Ghost in the VSL

Sometimes being a copywriter means taking a swing and missing. Two weeks ago I wrote a sample for someone. It took two long afternoons. To my disappointment, it didn't get me the work I wanted.​ Perhaps it's not in my best interests to admit this, but that's what happened. If you want to read the VSL and take stab at guessing who I wrote it for, I've posted it below. I edited out anything that would make it too obvious. But maybe you'll work it out.

I have grown a YouTube following of over 2 million. I have commanded a quarter of a billion video views and I have generated $2.1 million dollars. I quit my job, retired my parents, and have taken care of my family by hiring them for my growing team.

I am, by all measures, a top 1% man. 

In finance . . .

In physique and

In mindset . . .

99 out of 100 men are not my competition. 

On a day-to-day basis, I am competing primarily with myself. 

The rest of my energy goes into taking care of my family and guiding others.  

But 3 years ago I was crying myself to sleep in a cold bedroom praying my girlfriend wouldn’t hear me boo-hooing because I was so depressed about getting up in the dark the next morning to go to my shitty job.

I can joke about it now but it wasn’t funny then and I want you to know that if you are experiencing something remotely similar then I hear you. 

Today I am here to tell you what made the difference. 

I am going to tell you about the one realisation I had that separated me – forever – from all the others and set me on the path I’m on now. 

This realisation . . .

This understanding of the world and its power dynamics . . .

Is how I was able to grow my YouTube channel so quickly. 

That’s the beauty. 

You can apply it to business.

You can apply it to your body.

And you can apply it to your relationships. 

And I promise you this . . .

If you can stay tuned for the next 20 seconds . . .

This video will change your life. 

So listen carefully to what I am about to say.

“YOU can become a top 1% man.”

Now when 99 out of 100 people hear that statement their minds clamp shut. 

Like a steel trap. 

Their eyes are open and their ears are listening but their minds are shut.

And that’s fine.

That’s okay. 

I haven’t made this video for them.

I have made this video for the person who is open-minded enough to say, “Show me.”

Let me show you an interesting statistic:

There are over 475,000 search queries on Google each MONTH for self improvement. 

And yet . . .

The estimated average completion rate for an online course is as low as 3%.

How can that be?

What is happening?

I’ll tell you. 

There are two categories of people . . .

Two “camps” of character who offer you self-development advice.

In one camp are guys like Tai Lopez and Dan Lok who promise you answers but then hide it behind a paywall.

When you buy the course the answers turn out to be nothing but lame, generic soundbites you could have got from any $12 business book on Amazon. 

When you experience this letdown, you reach what I call the “breaking point” of self development. 

You have spent time and energy and money pulling the trigger and trying to get from where you are to where you want to be and yet all you get is a slap in the face.

You feel ashamed. 

You feel embarrassed. 

You feel exhausted. 

In trying to build yourself into something more you have broken yourself into something less. 

If this sounds familiar, I have some good news. 

I, [REDACTED] am the other camp. 

I stand against the Tai Lopezs and Dan Loks of this world. 

I have a different proposition.

Instead of mouthing off about secrets I offer you only 2 things.

1/ The truth and

2/ The opportunity to put in the work

Are you ready for the truth?

Are you ready to hear the one realisation that changed the course of my life and led me to this very moment, looking down the camera at you?


The reason people pay money for courses and don’t consume them is when you attach yourself to another person’s formula you give away your power.

When you attach yourself to another person’s formula you give away your power. 

Your desire disappears. 

You get the information, but not the inspiration. 

Don’t get me wrong. 

I have secrets.

I have systems. 

I have frameworks. 

But I am going to give them all to you today ONLY on the understanding that you will not bow down to a false god and expect a formula you bought from some dude on the internet to dictate your every step like a child. 

You have to change the way you look at the world and your role in it. 

Because the truth is you don’t have problems. 

Yes, you might have shit going on in your life. 

You might not like school or college or you have girl trouble or family issues. 

You might hate your job. 

You might hate not having a job.

But these problems exist OUTSIDE of you. 

They are not problems WITH you.

They are problems FOR you. 

They are tests. 

They are challenges. 

You, my friend, are more powerful than you know. 

We all have an ancient belief that there’s something wrong with us. 

It’s a survival mechanism designed to keep us alive. 

“Don’t climb the mountain,” it says.

“You might not come back.” 

You may not be entirely conscious of it. 

But it’s there. 

It’s affecting you right now. 

It’s the voice that wants to reject what I am telling you. 

For most people, the voice will win. 

But I am telling you you are already powerful. 

And there goes that voice!

What it’s saying to you is the same thing it used to say to me. 

It’s saying:

“How can I be powerful when I don’t have any money?

That’s why inside [REDACTED] we get your money up first. 

It’s why we prioritise the 90-day “[REDACTED].”

It’s an important psychological hurdle to break your limiting beliefs. 

We get you your first payday as soon as possible. 

You get that first “ca-ching!” notification on your phone. 

Then we get you respectable pocket money. 

Then we get you an online salary. 

Then we move onto the more luxurious things in life. 

Rump steak for dinner whenever you like. 

Choosing between the black or burgundy leather inside your dream car. 

Splashing in the ocean with your girl before cocktails and a sunset dinner. 

But best of all, the look on the faces of people who know you, but don’t recognize you.

I know this sounds amazing but it’s just the beginning. 

You will soon see money is not what you know it as today. 

Right now you look at cash and cars and bank accounts, the things you can buy, the costs.

You see the latest M2 Macbook and fine dining and exotic travel in private jets. 

You see big numbers on your phone. 

As you grow, we will guide you to look instead at the value within you and within the people around you. 

You will learn to look at money as the flowing and exchanging of this value within your network.

You will see that you need not worry about ever reaching your limit of generating wealth.  

When you attack life with the twin mindsets of authenticity and abundance, money appears automatically. 

And here we get to the meat and potatoes of life. 

The truth is humans thrive when we connect with each other and open ourselves to someone else’s wisdom. 

This was my realisation. 

I spent more money than I care to admit on self-development.

I bought all the courses from the big names but I never made the progress I wanted.  

It was only when I made a deliberate decision to do things my way that the journey began. 

Because there’s a cosmic difference between learning from someone and abdicating your power to another person’s formula.

It’s an energy shift. 

Yes, inside the [REDACTED]we give you the 90-day, 5-phase “[REDACTED]” for making $3,000 a month in 6 months or less guaranteed. 

We stand behind this protocol.

We know it works. 

It’s how we guarantee results. 

We also know it’s not the only path in this world. 

You can follow it to the letter or you can operate more like Bruce Lee.

Bruce Lee said:

“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is specifically your own.”

But we also give you brotherhood and accountability. 

I know from personal experience that the hardest part of the journey is finding someone you can talk to every day who has the same desire and vision as you. 

We provide a brotherhood of other strong-minded men to network and be friends with. 

A place where no one will mock you and everyone wants you to win. 

You get DMs, calls and everyday support from other strong, masculine, successful men. 

We will be your second family. 

But first you have to say yes. 

This opportunity resonates with you if you are someone who refuses to be led astray by another [REDACTED]. 

It clicks with you if you care about the process of sharpening your skills and growing your knowledge. 

It lines up with someone who cares about building something that serves people and provides for your family. 

If you look for a sense or purpose in your work, you are a candidate for [REDACTED]

[REDACTED]l also resonates with someone curious about how the world really works:

Why are we moving away from tradition?

Why is society failing men?

How can you protect yourself and your loved ones from degeneracy?

We show you what’s going on. 

If you’re a reasonable thinker, you see your life as something precious and powerful and you’re at all curious about what life is like as a top 1% male, you are in the right place.

A reminder of how simple our offer is:

Inside [REDACTED]we give you the 90-day, 5-phase “[REDACTED]” for making $3,000 a month in 6 months or less guaranteed. 

It’s the same protocol that’s already gotten results for all the young men just like you you can read about on the page below. 

And yes, I am 100’% the first person to tell you that you have it within yourself to make this happen on your own. 

But I have also come to understand that the universe responds to action. 

If you want to get there faster, the right way to shorten time is to raise your certainty. 

The right way to raise you certainty is to set specific goals. 

The right way to set specific goals is to work with us. 

We design the vision. 

Then we build the vision. 

And we delete anything that gets in the way.

I’ve already given you our guarantee. 

Now I give you my promise. 

The same rule I have for YouTube is the same rule I have for you:

I will always guide you to stay as true to yourself as you can.  

Now I want you to check out the bonuses below. 

Then click the link to join and we will speak inside [REDACTED] soon.


I’m the guy who tells you [REDACTED]. 

Especially when [REDACTED].

How to Unlock Productivity

Last year I wrote a thread on X about the writing rhythms of three of the greats: Tarantino, Hemingway, and Bukowski. These three writers were interesting to me. They didn’t have rigid timetables. But they did have backdoor ways of generating productive work sessions. Instead of following a strict schedule, they dipped in and out of a state that people call “flow.”

They’d write, then recharge.

They’d reap, then they’d sow.

As mercurial as this sounds, as obsessive and committed and focused as great writers appear from afar, the good news is anyone can do this.

Give or take.

I think the one caveat is that to be a great writer you have to love reading and writing and you have to do both every day.

The bad?

The 21st Century does not naturally support flow states. So the tragedy is that you can spend your entire career operating on the cusp of creativity. We are tied, like Pavlovian dogs, to devices. Dopaminergic dingles are strong.

If you’re a copywriter, does the following sound familiar?

Your most productive states come only when the stakes are highest, when the deadline is closing in, and when necessity has replaced ingenuity.

But you should know your brain is resourceful and coachable and an absolute BEAST just waiting to be unleashed under the right conditions.

If you prefer not to be smothered by the slavering maw of AI in the next ten years? The thing that’s going to save you is getting good at learning, creativity, and productivity. I’m going to describe the best way to do that for most people. It’s simple and elegant and insanely powerful.

I think you’ll be glad you opened this newsletter.

How to Get Into Flow

You know that saying, “Nothing tastes as good as being in shape feels?”

I agree with this (with the occasional exception like a nice bowl of custard.)

But the exciting thing if you’ve never had a “flow habit” is that once you start cranking out copy at an accelerated rate, you will never want to go back to the struggle.

Writing copy at speed, on-demand, every day of the week feels better than a diet of distraction and lukewarm writing sessions.

I’m going to describe what to do now.

You are going to be disappointed and unimpressed.

Then I am going to add the nuance everyone else forgets that makes it actually work.

You can decide for yourself if it’s something you are going to experiment with.

Here’s what to do:

Wake up and get to work.

How to Prepare for Flow

Yes, I’ve just dropped a class-A productivity cliché.

But before you dismiss it outright ask yourself two questions:

  1. Can you currently access flow every day of the week?
  2. Have you actually tried this the way I lay out below?

So as Jennifer Anniston used to say with a flick of her hair in 90s television ads for L’Oreal . . .

“Here comes the science bit!”

Plan the night before. It’s important you give your brain the opportunity to work on the task while you’re asleep. This means that any research you need to do should already be done when you sit down to write. So, outline your task, do the research, prep the page and have a clear goal. For example, “write 16 headlines and the lead.”

Get straight to it. The shorter the period between you waking up and starting to type, the better. No snoozing, no brewing coffee, no meditating, none of that. The aim of the game is to carry your brain from the pillow to your computer with minimal inputs and start typing as soon as possible.

At first, your brain will resist. You have to overcome the initial pushback and get used to the situation without succumbing to distraction. You have to fight for control over your psychic energy. In The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield calls this “The Resistance.” It is real and a true goblin. I write in Apple Notes or Ulysses instead of a Google Doc to avoid the temptation to quickly look something up. If you do that, you lose.

A final warning before you start experimenting:

This is not simply a cognitive “hack.” It is not enough to know conceptually that this works. There is a cost attached and that cost is commitment of emotion and will.

You must practice and apply consistency to the discipline.

But when you do, it comes with economies of scale. You are writing copy according to molecular doctrine and the laws of the universe.

This post?

I got up at 05:30 on Monday morning.

I splashed my face with water.

Then I walked over to my laptop on the kitchen table, opened it with the Apple Notes app already on the screen, blinked twice and started typing.

It took 22 minutes.

P.S.P. French


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Copywriting in the Creator Marketplace

In the creator marketplace, everyone’s a copywriter. Covid mauling the job market and keeping everyone cooped up at home for two years sped this up. People with no history of reading in real life started writing and selling stuff online. Gumroad boomed. Cohorts sprouted. Communities formed. The algorithmic battle for attention blossomed. 

Everyone became a copywriter. 

And while many make the case that soft, fuzzy, organic traffic is not the same as juicing dollars out of stone-cold strangers, the counter-argument is a lot of the same persuasion principles are in action and at an admirable skill level. It’s just the playing field that’s changed. 

A couple of specific things I’ve noticed: 


This positioning that dominates the space and has 17-year-olds striving to build 6-figure education businesses while still in high school is something new. It looks less faddy than coaches for coaches and self-styled solopreneurs teaching semi-solopreneurs how to teach solopreneurism.

My friend Jim Clair has pointed out this positioning is safer because “It allows mistakes as a ‘learning lesson.’ It keeps them safe from others hiring them to coach them, and if it flops, getting roasted.” I don’t think “building in public” is a bad thing. It just means you need to be selective about your sensei. 

Lots more traditional DR guys are popping up on Twitter.

This means they want to build organic audiences and sell. A personal brand is a sensible hedge, but in a world where you can quit your job as a fund manager and have a multi-million dollar online writing business humming within two years, there’s plenty to play for.

Twitter’s become a place where you can build a company out of a person, or a group of people. You don’t have to arrive – immaculate – as the finished article. You can test not just your copy, but your design, your visuals; your vibe. You can ask hard questions and get quick replies from smart people. It’s a satisfying and rewarding creative journey.

So, yes.

There was a “plagiarism” spat on Twitter this week.

Big ship vs. little fish.

The vibe of the gripe:

Nitpicking at best, hypocritical at worst.

Maybe it’s just a function of the people I follow, maybe it’s because the person pointing the finger didn’t have a clever or even clear case, but in following the fallout, it’s evident where sympathy resides. The town hall has tossed this one out. 

I took one of the very first Twitter writing cohorts. I enjoyed it. I learned things. I shipped. And I still use some of their software when I want to write a mini-essay in a graphic. But I’ve since heard some sad anecdotes. The course has become AI and template-heavy. Output at all costs. This is a red flag. The things we do and the words we type are a battle for emotion and expression. Safe, shticky, scalable formulas and carpet-bombing the internet with AI-assisted essays about your sleep routine are poor substitutes for an actual personality. People know this even if they don’t shout it. They want blood and mud. Tears and beer. Love and loss. Connection. 

But as I said, it was a good cohort.

I sent the founders a thank you note after it finished. 

Never heard back.

P.S.P. French

This was the 15th edition of The French Memo. If you’re finding them interesting, get your name up in lights on my website by leaving a quick review. I would love that. 

Where Big Money Marketing Hooks Come From

Copywriters can suffer from overwhelm. Finding the perfect hook or transmuting a Big Idea from that pink mush between your ears to a pristine Google Doc can feel like Sisyphos’ eternal struggle to push his boulder up that hill. 

But let me offer young hopefuls a cool and liberating perspective. 

There’s an interesting paragraph inside Joseph Sugarman’s Adweek Copywriting Handbook:

“There are many words that mean the same thing. One day, for example, the hot buzzword in advertising might be positioning. A product is positioned or placed in such a way as to appeal to the consumer. Other terms commonly used are Big Idea, or USP (unique selling proposition), maybe even gimmick. Whatever it’s called, it means basically the same thing.”

When I worked on magazines, we were all about “hooks.”

What were we going to write at the top of the page to get people to read more? Which fifteen words we slap on the front cover will force people who walk into a newsagent thirsty for a can of Coke to walk out with a copy of our magazine?

Hooks, big ideas, positioning, USPs . . .

Are they all “basically the same thing?”

This was one of the inspirations for 80/20 Market Research.

My experience working with personal brands on Twitter had been that your positioning can be so strong that it becomes your Big Idea.

On Twitter, your positioning needs to be articulated in your bio and the way you talk about what you do. What you stand for and against. Your values and beliefs. 

So for me, positioning is a more fluid game than the Big Idea. 

Big Ideas stand alone like lighthouses, while positioning is about finding your own place in the market relative to others. 

Why do Big Ideas stand alone?

Let’s take David Ogilvy’s 1950s television advert for Pepperidge Farm bread as a visual example. Ogilvy didn’t sit there at his desk writing marketing hooks until the words “white horse and wagon” appeared in front of him. 

Instead, he dreamt about an old baker driving his horse and wagon along a country lane on his way to deliver bread. The white horse and wagon transcended marketing mediums and seasonal campaigns and appeared in television adverts for DECADES. 

Ogilvy said Big Ideas come from the unconscious.

“This is true in art, in science and in advertising.” 

On the one hand, Ogilvy’s statement takes the pressure off. 

Big ideas come THROUGH you but they are not OF you. 

You have to summon them by filling up with information, then walking away from your desk and waiting for the lightning bolt. Ogilvy’s the top dawg, who’s going to argue?

You might as well go for an ice cream. 

On the other hand, this is unhelpful advice if you’re writing a new sales page with a looming deadline. You need to be more proactive. 

Enter Eugene:

“You don’t get an idea… you dig it out of the market research and wring it out of the product. You read, you listen, you experiment. The creativity is not in you, it is in your market and your product. All you are doing is joining the two together.”

Gene Schwarz

That’s more like it.

On the mag, we’d go to the pub and chat shit. If someone said something that made the whole table laugh, we made a note. I recall big-hitting direct response copywriter Jim Clair saying he’d “riff” on offers and hooks with his business partner.

The point? Remove yourself from the equation. You are the conduit, not the vessel. The more you agonize over “creating” the perfect hook, the more obstacles you are putting in your own way. 

So chill. Research, yes. But also relax. Reflect.

Let it come.

P.S.P. French

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The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Guide to Selling with Emotion

Copywriters are taught to appeal to emotions. The problem is some take this too literally and end up writing gobbledygook:

“Join us and be a part of a movement that changes lives!”

“Help us end animal cruelty and make the world a better place!”

“Are you tired of feeling left out and ignored?”

I witnessed this myself while working with an agency recently. I’m convinced this is a reason a lot of copywriters never make it out of first gear on the steep road to glory. Copywriting IS about appealing to emotions. What it’s not about is jumping up and down on them while wearing a hula skirt and screaming into a megaphone. The more blatant the appeal to emotion, the lamer the copy. How to fix this?

Well, the answer is not booting up ChatGPT.

Appealing to emotions without calling them out relies on being able to articulate the subtleties and nuance of human experience. If you’re using Ai to write copy right now, there’s a gaping hole where this should be.

Whether this gap gets adequately filled in time for your next copywriting project is up for debate. Some copywriters are going to go “all-in” on Ai and pay the price of delegating their faculties. Others are going to play it smart, keep tabs on progress and leverage it where it makes sense to BUT also keep one foot planted in the reality and power of the human experience.

Which camp will you be in?

If you’re interested in maintaining a grip on your intellect, it pays to know the only real, deep-down reasons people buy things:

Physical activity
Social contact

I will also draw your attention to a book that has won the Pulitzer Prize: Lessons of History by Will & Ariel Durant. Inside this book, the authors provide a “Table of Character Elements:”

I first read the book a few years ago, before I developed an interest in direct response. But now that DR is my filter, I see this table of elements in a new and useful light.

The problem with the “only real, deep down reasons people buy things” offers a snapshot. But the “Table of Character Elements” is a spectrum. It gives you much more room for maneuver and imagination with your copy.

The human brain is wired to detect MOVEMENT as either threat or opportunity. Everything the brain does is about MOVING us between fear and desire. Survival mechanisms MOVE us toward pleasure and away from pain.

So the best way to act on the basic copywriting advice of “appeal to emotions ” is to position your product or service as the facilitator of this transition. You don’t have to spell it out, you have to make it happen. You’re putting an arm around them and helping them to see around the corner.

I’ll give you a recent example.

I was working with this agency on a handbag account. It’s a brains and beauty kind of product. Form and function. Positioned for work and play. We could have pressed on emotions to do with social status, pride, acceptance, etc. But it felt forced and contrived.

So instead we just called it “The Magic Bag!” and let the prospects fill in the emotional blanks themselves.

The result?

CTR at 5X from the other agencies hired to run ads.

I hope that helps you to see the task of appealing to emotions in a different light. Less as a spreadsheet to fill, more a symphony to explore.

P.S.P. French

Two smart tools for you: 

🔽 The 80/20 Market Research Method: Whether you're a marketing agency or freelance copywriter, speed is your ally. This is a detailed guide to the only 7 questions you need to answer to write solid copy today. Make your research simple, not complicated.   

🔑Freelance Copywriting Master Key: If you can follow instructions, this step-by-step guide shows you how to find a niche, sign copywriting clients and secure them on retainers. It’s called the good life and people no smarter than you are living it already. The only difference? They took action. Join 156 others already inside.