Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses for an audience of entrepreneurs. And when I go to conferences, I don’t just want to hear the speakers, I want to get to know the audience who’s at the event. And I want to get to know the speakers and I want to go and get to know the people are running interesting businesses there.
So when I went to Social Media Marketing World and I was asked to speak there, I said, “Who else is running an interesting business? Who else is speaking? Let’s get a really nice suite and invite them to come in one at a time.” And I did that, I got to know some really interesting people. And one of them is a copywriter that I asked to meet because I was just interested in his work. And then I kind of fell in love with his business too, the simplicity of it. The lack of craziness in a company always excites me, and I thought he’d be especially interesting to bring on here because he’s someone who used to trade hours for dollars. He was a copywriter that worked 100 hours a week, which think about it, that’s more than twice what the nine to fiver is working. And you know how it gets more and more painful as you go beyond that 40 hours a week that the average person is doing. And he said, “You know like, I think I want to transition.”
And a lot of people in my audience have tried to transition away from being consultants who sell their time for dollars to building something else. And he did it. He did it really well. And I invited him here to talk about it. So this person who I’ve been talking about, his name is Ray Edwards. He is a copywriter and communication strategist for some of the top names in business. He’s also an author of a book that I really enjoyed. It’s called “How to Write Copy that Sells.” It’s the step-by-step system for getting more sales, more customers and doing it more often. And we’re going to talk about how he transitioned from doing it for clients to now building a business where it’s not him doing it for clients, it’s educational component and others.
Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first if you’re doing any kind of copywriting via email, you’ve got to get to know them. It’s called ActiveCampaign. It’s a great email marketing automation company. And second, if you’re hosting any of your content, you’ve got to get to know HostGator, but I’ll tell you all about those later.
First, Ray, good to have you here.
Ray: Thank you so much. It’s exciting to be here. I really enjoyed that meeting, although it was crashed by somebody else.
Andrew: I thought that that made it, you’re talking about Chris Ducker. What do you think?
Ray: I’m just sort of kidding him because we’re friends. It was awesome. We were supposed to meet right after that meeting anyway. And so when he came in the door early, I was delighted and it turned out to be . . . I knew it was going to be a good meeting. Because I was fascinated to meet you and learn more about what you’re doing. But having the three of us there and then Amanda Bond came in, which made it even greater. It was a great, fantastic meeting and different people than I would have pulled together myself, but it turned out brilliantly.
Andrew: I actually thought, Ray, that it was a . . . you were a little . . . it was good, but you were a little standoffish. I was a little bit like unsure of how to make the meeting really good. You brought in an entourage. The only person to come in with an entourage of people who weren’t just hanging on. I saw the photos that one of the people on your team took. It was phenomenal. So they were working even as they were being casual there. And I still thought, “Maybe this is not really going to work.”
It wasn’t until Chris came in that I thought the conversation popped. And from now on, I’m definitely investing in a suite. And I’m going to invite multiple people to come in, at least two people who know each other and I want to get to know and maybe a third who’s brand new to just keep things interesting. What are your thoughts on that?
Ray: I’m totally stealing that idea. After we left there, we all three, the two people that were with me decided that was a brilliant idea. We’re going to do that ourselves because that’s a much better way to get to know people than being in a crowded bar or meeting room or big hotel ballroom trying to shout over other people. This was much better.
Andrew: And I don’t want to give away my secrets or anything or act like money is the most important thing, but we’re talking about like a $1,200 a night suite to have six people come in for the day through that, it’s worth it. It’s worth it if you end up with one partnership. It’s worth it if you just end up with a relationship that will lead to something down the road. Frankly, especially since when I do dinner with people, I end up spending about $1,000 on guests. So it was definitely a great opportunity.
Ray: I thought it was a great idea, and I’m going to steal it.
Andrew: You heard Chris Ducker’s interview with me. And I thought you were going to say, “Andrew, I don’t . . . I heard you talk about the revenue with Chris. I just don’t want to be associated with that.” Instead, you said something different before I officially hit record, which was? Do you remember?
Ray: Yeah, I remember. You talked about revenue, but you didn’t go deeper into what I was interested in hearing more about, which is there’s lots of people who talk about their revenue, but they don’t talk about whether they’re making a profit or not. So it’s easy to say, I’m making, I’ve got a $10 million a year company. But if it’s $10,100,000 to run the company, then you’re not making any money, you’re in trouble.
And a lot of people, I have the privilege and sometimes the horror of seeing behind the scenes of a lot of big businesses, well-known businesses and some smaller ones that people don’t know about, but seeing what’s actually happening behind the scenes. And so often there’s a scramble just to make payroll and make things happen that people don’t see on the outside, especially in the industries where I have done a lot of work — the success industry and the self-help industry and the abundance industry.
One of the, this is kind of a sidetrack, but one of the abundance teachers that I worked for a number of years ago, and I’m talking about the kind of The Secret sort of attract success. I have a real set of opinions about that now, but back then I was totally okay with working with this person. And we had a private meeting with him and his staff. And we sat down and I was asking a question that was designed to get me some copywriting information. I said, “Tell me about your customers?” And he sighed, and he said, “I hate them.”
Andrew: I get it.
Ray: I said, “What? Say more about that.” And he did, and he told me about how they stole his ideas. They went out, started their own programs, teaching his material and I’m thinking, “You’re the abundance guy. How can this be?” So it’s just been an interesting ride, seeing the successful people that are not as successful as they might give the appearance of being and the abundance people who are not as abundantly minded as they may give the appearance of being. I want to make it clear, I don’t work with those people anymore. I very quickly developed a habit of making sure they were who they seem to be. But it’s always interesting to see behind the facade to see what’s really going on.
Andrew: Hey, you know what? I’m doing research as we’re talking, because I can’t remember the names of the specific stories, but several people who are in the documentary, “The Secret” ended up having these awful lives afterwards. Things like losing money, like losing their health, because they weren’t . . . because they were just pushing themselves and trying to find that next bill, the next dollar bill that was going to save them. It was that type of thing that I heard several times. And since I can’t find their specific stories, I feel like I am not on solid footing right now.
Ray: Well, I think there are a lot like in those cases, they’re a lot like lottery winners. Lightning strikes once and they’re trying to replicate that. And it doesn’t usually work that way.
Andrew: I get it. So then let’s . . . and you’re right about revenue versus profit. I am just looking to get a sense of the size of the business, but I can’t get the health of the business, because there are many reasons why companies wouldn’t want to be profitable. They might want to actually invest in growing the equity of the business so that they could sell it as opposed to paying taxes on 40% of their revenue, right? Going up in taxes, I understand that type of thing. Let’s then, but I know that it’s a challenge for me to figure out how to get it right. Let’s talk about you then. Revenue-wise, where are you?
Ray: We’re at about, the last two years we did, two years ago, we did $1.2 million. The following year, we did $1.4 million. This year we may get near $2 million, I’m not sure. We’re on pace to hit near $2 million.
Andrew: And where’s that coming from?
Ray: Well, it comes from a number of sources. We have book sales, which is a very minute part of what happens. I teach people how to write copy through an online course. That is very profitable for us. I’d say at this point, probably 60% of our revenue comes from that. The other 40% comes from a certification program that we just opened up. It was a lot more successful than I thought it would be. There was a lot more interest than I believed possible even. When we started certifying copywriters, we began to see more and more of a demand for that.
So now we formed another company, an agency where we’re writing copy for authors, coaches, teachers. We’re actually talking with some brick and mortar companies. There’s a lighting distribution company that we’re talking about, which is kind of new territory for me, but exciting and interesting. So I don’t know where that will go revenue-wise. I think it’s going to be the most successful thing we’ve done. But, you know, sometimes entrepreneurs are wrong about things like that. I’m investing a lot of money in that right now. So we’ll see.
Andrew: The certification program makes a lot of sense to me. There are a lot of people who teach online that I don’t want to learn from, I just want their essence to hire them and have that in my business. You know, even if it’s 80% of what they are, it’s still at least along the same lines, using the same philosophy that I believe in, that I’ve been attracted to, and I want to hire that internally. And it sounds like that’s what the certification program is and your payment there is for teaching them and also for referring them or just for teaching?
Ray: It’s for teaching, and it’s a year long. We call it a mentoring program. I mean, true mentoring, I think is a little deeper than what we’re doing. But it’s a language that people understand. Ongoing educational program with us. And they have to stay with us and relicense each year to stay certified. Because otherwise, I would have people running around with my name on their website and their business card and wouldn’t have any idea what they’re doing. Well, that’s important to protect against any misunderstandings in that regard.
Andrew: And that agency is I could hire your agency and the work would get done by your students?
Ray: The work will get done by, some by my students. It depends on the deal I make with the customer, with a client. Some people want to hire me and they want me to write the copy. And then, in that case, I’ll have students work on proofreading and doing some of the follow-up work. I’ll do the initial work. That’s very rare. I don’t do a lot of that.
But mostly, I have a team of experienced writers who work with some of our junior writers, and so you’ve got a team working on your copy instead of just one person, which is one of the problems in the industry. When people are looking for a copywriter, they end up a freelancer, and that person may or may not deliver on time, they may or may not be available for rewrites. It’s a kind of a sad state of affairs when the number one request that my clients have is, “Just tell me you can get it done on time and turn it in when I need it.”
Andrew: I found that too, that if I could get a writer who can turn it in on time, it’s worth even dealing with a few other issues where the writing is not great, because I could edit that a little bit. But if it’s not on time, it stops the rest of the company. Let’s talk about profits. If it’s, let’s say 1.4 last year, what was the profit?
Ray: We’re running at about 30% profit margin. That’s the last couple of years. Now, this year will be different. It’ll be a lot closer because we’re investing so much in the agency. And we’re growing our team. So I’m, you know, I’m doing what entrepreneurs do. I’m betting money on the future that we have bigger things in store. See how that turns out.
Andrew: So that would mean about what we’re looking at for $400,000, $420,000 or so.
Andrew: Oh, it’s phenomenal. And when you were working a hundred hours a week, let’s go back to how you built this up. When you were working a hundred hours a week, what kind of clients did you have?
Ray: In those days I had a couple of big clients whose names you may recognize. Jack Canfield was one of them. Mark Victor Hansen, his partner in “Chicken Soup for the Soul” was another. Tony Robbins, I did some work with him briefly. Interesting I was hired by Amy Porterfield to do the work for Tony Robbins.
Ray: Yeah, that was back when she was just a member of his staff who traveled with him and helped with all of his product creation. And she had a kind of a fun job. But I think she eventually decided she wanted to move out on her own, and she’s done quite well. But those were two very demanding. I love both those guys. I have tremendous respect for them. I didn’t have a lot of personal interaction with Tony, I’ve worked with his team mainly, but very demanding, very high standards, which was awesome. It was a great way for me to start my career and realize the bar is set pretty high.
And so I approached all my clients from that viewpoint, and I was not charging nearly enough for my work. So I had to take on lots of clients to reach the income levels that I wanted to be at. And I eventually ended up working 80 to 100 hours a week, and it was damaging my health and I eventually had to figure out some way to get out of trading, literally trading my time for dollars. I think there’s no way to get totally out of that situation, because you’re always doing something to earn your money. But that was obviously not a good trade ratio.
Andrew: I like in your book, “How to Write Copy that Sells” you emphasize stories. Do you have a few stories from when you’re working for Tony Robbins?
Ray: Yeah, at the time he was working on this TV series called, I think it was called, “Breakthrough with Tony Robbins.” It probably lasted for six episodes, and which is a pity because it was a really great show. It was kind of what you see in “I’m Not Your Guru,” the Netflix documentary, working with individuals and changing the problems, the behaviors, the mindset that they have, and getting them to transform their lives. And it was really compelling, but it just didn’t get the ratings that they needed. NBC I think was the network.
And I was writing copy for the accompanying product that was going to go along with that, the DVDs and the videos of at the time was DVDs. And he was putting together a new program called “New Masters of Money.” And it was interviews with all these online business people who were finding ways to leverage their expertise into making big dollars. And so I wrote the sales copy for it, which Tony according to his organization, I didn’t talk to him specifically about the copy but the people who I worked with at his organization said, “We love it, it’s fantastic.” And then I got word back that the network said, “No way. This looks too much like snake oil sales. You can’t publish this letter. You can’t send this out in the mail. You can’t put it on the internet.”
So they killed the project and then they resurrected it. And I don’t know if they still do this, but for a long time at Tony’s UPW, his unlimited power or Unleash the Power Within weekend, whichever the firewalk event is, they distributed that letter on the seats during a break and sold the new “Money Masters” and made millions of dollars doing it.
Andrew: And what was it do you think that they didn’t like that the network thought felt too much like snake oil salesman?
Ray: I think it just looked like a sales letter. It had a big bold headline. It had some pretty fantastic claims about what was possible. And it looked like a sales letter, and to a lot of people, that long scrolling texts with little boxes with testimonials in it, it just looks like scam to them. And, you know, to their credit, a lot of times it is. I was always determined never to write something that was part of a scam. But the fact is that sort of selling and marketing just doesn’t appeal to some people. And some people find it embarrassing. And I think that was the case with NBC. And they’re just watching their rear-ends, I understand.
Andrew: Man, so one of my frustrations is I always read the book before an interview. I was reading it on my Kindle, which I guess wasn’t connected to the internet. I can’t even find it my Kindle highlights. So now I’ve got to work off of my memory and the Kindle’s like right over there. I didn’t connect it to the office internet, I guess. So the Kindle highlights and go into the cloud. But one of the things that I liked about it was, you had a section where you said, here’s a breakdown of every part of a sales letter. And that top, the one that says attention pug owners, is the example that you had in your book, right?
Ray: You did read the book.
Andrew: I forget what you call it, but you call it the forehead. And I like that you broke down every piece of this. My favorite part was that forehead, which is a little bit of text that goes above the headline. The other part that I had to remember to go back and do is the risk reversal. You said there’s so much of people saying 100% money back guaranteed that it becomes like wallpaper. We don’t pay attention to it, it becomes cliched, you have to actually reverse the risk.
And one of your examples was . . . this how I’d like . . . I’m glad that my memory is strong enough for this. You gave an example of someone who was selling an ebook who said, “Look, I’m selling you this ebook. If you’re not happy, I’ll obviously give you your money back. But there’s no way for me to pull the bits off of your computer. So I’m going to trust you that if you don’t like it, I don’t want you to return it. If you don’t like it, I’ll give your money back. I’m not going to force you to return this thing.”
And it was those little elements that now make me appreciate the long form sales letter so much more because I understand what’s there, because I now see the formula. I want to ask you something, though, because it’s so formulaic, because it’s so clearly now laid out step-by-step, the bullet point, the testimony, do you feel that it loses its power?
Ray: It does if you only follow the formula. That’s why people ask me sometimes, “Aren’t you afraid of putting all that in the book and telling everybody all your secrets?” And my response is always, “Well, I didn’t tell them all my secrets.” It’s kind of like, what’s that movie? “The Color of Money”? The pool movie where it’s Tom Cruise and Paul Newman, I think if I remember correctly.
Andrew: In the newest version.
Ray: And Tom Cruise’s character says, “You’ve taught me everything I know.” And Newman says, “Yeah, but I didn’t teach you everything I know.” So it’s not that I’m withholding secrets. It’s that I think there’s a level at which you move beyond the formula and creativity comes into play. And being able to pick the right story with the right tone, tell it in the right voice, and at the right time for the right reasons, that’s a bit of an art. And that’s something that I can’t teach no matter how hard I try. People either have a sense of it or not. It’s like trying to teach somebody music. You can teach them how to pluck the right notes. But the soul that brings the music to life, they’ve either got it, or they don’t. They have the ear for it, or they don’t.
Andrew: What about the exercise? Like you had an exercise where you told people I don’t remember the exact number. You said, “I want you to have a swipe file for bullet points, because bullet points are important. And I want you to sit and write bullet points and then pick out the ones that are best.” So do those types of creative exercises actually allow people to start spotting good material to recognize what makes it good and to reproduce it on their own to some degree?
Ray: Yes, if they pay attention, they actually do the exercise with heart and intent and they pay attention. One of my colleagues is a gentleman named Parris Lampropoulos. And I learned from him. We were talking about technique, as writers do, you know, like what pencil do you use, or what word processor or what pen and . . .
Andrew: You actually talk about that, like literally what pencil do you use or what word processor?
Ray: Absolutely. For writers, the writers that I associate with, that’s one of our favorite things to talk about. I’ve got into fountain pens lately. All I’m talking about with people are fountain pens like Lamy and Montblanc is really worth it and etc. But anyway, Parris and I were talking about bullet points, and he told me something that blew me away. I thought it was crazy at first, but now when I’m writing a project, I do this. He will write 500 to 700 bullet points for a project that he’s working on. And then he’ll take those bullet points and distribute them to five to seven people. And ask them, “Tell me the 20% of these that you like the most.”
And he’ll take those and aggregate them. And then from there, he’ll work with those to find headlines and subheads and themes and ideas for the actual sales copy. So most of those bullet points will never see the light of day, but they formed the foundation of writing the copy. Because there’s these little kernels of interesting fascinations, as Eugene Schwartz would call them, a famous copywriter from the 1960s, they are fascinating.
Andrew: Okay, you know what, I’d like to take a break and then come back. I want to ask you as someone who works with copywriters, as someone who writes and wants to write more, I want to get some tips and some questions about what you’ve written in your book. And then I want to get into again, the thing that I promised at the beginning, which is how did you make the transition from 100 hours working for yourself to starting to teach and actually making that go.
By the way, some of the people who came into that suite, they were practitioners, some of the best of the best ad buyers, some of the best of the best when it comes to social media, go to Social Media Marketing World, and they struggled to make this transition. They would have a course and I said, “Well, what percentage of your revenue is coming from it?” And they say, “Well, 5%, maybe 10%, because I have so much client work. I don’t have time to do that.” And I could see that they felt let down because they really were great, but they were on a hamster wheel.
All right, let me talk about my first sponsor. It’s a company called ActiveCampaign. They are phenomenal for email marketing, but other types of marketing too. I’m actually going to look at your website right now. So I’m now looking at rayedwards.com. You have a gift of free book offer at the top of your site, which a lot of people do, frankly, right? Anyone who clicks that link is asked for some copy. I think it’s like you ask . . . Oh, I know what, use ClickFunnels and you actually use the ClickFunnels URL at the top of your screen because you haven’t changed that.
But that gives you someone who ends up on your email list and so if you had ActiveCampaign or frankly any email marketing software, you would be able to have them on your list. The thing that’s interesting to me though, is after that, how do we bucket who they are, and you do a podcast for your audience, and I could see that there are different topics.
Now, I could imagine if you do a topic that’s geared towards copywriters and people keep clicking that, reading that, you might want to tag them as being copywriters. And if on the other hand, you have a podcast episode or blog article or something else that’s geared towards people who want to hire a good copywriter, you might just want to tag them as watching that. And then if you tag them based on what they’re doing on your site, you might message the people who’ve been looking at the say the Stu McLaren interview because he’s a guy who talks about how to build a business, you might want to message them and say our agency has an opening.
Or we just have a new batch of certified professionals that you can hire. If you’re interested, hit reply and contact us. Without having them tell you, you almost can read their mind and speak directly to them. And if people are looking to learn how to do this, you might want to email them and say, “We’ve got one of our new students who’s achieved a lot here in this business. Here’s how they got their first job. Here’s how they wrote their first copy,” which someone like me who’s not looking to be a copywriter wouldn’t care about. So by bucketing people based on what they’re interested in, without having them to fill out a form to tell you, that is how you can communicate with people in that one-to-one personal way. What do you think of that before I give the URL?
Ray: I think it’s brilliant. It’s a good idea.
Andrew: And that’s what they do. It used to be super hard with a lot of software. It still is. If anyone including you, Ray, wants to use them, all you have to do is go to activecampaign.com/mixergy. They’re going to let you try it for free. If you’re happy with them, they will even give you a second month for free. They will also give you two free coaching sessions with their professionals. So learn something, use it, come back, tell them what worked, what didn’t, get a little bit more. And finally, if you’re with a different email provider, you can switch over to them and they will migrate you for free.
All you have to do is go to activecampaign.com/mixergy and I’m grateful to everyone who used that URL, because obviously it helps me. It shows them that sponsoring Mixergy is a good move. And boy, they’ve been sponsoring us a lot this year. Thank you, ActiveCampaign. It’s activecampaign.com/mixergy.
You do use a lot of tools by the way on your site. I noticed you use RightMessage, which is a phenomenal new tool. Do you use that, or is it someone else on your team who does that?
Ray: Someone else on the team who does that, and we just started using it. So I don’t have anything to report yet, other than it looks like a fantastic tool and I’m very excited about.
Andrew: It is doing for the web like ActiveCampaign is doing for email. If somebody has already been on your site, and they gave you their email address, you could remove that part that asked them for their email address. Based on what they’ve done on your site before, you can come back to them. If you had it . . . Oh, you might actually. If we send you traffic, you might even be able to say welcome Mixergy listener on your site and address them that way and help increase your conversions.
Anyway, let me ask you a few questions. One of the things that I as a customer of copywriting has done is I will speak into a recorder. And then I move it to the software that I’ve been enjoying called otter.ai, which transcribes it. Then I give it to my copywriter and say, “Look, this is me just speaking. Instead of me taking the first edit, can you just edit this? And here are a few ideas for images.” And then they go do it and then they come back to me, and then I send it out. What do you think of that approach?
Ray: I think it’s a great approach. I recommend it. I actually do it myself quite often, because one of the things I’ve tried to teach people from the beginning is to write the way they speak. Because it’s pretty off-putting if I listened to your podcast, and I get used to your cadence, your rhythm, the phrases you use, the way you communicate, and then I get an email that sounds like somebody else wrote it, usually because somebody else did. Or because your college English Composition instructor is haunting the back of your mind making you clean up what you wrote. But I think speaking into recorder, having it transcribed, editing it, cleaning it up a bit is a great way to write good conversational copy, which is what really connects with people and converts because they feel like you’re talking to them.
Andrew: So the next thing I think we should be doing then is pulling out of your book, let’s say five things, five elements that we want to include. Like one of the elements that you had in your email chapter was start off with a truth that the vast majority of your audience can identify with and agree with. And it was something like, I forget how you phrase it, but something about how you are reading this on your phone or computer right now and thinking, something like that, right? How would you phrase that? What’s the universal truth that we might want to open our message with?
Ray: Well, I mean, one way you can open your messages just by what you just said. As you’re reading this on your screen, you may be wondering whether it’s for real or not, whether this is actually something you should read, which is probably what most people are wondering. You could talk about, if you send an email out on a holiday, like if it’s on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, you can say, “Today, we send you this email. And it happens to be the day we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” And your email may not be about that. And I’m not suggesting that you use something like that in a kind of a mercenary sort of way, but you’re stating truths that you know are connecting with your reader.
And one of the things I think we miss in our email marketing is talking about dates on the calendar that we know the majority of our readers share. And those are things like holidays, bank holidays. And I’m not suggesting that we get overly religious, but there’s Christmas, there’s Hanukkah, these are things that most people are familiar with. And if we talk about them in our copy, then we’re resonating with the truth that they already know to be real.
Ray: Why? Why what?
Andrew: Why would I want to do that? Why would I want to start off with the truth that they know is real?
Ray: Because quite frankly, I think most of us are skeptical of everything we get in our email inbox.
Andrew: And so that, but how does it remove the skepticism for me to acknowledge that you’re reading this on Martin Luther King Day, you’re reading this on Presidents Day when many people have often aren’t working, but you and I are still looking through our email . . . and then continue.
Ray: Or you insert a dynamic date. And you say it’s Tuesday, the 30th of April. Why would you do that? I don’t think people are consciously looking at that saying, “Oh, Ray, told me the date. So he must be telling the truth.” But I think it’s a small psychological deposit in the truth bank. I don’t think it’s consciously acknowledged, but it’s just one point on the compass that they’re using to try to figure out whether your email is relevant to them, whether it’s truthful, whether it’s BS, whether they should hit the delete key, or they should keep reading.
Andrew: Okay. You know what, the founders of Basecamp, they’re really big on minimalism. And still, I think to this day, let me look at . . . Oh, they just changed their site. But for years, it would say, “Happy,” since you and I recording on Tuesday, would have said “Happy Tuesday.” And I think of them as being like religiously zealots about removing every word from their site. And still, they added that, and now I’m getting an understanding of why that matters.
Ray: Yeah, I think it’s not the most crucial thing. But I think these small things, being conversational, using anchors that people know to be true that they can verify for themselves, telling stories that are relevant to what you’re selling, or promoting or trying to persuade them of. And doing it in an entertaining way. I mean, we live in an entertainment-based society. So if you send email that’s boring, you’re going to get boring results, in my experience. That’s why email marketing that is, in my experience, a little edgier, that you may tell stories that seemed like a risk, but they’re not really a risk. They just have some personality. Like Basecamp is a company, 37signals is a company that has a personality, and it’s not controversial, but it’s distinctive, and I think that’s not a small part of the reason they’re successful.
Andrew: So here’s another checklist item that I naturally do. And I want, if it’s not in that recording that originally gave, if it’s not in the first draft, I want someone else to make sure that it goes into it before I get to see that message, which is just like a checking in with the audience. So if I say something like, “I just published an interview, and I’m not sure if it’s going to be a good fit for you.” I want to have after saying a bunch of things about myself, I want to have a question that says, “Don’t you wonder too when you publish something online if anyone else will care?” And then continue with my story. Just to have a “you” sentence in there, just check in with them. What do you think of that is one of my checklist items?
Ray: I think it’s a great checklist item. And the beautiful thing about the way you do that is you are talking about yourself but you’re doing it in a way that quickly, even if you didn’t say, “Don’t you have that same experience?” They would be thinking in most cases, “I feel the same way every time I publish something.” So you saying it, I think is a good idea. It’s not heavy-handed. Nobody reads it as such, but it never hurts to point that out.
And I don’t think it’s as important to say the word “you,” as we sometimes seem to believe it is. It’s like one of the things that I’ll do when I’m giving a talk, like the one I gave at Social Media Marketing World. I told a story about my first car that I got when I was in high school. It was a lime green 1977 Chevrolet Chevette. It had a hole in the passenger side floor, so that water would spray up through the bottom into the car, and it made the car smell moldy. And it was not a babe magnet. So I didn’t get a lot of dates in that car.
And then I would stop. And I would say to the audience, “How many of you just went back to your first car, whether it was a Chevette or not? How many of you thought about your first car or some dates you had while you’re in high school?” And most every hand in the room goes up, and that’s an example of you’re telling something about yourself but you’re really speaking to everybody’s common experience.
Andrew: Ah, okay. So if you hadn’t stopped and said how many of you, we all still would have been right there with you remembering that first car. I was, was a yellow Volvo that I didn’t want my parents to stick me with because I finally saved money and no, that’s what we ended up with. I get that. Okay, so that’s another one.
Another bullet point that I always will keep in there is just one call to action. But you use another phrase for it. It’s not just one call to action. You say one call to action or one message or something. I forget, this again, I’m using my memory not my notes.
Ray: A most wanted result.
Andrew: Yeah, what’s the difference? I wanted to ask you, call to action or most wanted result, are they the same thing?
Ray: Well, you would think so but often they’re not. Marketers get mixed up in their head about what they want people to do. They’re not sure what they want people to go click on their brochure or click to their catalog page or go click on the order form or call the company. And my point is, think about what is your most wanted results from the email. And when you know what that is, then you know what your call to action needs to be. It needs to be congruent with the action you most want them to take, the one thing you want them to do.
Andrew: Okay, I will put that in. There’s also a try to have or you say have a link, some kind of action that you want them to have in every email so that they get used to taking action, to knowing that there’s some kind of treat at the end of the email. It’s not just this and that’s it. What’s another one that I might not have thought to pay attention to, to include in my email.
Ray: Well, there’s the somewhat cliched and much divided, but still powerful PS. Because that’s often the last thing people will read. They’ll scroll to the bottom of your email looking for the link or what you’re asking them, or maybe they’re looking for a price. But sometimes, if you can make the PS . . . this is what I try to do, I try to make the PS as compelling as the headline on a sales letter. Something intriguing that will make them maybe want to scroll up and read the email they just skipped over, or click the link that I put in the PS. It’s the same link, by the way, it’s never a different link. I think that’s another mistake people make, they put more than . . . a link to more than one thing in their email. And that confuses people, because now people don’t know what you want them to do.
Andrew: I agree, and I should just have one that I’m driving for. We do use PS. For a long time, what I would do is, I would track the clicks on the top link versus the PS link. And it became so tedious to do that I stopped doing it. And it was always the PS that got the most links. It’s that last thing people see. And they were always clicking on that more than they were clicking on the message, which is kind of interesting, because I guess anyone who’s read it all the way through is going to click that last link in the PS. Anyone who just skipped to the bottom to just get a sense of where’s this going, is going to see that last link, and they’re going to click it. So as much as possible, we do . . . you know what, we just wrote an email that’s going to go out, it doesn’t have a PS. So that should be in my bullet point, list of things that you have to have in there.
I think that’s basically the heart of it, right? There’s more obviously, you’ve got more elements in your book, you really break it down. But if I were going to put together a list of bullet points for my team to say, “Look, take this recording. And here’s a little checklist of how to make sure that Andrew is fully Andrew.” Address the user in some way through a story that’s super relatable or through the word “you” and checking in. Have a PS line, have a truth that they will identify with at the top of the message. Have one call to action, one thing that you want with them and no more. I think that’s all of them that I got. That’s four, that’s not too much. I think we’re good.
Ray: I think you’re good too. And you know . . .
Andrew: Actually, I’m sorry to interrupt you. I’m not good. There’s one other one that’s easy, that should just be on my list. You say have three links to the thing that you want them to go to, not just one, but have it three different places minimum. That’s an easy one for me to put on my list for them.
Ray: It is. And I’ve tested that extensively and it always gets me more clicks. People just click different parts of the email. And the fact you stated at the beginning doesn’t have to be super complicated about it. It could be something as simple as what you’re saying. Basecamp did, you could just say “Happy Tuesday.”
Andrew: Oh, yeah, it could just be that too . . . because I don’t want to use too many words up there because that’s what we’re using . . . that’s what people use to decide whether to open your email. Yes, they look at the subject line, but all of our email software today will show you that little preview of the first sentence. I don’t want to waste that on something that’s not going to get them to click. It’s almost like my subhead now.
Ray: You could start with the first sentence being, “In a minute, I’m going to tell you about the time I stepped on a jellyfish at the beach and how that led to one of the biggest marketing insights I’ve ever had.”
Andrew: Yeah, but first “Happy Monday.”
Ray: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: But first while everyone else is looking at the Zoom IPO that’s imminent . . . or let’s make sure, right? Zoom obviously had their IPO. But you know, something like that, that everyone in tech would care about.
I will say one other thing. For anyone who’s listening who’s trying to do this. I find that recording the first version into the camera on my own is just too tough. I can’t do it. But if I have someone else on Zoom, or some kind of screen sharing software, and we’re about to talk on the email that I need, I just hit record at that point. And that’s the file, talking to someone else makes it feel more natural, and keeps me from like going back and saying blah, blah, blah, and I don’t think I need to start over. No, just do it that way.
And then finally, there are agencies now where you can send this first version and get a little bit of a cleanup. If you don’t want to do it yourself, and then get it back. Even the bad agencies will clean it up well enough that you can then improve it and send it.
Ray: You make a really good point about talking to somebody else though. Having another human being on the other side of your conversation will make it a better more relatable, more personable conversation. I don’t care how good of a writer you are, it will be better if you are talking to another person, because we communicate differently more effectively when we talk to other people.
Andrew: When you work for, and you’ve written for some of the top online marketers, some whose names you’ll give, others you won’t. Michael Hyatt always stands out to me because he is just so trustworthy, and so frickin’ anal, I don’t think even likes the word anal, but he’s very anal. The details have to be right. In my mind, that gives you a lot of credibility. Do you agree with me about him? Or am I just like?
Ray: No, I totally agree. And he’s, Mike’s a good friend, but I get nervous every time we write for him because I want it to be so perfect for him and I know how he is particular. And rightly so. I mean, he should be, and he was the CEO of Thomas Nelson publishing for crying out loud. So what else do you expect? But yeah, has a very high level, a high bar for quality and integrity. And I love that about him. And it certainly keeps you on your toes.
Andrew: Yeah. I hired somebody to do my presentation slides and as soon as they said that they work with Michael Hyatt, I said, “Okay, all right, great. Let’s do it.” So when you work with them, what is the process that maybe we take it away from Michael Hyatt, specifically, but did you work with Pat Flynn? Did you work with others whose names you could mention?
Ray: I’ve done some work with Pat. Although it was more casuals, more on a friend-to-friend basis. I did some work for Mike Stelzner. We’re friends also, but he actually hired me to write some copy and work on his sales copy for one his . . .
Andrew: And also, he’s the founder of Social Media Examiner, the owner of the conference that we mentioned earlier. I’ve heard also that he is meticulous, that he actually cares about every detail.
Ray: Oh, every detail. Every piece of writing that they put out is gone over like five times. He has a process he calls the beautification process, which means it not only looks beautiful, but it reads beautifully. It’s perfectly proofread. There are no mistakes or no typos, the language is just right. And he was one of the most meticulous clients I’ve ever worked with. But it was also one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever done, because he started as a copywriter. So we had a mutual basis to discuss copy on and it was lots of fun.
Andrew: What’s the process that people like him go through with a copywriter?
Ray: Well, in that case, and this is an interesting question, because, with people at that level, who have that much knowledge about marketing and copywriting, I end up having a Zoom conversation with them. And we just talked about the project, what they’re trying to achieve. We look at the copy they’ve had in the past, what worked, what didn’t work in their opinion. And then I’ll take that recording, have it transcribed, pull out some key phrases, language things that they said, and begin assembling together a first draft of like the first couple of pages of the copy.
Then I’ll submit it to them and we’ll talk about it and see if I’m on the right track. And then, if so, then I’ll go ahead and move on to writing the rest of the copy. But I try to get participation from the very beginning. Because the worst thing that can happen is you hire a copywriter, that you fill out their questionnaire, they go away for six weeks, they come back with something that’s totally alien to you, and you think, “This is unusable. I can’t do this.”
Ray: And that happens a lot.
Andrew: And you can’t . . . it’s not because they did a bad job. Like if you give me Michael Stelzner’s work, it still wouldn’t feel like me. And it would be horrible. Even though he’s just incredibly meticulous and more detail-oriented than I am. It feels like it should be better, but it’s not. And I, one of the things that I’ve learned to do, and I’m still getting good at this, is I’ve got to schedule a call with the writer afterwards. And then when I give notes back using Google Docs, use the edit, the suggest edit mode, so that I could show them what changes I’m making, and then highlight and comment to let them know why I’m making it.
Ray: Yes, and I love that. I love it when clients are that involved. It’s frustrating from the writer side, if you’re not involved in the process, you won’t go to that level of feedback, because that’s the way we do our best work. How do we know if we’re working well for you or not, if you’re not giving us feedback and participating in the process?
Andrew: Let me talk about the second sponsor, then we’ll get back to what I initially said. Boy, they really Basecamp changed their landing page. It’s like 80% quotes from customers. And their stuff is always really good. They do care about writing a lot.
The second sponsor is a company called HostGator. If you’re looking to host your website, just go to HostGator. They’ll charge you very little. They’ll host with dignity, and they’ll host it and make sure that the site stays up and works. And frankly, yes, they have really low prices at first. But if you’re looking to scale up, if you’re looking to get even more, you can obviously grow with them.
Actually, it’s not even that obvious, right? They hide it. They really want to be the low-cost leader. And then they think that people eventually will know that when it’s time for them to upgrade, that HostGator will be their upgrade. I think that’s phenomenal. But I also think it scares people away. When people see that they’re just starting a couple of bucks a month they think that’s actually not for me. I want to get WordPress managed hosting this and that and they walk away. When in reality they shouldn’t walk away, they should know start simple and scale up with HostGator. I use them, so many other people use HostGator.
If you’re out there and you’re looking to use HostGator, I’m going to give me the lowest price out there as far as I know, and if it’s not, let me know. Go to hostgator.com/mixergy. When you do, you’ll get the lowest price hostgator.com/mixergy and you’ll get tagged as a Mixergy customer which means they and I will keep taking good care of you. Of course, they do have a money back guarantee hostgator.com/mixergy.
I’ve tried hiring good copywriters, by the way, for the ads. Not to write the ads right, but to give me bullet points. I want a story with the story arc. Just give me the four bullet points that I need and I’ll tell it. But it’s a hard thing for people to recognize, hard to get people to understand how to tell stories, really tough.
Ray: It is, and it’s surprising. It shouldn’t be because we’re so inundated with stories and we love stories. Just a couple of nights ago, people all over the world were dialed in to see a big part of the conclusion of a story called “Game of Thrones.” It’s been very popular for a number of years. We’re fascinated by them. We learn from them, the greatest teachers in history were storytellers. So it’s really not that hard to tell a good story. I heard George Lucas describe it one time as saying, “Here’s all you have to do. You get some characters, you get them up a tree, you shake the tree, and you get them back down again.” That’s a story, which is maybe oversimplified, but . . .
Andrew: I get it. I feel like the problem that people have is that they think they need to give you a lot of bullet points. I used to teach Dale Carnegie and I thought Dale Carnegie was the “How to Win Friends and Influence People” only. No, they’re big on teaching people how to present. And I remember people would come in, and they would say, “Well, the reason that I’m here is because I want to work harder. And I want to be a better storyteller, and I want to be a better teacher. And that is why, otherwise you can never be a leader at your company.” And that’s not the story.
But they say, “Yeah, it’s about myself.” I go, “No, that’s not a good story.” And we’d work with them. And what they needed to do is get to the point where they said, last week, I was giving a presentation in front of the whole team. And this is about, you know, like we’re working on this new engineering project. And I started to talk and I could see people were picking up their phones, and it was my boss picking up his phone that made me just completely recognize that I am not good at persuading people, let alone keeping their attention. And I went to my boss and I said, “I need to give better presentations.” And he said, “No, no, you’re fine, you’re fine.” And I realized, “No, it’s not true.”
So I went to HR and I said, “How can you help me give better presentations?” And then HR said, “We’ve been sending people to Dale Carnegie, and 8 out of 10 people who were sent to Dale Carnegie end up getting promotions here at our company, so we’ll do it.” And I said, “Well, it’s too expensive.” They said, “We’ll pay for it because Dale Carnegie will actually give you college credits and it’s a college. It’s something that we want to encourage people to do.” And I said, “Okay.” And that’s why I’m here. Like, put me in your experience. Walk me step-by-step through what happened. You, don’t feel shy about?
Ray: Yes, absolutely. I refer to the stuff that people do before they actually get to the story as clearing their throat.
Andrew: Right? Yeah, the setup. Don’t do it. Don’t say, “You know I’ve been working here for eight years and you know that it’s important.” No, just tell me, you were standing where, what did you do? And Dale Carnegie’s all about being nice and polite. If you stand up at a Dale Carnegie presentation to give a story, and you start telling, they’ll go, “Get to the action.” They’ll interrupt you. And then they’ll finally say, so you were standing in, and then like lead you. Okay. This is all me now. I’m talking too much with you. One of the problems that I have with interviewing authors whose books I’ve read is, I want to tell the people and you what I like best about the book.
Ray: I love that. So I’m okay with it.
Andrew: I wonder if the audience is. Like, I remember what really hit me was, what’s his name? Robert Greene, the author of “48 Laws of Power” and “Mastery.” I read his book super fast and under an hour because I had the pressure of interviewing him, and then I interrupted him, I go, “People don’t need the Andrew Warner’s summary, they want him.” But I get too passionate about it. It’s actually made me think maybe I shouldn’t read books. Maybe I should just have like, bullet points what I want to know.
Ray: No, I don’t agree with that. I think definitely should keep reading the books. And, you know, a good example of a good interviewer who does both things, reads the books, tells what he’s passionate about, talks a lot, but then also lets the author speak is Tim Ferriss. He does the same sort of thing. And I think you both have a real talent for demonstrating and honoring the people you’re interviewing by showing that you actually know something about them. And that just wasn’t something that showed up on your email inbox 30 minutes ahead of time and their web page and jotted down a couple of facts and sleepwalk through an interview. I appreciate the fact you did not do that.
Andrew: Thanks. And I do feel the advantage for the audience is I can select things like the elements of a sales letter. It’s the stuff that we’ve seen Ramit Sethi and other online marketers use forever. We know we seen the same thing here, but we don’t know quite what. You laid it out. I highlighted in the chapter where you laid it out and then at the end, you did a summary, and I go . . . I like hit my head. I said maybe, and then I realized you know what actually, I’d rather have my own highlights than his summary because my highlights have a few little notes that I will use when I create my sales letter or give feedback to our writers.
And so I can do stuff like tell people that chapter is worth noticing. the chapter on email writing is worth paying attention to even if all you’re doing is writing one persuasive email to one person. I actually filed that away because I said, “I’m about to ask people in Sydney, Australia to do interviews with me. They don’t know me, but I’m flying to Australia. I want to book a bunch of strangers. What if I use this little bit of this marketing to just . . . a little bit of salesmanship to just make it a little more enticing?” I’ve been lazy, but not lazy. I’m comfortable, people will come to me and ask to do interviews.
Now that I’m going out, I’ve got it make sure that I remember the sales, the basic sales material, the basic sales elements. Okay. Let’s talk about how you transitioned, you got into 100 hours a week. You said, this is not really the answer. I want to do my own thing. What’s the first step that you took?
Ray: Well, I was paying for coaching at the time, and business coaching and I talked to my . . . I had two coaches, and I had them both on the phone at the same time. And I said, “Guys, I think I’m just going to go get a job again, because I can’t keep this up.” I left the radio broadcasting industry to write copy and it was just murdering me.
And one of them said, “Ray, it’s time for you to stop writing for clients and start teaching people how to do what you do.” And my immediate response was, “Well, why would I do that? There’s so many good copywriting courses out there. There’s so many great teachers, people I learned from. Why would somebody buy something like that from me when they could buy something from John Carlton, or from Gary Halbert, or any of the myriad of other copywriting teachers that were available at the time?”
And he laughed, and he said, “Why do you think there are new diet books every year? Why do you think there are new musical acts every year? Why do you need another band, when we already have dozens and dozens of bands and hundreds and thousands of them from the history of recording?” It’s because people are always looking for a new flavor, a new voice. And he said, “There are people who will only respond to the way you teach this material, and they’ll respond to nobody else. So if you don’t teach it, then you’re robbing those people that experience.”
And it sounds kind of cheesy. I hear lots of people have similar advice to that. But it struck a chord with me. And so I created a course and I sold it and I made as much money as I’d made in like six months at a time. And I thought, “Okay, there’s something to this.”
Andrew: You mean just launching the course made more for you than six months of working the clients?
Andrew: And what did you put in the course? How’d you even know what to put into it?
Ray: Well, I just broke down what I do when I write sales copy. It was actually the first draft, in retrospect was the first draft of the book you just read. It was very different back then. I actually did the course on the telephone, if you can believe that with PDF files, and people come on and get on a teleconference call, and I would teach for an hour and read the PDF file, but it worked. And it made money. And so I kept at it. And over time, the technology got easier and easier. I mean, back then it was hard to even figure out how to take money on the internet. I had to learn a little bit of code and kind of patch it with my bank and convince my bank I wasn’t trying to run some kind of scam. It was a whole adventure.
Andrew: What year was this?
Ray: This would have been 19, no, 2002. Was right after 9/11.
Andrew: By the way, I went back to 2001 before the site launched, and it said “Congratulations, you did it. You just found another one of those infamous sites that are under construction. Sure that’s lame, but why lie about it, the site just hasn’t been offering enough content to help anybody, meanwhile, slide over to one of my favorite sites.” And you linked over to that as you are . . . this is just your personal site rayedwards.com as you were trying to figure out what that was going to be. I liked it even that, that under construction had to be copyrighted. That was you, right? Before?
Ray: That was me. That’s awesome that you found that.
Andrew: And before that, you had like a bulletin board and the whole guestbook, the whole thing that people were doing back then.
Ray: Oh, my gosh, I had a bulletin board. You’re right.
Andrew: You did. The thing that I wonder is, how do people know what to put into a program. When you know how to do something you don’t think about the details. I don’t even think about the details of how to tell a story or how to pre-interview a guest. It’s really hard for me to know what to tell other people.
Ray: Well, I got lucky in a way because part of what I do pretty well, I have kind of a knack for is teaching things to people. So that’s kind of a cop-out. I guess, it doesn’t really answer your question, but just because I have a knack for it doesn’t mean I was really, really great at it. And over time, I began to learn from people who taught how to teach online. I mean, there’s lots of that stuff. And in the beginning, it was hard to sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak.
But there’s a few people now that I think are really good at teaching that material. And I really respect them and what they do. And like, I just bought . . . Amy Porterfield has a program called the “Digital Course Academy.” And we’re friends and I could probably get her program for free. In fact, I know I could because every time I try to buy something from her, she refunds my money and tells me I won’t take your money.
Andrew: Really, okay.
Ray: [inaudible 00:49:29] using a different card. So I finally won out this time, I paid for this one, and she kept the money. So, but she’s really great at systematically teaching how to do this.
And there’s other people who are good at it. You can go through places like Udemy, I’m not sure how you say that. They have some material on how to do that. But I just would go to somebody I respect whose work I like. I mean, I liked Amy’s style of teaching. She’s very detailed, very systematic, very checklist-oriented, and gives examples and shows you what result you need to have by the end of the lesson. I love that. So that’s why I started buying her material.
And when she taught a course on how to make a course, I was like, “Oh, of course, who else would I learn from?” So that’s a shortcut I would take. I would avoid the trap of buying program after program after program about how to, “make money online.” But if you want to teach, which is I think is a great way to stop trading dollars for hours, learn from somebody who knows how to teach well. That would be my advice.
Andrew: I’ve noticed that platforms like Teachable now, which if I were creating a course from scratch, I would just use that instead of coding it up myself in WordPress, they now have free sessions on how to teach because they know that their people are going to do better and stick with the platform if they teach well. So I could see now that there are a lot of places online. I could see that for you was just like that’s who you were, somebody who was teaching through his writing, teaching before and enjoyed it. What’s one tip that you have about for selling? What’s one thing that’s worked for you for getting new customers?
Ray: Well, this is going to be a shocker, advertising.
Andrew: Buying ads.
Ray: Buying ads.
Ray: Facebook, and we’re experimenting with Google now. I don’t know how that’s going to work out. But Facebook has been a literal gold mine for us. And I avoided it for a long time until one day one of my friends said, “You know, I’m kind of amazed that you will spend $5,000 on some seminar or weekend retreat, where you walk across fire, whatever you’re doing in those places. But you won’t spend $1,000 a month on advertising. Why is that?” And I realized it was because I’ve been stupid. That’s why. Because I write copy, I understand how this works.
So we started buying Facebook ads, and we’re doing quite well with those now. We’re using them to drive traffic to a free book offer, which leads into other products and service that we offer. And our plan going forward is just continue doing that until it stops being profitable for us.
Andrew: Did you start out buying your own ads by yourself to figure it out?
Andrew: You did.
Ray: Then I had somebody on my team who’s really good at it, who took it over. And we’re just now starting to think about hiring a firm because we’re getting to the point now where we’re spending enough money that it might be good to have someone who knows more than we do.
Andrew: Yeah, it seems like once you get to the $20,000, $30,000 a month spend is when the stronger firms will be open to you.
Andrew: All right. One tip that I learned from a past guest was, she said . . . I wonder if it was Amy even. She said, “When somebody signs up, ask them why they signed up, ask them what they want out of it, and then ask them what they’re hesitating about.” And so I noticed that when people sign up, they’re looking for something, some kind of quick activity, quick win. And so we do that now. It’s incredibly eye-opening. It lets me know where people are, let’s me know what they’re wrestling with, how we can help them. And it’s not usually what I wanted. It’s not usually what I expected, but that’s useful. What do you think? Do you have any ideas like that? Any techniques that have worked for you?
Ray: We do the same sorts of things. We just started, you know, occasionally, believe it or not, people will ask for refunds. And we just started, I can’t believe it took us this long calling those people and saying, “Look, we’re not looking to get your money back or we’ve already sent your refund but we’re curious why did you ask for a refund? What did you find that was unsatisfactory? We’d just like to improve our product for future customers.” And we’ve gotten some really good feedback about that.
A lot of it were things I wouldn’t have thought were that big a deal. Like, one thing that came up not long ago was there’s too many typos in this document and you’re a copywriter, you should know better than that. Ouch, that hurt. But I realized that’s true. So now we have a proofreader going through every document in every part of our site, every part of our programs, making sure that’s no longer a problem, but we wouldn’t have learned if we hadn’t asked.
Andrew: Yeah, that is a type of thing that you wouldn’t have thought about. There’s got to be a good . . . I interviewed a guy who does a proofreading service. We need to start using them more too, just send it out, just like we send stuff out for transcripts, it should be sent out for proofreading, proofreading, and you have someone on your team who does that, huh?
Ray: I have someone on the team and we have, sometimes we hire an external person to do it as well. But I have a professional writer and editor, copy editor, who we hired, who was in retirement and decided he wanted some work and he had been through some of our programs and he said, “Love to help,” so we decided to pay him to help. It’s worked out pretty well.
Andrew: The first people who came in who ended up buying that course and doing 60% of your previous . . . what was it, six months of revenue from that one launch. How did those people find you?
Ray: In that case, it was through other people that I knew who I asked to send an email on my behalf. And it really was, there was one guy who I just bought a program from, his name is Jeff Walker, he has a thing called Product Launch Formula. When it first came out, it was like $1,000 back then. And he back then, when you bought the program, you got two free consultation calls with Jeff himself. You can’t do that anymore, because he’s like a super star.
But I took him up on those calls. And he liked the program and the copy that I’d written in the program, teaching it so much that he said, “Well, I’ll send an email on your behalf.” And that accounted for about 60% of my sales. That was the beginning. That was our first email list and we cared for it very diligently and we continued on from there. We did a lot of those kind of email swaps or joint ventures or affiliate relationships, it’s really what they are. And then we eventually started buying ads, which I like. Because eventually if you’re just swapping email lists with people, there’s going to come a point where they’re not going to do that anymore. And then you don’t have a business unless you have some other way of generating customers.
Andrew: I do like ad buying. I feel like it’s getting tougher and tougher to buy from Facebook. That these platforms do really well, and then they get super competitive and tough.
Ray: Well, yeah, and I’ve only been in that game a short period of time, and I can see that as well. So that’s why we still do affiliate relationships. We are doing advertising. We’re doing some direct mail now. We’re going to our customer base and asking for referrals. You know, sometimes I’ll talk to people about their business and they’ll say, “Well, I’ve tried everything with my marketing, and nothing seems to be working.” And my next question is always, “Really? Give me a list of everything.” And it’s usually three things and then they quit. We’re trying everything we can think of. And some stuff is a colossal fail, and some of it works really well. So we just keep the stuff that works and keep driving.
Andrew: Like what? What was a colossal fail?
Ray: We bought some ads on a . . . it was a Christian website, kind of a right-wing, fringey sort of website, had some pretty nutty stuff on it. And not hate stuff but just like Jesus drove here in a UFO kind of stuff. We had heard some great things about the list that they had and the results were produced. So we spent quite a bit of money there. And we got lots of traffic, and not a lot of buyers but lots of weird emails. That was a colossal fail.
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, I get that. That type of thing, if it even ends up with a bunch of people on your email list who are not within the same culture, who would . . . they change the way you think about who you’re going after and their feedback changes what you’re doing, and yeah, I get that. I get the difficulty of that. I’m trying to think of like one other. Oh, I know, Brian Harris has been really good at the way that he does his partnerships. Did you see what he’s doing? I got to get him on here.
Ray: I haven’t seen what he’s doing lately. I know Brian. I haven’t talked to him in quite a while though.
Andrew: He creates tools for partner. So he’ll have something where it’s like some kind of software product that he does for himself and Michael Hyatt, they both co-promote it, and that way, they’re not promoting each other stuff. They’re promoting this one tool that’s super helpful. And I can’t think of the tool, but it’s like on the bottom of the tool, it says “Created in partnership with Michael Hyatt.” And that is really interesting.
Ray: That’s fascinating. Now I’m [inaudible 00:57:39].
Andrew: Yeah, it might be something like this is not the tool, but one of his tools is like a set of email campaigns that you can automatically add to tools like drip email software, ActiveCampaign or whatever. And he’ll offer it for free, you just like plug in a few variables, hit submit and he’ll even add it to your software I think to your email marketing software, if not let you download it and go at it yourself. And it’s created in partnership with Michael Hyatt. And then I think the way it works is, as part of that process, you end up giving your email address and joining their list. I think it’s something like that.
Ray: That’s fascinating.
Andrew: Right? Isn’t it? So now they both have something interesting to promote that’s kind of co-created and he’ll actually do the work to create it with some input from them. It seems like that’s what it is. I got to get them on here to get a little more detail, but I’m not like way off base. I just don’t have the fine points down.
Ray: That’s so much better than sending emails saying, “Hey, by my friend’s stuff.”
Andrew: Yeah, yeah. So I’m fascinated that that’s working for him. And he’s doing well with that. He’s offered to like . . . we’ll do a podcast episode, we’ll get to see what he’s doing there. I find that if you try to call people who cancel, that it’s a pain, that they don’t want to talk to you. They’ve just broken up with you. They don’t want to talk to you. Don’t you find that?
Ray: We have a much lower answer rate than we would like, but we start by trying to email them. If it doesn’t work, we will give them one call. We don’t chase them because I don’t want them to think I’m stalking them. But the ones who do end up talking to us usually give us helpful feedback.
Andrew: I’ll do it in private after this interview. And anyone who asked me in private, I will tell you guys, the one thing that got me great feedback from people who canceled but I don’t want to over talk about it so that people aren’t manipulating me like to deal with it. That’s been especially helpful, hearing from people who cancel. And then, of course, scotch night is really good, people come in one-on-one or like three people or so come to the office, they tell me their problems. That’s been really good. You talk about the need for pain. Can you talk in your book, I don’t remember where, but can you talk a little bit about like pain and the importance of it in good copywriting?
Ray: Yeah. I mean, I first heard this from Tony Robbins, who says that people will do more to avoid pain than they will to gain pleasure. And it’s trite I think when we hear, when we heard him say it so many times, but it’s actually there’s lots of scientific evidence that shows that we’re hardwired to avoid being hurt, to avoid loss, to avoid being in pain. And we will go to great lengths to avoid that. So that’s where the whole fear of missing out thing comes from.
So I think if you’re selling something that really makes a difference in people’s lives, if you want to make the most persuasive argument, you’ve got to show them the cost of not solving the problem, the cost of not avoiding the pain. And if you don’t do that, you’re only giving half the argument, you’re giving the least effective half, which is the carrot. There’s forgive the crudeness of the analogy, but you got to have both the carrot and the stick.
And so my feeling is figure out what the real pain is going to be and then amplify it so they really see the consequences, because most people don’t make that picture real in their head. They don’t think through it carefully enough. And so I like to walk them through step-by-step, “This is what’s going to happen if you don’t pay off your mortgage, keep taking out all the credit against your house, eventually you’re going to end up being a greeter at Walmart, and have to eat dog food for the rest of your life because you didn’t save up enough money and you borrowed everything you had, and put yourself in a negative leverage position.” So that sounds like a crude . . . It is an over the top example. But you’ve got to show them the cost of not fixing the problem.
Andrew: Well, how do you know what that is? How do you find that so that you’re speaking to something that they recognize? Like with my audience, if I said, “You’re going to be a greeter at Walmart,” they’re not going to believe that. That’s not a pain that they’re afraid of. How do you figure out what that is?
Ray: You got to know your audience. And the way you get to know your audience is you have to get to know them, you have to talk to them, hang out with them, go where they go.
Andrew: What do you do? How do you do that?
Ray: I go to conferences where I know the people that are my customers are going to be, and I spend time with them. Like I was at Social Media Marketing World talking to people, having flavored water with them . . .
Andrew: Where? What’s your process for doing that?
Ray: Well, it depends on who I’m trying to get in touch with. If it’s somebody who is busy, like yourself, I’ll make an appointment and we’ll either meet in a suite or we’ll have a meal together. There are, as you know, there are lots of parties that happen behind the scenes, and I do my best to go to the ones where the people I want to talk to are going to be.
If you’re a speaker, if you have the privilege of being a speaker, then it’s easier to talk to the other speakers. And a lot of it is serendipitous, believe it or not, just walking around, I bump into people who I know or they know somebody I know or they know me and we end up having a conversation. And the next thing I know I’m in a conversation with three or four other people. And I always follow those threads to see what’s going to happen. Sometimes it’s just a pleasant conversation. Sometimes it ends up being business.
Andrew: I find for me, it’s scotch night, and then going out to the big events that they do. And then I try to get them to tell me what sucks, especially like, or actually, a big one is what brought you here? What are you looking for from this? And then it’s what sucks about something similar to mine? By the way, I’m kind of as we’re talking, I’m doing research to get a sense of like your interview on Amy Porterfield. You were one of her first guests. When you’re talking about what your site looks like, I obviously went back and . . . when we talked about how you got started, I looked at your old site. I’m also looking at SimilarWeb to see where you get your traffic. A big source of your traffic comes from a site called Notable Themes. Are you selling the theme for WordPress on there?
Andrew: And that actually, is that a significant part of your business? What’s going on with that?
Ray: It’s not really a significant part of our revenue. I mean, we make money from it. But I hired that guy that designed my current theme and he said, “You know, I like this theme a lot. How would you feel about partnering together? And we could co-brand it and I could sell it and you don’t have to do any of the customer service, you don’t have to do any of the marketing if you don’t want to. And we’ll just send you a check every month.” So that’s what happens. It’s not a significant part of our income. But I was getting a lot of questions from people about who designed your theme. So I thought, well, why not?
Andrew: Great idea. I saw Michael Hyatt do that too. He had a theme specifically made for his people. I think these days people are not really out hunting for WordPress themes. They’re hosting their stuff on other platforms, but there was a really big business for a while and I could see you guys are also on Thrive Themes and a couple of other places it looks like with that. Let’s see what’s PDF Drive. Do you know why you’re getting traffic from them?
Ray: I do not.
Andrew: Okay, looks like oh, I wonder if it’s like a place for people to download books that they’re not supposed to get.
Ray: There’s plenty of those.
Andrew: Most of them are fake. What they do is they just like keep luring you in until you say, “Okay, fine, I’ll give you my email address to get this thing,” and then once you do, they will send you to something crappy.
Ray: You’re braver than I am. I’m always afraid to give them my email address.
Andrew: I put in a fake email address and I don’t do it. Look at this. They’re checking the remote health of the file. Yeah, I wonder if this is like a legitimate site or . . . already it looks a little creepy to me. Yeah, there it is. And now, it did a search it had to make sure that your book was right. And then I’m going to type in a fake email address was going to be email@example.com send me weekly trending.
Yeah, I’ve actually been struggling. In the early days of doing interviews, I was struggling to find an interview. Oh, look at this. I gave the email address. And now after check the health, it did the whole bar graph, I gave the email address and now it says, “Oh snap. It seems like the underlying remote file you’re searching for is unavailable. Don’t worry, there’s some similar files below. We’re so happy to have you on board.” So I’m glad I gave them fakeemailaddress.com.
Ray: Oh, for sure.
Andrew: Yeah. So I guess what happens is people come here looking for your book and then somehow they end up back on your site. And that’s why that’s referring some traffic to you. That’s pretty interesting. I guess. I don’t know. Actually, I don’t know how that one works. I thought maybe you had some kind of relationship with them. You don’t?
Ray: No. Not the kind I want.
Andrew: Right That’s fascinating. Yeah, I used to struggle before books were all available on Kindle to get a book to read fast before my guest came on. And I’d say, “All right. Let me check out these sites,” and they would always screw me over, so painful. It’s not that, it’s lack of time that was an issue for me. You know, it’s not like I would lose out to getting spam or anything from them. I’d give them a fake email.
All right. I feel like we covered it all. Let me ask you this. If Chris Ducker were listening to all this and going, “Oh, man, yeah, he caught me on . . . we should have talked more about profit. But Ray didn’t talk about . . . ” How would he feel in that sentence? What’s the one thing that you think he or you if you were listening, would feel like they didn’t talk about that.
You know what, I’ve got one. Client horror story, you gave me that. You said, “Hey, maybe we’ll get into client horror story. You got a good one for us?
Ray: I do.
Andrew: What is that?
Ray: I had a client, I won’t say his name, but he’s a well-known person. Most people who listen to this podcast probably would know this person’s name. He runs an online education business [people 01:06:20] about business. He paid me a lot of money. But he was, he thought I was his indentured servant. He would call me at three o’clock in the morning with ideas. He’d want to talk for two or three hours. Sometimes I’m convinced he was abusing some kind of . . .
Ray: . . . substance that made him made him, yeah, some kind of drug, cocaine or something. I don’t know. But he was just totally unreasonable. And finally, I reached a point where I said to him, after the third or fourth call in the middle of the night, on the weekend, I said, “Look, I can’t do this anymore. You’ve got to stop calling me. And we’ve got to end this relationship.” And he said, “I’m not giving you your money back. I’m not going to pay the rest of . . . ” He paid me half up front. He owed me 50%, so he paid me $30,000, owed me another $30,000 and I never got paid. I told him, “That’s fine. You can keep the money.” And we didn’t speak for many, many years.
Andrew: Wow. And now?
Ray: Now we speak.
Andrew: Okay. Because?
Ray: I don’t really know what happened. I developed a policy, is I don’t hold grudges. I forgive people. I’ve forgiven . . .
Andrew: I feel like it’s because you’re a Christian. I haven’t read this post on your site, but you have a post that says, “Should I shut up about Jesus?” I know you’re a Christian because it’s come up a bunch in your videos. And then in your book, you hint at it without fully being open about it. What do you think? What are you thinking right now? I saw I kind of lost you as I brought that up.
Ray: Well, no, but you made me think. Most people don’t think, that’s not the first thing I think I’m going to think of Christian.
Andrew: What do they think?
Ray: Judgmental, protesting.
Andrew: Oh, the Christians going to be judgmental and protesting?
Andrew: Maybe more preachy about Jesus. And in fact, I actually found in your book that I had to kind of pay attention to notice that you are like religious.
Ray: I feel like there’s more to that sentence.
Andrew: No, that’s it. That I don’t feel like . . . I thought it was . . . I’ve been listening to, who is it? Who’s that guy who does the podcast and the radio show about like getting out of debt?
Ray: Dave Ramsey.
Andrew: Dave Ramsey, he’s very Christian. Like at the end of his episode he’ll say, “Remember the only way to have financial peace is to walk with the Prince of Peace that’s Christ Jesus.” You don’t do that but I get the sense that there is a Christian like, that you are Christian, that’s it. Which I wouldn’t have known when I saw you in person if anything, I thought maybe you were like a, like a heavy metal or something, motorcycle riding guy. I don’t know, maybe it was your tattoos or something.
Ray: That’s so funny. The funny thing is, I used to do something like that at the end of my podcast. I don’t anymore. It does have a lot to do with the forgiveness part. I just learned to forgiving people for grudges didn’t really let them off the hook because they didn’t care, but it let me off the hook. They weren’t renting space in my head anymore. So I totally forgave that guy long before we ever saw each other again. We met up at a party at one of these events one time, and he just had a conversation. He said, “Look, I feel bad about the way we parted ways.” And I said, “Don’t think another thing about it. I don’t even think about it anymore.” We shook hands and were friendly to this day. It was [inaudible 01:09:24].
Andrew: I had a situation like that where I think Ryan Moran, I rubbed him the wrong way in my interview with him. And I walked up to him and I said, “I think that you’re upset with me?” And he said, “Yeah.” And we just talked about it from there. But I much rather confront it and there’s no way I could have picked up the phone and just, maybe I could have but it’s much easier to just go and talk to him in person and just hash it out. I don’t know that he loves me now but it really helped.
Ray: I love the way you are in your interviews, like you’ve asked me some very pointed questions. I’ve heard you ask other people very pointed, very I think tough questions that most people don’t ask in the interviews because most people softball it. I prefer the real interviews. So I appreciate that about you.
Andrew: Thanks. And I’m glad that you’re into it. And what I try to do is not force it. Like, I didn’t want to come in here and just say, “Hey, you know what? I’ve got to have like, three tough questions in here. So let me make sure to ask him about his sex life. Let me make sure to ask him about that.” No, just like, what am I truly curious about? And if I do that, I’m going to end up having a great conversation.
So I got to do that, which means that we meandered a little bit, to my benefit, frankly. I really wanted to after reading your book, “How to Write Copy that Sells,” I wanted to ask you a few questions. And I’m glad that I got to ask it. That’s one of the benefits of doing these interviews. I wanted to find out how you started your business because I think that the best way to get customers these day, one of the best ways, is to teach. And even if somebody is listening to us, and they are not online educators, they run a software company or something, we’re noticing that if you teach, you build credibility, you help people move a step further, and you get them at a place in life where they’re ready to sign up for new tools.
And we see that with companies like Teachable. We also see it with a company like, Ray, I interviewed the founder of Cover. He’s creating a brand new insurance company. Taking on some of the big insurance companies. I said, “How are you getting customers?” He said, “Well, we noticed that a lot of people who need insurance will first go out and get driver’s ed classes online and they’ll pay money for it.” Said, you know, “Why don’t we just offer free driver’s ed online.” And so when someone’s done, they’re ready for insurance will say, “Hey, by the way, before you go to someone else, sign up for our driver’s ed.” And so that’s helping them get a lot of customers. So I hope people have taken some value out of your experience for teaching out of that. Yeah, that is frickin’ mind-blowing. It’s so good.
And so we also got to see how you did that, start your course, and we got to find out how you do copywriting. There’s a lot of value in here for me, and I hope that anyone listening to me got a lot of value out of it. All right, Ray, for anyone who wants to follow up with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Ray: Pretty simple, rayedwards.com.
Andrew: Yeah, you are someone who jumped on your domain name early on. So it’s not like rayedwards. some random top level domain rayedwards.com. It’s been around for 20 years almost. You’ve owned that domain. I want to thank you for doing this interview. And I’ve got to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first will host your website right it’s called HostGator. Check them out at hostgator.com/mixergy. The second will help you do email marketing right it’s called ActiveCampaign check them out at activecampaign.com/mixergy.
And finally Ray, here’s what I’m going to try to do. Just talking to a former Sequoia venture capitalist who’s starting this business in podcasting, he was at my house this morning for two hours just talking through business. I said, “You know, an easy win is do a trade at the end of your podcast with someone else who’s podcast you like.” You mention them and say, “Hey, now that you’ve finished listening to my podcast, go listen to this.” They’ll do the same for you. I didn’t have time since this was just this morning in my house to go and book one of these things. I’m just going to spout one podcast that I really love. And if we end up doing a trade great. If we don’t, you guys are still going to appreciate it.
My favorite is . . . what is that called? The founder of Proof, Proof founder podcast. Oh, it’s so good. It’s Founder Friday that he does. It’s so good. Oh, there it is, “Scale or Die.” “Scale or Die” is a fan frickin’ tactic podcast by this guy, Dave Rogenmoser. I hope I’m pronouncing his name right because he’s got like 50 different letters in his name.
The interviews are fine. I like them a lot. Like his Sujan Patel interview is really good for the founder of Mailshake. His Founder Friday interviews where he just says here’s how I’ve been thinking about my business. Here’s what I’m going through. I think this is helping us, fan frickin’ tastic and he just does it talking into a microphone so it’s impressive. So if you listen to this interview and you want another one now that’s over, go check out “Scale or Die” and specifically listen to Mailshake or any of his Founder Friday’s riffs. I like that a lot. Ray, I saw you taking notes on that? What do you think of that strategy?
Ray: I love that strategy. I’m going to check that podcast out.
Andrew: It’s good.
Ray: Do you want me to give you a trade?
Andrew: You want to do that? Should we do like the next podcast? I will mention your podcast and you’ll mention mine. Should we do that and be upfront about it so people can hear it? What?
Ray: Yes, absolutely.
Andrew: Okay, all right. Great. And your podcast, I don’t even know the name of it. It’s right on your website though.
Ray: “Ray Edward Show.”
Andrew: “The Ray Edward Show,” got it. “The Ray Edward Show” is? What would you like me . . . actually, you know what we should do? We should be specific about an episode that someone who’s listening to me should care about. What would that be? I’m going to suggest, I feel like Stu McLaren is really, even though it’s your latest one. It looks like I’m just picking that one. The thing that I like about Stu McLaren, for this audience is he’s a software guy who does online education, who has been raising a lot of money to start schools in Africa. And because he’s an educator, he can communicate well.
Ray: And it’s one of the best interviews I’ve had a long time and I love what he does. He doesn’t talk about himself. He talks about people he’s worked with, what they’re doing to make the world a better place so you’ll love that interview.
Andrew: It’s good. I think ClickFunnels now it’s just been saying we never talk about it. But actually, every time people sign up for ClickFunnels or donate, we donate money to Stu McLaren’s charity in Africa, to open up schools. So all right, so if you like that, go check out “The Ray Edwards Show” and listen to the Stu McLaren episode. I like letting people know what we’re testing out and what we’re going to experiment with. Thanks, Ray. Thank you all for listening. Bye, everyone.