It’s a bit early to pick a best episode of 2020, but we predict this will be an early contender. Master copywriter, Stefan Georgi, joined us for the 171th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, to talk about how he became a copywriter who has helped his clients earn $700 million is sales. That is NOT a typo. Stefan is a terrific copywriter and this interview is practically a workshop on writing better sales letters. We talked about:
• the lucky poker game that turned Stefan into a copywriter
• how he landed his first two clients (and $300) 24 hours after calling himself a copywriter
• growing into clients and selling almost $700 million worth of products
• the crazy amount of work that earned Stefan $80K a month
• how he ended up writing 8 out of 10 of the top performing pages on click bank
• how he obsessed over the craft of copywriting (and what that involved)
• his favorite copywriting resource—we’ve included a link so you can get it too
• the RMBC method for writing a sales letters
• the genius way he breaks the “mechanism” into two parts that increases sales
• the different things you need to do with the lead of a sales page
• Stefan’s point-by-point script for a sales page that you can use when you write
• the most common mistakes copywriters make when writing a sales message
• the ROI escalation method and how Stefan uses it to justify his rates
• how his mindset has shifted as he’s grown in his business
• how he got his clients to recommend him to future clients
• how he balances his time writing for elite clients with time for his family
You won’t want to miss this one. To get it, download it to your favorite podcast app (or better yet, subscribe so you never miss an episode), click the play button below, or scroll down for a full transcript.
The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:TCCIRL
The Fascinations Doc
Stefan and Justin’s Mastermind
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Rob: This episode is brought to you by The Copywriter Club In Real Life, our live event in San Diego, this coming March 12th through 14th. You can get your tickets now at thecopywriterclub.com/tccirl.
Kira: What if you could 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 or two to inspire your own work? That’s what Rob and I do every week at The Copywriter Club Podcast.
Rob: You’re invited to join the Club for Episode 171 as we chat with copywriter Stefan Georgi about his approach to writing long copy, the ROI escalation ladder and how we can use it in our businesses, what it takes to write copy that produces $700 million in revenue over six years, and how he gets his clients to sell his services for him.
Kira: Welcome Stefan.
Rob: Hey, Stefan.
Stefan: Hey, guys. Thank you. It’s great to be here.
Kira: Yeah, we’re excited to have you here. We met you through Brian Kurtz, through the Titans Masterclass, and so, glad we can hang out today. And also you’re going to be speaking at our event in March, which is really exciting.
Stefan: Yeah, I’m thrilled for that. I really appreciate you guys inviting me to come speak, but I cannot wait for that.
Kira: All right, so why don’t we start off with your story? How did you end up as a copywriter?
Stefan: Yeah, so it’s definitely one of those sort of funny twists of fate or things that are, it’s a bit unexpected, I suppose you’d say. In 2011, I was teaching at an outdoor school in Marble Falls, Texas, which is about an hour and a half outside of Austin. And I was at this place called The Outdoor School, which was like a summer camp during the summer and a outdoor Ed type facility during the spring and the fall, where kids from all over Texas would come in on buses and stay from anywhere from a couple of days to a week. And they’d be taught about nature, living off the land, water quality, astronomy and things like that.
I was one of the instructors there, which that happened because I’d been in a phone call center type job that I hated, and was like, ‘I want to go be in nature.’ And I applied to do this job and got accepted. I was in Marble Falls, Texas, teaching kids about the outdoors and nature, and I thought that’s what I was going to do for an extended period of my life. But in May of that year, maybe late April, I went hiking with my dad back in San Diego. We hiked up a mountain, and I was just home for like a weekend, and went back to Texas to keep teaching kids about nature.
And then I got a call maybe a week or two later that my dad had been diagnosed with cancer, and he ended up having stage four cancer. It was a rare form of liver cancer. When I found that out and did the whole thing where you look it up on Wikipedia to see how bad is it, and they say it’s basically a 99% mortality rate and very fast, and realized that my dad was not going to be around for very long. I went back home to San Diego to spend as much time as I could have my dad before he passed. And I know that’s a really heavy way to start a podcast.
Rob: Yeah, a little heavy.
Stefan: Just coming right in with the cancer and the dad dying story, but it’s one of those crazy things nonetheless, because I did go back home that summer to San Diego. I moved in with my parents. And it was a difficult time and challenging, but of course I was glad I did it, because I got to be there and spend this quality time with my father. And then he passed at the end of October, October 22nd of 2011, and after that, I needed a break and wanted to, after the funeral and everything, wanted to get out and clear my head or do something for myself, because it had been awhile.
I ended up booking a trip to Las Vegas and I posted it on Facebook, ‘Hey, who wants to go somewhere with me?’ A friend of mine from college was like, ‘I’ve never been to Las Vegas.’ That’s why we picked Las Vegas, and so he and I booked a weekend for December, I think it was like the 12th through the 14th, 2011, Vegas. We go to Las Vegas. We’re at the Circus Circus. I’ve got a couple hundred dollars in my bank account, that’s it. And the first night we’re there, we lose most of it playing blackjack. The second day, we decided to play poker instead of blackjack, and I win a couple hundred bucks. I’m like, ‘Great.’
The final day, Sunday, we decide to play poker again. We go to Caesar’s Palace, which we picked completely at random. And we go sit to the card room. This may be 25 different card tables in the card room, poker tables in the card room. We’re sitting there. A girl walks into the card room. I immediately think she’s absolutely beautiful, and I make a joke to the table, ‘I hope she gets seated at at our table,’ because you don’t get to pick. When you walk into a poker room, you go up to the desk, and then they assign you to a table.
But she did get seated at our table, and I was happy about that. We’re playing poker, and somebody asked her what she did for a living. And she said, ‘I’m a writer.’ I wanted to talk to her, so I said, ‘What kind of writer?’ And she said, ‘I’m a copywriter.’ And I was like, ‘Wow, copywriting. That’s really interesting.’ I pulled out my phone and Googled, I think the iPhone 1 or whatever, but I Googled, ‘What’s the copywriter?’ Because I had no idea what a copywriter even was.
And that’s the first time I ever even heard of copywriting. But basically, the girl and I hit it off, and ended up playing poker together. And to make a really long story short, I took one last job with a Fortune 500 company, but the girl ended up moving in with me pretty much after we met. And I was out there for this Fortune 500 company doing this outside sales job, where I was in like the hot sun all day. I made $200 a day, and I’d come home and she was in her underwear drinking a beer. And she’d made $1,200 in the same day. It got to the point where I was like, ‘Well, what am I doing here? I want to do what you’re doing.’
And I asked her, ‘Do you think I could be a copywriter? Do you think I could make money doing that?’ And she had gotten to know me a bit at that point. She was like, ‘Yeah, you seem like a great writer, and I’ll help you out. Why don’t you go ahead and post something?’ I posted something on a site called Warrior Forum in the Warriors For Hire section. I charged $149 for a sales letter. And I went to bed, and I woke up that next morning, and I had $298 in my PayPal account. Two people had gotten sales letters from me, and that was the whole a-ha moment of, ‘Oh my God, people will pay me to write. I could do that.’
Stefan: And I quit my corporate job a month after that, and then made tons of mistakes and learned a ton of stuff. But eventually got pretty good at copy. And yeah, I don’t want to just kind of ramble for too long to start, but that’s the-
Kira: And are you married with that woman, the copywriter today?
Stefan: Thank you. Thank you. Let me close the loop on that.
Rob: Very much, yes.
Kira: Can you close that loop for me, please?
Stefan: Before she murders me, yes. And then that woman is my wife, and we have a daughter together. Yeah, it was a really fortuitous moment in my life to be sure.
Rob: I’ve got to know Stefan, who’s the better copywriter, you or your wife?
Stefan: I’m supposed to be diplomatic here, but me.
Kira: I don’t know. We need to get your wife here next and speak to her. This needs to happen.
Stefan: She’s really good. She’s really good as well. And she’s great at the kind of like Bizzabo, but not in like, I don’t mean in like the really sleazy kind of make $50,000 in a week from home type stuff, but that kind of like new softwares. Like SaaS-type things, products, things of like business, like events. That kind of copy, she’s like really good at. She actually wrote a sponsorship letter for our copy accelerator mastermind, because people wanted to sponsor our mastermind, and so we’re looking for writers. She’s like, ‘Well, I haven’t written anything in a while. I’ll write it.’ I was just going through it the other day, and I was like, ‘Damn, she’s good.’ So she is really good as well. But I think just because I’ve done it, I’ve been way more active over the last several years than her, That’s the reason I give myself the badge.
Rob: There you go. We did tease the fact that, over the next six years, you made something close to $700 million for your clients. Let’s tell the rest of the story, from almost $300 in your PayPal account to those kinds of numbers. How did you do that?
Stefan: That’s a great question. I mean, it’s a couple different things. One thing is that, and this is going to sound silly, but I really did obsess over the craft and focus on being the best I could be at that. The reason I think that’s important is because you do get some copywriters today, or people who are attracted to copywriting. Then they come in, and they hear about people making a lot of money, and they write for a year, and they feel like, ‘Now I should be getting paid $10,000,’ or $20,000, or $30,000, or whatever it is. The answer is you should get paid that when you can get the results for your clients that enable them to pay that to you, and you’re going to do that consistently.
And so it didn’t happen overnight. I went from like $149 a sales letter to $249, to $297. What also really happened, and I guess this would have been late 2012 or early 2013, I had a guy who hired me from that same Warrior Forum ad, or an updated version of it. I think I was charging $497 for a sales letter at that time. And he said, ‘Hey, I have this project for you. I’m going to pay you $997 instead of $497, but I want you to just make it really good.’ That was just a huge deal to me. Because if someone’s pay me double, and that’s the first time I thought I could maybe charge $1,000 for a sales letter.
And so I wrote the letter for this guy, and ended up doing pretty well. Then he was partner in a survival company with a guy named [Tryon Savion 00:09:52], who him and his brother are still pretty active. In fact, Tryon’s in the Titans Mastermind, as well. So he, Tryon, and then the other guy who originally hired me had me start doing survival copy for them. I wrote some stuff for them that started to get a bit of traction. Then the guy who originally hired me, Tryon’s partner, left Tryon to start a health company called [inaudible 00:10:16] Publishing. They’re based in Romania, and had a few other partners.
I actually went to them. I said, ‘Hey, I’d love to just have more stability. I want to write for you guys, and if I could just write sales letters for you full-time, that would be great, but you’re in Romania, and for all I know you could all disappear tomorrow. Is there anything we can do to make it so it’s a win-win type of situation?’ At first they said no. They were like, ‘No, we don’t want that kind of burden or responsibility.’ And I said, ‘Okay.’
But I did an offer for them for a blood sugar support eBook, just a book about how to kind of manage your blood sugar naturally and things like that. And it did really well. They came back to me and said, ‘Okay, well you know what? Actually, sure. We are interested in that.’ So we created a deal where I basically got paid on volume. They were going for the blockbuster model, so the more sales letters I wrote for them, the more I made.
It was this whole tiered thing of, if I did four sales letters in a month, I’d get $4,000, but if I could do 12 sales letters in a month, which I know sounds crazy, and we can talk about that in a second, but if I was able to do that, I could basically earn up to like $80,000 a month. It was this massive difference, right? I’m like, ‘Man, for four sales letters, it’s $4,000. For 12 sales letters, I can make $80,000. I want to do that.’
What I ended up doing is developing this whole process to really streamline my copywriting and make it really formulaic and modular. I call it a RMBC method, R-M-B-C. And so I started doing it. I start pumping all this copy for these guys. I didn’t actually know how successful it was, because I really didn’t know a lot about the space at that time. Then the same guy who had hired me on Warrior Forum, you know, in late 2012, early 2013, came to visit me. I had moved back to San Diego at that time, and I was living in a beach house, because I was making some good money.
He was talking like, ‘I don’t think you realize how good your copy is, or how much money we’re making.’ And I was kind of like, ‘No. Well, no I’m not.’ And he kind of danced around it. And I was like, ‘But you can tell me, and I’m not going to ask for more money.’ And then basically he told me, which was that they were doing, at that point, I don’t know if it had happened, if they were tracking to do over a hundred million dollars in revenue for like a single year, based on the offers I had written for them. And when they told me that, of course I immediately was like, ‘I need more money.’
But, yeah. I think I was saying, at that time they were on ClickBank , and then they got kicked off, and went over to Software Projects, because they were a little bit too aggressive for ClickBank, over time. ClickBank became a little bit more conservative with their offers. But yeah, I think I had like eight of the 10 top offers on ClickBank I had written, and they were doing over $10 million a month. Then I ended up building an agency for them, where I trained new writers, and we created more offers for them that I copy chiefed, and they ended up doing several hundred million in revenue during their time together, or eventually. I think they’re still out there, and some of these offers still do some sales. But that was the first big thing.
Then from there, I left and started my own health supplement company and was able to, there’s so many things I could go deeper into, but eventually figured that out, and then started more health supplement companies with some partners. We got to nine figures a year in revenue with that stuff. And then since 2017, I’ve been doing a lot of stuff, but I still do client work, and I get to work with some of these really big clients who have nine figure-plus businesses. When I write offers for them that are successful, the cool thing is it can really scale. Yeah, over time, when you add it all up, I’m just a little bit over $700 million and counting.
So yeah, it’s been a crazy, but really it all started with Warrior Forum, and getting lucky with the right client hiring me. And then, again, really focusing on giving them great copy. Because if I wrote a bunch of copy for these guys, but it sucked, then nothing would’ve ever happened. They would’ve stopped paying me. I had to be good, and I had to focus on just being the best I could and giving them a world class sales copy every single time.
Kira: Okay. There’s so much there. I definitely want to hear about your RMBC method, and the 12 sales letters in a month. But you mentioned obsessing over the craft, and I think that’s really important to dig into, because it’s easy for us to say, as beginning copywriters like, ‘Oh yeah, I am obsessing over the craft, and I’m training. I’m learning.’ But I think that’s probably really different for the average copywriter compared to what you were doing and that level of obsession. So can you just paint the picture of what your obsession actually looked like? Did it include trainings, or just reading a different book every day, or what did that look like, so that we could do that, if we want to become obsessive and improve in the craft?
Stefan: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great question. I think, for one thing, and there’s memes about this and stuff like that, but we get the client, and the client’s like, ‘I’m going to send you the money.’ We have this adrenaline rush, and we feel great, and then the actual work, the realization we have to do the actual work sets in. It’s this let down. A lot of people who are copywriters, and I’m generalizing for sure, but they think they like being a copywriter, but they actually love sales and getting somebody to say, ‘Yes, I want to give you a chunk of money.’ Then they get really focused on that part of the process, the sales process and the client acquisition process, instead of focusing on actually delivering the best copy that they can once they’ve been hired.
And I’ll go deeper. I’ll talk about books and stuff like that, but on a broad level, the one thing I try to think about is, any time I have to write a sales letter, I still have to give it … Even that language of, ‘I have to write this sales letter.’ I really work on my mindset of being excited to be like, ‘I have the opportunity to write the best sales letter that I’ve ever written, and that’s going to be a legendary sales letter that could be seen by billions of people,’ because of Facebook. Some of these companies do billions of impressions a month, and I can communicate and touch all those people. I get the chance to do that.
I think about, for me as a dude and a bro, I think about professional athletes and how they … Does Tom Brady take the day off? Does he take a week off or a month off? Does he phone it in sometimes? The answer is no, and you look at the high performers in any field. They are bringing it every single day, and so I take that mentality, as I approach writing copy. I started doing that all the way back then. Beyond that though, yeah, a part of it is getting excited and really having fun, as stupid as that sounds. Because I know I’ve said, ‘How does having fun, what does that have to do with being obsessed?’ But if you can have fun with your research, if you can dive deep, if you can start to really know that you’re going to write your sales copy from the voice of the avatar, the person that you’re targeting, I almost say you have to be a sociopath or a psychopath to be a good sales writer.
If I’m writing a great sales letter, and I’m targeting a 55 plus, primarily male Christian demographic, then in my voice, I’m becoming that person in my head. I’m getting angry about Obama and the government or whatever it is. I’m there. I’m shaking sometimes almost as I write, because I really have channeled that. Part of the obsessiveness is being weird. It’s like you’re putting on another person’s skin and you’re really living in that world as you write it. That’s part of obsession is not being afraid to go that weird and deep as you write.
And then, beyond that, yeah, it was studying, for me, swipes more than anything. I didn’t read a ton of books on copy. There’s all kinds of great manuals and courses and trainings, but for me, I looked at some of that stuff. But it was really looking at everything that was working and then dissecting it, running it out. I would type it out, not hand write it, but I would type those things out line by line, looking for commonalities. ‘What is it that this thing has?’ And even comparing it to … Once I was successful even, then being like, ‘Well, my offers are doing well, but here’s things I like from this person’s offer or this person’s sales letter. What if I try adding that to my letter too? What will happen?’
And then continuing to improve, even once I started writing consistently good sales letters and good sales copy, not becoming complacent, but trying to find ways that I could push the envelope, ways that I could ethically borrow from other people and use that in my own copy, and where I could innovate. And so just continuously not getting fat and happy, I guess, and I still continue to have that mentality.
Rob: Yeah, I want to go a little deeper on this. How much time every day were you spending on mastery and practice?
Stefan: Well, early on, a decent amount. A couple hours a day, for sure. Once I started writing 12 sales letters a month, I couldn’t necessarily have that much time to do it every day, but even there, I would say … The other amazing thing about being forced to write that much sales copy is you do get really good, just because, by virtue of your writing, that is practice, right? And so when you’re writing that much, or you’re writing 4,000 to 7,000 words a day every day, of sales copy that’s got to perform, you get really efficient, but you also get really good. Because all the little mental things of, ‘What should I do here? What should I do there?’ It becomes more automatic, almost like a habit, and so it becomes a lot easier to do it at that point too.
Rob: And you mentioned the books or maybe some of your favorite swipes, as you were learning? Will you share those with us?
Stefan: Yeah. There’s a document from the Screaming Eagle Newsletter, which was from Clayton Makepeace and then Tony Flores, who was his publisher. Of course, Tony’s actually in a copywriting mastermind now, which is really cool. But it’s about fascinations or bullets and curiosity bullets. There’s 21 different types of fascinations. You can Google ‘Screaming Eagle Newsletter’, fascinations, Clayton Makepeace or Tony Flores, and you can find it online for free. But that one was one of my favorite things I studied, and it’s still one of my favorite pieces of copy ever.
And the reason why … Not copy, but resources ever. Because I didn’t really fully understand fascinations or curiosity bullets until then, and then when I looked at it, it just made my writing so much better. For people who are listening and don’t know what I’m talking about, they’re the same thing, when I say fascination or curiosity bullet, but there’s basically different types of lines of copy that you put into your copy that tease out something. They get you curious, and they get you wanting to either read more or to buy the product.
In the beginning of your sales letter, say you’re selling a weight loss supplement, because it’s New Year’s. It could be saying, in an aside, ‘In the next two minutes, I’m also going to show you the weird Diet Coke trick that can allow you to lose two pounds of fat each week, even if you eat cheesecake three times a day.’ I don’t know. That’s not a great one, but the point is, ‘What’s the weird Diet Coke trick?’ Or you’re like, ‘Let’s go discover how a family vacation to the Ozarks led me to stumble upon the best investment strategy for people over 45. Hint: It’s not annuities. It was discovered by a pioneer frontiersman back in 1830 and then forgotten until now.’ Just weird shit that you put into your … I hope that I’m allowed to cuss on your podcast, and if not, I apologize.
Rob: You’re good for now.
Stefan: Okay. I’ll try not to, but every now and then, it happens. The point is, it’s those unique things. And then they’re really valuable too if you’re selling an informational product, like a book or a course or a guide, because then you can just start really hammering them in. Going back to this document, it’s got these 21 different types. I don’t remember all of them off the top of my head, although I should, of course. But you’ve got the how-to, ‘How to make sure that you never run out of food during a hurricane, even if you didn’t go to the grocery store before the rain started to pour.’ There’s the why bullet, ‘Why the world’s top cyclist says that, if you want to get stronger legs, you should spend less time at the gym and more time playing hacky sack.’
Again, I’m just making all that stuff up. You don’t just make crap up, but you basically take information you have and you present it in a really curious way. The how-to, the why, ‘What never to do,’ ‘What three things you should never do in a crisis situation,’ the right/wrong way, which is something to the extent of, ‘Saving for retirement is a good idea, right? Wrong. Here’s why the richest seniors actually don’t save, but do this instead.’ There’s all these different types of bullets, and that, for me, was so valuable, because it made it more fun to write copy, honestly. I don’t know if you guys have ever seen that document or have any idea what I’m talking about.
Kira: We can link to it in our show notes. That would be really helpful.
Kira: We can check it out.
Stefan: I’ll make a note as well to send you guys the link for that.
Rob: And as you mentioned, now I realize why I’m not a world class cyclist, because I’m terrible at hacky sack.
Stefan: Right? Yeah, me too. It just never worked for me.
Kira: I want to hear more about the 12 sales letters in a month, because I get part of it is the practice. You get faster. You get your systems down, but can you just talk through how, what does that actually look like? How do you map out the month so that you can create 12 sales letters, and then what is that method, the RMBC Method, that helps you produce at that level?
Stefan: Absolutely. Imagine there’s generally 30 days in a month, and that includes the weekends, which you’d rather not work on weekends, but I would sometimes. Really, I was looking at doing … Ideally, a sales letter will be two to two and a half days, basically. In order to do that, one of the nice things is that these were pretty much all to the same demographic. They weren’t all health offers. A lot of them are health offers, but we also did some survival stuff, some personal development stuff, some self defense stuff, a little bit of financial, things like that as well.
But they were all pretty much going to the same audience or demographic, which does help a lot, because it cuts back, it cuts down on your research time. The way I was able to do this is something I call an RMBC Method, which stands for research, mechanism, brief, and copy. And really, research is what it sounds like. I have a whole set of questions, of course, and this may be what I go into when I speak onstage at the event coming up, which anyone who’s listening to should come, because I ramble on. If you get me a beer or something, I’ll just give you all my secrets.
Rob: We’ll get you a couple beers, yeah.
Kira: Thanks for that, yeah. Thanks for that. I can hook you up. I am really good at that. This is a great event plug. Thank you, Stefan.
Stefan: Oh no, of course. I’m so excited for it, but yeah. Research is all these questions about who your target demographic is, what their pain points are, what their victories are and what their failures are, which is important. What are they proud of in life? What are they ashamed of in life? What are the outside forces that they believe have been holding them back from achieving the results that they want? Which sounds weird, but people who, in finance, believe that Wall Street is rigged, or in health, you believe that Big Pharma is bad or whatever. They believe certain things that hold them back, and it’s not their fault. Nobody wants to say it’s their fault, and in copy, besides in personal development, generally it’s not the best idea to be starting your sales copy with, ‘Hey, it’s all your fault. You suck.’
Generally, you’re trying to be like, ‘It’s not your fault, and in fact, you’ve been had, but now we’re going to show you how you can have success, even though in the past you couldn’t.’ Research is answering those questions, but the good thing is, because I had the same demographic consistently, I didn’t have to go as deep on my research over time, so that cut back on a good chunk of time. But for anybody who’s listening to this who’s really any level of copy, I have a mastermind for all these high level copywriters, and they start using the RMBC Method, and it dramatically improves the quality of their copy and the speed at which they write it.
Research is still important, but we’ll just skimp a little bit. Then, we go on to the mechanism, which is broken down into two parts. There’s the unique mechanism behind the problem and the unique mechanism behind the solution. And so, the unique mechanism behind the problem is explaining the real reason why they are having the problem and why they haven’t had success in the past. For example, someone wants to lose weight, and you find out that … This part, you have to do some research on, if it’s a health-related thing, but you find out that, okay, there’s some type of fat cell in the pancreas that scientists have just discovered, and that basically, most fat burning supplements you take never actually target the pancreas. And yet, if you don’t activate this one fat burning cell that’s in there, it’s almost impossible to lose weight, according to a new study from Harvard. And so, ‘The real reason you haven’t lost weight is because you’re not targeting fat in your pancreas.’
And again, just completely making that up. It’s just a weird fact that I’ve done so many sales letters that I make up things that sound believable and may not be. But, ‘That’s the real reason why I’ve failed, so it’s not my fault.’ It’s like, ‘Yeah, I’ve tried other pills and workouts and diets, but nothing targeted this real reason why I couldn’t lose weight. Now I know that, so then what’s the solution?’ You’re like, ‘Well …’ It’s logically connected, because if you’re like, ‘All right, the problem is that you’ve got this type of fat cell in your pancreas that keeps you fat, then the solution is to target that fat cell and get it to start melting it or burning it, so that you’re able to actually lose weight like you want to.’
And then you’re tying your product, of course, into that mechanism of the solution. If it’s an ingredient or it’s certain ingredients in your supplement that actually do that one that, that target the fat cells in your pancreas, then you’re going to start presenting those. And then from there, it’s like, ‘We took all of these ingredients together and put them into this supplement, and now it was born.’ But the point is really, you’re trying to get people to understand that they had 99% of it right before, but there’s just that one percent that was missing, and that’s this surprising information, which is what the unique mechanism of the problem is.
And if you get them to believe that and they believe that, ‘Really, okay. This is the one thing that I was missing,’ Then it’s easy to get them to say, ‘Okay well, I can make a commitment to change one percent. I can do this one thing differently.’ And then you just position your product as that one percent, as the thing that gets them the new results. I don’t know if that makes sense or not. I can pause for a minute, because I want to make sure that that’s making sense.
Rob: No, it definitely makes sense. And, in fact, I really like the two parts to the mechanism, because so many times, we think about the mechanism is the thing that makes it work, and we’ve got to talk about it. But the way that you’ve broken it up into problem/solution as inside the mechanism is really interesting to me.
Stefan: Yeah, I think that’s my big contribution to this, because I certainly didn’t come up with the mechanism or anything, but I think the approach of explaining it like that is … I hadn’t really, before I figured that out, seeing a lot of people doing it. I think it makes a big difference, because otherwise, I think people sometimes get muddled in that they’re either going too long on one side or the other, but they’re not presenting the complete picture. And I think that, by breaking it into two parts, you get a more holistic view of the problem and solution.
Rob: Yeah, I agree.
Stefan: So B is the brief, which is some questions to answer for yourself before you start writing. Again, you have all of these answers from already having done the research and the mechanism, so it’s, again, who’s the market? What are their pain points, short term and long term? Then you’re like, what’s the story, the background story behind the product, and what is the product itself? And there’s some other questions in there too, but the important thing of the brief is really to, as you answer those questions, I would write them as if they were going into a sales letter. It’s going to be rough, but when I was going to write what the product is, I would actually write as if I was going to sell the product, and I was writing that part of the copy for my sales letter.
And same thing for the background story. I’d actually write out this background story, and the reason that was so beneficial is because it’s such tiny little chunks of copy that you’re writing in the brief, but yet, when you go to write the sales letter and you’re like, ‘Oh man, I already have this done. I already have this done. I already have this done.’ The mechanism too, right? Because you’re going to rewrite the mechanism in the brief, and you’re like, ‘I wrote out the mechanism.’ Suddenly, you have all these parts of your sales letter that are already done, or that you at least have these prompts for. They’ve been started, and that makes it a lot easier then to go in.
Instead of staring at a blank screen or paper, you’re like, ‘Man, I just have to fill in the blanks, fill in the missing pieces here, and I’ll have my sales letter.’ And then, with C, which is for copy, that’s of course writing the sales letter, the sales copy. Again, this is how they all tie together, because really, if you look at the structure for most sales letters, it’s the lead, where you’re calling out the pain point, promising the solution to the pain point. You’re teasing the unique mechanism. You’re teasing that’s contrarian. You’re putting in fascinations. You’re addressing their skepticism. You’re saying who it’s for, and you’re basically just getting their attention. Your hinting the story, you’re teasing the emotional discovery story or the background story.
You’re doing all of those things in a lede, and you can basically get all of that from your mechanism and your brief. And then, after the lede, it goes into the background story. Who’s the spokesperson, or what’s the story behind how this product was discovered, and normally, it’s like, ‘I was in pain, or somebody like me or like you was in pain, and they tried other solutions, and those solutions didn’t work. It reached a breaking point where they were about to give up, and then they realized …’ They had some kind of revelation or met some sensei or somebody who was like, ‘No, there’s a better way, and here’s what it is.’
And so, again, you’ve written out the background story in your brief, and you’ve written about the other solutions that didn’t work in your brief too, so you have all that written already. You’ve done the lede, the background story, and that leads into the mechanism of the problem. Right now, they’re at this turning point, where somebody was like, ‘I’m going to show you the truth,’ or they realized, they stumbled across an article that changed their mind or whatever. And then you explain the unique mechanism behind the problem. After that, you explain part four, the unique mechanism behind the solution. And so now, we’ve already got a bunch of our copy written.
We’ve got the lede, the background story. We’ve showed why traditional solutions didn’t work, and the real reason that their problem exists. We’ve already showed the real solution for that problem, so now you just have that product to build up and reveal, which is number five. Which is that they started looking for something that incorporated the mechanism of the solution, and at first, maybe you looked at out of the box things, but those didn’t work. And they realized they had to do it themselves. There was trial and error, and they struggled, but then finally, they had a breakthrough. Either they used it for themselves or they shared it with other people. People started getting success, and everyone’s like, ‘Oh, you’ve got to share this with the world.’ And that’s when product was born.
And that takes us into the close. The close, we’re going to be like, ‘Introducing product, here’s everything you get with product, whether it’s informational or physical, the features and benefits.’ Talking about the price build-up, ‘Normally it costs this.’ Actually, I don’t get to that yet, but I guess more so the value build-up. ‘Other things would cost 10x as much, and even if you did those, that would make sense, but this isn’t going to cost nearly that much.’ And then getting into the big price reveal. ‘Instead of $500 or $200, it’s only going to cost you $100.’ Getting to the guarantee, all of that kind of stuff. That’s all part of the close, so it’s all encapsulated in the close. I have a whole outline that’s part of what C is. And then telling them to buy and what happens after they buy.
Basically, if I give them a crossroad, ‘It’s two options where you can either do nothing, and life will continue on the same, but if you’re here now, you’re in pain, so clearly things haven’t been working. So why would you just continue on with that path, especially when you have an easier option, which is to just click the button and get this product. And there’s a risk free guarantee, so if I’m wrong, you risk nothing. If I’m right, everything changes. Click the button, buy now.’
And then finally, FAQs, which is where you do your frequently asked questions at the end of it. Just really quick on a recap: Lede, background story, unique mechanism of the problem, unique mechanism of the solution, product build-up and reveal, close, FAQs. That’s C, and again, you have a lot of that information from doing R, M, and B. By the time you get to C, it’s a lot less daunting.
Rob: If somebody checked out the transcript here, they just got a formula for sales letters, so well done. That was awesome.
Kira: I was going to say, this seems so easy. You just hooked all of us up, and we’re ready to go.
Stefan: It’s my pleasure.
Kira: This seems bulletproof, right? You’re handing us the formula, your method, as you’ve taught this to your mastermind members and others. Where do the typically mess it up? Is there a trend that you see, where it just starts to fall apart? Anything we should pay attention to?
Stefan: Yeah, that’s a great question. And the answer is that there’s several places where people can screw up or do. The first one, and most obvious one, is they don’t do the research, which is something that my partner Jess and I will then notice immediately and chastise people for, because if you start reading a sales letter, and you’re like, ‘Who are you talking to …’ When this happens, the copy or the letter will seem like it’s trying to talk to everyone and be everything to everyone, instead of being really targeted with the voice and really talking to a specific demographic or a specific set of people.
And that generally happens because somebody didn’t do enough research, so that’s one thing. People still skip over the research. On the mechanism side, same thing. They don’t really define their mechanism really clearly. They have a really good lede, but they start meandering around and start explaining a bit of science that they found that’s interesting in the lede, and then they go into the story, but then they go back to the science. And then they don’t actually present it in a way that there’s a problem/solution approach to any of this.
And then the last one would be just not following that outline. That gets them into trouble. I just had, I looked at a really good copywriter’s letter he was struggling with just yesterday, and so many of the pieces were good, but he got away from the outline. He had this whole middle part between the lede and the background story that basically didn’t need to be there, and it added eight pages of copy that didn’t go anywhere. It was just like, ‘Hey dude, you can just cut all of that.’ He was like, ‘Oh my God …’ I suck at Valley Girl, but he was like, ‘Oh my God, I can.’ Those are three places where I think … You’ve got to do the research. You really need to have a good mechanism. And then, ideally, you would follow that outline pretty closely.
Rob: We talked about RMBC. In the intro, we teased the ROI escalation ladder.
Stefan: Yeah. Basically, this is for freelance copywriters who are working, getting clients, and they want to be able to charge more, and they want their clients to say yes to it. When I talk about an ROI escalation ladder, what I’m talking about is essentially you’re going to help them to see the ROI that they could get from hiring you. The way you do this is by doing the math for the client. I’m going to use an example of the way I might do this, and maybe for some of the writers who are listening, this might seem like really big numbers, but just take what I’m doing, and you can modify it. You’ll see. It’s very modifiable.
If I’m talking with a prospective client, and I normally charge $50,000-60,000 for a sales letter, which is a lot. I know people who charge more than me for that, and it took me time to get there, but if I’m talking with them, and let’s say it’s a health supplement company, because I do a lot of work with those people and know the space really well. First and foremost, by the way, I’ll talk with them … As long as I know they’re a qualified prospective customer/client, then I will spend the first half an hour, 40 minutes of a call, just find out about their business and their current funnel, how things are going, what they’re doing.
I’m not talking about me or my fees until way late in the conversation, after I’ve already really understood what they’re doing and given them a bunch of free advice that’s actually valuable, that they can take even if we don’t go anywhere with it. I want to demonstrate my value and expertise and things like that, so that’s why I’m doing that from a freelancer’s perspective. But once you get through all that, I’m going to be like, ‘All right, basically, I normally charge $50,000 for a sales letter. That’s my fee. I don’t know if that sounds like a lot or a little bit to you.’ And usually I’ll pause. If they’re just like, ‘Uh-huh,’ I’m like, ‘That’s a good sign.’
If they’re like, ‘Oh my God,’ I’m like, ‘That’s probably …’ I don’t go with my escalation ladder. But assuming they’re the right kind of client and I’ve done my due diligence and all that, and they’re like, ‘Okay, sure. Yeah, go on.’ I’m like, ‘Let me explain, it may sound like a lot, but let me break it down for you and explain why I charge what I do. You’re in the health supplement space, and if you hire me, really, if you’re paying $50,000, the expectation is that whatever I write for you is going to gross at least a million dollars in revenue, right?’ They’re like, ‘Yeah.’
I’m like, ‘Cool, and you sell health supplements, so I know what your average order value should be. I know your metrics, and your profit margin should at least be 20%. Really probably like 30%, because of the long term monetizing your email list and things like that, but let’s just say 20%. Is that fair?’ And they’re like, ‘Yes.’ It’s like, ‘All right, cool. That means we’re expecting the sales order to gross at least a million dollars at a 20% profit margin, which means we’re expecting for you to net at least $200,000. You’re paying me $50,000, so assuming that happens, you just got a 4x ROI on your money right there, and this is one of the reasons I can charge $50,000, because again, if you pay me $50,000 and get $200,000 back, you’ll do that all in a day.
‘But really, if we’re being honest here, the goal isn’t actually to make a million dollars, right? The goal is really 10 million dollars, and for the right offer, it can totally gross 10 million dollars or even way more. But even at $10 million. Let’s say that, and this doesn’t happen every time. I’m not saying there’ll be an absolute home run, but if it is and this sales letter can gross 10 million dollars for you at a 20% profit margin, that’s two million dollars of net profit, right? But what you paid me stays the same, so in that case, instead of getting 4x ROI, you’re paying me $50,000, which you’re getting a 40x ROI on that investment. When you hire me, nothing’s guaranteed, nothing’s certain, but I have the track record of having so many successful offers in this space like we’ve talked about.
‘And so really, the reason you’re paying what you’re going to pay for my fees is because there’s a much higher probability that I will get you those types of ROIs, and when you look at it that way, paying $50,000 to get $200,000 or two million back in net profit is a no brainer.’ And so, you’re doing the math for them, and you’re really doing the math. You’re not just saying, ‘You could gross a million dollars,’ because that doesn’t mean anything for them. Because they may be like, ‘Yeah, but what if I’m not profitable?’ You’re justifying your fee, but you’re doing it in a very value driven way, and the escalation aspect of it is because you start with $50,000, you end up at 10 million dollars. You got to escalate this whole thing, but you do it in a way that actually makes sense.
And so, again, even if … Let’s say you charge $1,000 and the person wants to gross $100,000, and their profit margin’s 10%. You’re like, ‘You’re paying me $1,000 for the chance to profit $10,000.’ It’s the same. You can apply it no matter what the numbers are, but since I’ve done that, I very rarely get any resistance to my fees.
Kira: Though, as I’m listening to you, I’m wondering about your mindset. Having that type of conversation is very different than probably some of your early conversations when you were just getting started, so how has your mindset changed as you’ve grown in your business, and what advice do you have for other copywriters who are struggling, who maybe even hear you rattling it off and are just like, ‘I can’t even imagine ever having that conversation and escalating in that way?’
Stefan: Yeah, that’s a great question and a really fair question. It’s hard for me, because now I’ve had at least the last five or six years of success, so I feel confident charging those fees, but there definitely was … For the first couple of years, I was really afraid to ask for more money. I’m talking about coming from $497 to $997 was terrifying, and I was afraid of being rejected. ‘What if they said no,’ and all of that, so my mindset today is entirely different from then.
I think some things that help is really focusing on getting … Small victories lead to big victories, so I think going back to focusing on being the best with your copy, if you can start getting some wins with your copy and then being okay celebrating those wins and feeling good about yourself, I think that helps a lot. Part of it actually comes down, and this is going to be more tactical, but trying to work with clients, there’s expectations of clients, of you really wanting the data of how what you do for them, how it performs. Because not only can you then, of course, go and be like, ‘Hey, I wrote this thing and it’s promoting at this percentage,’ but if it isn’t doing well, you can learn why, and maybe you can work with that client to give them some variance and optimize it.
By doing that stuff and getting data from the client, and creating more of a collaborative relationship, generally you’ll learn more about the business, and you’ll learn about what works and what doesn’t work. As you start to get more wins and you start to understand the business more … And also, beyond the client, really try to understand the whole business. Most of the other stuff, they’re not black boxes. I feel like marketing is actually not hard. There’s a bunch of people with email lists. They want to send through your offer. They’re like, ‘I’ll pay you X amount of money for every sale you make.’ They say, ‘Great.’ They make sales, you send them money. That’s affiliate marketing.
For the first year of my health supplement company, I almost went bankrupt and closed it all down, because I was so afraid of affiliate marketing, and how, ‘Ooh, I don’t know.’ It’s just not hard, and it can seem hard, so I get it. But the point is, if you start to learn different aspects of the industry, and not just copy, but affiliate marketing, email marketing, data monetization, what are the right metrics, what are things like that. The more you know, the more of a subject matter expert you become, and you come with that having wins. And again, if your win is that something made $10,000 for somebody or $5,000, it doesn’t matter. A win’s a win.
If you start having wins and you start to understand the business and understand why things are winning, then you become more confident when you talk with clients, because you’re not … The best thing you can do is come to them as a subject matter expert, advisor, peer, all those sorts of things, versus coming from this subservient place of, ‘Oh boy, I hope you hire me, and I hope you like me, and I hope you aren’t mad at me, and I hope you hire me again.’ I get it, because again, it’s scary. If you get the client, it means you get to pay your rent. If you don’t get the client, it means you don’t get to pay your rent. I’ve been there. I’ve pawned musical instruments to pay my rent early in my copy career. And my X-Box’s. I probably pawned 10 X-Box’s. I pawned one. I’m serious.
Rob: We’ve all been there.
Stefan: I pawned one, pay the rent. Buy one back after a good month, and then a couple months later, you’re like, ‘Are you serious?’ And back to GameStop or whatever. But yeah, I think that’s what I would say. Focus on just getting little wins under your belt, because again, those wins lead to big wins. And then, being an expert, where you can come and be an expert advisor. Clients will respect you more, and they’ll pay you more, and they won’t be as difficult to work with either. They won’t be pushing back and just randomly wanting to change parts of your copy, if they think you’re the pro and the expert. Then that’s a lot more fun type of a client to work with than somebody who doesn’t trust you and doubts you. I hope that helps. That’s the best, I think, off the top of my head, that I’ve got.
Rob: I want to go back to something that you mentioned when we first started talking about your early career. You mentioned that a few clients shared your name with other clients, and I am curious if, in addition to writing great copy, if there’s something that you did in order to get your clients to sell you to their friends, to their network? What does it take a new copywriter today, what can they do so that their clients will sell them to the next person in the network?
Stefan: Yeah, a couple things. Great question. I think one thing is to ask, as simple as that sounds. Once the client has expressed that they’re happy with the work that you’ve done for them, generally first being like, ‘Oh, that’s perfect. I’ve got a bit more availability. Is there any other projects that you want to go forward with or tackle?’ Sometimes they’ll just be like, ‘Yeah,’ and they’ll give you something right after, and that’s great. Or they may say, ‘No,’ or, ‘Yeah, it’ll be a few weeks.’ Which really means a few months, or ‘a few months,’ which really means a year from now.
But in those cases, it’d be like, ‘Oh, I totally get it, but if you’re really happy with my work, and you seem like you are, and I’m so appreciative of the opportunity that you’ve given me here. Yeah, I’m a freelancer, so if there’s any way that you can give me a shout-out on Facebook or to your network, or even if you know any people who are looking for a reliable, dependable, and skilled copywriter like I am, and you could maybe introduce me to them, that would just mean the world to me. Is that something you’d be able to help to do?’
99% of the time, they’re going to say, ‘Yeah.’ People aren’t a-holes. Most of the time, people are good. And of course, we’ve all had that one percent of the clients who are awful, but most of them aren’t that way. Yeah, asking is one thing for sure, and then beyond that, again, I know it sounds silly, but if you just do a really good job though, a percentage of your clients are just always going to end up referring you to other people anyway.
I had a guy named Dr. William Farrow, who I’m still friends with to this day. He hired me off UpWork, and got to work with him in 2012 to do email marketing for him. I applied to his position and he called me. I don’t remember if he called me through UpWork or he called my cell phone number, but 10 minutes later, I had this call. I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ It’s, ‘Hey, it’s Dr. Farrow.’ And he’s going off and I’m like, ‘What is happening?’ I thought he was a little bit crazy, but I wrote emails for him and helped with his list. And it did well for him, and then he just completely unsolicitedly referred me to several other clients, including one guy named Dr. Guy Annunziata, who runs a company called Braincore, which is a neuro feedback system for doctors.
And basically, he introduced me to Dr. Annunziata, and then Dr. Annunziata had 150 different doctors who were licensing his technology. And next thing you know, I’m getting a retainer from Dr. Annunziata. Then I’m working with all the doctors who are under him. I didn’t ask for anything from Dr. Farrow. He just did that because my work was good and he was a connector. There’s a percentage of clients who, if you do great work, they’re just going to do that for you and open doors for you and things. But then I think you can help yourself too for all of the other ones who aren’t that way by just asking them politely, but sincerely, if they can help share with others. It makes a huge difference. If somebody refers somebody to you, you’re just way more likely to hire them than if they’re just coming at you cold.
Kira: All right, I want to go in a different direction and talk about your schedule. I know you mentioned earlier, you have supplement companies and you work with clients, and you have your own mastermind group. There’s probably so much more on your plate. Plus, you have a family and a young daughter. I know it doesn’t all happen at once, but as someone else with young kids, I’m just wondering how do you do it all? How do you schedule your time so that you can be at this top elite level in your business and in life and in multiple areas of your life?
Stefan: For sure. It’s a great question, and it’s something that I’ve gotten pretty good at, but that I can still definitely get better at. It’s the thing I … One problem we do is we take on too much, and when we take on too much, it doesn’t matter how good at scheduling you are, because you’re going to just have too many demands for your time. And again, this is coming from somebody who’s doing 10 different things at the same time. I’ll qualify that in a minute, but the main thing I do is for each week, I just write out everything that I want to get done for the week.
I’m like, ‘All right, here’s the brain dump. Here’s everything that has to get done.’ And I’m like, ‘All right, out of that, what are the two to five biggest needle movers, that if I got those things done, things will chug along and progress in a positive direction, and momentum will continue to affect my career and my life and my health?’ Whatever things I’m concerned with. If I’m writing a sales letter, that’s always going to be on there, if it’s close to being due. That’s a needle mover. It has to get done, but also, every sales letter I write can continue to further my career.
And there may be something where I want to create a piece of content that I think is really important, or do the sales page for my mastermind or whatever. I have that two to four or five things that are the biggest needle movers, that are like, ‘If I can get these things, either get them done this week, or at least put a lot of good quality time into working on them, I will feel good about that.’ From there, the next question is, ‘How much time will it take to complete these needle movers?’ For a sales letter, let’s say it’s going to take … It may take me 40 hours. It may take somebody way longer, but for me, let’s say it’s 40 hours. Okay. I’m like, ‘Well, I don’t really want to spend a whole week working on a sales letter that’s not actually due for a couple of weeks, but I’d like to spend 12 hours this week on it.’
All right, so there’s five days. One day, I don’t even want to work on it, so let’s say four days. That means in four days, I need a three hour chunk where I’m going to work on this sales letter. I’ll have a grid. Actually, I do it on a spreadsheet. I have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I will plot three hour chunks of time for each of those days where I’m going to work on that sales letter. I try to do them during the times of day where I know that I’m the most productive and at the best with writing sales copy, which for me would be from about 8 AM, between the window of 8 AM and 12 PM.
I’m trying to plot stuff in that stretch of time. And then usually, that’s … I’m not trying to write multiple sales letters in the same week at this point in my career, so other stuff may be a sales page, but I do the same thing. I think, ‘All right, this thing’s going to take 10 hours. Cool. I can probably finish that this week if I do two hours a day for five days.’ I go through and I plot out those big deal movers, and I actually plot out the windows of time throughout the week. If I have stuff that is a recurring thing on my schedule, I have to schedule around that.
You have a mastermind call from 10 AM to 12:30 Pacific time every Tuesday. I have a coaching call with a client from two to three thirty every Thursday, so it’s a little bit of plotting around those things. But I get that out to my calendar, and generally, there are still some gaps of time there. In those, it’s like, ‘All right, based on everything else that wasn’t a needle mover, what are the most urgent and most important things that I really need to get done and want to get done this week? How long will they take? And I do the same thing. I fill in the gaps around my schedule on those big needle movers.
That’s how I approach it. And I’m okay, and I can accept that I might not get everything I want to get done in a week to, because it’s the cliché, right? Most people overestimate what they can get done in a month and underestimate what they can get done in a year. That type of thing, but it is really valuable. And then two other thoughts on that. One thought would be, I have it in multiple companies too, but I built teams and have structures in place to where I’m not as hands on. I own a call center in Las Vegas, where we do customer support and also phone sales for health companies and e-comm companies and stuff like that.
I’ve got a CEO, COO, sales trainer. I’ve got a new hiring manager in HR. I have 60 or 70 employees at this point, but the reason we got to 70 was not because I built to 70. I got it to 10 or 15, and then I had the right people to get from 15 to 70. Now, I spend a little bit of time on it here and there, but I don’t have to … It actually doesn’t take up as much of my time, and yet it’s a seven figure business, so it’s cool. And then the other thing I would just say about this is, doing it this way, really looking at the hours that projects are going to take, and at least estimating, it really helps, because I think we do have this thing where we think we can get more done than we can.
And so, to give you an example for right now with what I’m doing, and I was looking at this at the start of the month. I’m like, ‘All right, I have this sales letter to write this month. I think it’s going to take me 40 hours.’ I wrote that down, and I’m like, ‘All right. For the call center, we’re going through some changes and some good opportunities are here, so normally I spend a couple hours a month on the call center, but I want to spend 40 hours this month. Okay.’ Write that down. I’m like, ‘I want to create a course for my copywriting method I’ve been talking about doing for a long time, and I think I can do it in 40 hours, so perfect.’ Write that down.
And then, of course, there’s basically Copy Accelerator is going to be 20 hours of the week, and something else was going to be 20 hours a week too. And I’m like, ‘All right, cool.’ I look at it. That’s 160 hours, so that’s an entire month basically right there. Which is fine, but then I’m like, ‘Well, what about all of the other stuff that I wanted to get done?’ But at least I know that going into the month, because they I don’t make all of these unrealistic expectations, where I think I can do 10 more things than I actually can, and then end up feeling stressed and frustrated and disappointed in myself. If I know what realistically I can get done in the month, then I’m comfortable with getting it done. I think if we don’t do that, and we just assume we can do too much, we don’t actually figure out what that actually looks like. I think that’s where we end up getting into a lot of issues with our time management.
Kira: Yes, and that’s where I get into issues with my time management.
Rob: We should’ve asked, ‘How did you manage your time when you are writing 12 sales pitches a month instead of one or two?’ But that’s for maybe the next interview.
Stefan: Yeah, happy to share on the next one.
Kira: We started this conversation talking about dying, and let’s wrap up with a question about death. How did you lose your fear of dying?
Stefan: Yeah, that’s a great … You guys really do your homework.
Kira: I just stalked you. I just stalked you like crazy.
Stefan: I went to college at the University of West Florida, which is in Pensacola, Florida. And I took a fairly non-traditional route to get there, meaning I first went to college at Boulder. First semester, I dropped out. I worked at a movie theater. I did a music start-up thing that failed, and then realized I actually liked learning, and ended up applying to this school in Pensacola, Florida that nobody’s ever heard of and going there. I was already 21 at the time, so I was a little bit more mature than other people who were starting at a new school, just within that context of not being 18.
And I decided to … I don’t think I had to take it or I decided to take it, an Intro to Ethics course. The teacher, on the first day, is a guy named Bobby Johnson, and he was this shaggy haired, probably was 25 or 26 years old at the time. He was the teacher for this ethics class, and it was all freshmen, and a lot of people who were in it who didn’t want to be in it, but they had to. On the very first day, I remember a girl, she was a true freshman, probably 18, and she asked, ‘Why should I study philosophy?’ He said, ‘Well, for me, I study philosophy, because now I’m no longer afraid to die.’
That really just stuck with me. I didn’t even really fully understand it in the moment, but I kind of did. He’s probably examined his life, and because of that, he’s not afraid of death. It just stuck with me, and then I became friends with this professor over that first semester. He convinced me to switch my major to become a philosophy major, and I did. I read all kinds of philosophy, but including existentialism, which is all about people being obsessed with their death, but also the idea of, ‘If you’re going to die …’ We all know we’re going to die. You know you’re thrust into this world, and you have this limited scope of time, and then you die.
For most of these existentialists, they weren’t really very religious either, so they thought that when it was it, it was it. And the question is … That’s not the surprising thing. That’s just whatever, but I said, ‘What do you do with the time in between that matters?’ As you look at that and examine your life and what it means to live a meaningful life and what it means to have an impact, and then accepting that you are going to die. I guess it does matter, because you accept it. You’re like, ‘I’m going to die. I’m aware of that now, so I might as well make as much of these moments that I have until that happens, to count as much as possible.’
And that just started to shift my mentality to accept death more as an inevitability, because you spend a lot of time thinking about death as a philosophy major, and to focus more on what you do until that happens. That’s the big start of it, and then, for Bobby, I found out too, towards the end of my time at college, that he had, I guess it was cystic fibrosis. And he actually died a couple years later. He maybe was 30 or 29, and I wrote something about it recently to my email list. It’ll be on my blog at some point too.
But I think really, it’s one of those things where I was sad, but I thought about him and what he said, and I really believe it. I believe that guy wasn’t ultimately … He never complained. He never cried. I never saw him in misery or suffering. He really was accepting of his death, and I think that made his life so much richer. I try to do the same thing. Yeah, we are, we’re starting heavy and we’re ending heavy, but I think it’s important. It’s better than pretending that stuff’s never going to happen to you, and then you waste your life.
It’s better to accept that death is an inevitability, unless we really have some crazy scientific breakthroughs. But if that’s the case, okay, fine. That’s the greatest motivator of all. Tony Robbins is awesome, but an even better motivator is knowing you’re going to die. You have a limited time, but you have a chance to make an impact on this planet. That’s what I try to take to my life as well.
Rob: This has been a fantastic interview. The transcript for this is, I’m going to print it out, and it’s immediately going in my pile of stuff that I’ve got to review. Just the formula for copywriting, the way that you’ve grown your business. There’s just a ton to learn here, Stefan, so thank you for that. And if people want to connect with you or learn more about you, or find out what’s even going on next, maybe even meet you at some kind of an upcoming conference in, say, March, where should they go?
Stefan: There’s apparently something going on in March that I’ll be at where they can see me, I think. It might have something to do with you guys. I’m not sure, but I will be there with Kira and Rob, so you guys, seriously-
Kira: Buy your tickets to TCCIRL.
Stefan: Do it.
Kira: We’ll link in the show notes. Thank you.
Stefan: Do it. But yeah, as for me, you can visit me at my website. It’s stefanpaulgeorgi.com, so my full name, which I’m sure you guys can link to in the notes as well. My blog is on there. From there, you can subscribe to my email list, which you should do, because I write thousand word emails on everything from copy strategy and the offers that I’m writing to entrepreneurship and mindset and everything. And then, I’ve got the blog, and talk about my RMBC method on that site. Yeah, just that’s the best way. I’m on Facebook as well. Feel free to add me or find me on Facebook. I try to be really accessible to people.
Kira: I have added you on Facebook. I am now in your group, and I just got accepted into your email list. We are totally connected now. You can’t get rid of me.
Stefan: We’re officially connected. Just [inaudible 01:03:39] SMS alerts coming next. No, I’m just kidding.
Kira: Well, we are so excited to have you at the event, and just excited to have this conversation. Thank you so much.
Rob: Thanks, Stefan.
Stefan: Yeah, thank you guys.
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 on iTunes. If you like what you’ve heard, you can help us spread the word by subscribing in iTunes and by leaving your review. For show notes, a full transcript, and links to our free Facebook community, visit thecopywriterclub.com. We’ll see you next episode.