5 Reasons Why All Freelance Writers Should Learn To Write a Sales Letter

5 Reasons Why All Freelance Writers Should Learn To Write a Sales Letter

Reader Comments (51)

  1. Learning how to write effective sales copy, and incorporating that into selling the mess out of an e-book, is an AMAZING way to generate a passive income. Great article!

    • Yeah, it really is amazing. It’s not a windfall or anything, but I’m still making a little money each week from an eBook I wrote two and a half years ago. Same sales letter, though it’s been tweaked approximately 3,280 times since I first wrote it!

      • Constant tweaking is the only way to remain current. Sometimes I look over the copy I wrote 3 months ago and gag. But it’s by iterating and iterating conversions are bound to improve.

        A writer’s job is never done when it comes to our own work.

  2. Can’t tell you how much learning direct-response copywriting taught me not only how to write…but to live. All the lessons that you are talking about from the greats translate into life. You don’t just learn how to write persuasively. You learn how to think clearly. Speak compellingly. I’d go as far as to say that ALL writers [fiction, non-ficiont or advertising] should learn how to write with persuasion in mind.

    Great topic, Sean.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Good DR is helping me to become a GREAT fiction writer. I could always make things sound “pretty” but now I know ways to “make” the reader turn the page. Dream come true for a writer.

    • Yup. Never, ever again. Deciding to make nothing instead of next to nothing so I could pause, reflect, then dig deep into learning an essential life skill was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. Thanks Copyblogger.

      • Boy did that resonate! I did bulk article writing for a while, and it’s the writer’s version of hell. It seemed like easy money – I can easily write 500 words in about 15 minutes, but I felt ill from the quality of writing that I was forced to write. I had to push myself to do the work, which left me at the tail edge of a deadline, writing even more crappy content.

        I told myself never again – but then caved in for about a month, whereupon I made my husband promise me I would never agree to do that again.

        Today I got another request for more work – at 3 times the price – and was actually considering taking it, until I read this post…

        Mediocrity is just not worth it.

  3. Do you have a great sample you could point the readers to? I’m not sure about anyone else, but I typically learn by example and observation. It would be great to see a living, breathing embodiment (so to speak) of a great copywritten sales letter. We’d love to share it with our on-staff writers at the company I work for.

  4. Yup. Never, ever again. Deciding to make nothing instead of next to nothing so I could pause, reflect, then dig deep into learning an essential life skill was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. Thanks Copyblogger.

  5. I learned how to write by learning copywriting. I used those skills to help my clients when I was a freelance web developer, and now I’m moving on from that to a freelance copywriting business. I have to agree that learning to write a sales letter can help take any business venture to a new level. Being able to persuade and get what you need can really help you reach your goals. Great tips!

  6. You have no idea how many freelance writers I’ve either turned down or fired quickly who didn’t understand how copywriting works. Seriously, it’s so important, that it’s not more common is really concerning.

    • I was guilty of thinking I new how to write. But if you can’t write copy you’re a cook who can’t make Mexican food.

  7. Sean – great to see your post here on Copyblogger, I’m a big fan of Ghostwriter Dad. I think writing the sales letter is more of a learned skill–for example follow the rules of including USP, creating a picture & persuasion, etc.– than an art. When you combine that skill with the writer’s talent you hit the jackpot.

    • Hey, thanks for that Marissa! That’s nice to hear. And yeah, totally agree. Adding persuasion into storytelling and fiction is freaking Nirvana.

  8. Great post Sean. I can’t imagine what I’d be doing if I hadn’t developed this skill.

    We’re all selling, all the time… as you say. If we’re not, then that probably means one of two things:

    1. We’re not doing something we believe in enough to “sell it.”
    2. We are clueless.

    Luckily, both things are fixable 🙂

    • Yup, and a lot of us are both! And you’re right, it’s super easy to fix as long as you’re willing to invest the time.

  9. I TOTALLY agree! Of course, I write sales copy for a living, so I might be biased. But I also write books and scripts – and I’m convinced that my ability to tap into a reader’s emotions helps me write stronger pieces – no matter what they are. Great article!

  10. Just need to shout out an “Amen!” to this article. It is a lesson I learned the hard way. I spent too much time learning how to get traffic and not enough time learning how to write effective sales copy so that traffic converts. Recently I have become a student of sales copy and though I have a long way to go I know I am on a better path now.

    • Thanks Daryle. Much appreciated.

      Yes, if you’re learning copy now you’ll have a sharp tool you can use forever.

  11. Great post! I just bought “The Ultimate Sales Letter,” which was recommended on several sites – looking forward to reading it!

  12. Writing has always been like a second skin to me.I love writing but learning to write a sales letter is like an icing on the cake for me.I completely agree with Deanna.Great Article!

  13. Hey Sean

    Good post – totally agree – and I bought your book on Sales Letters on Kindle two days ago, and can attest that it’s worth way more than the 10 or so bucks it costs!

    I got a question for you – with Kindle did you ever think about using other varients of your name for different types of book. Eg you published the novel first as Sean Platt – did u think of publishing the non fiction stuff as say Sean M Platt (or whatever your middle initial is)? Just curious….


    • Great question, Paul. And thanks for buying the book. I’m impressed. I don’t even think I’ve mentioned it on Twitter yet (my bad) and the byline above might be the first place it’s been, so you’re way ahead of the curve!

      I will definitely be using pen names, but no, I’m Sean Platt to the bone.

      In the old model, yes, I would’ve had to switch it up. Publishers are very particular about who publishes what. But that’s one of the things I love about being a self-publisher. I make the rules. I want to write fiction, children’s fiction, horror, non-fiction, comedy. Seriously, I want to write it all. And I’ll do it under my own name.

      The exception would be romance, which I think I’d write well and would kinda like to try, given I can speak to the market and it’s dinosaur sized (the big ones not the little ones). Certain genres would probably be the same.

      I want Amazon to do a lot of my marketing for me. That means not switching up names. If someone buys a book by “Sean Platt” then Amazon is going to recommend other books by “Sean Platt” to the buyer. I want those sales, and the readers and word of mouth that come with them. 🙂

      • Hey Sean

        Interesting answer. The only issue I have with doing what you’re doing – it’s something I plan on doing myself! – is that fans of Sean Platt the writer about internet writing (did I mention I bought Online Writing too???) might not care to read Sean Platt’s horror novel set in a dystopic version of New York 50 years in the future.

        The model for what I’m thinking is writer Iain Banks. He publishes two specific genres of fiction and uses either the name Iain Banks or Iain M Banks (he publishes Science Fiction and more contemporary stuff – can;t remember which way round the names go).

        That would be my concern.

        Though I guess it hasn’t hurt John Locke much with his Thriller vs Western stuff.


        • Locke’s a great example.

          I think times are changing. And fast. Of course there won’t be crossover on everything, but I’m okay with that. If it were just a couple of genres, then I could see acquiescing to a pen name or two. But everything is SO varied. Over the next year I have children’s book with some cool, sophisticated rhyme schemed poetry, a YA series, a play, a screenplay, a few writing books, serialized .99 Kindle fiction, and the two sequels to our vampire novel.

          In other words, I’m a writer who writes it all. Part of my brand.

          I owe that to ghostwriting I guess, lol.

  14. Great tips Sean… This is not my strongest area and any tips I can get, I’m game.

    Thank you for sharing this with us and congratulations on this post. Really awesome job.


  15. Loved the convincing reasons for learning to write good sales letters. I agree that you improve each time you write something new, but you’ve also got to have that desire to work out how you can better each time. Thanks for the link to your sales letters Sean. They are mega persuasive.

  16. Inspiring post, Sean. Now you’ve got me all jazzed to learn more and do a better job with my copywriting. The truth is, by the time I write an ebook (the product), I’m tired of writing and excited to just get it out there.

    “But when you think about what writing is — getting people to feel something, spreading ideas, or connecting with people across great divides — it’s not all that different from selling.

    Whether you’re selling a product or selling yourself, learning how to write a good sales letter is one of the best investments you’ll ever make in your writing.”

    Ok, you’ve convinced me (good job of selling me on this, btw 😉
    I’ll be digging into your Sales Letters ebook.


  17. Often times my friends tell me that I am a very persuasive person. Have to admit that I thrive on it! As for putting this persuasion in written form, I definitely have much to learn.

    My husband is a web designer and has “hired” me to promote him online. Although excited and apprehensive at the same time, I have decided to take on this honorable task. Reading your article on Copyblogger has inspired me to dig deeper into this “art” of selling. I will try to read everything I can get my hands on to accomplish our goal of driving leads to his site and converting them into clients. Any other articles you think may be helpful for a newbie such as myself will be greatly appreciated. Thanks again!

  18. Nice article, Sean.

    Writing can have 2 purposes – to entertain, or to convince. I think lots of people get into writing for the first reason. But as you say, the second pays much better.

    So even if your goal is to be a fiction writer living on the beach in Thailand, you won’t get there unless you learn how to convince through words. And learn how to charge for that.

  19. HEy Sean,

    Since we had a chance to talk just the other day I got a first hand glimpse into some of your thoughts around this. While I’m not a freelance writer, as a blogger, this is an incredibly useful skill to have. Once you make this part of the way you write everything, you’ll never sit down and struggle with writing a sales page for a product you’re trying to sell. I have to admit that my first few stabs at a sales page were less than stellar. But with some help from friends and asking for feedback from lots of people I managed to tweak it. I think we don’t give enough attention to learning how to write a solid sales page and without even the most spectacular or products end up collecting dust.

  20. I have been intrigued by all the comments regarding publishing under different names and self-publishing. Thanks for your answers to readers’ questions. They’ve been very interesting and informative.

  21. Sean your writings had been always inspiring me in writing better and better sales copies nowadays. And this post of your is just amazing. Thumbs up for you buddy.


  22. All this sounds great. I’ve made a living as a copywriter for 20+ years — writing ads, brochures, television, video, internet, etc – first for agencies and then freelance — and my hourly rate doesn’t suck — but I’d love to get paid by the results I produce — How do you get clients for sales letters and how is what you are paid is determined (clicks, sales)? Is this part of the marketing course? thanks!

  23. Hi Sean,

    I hear you and yes this is something that I must admit to myself — that I have to learn not only to write but to “sell something” as well through writing. To be honest, I haven’t thought of this great idea as a writer. All along, I thought it was enough to learn to write quality content – right English grammar, substantial and relevant.

    Thank you Sean. 🙂


    Is there a link for a blog post talking about how to write sales letter? Sorry, if there was , coz I just haven’t catch it.

  24. #3 –” You can develop streams of passive income”

    Hits home for me — I know I could make a good income writing for others, however, why should I do copy writing for others, when I can be writing for myself, selling what I desire to sell.

    Yet, it is a constant battle. Writing for others is a solid income and can almost be depended upon. Writing for yourself is a gamble many times, because you may sell the items or it can fall short and be a total miss.

    But, as you say, become a good enough copywriter and your “hits” will fully outweigh your misses.

  25. Writing, like any work, is self-expression.

    We make our soul sing when we write with might for the greater good.

    It’s how we make our soul sing.

    Our shining moments are when we help people “think”, “feel”, or “do”, and entertain them along the way. After all, it’s the destination … and, the journey.

  26. This is such a worthy read! I find that there are too many people who are now using writing as a way to earn money yet they don’t even know how to write properly. I think one way you can continue to evolve as a writer is to attend workshop and training seminars.

  27. Great post! I am going to use it as my business plan. Writing sales letters is something I have wanted to do, but never know where to start. This post has given me encouragement to get started.

  28. I’ve never written a sales letter before.

    Yet some of my upcoming project would benefit from this ability.
    I’ve definitely been convinced in buying products just because the sales letter was so good and convincing.

    The key to a sales letter for me, would fulfill following:
    – Being so general that it covers a wide range of information regarding the product
    – Answering the potential buyers pending questions
    – Showing social proof i.e. testimonials and proof of positive results.

    But then again, I’ve never written a sales letter in my life.

  29. Wow. This was one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time! I’m a copywriter and I’ve learned some great lessons from the old school copywriters (Sugarman, Bly, Schwartz). Thank you for sharing this.

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