. There’s this other guy that I write ads for; his name is Captain Chris Pizzo. He’s in the self defense industry. I mean, that opened doors. I mean, it’s not ever necessarily getting a lot of clients. You want to get the right clients, people who have a very good reputation in their market, in the industry.
Believe me, there are people when they have their giant mastermind groups and all that, from what I understand, maybe it’s not the case with all of them, but a lot of these guys are looking for people who can write ads and aren’t going to skimp out or hand in something, some piece of crap that may or may not work. They’re looking for someone they can trust and believe in. So kind of like when you go shopping for a car, right?
You know who told me this was Doug Dianna. I’m drawing about who told me this. He goes, “I’m going to shopping for a car tomorrow.” This was when I interviewed him. He goes, “I’m not shopping for a car. I’m first shopping for a salesman, someone who can kind of guide me through all this and who I can trust.” He said, and I would totally agree with this, “It’s the same in copywriting.” People want someone that they can trust.
I just got an email last week from this guy who was interested in hiring me and he was asking, he goes, “I’m not even actually looking for the best copywriter in the world. I just want someone I can work with, someone who I can kind of trust and do business I with.” I don’t think people understand just how untrusted copywriters are right now. We’re just a dime a dozen right now and there’s a lot of shady people out there. And it’s not just copywriters, it’s everyone in our market.
I don’t know if you remember Ken McCarthy’s copywriting course, that part where he talked about just some of the shenanigans that he knows of out there. It’s really, really bad. I mean, copywriters can get screwed over too, but I’m just saying people are looking for someone that they can trust and be that person.
Doberman Dan: Right, that’s exactly right. I lied. I was said I was only going to ask one more thing. [Laughter] I thought of one more really important thing that I had on the list and I just don’t want to end the call until we talk about this.
As a little side note, I’ve been keepin’ up on a few of the gurus who have launches comin’ up, and these guys always show their gross numbers, like, “I made $40 bazillion last month, and here’s the growth,” and blah, blah, blah; and really, that doesn’t tell you anything. Gross can be incredibly misleading. Okay, let’s say you did make $40 million last month. You had $60 million in expenses or whatever. It’s somewhat misleading. It looks impressive to the newbies.
And I’m all for making as much money as you want to make, and I certainly could make more money, and I know you could make more money, but I’m more about freedom and lifestyle. And I know ‘cause we’ve talked about this on the phone, if you could help build the dream a little bit for the newbie copywriters or the people who want to get into direct response and want to be a copywriter, build the dream a little bit about your lifestyle and what a typically day involves. I know you’re not slaving all the time. There may be some instances where you’re slavin’ away for 16 hours on a deadline. But as a general rule, you got a really nice lifestyle, so build the dream for us, Ben.
Ben Settle: Okay, before I do that, I wanted to say something about what you were saying about when the people hype up the numbers and the publicly count their money and all that. I’m not going to say who told me this, all right, so take this with a grain of salt, but it’s someone who’s pretty well-connected in the marketing world. He goes, this was recently he told me, he goes, “There’s one thing I’ve learned about a lot of these guys, they’re all full of shit.” [Laughter] ‘Cause he deals with ‘em, he deals with a lot of them. He goes, “They may be saying their making umpteen million, but you look at – they’re really only netting a couple hundred grand in a lot of cases.”
I would say, first of all, don’t be intimidated by people like that. In fact, anyone who’s publicly counting their money – I mean, I’m personally just kind of like – I mean, I wouldn’t say never trust them. I’m just saying just realize that if someone has to say it, they’re probably not real confident. It’s kind of like Fonzi. He doesn’t have to tell people he’s tough. People just know it because he’s cool. Well, it’s the same in marketing.
To answer you question I like to think so. I mean, I don’t really get up with an alarm clock. I used to just because I wanted to keep that discipline, but our dog acts as a pretty good alarm clock these days so I don’t have to worry about that. But yeah, it’s very laidback. I’m not really a slave to anyone’s agenda. Some days, if I’ve been working really hard, we’ll literally just say, “Screw it, I’m not working today. Let’s go to a movie.” You’re in control of your time. You can go take wacky two week road trips whenever you want and go visit Willow Creek, California if you want, or whatever. It really doesn’t matter. You can go anywhere you want in the world, for the most part. It’s not like some business crashed while you were gone or someone’s playing office politics trying to sabotage you at your job or anything like that.
You’re in control of your life in a lot of ways.
Now, I will say this, freelance copywriting is basically just a more glorified job, though. You’re still beholden to things that you say you’re going to do, so that’s why, ultimately, you also want to have your own stuff going, too, so that one day you can walk away from the freelancing or maybe it’s just optional at that point.
But yeah, I don’t think I work more than three or four hours a day total. I just can’t. My brain just fries after a while. I go to bed whenever I want and I can go exercise whenever I want. A lot of times, you can go a week without really; you can just kind of relax for a couple weeks at a time between projects with no pressure. When you get really good at, you get really fast at it and you actually save even more time. It’s almost like what used to take you six weeks, only takes you two or three weeks. I’m just now starting to get to that point myself where I’m actually much faster at this.
And even better than that, is eventually you’re going to start attracting more serious players into your life. By that I mean, there will be certain business owners looking for copywriters to partner with because, believe me, copywriters screw people over all the time, as I was saying, even big name guys. When one of these bigger companies, if it’s like a client of yours or something and you just get along with everyone, there’s a good chance you’re going to be offered a chance to be a part of that and you may only have to do that from now on. I’m trying to transition into to that slowly but surely. I’m partnering with a client right now, but I’m still doing freelance stuff, but eventually I won’t have to do that at all or even my own stuff. I mean, if I do do it, it’s just because I want to.
That’s really what it comes down to. It’s not about lounging around and not doing anything. That’s not living. Living is playing the game of life on your own terms. And if you like doing business, and I’m guessing everyone listening to this call is into this, it’s fun. It’s really fun when you don’t have that pressure of freelancing on you all the time. It’s fun even when you’re a freelancer, don’t get me wrong. A bad day as a freelancer is still 10-times better than a good day on regular job.
People who work regular jobs, they’ll say, “I have a really good job. I’ve got a really good boss.” That may be true, but they don’t really know what real freedom is. They don’t really understand what it’s like to be able to just live life on your own terms without having to ask someone’s permission to go to the bathroom, without having to ask for anything. I mean, you can give yourself a raise whenever you want, just raise your fees, as long as you’re delivering value. If you’re making your clients money, believe me, they’re going to keep hiring you. That’s the name of the game. To me, it’s the ultimate in freedom. All you need is a computer, or if you write by long hand, which I’ve never been able to do except when copying ads out, you only need a notebook.
Doberman Dan: That’s right. Freedom with a pen and notebook, or freedom with your computer. Yeah, that was an important thing that I wanted to ask you ‘cause I know that’s one of the big perks of being a copywriter and being in this crazy direct marketing business.
Ben Settle: It is crazy.
Doberman Dan: Ben, I really appreciate it. This was a really good call, getting a lot of feedback here on the Q&A thing, people submitting questions and getting a lot of feedback that people liked it. Thanks a lot. Thanks for staying later than we planned.
Ben Settle: It’s fine. I had a good time. It was fun.
Doberman Dan: Anything else you want to say before we close the call or just tell people your websites again, please.
Ben Settle: Yeah, if you want, I have a daily email tip, or at least five days a week. I don’t really just send junk. There’s always a plan. I may send you a sales pitch, but there’s usually a point to it. That’s at BenSettle.com.
My other two websites are CopywritingGrabBag.com, which is where you can grab that Copywriter’s Crib Sheet for free; just wait for the pop-up to show up. And CrackerjackSelling.com is the notification list for my CD of the month deal that I’m building right now. I’ve given a couple updates on that. It’s going a little slower, but if you want to be the first to know what’s going on, just jump on that list, too.
Doberman Dan: All right, thanks, Ben. Thanks again for the call. It was really good, and, like I said, getting a lot of positive feedback about that. Thanks for your time.
Ben Settle: All right, thank you.
Doberman Dan: Okay, good. Well, we’ll talk with you soon. Take care.
Ben Settle: Okay, bye.
Doberman Dan: Bye-bye.
[End of Audio]