Copywriters who give copywriters advice: 3 shocking truths



Copywriters love to buy information products from their peers. But there are some hidden dangers. Here are three things you should know about buying info-products from copywriters who are selling their knowledge:

1. The information is rarely — if ever — complete.

New copywriters often take the information at face value and are too inexperienced to see the big picture. This can lead to tragic mistakes. As a copywriter’s coach since 2003, I’ve heard some really sad stories along these lines, which is why I’m bringing this topic to light.

The most recent complaint I heard was from a Canadian copywriter who spent big bucks on a course written by another Canadian copywriter. The course teaches copywriters how to write a Case Study. The buyer (we’ll call her Jackie), consumed the content. Then, to her delight, found herself with an opportunity to write a Case Study for a client.

“I was so embarrassed,” she told me, “when I insisted to the client that all Case Studies ‘must’ include an interview.” It wasn’t until later that Jackie realized her mistake — that Case Studies do not always have an interview. Somewhat piqued, she confronted the copywriter who sold her the course.

When she told him that his course had led her to believe that all Case Studies include the element of an interview, and that the incomplete information had jeopardized her chances to win a new client, he acknowledged the omission without apology. 

The truth is, most info-product authors never set out to tell the whole story in the first place. Many copywriting and marketing topics are so deep it would be impossible to do so anyway. 

So simply know that you’re getting piece of the puzzle, not the whole jigsaw.

2. The information implies that there’s only one way to do things (or at least this is how the reader interprets the information).

Many copywriters who sell info-products to other copywriters and marketers do so to position themselves as experts. Yes, money is a motivator but smart marketers have a bigger plan.

But all too often copywriters (especially newbies), take the information too literally. Many copywriters will remember when Michael Stelzner came out with his ebook on how to write White Papers. It taught a very formal style of writing and layout.

For years I encountered resistance when I taught copywriters how to write White Papers that appealed to marketers. The style I taught was way more sexy than Mike’s. I had to repeatedly explain that Mike’s paper represented how you might write a White Paper for a technology company targeting CEOs, while my style was more appropriate for influencing marketers.

Then one day Mike moved on to found Social Media Examiner and Gordon Graham became the next White Paper guru, promoting his vision of White Paper writing that was quite different than Mike’s. Finally I could point to the difference between the two to convince my copywriters that there is indeed more than one way to write a project.

The takeaway here is that info-products offer guidance and maybe on your very first White Paper/Case Study/etc. you want to follow a formula slavishly. But after that, you should apply your own creativity and find a way to “do it better” or “make it your own.”

There is a saying in marketing that if you give 10 copywriters the same job, you’ll get 10 vastly different assignments back. This is as it should be!

Great warning on copywriter info-products (click to tweet)

3. The information contains bad advice.

Yes, this is frightening. But newbies have been teaching newbies on the Internet for quite a while now. I don’t see a lot of bad advice on copywriting since copywriting is a formula and even newbies know where to find the good information to pass along.

But where bad advice is dangerous is in the spaces of marketing and business-building. For instance, a very green-behind-the-ears young fellow sold an ebook recommending copywriters to charge $35 per hour. He said he did a survey although there was no evidence of that. But he did have a lot of comments on his blog from newly misled copywriters.

This kind of business information can ruin a budding copywriting career because new copywriters start at $75 to $100 per hour. Even 30 years ago we were charging a minimum of $50 per hour.

Likewise, bad marketing advice can be devastating. Picking a wrong niche or conducting a doomed campaign can ruin a new copywriter’s chance to make it as a freelance copywriter. Giving bad marketing advice to a client who doesn’t know marketing can take a business down. 

So the advice here is to vet before you buy. Move away from the emotion of buying toward the logic of buying. Check out the profile of the author. Are they really an expert? Do they have credentials that support their positioning? What do other people know? I’ve found copywriters talking about me and my products in the Warrior Forum.

Being aware of these three warnings for purchasing info-products from copywriters and marketers will help you avoid mistakes, expand your horizons, and protect you from bad advice.

Copyright 2016 Chris Marlow, All Rights Reserved

What do you think? Do you have an opinion on buying info-products for copywriters? Please share in the comments below.

About Chris Marlow

The original copywriter's coach, Chris Marlow has worked with copywriters since 2003. Her acclaimed Marlow Marketing Method™ Client Acquisition Course has produced hundreds of successful copywriters. Chris' S.S. Treasure Hunt membership site not only houses this course but four more on the subjects of Copywriting, Advanced Copywriting, Productivity, and Closing Clients. The S.S. Treasure Hunt also contains the world's only statistical pricing database for about 100 copywriting jobs. Chris has put together this resource to give copywriters everything they need to succeed — and nothing they don't. Chris is committed to helping copywriters focus on what's important, saving them from the time- and money-wasting Bright Shiny Object Syndrome so prevalent on the Internet.

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9 Responses to Copywriters who give copywriters advice: 3 shocking truths

  1. Rick Guffey April 10, 2017 at 5:50 am #

    I’m a big believer in writing programs and workshops, but you can’t listen to everybody’s voice. You have to decide who you’re going to trust.

    First yourself …

    • Chris Marlow April 10, 2017 at 8:38 am #

      I SO agree, Rick. Otherwise you spend all your time reading and getting nothing done!

  2. Chris Marlow November 9, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

    Unfortunately the examples I refer to are from well-known copywriters. It’s just that buyers need to know that the materials are rarely comprehensive. Some topics could take an encyclopedia!

  3. Troy November 9, 2016 at 11:54 am #

    Fantastic information and advice for everyone , thank you very much Chris!
    We’ve all made investments that didn’t prove to be what we originally thought they were or what they were going to provide us… With that said however, we all have to remember that having information is a good thing, but each of us as entrepreneurs and copywriters have to TAKE ACTION 🙂

    • Chris Marlow November 9, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

      Good point Troy… a lot of copywriters buy a lot of courses and then tell me they’re no further along in their career than when they first started. It could be blatant procrastination, insecurity, or sometimes “real” obstacles like health or family issues. I also think that not having a system to follow contributes to paralysis, because the inaction goes away when they get into one of my structured copywriting or marketing programs.

      • Rachel November 9, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

        Very true Chris. Your marketing course is the ONLY one that I’ve seen that is really and truly a comprehensive step-by-step plan for copywriters.

        I’ve done a ton of research on this, and as you say, all of them leave bits out – even the ones created by well-known copywriters. They are still very valuable, but only if you already have the basics of how to get started, to fill in the blanks.

        • Chris Marlow November 9, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

          Thank you Rachel. It takes a lot of work but if you really care about the people you’re serving you’ll Do the work and then bask in glow of their success!

  4. Dan November 9, 2016 at 8:37 am #

    Definitely true. I think moreso because everyone’s situation is their own. For example, will that approach work in my context?

    That’s why coaching is so important and talking with other freelancers. There’s too many nuances to buy a blanket solution.

    I do buy an occasional info product, but it’s very rare these days. The biggest mistake I made was buying a $750 copywriting course that really didn’t do much.

    • Chris Marlow November 9, 2016 at 8:58 am #

      “Nuance” is so the right word, Dan. With info-products, the nuances are missing. And even the slightest nuance can change the direction you should go. If you’re making a substantial investment of time or money based on something you read, it is wise to get confirmation from a coach or at least ask a group of peers what they think!

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