What most people forget to do when writing copy (over-the-shoulder walkthrough)

To recap from yesterday: this week I’m going to be using The 7 Figure Sales Writing Framework (the same framework I use to teach inside CopyHour) to write a sales letter in front of you step-by-step.

But before I can get started on the first element of the framework…

We need to actually understand our audience first.

This is the single most important step when writing any piece of copy. If you don’t know exactly what your audience wants, in their own words, you’re hosed from the start.
The way I recommend learning this is simple: actually talk to your audience.

  • Maybe you have access to a list of your "ideal" audience — run a short survey to them.
  • Maybe you personally know people who match your ideal audience — get them on the phone.
  • Maybe you don’t know have access to any of them at all — get on Reddit, find a subreddit dedicated to them, and send some DMs to posters who seem to match your ideal profile.

    All you really need is a minimum of 5-10 people — and to ask them three simple questions:

  1. What are your biggest struggles with [subject]?
  2. What do those struggles with [subject] make you feel?
  3. If I could wave a magic wand, what would it look like if you didn’t struggle with [subject]?

    Find the commonalities between all their answers and boom — 80% of your copy is written for you.

    That may sound like an exaggeration but it’s true.

    The best copy comes from simply using the EXACT words your ideal audience uses to describe their problems & ideal outcomes.
    Yesterday I mentioned that the copy we’re writing is for a (fake, hypothetical, doesn’t exist yet) course called The 5 Day Workday.

    It’s a productivity course that shows entrepreneurs how to streamline their processes and get their normal 5 day workweek done in 1 day. They can either get 5x-10x more done in a week – or take more time off without any guilt. Their choice.

    So let’s say I went out and found people who matched my ideal audience (solo entrepreneurs).

    And after asking them the first question — what are your biggest struggles around productivity? — I discover they…

  • Get distracted very easily – one text message "ding" and they lose an hour of focus
  • Scroll too much on social media – after 30 minutes of working they figure they can open Instagram once and unwind a bit, but very quickly things unravel
  • Have unexpected things pop up frequently that prevent them from following their routine – kids are home sick from school, they’re out of groceries and need to run out in the middle of the day, workers coming by their place, etc
  • Know all the basic "rules" of productivity (from reading dozens of books and watching countless YouTube videos) but fail to follow them consistently, and after enough time failing to follow them, eventually follow none of them
  • Get exhausted easily – after 2 hours of work, their brain feels fried and it’s hard to do much more work… and since they work for themselves, it’s easy to do other things instead and put off the rest of their work until much later (which typically means it doesn’t get done)
  • Struggle to get back on track if they’re even slightly off their routine on any given day
  • Get off track for weeks/months straight if their routine is interrupted too many days in a row
  • Feel like they’re 1/10th as productive as they could be and nothing they try to fix it will stick.
  • Don’t always feel motivated to get to work every day.

We’ve already got gold.

But there’s lots of gold left to mine. Next up is asking what those struggles make them feel. That’s when they tell me they feel…

  • Shame that they get nothing done day after day

  • Frustration that they’re making no progress in their business

  • Embarrassment that their "work for myself" experiment is failing (and they really don’t want to have to get an actual job again so it’s also panic)

  • Fear that they won’t be able to pay the bills because they’re not getting enough work done (and their savings are running low)

  • Imposter syndrome because they’re not as good as everyone else who seems like they’re getting tons of work done with no problem

  • Overwhelm because they constantly feel like they’re behind — and can never take a day off or turn their brain off of work because their daily tasks never feel done

  • Guilt that they’re letting themselves and their families down and not meeting their potential

  • Low self esteem because it takes them weeks to do what other people seem to do in a few days… which makes them feel like, "I’m a smart person so what’s wrong with me?"

    (NOTE: if you’re reading these descriptions and it feels like I’m reading your mind, that’s sort of the point: you aren’t a unique snowflake. When you learn the issues that a small handful of your target customers have, you’ll find they apply almost universally to nearly all your target customers.)
    All this content about what they feel will do the majority of the heavy lifting when we actually write copy.

    Finally it’s time to get a little more hopeful with the questions and ask what it’d look like if I waved a magic wand and they were able to crush all their productivity goals. That’s when they tell me they’d:

  • Actually finish what they set out to do every day

  • Do it in just 3-4 hours of work a day

  • Be insanely prolific — produce a lot of work

  • Do extremely high-level work (so the work they’re outputting isn’t half-assed – it’s world class)

  • Feel confident and comfortable at the end of the day that they got their work done… no stress or guilt following them into the evening

  • Be able to take multiple days (and weeks) off at any moment’s notice because they’re so far ahead of their goals

  • Live a life of abundance where their business comfortably brings in a high income and they’ve got free time to enjoy life outside of work

  • Be "the productive one" among their peers – the person that others look at in astonishment and wonder, "How do they get so much done?"


That’s more than enough to start writing our copy.

Over the next few days you’ll see how these simple questions basically write the copy for us. Seriously, most of our heavy lifting is already done.

We’ll begin tomorrow with the first element of The 7 Figure Sales Writing Framework: The Lead.
– Derek