Category Archives for General Archives

Psst! C’mere, I Got Something For Ya…


Friday, 5:24pm
Reno, NV
Step right up, we got bargains galore…” (Tom Waits, “Step Right Up”)


I’ve had a flood of new folks wander in through the side door of this blog lately…

… so I thought I’d just catch everyone up on what’s happening.

Happenin’ Thang #1: I’m speaking at my dear friend (and legend in the biz) Joe Sugarman’s seminar (in Vegas, baby!) on the 24/25th of October.

The line-up of speakers is pretty shocking — Joe Polish, Jon Benson (VSL wizard), just a mob of snarling experts who rarely are in the same room at one time.

Rather than re-explain how awesome this seminar will be (and it’s a “must be there” event… and nearly all the hottest “A List” copywriters I know booked their spot the moment they heard about it)…

… I’m just gonna post the URL, so you can check it out for yourself. Time is tight. And anyone who understands how unique this kind of event is, and why it’s so critical for entrepreneurs to hang out at live seminars and brush elbows with experts is already salivating over the opportunities this opens up.

Go here to see why so many pro’s are going to the Sugarman event.

Happenin’ Thang #2: As many of you already know, I’ve been co-hosting a killer new podcast series called “Psych Insights for Modern Marketers” with my colleague Kevin Rogers (who has authored several guest posts on this blog).

It’s killer stuff… all focused on going deep into the street-level salesman’s psychology of what makes people buy. You won’t find subject matter like this anywhere else, and you sure as heck won’t get the deep-behind-the-scenes insight from grizzled professionals like me on any other podcast.

Plus… it’s free.

Go here to check out the latest podcast. I hang out in the comments section, too, so feel free to start a thread or join one of the existing brouhaha’s already getting frothy in there.

Happenin’ Thang #3: If you haven’t subscribed to my Facebook page, you’re missing out on the frequent posting I do there… especially the Monday Mentoring Sessions, which reveal the essential lessons I’ve learned (always the hard way, by getting bloody first and only then figuring out where I went wrong and how to fix it next time) on becoming a happy, successful dude.

I’m usually over the limit on “friends” there, so just subscribe as a “follower” — you get the same privileges.

My Facebook handle is:

Last note: I’ll be posting more original articles next month.

For now, if you’re jonesing for more stuff to dive into, just hit the archives over in the right-hand column here.

Coming up on nine years of material in there. All free.

Be sure to sign up for alerts, though, so you find out when new posts are added. Top of the right hand column, in the “Keep Informed” box.

Use your best email, not your slog one. I’m not gonna spam you, or send too much stuff — I usually send out no more than a couple of emails each month, all related to things you (as an entrepreneur, writer, biz owner or freelancer) will appreciate discovering.

Okay, that’s it for today. Lots of great stuff available here, and you ignore any of it at your peril.

Enjoy your Halloween, and I’ll see you here next month.

Stay frosty,


Goin’ Down To Kernville, Gonna See Some Friends o’ Mine…

Sunday, 9:48pm
Reno, NV
“Jerry was a race car driver, 22 years old…” (?)


Just checking in, to make sure you know I’m still kicking.

Busy, busy, busy. Virtual classes for the Simple Writing System start this week, you know.

Tell you what: To celebrate, let’s give out some…


In fact — what the hell — let’s have TWO contests.

C’mon. What d’ya say?

Contesto Numero Uno: First person to name the band AND fill out the last two lines of the song I quoted above (just below the date)…Read more…

I Think We Beat NBC For The Entrepreneur Demographic

Thursday, 11:55am
Reno, NV
I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” (Network.)


I hope you had a chance to drop by the “Carlton Talking Head” video show last Monday.

It was a blast. Thousands of folks from all over the globe tuned in…

… and while I have no intention of actually checking, I’m saying we beat all other media for that hour in the demographics we care about: Entrepreneurs and biz owners and budding writers.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

It was a proper launch for the now-infamous Simple Writing System at-home mentoring program (the 5th time we’ve offered it, and possibly the last). It was wild, it was fun, and it was a breathtaking learning experience that will change forever the way we do biz from here on.

Here are 2 background notes on the story you might find interesting:

1. The power went out all over Reno 15 minutes before we went live.

But did I panic?

Read more…

John On Live Video!

Sunday, 1:30pm
Reno, NV
“5… 4… 3… 2… 1…”


Quick note here for anyone who wants to know:

We are officially opening the doors to the Simple Writing System 5 at-home mentoring program… tomorrow, Monday, April 6th… at 2pm Eastern/11am Pacific.


… I will begin a live video feed — of me, in my cluttered office, uncensored and unrehearsed — one-half hour earlier (1:30pm EDT/10:30am PDT).

You can ask questions by posting in the live chat feed. (Don’t be shy about just saying “Hi”, too — it’s always good to know that friends are tuning in just to see if I screw it all up.)

And you know what?

I just may open the doors early. To reward those folks smart enough to check things out when the action starts.

By “open”, of course, I mean we’re finally releasing spots in the mentoring program. It’s a big damn deal to know about the precise hour we open ‘er up… because there really are a specific number of slots available… and when they’ve been snatched up, that’s all she wrote.

This is the fifth time we’ve held some version of this SWS at-home mentoring program. All previous programs filled up quickly.

We do NOT, however, have current plans to hold another one.

Why not? Because it’s nearly freaking impossible to corral all the professional writers in the faculty into a 2-month commitment like this.

And that’s why this program is totally unique… and why it works so well.

I have a dozen of the most recognized pro copywriters in the world under contract to be hands-on teachers in this interactive program. They’re more than just helping me out, so I don’t get spread too thin with students. They are a vital part of the mentoring, getting down into the details with you on an almost daily schedule.

To get more info on the program, go here:

You’ll see the full faculty line-up. (We’ve got ALL the pro writers from SWS4 returning… and there are a couple of new writers eager to get involved this time out.)

Plus, you’ll get the lowdown on the hot new addition to the program: The sizzling “777 Sessions”.

These are special webinars — using students in the SWS5 program — hosted by some of the biggest names in Web marketing: Rich Schefren, Jeff Walker, Brian Clark (of, Perry Marshall, Jeff Johnson, Andy Jenkins (Stompernet), and Tellman Knudsen.

This is eye-poppin’ stuff. Literally, the opportunity of a lifetime to finally get hip to easily and quickly writing killer sales copy (whenever you need it, from now on)…

… while being mentored by the best in the game.

This is one-on-one coaching, with lots of opportunity to interact with other students, other mentors, and everyone else in the program.

It’s dirt cheap, too. As so many graduates have said: The first time you use even a single step from the system, you’ll make your money back.

And the first time you DON’T have to hire a freelancer to do your writing for you… well, you’ve probaby saved two-to-ten times your money, right off the bat.

But the REAL fun comes when you realize just how FAST you can put your business on steroids… because you can suddenly slam out EVERYTHING that needs to be written, in record time…

… and KNOW that you’re doing it right.

You’ll hit all the right buttons to grab the attention of your prospect, guide him through your sales funnel, get him so excited he can’t stand it…

… and be able to close the deal like a pro.

And this system works for ads, websites, video scripts, email, speeches… everything you need from here on out.

No matter how long you’ve been in business — from raw rookie beginner, to grizzled veteran — this program has been PROVEN to blow right through all the skepticism, all the learning problems you’ve had before, and all the excuses you’ve ever had that have kept you from finally learning to write.

It happens quick. You’re in great hands — we know what we’re doing…

… and we do it really, really, really freaking well.

So hop over to the site, early Monday morning.

Watch me get all hyped up and crazy on live video.

There’s no telling WHAT the heck I might do, you know.

There are “early sign up” bonuses, too.

Oh, it’s gonna be fun.

See you (literally, you’ll see me) tomorrow.

Stay frosty,


The Simple Writing System

Wednesday, 12:29pm
Reno, NV
“Nothing good will ever happen in your biz until your copy gets written.” (Me.)


I’m just watching out for you here, in case you missed any of the news: We’ve made the at-home mentoring program in the Simple Writing System available again.

It’s been six months since we last allowed people in.

I’ve put another superstar faculty of teachers together… which includes top, respected professional writers like Harlan Kilstein, Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero, David Garfinkel, Mike Morgan, Kevin Rogers, and many others.

If you have yet to explore what this hand-holding, intensely interactive program offers…

… then, dude, you need to look into it now.

There are fascinating “case studies” up on the site:

Plus a ton of free goodies… like the video of my notorious presentation at Frank Kern’s last Mass Control seminar. I put the crowd through the paces of how to tell a great story. (This is a big damn exclusive, too — no one outside of Frank’s inner circles have ever seen this presentation before.)

More important, we’re about to accept folks into the interactive mentoring program in just a few days…

… so even if you’re just curious, you need to stay in the loop by opting in.

What’s the big deal?

There’s just zero other opportunity to get hands-on mentoring like this anywhere else in the world.

And it’s a freaking bargain, too. One of the main reasons entrepreneurs and biz owners flock to this program is that the FIRST time they write their own sales copy… and skip hiring a freelancer (even the cheapest one out there)…

… they’re ahead. Just on cost alone.

The piles of treasure that come from learning how to write a good sales message make this simple act of getting some mentoring the most lucrative thing you can ever do in your life.

There are 4 case studies on the Simple Writng System site.

One from a rookie who had struggled getting anything written at all for her online business.

Results of getting mentoring from my crew: Conversions have quadrupled.

And biz is so good, her husband just quit his “main” job and has joined her in the now-super-profitable biz.

Another case study reveals how a business owner got so instantly good at using copy to sell… that he’s now being begged by every colleague and other marketer he knows to write ads and webpages for them, too.

He’s probably gonna sell his business, and just go freelance with writing full time. Pays better, more time off, absolutely no lack of marketers desperate for his help.

Another fascinating case study: Frustrated marketer puts in 9 months with other “copy guru’s”, yet still can’t write to save his life after all that coaching.

Finally discovers the Simple Writing System. Immediate results: Triples conversions, which also triples profit, on his main site.

Then there’s the “Big Buck Challenge” case study, with Web rock star Tellman Knudsen.

He actually taunted me into giving the rookie writer working with him just a few of the steps in the Simple Writing System… with the idea that he would viciously test the new site for one week… and thus expose my system for the obvious failure.

He even picked one of the worst months in the US economy to do his testing.

Man, he was out to humiliate me.

Except the new site crushed the old one. Quadrupled results, bringing in over $100,000 unexpected bucks per month… which translates to over a million bucks in the coming year.

All from just a few tweaks, by his rookie writer, using a fraction of the Simple Writing System steps.

Look… I know people are skeptical as hell about all of this.

I rarely meet anyone these days who hasn’t been burned by some self-annointed copywriter teacher… who may have had a lot of success as a freelancer, but just cannot teach writing.

I’ve spent 20 years mastering the many different ways that people learn stuff. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to mentoring… and I designed the Simple Writing System to work with anyone, in any situation, with (almost) any kind of peculiar learning requirements.

We’ve been helping rookies, frustrated professionals, folks for whom English is a second language, biz owners from all over the globe, even blind entrepreneurs.

We know how to teach this stuff. So it’s easy, and even fun to finally sit down and start slamming out everything you need written for your business to thrive.

There are no exceptions, really. (I suppose if you’re just the most stubborn person in the world, absolutely commited to never succeeding, you won’t do well in this program.)

We’ve really overdone it this time, too.

I wasn’t sure I could pull the faculty together again, even after the success of the last mentoring program, six months ago.

However, everyone eagerly re-enlisted. For at least one last go-round.

There’s more, but what’s critical right now is that you get over to the site and opt in, so you can get the free goodies:

The free stuff and the case study interviews will ONLY be available for a few more days…

… and then it all goes back into the vaults (where no one can access them).

So head over there right now, while you’re thinking about it.

We’re posting — and giving more goodies away — every day for the next couple of days.

In fact, I gotta get back in the saddle here — I’m recording a video comparing the before-and-after tweaks that gave a website a 300% goose in results, instantly.

You just gotta see this stuff. Every single tactic is something you can use in your own business (especially online).

It’s particularly nice to note that all the case studies (and all the stunning testimonials we’re getting) were done during this current recession.

The people who learn to make marketing work aren’t complaining about the economy — they’re just continuing to pile up the results.

Stay frosty,

John Carlton

P.S. Here’s a couple of testimonials from the Simple Writing System you might find intriguing:

“Bottom line: Profits have tripled… without changing even one other aspect of my marketing. All I’m doing differently is applying the lessons I learned in this mentoring program.

I’ve spent thousands on different products claiming to reveal how to make your sales page work… and I’ve had two well-known Internet marketing gurus coach me up to 9 months each… and yet I still struggled to write, and what I ground out wasn’t very effective.

Since going through the Simple Writing System, however, I can now knock out sales pages within a couple of hours… and they get results. I recouped my investment here in the first couple of weeks.” Andrew Rondeau, UK

“I made my biggest product sale ever because of one email where I used the formulas I learned in the SWS. It retailed at 25,000euro ($35,000 US), and that one email did the job that otherwise would have required multiple calls and a lot of back-and-forth.

Writing is so natural now, I can’t imagine that I ever didn’t know how to do it. Another thing: Before, spending all day writing copy was a nightmare, and I really didn’t understand what was needed. Yet the pro writers I paid a small fortune to for help couldn’t produce the hooks I learned in the SWS. Their stuff didn’t work.

So I learned John’s system out of pure necessity. And now that I’m so good at it, I’m considering selling the business and becoming a full-time freelance copywriter — I think I’d like the lifestyle.” Otto Tromm, Belgium

“Since graduating (from the Simple Writing System) my conversion has quadrupled. Last month I wrote everything for my first-ever launch, and brought in $12,000.

The 17-point check list never leaves my desk — the process works so well, it’s freaky. In fact, things have been going SO well that my husband quit his job and is joining on with me.

Taking this course is the best money I’ve spent in the 3 years since starting my business (and I’ve bought from all guru’s, too). Just getting critiques from John and the faculty was worth the price of the course itself. I now know exactly what to write to get people to open up wallets and gladly pay for my products and services.” Stacey Morgenstern, San Francisco, CA

A Little Biz

Thursday, 10:19pm
Reno, NV
Psst, c’mere, I wanna talk to ya…” (“Down In Hollywood”, Ry Cooder)


Listen. I’m just doing a drive-by blog tonight.

We’ve simply got so much going on this week, that I’ve got to keep my nose to the grindstone. Get some sleep, stay frosty, corral some deals that are currently roaming out there in the ether.

So I just want to touch base here, and make sure you’re in the loop on some of this.

First Loop Thing: I have been on the phone these past two days with a “Who’s Who” of online marketing.

Check out this line up — Rich Schefren, Perry Marshall, Andy Jenkins, Jeff Walker, Brian Clark, Tellman Knudsen…

… and guess what?

Every one of them has agreed to participate in this mysterious little business adventure Stan and I are cooking up, as we speak. (You’ll get advance notice in less than 2 weeks, if you watch the blog.)

Things get a bit giddy when the talent pool goes high-end like this.

And no, I’m not gonna reveal what’s up… yet.

But I will tell you this: For a few smart business owners, an opportunity is about to arrive that will give you exclusive personal access to these experts…

… with me as a referee. And, probably, ring leader, too.

It’s gonna be something special.

You’ll be thrilling the grandkids with this story for a long time.

What you can do now… is to make sure you’re on the blog notification list (top right of this page).

So you will get early warning of anything cool and worthwhile happening.

Second Loop Thing: I want to remind you that my much-revered Freelance Course is available again.

After a hiatus of over a year.

If you want to juice-up your current freelance efforts with some serious professional mojo…

… or if the lifestyle of a pro freelance writer (the money! the fame! the adventure!) has always appealed to you…

… then you must see what all the fuss is about here:

No obligation when you hop over and see what’s up on this site.

However, be aware that I’ve pulled the course from circulation before (for over a year last time)… and will do so again if the coaching thing gets too crowded with copywriters.

So, yeah, you probably do want to get over there right away, and check ‘er out.


… I want to thank Kevin Rogers, again, for handling the first “guest post” on this blog so well. It was a blast trading barbs and jokes with other writers in the comments section.


… I want to thank, again, all the folks who chimed in with thoughts, advice, and insight to how we are presenting the Freelance Course. It was very helpful.

I’m always open to opinion and suggestions.

And I am constantly impressed — and stricken with gratitude — when I witness just how smart and hip the audience for this little blog is.

Really, guys. Thanks for putting up with me, and thanks for staying involved through your comments, emails, and all the other ways you make my job so damned enjoyable. (Note to the person down in Vegas last month, who recognized me walking by and wanted a handshake and quick photo. Glad to oblige. Mike Koenigs took the photo, but we lost the biz card you gave us! So we can’t mail the photo to you. If you’re reading, we need your address. One nice photo of you and me in the Wynn is waiting…)

And if there’s anything — anything at all — you’d like to see discussed or addressed in this blog, just say so.

Good time to do that would be… oh, now.


Stay frosty,

John Carlton

Let Loose The Dogs Of Freelance Wealth

Wednesday, 9:07pm
Reno, NV
“You can’t handle the truth!” Col. Jessup, blowing it


I’d like some feedback on this, if you got a minute.

We have — just tonight, less than an hour ago — finally pulled the trigger on the new website offering the sought-after “Freelance Course” I’ve been teasing people about for months.

If you’re uninterested in the freelance life, you can skip this small favor I’m asking.


… if your heart beats just a little faster when you consider the freedom, big bucks and glory of a successful freelance writing career…

… then you’re gonna want to check this out.

Here’s what I want you to do: Just hop over to this new site…

… read it with your normal jaded, stubborn reluctance to believe anything anyone says about anything…

… and see if the copy here meets the test of overcoming the outrageous level of stubborness of the average wannabe freelancer.

Here’s the site:

I’m doing this, because… if I can’t get the point of this opportunity across to the readers of this blog (who are easily the most worthy candidates for this information)…

… then I’ve got some work to do re-jiggering the pitch.

C’mon. Be brutal. Here’s your chance to shake-down some Carlton copy.

And, yeah, sure…

… you’re at some small risk of succumbing to the offer.

But I’m sure a strong, confidant, filthy rich marketer like you can survive such a simple, straight-forward appeal.

I mean, the whole sales angle is as uncluttered as possible: If you’ve ever wanted to make the Big Bucks with your writing skills…

… or if you’re a freelancer who is struggling because no one is watching your back (or sharing the inside secrets of the game)…

… then a slight twinge of desire may ripple through your veins when you see what’s available.

I mean, I sure wish a simple shortcut like this was available back when I started my career as a freelance copywriter.

It would have shortened my search for wealth, fame and respect by…

… oh, around ten years. At least.

Look, I’m sure you’re doing fine. More clients than you can handle, rave reviews on everything you do, results up the yin-yang.

I’d still like to hear your thoughts about the site.

A lot of people’s lives have been changed, dramatically and quickly, by what you’re about to see.

But, I dunno… the “noise” level of the Web is so loud these days, it’s hard to be heard.

No matter how legit or how critical the message is.

So please do me the honor of looking the site over, will ya?


Stay frosty,

John Carlton

P.S. Quick story: Back during my first mid-life crisis, I quit the business world, and decided to try writing some fiction for a year or so.

I attended a couple of hard-to-get-into writer’s conferences (including the very prestigious Squaw Valley Writer’s Conference in Tahoe)…

… and I had a series of nasty reality checks that brought me rather quickly back into the game of marketing.

See, whenever any of the writers at these gatherings discovered that I routinely earned more from writing a single ad… than the best of them could earn in a year writing an entire novel (which required months and months and months of grueling research, writing, editing, and sweating over)…

… well, they were flabbergasted.

And these were the BEST of the group. The ones who had actually made ANY money at all with fiction. (And most of those novels took longer than a year to write. Average time to create a novel that gets published: 5 years. Whoa.)

The majority — easily 99 of every 100 in attendance — had never made Dime One from anything they’d written.

They were skilled writers.

They just had never figured out how to turn that skill into cash.

I realized two things:

1. Fiction really was only gonna be a hobby for me. (I didn’t fit in too well with most of the wannabe-novelists — they were too freaking idealistic, and naive about the world.) (Give me a street-wise salesman any day — the stories are better, the insight more profound.)

2. And — most important — I got back in touch with that feeling I had back when I received my first check for writing some copy for a client.

It was pure, raw euphoria. I was getting PAID — a LOT — to do something I loved: Write.

Freelance copywriting saved my life. It gave me an important, critical position in the world — business owners desperately needed me.

It offered me the independence and freedom to be myself. However weird, eccentric and lazy I was… as a freelancer, I could create my own damn lifestyle.

And, eventually, I attained something else I’d craved since becoming an adult: Respect.

I could do something crucial, something essential… that most of the business world feared, could not understand and considered voodoo.

I was free… I had mounting fame that I earned… and I was the master of my ship.

It’s a great gig.

For the right person, freelance copywriting is the ONLY profession worth striving to get really, really, really fookin’ good at.

If you’re one of us, this “Freelance Course” may be exactly what you need to get a fresh start on living the life you want. On your terms.

Or not.

The gig isn’t for everyone.

Read the site we just put up.

See if, just perhaps, you’re actually one of us. And all you need is a little inside help to get moving.

Here’s the site again:

Big Damn Update: Thursday night, late…

Thanks to everyone for their feedback.

And a bigger thanks to all the folks who came aboard. We’re way past expectations for sales, and fresh momentum seems to be building all on its own.


I love providing the fuel for someone’s new adventure in life… and, again, there is NO other career like freelancing for writers who crave maximum freedom, treasure and fame.

(After the first few comments that came in, savvy writers who know the power of this stuff started piling on with personal stories of success and happiness. It’s worth a quick read to see how the writing world regards this kind of opportunity, both good and bad…)


Well, That Was Fun…

Friday, 9:02pm
Reno, NV
“I’ve given it all she’s got, Cap’n. If I push any harder, the whole thing’ll blow!” Scotty, Chief Engineer, US Enterprise NCC1701



Wednesday’s little quiz really stirred up a shit-storm (so to speak).

I am shocked — SHOCKED — at the level of potty-mouthed dialog that went on in the comments section.

Okay, actually, I’m laughing so hard my stomach hurts.

Thanks, guys. Really. From deep in my heart, I appreciate all the shared wisdom and wild-ass stabs at delivering the answer to the question: “What is Rule #3 for Physically Maintaining A Kick-Ass Writer’s Existence.”

I’m sorry I couldn’t comment during the brawl that broke out, but I was on the road. Strict radio silence.

As it turns out, the winner roared across the finish line just a few minutes after the post hit RSS feeds. I’m just really glad the answers continued to pour in, anyway.

I’ll reveal the lucky fella in just a moment.


… drum roll, please…

… The Correct Answer:


“Be A Good Animal”.

That’s polite code for purging your tubes — all of ’em — regularly.

This includes your intake tubes…

… your elimination tubes…

… your reproduction tubes…

… and every other tubage that processes snot, shit, wax, oil, hormones, lube, sweat, and all the other fluids and quasi-solids produced by your system.

(Are you blushing yet?)

You can’t write when any part of your animal structure is constipated — including the usual back-ups…

… AND the metaphysical stuff like emotional blockages and stockpiled anger.

Every great writer I’ve ever met knows about the need to be a good animal. Pick your favorite beast, and use it as an Avatar.

Puma. Tiger. Lion. Hyena. Meercat. Whatever.

Stay clean, lean and mean… and keep all body parts functioning at primo levels.

(By the way, not all great writers follow this advice. Ignoring this rule is how you get your Hemingways and your Hunter Thompsons and your Kerouacs… brilliance gone to shit, and even suicide, because the system broke down from abuse.)

Look — I’m no tea-totaller.

Just ask the crew of writers I invited to this last Hot Seat seminar in San Francisco. We channeled the Algonquin Table every night… and there’s a good chance the rumors you’ve heard are true.

It was an over-the-top blast.

You get a bunch of thirsty writers together for longer than an hour, and stand back. The verbal riots will not be televised.

However, there were overtones of moderation, even as we bent elbows till they tossed us out on the sidewalks.

Cuz we had a job to do… and our strict professionalism demanded fealty to the gig.

And that’s the key: Moderation.

Yes, it’s a cliche.

Doesn’t matter.

Good animals indulge in life with gusto, and eagerly embrace vivid, reality-crunching experience.

But they are also serious about recovery, and about maintaining a near-perfect Zen-like balance before and after those bouts with excess.

Don’t let yourself get constipated, on any level, in any part of your system.

That’s the rule.

The details of how you clean your pipes are up to you.

God knows there were plenty of detailed examples in the comment section.

I am SO pleased with all of you. I think folks will be talking about this little quiz for a long time.

Okay — the winner:


The fourth person to chime in.

Nice work. To win your prize — a fresh, signed copy of “Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Markeing Rebel” — simply reply to any email you’ve gotten from us to your main email address, Jesus. (Easiest would be the email notification you get when a new post appears in this blog.)

Put something about winning the blog quiz in the subject line. And give us your mailing address.

My personal assistant, Diane, will take care of everything else.

There were lots and lots of honorable mentions in the mob. Too many to name.

And nearly as many dishonorable mentions. Some of those were my favorites. (Kevin, Lorrie, Nathan, Matt… you should all be ashamed of yourselves.) (In a good way, of course. You all gave excellent insight to how real, working writers navigate their day.)

That was just a load of fun.

Thanks to everyone who made my day by making me laugh… and think… and realize there are still many different ways to skin a cat. So to speak.


Have a great weekend, will ya?


Stay frosty,

John Carlton

P.S. For the record…

… I’m writing this P.S. late on Saturday, and I want it noted that I’ve received several Twitter notes from people who DID blush reading this.

They just didn’t want to come out and admit it in the comments here.

Folks: It’s okay to not be a ribald, sex-obsessed, semi-degenerate as a copywriter.

However, most of the best do tend to lean to the dark side. And, truth be told, they actually enjoy the atmosphere there, and jive well with the company.

Just note that for future reference, and get back to writing as well as you can, using what you have in your Bag of Tricks.

But also, you should congratulate yourself for daring to peek into the darkness a little bit. No one will fault you for blushing.

Shyness and inexperience can be overcome.

The ONLY thing that disqualifies you from eventually becoming “great” as a writer (fiction, nonficition, or copy)…

… is cowardice.

We have to go where most fear to tread. We have to buck up and see the world as it is, not as we wish it were or believe it ought to be.

Writers need to be realists. And embrace reality, good or bad.

It’s not a gig for wussies.

Quiz Time Again (Avoid this one if you blush easily)

Wednesday, 2:41pm
Las Vegas, NV
“Goan ta Lost Wages, Lost Wages…” (Steely Dan)


Got a new question for ya. And I’d love to hear what you think the answer is.

Please post your shot in the comments section below.

I’ll read ’em all (and you should, too) cuz the input that comes in via these little quiz thingies is often pure gold.

However — just to keep it interesting — the FIRST right answer scores a free copy of “Kick Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel” (or a copy of the about-to-finally-be-re-released “Freelance Course”).

Unfortunately, you’ll have to engage your brain for this one. I kinda doubt there’s more than a handful of folks out there tuned in enough to actually know the right answer.

I’ll reveal everything on Friday, after I get back from this grueling road-trip I’m on. (Currently in Sin City for the SANG thang — goofing off and hanging out with the likes of Jeff Walker, Rich Schefren, Brian Johnson, Mike Koenigs, Stephen Pierce, Shawn Casey, Joe Sugarman, and too many more to name here.)

(Just heard Tony Robbins last night — great talk, and my mind is still racing from what he shared with us.) (Hint: How to thrive in the world as the economy plays out its destiny according to historical trends.)

(Also saw Paula Abdul, of American Idol, give her first public talk. I’ve got photos.)

(More on all this in a later post. I’ve got an iffy Web connection here in the Wynn suite that’s been my home for several days, and I just wanna touch base here… and rile things up a bit until I get back home.)

So here’s the quiz:

In a recent Twitter dogfight I was having with some other marketers, I inadverttantly revealed my 4 Health Rules For Physically Maintaining A Kick-Ass Writer’s Existence.

At least, I revealed 3 of the steps.

I just couldn’t bring myself to name the missing one (Step #3).

Cuz, you know… well, it can make people blush.

And, from what I’ve been told, it’s not nice to make people blush on Twitter.

However, on this blog… hell, I love making people blush.

So I’ll reveal that missing step here.

But not until I’ve heard some of your guesses.

Here are the 3 rules I did reveal, below. Remember: These are essentials for any writer who wants to avoid the catastrophic health nonsense that has ruined many another writer’s life…

Rule #1: Break a sweat everyday.

Writers can slip into becoming Couch Potatoes waaaay too easily. Once you start making money sitting at a desk, your brain will start telling you it’s okay to STAY sitting at your desk all day and all night.

Your brain, at that point, is trying to kill you.

Ignore it.

We are animals living in a physical world. Your ability to think, act and work your mojo depends on your health. And your health depends upon your body working well.

Devolving into Jabba The Hut will not further your goals of wealth and happiness.

So do what you must to work up a good, stinky sweat, every single day. Walks count (as long as you’re chugging along at a good pace.) Games like tennis, raquetball, and full-court basketball (preferrably with people younger, faster, and more agile than you) are great.

Even better: Hire a freaking trainer to force you into shape. (Mine is nicknamed “The Nazi Bitch”, for good reasons.)

Just do what you have to do to get your heart racing, your blood pumping, and your sweat glands frothing.

Remember: You aren’t exercising if you’re not sweating.

Sweat is good. Thirty to forty minutes of it every day won’t interupt any part of your style, and will help you enjoy life at every level.

Rule #2: Breathe. Deep.

Most Americans don’t breathe at all. They “sip” air, using only the upper area of their lungs.

Writers are the worst offenders. There really is something called a “Writer’s Trance” — where you will slip into a slouch while deep in writing mode, breathing so shallow that carbon monoxide builds up in your system and you come close to blacking out.

Been there. Done that. Fell out of my chair in a confused daze, toxic with “bad” air that needed to be expelled.

Finding a way to avoid this trance is not easy.

Heck, I own the most expensive ergonomic chairs made… and it took me about 15 minutes to unconsciously figure out how to slouch in them and obliterate any benefit from the support.

Slouching, riveted on the process of writing, nearly immobile except for your fingers flailing away at the keyboard, while barely breathing… dude, you’re asking for bio-chemical trouble.

Your brain will curcle without plenty of oxygen. Thinking becomes sluggish, headaches ramp up, and dream-like states take over. (You may even hallucinate that you’re producing great copy, when in actuality you’re slinging slop.)

So learn to breathe. Yoga ain’t a bad place to learn the techniques. (Especially Hatha yoga.)

I won’t go into the details here, but you can easily master the technique of filling your lungs from bottom to top with just a few sessions from anyone you can corner who knows what they’re doing. A pretty yoga teacher is my recommnedation. I suppose you could Google for breathing techniques, too.

The thing is, breathing deep is essential to living well, and thinking well. Breathing shallow is for tools.

Quick technique: Set up a timer when you write to go off every 30 minutes. Stand up when it dings, stretch a bit, walk around, and do some focused breathing for ten minutes or so.

Then set the alarm again, and get back into writing.

Rule #3:

I’m not gonna tell you yet.

You need to think about it, and give me your idea in the comment section, first.

Rule #4: Feed your brain.

This means exactly what you think it means.

When you really need to write well, nix the junk food diet, and eat as well as possible. Lots of fruits and veggies, Omega-3 oils (fish), high-end cuts of meat if you’re gonna eat meat.

No sugar. No snack food. No crap at all.

I’ve experimented with herbs like ginko, ginger, and other cool herbs which are supposed to aid brain function, but I can’t really swear by any clear-cut results. Try ’em, and use ’em if they work for you.

Very important: Do not rely on coffee to stay “alert”.

Rather, take a nap if you’re really tired. It’s a tactic all top writers know about — stuff your brain with info, then go sleep for 20 minutes and let your unconscious synthesize and data-mine everything. When you wake up (don’t sleep for longer than 20 minutes or you’ll get groggy), you will often be amazed at what’s suddenly ready to be written.

I’ve done my headlines this way for most of my career. USPs, too.

I never force myself to stay awake. You’ll spend 3 hours grinding out crap you’ll have to toss anyway… and by grabbing some brain-satisfying shut-eye when you require it, you can be more productive in half-an-hour than you’d ever realize in those 3 bleary-eyed hours trying to coerce results.


… that’s 3 of the 4 big rules for being a physically-sound writer.

Nothing particularly earth-shattering here. You may have known about these 3 rules already.

Rule #3, however, eludes even smart writers.

I have NEVER come across mention of it in any of the books I’ve read about writing.

I’ve never heard another guru talk about it.

And yet…

… this rule came naturally to me, early in my career. It made sense. And it worked, by making me astonishingly more productive and effective.

When I met Gary Halbert, I discovered he lived by the same rules… including the Big One, #3 (which I will reveal to you Friday).

No hints. (Except that it does tend to make rookie writers blush.)


Try to imagine how your own physical manifestation of writing stuff might benefit from doing something essential and critical to your body’s health.

And submit your answer here, in the comments section.

First one to score wins the prize.

But everyone wins, of course, because the sharing of tactics and info in these quiz threads always delivers new wisdom and insight.

Okay. Let’s hear what you’ve got.

Sorry, in advance, if I’ve made you blush even thinking about this stuff…

Stay frosty,

John Carlton

P.S. WHAT!?!

You’re not following me on Twitter?

That’s… insane.

I post frequently throughout each week (usually in the mid-to-late P.M. hours, west-coast time)… and consistently keep things stirred up and off kilter.

You’re missing out, if you’re not at least road-testing Twitter. This is Web 2.0 on steroids.

I’m at

Check it out.

Now post your idea of Rule #3 in the comments section below.

C’mon, don’t be a coward.

It’ll be fun.

Too Much Information, Dude

Friday, 9:01pm
Reno, NV
“Ewww, gross!” (Expected reaction from my grand-nieces when they’re old enough to read this)


I’ve got 2 quick things for you here…

… one of which I expect you to respond to.

You can choose which one, according to your whims.

But please do respond.


First of Two Items: Let’s get this short commercial announcement out of the way with two brief paragraphs.

There are still a couple of spots left in the last-ever full-weekend Hot Seat Seminar I’m hosting February 21-22 in San Francisco. Yes, I know this is astonishing, but it’s true. First time I haven’t instantly sold-out a Hot Seat event. One guy had to pull out cuz the economy ate his income stream the day after he grabbed a spot. Gruesome. Sign of the times?

Doesn’t matter. If this offer of intense marketing-intervention by a gang of experts — giving you a practical “action plan” to go get rich (after fixing all your problems) — is something you KNOW you should be jumping on… then go here now, read the details, and for God’s sake, grab one of the last spots (before someone less worthy than you does):

Second of Two Items: I just got “tagged” to write 25 Random Things About Myself.

My old pal Michel Fortin took this notorious Facebook tactic, modified it slightly for bloggers, and has sent the little bugger out into the blogosphere.

I just read an article in the New York Times about this “25 things” phenomenon (and how it’s energized the Facebook community)…

… but guess what?

It’s not new.

The tactic of using random, unrelated subjects to reveal something about someone is as old as “do it yourself biographies”. If you’re trying to get Grampa to write his memoirs, but he doesn’t know how to begin…

… then make up a list of random questions to get him started.

Rather than ask him “What was your childhood like?” (which will have him reaching for a slug of rheumatism medicine)…

… you ask him, instead, about the first time he had chocolate ice cream.

That will open a memory storage locker that includes shocking details about his life, which will require him to explain who Uncle Willie was, why they were all at the Grand Canyon in the 1930s, how tough it was driving a rattle-trap Ford across Arizona in June, how much gas cost in the Depression, how a kid experienced the world as it sped toward war, and on and on.

There really is no such thing as a random question. All things interact in the universe, and that intensifies when you add human memory into the mix.

Boy, does it ever intensify.

This particular concept — writing out 25 random things I believe most folks don’t know about me — could become the first chapter of a decent autobiography.

Of course, I’m a long-winded blabbermouth in love with my keyboard, so I could transform ANY subject into something that would fit into a biography. But there you have it.

Good thing I own this blog, and don’t have to please anyone else to keep my job here.

So, with apologies to the folks who thought they invented this process…

… and with a shrug of slight embarrassment because I know the concept is supposed to be full of short little tidbits and factoids (and I’ve gone off with half a novel here)…

… here is my contribution to this cultural sunami of too much information. About moi.

The rules are simple.

I quote Michel here:

Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a post with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you.

At the end, choose five more people to be tagged. You also have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you. To do this, you simply link to their blogs so that they know you responded to their tag. (That’s how I found out I was tagged by Fortin.)

You may include the above rules in your post so that the person being tagged knows them, too. You may also want to tweet your post to notify them on Twitter, too.

Got that? I name five folks at the end whom I have tagged.

However, I’d love to take it a step further:

I want to hear 2 (not 25) things about you in the comments section here. That’s harder — you gotta think “If these 2 things are all someone knows about me… what does that SAY about me?”

Oh, this should stir up some shit, all right.

This could really be fun, guys.

First, though, you gotta slog through MY 25 random things. It’s more than you ever need to know about me.

Let’s begin, shall we?

1. I was born at 4:44pm on a Saturday afternoon in Pomona, California. For some reason, this has seemed significant to me… and no, I haven’t looked into the numerology aspect, but I was interested to learn that Howlin’ Wolf’s “lucky” number was 444. (From the tune “Ain’t Got You”: I got the mojo, and a liquor store, I play the numbers, yeah, 444…) Please alert me if you have insight to this.

2. My father still lives in the same track house he bought in 1948, soon after returning from WWII. I know every square inch of that joint, though it used to be the size of a castle to me, and now the entire layout could fit into my current living and kitchen area. I visit often, and am consumed with memory while there.

3. In fact, every place I’ve lived seems haunted by ghostly images from when I walked the streets. I still have friends in the town where I attended college, and when I visit I can easily slip into a waking reverie rippling with replays of past events… right down to the emotional nuances. I feel like I’m in an ongoing movie 24/7. And this is true of every place I’ve lived (and I been around, let me tell ya).

4. I was stunned to learn, a few years ago, that not everyone has access to a running memory of their life like this. I guess I’ve been writing, in my head, my autobiography since becoming conscious in the crib (yes, I have a vivid memory of being a baby). I don’t see how this skill provides any evolutionary benefit… but I am that guy with near-total emotional/visual/sensory access to memory. Luckily, I’ve lived the kind of life worth reliving once in a while. Otherwise, this would totally suck.

5. I was a late bloomer. My parents wisely waited a year to put me into school — so rather than being the youngest (and most immature) in the class ahead, I was among the oldest in my class… which allowed me to mature at my natural pace, without pressure to start shaving before I actually grew facial hair. Lucky move. I would have been a nervous wreck being the youngest. (Plus, the class ahead of me was full of assholes.)

6. I have a number of attributes that are considered relatively rare: I’m red-green color deficient (not “color blind”, but definitely clueless about what color anything is), something affecting around 3 to 5% of the population. My fingers are double-jointed (I can do some really gross things, like locking my knuckles when giving someone the bird, which always startles them). My first toe is longer than my big toe on each foot. I can pick up stuff with my toes, too (though I think I developed this skill, rather than inherited any prehensile trait). I was born without wisdom teeth. I can curl my tongue. Impressed? You should be.

7. I absolutely stink at singing… but that hasn’t stopped me from doing it in bands from the time I was 15 years old. Mostly I sang back-up and the occasional solo… but for my second mid-life crisis (10 years ago) I formed a 3-piece power rock band, and had to sing around half the material. I did well enough to pack biker bars, and that’s all I cared about. But I still stink at it.

8. Part of the reason it took me so long to get my act together (I was 34 before I got serious about becoming a professional copywriter) is that I have multiple talents above mediocre levels, and pursuing them kept me distracted. I wrote my first novel in the sixth grade. (It was horrible, but a real story with plot, character development, and coherent ending.) By high school, my cartooning was so good I was forcibly given a weekly cartoon strip in the school newspaper (which lasted for two years). I was shy, and actually resented the celebrity that brought. Then the same thing happened in college, and for 2 years I was the staff cartoonist for the school daily. It was hard work. I also played guitar well enough to carry a band, and I’ve been writing pretty damned good pop songs since I was 17. I also played baseball deep into my teens, and thought I wanted to be a jock. (Really bad idea for a guy with my poor eyesight.) I’d be broke today if I had followed any of those professions. I miss cartooning, though.

9. I’m sort of a classic Baby Boomer. Growing up in Southern California, I experienced the best and newest television innovations — from “I Love Lucy” to the McCarthy hearings to American Bandstand to Ed Sullivan — and was in the audience for some Bozo shows. Went to Disneyland the week it opened, and had been there 9 times before it was 4 years old. Bodysurfed at the beaches the Beach Boys sang about, swam in Lake Arrowhead while Hollywood movies were shot there, went to Palm Springs just when Bob Hope discovered it. Lived near the first MacDonald’s and the first In-And-Out Burger. Entered high school during the Summer of Love, went to college during the best part of the Sexual Revolution, and the soundtrack of my youth is now what you’d call Classic Rock (I first made out to Louie, Louie, fell in love to Layla, had my first heartbreak to Fooled Around & Fell In Love). I was a folkie, a square jock, a hippie, a student revolutionary, and I hitchhiked up and down the west coast before horror movies put an end to all that. (I’ll stop — I know I’m boring you.)

10. I grew up less than a block from Route 66, where it ran along what used to be the Spanish Trail, in the oldest settled part of the San Gabriel Valley. In a town called Cucamonga (Shoshone for “running spring”), which was an hour out of Los Angeles, mostly orange groves and grape vineyards and the kind of drive-ins/car-clubs/surfer/rebel-without-a-cause youth culture best depicted in the film American Graffitti.

11. I was almost held back in the 2nd grade, because no one figured out I needed glasses and I never saw anything the teacher wrote on the blackboard. It took another 4 years for it to become obvious (my family all has perfect vision, except me, The Freak), and the evening I left the optomotrist wearing my first pair of glasses, I was literally dumbstruck at my first clear sighting of the full moon rising over the mountains. It is still the most beautiful visual moment of my life.

12. My high school was sexually retarded… and while much of the So Cal area dove into the wild erotic highjinks of the mid-sixties, we mostly bungled our way through fifties-era romantic adventures. Thus, I got very good at kissing and foreplay, while slowly going batshit trying to lose my virginity. However, I now see this was an advantage — easy sex teaches you few skills in creative pleasure. It may sound corny, but foreplay rocks.

13. I grew up without much money… but so did everyone else in my group, so it didn’t impact our ecstacy over living in such abundant times. Even through college, it was unusual for anyone in my generation to own more than a couple dozen records (or a decent stereo). So we learned every note of every song by memory (including the skips, cuz none of us took good care of the vinyl) and obsessed over the scant info available on the album covers. You really could tell a LOT about someone with a quick glance through their record collection — stoner, hip cat, clueless pop geek, mainstream Top 40 fan, folkie, Frank Zappa weirdo, etc.

14. I developed my love of all things rock before I knew I was doing it. My sister is 8 years older than I am, and every afternoon we’d fight over who got to watch TV. I wanted to tune into Engineer Bill’s cartoon show, and sis craved American Bandstand. So we alternated days… and I became an 8-year-old anthropologist gorging on doo-wop and Chuck Berry and Elvis, not quite clear on why it was so enjoyable. (I still have a thang for poodle skirts.)

15. My childhood obsessions went through fairly normal-for-the-times stages: Dinosaurs, the Civil War, science fiction, horror and fantasy-adventure comics (huge Frank Frazetta fan), Mad magazine, surf guitar, the Monkees, cars, girls, bodysurfing and finally, long hair.

16. I entered my senior year of high school as a “good boy” and ended the year getting suspended for refusing to cut my hair, challenging authority at every turn. It was 1970, the height of the anti-war movement.

17. In college, my hair nearly reached my belt. This was a big deal back then, because no one would hire me for anything, cops pulled me over without reason, and the risk of being assaulted by pissed-off social conservatives (which included bikers, frat boys and construction workers) was very, very real. But the chicks dug it, and it meant instant acceptance into the counter-culture. God, we were shallow back then.

18. My favorite color is deep blue… but for some reason, light blue kinda ticks me off. (And I can’t “see” purple, which is Michele’s favorite color, and that pisses her off.)

19. I smoked cigarettes for a decade. Started at 19, trying to cop some of Humphrey Bogart’s mojo, and ended with successive bouts of severe bronchitis that convinced me to stop at 30. I still miss it. But I refuse to get involved with cigars. It’s good to miss vices — it reminds you that you chose living over dying slowly.

20. I am still relatively close to several friends I’ve known since I was 5 years old.

21. I’ve always had close friends, but I’ve also moved around a lot which put some of those friendships on hold. I find it interesting that several people who consider me their best friend live near other people who also consider me their best friend… and they’ve never met. Or, when they do meet, they don’t feel they have anything in common except me. I think, long ago, I developed some kind of ability to be a chameleon, so I could hang out with a vast variety of folks and develop deep friendships.

22. In fact, I’ve often thought of writing an info book on how to be a good friend. There are, it turns out, some good rules for doing this. Most folks are incapable of being a “best” friend with anyone, because of childhood baggage (or narcisism). I know people who I’ll get together with after not seeing or speaking to for a couple of years, and we’ll just pick up where we left off without a hitch. You know you’re with a good friend when the silences are comfortable and enjoyable even when they’re long. (First requirement for a good road dog, by the way.)

23. I have 3 novels in my drawer that just might be kick-ass when I get around to the final edits. I’m in no rush, though. My goal was to write one before I turned 40, and I did. Even had a NY agent shop it for a month, but I pulled it. The joy comes from writing them, not in getting recognition from a publisher or audience. (Yes, I’m weird.)

24. Right now, I own around a dozen electric guitars (including the first one I ever bought), one lap steel, two Martin acoustics (one of them a cool “traveler”), one bass, and four keyboards. Five amps. One PA. A big pile of wah-wah’s and stomp boxes. My favorites: The digital Hammond with virtual Leslie, and the Japanese reissue of the ’62 Telecaster I hot-rodded with a Seymour Duncan Hot Rail bridge pickup and black pickguard. (Rosewood fretboard, standard Tele neck p/u, separate switch for the Hot Rail, Slinky’s, Tweed amp. Yum, yum, yum…)

25. I went a year, in college, without wearing shoes. My feet got so tough, I could walk through snow without problem. Didn’t do it on purpose — I just got used to it, preferred it, and did it. Not sure what this says about me.

There. That wasn’t so hard.

My 5 choices to “tag” are David Garfinkel, Ed Dale, Rich Schefren, Perry Marshall and Stan Dahl (who will use my blog for a guest post, since he refuses to begin his own blog).

That’s all for now, folks.

Stay frosty,


P.S. Remember to post your comment with 2 random things about you.

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