The 1 Life-Changing Lesson Copywriting Will Teach Self-Obsessed Narcissists About Business, Writing, and Relationships
Tl;dr: Copywriting teaches that success is not found into doing what you love, but into doing what others love.
Copywriting is the most important entrepreneurial skill you could learn.
There, I said it. You could come up with the cure for cancer, but if you don’t know how to sell it, it won’t move from the shelf. On the other way around, you can write the worst book ever written (50 Shades of Grey), market it with powerful copy, and still make a small fortune.
Copywriting is an important skill in business. It helps you sell what you produce. If you don’t sell, you go bankrupt. As simple as that.
However, the biggest value of copywriting does not reside in the skill itself. It’s important to write good copy, sure, but you can always hire someone to do it for you if yours sucks. Copywriting, therefore, is not interesting for what it does for you.
Its real value, the real reason why you want to learn copywriting, resides in the principle it teaches you.
Effective copy has one secret, one golden nugget that you can apply to business, writing, and relationships to become more successful. I like to think this secret is what sets apart millionaires from the rest of the world.
I call it the Golden Principle.
Copywriting teaches you to produce what others want to consume.
Applying The Golden Principle to Writing
Most people know about this principle but few use it.
Countless business books were written about this. Yet I finally understood the meaning of it when I watched a Youtube video on academic writing explaining that in order to have people read your work, you need to write what they want to read.
I paused and rested my head on the chairback. I needed to think. As I closed my eyes, hundreds of memories of bad grades and failures flashed back and crossed my mind at lightspeed. For an instant, I was transported to another reality.
“Of course, I thought. The teacher only gives you grades if you write what he wants to read”.
It was one of the simplest principles you could ever learn. And yet, it had eluded me for 26 years.
Ever since I knew how to write, I had always written what I wanted to write. I had always said what I wanted to say and done what I wanted to do. The most common advice I received as a kid was to do what I wanted to do.
So I did.
I lived my life solely for myself and simultaneously offered little value to anyone else since I was “doing what I loved”, which didn’t interest anyone but…me.
This writing principle wouldn’t leave my head.
“If you want to get readers, you need to write something others want to read”.
In other words, you need to know what people are interested in. You need to talk to them, ask them questions, come up with an answer, and deliver what they want.
That weirdly looks like entrepreneurship, doesn’t it?
Applying The Golden Principle to Business
One of the worst commonly given advice is “do what you love.”
The problem is that as well-intentioned as it is, doing what you love will lead you nowhere. In a capitalist society, it’s not you that decides whether you will be successful. It’s other people.
A musician’s success is determined by the size of the public and the number of songs he sells. A director’s success is determined by the number of tickets his movies sell. And an entrepreneur’s success is determined by the number of people that buy what he sells.
In a society where others decide whether you are successful or not, you shouldn’t “do what you love”, but do what others love.
Entrepreneurship for selfish reasons will fail. Entrepreneurship for selfless reasons will succeed.
Copywriting teaches you to write what others want to read. By the same token, it teaches you to produce what others want to consume. It forces you to enter the head of your customers, to explore their fears and desires. It trains you to see what they want so that you can deliver.
If this isn’t the essence of business, I do not know what is.
“Write what they want to read” led to “produce what they want to consume.”
Could it somehow lead to “say what they want to hear?”
Applying The Golden Principle to Relationships
I used not to have many friends.
I have never thought about meeting them to listen to them. I was meeting them to talk. This lack of care for others led me to not only fight with a lot of people but to scare away many others. As a result, I often felt lonely and nobody wanted to hang out with me.
Then I got into self-development and developed gimmicks and a “social personality”. I learned to entertain people. However, as soon as a discussion would deepen in a restricted and intimate setting, my interlocutor disappeared from my mind and the discussion became about what I wanted it to be about.
Then I started learning about copywriting. The skill taught me marketing and sales principles, which helped me find out that people look for pleasure and easiness, and avoid hardship and pain. Copywriting taught me that to be successful, I had to look for the experience and feelings that people sought, and be the one that delivered them to them.
It taught me If I hoped to have friends, I needed to stop telling what I wanted to say and start saying what they wanted to hear.
It taught me that people hang out with those that can provide them with what they seek: kindness, love, understanding, patience, laughter, and connection.
It taught me to focus on others and to forget about myself.
The Bottom Line
The biggest lesson I have learned in 2020 is that the most successful people are the ones that take care of other people’s desires and needs the most.
They are the entrepreneurs that put customer service first. They are the writers that write what people what to read. They are the humans that listen to their friends and tell them it’s gonna be alright, and that yes, he definitely was an assh*ole and oh my god, I can’t believe you dated him for so long.
The implementation of this principle in your daily life is difficult. You must constantly remind yourself to put yourself out of the picture and leave some space for others. You need to forget about your desires and enquire about those of others. You need to do what they love. Not what you love.
It’s hard. This is why most people don’t do it. This is why financial, social, and artistic success is only enjoyed by
a lucky few hard-working people that put the desires of others before their own.
They are the leaders “that eat last” because they make sure others have enough food before eating it themselves. They are the people that think of others.
And this why they succeed.
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