How to add this profitable service to your business
We’ve all read those long-form Facebook ads and wondered if they really work.
Would you be surprised to learn that some of the highest converting Facebook ads are the length of some long-form landing pages? Upwards of two thousand words!
And they work. Why do they work and how can you write them is the topic of today’s episode. Justin Blackman shares his experience on writing high-converting Facebook ads in hundreds of different tones of voice.
It’s a bonanza of an episode that delivers much more than Facebook ads.
If you want to learn how to write long-form FB ads and bundle your services and write in different tones of voice… this episode is for YOU!
Tune in to learn:
- All about “Pedestal Post” formatting (one sentence at a time that people hate UNLESS it’s for them)
- The secret sauce to lowering bounce rates
- A simple way to a/b test (changing only the preview copy)
- The surprising detail of effective Facebook ad images
- Justin’s “Daniel Day-Lewis/method acting” approach to finding the customers voice
- Best formulas for long-form Facebook ads
- Formal vs. informal language – is jargon always bad?
- How to use your current Facebook ads to reverse engineer high converting ads
- Headlines are even important in FB ads
- How Justin stumbled into the 6-figure gig without ever pitching it
Listen to the podcast below:
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Oh and big hugs to lawyer09 from USA for a great review.
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Justin spent 2 decades marketing big name brands, like Red Bull, Puma & 5-hour Energy where he learned the power of good voice.
And it made him hate boring, drab, self-centred emails & websites. So he analyzed the good ones, studied quick-hit storytelling techniques from comedians, and cannon-balled into copywriting. Now he helps B2C businesses craft messages that sound like people.
Connect with Justin
Justin: Hi, thanks for having me.
Belinda: The first thing we’re going to do in case anyone doesn’t know who you are, who are you? What do you do and who do you do it for?
Justin: Sure. I’m Justin Blackman and I spent two decades marketing big name brands like Red Bull and Puma, and 5-hour Energy, and I learned the power of a good voice. It made me hate the boring drab, self-centered emails and websites. So I analyze the good ones, and I also studied a lot of cricket storytelling techniques from comedians. So I got involve with the copywriting, and now I help B to C businesses craft messages that sound like people.
Belinda: I love that line that you write words that sound like real people, which is a very important thing for these B to C spaces. B to B spaces I should say.
Justin: Yeah. You got to find your voice for sure.
Belinda: So can you tell us how you got into writing Facebook ads?
Justin: Yeah, it was not planned. I will say this.
Belinda: I’m not surprised.
Justin: I’m not someone that loves writing Facebook or social. A matter of fact, it was not one of my strengths, but I got a call out of the blue from someone that has a Facebook marketing company. They’d seen some of the work that I had done, and they needed someone that could write in different personalities. With the work that I’d done with the headline project, which I know we’re going to talk about a little bit later, they had seen that I can write in different voices. They said that they specialize in those long form pedestal post styles like the one sentence at a time posts. They asked if I wanted to give it a shot and the first one that I did, I nailed and it performed well. They brought me on and I’ve been working in-house for them ever since.
Belinda: That’s awesome.
Justin: They have a whole account management team. They just said can you write these Facebook ads. I said, “I’ve never done it before, but I’ll give it a shot.” He sent me a few examples of ads that they had that performed well, and I just reversed engineered it. A lot of it was the PAS, Problem Agitate Solution. I quickly identified the formulas and I saw just the way that they wrote, and the short staccato style, quick hit sentences because it’s all optimized for mobile. More than 50% of the traffic for Facebook is going to be on mobile. So you want the shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs that don’t wrap and look like a book on a mobile phone.
Justin: It was actually really easy to analyze. I think that any writer with even a year of experience under their belt can reverse engineer a good ad, and figuring out what works with it and what doesn’t. Also just because you’re on Facebook all the time, see what works for you. I just looked and did a little bit of research. I asked some questions and we figured it out real quick.
Belinda: I love that idea. So it’s obviously a good tip to start with is start saving ads that you’ll see.
Justin: Yeah, absolutely.
Belinda: So let’s talk about that one copy line at a time. You called it a pedestal post formatting. So I love it when things have names. We all sound really clever when we know what they are, but I mean that obviously works for mobile. That’s what you just told us. How does it work in terms of conversions, because it can be kind of annoying? Is the formatting for mobile the only reason we do it?
Justin: Yes and no. The formatting I would say is primarily because of mobile. It can look a little tedious on desktop and actually LinkedIn was a bit notorious for these types of posts, but it’s the same thing. It’s written that way because also Facebook buries anything more than five or six lines with that see more. So you want to tease someone into clicking it and reading through. The lengths of these posts, they can get long. A lot of the ones that I write are between five and 700 words. Some of the, yeah it’s long for an ad. A lot of the gurus, like you’ll see the higher end guys, some of their posts are 1500 to 2000 words. They are long, but they’re done that way intentionally.
Justin: If you are interested, you’re going to keep reading. Every time you click, that person’s got to pay for that click. Whoever’s post it is got to pay for that back end. If you quit halfway through, it means that you aren’t going to buy the product anyway. So they’ve already filtered you out. So you are going to get a lower click through rate, but you’re actually going to get a higher conversion rate. So it’s a really good way of qualifying your audience before they get to [inaudible 00:07:29].
Belinda: That could be a great point when you’re talking to clients as well, where you were talking about how long do we need the ad to be. You can really upsell more copy as that qualification. So by qualifying the readers to get to the end, you’re lowering the cost per click and upping the conversion rate?
Justin: Yeah and the answer, when we’ve had people, it’s too long. We have people saying that it’s too short. It’s as long as it needs to be. That’s always the answer for the length. It’s not right for everybody. I’d say that these are best for people that aren’t coaches, who are in the service industry. You don’t necessarily need that for products, but it’s more, we did a lot of health coaches, fitness coaches, life coaches, speaking coaches and also network marketers. It works really well for that. Anyone that has a service that you’re trying to provide into, I’d say the more length and more qualifying you’re doing up the candidate, the better your results are going to be.
Belinda: I think the same applies for long form copy on landing pages as well. I think one of the reasons, I mean short copy works for products because they’re usually more price sensitive, or things that are cheaper because people don’t care. The more you have to get someone to invest emotionally and financially, the more stories you need to tell them, the more testimonials you need, the more persuasion you need. So that applies across the board.
Justin: Yeah, absolutely.
Belinda: So you mentioned the pass formula, my go to. Are there any other formulas that work well in Facebook ads?
Justin: Yeah, Facebook has a lot of proven techniques, and they’re not very common. I had to do a lot of research for this. So I will say that a lot of what I’m going to tell you is taken from other experts, and the information is out there. There’s a few different ones. Some of that work, storytelling is great and that’s the way of the future right now anyway. So anytime that you can tell a good story and bait someone on right away, that is a fantastic way of getting people through. It’s also just the way of making the copy more interesting. You can pick a fight, you can immediately drop another guru’s name in there and say like, this is why Tim Ferriss is wrong, or Seth Godin says this, but I disagree.
Justin: You’re now going to ride the coattails and whatever name you’ve just mentioned. They’re like, “Wait a minute. Why? I love Seth Godin. Why is this guy contradicting? What’s he got to say?” Then you can loop someone in that way, so you’re instantly engaging them. It also pre-qualifies your audience so you know that you’re talking to the right person. Like if we mentioned Seth Godin and the person doesn’t know who Seth Godin is, they’re probably not going to be in your audience anyway. So they’re going to skip it. Let’s see, Facebook can also, you want to be positive with this. If you go too negative too much, Facebook’s new algorithm is promoting positivity and happiness, and they want people to feel good when they’re on Facebook. So if you go dark and gloomy, Facebook can actually punish you and limit your reach.
Justin: They want positive words to be showing up posts. So you can start out by challenging, but you quickly want to go more into the positive results that you’ll get. So doom and gloom can be good to start with, but quickly drop it then get into it.
Belinda: I love, I just quickly, I love this idea that Facebook is going no, everyone will be happy here.
Justin: The beatings will continue until morale improves.
Belinda: Anyway, yeah I love these.
Justin: Yeah. Also the way, beginning your post. When I first started, I was always putting the target name. Like if you’re writing the stay at home so the stay at home moms. You would say, stay at home moms, are you tired of blah, blah, blah. I’ve since learned that that’s not best practice. You actually wanted to start like you’re just having a conversation with someone, and you can mention stay at home moms but you want to do it more naturally. One of the problems with being a stay at home mom is this. So you’re not just putting them up in a title and be like, “Hey, look at me. Look at me.” You’re engaging them naturally. You’re having a conversation with them. So good way of bringing them in right away.
Belinda: That’s a really good tip because calling out your target audience in your headline can be a really good way to qualify it, but it looks really like marketing. So I guess what you’re saying is the more it looks like an ad, the less effective it might be.
Justin: Yeah. One of the great lines I heard a couple of years ago is people go to Facebook to avoid making decisions, not to make decisions. So when you look like an ad, that’s not why you’re there. You’re there to escape reality. You’re not there to be solved. You’re there to see pictures of puppies and your friends, and just got to see where everyone’s checking in and just escape. When you look like an ad, that’s what people are trying to escape from. It kind if fit in there a little bit more organically.
Belinda: Nice. I love that. What about the tone of voice, and I know tone of voice is very individual to the client and to their audience as well. Can you talk about some of the writing aspects that work well on Facebook ads?
Justin: Yeah, absolutely. Facebook as a medium is more informal. That’s just where you go. I mean the whole social media-
Belinda: The reason you said.
Justin: Yeah, it’s like talking in text messages with the letter U for Y-O-U. You’re cringing, I’m cringing. I hate it. I don’t do it. There are a few ads that I have written like that because the person I’m writing for does that. So you have to write in their style. I hate it. I’m not saying that everyone should do this, but if your audience is young teens, you might want to. I’d say in general, Facebook gives you permission to be more casual. You still want to stay on brunt if you are a very formal brand and you don’t want to match that tone. I mean in general, it’s a conversational place to be and you just want to be engaging and beginning sentences with hand and but and because you’re allowed to break rules, it’s social.
Justin: People are on their phone or texting. They’re used to short speak. They’re used to seeing typos, and actually typos can improve engagement as weird as it sounds. It makes you more human when you have typos. So don’t be afraid of being imperfect.
Belinda: Yes. When it is imperfect, it feels less like a structured campaign.
Justin: Yeah. Yeah, it shows a little bit of a human side to them.
Belinda: Yeah, absolutely. What about things like jargon because I imagine with the Facebook targeting, we can actually get straight down to the audience. So if we’ve got a more technical topic, or we’re talking to a hobby or something that has its own language, we can just jump straight into that.
Justin: We can. Jargon is not necessarily a bad thing. You don’t want to use it, you don’t want to overuse it. If you’re talking about something technical and your audience understands jargon and this is what they say, if they use weird acronyms that the majority of the world doesn’t know, it’s totally fine to use it. It shows that you’re on the inside, that you understand what they’re talking about. You’re one of them. So jargon can actually be a really good way of qualifying people.
Belinda: Nice. I guess that also what you’ve got to think about is where are they in those five stages of awareness. Are they new to the topic, or are they about to agree to make a decision. So that’s the other balancing, which we [inaudible 00:15:24] do in all our copy as well.
Justin: Yeah, that’s a great point. If they’re on high awareness, or most aware, for sure you can drop in a little bit of jargon.
Belinda: Nice. So you mentioned storytelling, and so this could be obviously stories about my challenge. I was poor and my business had failed, and then I used these three secrets and now I’m a millionaire working from the beach. So there’s that but there’s also telling the stories of our clients and case studies and stuff like that. How can we use those best in terms of a Facebook ad?
Justin: Facebook is interesting here. You are not allowed to make assumptions about your reader. You can based on targeting, but there are things that you can get in trouble if you’re guessing that someone is struggling with something. Dating specifically. Dating is a very, very hard niche to tackle. Facebook is ultra conservative when it comes to making assumptions about people. Just because you don’t know what someone’s going through, you don’t know if they’re heterosexual, homosexual. If you incorrectly target someone, that gets bad. They complain, Facebook has to complain and people have to apologize. So you cannot make assumptions about that. So what you can do is talk about the clientele that you serve.
Justin: You can say, or you can talk about your own struggle. Like if I’m talking about dating for heterosexual, I can talk about here are certain things and I look for in a woman. You can say my clients often do this, but I can’t say you probably do this because that’s making an assumption about the end user and you cannot be 100% sure that you’ve got that.
Belinda: Right. So you can tell a story from your own personal point of view. You can tell specific stories from other people, your clients, but you can’t make that projection onto readers. I actually have heard that once before where someone was having some trouble getting some Facebook ads for pregnant women, because they were talking about having the baby. That was seen as a projection. Like well, that’s what’s going to happen. That’s a really funny example, but I understand that. So when you’re using it, do you use testimonials? Are these things introduced at the start or through, or how would you tell a story?
Justin: Well, I remember writing an ad for a divorcee coach. She was talking about her struggles, and the reason why she created the course. It was for divorcees over the age of 55. We could target that, but we can never say that they were struggling with depression and finding themselves. So we had to internalize it and it was, the story was I think it began with something along the lines of this isn’t how I expected life after 55 to be. We broke it down at the bullet points. So it was all first person and you felt for her, and this story had a great ending. It was a happy story, but it started off where the people that could identify with this immediately caught on. They’re like, “Yes, okay. I felt this, I felt this too.” So it just instantly hooked them in.
Justin: Again, if you weren’t that, if you didn’t care about it, you would skip the ad entirely. So yeah, it’s just about bringing it into first person, making it real. It was a real story. There was nothing made up about it. So the more genuine and open you can be, as long as it’s got a happy ending because Facebook does want to hear about the happy side.
Belinda: We’re talking about a literal happy ending not a-
Belinda: Okay, cool. So what about telling a client’s story? Firstly I wanted to say I love that you had a little hook intro to the story rather than just jumping in to the story. I love that. So if you were telling your client’s story, would you just frame it in the same way where you are saying my client Sandra, discovered one day … That kind of thing?
Justin: Yeah. You could just say here’s one thing that I’ve seen happen over and over again with my clients. Then you can introduce Sandra. Let me tell you about Sandra, something like that. So it’s an instant in and then you can talk about the results that she got, or that your client got. You’re not allowed to promise results. You can’t say that when you do this, you will make money. You could say this is what my clients did, this is what I helped them do and they made money. So you’re talking about a true success story but again with the projections, you cannot promise someone that they will be successful, or that they will have the perfect answer to whatever it is.
Belinda: Awesome. That is really good to know. Now we’re going to come back to your brand voice, getting into the voice of the customer because this was something that really interests me when we talked about, but you just talked about a course, right? So say somewhere we’re writing an ad for someone who is selling a course, we want the call to action to be that they buy a course. Is that something after the story and after the results? Is it better because we’re talking about giving value in a long form ad can usually be the best approach? Do we want to leave the sale for the next step, or do we want to have that call to action in the ad? Buy the course.
Justin: If the course is a few hundred bucks or a few thousand bucks, it’s highly unlikely that the Facebook ad is going to do the trick. You can’t put too much on a Facebook ad. What you want to do is get them to the landing page. Let the landing page do the heavy lifting. So I would say for a course, you’re going to want to make … The goal of the Facebook ad is to get the click. It’s not to sell the course. Your other materials, whatever you’re bringing them to, that’s the meat and bones of the sale.
Belinda: Absolutely. So when you write Facebook ads for clients, would you offer to say I can write the ad but we also need to look at the landing page?
Justin: 100% yes.
Belinda: Excellent. Yeah. How can you make that transition as easy as possible if you get both?
Justin: One of my favorite things to talk about is called message match. That is when it’s a trail marker, a visual trail marker that when you click an ad and go to a new place, it shows you that you are in the right place. So if your CTA is say, buy my book. Click here to buy my book. When you get on the landing page, you want to see buy my book. You’re right there. You’re not on the home page where then you have to navigate to try to figure out what the next step is which is the biggest no, no, and can’t tell you how many marketers I’ve seen make that mistake. You need to drive them exactly to the next step. It is insanely important and you can use words as those trail markers. That could be the message match, or you can use images.
Justin: So if you’ve got an image in an ad, and let’s say it’s a guy on a horse. The landing page should have a picture of a guy on a horse, the same one. It could be, or if it’s not the same one, another shot from that series. Same guy, same horse. You can know that you are in the right place.
Belinda: I love that and I love the idea of bundling this service together, because they will often with our copywriting, we write the thing and then it goes off and we can’t guarantee what the presale is. We can’t control what the post sale is. We can’t control that our clients just leave the prospective customers at the home page, like dumping them on some land field site. We can’t control that. So I love the idea of bundling the service together, because that’s got to make the conversion rates much better.
Justin: Yeah, that’s a huge increase. A lot of people will blame poor sales on the performance of a Facebook ad, and it’s not. It’s the targeting, it’s the ad, it’s the landing page, it’s the offer. The ad’s only one part of it. It can be a big part of it, but you cannot blame or credit an entire, you can’t blame or credit the success of a campaign on one ad.
Belinda: On one element. Yeah. That also makes me think of when Google ads, I think when copywriters go to write Google ads, one thing I’ve found, one of my buddies, she manages Google ads. She said that a big part of effective Google ads is tweaking, and playing, and testing, and trying new things. As copywriters, it’s very hard for us to do that when we can’t control the testing process. You told me there’s a way that we can actually do that in Facebook ads, without being in the backend actually doing the test sequences.
Justin: Yeah. This I just learned at Copy Chief couple of weeks ago and it’s been huge, because the long form Facebook ads can be so much. If you change too many elements when you’re testing, you’re never going to know which element was the best. You’re not going to know what the result was. So because Facebook has that see more feature after the first anywhere from three to seven lines depending on the lay up, all you need to do is change those first few lines. Leave the rest of the body copy exactly the same. If you try five different Intros, you’re going to quickly see which two or three are stronger. Facebook algorithm will, I believe it will automatically drop the poor performing ones.
Justin: So then you can test the stronger ones. Then whichever the bestselling one is, then you can start going and changing more elements on the body copy, but figuring which is the strongest hook is first. All you need to do is change your first couple of lines, and it’s a preview text.
Belinda: So if a copywriter is looking to offer this as a service, would you say we’re going to write an ad and I’m going to give you X number of alternatives for the intro. Is that how you might create a bundle?
Justin: Yeah, yeah. I would say five different intros and the rest of the body will be exactly the same.
Belinda: Awesome. Then they could either get you back in to do some tweaking, or they could just choose the ones, you said I’m going to give you five intros, you’ll see quickly which one works the best and then you just run with that.
Justin: Yeah. Then once you have that optimized, you can change the image. You can change the CTA, but the easiest way to figure out what direction to go into is test the opening body copy.
Belinda: Nice. I love that. With your clients that you work with all the time, do they get you involved to back as part of your retainer with them? Is that initial delivery some variations, then they get you back to do more tweaking, or do you tend to deliver it and then that’s the end of it?
Justin: Well most of the time with the company that I write in-house for, if the ads are performing well, then we’ll let them run. If they are not performing, then we’ll go in and we’ll either start from scratch based on similar results that we’ve had, or successful results that we’ve had with similar clients. It could just be a change of the intro copy, or a different image. So it’s not often that we’ve got to go back and change things, but every now and again it happens.
Belinda: Okay. So it sounds like for copywriters looking to offer this as a service, it’s not necessarily like a website page or a brochure where you write it, you deliver it, and that might be the end of it. It sounds like there’s lots of different ways that you can add bundles, that you can add a variable element to the service to keep clients coming back to you. Not that you want to write ads that need adjusting, but this is obviously a project that might suit retainer agreements, or at least have some elements to your pricing that will invite clients to come back with you and work on any adjustments.
Justin: Yeah and that there’s a lot of different things that you can add. With the type of clients that we’re working on now, the landing page will require them to submit an email. Then there’s email-
Belinda: Email sequence.
Justin: … Later following up, and I love writing these emails.
Belinda: Me too.
Justin: I’ve written hundreds at this point, thousands of them for these clients. It’s so much fun and that’s where you can really dive in and get more personal, and you can do some of the things that you can’t do on Facebook because you’ve also further qualified them, so you know that where they are and that they’re further down the line. If they’re not, then quickly unsubscribe and that’s great because you’re not going to be wasting time with them. Yeah, you can absolutely bundle a package with Facebook ads, all of emails, landing pages and even videos.
Belinda: I love that. I love that idea. That’s so much more potential than one ad let it go. It’s not every one. So you mentioned images. So let’s just quickly touch on images because I know whenever I’ve randomly tried a Facebook ad, I always get that there’s too much text on your image and we’re not going to show your ads. So can you tell us a little bit about what’s best for images? I’m sure clients when they ask people to write the copy would welcome some tips on the rest of their ad as well.
Justin: Yeah, images are tricky. I’m not going to pretend that I am an expert in this, but I do know a couple of best practices. For the majority of people, you want imperfect images. Stock photography looks like stock photography. It’s not what you’re used to seeing. I mean think about the majority of things that you see on Facebook, they’re taken up with people’s phones, they’re blurry. There’s red eye. If you want it to look real and blend in to the newsfeed and make it look like it belongs there, it’s okay to be imperfect. If you do have a more professional image, maybe an arrow or blur out the background, or make it black and white but a certain part of it in color, there’s a way just to make it a little bit more engaging. Reds and oranges pop for sure. Text is tricky. There are Facebook rules, I want to say it’s no more than 20% of the ad can contain text.
Belinda: Yeah, I think you’re right.
Justin: Yeah, you want to be cautious with that. What I have seen some people do is have blurred text and which is kind of tricky. So it looks like there’s more and you can’t read he blurred the text, but the part that you can read is super engaging and it makes you curious what the rest of it is. So I’ve seen that recently. I thought that that was really clever, and an interesting get around.
Belinda: It would be interesting because people might click for their curious. You pay for a click and it’s not a qualification like it’s the wrong person.
Justin: Well that’s where the copy comes in. So you want to loop it all together, because remember by the time you see the image, you should have read the ad. The image is below the ad. So it should be there, which actually goes back to one point that I missed earlier. When you are writing these, it’s not just a curiosity gap. Yes, you do want to make them interested. You can have some open loops, but you want to provide value. You want to show that you’re in authority, you want to show that you’re an expert. It’s not just, click here and you’ll get the answer. You might have the top five things, give away three of them. You want to give away value and then, hey, this ad’s getting long, click here and I’ll show you the other two. So you can do things like that, but definitely give something away for free in the ad just to show that you’re genuine, and that you know what you’re talking about.
Belinda: Is that where videos could help as well, where you have a video that you’re giving away value and some copy that give the hook?
Justin: Yeah. Video ads are great and it’s the same thing. You really just want the video to establish authority, and show that you are legitimate.
Belinda: And provide some value.
Justin: Yes. Always provide value and then you’ll provide more value on the landing page, and that’s where you can begin to sell.
Belinda: Yeah, absolutely. So the ad, videos aside, the ad shouldn’t just be story authority building call to action. There needs to be some kind of shared education, or tip or something like that?
Justin: Yeah. Now a lot of times a story can provide the tip, and that will set you up. So if you can, the more natural and organic you can make it the better. You definitely want to show that you can help this person in some way.
Belinda: Awesome. Let’s look back now to the voice. The Daniel Day-Lewis method acting approach to writing for people who are entirely unlike yourself. This is something that really interests me. When you said you wrote for over 50 divorcees looking, do a battling depression I was like, “What? How do you even do that?” So let’s talk about that, because this will apply for all types of copywriting.
Justin: Yeah. This is an accidental superpower that I have discovered. In the last year, the last 12 to 16 months I’d say, I just did account before I came in here. I might actually be missing a few, but I think I’m at 324 different voices that I’ve written in which is crazy.
Belinda: That’s crazy.
Justin: Yeah. I’ve almost lost my own voice at this point.
Belinda: I don’t know who I am any more.
Justin: Yeah, it happens. I go to write something for myself, I’m like who is this? This doesn’t sound like me. It was something that I discovered during the headlines project, and that’s what I was writing 100 headlines a day for 150 clients for 100 days. So I wound up writing I think in total it was 10,211 headlines in 100 days. There’s a way that I had to get into this. I really had to embody, and I flipped it. I did it the person selling and then the person buying. I would close my eyes and I would literally just visualize myself becoming the target customer. I’d be sitting at a desk and I would picture what’s on their desk. I would picture what they look like, what they’re feeling, what emotions they’re experiencing. Are they hot, are they cold? What are they drinking? Are they drinking coffee? What kind of coffee
Justin: I would get in depth into this. I just took on the persona, and it’s something that it can be physically and mentally draining to do. I don’t do it as deep with every customer, but I have learned to channel this inner person. Sometimes I’ll go too far with it just to get stuff out into a rough draft, and then I can always dial it back but I will go as deep as I possibly can and hit the pain points. Then I’ll also go into reviews of different competitor sites, or Amazon reviews for books that these people have read, and pull out some keywords that are better matched to what I’ve written. So you want to get the language and you want to be sure that you’re getting it right. It’s also important before you submit your draft, is you’re going to want to talk to the people that, other writers that are in this.
Justin: When I write for females, I’ll run it by a couple of people in one of my groups and be like, “Hey, did I get this right?” They’re like, “Mostly, but we’d never say this. Let’s get this.” I’m at a point now I can get pretty close and it’s cool.
Belinda: So this is where I follow what you’re saying, but if I’m going to write for 50 year old men or 20 year old men for example, very different age group to me, very different completely different gender. So I can sit at my desk and go, all right, I’m a 20 year old man. I don’t know anything about 20 year old men. So for an audience that is new for you, would you maybe do that review mining first, or do a bit of online research to figure out what they’re like?
Justin: Yeah. You do want to do your research, but a lot of the information that you’re going to get will be given to you from the client during your initial intake. So you’ll get a lot of that. Like here’s my audience. You want them to go as much into detail as they can, and then you embrace it based off of their words. Then you go into the reviews just to help you channel that voice. As much as you said that you couldn’t write for an old man, I just wrote an ad recently for a 22 year old hairdresser. A female, and I got it. I just wrote an ad for a beauty influencer and nailed it. She was like, “Oh my God, this sounds like me.” When she found out that a guy wrote it, she was like, “Really, no one would have thought that.” So you can do it.
Belinda: I find it a great way when you have clients who say I want it to sound like me, and I’m talking to them. I find that a lot easier because I’m like right, I am hearing your voice, and I am hearing your phrasing and I’m writing it all down. So I understand the value of that. Sometimes what I do is I also look at YouTube videos that people in that audience make, because that’s what I find useful. Seeing and listening to them.
Justin: That’s a fantastic idea.
Belinda: There you go, I give to you.
Justin: I don’t think I’ve done that before and I absolutely should. I usually get videos of the client speaking and I’ll watch that. It’s the same thing but yeah, that is an amazing resource that I never thought of. So look at you. I like that.
Belinda: I can do this.
Justin: Yeah you can. That’s a great idea.
Belinda: It’s a really great way to justify spending a lot of time on YouTube as well.
Justin: There you go.
Belinda: I want to finish up with headlines because you mentioned the headline writing project. Quickly before we talk about what the headline writing project was, do Facebook ads need a headline? It sounds like not in the traditional sense that we might write a blog post.
Justin: I’d say that they absolutely do need a headline. I mean just they have to have one, but it’s not as important because remember you’re not going to see the headline until after you’ve seen the post, the text in the post and after the picture, then the headline’s going to be there. The headline is great for reaffirming what you’ve already read. So it could be a great call to action. It’s also good for, it’s your last chance to stop the thumb scroll as people are going by. So it can capture attention. There are a lot of things that I would say the headline is probably going to be your most important piece of copy, but in Facebook I don’t think it is. I think it’s important, but it’s not number one.
Belinda: I guess when we look at the headline being really important because it’s often the first line, it’s almost the last line in Facebook ads. So it’s a hook in that first line that would be more important.
Justin: Yeah, yeah. It’s a continuation of everything that you’ve written. A lot of times I will just pull out a line of copy from the Facebook ad and drop it in and there’s headline.
Belinda: Nice, I love that. So tell us about the headline writing project and I’ll be including a link to this, because it’s a fantastic resource. So what on earth, I mean I tell people write 25 headlines for every one you need. What on earth possessed you to add 100 headlines a day?
Justin: That was a challenge brought on by our friend Kira Hug, who has been on the show. Yeah, I was on a hot seat call with her and I was struggling to come up with a headline for my own site. I had written I think 50 or 60 and she’s like, “Keep going, see if you can write 100.” I did it and when I did it, she’s like, “Oh my God, you did it?” Like see if he can do more of this. It just evolved into me writing 100 headlines a day for 100 days for 100 different products. When she gave me the idea, I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be just because I’ve written 100 headlines for myself and I was like, okay I did it and let’s see what happens. So I agreed to it and I started right away.
Justin: If I had ever done research as to what was going to be involved in it, I would have quit immediately. I dove in, I said yes. I became accountable for it. I wrote I think three days. Yes, I’d written 300 lines. If you look at the first day, because it’s all up there. It’s up at the headlineproject.com every post that I wrote. The difference between the beginning to the end is dramatic. The first few posts, they almost became like a content calendar of topics that you could write about. Whereas in the end, it became 100 headlines about one particular thing. It evolves quickly. I’d say by day four, I was more tuned in. It just got better as you went off but yeah it was a challenge. I hold myself accountable and I had other people holding me accountable, and I did. It damn near killed me.
Belinda: Did you do it on top of your regular work? So did you just say, okay well I’m going to have to carve out of my day what? Three hours, one hour?
Justin: It all, because I was writing a post, I was writing the headlines and then I was also writing a post for a previous day. So I didn’t-
Belinda: Yeah, like a round up.
Justin: I was always, I started out eight days ahead from when I first posted. So yeah, all in all it was about three hours. So this is where it gets stupid. Not only was I doing the headline project, I was working in-house for a hotel company at that point. So I was there for eight hours. I had an hour and a half commute each way. I was doing some client work on top of it, and try to take care of the kids and the wife, and all that and be a family man. It was not a smart idea for me to do it. I would not do it again. I’m glad I did it, put me on the map. You can read all about it and the struggles, and it gets real and it gets dark at certain points where I realized that my family stopped asking me to hang out with them on the weekends, because they knew that I would say no because I had so much work to catch up on.
Justin: It was a mistake. I was a bad dad and a terrible husband for 100 days, but my family supported me and it made me a better person at the end. It made me a better writer. It allowed me to go all in with Pretty Fly Copy and gave me a great opportunity. So I’m glad I did it. I would not do it again, strictly for the sake of my marriage.
Belinda: Yeah, absolutely and we have to consider these things. When we get new clients and our business starts growing, it’s really easy. I mean this is a slightly different topic, but it’s really easy for us to say yes to everything. We work, and we work, and we work, and then we crash and we burn and we think this is not fun. So we have to be able to monitor our ability to balance our work and our life, as we’re growing as well. If we can’t do it as we’re growing, then we’re just going to go into cycles all the time. I guess you’ve been burned, man.
Justin: I was but I’m good now. I’m good now.
Belinda: One thing I particularly like about this is one thing I talk about when in my course about writing headlines, and to other copywriters is the more you write, the better you get. So that’s why I say 25 headlines for every one you write and I say, just go through your swipe file and you’re going to write tons of shitty ones. Then you’ll pick some good ones, and fine tune them and keep writing and writing and writing them, because you get more dialed in. Then like now you must be able to bust out awesome headlines and people think, “He’s just talented.” No.
Justin: No, there’s a structure.
Belinda: You’ve put in so many hundreds of hours of practice.
Justin: Yeah, and the thing is when you said write 25 headlines, you’re not trying to write 25 good headlines. You’re probably 23 lines of junk and two good ones. You need to be okay with that, and you need to not hold yourself to this high level and this unrealistic standard that you are going to write 25 good headlines. The 100 a day that I wrote, I didn’t get 25 good ones. On average, 14 to 18 that I liked out of 100 and I don’t know that they would beat any controls. They’re just ones that I liked, and that I think would do well but so much crap just to get one good one.
Belinda: Yeah but that’s you got to go through the process, and it’s time consuming and it’s tedious as you can attest to. The more you do it, and I find this the same with brainstorming benefits and advantages and things like that. It’s very easy to go oops saves time, saves money, less stress but that’s boring. The more we work through these brainstorming processes and the more we practice our writing, the better it gets. That’s I think could be the difference between copywriters who are really great, and copywriters who are just okay.
Justin: Yeah. Yeah. Just willing to dig deeper.
Belinda: Yeah. So this has been a freaking bonanza. Thank you very much for sharing all of this.
Justin: This has been great.
Belinda: What I would like to know is, I’m just looking at … If someone’s is interested in writing Facebook ads, what would be a piece of advice you would give them?
Justin: I would say learn the back end if you can not only write the ads, but if you know how to set them up, you are golden. So many people don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to do that. If I did, I could be charging a lot more money and I could be taking on some dream clients. The fact is I don’t want to learn how, but I do know a few writers that do it. They say it’s not that hard. Facebook algorithm takes care of most of the work, so learn the science behind it. Learn video, learn captioning, because that’s where everything is and everyone watches video on Facebook on mute. So learn all the science behind that. Also, look what you are clicking on, analyze that. Create your own swipe file. I will say this, don’t judge an ad based on the comments. I have seen ads get tremendous hate yet on the back end, do gangbusters. Haters are going to hate and the majority can be silent. So people are-
Belinda: I guess if it’s getting that kind of strong reaction, it’s polarizing. That’s a good thing as well because it’s a bit sensational, and the haters are not going to be interested in anyway. So you’ve got rid of heaps of people and the people who aren’t there, are probably going to love it and that’s the thing.
Justin: Yeah. Now you need to have thick skin. It’s not going to be right for everybody. You are going to have people that are saying, “Hey, we can’t have this.” Now you’ve a choice of turning off the comments, which is an easy way to do it, or burying some, or hiding it, or just letting it go. I’ve seen ads actually show up in copywriting courses, in copywriting Facebook groups being like, “What do you think guys think of this ad?” It got torn apart by writers, but I also have seen the back end and I know firsthand these ads have done phenomenally well.
Belinda: All right, so that’s guidance and we could use this in other copywriting as well. Sometimes we need to challenge our clients like default. Give it a try. I mean I guess if we’re doing it as something a bit controversial and our clients feeling a bit shaky about it, we could always say, “Look, I’ll write your two ads for the same price.” Here’s a safe ad which will still be damn good, but he’s one that I think you should try.
Justin: Yeah and you know what, with Facebook and really with any ad, you never know. How many times does a client come in and change something and be Like, that’s a mistake but then when you run it they’re like, “No, that actually, that’d beat mine.”
Belinda: Damn it.
Justin: It sucks. It sucks, but it happens. You just never know.
Belinda: Yeah, exactly. All right, cool. So I will add as well, I think I love this idea of creating a little bundles and packages where it’s not just the ad. It’s the ad in the landing page, and the email sequence. It’s a whole pipeline. It’s a whole funnel. Get up in people’s funnel. What about resources? You mentioned you’ve learned what a lot of people are saying, do you have any key resources on this kind of stuff? If you Google Facebook ads, it’s just so many. So who are you interested-
Justin: Got a lot. I would say your best bet is to go to a couple of different writing gurus, and look at the ads that they’re running. Guys like Frank Kern, Keith Krantz, Mike Renard. These guys aren’t going to be household names. Actually if you even want, you can even look at just some of the gurus that you do like. What’s Ryan Levesque using? Just some of the bigger guys. Whatever they’re using is a template for what you can do. Sam Ovens, they’re just ads that as soon as you click on one, you’re going to get targeted by all of them. So you will start seeing it real quick, but just one of your easiest swipe files is just using those ads, and reverse engineering like I did my first time. You could latch on to something real quick.
Belinda: Awesome. I love that. So where can people find you? I’m going to include links to your website and the headline writing project, but where do you hang out if people want to-
Justin: I’m on Twitter @PrettyFlyCopy. Facebook at PrettyFlyCopy. I’m in the copywriter club Facebook group all the time. You there?
Justin: Let’s see. Then my website is prettyflycopy.com and I’m also on LinkedIn.
Belinda: Awesome. Well, thank you for sharing all this stuff today. It was a bonanza as I said, and I’m interested. I think Facebook ads might be a thing that I’d give a go in the new year, so I’m really interested. I’ve just been intimidated by it, I have to admit.
Justin: Well, I’ll tell you this, pedestal posts are not much different than an email.
Belinda: Yeah, okay.
Justin: It’s essentially the same thing.
Belinda: Awesome. Thank you very much, Justin.
Justin: Thank you.
Belinda: Have a good day.