The difference between writing—and the stuff that gets people to give a damn.

What do you do for work?
I’m a writer.
What do you write?
The mischievous, born-in-the-year-of-the-monkey part of me is always tempted to make up something outrageous.
Because “writing” could be anything.
It could be slam poetry scrawled out on cocktails napkins. And that would count.
It could be lyrics to songs that I sing under my breath as I walk my dog…lyrics that never even make it to so much as that cocktail napkin. And that would count.
It could be the best damn college essay that anyone has ever had the pride and glory to hold in their hands.

Of course that counts, and if you’ve written it, I want to read it because one of my favorite past times is to re-envision how I would do the whole college enrollment process differently if I knew then what I know now. Maybe I wouldn’t even have gone at all…
But the kind of writing I do now—and that I teach others to do—is different.
There’s a difference between descriptive writing and copywriting.
It's difference between writing—even technically "good" writing—and the stuff that gets people to give a damn.

That difference will either repel or attract your best potential clients.

Some say that copywriting is defined as “words that sell”.

I used to rely on this definition to answer that question, “what kind of writing do you do”.

(Sometimes I would say “marketing”, because it sounded just a smidge less profit-obsessed.)

But I’ve come to realize a better definition of what I mean when I say “copy”.

It’s words that inspire people to act. To make a decision. To give a damn enough to engage in the conversation.

Even if that means they say, “No thanks, this isn’t for me”.

In fact, part of my process is to ask, “who doesn’t need this?” Because not everyone will. And that’s okay. It HAS to be okay.

It’s all part of respecting people’s intelligence to make an informed decision—whether that something as simple as opening an email that’s chock full of useful things, or helping them decide if they want to take it to the next level and work together.

Copywriting is about giving information quickly, and giving it generously. It’s about delighting people and getting them inspired to go for the deeply satisfying life that’s possible for them.

Sometimes it will be inspiring them to make a transaction with money. But other times it’s just getting them to get your free something or other, or to comment on your blog.

It’s never about convincing anyone of anything. (That’s where selling gets a bad name and why door-to-door vacuum salesmen are so hated.)

It IS about showing them why your product or service is perfect for them.

And how it can get them more of that time/joy/freedom/money stuff.

Or not.

There comes a point when every business owner must decide if they would rather have 1,000 raving (even rabid!) fans, or 10,000 people who are not especially paying attention.

You can do a lot more with the fans who are itching to see everything you put out because they know it’s gonna be exactly up their ally…anatomically speaking, of course.

And those guys go on to become the ones who share your content and talk about you to their friends, swearing up and down how with bold declarations like, “you’ve GOT to check them [you] out”.

Boiled down most simplistically, we all want more time, joy, freedom, and hey—more money would be great, too.

So how does what you make, do, or know help people get more of that?

Keep that in mind when writing copy that gets people’s attention and gets them to act, and you’ll have all the raving (paying) fans you can shake a stick it.



(Side note: It’s the year of the monkey right now, which they say is unlucky and particularly challenging for us monkeys, but I’m happy to report that for the most part—so far, so good.)

Go on, tell me in the comments how what you make, do, or know help people get more time, joy, freedom, or money?