“Do-it-yourself” copywriting training

Nov 8, 2022

Becoming a “great” copywriter is something many beginning and up-and-coming copywriters aspire to.

And while everyone’s definition of “great” may vary in terms of what their goals are, the path to greatness is often the same.

It’s being dedicated to continuous improvement, no matter where you are now. Mastering the principles of effective copywriting, which never change. And understanding exactly where your prospect’s head is at.

It’s why I whip out my notepad and take notes when I hear another top copywriter at a conference (as do other A-List copywriters I’ve seen sitting in the same room, folks like Bond Halbert and David Deutsch for example.)

It’s why I go back and review promos with clients or on my own that I’ve written, and look at how they can be improved or what angle could be tested next that could be stronger.

You never want to just sit on your laurels, or make yourself (or others) think you know everything. We’ve got a long global history of cult leaders and political figures who’ve done that, and we can see where that gets us. (BTW if you live in the U.S. and haven’t done so yet, please exercise your right to VOTE today!)

But what about when you’re just starting out or are fairly new to copywriting? That’s what Copy Insider Shahadat H. wrote to ask me the other day…

“Can you tell me or give me a clue on how can I start practicing? Because I have swipe files, blogs, and follow people like you.  But I don’t know how to start.”

I can attest that collecting and studying PROVEN swipes is a great way to learn. It’s how I got started myself.

As I shared in an email last week, I had been writing mostly flat-fee copy when I first got started as a freelance copywriter… but wanted to break into royalty-paying copy.

So I collected and studied successful magalogs and other long-form copy. I’d read through these promos, take detailed notes, break down their structure, and otherwise analyze the heck out of them… to the point that I could understand exactly why the copywriter did what they did and when.

Then, when I finally earned opportunities to write long-form copy myself, I found I had quickly ramped up my learning curve…

…so that within my first few years of writing these kinds of promos, I beat Parris Lampropoulus’ Tax Hotline control (and became the first female copywriter to get a Boardroom control). And not long after, beat the late great Jim Rutz’s flagship financial newsletter control for another big publisher not just once, but twice!

Five years ago, one of the first copywriters I mentored–Roman Alvarado–asked me to help him improve his practice of studying a successful control each day.

So I put together a series of questions which were customized for some of my existing control promos (some are still controls to this day). But they’re questions you can use yourself to study any control promo (just make sure you’re studying a PROVEN promo, meaning one you know is working well!

When you do so and answer the questions that follow, you’ll be amazed how the pieces of the “puzzle” start to fit together and how many great insights you get!

Here are some questions you can ask yourself when you’re studying a promo and “reverse-engineering” why it’s working and why the copywriter did what s/he did…

Let’s start by looking at the main headline for one of my long-running control promos. Here’s an example from one of my nitric oxide supplement promos:

1) Most successful headlines include at least 2 or all 3 of the following components: news, benefit, curiosity. Identify the words or phrases in this headline that are providing the following components:




2) Which primary emotion(s) is the headline tapping into?

3) Is there a unique mechanism (and what words are being used to refer to it)? 

4) If there is a unique mechanism, how could it be further enlarged or made more superior?

5) What stage of market sophistication is this headline written for?

6) What credibility enhancers are being used to build belief?

7) Brainstorm and write as many possible new test headlines for this promotion (to replace the current main headline and deck copy underneath it)

That’s just a sampling of questions and exercises you can do simply by studying the main headline. But obviously there are many more you can create for yourself for when you study the rest of the promo. (Here’s a link to the sales page here.)

For starters…

8) What type of lead is being used, and why is it effective?

9) What’s the main overriding promise or claim?

10) What type of proof is being used to support that big promise or claim?

(Note: you can often find the actual study in a footnote or by creative use of Google that’s being referenced in, say, a supplement promo. Really read that study and figure out why the copywriter chose that study and how they wrote the “study story” to make it as readable and compelling as possible.)

11) How is the copywriter making use of “demonstration” to prove that the product will work for the prospect and overcome resistance/objections?

That’s 11 questions right there that should get you reading and studying promos more effectively… and unleash many valuable insights and learning.

It’s also important to practice WRITING copy, not just reading about how to do so. The best way is to learn by doing. And obviously, if you have a chance to get feedback, be sure to take advantage of that as well.

A great way to get better at fascinations, or bullets, is to take a piece of content (an article, report, book, etc.) and write curiosity-laden bullets based on nuggets of info contained in that content.

I cover all of these topics–writing compelling headline (and choosing the right type for your market), the different types of leads and how to write them effectively, 27 formulas for compelling fascinations, and much more–in my Get Dangerously Good Copywriting System.

And I reverse-engineer my step-by-step process for how I wrote some of my most successful controls in my Million-Dollar Controls program.

Plus my Research Beast program shows you how I determine who I’m writing to and which emotions to tap into, as well as how to come up with the “big idea”.

But keep your powder dry for now… in the next week or so I’m going to be having a big “Black Friday” sale, so keep an eye out for it.

In the meantime, there’s a limited number of spots still available for the one mentoring program I plan to do next year–my 2023 Fast Track to A-List program.

If you want to get “dangerously good” at copywriting fast… whether you’re an experienced freelance copywriter, business owner, or just starting out… my mentoring can get you there.

I’ve now mentored more than 50 copywriters over the past 5 years, and many of them have gone on to become rising stars, work for billion-dollar clients, and build their companies or freelance businesses to new heights. You’ll be hearing some of their stories in the coming days.

In the meantime, if you’re ready to invest in yourself and commit yourself to getting “A-List” good fast, check out all the details and take the next step here. The “early bird” savings I’m offering end November 30th.

Yours for smarter marketing,


P.S. After I vote today, I’m heading over to see my mom at her assisted living place… and bringing 3 dozen cupcakes with me to share with the staff and other residents. She and the others sure love their sweets… I was deluged with requests when I visited on Halloween dressed as a doctor with candy in tow.

They also seem to love watching old videos of Elvis Presley. The last few times I visited, they were playing him singing and swiveling his hips to “Jailhouse Rock” as the residents (mostly female) watched in rapt attention. Did you know he was doing the “moonwalk” before Michael Jackson did it?

Anyway, mom is turning 84 today… please wish her a happy birthday and many more! Here she is back in her “Elvis” days (though she claims she was never a fan…)