Copy Maestro Eddie Shleyner Said, “Hand Copy 6 of the Best Ads. Twice.” So I Did. What I Learned 115 Pages Later…
What would you do if Mr. Miyagi told you to wax his car?
In “The Karate Kid”, Mr. Miyagi tests his student Daniel’s willingness to learn by making him buff out his car.
“Wax on. Wax off.”
It’s a classic trope. The martial arts teacher tries to discourage the student with tough tasks to see if they have the stamina, temperament, and strength of spirit needed to succeed.
My “Karate Kid” saga began, when I read a LinkedIn post from Eddie Shleyner, who runs the website “Very Good Copy.”
He told a story about how his first boss made him hand copy, or copywork, masterpieces of advertising.
In short, Eddie’s boss needed him to infuse their way of writing into his bones by doing something Tolstoy, Hemingway and Ben Franklin did. Also, Gary Halbert tells his son it will give him a major edge in “The Boron Letters.”
So Eddie did the work…
And became extremely good.
In the comments, a reader asked for some assignments.
Eddie provided six links and casually said “have fun.”
I checked out each piece. Anybody could do the first five. They’d each take a few hours to copy.
But the final piece, “Copywriting Velocity Virtual Program” was a whopping 33 pages long!
That’s when I started wondering “Is Eddie my Mr. Miyagi and this is a wax on, wax off? It’s got to be a test, to see how bad I want to be a copywriter.”
Not to sound like a loon, but I felt like a knight looking for a noble quest and now I had found one. Whether or not I would slay the final dragon remained to be seen.
I began writing.
Each of the first five letters took 2–4 hours to hand copy.
When I completed one, I told Eddie about it, leaving a link to a short video message with a timelapse of my work.
Eddie gave me positive comments on my post and I got really good cross traffic.
This boosted my spirits so I kept chugging away, all the while dreading that 33 monster sales letter.
If I didn’t do it, Mr. Miyagi would be disappointed in me.
But it was going to take soooo much time! Shoving those doubts aside, put on my epic writing music, and forged ahead.
By the time I finished the first five ads, I had 59 handwritten pages.
For those who know I Pomodoro that was 19 pomodoros.
Now, the only challenge left was the Copywriting Velocity letter.
As I scrolled through it. Down. Down. Down.
A vision of running the New York marathon line popped into my head then flashed to Sir Edmund Hillary planting a flag on top of Mt Everest.
The sales page was written by A-list copywriter Kim Krause Schwalm, one of the greatest copywriters in the world. There was no doubt it had nuggets of gold.
If Mr. Miyagi said to copy this, then I had to do what he said. He was the master after all.
I spent 18 pomodoros, or 9 hours, copying the web page twice, completing the task in a day and a half.
Copywriting Velocity’s copy work came out to 56 handwritten pages.
The total number of pages for all assignments: 115.
Let’s pause and think about that. Personally, I think that’s pretty good.
And that’s where the story ends.
Added: 6/21 Thanks for the props Eddie. That made my freaking year!
If anybody out there needs a multimedia storyteller, I think I’ve demonstrated I’m serious as hell about writing well.
Like what you see? DM me. Thanks so much!
P.S. Eddie, I hope I didn’t sound like a psycho fanboy with that whole Mr. Miyagi story, but it motivated me to do the work. I hope you saw the assignment references and puns I sprinkled throughout this piece.
P.P.P.S. Reader, want to know more about what I learned? Keep reading.
Was It Worth It? Heck Yeah
· Kudos from the Master — It feels great when someone you admire acknowledges your hard work. NEVER forget that.
· Sense of achievement — This is something VERY VERY few of your fellow copywriters will do. Guaranteed.
· Network cross-pollination — I got some very good cross-traffic from Eddie’s network, for which I’m grateful. So cool.
· Improved copy chops — There’s no doubt I’m a better copywriter.
· Confidence boost — I wrote 115 freaking pages. How can you not feel good about this rare achievement?
· Killer Story — “I remember this time when Eddie Shleyner…” That’s copywriting gold I’m going to mine.
· Personal Invite to Connect from Eddie — I did it! It’s so trivial and yet so awesome.
Things I Learned From Copyworking
Here are some feeble attempts are writing fascinations.
· What’s the ONE thing you can do to show “Mr. Miyagi” you have the stamina, temperament, and strength of spirit needed to succeed as a student.
· Why 115 handwritten pages won’t be enough, and you’ll want to make your pile bigger. Hint: It’s why marathons are addictive.
· Why finding spelling and grammar mistakes in A-list copy feels so good.
· What key objections an A-List copywriter MISSED that kept me from instantly buying her totally awesome course. Hint: Community and fear the system would sit on my shelf. (Copywriting Velocity — Kim Krause Schwalm)
· How to push readers away, so you can suck them in. Also include: how to overuse exclamation marks like a master. (Do You Have The Courage To Earn Half A Million Dollars? — Eugene Shwartz)
· How to build a successful agency with a super-strong offer. (Ad Agency Guarantee — Gary Bencivenga)
· Why fascinations are like salty dry roasted peanuts. Once you try one, you can’t stop. (Thanks Kim.)
· Where to find a battle-proven system to beat controls and earn royalties on my copy.
· What’s the secret of “the Second Pass”? How to break down a sales letter like a pro.
· What it feels like to write a story that made $2 billion and ran for 20 years ($2 Billion Wall St. Journal Letter (“Tale of Two Young Men”) — Martin Conroy)
· How to sell travel services, after you give away an easy-to-learn system for winning at blackjack. (The Amazing Blackjack Secret Ad — Gary Halbert)
· The secret technique to etch the Masters’ spells onto your bones. Hint: Most copywriters never do this.
The Student Becomes the Teacher — HA!!!!
To be clear, I’m nobody special, but I can pass on the copy working assignment Eddie gave me.
Have Fun! (Insert maniacal laugh here)
The Adverts Eddie Said To Copy
“Coat Of Arms Letter” by Gary Halbert:
“Two Young Men” by Martin Conroy:
“Vision Breakthrough” by Joseph Sugarman:
“Announcing a direct response advertising agency that will guarantee to outpull your best ad” by Gary Bencinvenga:
“Do you have the courage to earn half a million dollars a year?” by Eugene Schwartz:
“Copywriting Velocity” by Kim Krause Schwalm Schwalm: