Episode #174 – Jay White On Do You Need A Niche? Controversial Client Secrets From A Freelance Copy Warrior
Jay White answered a newpaper ad looking for a radio writer.
Turns out he had a knack after listening to decades of rock radio.
Little did he know what it could lead to.
When he took a job writing copy for Bass Pro Shops, his skills jumped up.
When all you have is 50 words to sell both low and high-ticket items…
your copy has to be tight.
In 2004, he went freelance and has never looked back.
Writing for some of the planet’s most well-known online “gurus”…
like Rich Shefren, Alex Mandossian, Jeff Walker and Jay Abraham.
Now he has a controversial viewpoint he’d like to share.
He’s heard the same advice for too long and Jay’s experience is different.
It’s what I’d call “client-first”.
What do clients want from a copywriter?
Listen now and find out where your copy career may be careening off the tracks…
In this episode, you’ll discover:
- How to stop leaving money on the table every time you work for a client. (Jay made this mistake for years, throwing away huge stacks of cash!)
- The P2P “Beetlejuice” lean-in copywriting secret. Stop the “building -2-building” writing and keep eyes on your copy.
- Writers Jay turns to when he feels his “picture painting” is getting stale.
- Do you find the hardest copy to write is your own promo material? Jay has answers.
- Against the grain career advice. Clients want this one thing…are you shooting yourself in the foot?
- Jay White’s Get CopyWriting Clients
- Email Copy Made Easy
- Tom Clancy’s books
- David Allan’s Make Words Pay
Intro and outro backing music: Forever More by CREO
David Allan: Hey,everybody We’re back with another edition of the podcast. I’m David Allan from makewrodspay.com. I’m your host as usual. And today we have an exciting guest someone that goes back to the very beginning of my own copywriting career and I took one of his courses. His name is Jay White. He’s from getcopywritingclients.com Jay welcome to the show.
Jay White: Thank you very much David. It’s good to be here and thank you for making me sound like an old man in this industry. Because I am honestly I I’m an older guy in this game. But you know with with age comes experience so. That’s right. And wisdom hopefully hopefully. I don’t know. You have to ask my wife about that.
David Allan: So it’s interesting is that like we talked about off the air, I took on your course back then A.W.A.I. course Autoresponder Apprentice which is now called Email Copy Made Easy and that was a second I think copywriting course I ever took. But you’ve been sort of off the radar – my radar Anyways maybe this is an unfair. Then recently I attended a couple of your webinars so maybe take us back to the beginning. Like how did you get into all this. Who was your super hero origin story of where you came from and then bring this up today.
Jay White: Well you know I’ve been right about 20 years. I didn’t I didn’t set out to be a copywriter. It was not a dream it was not a goal. You know I didn’t even I didn’t even ever think about running my own business. You know I came from a family where you know you went to work for a guy and then you worked for them for 40 years and then you retired and you know just a typical thing. I never I never dreamed about owning my own business but I guess it was 1997 maybe 1998. I answered that ad in a newspaper somebody was looking locally here for a radio commercial writer. And at the time I was
working in the insurance industry I had was I was just freshly married about 30 years old and not just not going anywhere. You know I knew that insurance wasn’t for me. And what I was doing was probably going to put me in an early grave because of the stress. And so I answered this ad and I got this little little bitty job writing in the basement of a radio station writing commercials and I was making nothing. I mean just it was just a pittance. And I was having a blast. Right. For some reason I had a knack for plugging into the rhythm to the pacing to
the to the format of a good radio commercial and the only thing that I can think of that prompted that was you know 30 plus years of listening to classic rock radio in my car with my buddies and hearing commercials over and over and over again so pretty soon you got to you know there’s a format to them. Maybe you want this for. The answer and here’s the details and here’s how to get it. And so I just kind of plugged into that and I had a knack for it. And next thing you know I was winning some awards and you know things like that and I thought well maybe I’m on to something here. I ended up moving from there into a catalog
writing gig we have a bass pro shops headquarters nearby where I live here in southwest Missouri. And they were looking for a catalog writer and I thought well here’s a good step up. And so I went in there and started writing catalog copy and I did that for six or seven years and let me tell you that was the best education I could have ever received as a copywriter because they throw you into the mix and it’s like you’ve got 50 words to sell this product. Go ahead and you know sometimes the product is. It costs 99 cents and sometimes it costs ninety nine dollars and sometimes it costs nine hundred ninety nine dollars. So you really want your feet to the
fire in that situation. But let me tell you that was where I really honed my copywriting skills. And what was going on all this time was I was learning how to write really good direct response copy. I just didn’t know it. I was just doing what I was came natural to me in about 2004. I had the opportunity when the opportunity I decided to go freelance writing and big huge huge you know move on my part but in my life when I felt like it was the best move. And so you know after a while of kind of arranging a movie in 2006 I actually did it. I
actually in January 2006 I launched my freelance career and I never looked back. I quickly became one of the email and auto responder copywriters of choice to the internet marketing guru at least at the time. And we’re talking guys like rich friend and Jeff Walker Alex Mandos in does some stuff for Jay Abraham. Steven Pierce Joe com a lot of the guys at the time who were big who were big names and I was their email not a response guy for the most part and the reason I was able to to excel in that area so quickly is because I had honed my short copy skills in catalog and I
was able to move those right into an email format. I didn’t know how to write emails. You know I remember the first time somebody said Can you write me an auto responder. I said what’s not a response I mean I didn’t know. So but all I did was do what I had already known how to do was take a short piece of copy and turn it into a selling prospect and selling to a prospect and you know my career kind of took off from there. 2009 I was able to hook up with the AI and we released autoresponder Apprentice. It was one of the biggest launches they ever had. Teaching people how to write out responders we rebranded that few years ago an email copy made
easy is still one of their best sellers. I do a lot more coaching and teaching these days than I do writing. In fact I hardly do any writing at all I focus just on my students and it’s been it’s been quite a ride but it’s been a great ride and I’m really I’m really looking forward to what’s next.
Yeah that’s awesome. It’s a great story. Like I said originally I was one of the purchases of that product that I thought it was great it was right to the point and made things very easy to understand. I had some previous experience with the ferry system I guess. Yeah it was just along those same lines. You know another person sort of trumpeting the same sort of ideas. But you know I was impressed with as well just a casual conversation. I think to call it like water cooler talk.
Yeah yeah. And that’s really the crux of my whole style. You know I had guys I didn’t I didn’t go out and read something from a from a director remark or direct marketing guru or some advertising it was all war. And so. So yeah watercooler talk is one of those things that is is kind of the crux of my whole e-mail structure and it’s the way that I approach e-mails and what that is really is that is just basically talking in a natural unhindered no selling type of of a way that you
would around the water cooler in the morning at work you know and it involves getting somebody drawing somebody into an email by saying something and doing something that causes them to literally lean in and you know I mean lean in. I mean you know walking. Think about it if you’re if there’s a girl around the water cooler and somebody walks up and says Oh you wouldn’t believe the morning I just had everybody to stop what they’re doing. They look directly at that person they lean in them and they’re like what. You know what are we talking about. Give it up or even if you walk up and you say you wouldn’t believe what my kid did today or you wouldn’t believe what happened to me on the way to
work or I’m so mad I could spit nails or or I’m just. I’m sorry I’m cracking up so bad over what I just saw. All these things are our little statements that cause people to stop what they’re doing and pay attention to you and lean in. And that’s extremely important. In an e-mail especially today when there’s an inbox that has hundreds of e-mails every morning waiting for people to address them how do you get their attention. How do you get them to open it and how do you get them to engage in e-mail and lead them down the process to a to clicking a link and you know taking an action. So that’s really what my process my whole thing kind of revolves
around is the concept of watercooler talk.
Yeah I think that’s a perfect perfect way to describe it. I think when I took that original Matt Furey course he would say like write like you talk talk like you’re right. Exactly. Exactly. And that’s a perfect casual converse after John Carleton’s say the same thing and you know one interesting anecdote I will say that I’ve never really heard before and this is a way for people who maybe maybe English isn’t your first language or you’re not familiar with maybe they are reading from here because they are not that familiar with but you speak the language. David Garfinkle gave me an absolutely great tip one time where he said you and he had to do this somebody somebody told him to do this or that
which was he went into like a Starbucks or something and just recorded people MM Yeah. And then transcribed it over just to see how you know real people interact and not like you don’t know but it’s like when you have a second reference point it’s kind of like oh yeah.
And you know I teach my students this all the time. If they if they send me a piece that they want to use as a sample on their website or it you know they’re writing for a client and they want me to critique and it looks like it was written as you know like a technical document or something. It’s an old. There’s an old movie called Beetlejuice I don’t know if you remember it or whatever but there was a there was a part in Beetlejuice where somebody had left the like the guidebook to the afterlife a house. And every time somebody would open it they’d read it and they go oh my gosh just reads like stereo unstretched and that’s the first thing I always think of when I say sort of this I’m reading
stereo instructions no talk like people or write like people talk. Get into the conversation in their head. Use short phrases start your sentences with prepositions. You know you don’t have to be completely Grimmett you know use contractions. Oh my gosh wouldn’t believe how many people do not want to use contractions. Well guess what. Nobody talks that way. So write like they talk and make it comfortable for them to consume the words. If people have a words or a piece of copy David they will not do it. Period. No they won’t do it. And when I say work I mean you know all that copy block is more than four lines long it looks like
it’s going to be work. I’m not going to read this. And sometimes that’s all it takes. Or if it reads clunky if it reads You know like stereo instructions. If it’s not interesting if it doesn’t engage it but not if it doesn’t flow smoothly from one thing to the next they will not read it. So you got to plug into that mindset when you’re writing.
Yeah that’s really one of the real crux is when you know it’s a one to one conversation and so you know when you get that feeling from it from reading something really well-written in terms of using that technique then it really seems like that person is speaking right to you. Yes. And just you and that’s that’s really what compels people to read and to act.
And the good point you made a good point there a second ago about a one one conversation I have a lot of people who say well you know do I need to change the way I talk. For be to be e-mails or for be to be you. I’m like No we’re not building to building here building the buildings. It’s happy it’s people the people. So talk to them like you would normally talk to them Do you want to bulk up your your your grammar a little bit because it is a business type environment. Maybe but you don’t. You know ice for a while there I worked for some people who who used to want me to write these things from. From the company to another company. And oh
my goodness. It was like yes I understand you have an MBA. We all know you know. Good Lord can we just talk to each other in a way that makes sense for everybody. I just I don’t subscribe to that notion it’s like let’s just talk to each other and do business and and be real instead of trying to be something that we’re not.
Yeah you really come across that when you start writing for other people as on Web sites and then their sales material or whatever is that it’s got this very stero I don’t want to offend anybody. I’m trying to stay away from anything controversial and it got so far away from anything that it just doesn’t resonate at all. It seems like a robot just spit it out.
Absolutely absolutely. Nobody wants to read that nobody will. You know we want we want to be we want to read things that are interesting. We want to read things that are engaging that pleased us and that entertain us you know and it has to be it has to be easy and it has to be you know quick to consume now for yourself.
Jay did you do you read stuff anything in particular outside of you know like I remember back you know when I got into copywriting Gary Halbert would suggest to people that work to read Travis McGee detective novels. Yeah and stuff like that. I know people read you know Jack Reacher novels or people talk about and so forth and you know what are some of your favorites. Does he read outside. You know for writing purposes that you read outside of you know fiction is I guess you know that’s an interesting lesson.
A lot of people ask me you know have you read you know this business book or that business book or whatever. And I you know as far as that kind of stuff I have a confession to make. Those things are just as boring as all get out. And I understand that they are helpful and there’s new ideas there. But every time I try to pick one up you know I just want to fall asleep. Now what I did and I think this you touched on something here. I grew up as a reader. I read everything I could get my hands on. I had a stack of comic books in my room that was like three feet high and I’m sure if I still had those today I’d be probably a multimillionaire because I’m a
Spider-Man 1 and you know whatever but I used to read those things over and over and over again and then I would read short stories and novels and I think that that has helped me to hone my craft to live even better along the way. So one thing that I do when I when I feel my writing getting stale and this happens to everybody you know you kind of level off and you go oh you know and you just kind of get into a little rut. I always go out and I get a new novel. And guys I like to read are people like Stephen King who can describe the situation and just so brilliantly guys like I’m kind of a Tom Clancy novel
fan you know. Even though Tom’s gone now but I still like to read his stuff. There’s just it when you read a good author it’s like it imprints you are what you need to do to make your copy work. And it’s not just syntax or grammar or anything like that which is important. It’s also painting a picture. You know these guys can paint a picture so sharply in your head that you’re literally seeing everything and you’re also filling in spots. You know that that maybe they didn’t subscribe or they didn’t describe so clearly but you’re filling it in automatically because everything else is so
brilliantly done. And so that’s what helps me it helps me to kind of refresh my picture painting technique and to really approach the copy in a new and fresh way after reading some really good fiction plot because it’s sort of up to where you’re at today.
I got in contact do you have to listen to a couple of your webinars which I thought were excellent.
And you have some interesting takes on what people teach nowadays so maybe take you know take us forward. You said you’ve got your writing has kind of in the past sort of most of behind you and you’re into coaching and helping students so maybe let’s get into that a bit.
Yeah you know once I released my product through a I had a lot of people started approaching me about do you do personal coaching and I never even thought about it but I I started working out a program where I could help copywriters basically get client ready. And that was all about trying to get them working and moving forward in their career as as as good as possible and not just an email copy but in their entire copywriting career. One of the things that inevitably was a big hurdle and a big stopping point for my students was marketing no matter how well they could write no matter how far
along they were in their copywriting journey they always got to the marketing point and started to stumble I don’t know how to contact clients I don’t know where to find clients. What niche should I be in if I do talk to somebody what do I say if they want to talk to me how do I reply You know I mean it just went on and on. So finally I kind of pulled back my coaching program actually I kind of pulled it off the market and I started to rework it. And now it’s reworked into just a marketing program for copywriters and it’s all marketing centric. It’s it’s been really really I’ve done this I guess it’s probably been about six or eight months now and it’s really really
taken off and gotten a lot of a good head of steam as they say and what I’ve done is one of the things you were you were kind of alluding to here. I’m I’m I’m going against the grain on what a lot of people teach. And you know I’ve seen people out there that will teach the fact that you need to be this type of copywriter in this type of niche so you have to you have to establish yourself as a female copywriter in the health and wellness niche or as a social media copywriter in the financial niche. That’s the only way to be successful in fact I just saw a young lady in a video the other day saying no you specializing is the only way that you get clients
And I’m like one guys you know I understand a specialization thing and I understand you’re thinking you want to do this new. I want to do that. But here’s what you’ve got to remember. A client once a copywriter that they can hand everything to they don’t want five different copywriters that specialize in five different things. They don’t want to think OK I need some web copy. Which one of these people is my web copy guy this gets my e-mail guy. And she’s she’s only social media. So no no no no. You know what they want. They want you to come in and take care of whatever they need. Period end of story. Do you
think they want all those people to juggle and try to you know work projects around. No. You’ve got to make it simple for the client.
What I see in this whole knitting thing is that people are trying to set themselves up as as a star in a certain way and they’re not thinking about what the client wants. Right. OK. If you set yourself up as a certain copywriter in a certain niche guess what. You’re the box of clients possible clients that you have is very very tiny. OK. However if you go into a certain niche that you’re more knowledgeable experienced and or passionate about and you walk in you say here’s is who I am here’s what I do here’s what makes me unique which is my knowledge and experience or passion in this particular niche. And here’s how to contact me. Well that gives them
all the reason to just say yeah. What how. You know what can we do to get together. You know when you walk in and you say what can I do for you as opposed to I want to write your emails or I want to write your Facebook posts. Well guess what. They may not need Facebook posts. Yeah. I mean you know one of the examples I have on my web right now is my own experience and this you know I was the e-mail not a response guy for a long long time. And you know I was doing very well in that well. Inevitably people would thanked me for emails a lot of responders and I would make a deal and they say Great.
Now do you also do write in ages do you also do sales letters. Guess what. They needed more for me. And you know what I did guys I would say no I don’t do that. So literally literally they were pushing another stack of money over to me on the table and saying Would you like to take this money. And I was saying oh no I just want this. Responders. You know it took me because I’m thick headed it took me a couple of years before I realized wait a minute. Am I giving up here on the table. I don’t know if I fell down or if I but my head or how this
apparently came to me. But you know finally I said I can’t believe I’m doing this. And so I would walk in and I would say instead of saying I’m an e-mail writer can I write your e-mails. I would walk in and say I’m Jay White. I’m a direct response copywriter and marketer. What can I do for you. And guess what they tell you everything that they need and when they tell you everything that they need you say I can help you with that. You go back. You make a proposal that gives them everything that they need. You come back and they write you a check. It’s that simple but it’s all about thinking about what the client wants as opposed to what you want to be or how you want to present yourself.
That makes great sense and make good sense and is true.
I think I did the same thing actually which is interesting because I learned about e-mails first and as a result I really only thought about e-mails because I’m taking courses like we talked about earlier. And so I was like OK I’m going to do e-mail. I had the exact same thing happen to me. And then there wasn’t even that people even asked me as I was when they did the e-mail I looked at some of this stuff and I said well this is not going to work very well. These e-mails kick ass. They go to sales pages that are like atrocious. Yeah. This isn’t going to work you know. So I said well yes fix it you know and I also talked my way into more work because I’m basically saying this isn’t going to work unless you do best. So it is very interesting that
sometimes you just gotta go out don’t do what we did and you do it the hard way do it.
They say yeah you know it’s so much easier when you do it that way and it frees you up to work to write anything for everybody.
Well Jay that is great information you have been entertaining and knowledgeable guest on the show today if people want to get in touch with you. What’s the best way to get in touch.
Well I have a web in our set up that get copywriting clients dotcom. Get copywriting clients com free webinars. I go into a lot more detail in some of the things I talked about today. And then at the end you’ll have an opportunity get on a call with me if you like to talk further about what we do and see if you’re a good fit for my program some people are some people aren’t. But this is you know if you are a copywriter if you’re a freelance writer at all. You know I don’t want to put you into the copywriting box. If you’re an arc or a writer or a blog writer or an email writer or a cop you know whatever case studies white papers it doesn’t really matter if
you’re a freelance writer who wants to make money from from from what you do or is not making enough money from what you do. My webinars will help kind of open your eyes a little bit to a few things and get you rolling in the right direction. And like I said at the end if you want to schedule some time with me I’ll talk with you personally and we’ll see if you’re a good fit. Maybe I can help you maybe not but either way my webinars will help you to move forward in your career. I promise you Gabb copywriting clients dot com.
Absolutely I agree. I watch the web for myself it’s fantastic and it’s funny to watch as it’s entertaining. So it’s well put together and that that in and of itself is a great lesson. Actually it’s an art itself.
It’s just me man you know I can’t be I literally just before we got on this call I was listening to another webinars by somebody and it was so clean and so precise and the graphics were beautiful. And God bless this woman. She’s very very good at what she does. But I I was watching this and thinking gosh I sound like an idiot on mine. You know what I don’t know how else to do it. You’re you’re you know there’s my wife’s father has a saying You say this is who I am warts and all. And that’s kind of what I say that’s what you do when you see me. This is Jay warts and all and I’m and I’m I really I just give you everything I can to help you.
I don’t hold back. And so if you want just an all shucks Midwest you know dork to your writing career then I’m your guy.
Well thanks a lot Jack. I really want to thank you for taking the time to come on the show and drop such valuable knowledge to all our our freelancers and would be freelancers.
Well I appreciate it David. And again get copywriting clients dot com. Check out my Web and our no obligation just you know just check it out and hopefully we’ll all be talking to you soon. For everybody else.
You know what a fantastic show this was a lot of great knowledge there stuff you should be doing every day like says mid-off 20 minutes spent marking yourself as a copywriter then you shouldn’t be in this industry period. And hopefully we’ll be back again with another just as exciting just as knowledgeable guests. Next week on the show until then.