There are many excellent resources out there for web writers and people wanting to improve their writing. This is just a list of resources that have been particularly interesting or useful to me as a freelance copywriter and editor.
It’s a list of the good books on my desk, the blogs I visit regularly, and the websites I refer to. The list is a work in progress, but I hope you’ll find it useful. This will be a mix of paid and free resources, so there’s something here for everyone.
“Kick Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel” by John Carlton.
This is the course that got me started in copywriting. I firmly believe every marketer needs to go through this course. Even if you don’t plan to write copy yourself, you need to have some basic copywriting and salesmanship skills in order to succeed online.
The price is not cheap, but it is a worthwhile investment. Carlton has a writing style that is very easy to follow and understand. If you have the dollars, I would highly recommend getting this course.
You can find a link to the course here: John Carlton’s Copywriting Course.
The American Writers And Artists Institute Accelerated Six-Figure Copywriting Course.
This is another course I went through when I got started copywriting. It mostly goes through how to structure a sales letter. This was written more for copywriters who want to write offline direct mail packages; however, the copywriting principles are still the same.
Again, this one is not cheap, but it is a worthwhile read. The course also includes a member’s forum and a swipe file of winning ads.
Here’s the link: AWAI Copywriting Course.
The Gary Halbert Letter
Gary Halbert was one of the best copywriters who ever lived. Unfortunately he passed away several years ago, but his newsletters are still online. You can read them here: The Gary Halbert Letter.
Not only will you learn some critical copywriting and marketing tips, but studying Gary’s conversational writing style in each newsletter is an excellent lesson in copywriting by itself.
The Bencivenga 100 Seminar
This resource, however, is NOT free. Gary Bencivenga is another top-gun copywriter who used to write for major mailers such as Boardroom, Phillips, and Agora. He retired several years ago and held a final $5000-per head seminar for 100 people—hence the name “Bencivenga 100”.
You can buy the DVDs for the same price as the seminar ($5000). You’ll also get a lot of Gary’s promotions as well. The price is steep but if you’re serious about copywriting and marketing it’s an excellent investment. It’s just that good!
If the price is a little rich for you, then I would at least read the sales letter for the DVDs: Bencivenga 100 Seminar. It’s one of the few examples of Bencivenga’s writing on the Internet.
“Personality in Copy” by Dan Kennedy
This is an excellent audio taken from a seminar where Dan Kennedy talks about creating an attractive character. He also talks about how to create a “herd” of customers that will keep buying your products again and again.
This is one of the top reasons copy does not get read. Either the copy lacks personality, or the person/company behind the product is just “ho-hum”. Dan Kennedy has created a successful brand and people flock to his seminars and buy his books again and again.
Mostly because he just acts like himself.
Anyone who follows Dan Kennedy can attest that he is a little “grumpy”, really loves horses, and is extremely anal when it comes to time management. This is some of what endears people to Dan Kennedy…and another reason why people are repelled by him.
But that’s OK, because the people who follow him are going to come to seminar after seminar. He’s created a customer base that’s loyal and will keep buying his products for years. This is definitely a must-listen if you’re serious about copywriting and building a successful business.
You can buy the audio and workbook here: Personality In Copy by Dan Kennedy.
“Million Dollar Mailings” by Denison Hatch
Every copywriter and marketer should have a swipe file of winning ads. This is probably the cheapest way to get started. This huge textbook shows proven ads you can use as a template for your own.
One of the largest mistakes most beginning marketers make is using a promotion that wasn’t successful as the basis for their own. You should always use winning promotions when swiping, and this book is chock-full of them to study.
“Breakthrough Advertising” by Eugene Schwartz
This book was written by one of copywriting and advertising’s legends: Eugene Schwartz. This book was so valuable that, when the book was out of print, copies were being stolen from libraries and sold on eBay for over $1000.
However, the book is now back in print and you can purchase it from Amazon for $95 as of this writing.
Schwartz goes into great detail about learning the “sophistication” of your market…or how many ads they’ve seen before yours. For example, if you created the first weight loss product ever, you could probably get away with a headline that read, “Lose Weight Now!”
However, since weight loss is a competitive and highly sophisticated market, that headline wouldn’t work. That’s because most prospects have seen many pitches for weight-loss products, and you have to have a headline that breaks conventional thinking in order to get people’s attention.
An example of an unconventional headline would be, “Lose 4 Pounds Per Week Eating Cheeseburgers!” It defies convention since most people think cheeseburgers are the last thing you want to eat to lose weight.
Here’s a link where you can get the book: Breakthrough Advertising.
“How To Write A Good Advertisement” by Victor O. Schwab
Here is another great book on copywriting that is a little dated since it was written in 1964, but gives a good primer on everything from how to write a headline through writing the body copy.
The best part is this book can be had for less than $20 on Amazon.com. This is an excellent resource if some of the courses and books I’ve recommended are a little outside your price range.
You can get the book here: How To Write A Good Advertisement.
Also worth checking:
The truly brilliant Neil Patel shares much of what he’s learned writing for the web in this free, 30,000 word guide to the art.
Another free resource from Copyhackers, this list is both amusing and highly-constructive. Thanks to its depth, I believe every marketer can benefit from adding it to their arsenal.
It’s easy to browse the archives of Gary Bencinvenga’s beloved newsletter, which specializes in short, “bullet-like” tips on how to best sell with words.