This is the last episode of the podcast before we hit triple digits—and it’s a good one. Health copywriter Jason Rutkowski joins us for the 99th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast and we covered a lot of ground, from Jason’s secrets for connecting with both mentors and clients to a look inside his copy mastery process (he sent us a screen capture of his file system so you can see what he’s talking about during the podcast). Here’s a look at what we covered:
• how Jason failed his way to copywriting as a career
• finding his first few clients and figured out his niche
• the “one thing” he tried that resulting in connecting with good clients
• the strategy Jason followed to get A-list copywriters to share their stories with him
• the single most important thing you can do at live marketing events
• what it’s like to be “cubbed” by an A-list copywriter
• why you absolutely need to reverse engineer great copy to get better
• the difference between a copywriter and a master copywriter
• the foundational copywriting reference everyone should study
• Jason’s research process (and how he reverse engineers A-list research)
• how to get started writing in the health industry
• the gmail hack for studying the market you want to write for
• the reason A-list copywriters work with copywriters (an opportunity?)
If you’re interested in not just being a copywriter, but becoming a great copywriter, you’re going to want get this one. Click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript. And of course, you can find it on iTunes, Stitcher or in your favorite podcast app.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Single Best Way to Get Clients
Parris’ book list
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
The Brilliance Breakthrough by Eugene Schwartz
New Market Health
Health Sense Media
Patriot Health Alliance
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
Intro: Content (for now)
The Copywriter Club Podcast is sponsored by Airstory, the writing platform for professional writers who want to get more done in half the time. Learn more at Airstory.co/club.
Rob: What if you could hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes and their habits, then steal an idea or two to inspire your own work? That’s what Kira and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.
Kira: You’re invited to join the club for Episode 99 as we chat with freelance copywriter Jason Rutkowski about writing in the health and wellness niche, investing in himself and his expertise, his business and writing processes, and what it took to gain traction as a copywriter when he was just starting out.
Rob: Hey Jason.
Kira: Welcome Jason.
Jason: Hey Kira, hey Rob.
Kira: How’s it going? Glad you’re here.
Jason: Oh no, I’m excited. I haven’t done one of these in a while, so I was excited to do it with you.
Rob: Definitely took a little time to get our schedules aligned. We’ve been trying to make this happen for a little while, because we know a little bit about you and where you write and we think it’ll be a great conversation, so we’re glad to have you here.
Jason: Yeah, definitely.
Kira: All right, so let’s kick this off. Jason, how did you end up as a copywriter?
Jason: Okay, I’ll give you the quick story about this. I was 19. I just finished my freshman year of college. I got an internship at a normal 9-to-5 job. And I realized I hated it. I was like, oh man. I saw all these people who worked in an office, you know, 30, 40 years; I’m like, is this really going to be my life?
And also at the same exact time, I was on the internet one day and I found an internet marketing forum. And I was like, what’s an internet marketing forum? I don’t know. So I go on it and I see all these guys, like ‘Yeah I just made 200 grand this year, 500 grand this year. I work from home; I’m sitting at my desk all day.’ I’m like what? How is that even possible?
So I started getting really into it. And then I learned about traffic drivers and marketing and product creation and all these things. And I was really confused. And I was like 19, 20 years old. So I heard about copywriting, but I didn’t decide to be a freelance copywriter right away. I was like, you know what I’m going to do, I’m going to create my own products; I’m going to do Google Adwords; and I’m going to drive traffic. I’m going to do the whole thing, like from start to finish.
And I horribly failed. You know, I was going to school full-time, and then I was doing this part-time, and I was just failing and failing. And then after a couple of years of that, I decided, okay this isn’t working. I’m just going to do copywriting because I think this is what I like most. I don’t like doing all this other technical stuff, marketing stuff. I’m just going to do copywriting.
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So, from then on out, I just picked a niche. I was like I’ll just write in health. And from then on out I just started growing a business.
Rob: So, I’m interested in what some of those failures looked like. What were the products that you were creating and why were they failing?
Jason: Oh. I mean, the why is a lot of reasons. The products I was creating, I created kind of an … E-books were a big thing back then. Back then you could just write an e-book and like sell it and people would buy it. So I created one for anxiety, which I actually went through a lot in the beginning of my life. And I also created a few for some, like headaches solutions and kind of like different health things.
And I put, I don’t know, these 150, 200-page books together with just some random info, that I thought was good, but then the whole process of, you know I was trying to organic SEO, trying to target the right keyword. I was in college so I had very little money to actually spend on driving traffic, paid traffic. And I was just doing a lot of things wrong.
It was a lot of small marketing things that you don’t know, don’t you know it? Like how to do the SEO right, how to do the traffic right. How to do the delivery right. How to build your list. Like, doing a lot of bad stuff with building my list. A lot of mistakes; it was just like, I was just some teenage kid and I didn’t know what I was doing.
But I did learn a lot, and I also learned through the process that what I really liked doing the most was the copywriting. So I just decided to give up the whole build my own business thing and do the copywriting thing instead.
Rob: So what did that look like in the first stages? How did you connect with your first client, and why did you choose the niche that you chose?
Jason: Oh, back then that was me doing my own stuff. In terms of the freelance copywriting, I started on the freelance websites, which I don’t know if it is a good way to do it anymore. But, you know, it was like these cheap little jobs on like Elance and Guru and … Like, I don’t know if that stuff was even worth it. I mean, I guess it paid me some money, and it gave me some actual samples I could send to people. But I didn’t really get any good long term clients out of that.
I didn’t start getting good long term clients until I decided, and it took me way too long to figure this out, but to actually go to live events, and like talk with people. And actually like start-
Kira: Wait, what’s that? Talking to people? What’s that?
Jason: No, I know. I literally spent like my first three years of copywriting trying to do everything from my room. Like cold calling, Edesk, Olance, like cheap little, I mean, I don’t know, I was making still a little money from it. I had like a 9-to-5 office job to support myself, and then I would come home and do this. I wasn’t even close to making enough money to support myself.
So I decided, okay the only way this is going to work is if I start going to live events. So I’m like, okay, what live events should I go to? Which ones are good? You know, what’s some high quality live events I could go to?
And the first one I ever went to was a Clayton Makepeace, like $5,000 seminar. And I did not have $5,000 by the way. But I did have good credit, so I put it on my credit card. And I actually did, actually. One thing I always thank my mom for is she got me a credit card at 18 and she taught me how to use it. And by the time I was in like, my early to mid-20s I had a credit card with like a $25,000 limit on it.
Kira: What? That’s dangerous.
Jason: It was completely paid. I know, but I had no debt. Like, it was unused. So I decided to be a little risky and go to this Clayton Makepeace seminar, which ended up being the absolute best decision of my life because I met my mentor Parris Lampropoulos. I met Marcella Allison and I meet Paul Martinez, all at the same conference. We are all very, very good friends to this day.
And then, after that, it was a matter of … I mean, I don’t know; when I talk face to face with people, I feel like all my failures from early in my career gave me a kind of a big foundation to talk about, where it’s like okay, this person clearly has done the studying, has been in the trenches, has done some work. I haven’t had a lot of success, but at least, like this kid just needs a chance. Or this kid, he’s not a newbie. So I trust this guy to some extent.
And then from then on out it was just, kind of going to more conferences, building my freelance career and you know, kind of trying to develop some long term relationships with people and that type of thing. So, that’s how I did it.
Kira: Okay, this is exciting. So, we’re going to talk about, you know, cubbing with Parris and some of these relationships you’ve built, but it sounds like this first event, this Clayton Makepeace event, was like the first big event that you invested in.
Kira: That’s a big deal, and how did you even find the right event and like how did you even get over all of your hesitations and probably your own objects around spending $5,000 on an event that may not pay off?
Kira: Especially when you’re still figuring that out. And you didn’t know that you would build a relationship with Parris and meet Paul.
Kira: What did you have to go through to make that investment?
Jason: Okay. So, I think the most important thing about going to any event is having a plan. Like, you should have a plan. You should know who’s going to be there, who are you going to talk to, and what you want out of the event, 100%.
So when I went, I was like okay … Here’s what actually happened. So, before the event, I’m like, okay I’m trying to do this freelance copywriting thing; I’m on these freelance websites; I’m making like, no money. I have like, no relationship and no reputation with any of these big names in the industry. I was like, what’s the fastest, best way to both build my reputation, and what’s a better way to get better results, and to increase my skill level?
And I started researching, and I noticed all these top A-list copywriters were trained by other A-list copywriters. So it’s like okay, John Carlton was trained by Gary Halbert and Jim Rutz. Parris was trained by Clayton; Carline Cole was trained by Clayton. David Deutsch was trained by Jim Rutz. It’s like this whole succession of like, mentors and apprentices, and learning from people who are way smarter than you. And I was like okay, that’s what I need.
And this was kind of back in the day, way before communities like, you know kind of like The Copywriter’s Club. Back in the day it was just like, internet marketing forums where it was just like thousands and thousands of people who didn’t know what they were talking about. And like these Facebook groups that don’t know what they’re talking about. And it’s just like, there wasn’t really a lot of high quality places you can really go to. So I was like, okay; I need to find a mentor. I was like okay, I’m in the health niche; who’s like the top health niche mentor that I know, that trains copy cubs? I go, oh, Parris Lampropoulos. And it’s 100% true.
I was like okay, I need to find Parris. How can I contact him? I was like well, he has a LinkedIn and a Facebook; and I’m like, that’s not going to work. You can’t really form a relationship by sending somebody a Facebook message, right? And people try to do this with Parris all the time. They try to send him like, a LinkedIn message, and be like, ‘Hey Parris, can you be my mentor, and you know?’ I was like, that’s not going to work.
So it’s like okay, I’ve got to meet Parris. And I’ve got to meet other people too, but I especially want to meet him. So I was like okay, where is he going to be? And then I was like, who does big copywriting seminars and programs? I’m like, AWAI. Which I was never really a part of. I never really went through AWAI’s training program; I never did any of that stuff.
So I went on their website and they have a live event page. And I went to that, and they’re like oh, in two months Clayton is having this $5,000 seminar. I was like okay that’s interesting; I love Claymie. Who is on the guest list? And then on the guest list was Parris Lampropoulos. I was like, oh perfect; I’ll pay $5,000, and I’ll go to the seminar, right? And I’ll meet him there.
Like here’s the question. One of my goals was to get him to be my mentor. But there’s no way you’re going to do that, just from meeting him at one seminar, right? You’re not just going to talk to somebody at a bar, and be like, ‘Hey want to enter into this five, seven-year relationship with me?’ You know, like that’s not going to work.
So I did what I always tell people to do when they go to seminars. You have to focus on like, making friends, and developing relationships. And getting people to like you. And the best way to do that, in my opinion. And I used to do this, and I still kind of do this to this day, before every seminar I read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People two times. I read it two times. There is this section in the book called ‘Six Ways to Make People Like You.’ And it is like gold. It is like, if you just follow those exact six things, just follow it, like don’t even question it, just follow.
And it’s like simple stuff. It’s like, ‘Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Make people feel important. Remember their name.’ You know, it’s like ‘Ask them questions about …’ It’s the most basic stuff that people don’t do. Like, most people go to seminars and then they do one of two things. They don’t talk. They’re super shy, which I’m a naturally introverted guy really. They don’t talk. Or if they do talk they talk about themselves. Both things are awful things to do.
But yeah. So read that book and I went there, and I met Marcella and I met Parris and I just really tried to become friends with them, tried to get them to like me. You know, I asked them questions about themselves; they asked me questions about myself, I told them about my career. Yeah really it kind of blossomed from there, and I was able to, Parris gave me his email, which I thought was great. Turns out it was kind of luck of the draw; he was starting a new copywrite group sometime soon.
And from then on out, we did a project together. He liked it, and then he invited me to his group. So that’s how that worked out.
Kira: I love how strategic you were about this entire process, and I’m so glad I asked about it because I had no idea that you planned it out. I just thought you accidentally bumped into Parris …
Jason: Oh no.
Kira: And built a relationship. And even now I’m thinking wow, what a great idea to read that book twice before going to events. Because, I met you recently at an event, hung out, and I really like you, so I feel like you used those steps me on me, and it worked!
Jason: It’s just stuff you should be doing on a day to day basis, really. I mean, it’s not even stuff like, okay I’m only going to do this at this event.
So, for the people on this podcast, I know Kira and Rob through a Brian Kurtz mastermind group. And you know, Brian talks about this all the time, about becoming interested in other people and talking with them. I mean it’s really basic stuff that a lot of people forget.
Rob: I mean, you talk about using this to meet a mentor; have you used the same process to meet clients and connect with clients?
Jason: Oh definitely. I mean, so another thing you should be doing is finding out what client’s going to be at these events. Like before you even go. And you should be knowing, like, who they are, what their marketing is. You know, what promos are they running, what’s their marketing strategy; how does the funnel look?
To give another example at the Cleveland event we were at for Brian Kurtz’s thing, I went up to this guy, and Paul Martinez introduced me to this guy named Allen and he’s the CEO of a health company called Patriot Health Alliance. And I didn’t know who he was. However, I knew who his company was, because I’ve been following them for like a year and a half.
So he introduces me himself, because Allen’s kind of a low key guy, he doesn’t like speeches or podcasts or anything like that. He goes, ‘My name’s Allen; I’m the CEO of Patriot Health Alliance.’ And I go, ‘Oh, I’ve seen three of your VSLs and eight of your sales letters.’ So like, how’s this thing doing? How’s that thing doing? And he had this look on his face like, how does this guy know all this, right?
Because when most freelance copywriters go up to clients, they don’t even know the basics, man. They barely even know who they are. You know, last year I was at AWAI’s boot camp, which is every October. And Parris forced me to do the … Parris has a booth there for one of his clients and he was like ‘Jason you’ve got to help me. Barnaby’s not,’ because Barnaby wasn’t there that year. He’s like ‘You’ve got to help me do it, Jason! I need some help.’ I was like, ‘Okay Parris.’
And then I’m standing there, at the job fair booth, so it’s a job fair where people come up to you and tell you about themselves. And they would come up to me, they would be like ‘What does your company do? What products does your company sell? Oh, what type of writing do you guys do?’ I was like, how do you guys not know this information? I was like, you’ve got to, like, when I went to my first boot camp years ago, I had like five or six clients where like, I took notes, like before I went. I knew what products they sold. I knew what campaigns they were running. I knew all this information.
And then when you enter into a conversation with these people, you’re like six or seven steps down the line instead of at step one, which who are you and what do you do? You know? You don’t want to be there. So I think that’s a big mistake a lot of people make. And I mean, if you can show clients that like …
Because these people care so deeply about their businesses. When you talk, like Allen, he’s the CEO of a company. Like, his business is his life, you know. He’s spent hundreds of thousands of hours of his time building that business. I mean, if you can talk with him at a deep level about it, and you can show like, you have like a high level of knowledge of his marketing, he’s going to like you. He’s going to be like, ‘Wow this is someone I can actually talk with at a deep level.’ And maybe he starts to like you a little bit, and maybe somewhere down the line, you get, you know.
A lot of times when I meet clients, the only thing I want is their contact info. I don’t ask them for a job right away. Sometimes that happens, but I just want like, ‘Hey man, let’s just like, give me your email, let’s set up a phone call, let’s talk later. Or let’s meet in bar later.’ You know. I just want to be liked enough so I can continue the conversation later. Which should be your main goal really.
Then, stuff blossoms from that. So I think that it’s a big mistake people make, when they go to conferences not knowing what you’re doing, why you’re doing it. Who you’re going to meet. What you want from them. You know, how this relationship’s going to develop. You know, stuff like that.
Rob: Yeah that advice to me, that is gold right there. This interview, just for that one thing is worth the hour of time that we’re putting into this.
Kira: Yeah. We’re done.
Jason: I don’t want to repeat everything I just said, but it is really important. It’s funny Kira says, you were surprised by how strategic in meeting Parris, but I mean, that’s how you get those results, is by being very strategic, you know. You have to have some goal in mind, and then you have to have some action steps to achieve. And it’s like, if you just start thinking about that way in everything that you do.
A lot of stuff I’m just sitting at my desk and I’m thinking, what should I do? And so, I’m going to go to this conference, what should I do? What do I want? Like, three or four basic questions you could answer to yourself before you do anything. Don’t just go do things without thinking about it. It doesn’t require much, but …
Here’s one thing that I wanted to bring up. I was reading your questions this morning and I thought, I definitely want to tell you this. If you’re a freelance copywriter and you go to a marketing event, what’s great about going to a marketing event is you get to meet other, successful writers. Which is something you don’t usually get to do. Usually you’re sitting at your desk, wherever you live, and you’re just all alone, and that’s it. So like, okay, two or three times a year you’re able to actually talk with people; this is great.
And one thing I used to do, when I was like, I had no success and my skill level was low, and I had no reputation, is I would go up to people like Marcella and I would just ask them questions about, kind of like what you’re doing on this podcast. Like, how did you get started? What was your first job? Like, what steps, what was your biggest obstacle?
What was your first job? What steps, what was your biggest obstacle? What did, same questions. But in a face to face interaction, maybe at a bar or a restaurant, or conversation flows really easily and all the benefits of face to face interaction. I would just, take mental notes and I would go and I would find as many successful freelance copywriters as I could, which would be eight or nine of them at each conference, and I would just ask them the same questions. How did you get started? What was your first jobs? People love telling you their stories, man. Especially, if you’re successful, and you’re and entrepreneur, people love to talk about, ‘Oh man, I was struggling so hard, and then I was homeless for six months,’ everyone wants to tell them that story. But you get to learn so much. You get to see what the thinking is. Just like this podcast. You get to see what the thinking is. Its like, ‘Okay, I should be doing that stuff. I should be doing that.’ Almost like the questions I were to ask myself I learned from these people. Because it’s the same questions they ask themselves. Okay, I’m going to start doing that. You might not get success right away within the first day or two, but if you plan it out, six months from now, 12 months from now, you’re going to be so much farther along than you ever thought was possible.
Kira: You should’ve recorded those conversations. You could’ve turned it into a podcast.
Jason: If only.
Kira: So, I want to ask you about-we’ll kick off and talk about your copy cub experience with Parris because you mentioned him. Did you know the exact moment where Parris leaned in and was like, ‘Oh yeah, I want you to be my copy cub.’ Was there a moment that you had together?
Jason: Yeah. You know, I really want to send you guys something. The story of how I met Parris and how I him to give me his email address. Because by the way, the funny story about Parris giving me his email-Parris doesn’t carry business cards, because he doesn’t want anyone to talk to him, right? He’s actually an incredibly nice guy. But he doesn’t want people..If you meet him at a … I’m making him sound like he’s the Scrooge or something, he’s not. He’s actually a nice guy. But he doesn’t want people contacting him because too many people contact him, right? He’s at that level where he’s too famous in our industry. So, too many people ask him for stuff.
It was really funny. I was talking with him, and it was Paul Martinez, me, and Parris. And Paul asked Parris a question. And then Parris turns around and there’s a piece of paper on this table that’s behind them, and he writes something down, I’m like, ‘Okay. He’s going to give Paul—it’s a note for Paul.’ because Paul just asked a question, he’s going to write something down and give this thing to Paul. So he writes something down. He folds it up. And then he walks up to me. He hands this thing to me, and he says, ‘I never give this to anybody.’ That’s what he said. He didn’t say anything else. He just said, ‘I never give this to anybody.’ And he handed it to me, and I opened it up and it was his email address. I was like, ‘No way! This is unbelievable!’
Jason: And by the way, when you gave me that, I instantly thought to myself, ‘That $5000 was worth it. This is exactly what I came here for.’ Like I said, my main goal wasn’t to become…
Jason: My main goal was to become his friend, and have him at least give me his contact info. Which is super hard to get. That was my big, big goal. And that happened at the second day, and I was like, ‘Okay. I can go home now. I don’t even need to stay at this conference anymore.’ Even though it was a great conference.
So what I wanted to send you guys was when I first met Parris-well, let’s rewind. Right before I met Parris and met Marcella, because I was too nervous to go up to Parris, I met Marcella and I asked her the standard … how to win friends and influence people questions. I asked her a bunch of questions about herself. Then, what happens was when you ask people questions about themselves, they ask you question about yourself, and I had a couple of stories that I actually had planned out about my career and myself, and I told one of them to Marcella, and she goes, ‘Wow. That’s actually a great…’ I don’t have time to go into the story right now, because it’s really long. It’s a ten minute story. But she’s like, ‘Wow, that’s actually a really great story.’ She goes, ‘You have to tell that to Parris.’ And then she dragged me over. Marcella always takes full credit for this. Every time I meet Marcella, she goes, ‘I introduced you to Parris! You have to thank me!’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, okay Marcella.’
She dragged me over there, and she’s like, ‘Parris, you have to listen to this kid’s story.’ And I told them the story. When I told it to him, his eyes lit up. Like when you’re surprised, your eyes get really big. And he’s like, ‘who is this guy? Who is this-’ I don’t have time to go into the story, however-
Kira: You’re teasing the story! You’re teasing it.
Jason: Here’s the thing. About a year ago, I wrote out the story because Marcella just started her … thing. She needed some content to send to her list of people. I wrote this thing, and I go, ‘Hey, Marcella. You remember this story I told you?’ She was like, ‘Yeah, that’s a great story.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I wrote an article about it.’ I think the title is, The Single Most Important Thing You Could Do At Life Marketing Events. And then I went into this thing about telling a really interesting story about yourself that gets people really excited about you and who you are. And I told the story. And then I taught the lesson that comes after the story, it’s the same thing I’m telling you right now. But I actually wrote out the whole thing. So I’m going to send it to you, and you guys can share it with your people.
Rob: Cool, we’ll link to it.
Jason: What’s great about stories is, it convinces people, ‘Okay, this guy’s marketing now, just copywriting now, just work ethic.’ It instantly communicates all that, but in an exciting, interesting way. You should be really using that when you’re meeting people at marketing conferences. That’s what the article is about. But yeah, it has the whole story in there if you want to read it, the whole thing’s in there.
Rob: Cool, we’ll check it out. So, I am a little hesitant to ask this question because I know you can’t answer a whole lot. We’ve talked with Paul, we’ve talked with Marcella, and any time we talk to people who have been Parris’ Cubs, everybody wants to know what the experience is like. I’m guessing you get this from just about everybody that you talk to, who knows that you’re in that relationship. Parris actually shared his book list at our event, so there are some of those kinds of things that I know that he’s willing to share, but will you just tell us a little bit about the experience? The kinds of things that you do with Parris? Without revealing anything that’s super secret, but just what’s that experience like, and what have you taken away from it?
Jason: Yes, I could give you a general overview. It’s like you said, you got the book list. Parris always has us reading books. We get on these calls that are two, three hours long sometimes. The books in itself, you should read the books, 100%. But they kind of provide a syllabus, where he teaches the lessons through the book. So we read the book, we discuss our notes, and then he starts going very deep into what he thinks about it. What the deeper, psychological lessons are in the book. He throws in a lot of examples from his career, stuff he’s written, he sends us writing examples. The books, I can get more into this about the other stuff too, but the books are kind of a launching pad to other things he wants to talk to us about.
There’s a lot of homework. There’s a lot of writing. There’s a lot of unpaid writing, by the way. There’s paid stuff, but it’s a big time commitment. From the moment he starts to call, like I said, some of these calls are three hours long. It’s constant. It’s constant copywriting. Constant marketing. It’s almost overload. He gets out of the call, and everyone’s extremely exhausted. Course he has his techniques that I can’t talk about. He has proprietary stuff I can’t talk about, but overall, it’s a lot of Parris talking. I don’t know how he does it. When you’re at that level, that Parris is at, he could just go off on one topic for a really, really long time.
But at the end of every call, you feel, man, I learned so much, and then what Parris says, he records the call, and then we have to re-listen to it. If you really want to get all the lessons out of that call, you’re re-listening to it five or six times at least.
Do you have any specific questions, any more about the group?
Kira: I have a question. For someone who is listening and they’re, ‘Okay, I don’t know Parris, I’m not going to be his copy cub anytime soon,’ for whatever reasons, ‘but I want to do something similar.’ Do they need to read the books? Do they need to find another mentor? Is there a way we could almost hack the system and, of course, you can’t replicate that type of experience that you’re currently having, but what about for people who cannot be a copy cub for whatever reason, how can they take something that you’ve learned and use it?
Jason: Here’s what I do. The thing about Parris is he teaches you the lesson and you might understand the lesson intellectually-and the same thing, say you read a book. Say you’re reading a copywriting book. One of the books on those lists. It talks about some headline technique, or it talks about some bullet writing technique, or it talks about some other copy technique. You might understand it intellectually, but if you want to actually understand how to apply the stuff in real life, the absolute best thing you could do is take winning promos, and I could talk about how you actually know how a promo is winning or not, take winning promos in your niche, and start reverse engineering what you’re looking at.
Specifically for the one-so Parris would say, ‘Okay, here’s this super specific bullet writing technique that I came up with. And here’s why I do it.’ Okay, that makes sense. And then what I do, is I pull up five or six winning promos, preferably Parris promos, but it could be any top health copywriter. And I just reverse engineer, I look for instances where that technique is happening over and over, and I write it down. I have a notebook or I have a Word document and I have all these Word documents on my computer, where it’s, ‘this technique.’ And I open up that Word document and it’s just like 20, 25 examples of that technique. And it’s like-this other technique, this headline type, in the health niche there’s three or four stories you can write.
A common story in the health niche is, some person has a problem, they tried a million different things, they came in to the doctor, ‘Doc, I tried all these million different things, didn’t work.’ The doctor is like, ‘Okay, I got this new treatment that no one knows about.’ Do the treatment, ‘Wow, Doc, two weeks later, my thing’s cured, I suffered from this for 20 years and now it’s gone.’ Then people wonder, ‘Well, what’s the technique? How-’ And then you could go into copy. That’s a common health niche story technique.
Well, what I do is I create a Word document. I go find five or six or 10 or 15, 20 examples of that and I just either hand write it or I type it out. And now I have a document where it’s just, ‘Okay, anytime I’m writing health copy,’ I can open up that document. ‘Okay, I want to use this type of story, this type of technique.’ Now I’ve got, 15, 20 examples that I can, not steal the copy, but I can swipe the structure, I can swipe the buildup, how they tease it. It just drills it into your mind. The most important thing is not just realizing what you need to do, but how you can actually do it in your day to day life. There’s so many times where people read the books, and go, ‘Oh yeah, that’s interesting, I understand that intellectually.’ But then, they’re doing the same copywriting now as they did six months ago. That’s because they didn’t drill it into their head of, well, how is this actually used in real life, and how can I structure this so when I’m doing a project I can use this in real life. How’s it going to change the way I write copy.
A lot of people think it’s going to happen automatically, it’s not. Okay, you need to go out of your way. Which is why Parris recommends handwriting promos. A big benefit of that, it drills it in your head of how you’re actually supposed to be doing this at this moment. So, I would recommend that. That was the biggest breakthrough. Really, I used to not do that. When I first started the Parris group, and then I started reading books and reverse engineering things, creating Word documents, finding real life examples. Honestly, I think it made me a lot better.
Rob: Yeah, I think what you’re talking about here is mastery. When Parris was talking about his book list at our event, he mentioned you don’t just read them once. You read them once just to get a sense of what’s in them, then you go through the second time and you underline, and then you go through the third time and you start taking notes, handwriting what you’ve underlined into a notebook. And then there’s two or three more times you go through it. You’re basically taking that process to everything that you’re doing or seeing. My sense is, Jason, you don’t just want to be a copywriter, you want to be a master of copywriting. I think there’s a really significant difference.
Jason: Oh, definitely. A part of that’s just my personality. I do it that way because that’s the only way I can imagine myself doing it, you know what I mean? I don’t think of it as I have to put in this hard work, I think of it as, well, this is my career, and the more I do this, the better results I get. Then when I’m sitting with clients or talking with other copywriters, I can speak about things at a higher level. You if you do stuff on a daily basis, if you’re constantly reading promos, reverse engineering promos, reading books, taking notes, even just one or two years down the line, you’re going to be able to sit down with people and just-almost like this, have a huge conversation about the tiniest, littlest thing. When I talk with Paul, Paul Martinez, huge A-list copywriter, that’s what we do when we sit down and we have private one on one conversations. We’ll just talk about one tiny little copywriting thing for 20, 30 minutes. Because we both went through that process of deep diving, studying handwriting, reverse engineering promos, reading books. That just changes the way you think about things.
Rob: So, before we leave off this whole idea of what you’re doing with Parris and this self-mastery thing, is there one book or one course that you would say, ‘Hey, if you want to get started on this path, this the book to start with.’ What would that be?
Jason: This answer is an answer no one ever talks about, and it makes me really mad. It’s actually one of the first books Parris had us read. It’s actually about a topic that so many people ignore. It’s so obvious. At this point, I get a lot of people who want me to critique their copy. ‘Hey, Jason.’ It doesn’t have to be for the health niche, but, ‘Hey Jason, I have my business, can you please, I’m not a copywriter, can you critique my copy.’ And they send me their copy. All of them have this one huge, huge problem that they don’t seem to realize that they have. And it’s not that they don’t understand copywriting, it’s that they don’t understand how to write. Just so many copywriters who cannot write.
So, a book that’s on Parris’ list is, On Writing Well by William Zinsser. I love that book. Another book I would recommend is The Brilliance Breakthrough by Eugene Schwartz, specifically the first eight chapters of it. Listen, when I critique copy, the first thing I critique is how it’s written. Not your power words, or motion or any of that stuff. Just, your sentence doesn’t make sense. Or, this sentence doesn’t connect to that sentence, or it’s too long. Or, you’re bouncing around, or you’re using the wrong thing in the wrong-really basic writing ability that people think, ‘Oh, Jason, I passed 11th grade English class. I don’t need to learn how to write.’ Or even worse, ‘I have an English degree.’ I’m like, ‘Show me something you’ve written. You could’ve been bad, I don’t know, just because you have a bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean you’re good at writing.’ I always tell people, it’s so foundational, people ignore it. Learn how to write. Read those two books. I’ve read On Writing Well and The Brilliance Breakthrough probably, and this is not exaggerated, eight or nine times each with my notes. I re-read the book and re-read my notes.
I spent the first year with Parris just learning how to write. One thing, when Parris critiques my copy, if you haven’t applied the lessons from those two books perfectly? He’s going to chew my ass out. For ten minutes. ‘Jason, we went over this a million times.’ Nothing to do with copywriting. Just with writing sentences.
Kira: Oh my gosh.
Jason: It’s so important, and so many people ignore it. Then they come to me with this fake John Carlton copy where they have these 40, 50 words sentences that never end. And none of it makes sense. I’m just, ‘Dude. Forget the copywriting books, man. Start with the writing books. Go through those two books and then go to John Caple’s and Vic Schwab and those books, okay?’ So that’s my recommendation. Learn how to write.
Kira: That’s incredible advice.
Rob: Good stuff.
Kira: Thank you. That was a PSA.
Jason: Really, people listening to this, I mean it’s a big thing. If you read those two books, especially multiple times, like I said, The Brilliance Breakthrough, Eugene Schwartz. Brian Kurtz sells it, and On Writing Well, William Zinsser. It should fundamentally change the way you write sentences. It should. If it’s not, maybe you’re already an amazing writer, that’s great. I hope you are. That’s a lot less work. But if you’re like me, which is like most people, you need to really sit down and do it.
Rob: And just as far as Brilliance Breakthrough goes, just to add, when you buy that book you get a workbook because there are writing exercises in the book and basically that allows you to run through the workbook. You’re not necessarily writing in the book itself. You can actually practice with it. So it’s a fantastic resource.
Jason: Totally. I think he sells it for $200. Which people might think, ‘$200 for a book? Wow. I’m never going to pay that.’ Totally worth it. 100%. It’s funny, at the end of the eighth chapter, Eugene Schwartz actually says, ‘I could end the book right here if I wanted to.’ Which is true. Because the most fundamental part is the first eight chapters, and then everything else is supplementary, it’s good stuff. But the first eight chapters, man. It’s stuff about, ‘how to write clearly, how to write simply.’ Simplicity and clarity, two big things people don’t know how to do. The way Eugene Schwartz talks about it in that book is amazing. I love that book so much. Totally worth the $200.
Kira: So, I want to hear more about your writing process. When you’re sitting down to work on a project, I want to get a glimpse into what’s happening in your office. Where are you starting, clearly you have an incredible resource library and swipe files to pull from, but what is your process look like as you’re moving into a project? Even starting with the research portion.
Jason: Yeah, research is huge. Becoming a good researcher is just as important as becoming a good writer. I know I just talked about it for 10 minutes, about learning how to write. The thing about copywriting is
Like, I know, I just talked about for 10 minutes about learning how to write. Thing about copywriting is, there are so many things to learn. Right. If you want to do this at a really high level, you have to master like, a hundred different skills. Which is kind of daunting, but also, kind of exciting. And, one of the big skills you need to master is research. So, the question is, what do I research, and how do I do it? That’s going to depend on the niche. It’s going to depend on your product.
You know, in health, the big products are supplements, books, just DVD programs and like, newsletters. Okay? All those products have like, their own research methodology that you’re going to go through. That’s specific to the product in that niche. I would say overall, the best thing you can do … And this is another thing that takes forever to do, but it’s totally worth it is, I would take promos written my Parris and Health Niche, like, ‘Okay Parris, I’m doing a book promo for Bottom line right now.’ I would take a book promo, that Parris did for Bottom line, and I would open it up, and I would read the information. And then, I would say to myself, ‘How did Parris come up with this information?’
You can just ask yourself, ‘How did he do this research?’ And you’ll come up with the most surprising answers. So, one thing I used to do was, Parris wrote a bunch of promos for Bottom line Books. Five years ago, ten years ago, fifteen years ago. Well, those promos, because Parris wrote them, were hugely successful. And that means, millions of people bought those books, or hundreds of thousands of people bought those books. So that means, people have those books. Like, books are eternal. Right? People buy a book and put it on their bookshelf and never look at it. But, that also means, that people sell those books, to this day.
So, you can actually, I would take a Parris promo from 15 years ago. They were from Bottom line, and, the book would be called … I actually have one right here. Oh. Speed Healing Unlimited, Bottom line Speed Healing Unlimited. It’s right by my desk. I went on Amazon. I typed in Bottom line Speed Healing Unlimited, and there’s people that sell this book for like, two dollars. And you can buy it for like, two bucks.
So, I bought the book, I put the book on my desk, I took Parris’ promo, I put the promo on my desk. And, I would open up the promo, and it would say a bullet, or an article. And then, it would say the page number. It’s like, I found this information in this page of this book. I would take the book, and I would open it up to that page, and I would read the page. And I would say to myself, ‘Well, how did Parris come up with this information?’ So, I’m like, reverse engineering his research process. Right?
And you’ll see stuff, like the book would be so boring. It’s the most boring information ever. And Parris turned it into like, amazing … You know, David Deutsche is like good at this too, like this amazing, amazing thing. And, you can do this to this day. Especially with information products. Just reverse engineer the research. Like, find out what the final copy was. I think go back to the source, and then you’ll start realizing, ‘Oh. During my research process, I should think like this, I should do this.’ You know, if I’m reading information, it’s like this. I should think about in this way. I should write this down, and maybe this turns in a piece of copy later.’
And, I would just do stuff like that. I did that for like, seven or eight books. Like, seven or eight promos. And, books are great, because people always keep up … Like I said, people always hold on to books, people … Books last forever. So, if you get some book promotions, written by A list copywriters, and if you could buy the book, or buy the free report. Whatever information product it is. And, you can like reverse engineer it. I mean, that influenced my research process.
So, like I said it’s going to be different depending on what product you’re doing. What niche you’re in. But, a lot of it is, a lot of learned copy is, reverse engineering. And then, it’s going to influence your research process in your own way. Really, because I feel like a lot of people’s processes different. So, specifically if I’m doing like a supplement, you know, I’ll research Google or, I’ll go to scientific articles, I’ll do bunch of random different things. But, all my reverse engineering is influenced by process in some way. You know, Parris always says, ‘I can look at a piece of information, and I see something amazing. And a B list copywriter looks at the same piece of information, and they see something that’s boring. Right?
So, it’s like, I take that amazing thing, and I see the gold nugget in there that other people don’t see, and that’s a big reason for its success. And, that’s a way you can learn to do that by, ‘Well okay. What did Parris see? Okay. Let me go back. Let me see what he saw.’ You know. So, that’s what I recommend.
Rob: There’s so much stuff here, that I’m just totally, jonesing over it. This is awesome, so. I’m thinking that there are, you know people may be listening to this, and thinking, ‘Okay. Jason works in the health niche. That’s something I’m really interested in doing myself. You know, in addition to the advice you gave about like, how do you connect with potential clients. What are the things that people can do to break into this niche? You know, what should they be looking at, studying, you know, how do you get your first client, you know, writing for say, a newsletter, or a help supplement?
Jason: The very first thing is, studying the market. So, you need to get on everybody’s list Everybody’s on the list. For health, I’m just going to name some random companies. You got, New Market Health, you got … And all their companies. Health Sense Media. You got, Dr Gundry Advanced Bio Nutritionals. Nature of City, Patriot Health Alliance. So, you get on everybody’s email list. And what I did is, I created my own Gmail account, just for health. So, I have a Gmail account, that’s just for collecting health emails. Like, chaff and chiving emails. That email has like, 80 thousand emails. I have 80 thousand health emails.
Jason: Because, I’ve been doing it for years. Right? It’s like, years old. So, first process, before even thinking about writing for somebody, is studying the market. If you’re meeting people, if it’s through an email, through LinkedIn, at a marketing conference, through a reference, or recommendation, you should know who you’re talking to, and what you’re talking about. Like, you have to know that stuff. It helps if you have some writing samples, because everyone always asks writing samples, and if you don’t have writing sample, do what I did, rewrite somebody’s copy. Take a control that’s already out there, and rewrite it completely in your own words. Like, this works well for an information product, so it’s like, okay.
Bottom line, it has this promo, and it’s a book, a book promo to sell a book. Ordis Guy has a program that’s like an e-book or free report. And the copies about that information product, well, just buy the information product, and rewrite the copy with your own headline, in your own body copy. You know, using all the lessons you learned from the books, in reverse engineering, and studying the health market. And have, you know, at least two samples just have two samples. Clients just want to see that you can write something.
Also, do the two books I talked about, on how to actually write sentences. And, put a couple samples together. And, I mean that … I always hated, things like, at least for me, like cold emailing, and cold calling people never really worked. Really, I was struggling until I started going to events, and you know, started doing all the things I talked about. About researching people and becoming friends with people. That’s just my process.
I know there are some people out there that have some success with, you know, I know Paul Martinez on his podcast on here, talked about some things he did, that sounded really good, that I never did. So, maybe in terms of contacting people through email or LinkedIn, or online, maybe other people have some better information than me. But, for me it was, you know, get to the point where you know what you’re talking about. Learn how to make people like you, how to become friends with people, form relationships with people. Go to live events and then, grow your copy writing business from there. And you know, deep dive your niche. Deep dive into you’re market, and know what you’re talking about. And, that’s what we’re for me so.
Kira: What’s clear and all of your responses is that, you are deeply committed to mastery, which Rob mentioned, and that you’re, you do the work you do the work times …
Jason: A lot.
Kira: Ten. And, that’s why it will make you the master, compared to a lot of copywriters who will not do the work. And they’re not ready to write copy, and copy books, and read books eight times. My final question for you is, what does the future of copyrighting look like to you?
Jason: It’s real interesting, because, I spend so much of my time in health, and now finance. And those tend to be the two big niches like, everyone likes to talk about, because that’s where like the most money and most competition is. I know this many niches outside that. But, I find that, it’s kind of niche by niche. You really have to understand how you’re niche operates. And, I’ll give two examples of health and finance. Like, health, I found that, there’s a lot of health companies out there. There’s a lot of like, supplement companies out there, that are like the low eight figure supplement companies that love to hire freelancers, and even maybe high seven figure companies.
Like, love the work of freelancers, they don’t have a big in-house team, and they’re willing to hire people to come in, you know, just for a project or two. And that’s something that’s very unique, and specific to the health niche. And then, another hand, there’s the financial niche, which nowadays tend to be very in-house focused. Like, very like … Especially their Agora divisions. Like, big companies, big in-house teams. Who don’t like working with freelance copywriters, unless you’re high level.
If you’re high level, and by high level, I mean like you really got to know what you’re doing. You really already have to have a reputation, and you have to like, have connections and know people. Unless you’re at that level like, they love their in-house system. The financialist loves like, their in-house teams. And, you know, you move to wherever in Baltimore, Florida, or wherever they’re located. And, like, you worked in their system for two years. And, that’s a very financial niche thing.
But, health thing, they’re just kind of, there are in-house health niche teams, but it’s like … So, it varies like, as you travel through the different niches that exist. The best thing I always tell people do is, like get as much good information as you can. And, the best way to get good information is, well, listen to stuff like this. And also, go to events where you have like, successful entrepreneurs, successful marketers, successful copywriters. Find out what industry they work in, and just like … I’m always the digging up information, and I’m always talking to Richard Abraham who worked at Agora Financial. You know, Rich is successful financial copywriter.
I’m always asking him some questions about the niche. Always asking him questions about Agora. I’m always asking some questions. Like, I’m always trying to get a better picture of, you know, how does this niche work? You know. What’s going on? What’s the freelance landscape like? What’s in-house landscape like? How do these publishers executives make decisions? Like, I’m always just gathering that info. Right?
So, you kind of have to do that in whatever niche you’re in. But, I will say, the freelance niche still exists. You can still have a lot of success with it. I think in health, is a good opportunity. Other niches, I’m not too familiar with like the biz op and internet marketing, that’s really, but, I assume … I know a couple finances that are very successful in that, those type of spaces so. Yeah. Try to get as much good information on whatever niche you’re going to go into as you can.
Rob: Lots of opportunity for anyone who’s really willing to put in the work it sounds like.
Jason: Oh yeah. I mean, you got to stand out. Because, because I was talking to Parris about this the other day, I was on a phone call with him. He’s like, ‘Yeah. You know twenty years ago, there were very little copywriters.’ There’s very little, just in terms of value. And, there is even a smaller amount of A list copywriters, like 20 years ago.’ And he’s like, ‘Now it is. just a ton of copywriters. But, it’s still a very small amount of high level copywriters. There’s a ton of copy, like, there’s thousands of tens of thousands of freelancers and in-house people, that, are not that great. And then, there’s, a smaller amount of people who are at the highest level.
And, really, the amount of work that, you guys keep saying I do a lot of work, and I do, I do that because, like I said, it’s a natural part of me, and I just feel like that’s what I should be doing. But also, if that’s how you become successful. That’s how make more money and that’s how … I mean, because the problem nowadays is, you got to convince people like, ‘Hey. I’m not like these ten thousand other freelancers who, you know, all have the same skill levels. Which, is not that high. They don’t have much of a reputation.’ And, you’ve got to stand out from that. And a big part of that is, well, becoming friends with people, especially through live events, but also knowing what you’re talking about.
Rob: You know, who knows if Parris is ever going to do another round of copy cubs, but Jason, if you ever open up for taking cubs, you’ve sold us. Really. We’re ready to sign.
Kira: Yeah. I’ll be a cub.
Rob: You dropped a lot of really going advice.
Jason: I don’t know man.
Kira: Yeah. You got two cubs right here. Right here.
Jason: What’s interesting, I will say this really fast, I know it’s the end of the call but. A big reason a lot of top A listers have copy cubs is, not only because they like to teaching, and Parris really does like teaching. But also, out of necessity. You know, a lot of A listers form very deep relationships with clients. Relationships where it’s like, ‘Hey. I’m essentially going to be running your marketing department. And, I’m going to be getting a cut of the front end and back end. I might be getting some equity deals.’ Like, they set up these big deals, and then, these A listers, its like, ‘Well, I’m running this market department now. But I need all this copy done. And not just the big promos, but the back end stuff, the traffic drivers.’
Jason: ‘Like are all this, you know, the Google stuff. All this copy.’ And a lot of these A listers, the reason if I’m in copy cub groups is, out of necessity. Right? They need Copy Cubs to, you know, do all this copy that they’re just not capable of doing, because they don’t have the time, or they just don’t have the desire. Because, they want to focus on the big money stuff, they don’t want to focus on the small money stuff.
So, I always tell people get somebody, I don’t care if it’s in-house. I don’t care if it’s a mentor. Preferably, in like a one on one relationship, it doesn’t have to be. But, get somebody who knows what you’re talking about, to train you. Hopefully, they’re at a level where they need some smaller copyrighted work done, and maybe could do some smaller stuff for them. But, go for the highest level person you can man.
I went for Parris Lampropolous. I was able to get that and I was right. It doesn’t have to be Parris. But, it’s such a valuable thing. And, a lot times, a lot of these top guys need smaller copy work done, and a lot times, if you could give ’em, like, ‘Hey. I’m at least at the level where I can do, you know, these emails, or these articles.’ You know. Could be content, could be traffic driving. Like, maybe you can form relationships, and it’s extremely valuable experience.
Rob: Yeah. It’s really some advice. So Jason, if somebody wants to connect with you, get on your email list, I know you’ve emailed you some really great advice about working in the health niche in the past. Where would they connect with you?
Jason: I do have my website which is my name. Jasonrutkowski.com. I might have accidentally took down my email list, log in, like sign, I think. Because, I forgot why. But yeah. I got my website there. You can contact me through there. I’m going to put back up. Probably because I kind of stop emailing some on my list. That’s why I think I took it down for a little bit. Just because I’ve been … I don’t know man, sometimes you just get focused on client work and, I don’t really have any aspirations of monetizing my list. I really, I don’t want to be Mr. Guru Prada Creator Man. You know so.
Rob: Been there done that.
Kira: Hey. Never say never.
Jason: So, I don’t know, I’ll put it back up. But just for the meantime, I’m not really emailing anybody. So, it’s like, yeah, I do have a website that people can check out if they want to.
Rob: Very cool.
Kira: Thank you. This has been very grounding. I feel like, it reminds me of how much more I want to learn and how much more there is to learn. So, thank you for sharing so much advice, actual advice. And then, inspiring us too.
Rob: Yeah. Thanks Jason.
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