A few months back I jotted down an idea for one of these emails:
“I just wrote a sales page, and I’m scared”
That’s typically how I feel whenever I turn a new piece of writing loose on the world.
But it’s ESPECIALLY true of copywriting projects like email courses and sales pages…
Compared to most types of writing, copywriting is a little weird.
The success or failure of most other types of writing are judged subjectively.
Did your editor like it?
Did your audience enjoy it?
With sales copy, though, it’s do or die.
Nobody cares if the readers “liked” your email course.
What matters is whether it persuaded the reader to take ACTION.
This time it was a new sales page for How to Market Yourself as a Software Developer, the flagship info product at Simple Programmer.
I was putting a LOT of pressure on myself.
The last sales page I’d written was a home run success—it’s generated nearly $100K in sales so far and it’s still rocking months later.
But a voice inside my head kept whispering,
“That was a fluke.
“You can’t do that again.”
And so I dragged my heels getting this page written.
Found all kinds of “productive procrastination” to keep me distracted and busy, anything but writing that dang sales page…
Because when it comes down to it, it’s pretty dang intimidating to put yourself out there and endure the harsh criticism of the market.
I never wrote that “I’m scared” email—maybe I wasn’t ready to share my discomfort without knowing what the outcome of that project would be.
Well, the results are in now, and it looks like…
A “base hit.”
Not a home run this time, but certainly a solid single, maybe a double.
My new page boosted sales by about 77%.
Which is not bad—but not the grand slam I wanted either.
So now what?
Now it’s time to roll up my sleeves and start tinkering.
When I was writing this page, one of my biggest fears was that the headline was too long.
To be honest, I really struggled to come up with a short, punchy headline that would hit the target audience between the eyes.
So I “bunted.”
I wrote a really, really long “headline” that was really more of a stack of pre-headlines…
Followed by a main headline…
And then a long sub-headline.
My gut said that this wasn’t a good idea, but at the time I couldn’t come up with anything better.
And you know what?
My gut was right.
Right now I’m running a test to see how far down the page people are reading, and I can see a huge dropoff right at the top.
25% of people see that headline and don’t even bother to read any further.
And if they don’t start reading, there’s no way they’ll consider buying.
Now that’s something I can work on.
Growing as a writer and a marketer means learning to distance yourself from your work and see it objectively.
For me, that means I first need to get something out there quickly—then completely ignore it for a month or two while I do something else.
Let the copy “age.”
After a few weeks I get over all the time I invested in putting the copy together. I let go of my emotional attachment to my favorite bits…
Then I’m ready to start measuring how readers are actually responding.
8 weeks ago my fragile writer’s ego couldn’t have handled this kind of raw, objective feedback.
I’m ready to step right up to the plate and take another swing at this.