Monthly Archives: November 2012

How to be a copywriter – A newbie guide

Sooo many people want to work at home, and they immediately start searching for “business ideas” or “consulting ideas” they can do.

One of the highest paid and easiest (in terms of equipment needed) services you can do is copywriting.

Essentially you type out words on a laptop from anywhere in the world….and people pay money for it (often A LOT of money since you’re helping improve conversion rates of businesses….which obviously makes them a lot of money).

Writing Copy From Office

 

Copywriting is useful for consulting, but it’s ESPECIALLY useful (and profitable) if you already own a business.
You can see my 1st success with copywriting here.
Password is: MonkeyWhale

So after becoming a Q-level celebrity from my 1st KopywritingKourse, I get this question allll the time:

How should I begin learning about copywriting??

If they have money…. I tell them to first watch my KopywritingKourse.

If they’re poor….. I give them this free advice:

I always give people these two pieces of advice to get started.  It’s certainly what got me on the right path.

If they ever ask me follow-up questions about copy, I immediately ask if they took my advice.

If yes, I’ll try to help.

If no, I tell them to go back and do it.  It’s a waste of time for me to personally re-teach them this stuff….especially if they haven’t even taken the effort to learn it themselves.

Watch the video, and take the advice.  It’ll be good introductory material for you to start of 2013!

Sincerely,
Neville – A Kopywriting Kelebrity

 

By the way…..if you have a friend who could use this advice, can you send them this video also?  Thanks!

We got Simpson-ized

Well this certainly was a cool way to say “Thank You”!

Got this email sent to Noah and I recently from Rohan V:

To the Brothers,

Thank you, sincerely. Let me explain. I’m currently trying to deliver free education to 20 million people in Sri Lanka and I’ve learnt a ton from both of you, as well as acquired a metric shit ton of awesome knowledge via the ongoing @appsumo deals which will hopefully directly translate into both meaningful and lasting change for an entire nation within my lifetime.
I just wanted to reach out and scribble these sentiments down because sometimes it really is the simplest things that matter the most.
To the hustle compadres!
-
Rohan Vimalachandran

P.S – Had the attached done, hope you get a kick out of it!
He then attached this drawing he had made of us….HA!
Simpsonized Neville and Noah
He got the original image from a thumbnail of one of our Sumo Dojo videos:
Before being simpsonized
I thought this was a pretty great way to get someone’s attention. I’m guessing he had that Simpson-ized drawing done for just a few dollars, but it made all the difference (so much so I wanted to share it)!
Thanks Rohan!

How to have a reading party

I recently had a little “reading party” which combined hanging out with friends, plus an hour of reading…..and it went off pretty well, so I thought I’d share how I threw it so YOU can throw one too!

If you enjoy hanging out with friends.
If you enjoy reading.

You can combine the two and throw a fun event.  It would be partially productive, and partially fun/social.

I wanted to see friends before the busy holiday season sucks everyone out of town, so I put a Facebook invite out to some friends in Austin.  Here was the description for the party I wrote (Many people told me this was the favorite event-invite description they’ve ever got)!

FACEBOOK INVITE TITLE:
Pajama Reading Party @ Nev’s

Hey all, it’s my first ever READING PARTY!

Put some comfy clothes on and come READ at my place on Tuesday Nov. 20th!
Bring a book…..or borrow one of mine for the evening.

Show up at 8pm and we’ll all socialize. At 9pm sharp it’ll be library time….so we’ll all read for an hour.

This is just a fun, casual event for all of us to hang out (and get some reading time in).

 

—DRESS CODE—
Whatever you want…but comfy clothes or pajamas would be best.

 

—SCHEDULE—
8pm till 9pm: We’ll all socialize and hang out like cool kids.

9pm till 10pm: I’ll be a library cop and hush everyone up. We’ll all read for an hour till 10pm.

10pm till 12am: Wherever the night goes.

Try your best to show up at 8pm so we have time to talk beforehand. 9pm – 10pm I’ll actually hush you up and make you read!

 

—ALREADY PROVIDED FOR YOU—
-Healthy snacks.
-Extra books if you don’t have.
-Pillows, blankets etc to lounge on.
-Maybe pull the guest bed into the living room for lounging.
-Night time calming tea, soda, booze, beer (for those who wanna do some buzzed reading) :-)

 

—ETIQUETTE—
-No laptops please. Just reading materials.
-Let’s actually read for a full hour from 9pm till 10pm.
-Get comfy as possible during reading time. Make friends, grab a spot on a chair, or lay on the floor, or snuggle up to
someone and getchyo READ on.

 

—GUESTS—
If you have guests, make sure they’re cool, and make sure you can vouch for them. No bummers please like the Seinfeld library cop!
http://youtu.be/D9tP9fI2zbE

 

—ADDRESS—
Neville’s apartment at AMLI Eastside (formerly called Robertson Hill Apartments).

This map should show pretty closely the exact location of my apartment unit:
[insert map link here]

 

—PARKING—
Anywhere on the street around the building is fine. If you need, call me and I can let you into the guest parking garage.

I think I have cool friends….and it’s fun when you all meet!

I’ll see you all on Tuesday for a nice evening together :-)

Book-wormingly,
-Neville Medhora
-713.301.1546

P.S. Try to show up close to 8pm and don’t forget a book.

P.P.S. At 9pm sharp till 10pm we’ll hush up and read for an hour. So come a bit earlier to get some reading time in!

 

This description covered everything perfectly, so everyone was on time and brought books.

I wanted to make sure everyone had enough space to comfily sprawl out…..but in my apartment I only have seating for a few people.  So I ended up bringing a queen sized bed from my guest room into the living room for extra seating!

Bed in living room - Book Reading party

6+ people could easily fit on it, and it turned out to be the most comfortable spot!

Everyone arrived close to 8pm as requested, and we all hung out and chatted.  Since it was random friends and not just a particular clique of friends I invited, they all got to meet each other.

At 9pm we all started reading.  I thought I’d have to be a total library cop to shut everyone up….but surprisingly everyone was cooperative and ready to read.

In the background I put some soft music (Pandora.com on the “Chill/Downtempo Radio”) ….and it played great music the whole time that wasn’t too distracting (aka doesn’t have many words).

It was really fun reading around friends.  It kept everyone focused.

Someone pulled out a laptop at one point, and like the party description said, I made them close it.  The clickity-clacking of the keyboard is distracting to people reading.  I’m glad I laid down the law as laptops would’ve ruined the mood a bit.

 

Here’s everyone showing off their books before the reading started:
Reading Party - Book peeps

 

Here’s a shot of everyone reading (there’s a few more people on the left who didn’t make the picture):
Book Reading Party - Everyone reading

 

That’s me laying down on the bed:

Reading Party - Everyone reading and lounging

 

I’m not one to cook for a party, so a few hours before I went to Whole Foods and picked up some snacks.  Pretty basic, but it worked great:

  • Water bottles (carbonated and non-carbonated).
  • Beer.
  • Tea.
  • Sliced fruit (melon, kiwi, strawberries).
  • Fresh guacamole & salsa + chips.
Snacks from Whole Foods
(on a side-note….checkout how neatly I placed my groceries on the conveyor belt thingy)!

 

Everyone was covered beverage-wise and the healthy snacks were delicious.

Overall this went off pretty well!

  • Everyone got some quality reading time in.
  • We all got to hang out on a lazy Tuesday.
  • Just a fun, social gathering.

Try it yourself with your friends :-)
-Nev

Ideas that are TOO big

A lot of wantrepreneurs wanna build an idea that’s just TOO DAMN BIG.

Here’s a real example from Ken.  Here’s his idea:

I’ve tried testing this idea with limited results but I’m not sure if I’m going about it the right way.

I want to establish a network of local people around the world who would be willing to show travelers and tourists around their town or city.

Yes it’s a rip off of AirBnB but hell, I couldn’t find one which was already established (there is one competitor which is actually validating this idea using a landing page, a youtube video and an email form).

Watch this 2 ½ minute video from the SumoBusinessBlueprint2 I made about this question, then continue reading this to see how to validate this idea before wasting time on it:

Ok, so I ripped up the idea in the video.  Not a fan.

What Ken is telling me is:
“I want to build a site for everyone in the world who travels, and have them signup to this service.”

SLOW DOWN COWBOY!

Making a site that needs allll these travellers to signup to be guides, or get guided….is hard.  Especially if you don’t fully understand the market yet!

You think McDonald’s got big by starting with 10,000 stores?
NO SIR.
They started with one store and fully understood what people wanted.

You think Facebook got big by going for 1,000,000,000 users?
NO SIR.
They started at a single college and fully understood what people wanted.

So let’s learn from that and understand what people want first.

SO HERE’S ONE WAY KEN CAN VALIDATE THIS IDEA TO SEE IF PEOPLE REALLY WANT THIS SERVICE (if he’s not lazy and actually wants to put in the effort):
Pay attention if you’re a Wantrepreneur.

 

Let’s first see if people are clamoring for this service…if they’re not, this is gonna be a really sucky business.

And since this business is based on real-life interactions,
Ken needs to do a real-life validation.

Step 1.) Make a quick flyer for this service.  We’re gonna post the same flyer online AND offline.

STEP 2.) Post this flyer as an image on Craigslist under the section: SERVICES –> TRAVEL/VACATION.

STEP 3.) Then walk around your hood and post this flyer in some hostile’s or hotels.  Talk to the people who run them.  See if they can refer people your way.  Maybe even offer them $20 per referral to get things moving.

STEP 4.) Actually show a couple people around town yourself.  Was it fun?  Was it worth it?  Did they pay you? Are they gonna come back?  Any surprises?  Were they happy with it?  Are they gonna recommend friends?

STEP 5.) Ask how they found you…..and if they use travel sites.  Then start modifying the ad to see if you can get more success.

Modify and post that ad many times to see what really stands out.  Here’s some sample headlines and sub-headlines to post:

 

SEE ALL THE FAMOUS NEW YORK CITY SIGHTS.
All the famous icons in one tour. 

 

NEW YORK CITY BACON TOUR.
Eat the most popular bacon dishes in New York City. 

 

NEW YORK CITY TOP RESTAURANT TOUR.
Eat the top dish at the top 5 restaurants in New York in 1 day. 

 

NEW YORK CITY PARTY ANIMAL TOUR.
Party at the most exclusive clubs in NYC till 8am with a notorious party animal.

 

Who knows…..you might find out that the party animal tour is by far the most requested and profitable over anything else.

This means you could maybe start your travel website with “specialty tours” in mind…instead of the regular boring tours already out there.

That would be a unique and value-added type of thing.

I might spend $50 to get a crappy tour driving through Times Square and other tourist-y areas of New York.  But I’d spend $1,000+ to hit up 3 insane clubs in NYC with VIP access and have the craziest, most celebrity-filled, alcoholed-up New York night possible with my friends.

So this real life experience will help guide your online site.

If you try to promote these tours, and nothing ever comes of it…..it might mean you should abandon this business idea and move on.  Put a bullet in this idea’s head.

However if some of your tours start to take the hell off….
YOU MIGHT HAVE HIT ON SOMETHING BIGGER!

If you’re blindsided by the success of something, it means you’ve hit on something.

 

With this idea validation method, several things have happened:

1.) You actually make some money taking people around the city.

2.) You find out what people actually respond to and will PAY for.  This is huuuggee.  Because if you start a business based that’s filling REAL wants and needs, it will work well.

 

A word about the psychology behind this:
Now our test subject here (Ken) wanted to “just start a business about travel stuff”….but was he actually trying to provide value to a large group of people, or was this just a lazy-ass idea to make him some money?

You see….if you just wanna start a business because it “might blow up and make me a lot of money”, just quit.

EVERY SUCCESSFUL PERSON I’VE EVER SEEN GET RICH OFF A BUSINESS HAS PUT A LOT OF WORK INTO IT.

So if you’re doing something, put effort into it. Especially in the validation part where you’re finding out what people really get from your business.

Shitty effort = Shitty results.
Amazing effort = Amazing results. 
Sincerely,
-Neville

P.S.  Should I make this into a series of wantrepreneur-killing emails?  Just say YES I WANNA SEE MORE WANTREPRENEUR KILLING EXAMPLES…or lemme know whatchya wanna hear more of!

 

 

How to have Tim Ferriss speak at your event for free.

Despite the fact that I can beat him in a handstand competition, people still worship Tim Ferriss.

And since he’s pimping his new book right now, I found a way to do all of the following for “Free” (notice the quotes):

  • Meet Tim Ferriss up close and personal.
  • Be memorable to him.
  • Have him speak for you…TWICE….for FREE.  Potentially making you a lot of money.
  • …or have him speak (twice) at your events for promoting whatever you’re selling.
Sound too good to be true….it’s not (if you can get over the $84,000 price tag).
Here’s how:
STEP 1.) Checkout the way he is getting people to order his book on launch day (Nov. 20th):

 

STEP 2.) Notice the last option to buy 4,000 books for $21 a piece.  This costs $84,000 ….but a smart person would understand you actually get everything for “Free”.

 

See, you’re buying 4,000 copies of his book to distribute.  You can give these away, sell them…whatever….and almost re-coup your investment of $84,000.

BUT THE BIG THING is the perk Tim will personally give you for buying 4,000 copies:  He will personally speak as the keynote speaker at two events.  

Now in the startup world it ain’t hard to pack a room for a Tim Ferriss speech.

He usually commands $75,000 to $100,000 per speech….and can easily pack a paying room.

So you get to have him speak TWICE, for only $84,000….plus you can sell all the books!  Essentially you’re getting Tim to speak for you for FREE.

 

 

I’ve gotta get going to an art show now …..so if anyone’s interested, checkout his post about it.

The Caveman Voice

Sometimes you’ll do something that “doesn’t seem right”.
Or you “sooooorrrttt of” suspect something you wrote sucks.
But you don’t know why.

But when people run something by me, I can usually tell in ONE FREAKIN INSTANT if it’s good or not.

The way I do that is with a caveman voice:  

Here’s how you can instantly tell if something sucks or not:
Read something, and then talk about it in Caveman Voice.  Like THIS:

ME CAVEMAN.
THIS SUCKS.
THIS COPY BORING.
WANT SLEEP NOT READ.
ME BURN SUCKY COPY.

There’s something about talking like this that makes your brain a big ole dummy…..Actually I pin-pointed it when reading Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff.

He explains how when pitching a deal to someone, you need to access their “crocodile brain” to make them say YES.

He calls this primal part of the brain the “crocodile brain.”

I’ll spare you the science (I know your dumb caveman brain can’t handle it)  ;-)

…..but essentially this primal part of the brain says YES or NO to things immediately. Such as:

STOVE HOT.  NO TOUCH.
WATER GOOD.  ME DRINK.

I’ve used my “Caveman Voice” when opportunities spring up that I really shouldn’t take due to a heavy work load:

THIS GOOD. 
BUT ME BUSY. 
NO WAY.

The dumbass caveman inside you is sometimes quite wise.

SO without any hippy-dippy meditation retreats, mind-expanding drugs, or 6 month long trips to an Indian guru……..you can get brutally honest answers from yourself in seconds.

Sincerely,
Neville The Caveman

P.S.
TRY NOW.
OR ME KILL U.
HIT ON HEAD.

 

A masterful piece of storytelling

One of the most masterful pieces of storytelling I’ve ever seen came from randomly wasting time on YouTube.

…as a Kopywriter I keep note of good stuff like this.

It was around the time Britney Spears was going through some wild times with drugs, alcohol and just appearing insane in the media.

Craig Ferguson (the talk show host) came to her defense and told his own story about being an alcoholic.

He tells an intensely serious story….mixed with just the right balance of humor.

Notice he’s telling a story about how we was trying to kill himself…..yet it’s still humorous!
Not all of it. But some.

He still gets a tear-jerking response out of the speech without being a bummer…or a stogy old coot. Just a real dude.

Real stories are sometimes serious, and sometimes funny.
Sometimes the two blend perfectly like this:

 

Public Speaking Dojo

Here’s a little Sumo Dojo we did about Public Speaking.  Some do’s, don’t, tips, tricks:

 

SPEAKING of public speaking…..I spoke on Thursday about validating business ideas, and I wanted to warm up the crowd a bit.  I decided to make everyone sing “We Will Rock You”, and wasn’t sure if a whole crowd could keep up the beat AND sing at the same time.  See for yourself how it turned out :-)

That was fun!

A lesson in kopy (sellin’ vs. story tellin’)

(This is an email I originally sent to the email subscribers of the KopywritingKourse):
————————————————————–
We’re trying to shift the copy on our AppSumo deals to be more “real”….and it was a struggle for me personally.

When Noah was co-working at my place a few years ago…..I got the idea to start writing the sales copy for his new project “AppSumo” as this jovial/hilarious/fat/racist/sexist Sumo.

The name “AppSumo” was perfect, and the logo was perfect too:

….this fat bastard made it easy to get away with saying ANYTHING!

Fat jokes.
Butt jokes.
Jewish Jokes.
Woman jokes.

….it was all fair game and VERY few people complained out of 100’000′s of people (if you’re not pissing SOME people off, you’re doing it wrong).

People would constantly ask “Who the hell wrote that copy!?” and try to hire me for their own copy.  It’s HUGE compliment when people are willing to spend thousands of bill$ just from reading our sales pitches (to boot, they’d usually end up buying a bunch of stuff from AppSumo too)!

The copy was mainly educational.  And it would SHOW EXACTLY what the product would do for a group of people, and even how to use it.

It also had humor….but that was secondary.  Educating people was priority #1.

After pawning off most of the writing to other copywriters, the quality went down.

The copy turned into regular bullshit sales copy…..but with a bunch of cheesy Sumo jokes thrown in.

“Yes!  Everyone should buy this!”

“This is a TOTALLY KILLER VALUE!”

“If you want to live the dream of making millions, buy this!”

….barf.

Over the course of about 8 months the whole Sumo-voice thing seemed “played” to everyone at the office.

A change was wanted.

Everyone wanted to put out “stories” rather than “sales pitches”.

I fought this so damn hard.  Even pissing off some people at the office who never get mad at anything (sorry guys)!

Then I thought “Ok….lemme swallow some pride and give this a shot.” 

I started poking around the internet and noticed that EVERY big blog, EVERY big news outlet…..featured STORIES!

People share stories
People don’t share sales-pitches as much.
People don’t share “How-To’s” as much (unless it’s about their specific interest).

(Think about it, how often do you see a non-marketing person share a sales-pitch on Facebook)?

The 1st piece of copy I wrote in this “Story” format was for Prey.  You can see it here:
http://www.appsumo.com/prey/

…..I originally wrote a how-to article on using Prey to protect your computers, but the team wanted a story.  Eventually that’s what was put out…..mainly against my will.

Three things happened:

  1. The post went viral.
  2. Even offline, people started telling family & friends about Prey.
  3. It sold like crazy (a record high for the past few months of sales).

Even Ramit Sethi and Derek Halpern both personally told me “It was some of the best copy I’ve seen in a long time, anywhere. Really terrific job.”

WHOA.  

Lots of sales.
Lots of sharing.
Lots of compliments.
….maybe this “story thing” was a good move.

We’ve since replicated the results with the story format.

NOW….this doesn’t mean I think everything has to be a damn story, but it’s certainly one way you can breathe some new life into what you’re writing.

If you want to test out a “Sales Story” of your own…..you can try following this rough outline I used:

  1. Problem you (or someone else) had.
  2. Something you tried that didn’t work.
  3. You discovered a certain product/service.
  4. The positive results you got from it.

You can even go to AppSumo.com and click the “Back” button on the banner image to see all our previous deal copy.

Checkout the number of shares and comments to spy on which deals did well or not.

….and lemme know if you have any success (or failure) with a “Sales Story”!

Keep being a student. 
Sincerely,
Neville Medhora

P.S.  If you used to read the old AppSumo emails, which do you like better?  Meaning which did you actually look forward to and open the most?  Vote please (I’m a constant student myself, so I love learning from your answers)!