How to Position Yourself as a Copywriter

When I started out as a copywriter I didn’t digest how important this was. The result? I hooked clients but collected headaches. It was chaos.

I do not recommend skipping positioning. It allows you to compete not on price but in a category of your own choosing and in doing so, bump yourself into a different pay bracket.

You set the rules.

I’m going to show you how to position yourself as a copywriter.

By the way . . .

What’s your positioning?
What’s your USP?

These are almost the same question.

Positioning can be broad but USPs require more precision.

Now . . .

First, let’s talk about what not to do.

(This is the awkward bit.)

The following examples I plucked from Twitter are not intended to poke fun at anyone. I could have made these up, but I wanted them to be REAL. And if you do recognize yourself below? Consider it a free pep talk.

“DR Marketer & Copywriter | I write about marketing and copywriting”

“Struggling || Learning || Copywriting”

“Tweets about online business, copywriting, marketing”

“Copywriter. Tweets about writing, marketing and self development. Documenting my journey into copywriting.”

These are great examples of bad positioning. Or worse, no positioning. No differentiation whatsoever. No unique selling proposition. It doesn’t need much explaining why these are not going to help you attract clients. I am sorry if you were chosen here. Sometimes it just helps to be slapped in the face.

3 Ways to Position Yourself as a Copywriter

Option 1: Position by Vertical/Service

This is the quickest way to position yourself because you only have to make one decision. If you position by vertical you choose between writing for the three main markets: health, wealth, and relationships. Pick one and you’re done. If you position by service, you pick one THING to do and you do it very well. For example, instead of calling yourself a run-of-the-mill copywriter, you can follow my friend Logan “Landing Pages” Storti’s lead and focus on writing Landing Pages. You become known for doing one thing.

Option 2: Position by BIG IDEA

This rules on Twitter (I wrote a whole report on it.) Positioning yourself by BIG IDEA boils down to there being something NEW and SEXY about you and the way you work. New and Sexy. NEXY. The most important word in copywriting and I only just made it up. Please see How to Teleport Through Twitter for more.

Option 3: Position by Problem

My favorite. Rare but oh-so-powerful. One of the smartest examples of positioning I’m aware of is from Taylor Welch. When Taylor started freelance copywriting, he dubbed himself:

“The Infusionsoft Copywriter”


In Taylor’s words:

“Infusionsoft was a certain (expensive) software tool that I noticed my best clients all used. If someone used Infusionsoft, it meant they probably had some money, and it meant they took their business seriously. Also, there was a tremendous learning curve involved in learning how to use the tool, so I had another good niche attribute: PAIN.

There are 3 key words here…


This has less to do with the literal number of people you can help and more – much more – to do with whether or not they are easily and precisely targetable. You need to know where they hang out online.


Is your niche already spending money on marketing? You should instinctively be able to tell from their social media, website and other online cues whether or not they are equipped to wire you your fee without blinking.


Someone in PAIN will not only happily pay you to solve their problem, but they will do so with URGENCY. Your offer sells itself.

For example, I have written copy for startups in the healthcare, travel, online learning, and crypto industries.

The problem all startups have is that they’re in a hurry TO NOT DIE.

Specific Group.

Deep Pockets.

In Pain.

This is how you get paid for positioning by problem.

P.S.P. French

Looking for the meat and potatoes?

🔑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 153 others already inside.

The Most Popular Sales Letter of All Time is “Hokey”

One warm summer evening, two young copywriters joined Twitter. They were very much alike, these two young men. Both were personable, ambitious, and full of the most important character trait of all: ENERGY.

A few years later, one of these copywriters was cutting equity deals, running his own offers, and living the good life. He bought a big house in Andalucia and built a handsome library he filled with leather-bound first editions. In the evenings, he’d sit by his pool fringed by mango trees and wild herbs, puff on a Cohiba Siglo VI, and listen, occasionally, to offers from people who wanted him to write copy for them. He also installed a NAD T770 digital decoder with a 70-watt amp and Burr Brown DACS. That’s a stereo. With speakers so loud they can blow a woman’s clothes off.

The other copywriter… a sad case. Broke as a joke. Still taking cold showers and re-reading Atomic Habits.

Would you like to know what made the difference?

Analyzing the Most Popular Sales Letter of All Time

The Wall St. Journal sales letter that ran from 1975–2003 is responsible for more than $2 billion in sales and subscriptions. You may have already done the math. $195,564 a day for 28 years is almost 2 billion. The letter is 775 words long. So every word copywriter Martin Conroy typed back in 1975 pulled in over $25 million. Twenty-five million dollars. Think about that the next time your fingers are fluttering over the keys.


Copywriters know this ad. They recognize the “tale of two men.” Anyone serious about the craft has studied it to some degree. If you haven’t you can find a dozen breakdowns on the Web.

I’ve hand copied and studied the ad.

I’ve read those breakdowns.

They say things like…

“What follows is the greatest copy ever written!”

“The ultimate open loop!”

“The Jack Niklaus of copywriting!”

“tHiS iS biBLiCAl!”

The sad case copywriter would gobble this up. He’d retro-fit standard frameworks like AIDA and the 4Ps as evidence that it’s an example of high-level execution. All you have to do is trust the playbook.

But there’s more to this story.

I liked the letter but it didn’t strike me as the stunning apex of advertising. I had a hunch and asked direct-response copywriter Jim Clair about it. Jim wrote copy for eight years and crafted a bunch of hit offers. He said:

“The quality of what was written is what sold that newspaper, not that ad.”

Oh, hell fire.

Post that in the Cult of Copy Facebook group and you’ll know harassment.

But in the name of charity and goodwill…

We are here to shepherd the weak through the fog of folklore.

I teamed up with Jim not to set the record straight, but to offer you an alternative narrative that might tweak the way you think.


The ad had an abysmal response rate. Even by today’s cold traffic standards. 0.3% is something you’d run for a scammy affiliate offer if you had a high-converting email swipes. But it sucks and it would be something you’d shut down fast.

As far as the ad’s efficacy. It’s hokey. I believe where it swiped from did ok. It has decent elements. But in the 1970s, and today…. eehhhhhh it’s not quite modern enough. As in, that ad would work as it did in the early 1900s, in a growing urban area. By the 1970s, this kind of theme was long gone. The idea of some country hick in a growing area not reading the journal and then managed by a classmate… that era passed in 1917.

Some elements work. Being left behind. Or trying one thing and it offers success, where the other that doesn’t try something, gets left behind. That aspect works. It needs to be shaped and molded. But for instance, my Yoga Burn ad, we used that element — not invented by the WSJ ad — as far as how women could get injured in a Yoga Studio. The aspect of someone knowing something you don’t, also works. But today’s modern take, would be that “winter is coming” side. Which may be, dated information is slowing you down, or what you’re using is new but it makes it complicated… etc.

(Paul’s note: Jim emphasized it’s impossible to nail down absolute truth with hindsight guesses, but he also saw top guys — himself included — try to rework the ad umpteen ways for modern sales letters and VSLs, without success.)

My take, the higher-ups liked the ego-trip from the ad. They had a ton of subscriptions piling in, they thought this ad was cool. The direct-marketing department/subscription department put it into rotation. Then, with all the bureaucracy, it was forgotten. It just stayed in rotation and ran. Then when anyone took over, they didn’t want to screw anything up, and they inherited a newspaper that plenty of people subscribed to and kept subscribing to, so they just let it run. And I bet the higher-ups, in time, forgot about it. In 1975, with inflation, and world crises, they were more focused on their journalism and the egos of their journalists.

In sum: my bet, sheer volume made the ad work.

Jim shows here that “success” is contextual. The reason it ran for 28 years was that the newspaper was thriving on its own merit. They didn’t need a home-rum promotion to keep the lights on.

Ironically, one of the secrets to the ad’s staying power is that it was unremarkable. It didn’t exist in a culture of A/B testing and somehow escaped management-level scrutiny as it stood in the corner quietly accumulating clout for three decades.

So… the “most successful letter of all time?”


But more by accident than design.

What Makes the Difference

A sum is equal to its parts.

[Offer x Traffic] The Wall St. Journal ran a mediocre ad at high volume for a long time and made $2 billion. At the other end of the equation spectrum, you can have a majestic offer and still build a company of one with next-to-no traffic, purely through word-of-mouth by charging high prices to a select clientele. Big traffic to a great offer makes you rich, obviously.

But the deeper lesson here is that in between your traffic and your offer is a third lever.

It’s the lever that keeps everything humming over the long term. You risk breaking it for good every time you stray into ethical gray zones or decide to roll the dice with scammy tactics.

It’s your reputation.

Your personal brand.

Not your Twitter followers or email list, but the currency you hold with people.

Our sad case was a decent if earnest bloke. But in his rush to make money, he started chasing quick wins and was seduced by a carousel of gurus. He was so blinded by shortcuts that he’s still looking for the next level, hoping to unearth the “BIGGEST MARKETING SECRET,” which doesn’t exist.

Our man in Andalucia wasn’t looking for shortcuts. He wanted to learn deep skills, craft his own offers, build long-term relationships, and understand the world and its power dynamics on a level where having everything and nothing would feel exactly the same.

P.S.P. French

The Economics of Escape Velocity

Have you ever tried reading a personal finance blog? They’re a dry lunch, so let me save you the trouble. Here’s all those hundreds of thousands of pinched nickels and earnest paragraphs in just seven words:

Earn more, spend less, invest the difference.

That’s money as simple PHYSICS. Interest rates and digits on spreadsheets. But if the rules are so simple… why does money elude most people? Remember, the premise and promise of these memos is:

Reality-based knowledge delivered as practical, tactical advice.

So instead of meandering off on an esoteric rant…

I’ll show you.

The Dollar’s Two Faces

Let’s see if you can hold two opposing ideas in your head at the same time.

1. Money is fickle
2. Money demands respect

That is money as PSYCHOLOGY.

Appreciate the difference? Now let me be honest: I’m not where I want to be. I only traded in my 9-5 three years ago. But I am getting closer every day and that has something to do with what I am about to teach you.

I’m only going to write about this topic ONCE.


Money is fickle.
Like a spoilt cat. It goes where the value is.

Money demands respect.
Again, a spoilt cat. If you disrespect it, it WILL LEAVE you.

If you want money to come to you, provide value to other people.

If you want money to stay with you, be a good steward.

Take notes, Mr. Montana.

Money as Happiness

The most common denominator of happiness is a feeling of CONTROL. This trumps your money, trophies, toys and prestige. And something the bloggers do get right:

Control – or good stewardship – of money comes from living within your means. I don’t give two hoots what you spend your money on and I’m not saying you need to survive on tomato soup and Malboros.

But if you want to tell a good story with your money, if you want to use it for good and convince other people’s money to come and hang out next to yours…

Then you need to know your numbers.

The Economics of Escape Velocity

The place you want to get to with your money, the place where you have “lift off…” is where for every month or year you work, you can “buy” yourself that time again in exchange. After working for one month, you have enough cash to not work for a month. Not that you’ll want to stop necessarily – but again – this is about control.

Here’s the launchpad equation.

(Post-Tax Income – Living Expenses – Debt Payments) / Living Expenses

For example, in my first year as a freelance copywriter, I made $107k. Not bad? But after 30% tax, that’s $74,900. And my living expenses added up to $45,400 (no debt though.) So $74,900 minus $45,400 is $29,500. That gives us the top number of the equation.

$29,500 divided by living expenses of $45,400 equals a total of 0.64.

$74,900 – $45,400 – 0

That means that even though I was pleased to earn 6 figures in my first year freelancing…

I did not have escape velocity of 1.0.

To hit it, I would have needed to either:

Drop my living expenses from $45,400 to $29,500 ($2,458 a month) while income stayed the same.

Raise my post-tax income from $74,900 to $90,800 ($7,566 a month) while expenses stayed the same.

The third option is a bit of both.

There is only so much you can reduce your expenses before life becomes miserable. But there is no ceiling to how much you can earn, so that’s a better game to concentrate on.

You’re Probably Undercharging

Making more money requires a certain level of aggression combined with the right actions in the marketplace.

Don’t worry, I’ll get into all that during our time together.

In fact, there’s a whole group of people (millions of them) for whom the price of what you’re selling is irrelevant.

What they want is energy.

See you next week.

P.S.P. French

Whether you’re already taking freelance jobs or just beginning to dream…

🔑 Freelance Copywriting Master Key: This course is about earning a free-roaming living by writing from a laptop. If you want a career as an independent and handsomely paid copywriter, this is your next step. Get inside now.

The Golden Triangle of Online Writing

This Christmas sat in well-worn chairs next to a crackling flame and tending to a glass of Laphroaig single malt whisky, I came very close – for what would have been the first time in my life – to beating my father at chess.

Dad is 78 but he’s still as sharp as ever. He played chess competitively as a young man. He fought his way back into the game and it ended in a draw. Beethoven’s 7th symphony danced in the background. Dad prefers it to the 5th.

In those delicate moments when dad was “on the ropes”, on the other side of the board I had my own struggle. I realized you can only beat your dad at chess for the first time ONCE. I asked myself, deep down, if I really WANTED to beat him at all.

Because some things are better left as they are. Other things need adjusting. This is the beauty of a new day or week or month. And a new year? That’s the HARD RESET. A full reboot. Here’s mine.

I write.
I write… for clients.
I write… in other people’s voices.
I write… at the whim and pleasure of other people’s businesses.

But I don’t write enough under my own name. So in 2023 these “French Memo” broadcasts and my commitment to publishing 39 of them this year is a public way of fixing that. What are YOU going to gain by reading them?

How to leverage the written word for fun and profit.

Look, I’m a profit-first kind of guy. But never at the expense of autonomy, free-time, family, fitness, travel, and all that good stuff. Here’s a strange paradox:

1… There’s SO MUCH work and opportunity out there for competent writers

2… I know a lot of competent writers and most of them are BROKE.

Not because they lack technical skill.
Not because they have productivity issues.
Not because of the inevitability of ChatGPT.

Because they lack reality-based knowledge.

And they’re distracted by so many opportunities… (not all of them to do with writing) … that surplus becomes a constraint.

And that’s why it’s such a wasted opportunity that most newsletters are all sizzle and no sausage.

All ‘what’ and no ‘how’.
All tease, no PRESTIGE.

My guarantee to you is that when you open my newsletters you’ll close them 5 MINUTES LATER with a tactical, practical takeaway for your writing business. Yes, I’ll pitch offers every now and again. But I promise the memos will serve you independently of the offers.

So here’s today’s takeaway.

The Only 3 Moneymakers You Need For a Profitable Online Writing Business (In Order)

1… Service Offer: Life would have been much more simple (and far less stressful) for me if I’d built a focused service offer from the off. I got distracted writing blog posts, tweeting platitudes and tangoing with the promise of other random and regrettable things that had nothing to do with securing a favorable words-to-money exchange rate.

2… Email List: Start a list, build a list and keep it warm. Email lists are about retaining – for as long as you’re in the game – a slice of the value you create. Because they provide compound interest on your efforts, not starting a list sooner is the #1 regret of many creators out there.

3… Digital Products: When I first started on Twitter, I wanted to sell something ASAP. What I should have been concentrating on was my service offer. This was before I even got into copywriting in a serious way. But something strange happened. I took some advice to write an ebook about the most recent thing I had explored how to do, which was sleep properly. I stuck Sleep Like a Lion on Gumroad, it made about ~$500 and still sells the occasional copy even though I never promote it (the copy is hilarious btw.)

I got DMs from people saying THANK YOU! They loved it! What was I going to write next?! The game is this: always be learning and taking notes. Talk on social about the things you’ve learned that interest you the most. When people show up in your DMs asking you questions, it’s time to sell.

This is the golden triangle.

P.S.P. French

Whether you’re already taking freelance jobs or just beginning to dream…

🔑 Freelance Copywriting Master Key: This course contains everything I know about earning a free-roaming living by writing from a laptop. If you want a career as an independent and handsomely paid copywriter, this is your next step. Get inside now.

33 Profitable Nuggets of Copywriting Advice

Don’t write the way you talk, write the way your prospect talks.

Your competition rests on the weekend.

Read Profit First.

Include a bitcoin address on your invoices.

Respect comes from results.

Use Chrome extensions ColorZilla & Fontanello to give proposals the same vibe as your prospect’s website.

Don’t call them proposals, call them action plans.

Take a break if you need a breakthrough.

Learn from the all-time giants, not the latest gurus.

David Ogilvy is your north star.

To write better than others, you have to WANT to write better than others.

Buy your clients random gifts.

Work to a timer.

Little tweaks make a big difference.

Black coffee with a green tea chaser is a great drop.

You will outgrow some clients.

Benefit + Curiosity is the only copywriting formula worth remembering.

Have a deliberate practice.

Surveys are your friend.

Leverage your subconscious to work 24/7.

Filing copy dopamine > push notification dopamine.

Know your hourly rate (tell no one).

DR copywriting isn’t about writing, it’s about making offers.

Keep track of where your clients come from.

Trending on YouTube & Medium are great for inhaling pre-validated hooks.

Be wary of ‘of’: often an opportunity to tighten your phrasing.

Have your own list + keep it warm.

Buy and use a printer.

Watch Succession on HBO.

Read Resonate by Nancy Duarte.

Quality is its own reward.

Defend what you’ve written.

Don’t be nice. Be cool, be excellent & be gone.

P.S.P. French