Category Archives: writing

K.I.S.S.

Sunday, 3:09pm
Reno, NV
“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, unless you’ve got a black hole handy.”

Howdy.

Nice, short post here today. In keeping with the theme “KISS.”

Veteran entrepreneurs recognize this, of course, as an acronym of “Keep It Simple, Stupid“… easily some of the best biz advice I ever received in my long career. I carefully printed this slogan out, by hand, on a big notecard and had it taped above my desk for years (though, my sign was even more direct and vicious: Keep It Simple, Shithead. I wanted to get my own attention.)

I made good use of slogans during the early days. “Business before pleasure” was also huge for me, since I’d squandered my youth as a party-hardy slacker… and simply re-directing my energy first to biz (and having evil fun afterward, if I still had any juice left) instantly changed my entire existence. I made a vow to myself — my first real vow that I took deadly seriously — to follow that self-administered advice without hesitation or complaint… and to never apologize for basing my career on a hackneyed phrase that few people ever thought twice about. And that’s when things started popping for me, success-wise.

That was a key realization: All those dog-eared rickety slogans, as mocked as they are, have earned their way into the culture…

… because they Continue Reading

R.I.P. Elvis Sightings & Exploding Preachers

 

Thursday, 2:52pm
Reno, NV
He was a one-eyed, one horn, flying purple people eater…” (Sheb Wooley)

Howdy.

In the spirit of screwing off as much as possible this fine July, I’m replenishing the blog with another oldie-but-goodie post from the archives.

So you’ve got something good to chew on, while I wander off to the beach to get pounded by merciless surf and fried by an uncaring sun. You know: Good times.

Anyway, I love meandering through the archives here… especially when I find a post that still packs some mojo.

Here’s a nice short one from ’07, on the non-scientific process of finding great hooks for your headlines. At the time, I was bummed that a favorite newsstand shock-rag was ending its run… however, the good news is that WWN is still alive and kicking (just like Elvis) online. (Today’s headline: “Saturn Ready To Explode!” Um… okay.)

The ability to find a way to hook readers (and drag them into your story) is what separates the Big Dog writers from the wannabe’s. And creating hooks (especially from otherwise boring raw material) is an art form that needs to be developed. It’s not a skill that comes with your standard brain equipment.

Here’s some insight to how the best veteran copywriters do it, slightly edited, via the Archive Time Machine, from July ’07:Continue Reading

How To Murder Stress, Part 1

Tuesday, 3:29pm
Reno, NV
I can’t seem to face up to the facts, I’m tense and nervous and I can’t relax…” (Talking Heads, “Psycho Killer”)

Howdy…

What’s the matter, Bunky?

The news got you down?  The economy keeping you up at night?  Are sales in the toilet, creditors stalking you, clients not returning calls, the sheer angst of living in a modern tech-drenched world chewing holes in your gut?

Would you like to hear how grizzled veterans handle the evils of stress?

It’s good stuff… because, as everyone should realize, you don’t get to BE a grizzled veteran if you can’t handle stress.  Cuz that shit will eat your ass alive and send you to an early grave.

In fact, this is easily one of the fundamental tools for surviving the Bidness Never-Ending Cage Fight.  I noticed, in the first years of my freelance career (when I was searching semi-desperately for clues on how to become successful), that there were biz owners who were having fun… and there were other owners not having any fun at all.

Age had nothing to do with it.  Nor health (though the fun-havers consistently were in better shape).  Nor gender, nor — and this is important — how successful they were.

The difference was simply how they handled stress.Continue Reading

Sex, Fun, Money… and More Sex

Monday, 9:27pm
Reno, NV
Oops, I did it again…”  (Britney, God love her…)

Howdy…

I’m on a roll here, grabbing criminally-ignored posts from the blog archives…

… and re-posting them prominently, so you criminally ignore them no longer.  With a few minor edits, of course, tailoring the prose to fit today’s quirky needs for advice.  (Hey, you don’t fit into your old high school jeans anymore, either, you know.)

Here, we have another dangerously-tasty post from not too long ago… which, I believe, requires no explanation other than to say it’s some serious insight into the writer’s brain.

You do NOT want to venture into this quagmire without a guide.  Which is what I’ve written here — a short “guide to the writer’s mind”.

Not exactly a hot Disneyland ride, but if you’re in business it’s some wicked-valuable info.

So, indulge, and enjoy (if you dare):

I’m gonna need your feedback on this.

See, I’ve always been a wave or two out of the mainstream… and that’s actually helped me be a better business dude, because this outsider status forces me to pay extra attention to what’s going on (so I can understand who I’m writing my ads to).

This extra focus means I’ve never taken anything for granted — especially not those weird emotional/rational triggers firing off in a prospect’s head while I’m wooing him on a sale.

And trust me on this: Most folks out there truly have some WEIRD shit going on in their heads, Continue Reading

Operation MoneySuck 2.0

Tuesday, 2:32pm
Reno, NV
And you may ask yourself, where does that highway go?” (Talking Heads)

Howdy.

Quickie post today…

… on a very important topic.

You hear me nattering about “Operation MoneySuck” all the time.  And some folks are confused about what it means.

So let’s do a refresher.

Here’s the story: Early in my career, I was hired by advertising legend Gary Halbert to help him write ads for clients.  The first day I arrived at his offices on Sunset Blvd (in West Hollywood), we were scheduled to slam out copy and plot “next moves” with some current clients.

However, just as my butt hit the chair across from his desk, two (count ‘em, two) secretaries AND his red-headed girlfriend (notorious for getting her way) burst in with bad news.

Lots of bad news, in fact.  The printer had just broken down, and shit needed to get copied NOW.  Some guy was ranting and raving on Line 2, threatening legal action over something.  The landlord was on the way up in the elevator, because there was a problem with the lease.  The bank was on Line 1, and so on.

These women were shaking with panic and consternation, freaked out by the urgent crisis-level emergencies that…

HAD

… to be dealt with…

NOW!

I sighed, and started to gather my stuff, ready to split until Gary had attended to all of this mayhem.

Instead, he held up his hand… shushed everyone… and gently ushered the secretaries AND his red-headed girlfriend (notorious for getting her way) out the door…Continue Reading

Lessons From Amateur Drunk Night

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Thursday, 11:30am
Reno, NV
You’re young, you’re drunk, you’re in bed, you have knives… shit happens.” (Angelina Jolie)

Howdy…

Did you go out and do any damage on New Year’s Eve?

Hope you got home safe, if you did.

The world turns into Crazy Town every 12/31, and you can’t projectile-puke in any direction without hitting people who seldom (or should never) drink pounding down Jagermeister and double-bourbons like they’re channeling Hunter S. Thompson in his prime.

It’s been years since I’ve ventured away from home for New Year’s…

… and even then, I only went out because I was sitting in with a band in some bar or club.

There’s a small bit of safety being on a stage while the rookies party below. Even in the sleaziest biker bar I’ve ever had the pleasure of performing in… the bad-asses never assaulted the band.

They might bust a tweaker’s head against the bar just to see what the dude looked like sprawled on the floor…Continue Reading

DIY vs. Mentoring

jc photo 11

Thursday, 12:15pm
Reno, NV
It’s too hard.  You’ll never figure it out.” (What the first copywriter I ever met told me about writing ads.)

Howdy…

I’m going to tell you about two promises here.

The stories behind them may help you chart out the rest of your life… as they did mine.

Harken:

Promise #1:

The above quote (“It’s too hard.  You’ll never figure it out.”) are the exact words that a professional copywriter said to me when I innocently asked for advice.

They are burned into my cerebral cortex, because it was one of the first times I had ever nurtured a small ember of actual hope about my future in business…

… and she crushed it like a bug.

All I’d wanted from her was a smidgen of advice. Maybe point me in the right direction.  Or offer a small word of encouragement.

I was lost at the time.  Trapped in the drudgery of a dead-end J.O.B. that sucked big-time.

And I was genuinely clueless about the process of writing anything for business.  I’d never met a real copywriter before, and was very interested in finding out more.

I didn’t even know what the word “mentor” meant at the time… but I suppose I would have squirmed with joy if she had said, instead, something like “Let me help you learn how to do this.”

Still, she did me a HUGE favor by being such a miserable, hateful bitch.

As I stood at her desk, burning with shame for having asked for something and been so brutally refused…

… I promised myself that I would prove her wrong.

And I used that promise as motivation whenever I needed some extra oomph in the next year or so, as I figured out — on my own, without help from anyone — how to write killer sales messages.

So I owe her one.  She did me a proper by igniting my until-then-dormant ability to Do It Myself.  Literally with a vengeance.

I launched my solo career as a freelance writer entirely on my own.  I took the Do It Yourself ethic and ran with it…Continue Reading

More Free Goodies Than You Probably Deserve…

CB107701

Sunday, 7:57pm
Reno, NV
It’s alive!” (Baron Von Frankenstein, kickstarting the Monster)

Howdy…

We’ve just fired up the Simple Writing System blog (www.simplewritingsystem.com/blog)…

… which means a stunning (and unprecedented) pile of free tools, tactics, advice and insight can be yours…

… just for the grabbing.

This is an all-out assault on reason and logic.  We’re just GIVING AWAY stuff that — not too long ago — would have cost you a pretty penny just to get a quick glimpse of.

We’ve created a beast here, and it’s name is FREE.

Here’s just a small taste of what’s piling up over there (that you’re missing out on if you haven’t signed in):

  • A free swipe file of “home run” ads I’ve written (which few folks outside the target markets have ever seen)… can be in your tool kit tonight.  This swipe file, alone, is causing hearts to skip a beat among marketers and freelance writers who love to rip juicy headlines and sales angles from proven ads.  (Removes any guesswork on who/what to rip.)
  • A short (but frightenly powerful) series of special reports channeling the best “how to make the sale” secrets I’ve ever used.  (I used to keep this stuff classified, only bringing it out during high-paid consultations… and here we are giving it away.)
  • The actual video (torn directly from the masters hidden in Frank’s inner sanctum) of my “How to persuade, influence and sell the shit out of anything… using the simplest stories you can create” presentation at Mass Control.

What?  You didn’t see that presentation?

It’s marketing theater at its finest… Continue Reading

Need A Damn Good Copywriter To Save Your Butt?

typewriter

Monday, 9:21pm
Reno, NV
Stop sniveling…” (Pretenders, “Tatooed Love Boys”)

Howdy…

Quick note here for those in need.

I’ve been almost completely retired from freelancing for some time now.  I still indulge a few long-time clients…

… but I haven’t taken on a new gig in over a year.

I’m devoting my time to teaching, and writing stuff for myself.

This makes me happy.

But it bums out business owners and entrepreneurs in a major way.  Because, often, someone will realize they need copy written…

… and they know, deep down, that I’m the guy who needs to write it to squeeze out max results…

… and… here’s the sad part…  they cannot bribe, cajole, threaten or offer me enough money to come out of this semi-retirement to do the gig.

Man, that’s frustrating.

Here’s the good news, though: I can now offer you… the next best thing.

If you need a writer who meets my strict, Operation MoneySuck, no-BS-allowed requirements for professionalism and quality…

… I now have a small “stable” full of them.

And we’ve just released a simple program that gives you immediate access.Continue Reading

Thieving Bastards

blog8-09

Sunday, 7:36pm
Reno, NV
A thief believes everybody steals.” (E.W. Howe)

Howdy…

For those of you bugging me about the next Quiz…

… it’s coming, it’s coming.

Soon.

Tonight, though, I’ve gotta get something off my chest.

And so, a Rant.  By little Johnny Carlton:

Ahem.

There seems to be a parasite bug infecting the brains of many marketers out there.

Let’s call this bug… “Theft“.

It’s not going away anytime soon.

In fact, the very word has been mutating for a long time now… so that what would have easily been labeled “stealing” in the bad-old pre-Web days…Continue Reading


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