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

    […] 85+ Copy­writ­ing Resources From under­stand­ing the mechan­ics of copy­writ­ing, to learn­ing the psy­chol­ogy of sales­man­ship in print, to becom­ing a stu­dent of adver­tis­ing artistry, Mr. Sex­ton has curated and com­piled an extremely valu­able resource for any begin­ning or work­ing copy­writer. His head­line deliv­ers exactly what it states, and yet, much more. // […]

  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

  20. No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links « No Wasted Ink on 02.27.2012

    […] 85+ Copy­writ­ing Resources […]

  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. 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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