6 Resources To Help You With Copywriting Fundamentals

Dickie Bush & Nicolas Cole

Ultimate Guide Table of Contents

Ahoy and happy Monday!

Welcome to another week of Start Writing Online—where every week we dive into 1 of the 10 biggest problems all writers face:

  • Distractions
  • Over-editing
  • Perfectionism
  • Procrastination
  • Self-confidence
  • Generating ideas
  • Impostor syndrome
  • Writing consistently
  • Finding time to write
  • Loose feedback loops

(And, of course, if you want to crush all 10 of these AND master the fundamentals of Digital Writing in just 30 days, we'd love to have you in the next cohort of Ship 30 for 30!)

This week, we want to help you master the fundamentals of copywriting.

Most people don’t actually know what the term “copywriting” means.

The old and outdated definition of “copywriting” is: “The activity or occupation of writing the text of advertisements or publicity material.” Now, technically, this is still true. However, the term copywriting has come to mean something very different in the world of business, marketing, and social media at large.

Fully understanding copywriting and its definition is one of the major pillars of becoming a successful Digital Writer.

The true definition of copywriting is being able to write something that moves the reader to take ACTION.

It’s not just about writing clever advertisement taglines or creating a witty PR campaign.

Copywriting is all about speaking directly to the reader to inspire them to STOP what they’re doing and TAKE ACTION in the direction you are encouraging. This might mean subscribing to your newsletter or buying your product. Or it might mean sharing a message, engaging with your content, or hitting “follow.”

The point is, master-level copywriters understand what the reader is thinking or asking themselves, meet them where they are, and then move them in a different direction.

This means copywriting is less about “writing” and more about understanding reader psychology.

Here’s the difference, in a nutshell:

Here are 6 resources to help you learn and master the skill of copywriting.

We’ve put together a list of resources to accelerate your copywriting journey (and we wish we had these when we first started out learning the art of copywriting).

Ready to go down the rabbit hole?

Let’s dive in!

Resource 1: 11 Essential Copywriting & Marketing Books

This X thread from Cole and this X thread from Dickie are the best places to start if you want to add some copywriting and marketing classics to your bookshelf.

The books in these lists are the must-reads for writers who want to start taking the craft of writing to persuade seriously. There are also books on positioning, category design, and building relationships. We encourage you to grab physical copies so you can mark up the margins and highlight meaningful takeaways as you go through them, just like we did.

But if we were going to choose which ones you should focus on right away, it would be these three:

  • The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert
  • Positioning by Al Ries & Jack Trout
  • The Art & Business of Online Writing by Nicolas Cole

Onto the next resource!

Resource 2: The Adweek Copywriting Handbook Breakdown

Joe Sugarman was a legendary copywriter.

He has a long list of achievements, but one we can’t forget is that he once sold over 100,000 pairs of BluBlocker sunglasses from a single ad! He clearly had a way with words. His The Adweek Copywriting Handbook is the best place to start if you want to understand Sugarman’s copywriting principles and processes.

In this breakdown of Dickie's, you get a sense of all the different skills you need to acquire in order to become an expert copywriter, including:

  • The importance of knowing your prospect
  • The two copy components you should write first
  • The number one “feeling” your readers should have when reading your copy

Read Dickie’s thread and then grab a copy of this book to soak in all of Sugarman’s wisdom.

Resource 3: 20 Copywriting Tips To Hang On Your Wall

Cole has spent 10 years mastering the art of copywriting and his words have generated over $10,000,000 in direct sales.

Here are two threads packed with actionable tips and ideas to improve your copywriting in just 5 minutes:

And if you want to really get ahead, here are all the hard lessons Cole and Dickie learned from experimenting with the Ship 30 sales page:

Resource 4: David Ogilvy’s “How To Write” internal memo

David Ogilvy is the “Father of Advertising” and became famous with marketing campaigns with Rolls Royce, Dove soap, and Hathaway shirts.

He put a big focus on the “Big Idea”—using a strong message to create resonance with customers. As a result, he prioritized customer research above all else and believed that marketing alone couldn’t sell products: the products actually need to be good and produce results for customers.

In 1982, David wrote an internal memo to the employees of his advertising agency titled "How to write.”

It is a masterclass in effective writing. It may be over 40 years old, but so many modern marketers could improve their craft if they took it all in. In this thread, Dickie breaks down each of the bullets in the memo to help you improve your copywriting and your writing in general.

And if you really want to immerse yourself in Ogilvy’s approach to marketing and copywriting, we recommend Ogilvy On Advertising.

Resource 5: A 3-Step Copywriting Learning Process

When we first started to learn copywriting, 99% of what we did was a waste of time.

So to save you from making the same mistakes, Dickie put together this thread to help you master the art of copywriting (and save 1,000s of hours of wasted effort):

Now, onto the final resource.

Resource 6: Gary Halbert Breakdown

One of the greatest copywriters to ever live was Gary Halbert, who, during his time as a copywriter, generated more than $1 billion in revenue with his words (think about that for a second!)

In this thread, Dickie breaks down the 12 fundamental strategies Halbert used to consistently write copy that moved customers to buy, buy, buy. This breakdown is also fantastic writing advice in general. It contains frameworks on how to think about your writing craft, with actionable tips on how to construct a writing practice you can keep coming back to day after day.

An essential read for all Digital Writers.

That's it for today!

Chat next week!

–Dickie Bush & Nicolas Cole

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