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

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How to Get Copywriting Clients

It helps to start with the end in mind. Maybe you NEED a client tomorrow. Maybe you’re not in a massive rush and would be happy to wait a bit, find the right fit and work with someone long-term. Maybe you want a whizzy full-stack paid ads to VSL autopilot system to get loads of clients on demand.

Maybe you also want a calendar full of calls with timewasters, a psyche riddled with anxiety and a debilitating relationship with Adderall. What I’m optimizing for with a one-person writing business are things like long-term cash flow, spontaneous travel, mid-week massages, no alarm clock and lunch in the sun.

Here are 4 ways to get clients.

There is a “chicken and egg” element to this. Testimonials, references and recommendations are the most powerful ways to hook clients. But in the beginning you need to acquire a client without any of this to back you up. If this is you I would focus on two things: risk reversal and samples. Risk reversal is when you say to someone, “I will ghostwrite for you and guarantee 10% month-on-month follower growth or you don’t pay me a thing.” Samples are when you do the work upfront and offer it to them. Ads, emails, landing pages, tweets, whatever it may be. Remember: people don’t care about credentials. They care about ONE thing: can you show them a piece of copy similar to what they need?

My first cold email campaign made me $13,840. You see people pitching “Build a 6-Figure Copywriting Business . . . Without Sending any Cold Outreach!” or “Inside! Why Cold Email Doesn’t Work (and what to do instead)”— but these are positioning tricks. Sleights of hand. You don’t hate cold email. You hate sucking at cold email. If you’re good at it, it’s the quickest and most direct way to get clients. But DO NOT write them one-by-one if this is your first move. Precision comes later. Technology exists to be leveraged and volume is your friend. I wrote a 4-email sequence that I plugged into Mailshake with the email addresses of 500 health business owners that I bought for $25 from a Fiverr gig. I expected a few people to bite on email 3 or 4, but a chiropractor booked themselves into my calendar for a call after the first email. We ended up working together for nearly a year. It was only 53 words long, but that email did the trick. Things that make you good: leverage tech, make them curious and include links to your calendar and LinkedIn profile in your emails. Being good is a powerful feeling.

Deals happen in the DMs, but you need game. My first client? Someone I was following announced he wanted to hire a copywriter. Anyone interested should DM him. I was in a hammock in Costa Rica when I saw the message, so I was fairly – perhaps literally – detached from the outcome. I had to stand out. I sent him a message. He was either going to block me or hire me. The reason I got it was I didn’t care if I didn’t. That was my first direct response copywriting client. The key with DMs is you have to tailor your approach and you have to be bold. Study their business. Look for flaws in the marketing. Think about what’s in it for them. “Have you considered doing this?” Fifteen minutes a day researching a perfect client will serve you much better than spamming people with, “I like the value you’re putting out there, and I’m willing to write 3 emails for you. And all I want you to do is update me on the results they get you. Sound good?” This is a DM I received last week. Less of an offer, more of a cack-handed insult. I am asking you to be better.

You can attract perfect-fit clients with competence-proving content. I call this “Hot Authority.” The antithesis to cold email. Post 3-5 tweets a day about general copywriting tidbits you’ve studied, insights, and results you’ve achieved for your clients. Check Twitter analytics. Re-post any tweet with an engagement rate > 3% on Facebook and LinkedIn. Join a couple of groups on Facebook where your vertical hangs out. Like and comment on their posts. When they like or comment on your posts, add them as friends. Make sure your calendar link is front and centre in your profile. If you do this consistently, people will start to book calls with you.

Something to think about: Most of you would be familiar with Naval Ravikant’s famous Twitter thread, How to Get Rich (without getting lucky.) The final tweet reads:

“When you’re finally wealthy, you’ll realize that it wasn’t what you were seeking in the first place.”

I feel the same about client work.

Unless your goal is to build an agency, you don’t want to be dripping in clients.

You want to build long-term relationships with people you like and to be able to sleep at night.

Once you’ve settled on an acquisition method that suits you, the hardest part is not getting clients, it’s keeping them.

But that’s for another day.

P.S.P. French

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The Best Research Method

One of my favorite copywriting trainings was written by Ben Settle a few years ago. I doubt it’s possible to get your hands on it anymore, but it was a hysterical rant about how some clients wanted to “test” all sorts of new angles by mining “data” and using schnazzy software.

Instead, Ben used his own research method.

He found someone in the market, asked them about their problems, wrote a headline based on what they said . . . and it sold like gangbusters!

“So simple, it’s almost insane.”

In my time copywriting, this has proven true. The quickest way to understand what your audience wants – BY FAR – is to ask them.

Now, the nuance.

There are two main ways to keep tabs on markets. 

What people say when they are non-anonymous. 

What people say when they are anonymous. 


“People don’t think what they feel, they don’t say what they think, and they don’t do what they say.”

David Ogilvy

Non-anonymous: request regular delivery of reviews, interviews and testimonials from your client. Here you are ASKING.

Anonymous: follow your target market to forums such as Reddit where people talk freely. You will find acute details about specific problems expressed with pain and passion. Here you are OBSERVING.

They won’t always match up, so you have to do both. 

My one-two punch?

Set up calls with 2-3 people in the market as your initial research. Then look at Reddit, forums, and social media groups for the juicy details that can make good copy great.

P.S.P. French

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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

7 Big Things Small Businesses Need

I’m going to lay out some lesser-known, higher-leverage, “slam-dunk” items copywriters can provide for businesses.

When you sign a client, the scope of the work might be small. If you don’t play your cards right, you’re one and done in a few short days. But it doesn’t have to play out like this. If a client is looking for a copywriter, the work they’ve hired you for is the tip of the iceberg.

I’d compare it to what they say about thirst.

“By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.”

It’s the same for copy.

By the time a business realizes it needs some copywriting support, there’s already a backlog.

Sometimes, you’ll find the backlog goes all the way back to the BASICS. So it’s wasteful that most copywriters get a gig, do the work, and then move on. Here’s a better way. You tweak this, improve that, and before too long, you are kind of important. Then you take over the company.

Let’s get into it.

NOTE: Any biz owners or current clients, hello! Look, I don’t attempt takeovers. This is just a Machiavellian mini-drama that appeals to copywriters. It’s comedy. It’s a bit of fun, okay?

Empathy “About” Matrix

Good marketing is about getting to the truth about what you’re selling. I first read about this exercise in a Jay Abraham book and I’ve seen it repeated in different formats in multiple places because it works. Set up a spreadsheet with four columns. Title the 1st and 3rd columns ‘Problems’ and ‘Frustrations.’ In the 2nd and 4th columns, rewrite the problems and frustrations in clearer language. Take these pains and frustrations and thread them through a story that shows how well the business understands its customers. You can do this in 250–300 words and eleven times out of ten it’ll be better than what’s on their ‘About’ page. Show it to them. “I thought this might be useful to you.” If they like it, use your matrix to do . . .

The Basics (not direct response)

I nearly didn’t write this because it’s so basic and obvious some of you will stop reading. Well, be gone! It’s so basic it’s genius. Most people think they’re above this but it’s the foundation of our plan. As well as their ‘About’ page, offer to revamp their Services, Testimonials and Contact page. Other pages could be; Our Story, Our Mission, Staff (ewww.) For some reason, local businesses like restaurants, hotels, indie gyms, physios etc. are terrible at this. All stiff and awkward. No concept of pitch or tone or voice. You can also offer to create a lead magnet for them. This requires more research tho, so charge an extra fee. Now every word on the website belongs to your hand.

Ghostwrite for Founder

This is about flipping quick one-off cash gigs into a retainer once you have their trust. Most business owners have a sub-optimal (crap) presence on Twitter and LinkedIn. They have strong characters and good ideas but jack-squat consistency. They’re busy of course, but the upside of fixing this — and your pitch — is twofold: it improves their feedback loops with customers and makes it easier for people to know and trust them and buy from them. It’s an opportunity for them to tell stories, share flaws and create their own legend. Write them an origin story thread or three fresh tweets and offer them up. They’ll be flattered (everyone’s favorite subject is themself.) You are now “chummy.”

Time for a Package (direct response)

6 ads, 2 autoresponders, 1 sales page, 2 email sequences (buyers and non-buyers.) Something like that, depending on their needs. At this point, you’ve written not just the words on the website but the entire funnel. You ARE the marketing department.

Lexicon Development

This is a kookie one but I guarantee no one else is doing it. Not sellable in the same way as the others, but pay attention. A big part of standing out online — in ads, emails, social media, wherever, is developing words and phrases that you own. For example, Ben Settle always spells guru ‘gooroo.’ Matt Furey might have been the first person to spell naked ‘nekkid.’ Closer to home, Ed Latimore’s made memes out of coffee and crackheads. Tahm Giovanni has typed the word “keto” more than any other human. Eddy Quan and Jose Rosado won’t stop banging on about tropical fruits. They’re not “big ideas,” as much as verbal tics. They’re ritualistic. They make the biz both unique AND predictable, which leads to trust. Look for phraseology your client can invent or tweak or own. Encourage them to do so. You are now chums who also happen to share private jokes. It’s only been two weeks.

Pet Project

They have an email list and post on social but there’s no differentiation. There’s nothing they do that no one else does. Nothing to identify them as them. So the opportunity is for you to pitch them a new marketing asset that you can own. It can be a channel they’re already using, but what you do is give it a new name and identity. Let’s take email as an example. Tim Ferriss has “5-Bullet Friday.” Perry Marshall has a “30-Day Street MBA” email sequence. So there’s no excuse for any business to be satisfied with running a newsletter. Call it something. This applies to all channels. Regular reels, LinkedIn carousels, mid-week Facebook Lives, YouTube series, a podcast. Most businesses would be much better off picking ONE channel where their customers hang out and creating a regular series. A huge improvement on posting all over the place with nothing to separate them from the noise. You can own this.

Common Enemy

You’ve heard of Blair Warren’s One-Sentence Persuasion Course? “People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies.” Having a “common enemy” in the marketplace is a power move. Important: unless you want to scare the client, the common enemy shouldn’t be individual people or specific companies. For example, in the health space, Van Man’s big idea is “Get in, we’re taking down big toothpaste!” Meanwhile, Greco Gum stands against mainstream chewing gum having the constituent ingredients of artificially-flavored car tires. When you find a common enemy and pitch it, you’re home and dry. You can tell the CEO you think it’s time the current Head of Marketing moved along. In a nice way.

P.S.P. French

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