Copywriting skill usually progresses along 3 stages:

Stage 1: Understanding the Mechanics — The untrained copywriter can become exponentially better in a day’s worth of training. It really is that easy. And a copywriter that’s made that minimum effort can get results, right away. That’s why a lot of A-List copywriters will tell you that you don’t have to become a great writer to make money writing copy.

Stage 2: Learning the Psychology of “Salesmanship in Print” — Semi-decent copywriters won’t continue to get better without at least a few month’s or a year’s worth of continued study and practice. That’s because they’re moving from the core mechanics and basic mindset of copywriting, to applying effective sales psychology to their writing.

Stage 3: Becoming a Serious Student of Advertising Artistry — Moving from seasoned, journeyman copywriter to true pro DOES require that you become a better writer. You must become adept at directing the “movie in the mind” of the prospect, and that requires superior wordsmithing along with artistry above and beyond the previous two stages. Naturally this takes longer to learn.

So why should you care?

First, it’s important to know that you can get dramatic improvements and business results from moving through the first two stages. Meaning that it’s worth the limited effort to get better even if you are NOT looking to become a professional copywriter or marketer.

Second, if you ARE looking to become a professional copywriter, you’ll get better faster if you understand what stage of development you’re in and what resources will help you the most for any given stage. That’s not to say the components of each stage don’t overlap, but that they do tend to build one stage on the other, so you shouldn’t spend too much time, say, trying to learn rhetorical flourishes if you haven’t mastered the basics of WIIFM, substantiation and proof, etc.

And with that in mind, here are some solid, mostly free resources to get you to that next level:

Understanding the Mechanics

To me, the basic mechanics of copywriting includes the following:

So, there’s obviously a bit more to the basic mechanics of good copywriting than JUST these elements, and for you dedicated students, I’ve come up with two entirely FREE resources to cover those:

  1. Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg have graciously agreed to let my readers download a free copy of their highly praised and sought after book, Persuasive Online Copywriting.
  2. You can download a free, no-email-necessary PDF  of Claude Hopkins’ Scientific Advertising right here.

Learning the Psychology of Salesmanship in Print

Sales Psychology is a BIG topic, and I’m sure I’m leaving lots of topics uncovered, but for me, the must-have basics include:

Obviously, there is a lifetime’s worth of learning around these topics and any number of “additional reading” books could be recommended.  That said, the best FREE resources for this stage are Roy H. Williams first two books in his Wizard of Ads trilogy, The Wizard of Ads and Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads, both which you can download as audio and e-books for free at Roy’s Website.

Becoming a Serious Student of Advertising Artistry

Once you understand the mechanics and the psychology, you enter the realm of advanced techniques, subtlety of execution, and general artistry. This is where the ad writer has the most in common with the novelist, playwright, movie director, entertainer, and even the stage musician. Here are

Again, there are a number of books I might recommend for additional reading, but if I am to focus in on FREE resources, I would recommend Roy H. Williams’ 3rd Wizard of Ads book, Magical Worlds, which you can download for free directly from Roy’s Website.  You’ll also want to sign up for the Monday Morning Memo.  And if you’re still hungry for more, I promise to compile a post of nothing but recommended books and blogs, rather than individual posts and free resources.

 

But for now, this resource list represents a strong course of study. Best of luck to any and all aspiring students. Feel free to comment with your own proposed resources, questions, etc.

 

Comments

  1. Rod Schwartz on 02.21.2012

    Jeff,

    Thanks for compiling and sharing the links to these copywriting resources.

    I was going to use a different URL in the website field, but then noticed the CommentLUV check box (it had not been on my radar), so used my blog address instead. You might enjoy Ogilvy’s list of ten.

    Look forward to plunging into your post later. For now, will pass it along to the members of Radio Sales Cafe.

    Be well.

    Cordially,

    Rod
    Rod Schwartz´s last blog post ..David Ogilvy on the Superiority of Radio

  2. Julie Eason on 02.21.2012

    Wow. What a great list, and not the usual suspects either. Thanks so much for putting this together, Jeff!

  3. Dave Young on 02.21.2012

    What an amazing list, Jeff! I’m humbled to be a part of it.
    Dave Young´s last blog post ..88% more leads per month with a blog

  4. Jeff on 02.21.2012

    Thanks Rod, Julie, and Dave.

    I appreciate the comments and am glad that you like the list.

    Dave — thrilled to be able to use your great content in the list!

  5. Kittie Walker on 02.22.2012

    Wow, that list is going to take some going through. Plenty of “light” evening reading. I normally just lurk but this is a great resource… thanks!
    Kittie Walker´s last blog post ..Content Strategy – A Raging Debate

  6. Matt Ambrose on 02.22.2012

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for linking to my article on behavioral economics – I hope your readers find it useful. I think I’ll check out a few of the other links while I’m here.

    Matt
    Matt Ambrose´s last blog post ..Improving Website Conversion 2 – How to Identify the Leaks that are Costing You Sales

  7. Fletcher M. Ford on 02.22.2012

    Great info! Thank you all!

    Best,

    Fletcher M. Ford
    Virden Broadcasting

  8. Jeff on 02.22.2012

    Seems my newly updated blog is still killing my friend Lorraine Thompson’s comments. Fortunately, Lorraine has been kind enough to e-mail hers to me:

    “Outstanding list, Jeff. I love “Language of Shadow and Silence,” “Making Copy Interactive” and several more of the above posts I managed to devour this a.m. before tearing myself away to start the workday.

    Definitely bookmarking this post for the close reading it deserves.

    Thanks for putting it together–fabulous resource.”

    Thank you, Lorraine :)

  9. Mike Robinson on 02.24.2012

    Thank you Jeff – there’s a huge amount of useful information here! Much appreciated.

  10. Al Silva on 02.25.2012

    Outstanding set of resources! Thank you so much for putting this together. I will spend a long time going through all of these.

    Best regards,
    Al Silva
    Babble On Media
    Al Silva´s last blog post ..Outsourcing your Content Creation

  11. Mia Sherwood Landau on 02.25.2012

    Yes, yes, yes to the recommended books and blogs. Jeff, this post is a treasure trove for sure, but of course that just makes me hungry for more! Humm….. you must be a persuasive copywriter…..

    I have been writing for a living (such that it is) for a couple years now, and one thing I’ve noticed is that a growing familiarity with myself is what gives me the ability to reach into the minds of others. The better I know myself, the more deft and facile is my ability journey into the mind and psyche of my reader.

    What do you think?

  12. viralsocialmarketing.com » 7 Sensible Content Marketing Links on 02.25.2012

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  13. The Best Copywriting Resources List Ever | Blogging Success Guide on 02.25.2012

    […] If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!Jeff Sexton has compiled the best copy writing resources ever – worth a look see at: 85+ Copywriting Resources […]

  14. Des Vadgama on 02.25.2012

    Very useful list of resources, Jeff.

    Will use these to improve my work focused on marketing
    ultra high-ticket product and services.

    Thanks.

  15. Elizabeth Todd on 02.25.2012

    What a brilliant list Jeff. Thanks for sharing.

    It will no doubt take me some time to go through all it but having it all together in such an easy to follow order is going to make my research a lot easier.
    Elizabeth Todd´s last blog post ..Welcome

  16. Mitchell Roth on 02.26.2012

    First off, this is absolutely amazing. Thank you Jeff.

    I am just beginning my journey into copywriting. I’m devouring Robert Bly’s “The Copywriter’s Handbook” and the great stuff on Copyblogger, which is how I found this post.

    The information you’ve compiled is better than an education at most traditional universities. The amazing part of it is that it is all free.

    “Here’s your free education. Just add work!”

    Thank you again, I am very much appreciative. I look forward to seeing a post about recommended books and blogs.
    Mitchell Roth´s last blog post ..Comment on Stop Email Clutter Once and For All by Mitch

  17. Romy Singh on 02.26.2012

    Hello Jeff,

    Thanks for the such awesome collection of copywriting resources. it defiantly going to help me somehow to improve my writing and take it to the next level.

    So one more time big thanks Jeff for all these links…
    Romy Singh´s last blog post ..Why Social Media Friendship Is Not Real And What Are The Problems With It?

  18. Michael Yardney on 02.26.2012

    Thanks Jeff for the amazing list.

    This will give me hours of reading and learning
    Michael Yardney´s last blog post ..Cashed up would-be homebuyers continue to proceed with caution

  19. Mark Hendricks on 02.26.2012

    Great resource Jeff!

    Here’s a short presentation I did on using Cialdini’s persuaders, I hope everyone finds it valuable:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSDljOoE1og

    Mark Hendricks

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  21. Chris Rainey on 02.28.2012

    Wow – this is an amazing treasure of great stuff – thanks for putting it together and sharing it Jeff!!

  22. ethan on 07.15.2013

    I am learning to improve my copy writing skill now as well as finding the method of good salesmanship.
    I have found a great resources from this post, althought many terms that described here I still not comprehensed, I will try to learn and absorb it slowly.
    ethan´s last blog post ..Successful sales techniques | How to be a good salesman?

  23. 182 Greatest Copywriters and Copywriting Resources of the Internet Age on 11.28.2013

    […] Jeff is the creator of a few courses including “How to write powerfully and clearly” and “Persuasive online copywriting”. He has a blog and newsletter, one of my favorite posts is his “85+ Copywriting Resources”. […]

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