The unbridled frustration of the naked yak
One of my all-time favorite bits of programmer slang is:
Here’s a good example of a yak shave:
Let’s say you have a simple task—you want to send a quick email to a friend.
You head down to your office in the basement to and flip the light switch.
Pfift! The bulb in the overhead lamp dies a fiery death.
Nuts, you think, it’s pitch black down here. I’d better change the bulb now…
So you troop up the stairs to the kitchen to grab a bulb.
While you’re there, you realize that there’s a bill sitting on your counter, and if you don’t get it in the mail RIGHT NOW then a burned out lightbulb will be the least of your worries.
So you leave the bulb on the counter and run the bill out to the mailbox.
When you get outside, you see to your horror that your mailbox is gone. A snowplow went by 10 minutes ago and sheared it right off the post.
Can just leave it lying there—the mailman is coming any minute.
You jog to your garage and grab a hammer, then start digging around for nails.
Guess what, you don’t have any. No screws, either.
Looks like you’ll need to run to the hardware store.
You grab your keys off the hook, but as you’re backing down the driveway, you hear a sickening “thwup thwup thwup” sound.
You hop out of the car and throw your hands up when you see that your right rear tire is completely flat…
At this point, 30 minutes have gone by.
You haven’t emailed your friend.
You also haven’t changed the lightbulb, mailed the bill, fixed the mailbox, or restocked your supply of nails…
And now you’re jacking your car up to change a flat.
See? Yak shave.
You go to solve one problem and you keep finding other things that distract you from your original mission.
A “yak shave” is frustrating when it happens in real life.
But in your copy—it’s deadly.
New copywriters fall into this trap all the time.
I certainly have.
One time I was writing a video script for a fat-loss product.
And as I started to explain the “mechanism” (copy-speak for the unique angle that makes the product work), I went off on a tangent.
I launched into a dissertation about “ketosis,” the state where your body burns fat for fuel instead of sugar.
In my head, I had to give the viewer all this science before they would appreciate what the product did.
But all I managed to do was take a looooong and boring detour guaranteed to put the viewer to sleep.
When I came to my senses, I chopped all that out.
Now the sales message went in a straight line—from point to point to point—instead of wandering aimlessly down every side trail that came along.
The first step to eliminating these deadly “yak shaves” in your copy is to know how to spot them.
And the best way to do that is to immerse yourself in the airtight ads written by top copywriters.
That’s where CopyHour is invaluable.
In CopyHour, you’ll spend 90 days absorbing some of the most successful copy ever written.
You’ll develop your “yak killer” instincts, and you’ll know how to write sales pages, emails and letters that take your reader on a breathless ride, straight to the “Buy Now” button.
There’s a catch, though…
Derek Johanson, creator of CopyHour, is mixing up the format in 2016.
He’s teaching this course as a live class now, which means you’ll get more direct attention from Derek and interaction with other copywriters who are learning along with you.
But it also means you have a limited time to sign up…
Registration is open now.
Go here to get in before the doors slam shut: