Health copywriter, Darren Hanser, is our guest for the 185th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. We recently met Darren at an event in Las Vegas, then again at The Copywriter Club In Real Life and after chatting, we knew we had to have him on the show. Darren has built a solid copy business and we got him to share how he did it. Here’s what we talked about:
• why he may have been destined to become a copywriter even as a child
• the google search term that led him to a career as a copywriter
• how he made more than $98,000 in a weekend… to prove he could write
• how he learned to come up with lots of good ideas
• the importance of the mechanism and how Darren uses it in his copy
• his “double down” approach to finding more copy assignments
• his “leap frog” approach to investing in the next thing
• how he got a client to pay for his first copy coach
• what his business looks like today and where his income comes from
• his writing process from research to delivery
• depression, darkness and overwhelm and having to ask for help
• why he attends events and masterminds when his business is already doing well
• his take aways from The Copywriter Club In Real Life
• the three things you must do to succeed as a copywriter
• how Darren structures his fees—a lesson he learned in the insurance industry
• what it’s like to look like Seth Rogan
• what’s next for Darren in his business this year
This is another good one. To hear it, click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript. And consider subscribing on your favorite podcast app so you don’t ever miss an episode.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:Ask by Ryan Levesque
Dean Jackson’s Naked Truth Letter
Copy Chief Live
Kim Krause Schwalm
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Kira Hug: This episode is brought to you by The Copywriter Accelerator, the 12-week program for copywriters who want to learn the business skills they need to succeed. Learn more at thecopywriteraccelerator.com.
Rob Marsh: What if you can hang out with seriously talented copywriters and other experts, ask them about their successes and failures, their work processes and their habits, then steal an idea to inspire your own work? That’s what Kira and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.
Kira Hug: You’re invited to join the club for Episode 185, as we chat with health supplement copywriter Darren Hanser about writing for wellness and info products, how he commands high fees for the work he does, what he’s done to grow his business, and what it’s like to be Seth Rogan’s doppelganger. Welcome, Darren.
Rob Marsh: Hey, Darren.
Darren Hanser: Had to throw that in there, right?
Kira Hug: You gave that piece of information to me.
Darren Hanser: It’s great to be here.
Rob Marsh: That’s probably where we should start.
Kira Hug: Yeah, exactly. Darren, we met you in Las Vegas not too long ago. We were fast friends and then we saw you again a couple weeks later at TCC in real life before the world shut down. Today, I’m excited to just dig more into your story and what you’ve done to grow. Why don’t we kick it off with how you became a copywriter? What’s your story?
Darren Hanser: What’s your story? It’s funny, because that’s the question I ask people and it gets them talking. But when people ask me that I stumble sometimes.
Kira Hug: It gets you talking, it’s going to get you talking, yeah.
Darren Hanser: It’s gets me talking. The earliest I remember I was always in a sales mentality, just in my own mind. Even as a young child, I was always trying to persuade my parents to do things and I would come up with these arguments, I would come up with these very logical and emotional appeals to them. I’d come into their bedroom at night and sit on the foot of their bed. And they knew that this was the start of a pitch. But they humored me and they allowed me to go through this and that. That grew over time where I enjoyed the art of not changing someone’s mind, but helping them to the place where I know that the best result is going to be. I became enthralled with that idea.
I got started in the marketing space on the side. I was in the financial services industry and there was a company that was ahead of the game. They were doing a lot of direct response marketing style work for our local insurance agents. They would help them come up with presentations, unique ideas to present to their customers, really help them differentiate themselves in their local market when everyone else is doing the same thing. I learned how to find really unique ideas in mundane, everyday products, right. I loved doing that and eventually, it got to the point where I didn’t really know how to excel in that specific career.
I was looking at ways to make some money on the side, start my own thing. I always had this entrepreneurial outlet that I wanted to have in my life and I found online ways to make money and that’s ultimately how I found copywriting. I started looking for ways to make money on the internet. I wanted to do it in a way where I didn’t have to talk to people all the time. I didn’t have to be face to face in all these situations, getting customers, I wanted a way to make money on the side where I didn’t have to work a lot. That was the appeal that got me into this universe. The one thing that I started learning was the way I was being taught how to make money online was to learn copywriting, it was to learn how to build an email list. It was to learn how to speak to my customer, it was to learn how to find an offer that resonates with the customers problems and find a way to communicate to them.
That’s what I was learning and it was just wrapped up in how to make money on the internet. But ultimately, it was how do you start a business that is driven by direct response copywriting. Once I started learning that, I got connected with people in that industry, and one of the offers that I was promoting as an affiliate saw what I was doing, and they said, “Why don’t we give you a shot? You’re actually pretty good and you’re getting good results. Why don’t you run a promotion for us over the weekend?” It was a live event. Let’s say it was an event like yours, where there’s a few hundred people in the room. At this time I think there was around 1,000 people in the room, and they were doing the live stream tickets and they said, “Take over our email list, do what you want to do. And then by the end of the weekend, we’ll see what results we get. If you reach a certain level, we’ll give you a bonus and if not, then there’s no fee.” It was a do or die situation.
At the time I needed the money, I didn’t really have the money to be at that event. I stayed up the whole weekend, over 72 hours, I ran their email list. I think we did $98,000 in sales over that 72 hour period. That showed me that I could get results when I was under pressure, but also showed someone else that I could get results for someone else, not just myself. That proved to me that there was something to this skill that I was learning, that was highly valuable to other people, not just like myself earning a few thousand dollars a month as an affiliate. That’s how it started and then it just grew from there and then yeah, that’s my start.
Rob Marsh: I like it. As you started talking, you mentioned that you were really good at finding ideas. I wonder if you talk a little bit more about that. Is there a practice or something that you were doing that makes you particularly good at coming up with good ideas?
Darren Hanser: Yeah, for example, I think the main thing that I left out is, when I was a kid I would watch infomercials, right. At night, I would come home when everyone was turning on, like Law and Order or whatever they were watching, I was turning on infomercials and trying to… That’s what I would watch late at night. What I found in those infomercials, which I know now was very specific and on point and on purpose was that they were coming up with very cool names for very normal things, right? They had like OxiClean and things like that, where the oxygen was the mechanism that was being used, and I saw this happening. And then it was intriguing to me because I thought this is exactly the same as everything else. But this one has some special supportive ingredient.
Then when I got in the financial service industry, the same thing happened. We were talking about let’s say things called… We had this strategy was called the yield enhancement strategy. And all it was, was it would help people pass money to their children without paying taxes. It would help them earn a better yield than they would if they just put it in a bond market or some guaranteed investment. It was a very boring concept. But the way that it was packaged was that it was super unique, it was made just for them, and it had a very specific application in their life. Their answer to that was, “Of course, I’m going to use this strategy because it is made just for me.” I started to see this.
And then once I started actually doing marketing, the first time that I actually saw this was when I did a little bit of work with Ryan Levesque, back when he was launching his Ask book, the first time that he was launching his Ask book. I remember what he used to do in his emails and all of his copy, he would always try to isolate the real reason why someone was having a problem and I can hear it in my mind, and I can even see it because he would review my emails. And he would say, “This is how we need to structure things.” Every time it was basically showing people what the situation is, then uncovering the underlying reason why something is happening to them, and then providing a solution that fixes that underlying reason.
That logic chain was so clear from the way that he explained it to me that every single thing I did afterwards included that type of mechanism flow. That’s the exact thing that is taught in all the direct response books from years and years ago that I’d never even read. But it was just through osmosis, through watching people apply it in real life, that I learned how to do it myself. I think it just takes time, effort, a lot of research, understanding your customer, understanding their problems, and just being aware of what’s happening and what’s actually being offered in the market as well, right? Because it all just has to do with how can you position yourself a little bit different, a little bit better, a little bit newer with a little bit more sparkle, we show them something else and have a very specific reason why it’s going to work for someone. I think if you can do that, the ideas come through that. They don’t just pop out, they come through identifying all of those other elements. Does that make sense?
Rob Marsh: Totally makes sense. I’m wondering if you could give us an example from a typical client that you work with and show how you’re doing that for them. Maybe you make it up, that it’s not a client, but how you’re putting that to use in your work today?
Darren Hanser: For sure. For example, I do a lot of work in the health supplement space, writing sales pages via cells, sometimes shorter eCommerce style pages, depending on what the client needs. But, for example, one that I’m working on right now and I’ve done a number of different projects for them is a probiotic that is very unique in the way that it is delivered, right? But the market for probiotics is so saturated right now that if you tell someone, “Hey, are you taking probiotics?” Everyone knows what that means, right? They’re like, “Oh, yeah, I heard about it.” Or, “I give my kids it.” Or, “Yeah, I take it, it helps my digestion.” Everyone is aware of what’s going on. But what they might not be aware of is that there’s a ton of issues with the retail market and how the supply chain works and the actual… Everything that goes into making this product what it is, and making sure that it does what it says it does.
Our client has a very unique product. How it’s delivered is that it basically acts like a Trojan horse, where it goes to sleep in the bottle, and then when you take it, it bypasses your whole digestive tract with all the acids and then when it reaches the intestine where it needs to be, it comes alive and populates your gut. It has this very unique way of working. I didn’t create that. But what we did do is talk about the actual benefits of that and the problem that it fixes, because underneath the benefit of the actual product is the problem that it’s fixing very directly. Everyone in that space talks a lot about leaky gut. It’s everywhere in the news, it’s the main thing that they’re talking about in the gut health space. Everyone talks about it.
There’s advertisements that specifically speak about leaky gut and how to solve it. What we did in their promotion is we actually renamed the process that leaky gut causes. Instead of calling it leaky gut, we said this is what happens when leaky gut occurs, there’s release of this toxin that goes into your bloodstream, and when this happens, you get inflammation. It was a whole process. We actually called it toxic streaming, and we said, “This is what’s actually happening in your body, and toxic streaming occurs when this one, two, three process happens. These are the results of that, but the only thing that you can do to fix that is use a probiotic that can actually be proven to combat this specific process.” That’s exactly what we did. We kind of isolated the problem and then we created a link directly to the solution. That link is what I guess the… that’s what you’re wanting to look for, is a direct link that says, “This is the problem, here’s why you’re having it. And here’s the solution. And here’s why this solution works better than anything else out there.”
Kira Hug: Yeah, I love how you named the problem too. You actually created that name. Okay, I want to jump Darren, back into your storyline. You mentioned the weekend where you had 72 hours, you made 98k for your client on this event offer. What did you do after that to start lining up your first few clients? What did that look like? You had the confidence, you knew you could do this for this particular client. What did you do next?
Darren Hanser: Well, I think this is a mistake that a lot of people make, a lot of people try to find the next client, when a lot of the benefit is already in that existing relationship. What I did was we created a relationship where I was on retainer to write all their emails, and I would do… It started off where I would just do all their emails, and they said, “You’re really good. You get results, you understand our brand, our voice, you’re in our community you get it, just take over our lists. This is what we do.” They sent daily emails, they sent offers and things like that. I just managed their list and sent daily emails.
Then it got to the point where it was like, “Okay, now we’re going to be coming up with new offers, can you help edit the sales page?” Or, “Can you write a promotion for this offer?” And things like that. Eventually, that was my main retainer. But on top of that, I was always just talking to people and working on other projects and things like this on the side. Eventually it turned into a thing where the person that hired me for that retainer, actually made the recommendation for me to move into the supplement side. It’s an interesting story, this is a very long story, but basically fast tracked my entrance into writing for health supplements. If that situation didn’t occur, I wouldn’t really be here today.
But I think all we did was I went back to them and said, “Look, let’s set up an arrangement where we can do this over and over again.” I think a lot of people miss that opportunity where you get a result, and you have a great project with a client and then it’s like, “Okay, next. It’s great talking to you and thanks for paying your invoice on time.” And I’m on to the next, next thing. But the reality is they have many more needs and if you can unlayer those needs and show what value you can bring, you don’t really need to be hunting for clients all the time because you’re almost fortifying the relationships you have by getting them more results. That just solidifies your career. Yeah, that’s how I looked at it, is once I get a result for a client I try to double down and go deeper.
Rob Marsh: I love that you’re saying that, because this is something that we’ve actually been talking about quite a bit with the economic hardships that are going on right now. And people struggling to find new clients that, one of the best places to actually find work right now is to go back to clients that you’ve had success with and pitch them something else, some other problem that you can solve. I really liked that you’re emphasizing that as a way that you actually grew your own business because it worked then. And it’s one of the things that I think is still working now, even with everything else going on.
Darren Hanser: Yeah, and I think it also helps because clients don’t really want to retrain someone, or have someone go through that learning phase again on their dime, right? If they can know that you can start a project almost on like second base, and you don’t have to go through the warm up and figuring out everything about them, you’re immensely more valuable right away, right? The fact that you just created a result for them, or did a project with them, immediately makes you more valuable than the next guy who has to relearn them again. I think that’s forgotten and there’s a lot of marketing out there for marketers about like, “Hey, how do you fill your pipeline? How do you do this?” But the reality is, your pipeline once it’s started, doesn’t really need to be like a gushing waterfall, right. It needs to be like a steady flow of high quality, curated relationships.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, agreed. As you were landing those first couple of clients and starting to work, what else did you do that really helped you increase your skill set and grow your business?
Darren Hanser: For me, I think it was, initially I had my own offers. I think starting out at a time when I did by emailing every day and just going through that, just the process of learning as I went, and documenting that journey and people would see the growth. I think that helped as well, because at the time, I was selling some email coaching, and I was selling an email bootcamp and here was a lot of focus around email at the time. So, my main method of communication was directly through email. I would demonstrate what I was teaching, and then they would buy the course and learn how to do that, right. It was a very natural progression there.
But I think the next phase of increasing my skills was, I always hired coaches. I always invested in programs, masterminds courses, coaches, those things that would help elevate my own skill level. Whether it’s very technical coaches where they basically go through my copy line by line and rip it to shreds, and I rewrite it, or if it’s business coaching, where people can help elevate that side of things. I’ve always looked for ways to, I guess leapfrog in skill, I guess. Leapfrog in relationship and leapfrog in different ways by finding what is the best way to learn something, and then doing that. Instead of wasting all my time on other stuff.
Kira Hug: Yeah. Where do you think we mess that up? The whole, knowing what to invest in, and when to invest in it, and getting the most out of that experience? I feel like that’s a question we’re asked often is just, how do I know what I need next? What’s the right investment for me? Then there are also people who we’ve seen in our experience ourselves, where you join everything or you overdo it and you invest in too many courses, too many programs, and you really don’t get the most out of them. It sounds like you have figured it out. How do you approach that?
Darren Hanser: Yeah, I don’t know if I figured it out. But I try. But I think it’s finding people that have… Not just are people that you want to be around, but people that have the result that you’re looking for, and they got it in the way that you are looking to achieve it in, right. The first coach that I hired for copywriting was a guy who… I’ve been asked to write a health supplement sales letter, it was a long form sales letter, I’d never done it before at that level, I’d done a few things here and there, but now looking back, I didn’t really know what I was doing. At that time, I said, “Look, I’ll do this for you, but I need help.”
I think a big thing is self-awareness, is knowing what you’re good at and what you’re not, and being okay with that and admitting it publicly, right? At least to someone that can guide you in the right way. I said, “Look, I need someone to help me with this.” There was a guy, Dan Ferrari, who was running a coaching program. He’d started, he was brand new and he had written a few controls for some big publishers. Just did a brand new health control that was doing gangbusters. And I said, “Look, I’ll write this promo for you, but you have to hire Dan to be my coach. And that’s how it’s going to work, right?” I said, get me in there for three months, four months, whatever it is, pay me the fee. Then I’ll write this for you and I’ll have him chief it.”
I think that process fast tracked my career because it was not only the ability to have my work reviewed by someone who knew what they were talking about, and had been in my shoes and was actually in the market. But it was also the ability to have someone who was where I wanted to be, see that I could do the job, right. Now there’s a copywriter who is in the trenches and connected to all the clients that I want to work with. Now he’s reviewing my copy and seeing the growth. There’s a strategy to that as well, is making sure that you’re seeing in the right environments while you’re growing, so that you can continue on.
I think there needs to be more strategy when it comes to how people choose the relationships they build. But also there has to be that natural connection as well, right? When there’s that natural connection, it’s like, “Okay, this is a relationship, how can I build this relationship strategically?” Not in an inauthentic way, but in a way that values everyone’s… what they bring, and also allows them to elevate themselves. I think that’s what I learned how to do very quickly. I hired him and when he saw what I could do, he started referring me to clients. That was the fastest trajectory that I’ve seen happen. It was literally, I was writing my first supplement promo, two months later, I had four under contract. It was a very fast trajectory and it was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, getting results, and then being good to work with as well. Not being an idiot. I think that’s a big one.
Kira Hug: Don’t be an idiot, a lesson for today.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, so many good advice, so much good advice here. Don’t be an idiot. Love it.
Kira Hug: Yes. Catch us up on, now where are you today Darren? You’re sharing the journey, what does your business look like today? Do you have multiple retainer clients? Do you still have those offers you mentioned, the email coaching, email bootcamp? What is the business look like?
Darren Hanser: Yeah, it’s a good question. When I saw that you were going to ask me that, it actually made me think about it myself.
Kira Hug: I don’t know, you got to figure that out.
Darren Hanser: Oh, my good question, where are you? Yeah, I guess my business looks… It’s a mix between writing copy and doing strategy. What I’ll basically do a lot of the time is I… Okay, look, the main thing I’m doing right now is working with health and fitness and supplement companies doing mostly direct response video sales letters and full funnel. Doing their upsell flows, doing email creatives, advertorials, everything at the front end of the funnel, as well as sometimes we’ll do email creators for ongoing promotions and things like that. That’s on the copywriting side, I also have a coaching side where the coaching is more towards clients that aren’t ready to hire someone yet to maybe do all the work.
I work with some clients that say that they want me to review their lead generation flow. I had a client that had a power drink, like an energy drink, and they did a shipping model where they basically gave a giveaway on the internet and then they had an email flow that got people to have a free trial and try more of their supplements and go into stores and things like that. Initially what we did was sit down and I reviewed everything in their funnel, right, and give them a report and a video. That was the consulting that I did for them. And then they hired me to implement everything that I recommended. That’s how I do my consulting. It’s usually always for clients that I have the potential to work with. But it’s, “Here’s everything that you need to do.” But I would… few small changes, a few copy edits. But if you really want to do everything, it’s the full, let us do it all for you.
Then I have the email profits boot camp, which is another thing that was back from 2015. I brought it back this year because I realized that there’s a lot of value there that I forgot about. I think a lot of people think if you have an older program, that it’s not relevant anymore, but if you’re teaching people fundamentals, strategy, principles and things that they can apply in every area of their business or whatever they’re doing in marketing, the date doesn’t matter. That’s why you can buy a book from 1970, that’s still relevant today. Because it’s based on fundamentals and principles. I brought back my course and that’s what I’m doing now, I’m reinventing a lot of things there. I’m getting more out there publicly. I’m just having a good time.
Rob Marsh: Awesome. Will you tell us a little bit about your writing process? When a client comes to you, you sign the contract, what do you do to research? How do you come up with the big idea? What are you doing as you go through your process?
Darren Hanser: That’s a good question. Because if you asked me that six months ago, I would have said, “Well, I have like four Google documents with research and then I just start writing in the middle.” That’s basically what my process was. I would go through tons of research and interviews and then I would just… Something would pop and I would read something and it would be interesting to me, and I would go down a rabbit hole and that’s how I would find ideas and I would see if there’s any legs to it. That was how I did my process before it worked, but it was very haphazard.
Last year, I started going through… actually, it wasn’t last year, but yeah. In Vegas, we met at Justin Stefan’s event. And before that, I actually started to go through his process. Stefan’s got this process that he uses to write long form sales letters, video sales letters, and I’ve actually started going through his process and it works, because it’s exactly what I would do, but it’s organized. I actually created a… I have a research process that I go through, and I really try to find out every single thing I can about the customer, and the market, and what they’re feeling. I think from, I don’t know if it’s just a personal thing, but I feel emotions very intensely and I’m very aware of… I have anxiety, so I’m hyper aware of the emotions of people around me and in other situations.
When I do that I can actually really dive deep into someone’s emotions and how they feel and then I help guide the sales process through that. I go through that research process, then I figure out exactly what’s in the product, the unique elements, and then write that process down and then go from there. But it’s a strict but loose process, I guess I would say.
Kira Hug: Right. Stefan says it’s his RMBC method, right?
Darren Hanser: Yeah, exactly.
Kira Hug: RMBC, yes. We talked about it on our interview with him, Stefan Georgi, which Rob probably knows the number of that episode.
Rob Marsh: I wish I could remember the number, but it was about two months ago. It came out in February. You can look forward on thecopywriterclub.com.
Darren Hanser: The long forum videos and things like that, that have a lot of elements to them, I find it’s super important to be organized throughout. But just organizing your argument and just knowing what you’re going to say before is super critical. One thing I actually wanted to add in was, one thing that I got from… I think it was off of Dean Jackson’s website. And it’s something called the Naked Truth letter. It’s basically a personal letter from you to the customer. No one’s going to see it, it has nothing to do with anything that’s going to end up in your sales copy. But it helps to get that conversation started. And it really starts with, “Hey, my name is Darren and I think that you want to lose 20 pounds, right? I think that you’ve tried all these things.” You go through this conversation, and it gets a lot of the stuff out. And then when you start writing, you have a clear flow.” That helped a lot to get the writer’s block out.
Kira Hug: Okay, all right. Because you mentioned anxiety, that you channel emotions, I can relate. I know we’ve talked about this before, but that’s your superpower, part of your superpower with writing. But how do you keep that in check? Because a lot of writers can relate to that. It’s like they use it, they write great copy because they can channel emotions. But how do you control that superpower so that it doesn’t control you, because the anxiety can flare up during projects too, even as you’re channeling those emotions and then, in general, it flares up. How do you manage that?
Darren Hanser: Yeah, I think that’s a great question because I don’t really know. I manage it now with medication, with just being aware and being honest and upfront with the fact that this goes on. I think there’s a saying that, things die in the light or they grow in the darkness, things like that. If you have something that’s dark and you keep it hidden and you don’t share it with anybody, it grows, and it festers, and it becomes something that controls you. If you share it with somebody, and you let somebody know, then it shines a light on it, right? And you actually can’t hide from it, it’s out there. I think once it’s out there, it loses its power in a way. A lot of times, for me, taking just one step of action helps.
I went through a phase last year where… This is before I got everything sorted out. And there was a few years there where I was very level and everything was fine. My business was going great. And then all of a sudden, early in the winter, it was almost like the darkness just hit and I was sitting at the kitchen table, and I couldn’t work. I would sit there and I just couldn’t work. I had no words, I couldn’t do research, I couldn’t do anything. I closed my computer. I’d probably had a good 30 minutes a day of work that I could get out and then I was done, I was spent. The only thing that really helped was just being completely transparent, that that’s what was going on, and I needed help. The second I did that, I started seeing the right people, I started trying different things. I’ll tell you, I tried four months of natural methods, I’m in the alternative health niche. Literally, everything I write about is how medication is bad, and you have to do everything naturally.
I literally created my own anti-anxiety cocktail, and I had a nightly routine, and I did everything. And I think a lot of people try everything, and they’re not getting any results because, I went for a long time thinking that you’re not supposed to take medication because things are supposed to fix yourself naturally and you can meditate and you can go work out and you can do all these things. I agree there’s a lot of situations where that’s the case, but sometimes when you have a clinical issue, medication works. We’re talking about mechanisms on this call. The reality is, the scientists have created ultimate mechanisms that target specific things in your brain that fix minute issues that are causing these massive life transformation problems, right? And if they created that, for this purpose, I’d be stupid not to try it.
I did and literally the next day, I slept for the first night in four months. I’d wake up every night five times with panic attacks, thinking I was choking and that fixed it, I was able to get back to work. Because the next day I went to Copy Chief Live literally, I got on medication, two days later, I was out at a copywriting event. It was the best situation because it was around people that get it. I think our industry is a very good platform for this type of thing because there’s hope. I was in a place where I was actually looking for a job. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to be a copywriter anymore, it was that point. I even got my resume together and I was like, “I can’t do this. I’m not made for this.” And then two seconds later, I had the best month of my life, because I got it fixed.
I think there’s a lot of shame around it. But I don’t if it’s valid shame because there’s no shame in someone saying they have cancer, right? It’s not their fault. If they’re taking medication for that, let them take medication. There’s no shame in telling someone that you’re not in a good spot, because chances are, they might be not in good spot either and they need you to tell them. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had because of the openness. It’s helped me, it’s helped a lot of people and it’s part of my story and I have to own it. You know if it’s going to help someone.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I guess we could go really deep on some of those issues and at risk of spoiling what’s been a really, really good interview so far, I’m going to change the subject just a little bit.
Darren Hanser: For sure.
Rob Marsh: You’ve mentioned a couple of events that you’ve gone to Copy Chief Live and Stefan and Justin’s Mastermind and even our event, why do you invest in events and I guess masterminds, other programs? What’s the reason that you do that? You seem to have reached a point in your business, where things are going relatively well, and maybe you don’t really need the help. Tell us a little bit about your thoughts behind that?
Darren Hanser: Well, I think you just answered it there. I think they’re going well because of that. I don’t think they’re going well and I don’t need it. I think that’s going well because that’s how I am. I think that’s the… I didn’t go to a lot of events before, I didn’t want to, at a time I couldn’t afford it. I felt like, whatever. But I also felt like I was missing out, because there were conversations happening inside of rooms that I should be in, right? My clients are in rooms, other copywriters are in these rooms, media buyers and different affiliates and people that own other publishing companies, people that are in the industry are in these rooms, if you’re not in the room having the conversation you miss out on all.
There’s a lot of unspoken energy that you miss out on. And I think a lot of people now are like, “Oh yeah we’re going to do these online summits and stuff like that.” I don’t know if you can replicate the bar. I don’t know if you can replicate the coffee break and just getting into a conversation with someone that ends up becoming a business partner. I think events are where the real people show up. They show up as themselves, you get good information if you choose the events right. Usually the events that have the best information cost the most, unfortunately, because that’s just how it is. But, I don’t know. I was in the financial service industry before and we had a group called CALU. It was like the conference for advanced life underwriters, the most boring conference ever. But it was where the top people all were.
Everyone in that room had to reach a certain level of income. Everyone in that room had to have certain qualifications in order to be there. Everyone in that room also had to be sponsored by two other people that were in the room, and that were long term members. That by itself, when you sat down at lunch, you already having conversations that were well above anything that you’re going to have online, because it’s a curated group of people. I don’t think going to every event is great. But I think going to the right ones being around the right people, and doing it in a way that is in congruent with how you’re running your business and the people that you want to be around. I think it’s a no brainer. Yeah, every coaching investment I’ve made, has paid off within 30 days. Every event I’ve gone to has paid itself off, every mastermind I’ve joined has paid itself off.
It’s not a cost. It’s literally ROI driven decision. I think that a lot of people look at it like, “Oh, it’s like masterminds.” No, it’s actually really good people building businesses that can help you. And you can help as well.
Kira Hug: Yeah. And virtual summits are great, and I’m glad that we’re all maximizing the virtual space while we can meet in person. But there is nothing like playing the game called Thumper.
Darren Hanser: Thumper.
Kira Hug: Late at night in Las Vegas with Kim Krause Schwalm, who taught us the game called Thumper, which I’d never heard of.
Darren Hanser: She taught us we mastered it.
Kira Hug: We all have to play Thumper sometime. Because we’re talking about events, I want to plug our own event while you’re with us, Darren. What was your takeaway from TCC in real life? Was there something a speaker said that resonated? Or a conversation that triggered you to take action after the event?
Darren Hanser: I think, I don’t know if it was one conversation, there was a ton of conversation that were really fulfilling, and it was a really great group of people. And I think that’s what made it different, was the overall vibe rather than one speaker. Because I come more from a direct response space, where there’s super male driven just the way that it is. In the rooms you go into, it’s mostly men. And the energy is different. The content was different at your event, it was different than I had seen at many of the events that I’d gone to, but it was actually super relevant to what I do. And I appreciated that because I think what I got from it was that everyone has a unique way to offer their products and services. There’s a market for everyone. There’s room for you. That’s the message that I got especially when there’s a lot of… I don’t know. There’s a lot of thought that like, “Oh, is there room for me to be an expert? Is there room for me to be a great copywriter in this space?” Right?
That person’s like they own that space. Is there room for me? Reality is, there’s room for you, right? Chances are, most people that you come across aren’t even aware that these other people exist. And that’s what I learned is that, we’re all in our own little echo chamber online, and then you go to an event where there’s… I knew four people, right, out of that whole event and two of them are you, right?
Rob Marsh: Yes.
Darren Hanser: Maybe three or four people, I’m adding them as friends on Facebook, and we have no mutual friends. And I’m like, “Who are these people? Where are they?” And the reality is, they’re in their world, and their world is just as great as mine. And sometimes it’s good to visit, right? I think that’s the thought that I had around that. It’s, everyone’s got something great, there’s no reason why we can’t help each other and be a part of both. I don’t know, that’s how I think.
Rob Marsh: Darren, let’s imagine that somebody’s listening to our interview here and they’re thinking, it sounds awesome the niche that you’re in, I’d like to write for supplements. What would you say to somebody who wants to break in or maybe switch niches from where they are now, to writing more in the health and wellness space? Are there things that they can be doing? Is there a way, a secret back pass to break into the niche?
Darren Hanser: I think one of the secrets is get good, and get your foot in somewhere, right? For example, there’s a lot of offers even if you go on the top 10 Clickbank offers that are selling supplements or some fitness program. And if you contact the owner and say, “Hey, what are you doing for email creatives? What are you doing for advertorials? Do you need new intros to your videos? And write something that shows that you get the industry, you understand what their needs are?” And a lot of times, it’s also about just asking other people, right? For example, I just hired someone to do some emails for me that hasn’t done anything in supplements before but understands the sales process and understands everything that we’ve been talking about here. It doesn’t mean that they’re not going to have a chance. I didn’t know what I was doing, right, I was given a chance. I think it’s funny. A lot of people have like three steps. Find a person, write a email for them, pitch them, all this stuff. I don’t even know. I just figured out where I needed to be and went there.
I don’t know. That’s why I don’t put it like, prospecting courses because I don’t really have a specific way. But I think look at the relationships you have, and see where there’s connections with people that you might want to meet, right? If there’s groups that have 1,000 health copywriters, meet a few, right? Ask them, talk about what’s possible, see if they have any extra work. I’ve subcontracted work sometimes. I’ve taken brand new people and given them some opportunity because that’s what was done for me, right? That’s always there. But it’s a matter of, just if you want something, just figure out who is doing it and just go be around them. I think it comes natural to some people but other people it’s super introverted, don’t really want to reach out or make people upset.
But the reality is, people are starving for good, hungry copywriters. And if you have… I heard on, I forget whose podcast it was, I think Paris Lynn [inaudible 00:43:30] said it once or someone said it. Was like, there’s three keys to being a good copywriter. One is, be really good and get good results. The other one is, don’t miss deadlines. And the other one is, be good to work with, don’t be an asshole. If you can have two of the three, you can pretty much write your own paycheck, right? But just make sure that you can get results. That’s the main thing, find a way to get results for people, and then piggyback on those results. That’s the easiest thing you can do. Get a result, pitch the result.
Kira Hug: Okay, I just have a quick follow up to that, and then another question. But we talk to newer copywriters all the time, who want to get into DR or maybe even health supplements. And they do want to reach out to more experienced writers like you, but they don’t know the right approach. You probably have been approached by others and you’ve definitely built solid relationships. What is the recommendation you would make? It doesn’t have to be a formula, but what are some things that they do right and they do wrong, that might get your attention or rub you the wrong way?
Darren Hanser: I think this is just me. I don’t like clever. When someone reaches out to me, and they’re super clever, and I have to figure out what we’re talking about, I don’t really like that. You know what I mean? I don’t want to work harder just to figure out what this is all about. Really it’s, just be cool. Just approach someone and say, “Hey, I am looking to get into health supplements, I would love to help you out if you have some work that you need. I’d love to see what we can do.” Or you say what problem is this guy’s having right now? Or girl. What is the problem this copywriter’s having or this offer owner or what’s going on in their business that I can maybe bring a little bit of value? Right? I think the error is a lot of people send a message, they’re like, “Hey, I looked at your website and here’s 80 things that are wrong with it. And why you’re never going to get business.” Right? When that website is literally the best converting website on the internet, right?
I think that’s a big error, is coming a little bit too strong. But sometimes just, “Hey, what are you struggling with? What’s going on?” And just being a resource for someone. I think there’s a lack of people that are just willing to be good resources, and everyone’s just trying to pitch and be clever and try to get in there. But really, I’ve never gotten in the door of being clever, right? The only time I did one thing was I was trying to get this guy on the phone, because we just couldn’t connect. They sold beard cream. They did beard oil and that kind of thing. I sent him an email, and the email basically had a picture of the mustache club, right? And the one rule of this mustache club was that you cannot have a beard, beards are literally banned from this club, right? I sent a message and I had this image.
I put a big red circle around the fact that you couldn’t have a beard. And I said, “Unless we get on the phone and get your marketing going, these people are going to take over the industry and you’re not going to have a business.” And he replied, and it was funny. And we did some work together, right? That thing where it’s super relevant and it’s quick, it’s easy to understand, it’s funny, and it’s not super weird, that type of thing also can work. Just to get someone’s attention, just to get you on the top of the heap, right? Or you just write an offer and see if it works.
Kira Hug: I want to be in a mustache club or beard club.
Darren Hanser: I’m going to send it to you guys.
Rob Marsh: I think that might actually not work for you so well, Kira. Listen to me.
Kira Hug: It just sounds like fun. It sounds like a social club. Okay, so we did tease this at the beginning. And we’d chatted about this before the interview. You mentioned that you are good at charging higher rates with limited work, and I am not wording that well. But you know how to do it. You know how to command high fees for limited work. Where many writers, myself included tend to over deliver and under charge many times. You’ve figured this out. Can you talk a little bit about how you approach this and how you approach thinking about your fees? And how we could do it better?
Darren Hanser: Sure. I think there’s two things that I want to bring up, and one is that I was taught this not through the writing world, but through the insurance world and the finance world that I was in. Because the thing was the guys that were making the most money, okay, had the simplest pitch. It was simple, okay? And I would help them craft them, right? It was like, “This is where you are now, this is where you’re going to be in the future, this is what we need to do, to do it. This is how much it’s going to cost, this is the return.” And it was super clear. Someone that, let’s say is, 70 years old and maybe got 15 or 20 good years left, and they’re going to pass away, and they’re going to leave a bunch of money to someone, and the government’s going to take $2 million.
It’s easy to say, “Okay, well, that’s a big problem. You have a $2 million problem, here’s how we solve that. It’s going to cost you $100,000 to solve this $2 million problem.” Right? Would you rather pay 100,000? Or would you rather pay 2 million? That conversation is very obvious where you’re going to choose. And say, “Okay, well, if you qualify, you can do this. Well, you pay 100,000 today, and the tax goes away because of all these things.” That’s how we would position these big deals. And these deals would be the same whether you’re charging someone $100 or $100 million. Because it’s the same process, and it’s the exact same thing. It’s just exponentially greater. The bigger the problem, the bigger the price tag to solve that problem. But if your price tag is a lot smaller than what they’re going to benefit later on, then the conversation shifts from what you’re charging to what other things that we can do in order to enhance this result, right?
You’re changing a conversation from, I’m going to do this for you, and you’re going to pay me this to, how are we going to work together to make sure that you get this result? And then whatever that costs is going to be a fraction of what the result is, right? Because for example, and that’s why I like the direct response rule. Because you can measure everything, right? If I write a new video intro for somebody, and they can now get 100 more customers every day for the same price that they were paying before, right, that’s a tangible value for them. A smart person would link their compensation to the value that you’re bringing. And if that value can be captured, then it’s very easy to relate your pricing back to that, right. I’m not saying that everything is going to be based on performance, but when I’m looking at how am I pricing is, the conversation I’m having with my client is more towards how is this going to benefit them than what are we producing? Does that make sense?
Rob Marsh: Yeah, for sure. Because you’re tying it to the value that you’re creating for the business, through the assets that you’re creating.
Darren Hanser: Yeah. I think that a lot of people, myself included, when I started, it was like, “Oh, I charge X for an email.” Right? I charged this for an email. I still have my rates, right? I still have the rates that I charge that are what I require for a project, right? It’s just the positioning of what we’re doing. What I’ve noticed is the level of negotiation goes down, because you’re positioning what you’re doing as, this is how we’re working together as a team, this is how I’m going to produce this for you to get this specific result. But also you’re positioning yourself as more of a consultant rather than a for hire wordsmith, right?
I think there’s a difference there where you can elevate yourself to being a consultant in a strategic role, where you’re looking at the holistic picture for a client. And then what that means is anytime there’s a project that comes up, you’re the person that they’re coming to. Because you came with them with the ideas, you came with the stuff that’s getting them results and that’s allowing you to position yourself as someone that can get the results. But again, this is all based from the fact that you can get results, okay? I think there was a big… I even saw a lot of premium pricing webinars and all kinds of stuff, just telling people to charge more. But the reality is charge more when you can deliver and you can feel good knowing that you’re providing that value. If it’s the first thing you’ve ever done, it’s like, “Oh, I’m a premium copywriter.” No, you have never done this before. You have to go through the process sometimes. But yeah, if you’re confident, it should reflect in your pricing.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, really good point. I also want to call back to something that we introduced in the intro, and that is, that you look somewhat like Seth Rogen. Have you ever been asked for an autograph for your work in Superbad or anything like that?
Darren Hanser: I prefer Pineapple Express. That’s my best work to be honest with you. No. Okay. I pretty much work out of Starbucks. I go to this the Starbucks every day, not anymore. I’m locked in my house. But everybody there things like I look like Seth Rogen. And then I get this… I’m having this conversation at your event, I forget her first name, but she has the Instagram Copy Uncork, she does the wine.
Kira Hug: Kaitlyn.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, Kaitlyn.
Darren Hanser: We’re talking and then she’s like, “I think you sound like Seth Rogen.” I’m like, “Oh, thank you so much for letting me know that because it’s something new.” But yeah, I like… whatever, I like it.
Kira Hug: I didn’t pick up on it at all. Now it all makes sense. But yeah, I didn’t see it. In here I didn’t see it.
Darren Hanser: Yeah, think it’s more if I’m laughing.
Kira Hug: I can hear it now. Yeah.
Darren Hanser: Yeah. More of my voice, and the… I don’t know the beard doesn’t help.
Rob Marsh: I was going to say Seth Rogen’s beards a little out of control.
Darren Hanser: Yeah…
Rob Marsh: So, you may be a cleaned-up version. But yeah, it’s all not good.
Darren Hanser: Yeah, I was going for Brad Pitt. But Seth Rogen is a close…
Kira Hug: I love Seth Rogen, he’s great. Okay, so what’s next for you? What’s coming up next. What’s ahead?
Darren Hanser: Oh, man. Well, my focus this year was just connecting with more people, meeting a lot more people, just getting out there and just doing really good work. Right now I’m writing a couple of VSLs for some new supplements. I just wrote a new intro that’s immunity angle, because that’s hot right now. And then doing emails and consulting. So, it’s all the same. When I reached out to you about this as well, I’m going to be revamping my old program. I had my own program from 2015 called Email Profits Boot Camp. Basically I want to revamp that so that I can get back to having my own offers. Not to get out of the copywriting business, but I’ve always liked doing that. That’s how I started and I almost feel like for the past couple of years, I got away from that and went all in on just building my freelance career. But I always felt like a part of that is missing. I’d love to do that. I’d love to speak more, I’d love to do more things like that, and just build a more well-rounded business, right?
I think that I’m at that point now where I can do that knowing that the things that I come up with, and the ideas that I come up with, and even the teaching that I can do is based on fundamental principles that have been proven campaigns. It’s not just guessing anymore. It’s this stuff works, this is what’s working now. Sharing that with our audience of copywriters, and people like that, I enjoy it. I’m going to do more of it.
Rob Marsh: You mentioned one of your goals for this year is connecting with others, if people want to connect with you, or check out your online presence, where should they go?
Darren Hanser: Yeah, a couple places. I’m Darren Hanser everywhere, so Darren Hanser on Facebook, Darren Hanser on Instagram. My website is darrenHanser.com. And you can also download a free chapter of an eBook called, The Email Authority Formula at 15minuteemails.com that gets you on my list. I just send out basically thoughts about myself and business, and marketing, and all kinds of stuff whenever I feel like it. It was part of a self-serving email list, but I think people like it when they get them.
Rob Marsh: Awesome. That’s great.
Kira Hug: All right, Darren. Well, thank you so much for hanging with us today and digging into all. We went in a lot of different directions. Thanks for moving along with us. Really appreciate it.
Darren Hanser: Yes. Fantastic. Thanks for having me.
You’ve been listening to The Copywriter Club Podcast with Kira Hug and Rob Marsh. Music for the show is a clip from Gravity by Whitest Boy Alive available in iTunes. If you like what you’ve heard, you can help us spread the word by subscribing in iTunes and by leaving a review. For show notes, a full transcript and links to our free Facebook community, visit thecopywriterclub.com. We’ll see you next episode.