12 Questions with Copywriter Stephen Dean

[Note: If you’re a freelance copywriter, and you’re looking for interview questions to ask your client, then check out Interview Questions for Copywriters. Otherwise, keep reading and enjoy! -Ryan]

A few months ago, I came up with 12 questions for copywriter Stephen Dean to answer.

Well, “stuff” got in the way. Stephen went on vacation. I got busy with projects. Etc.

The delay actually turned out to be a good thing. Because I asked Stephen to interview me.

You’ll find the questions I asked Stephen, along with his answers, below.

And you’ll find the questions Stephen asked me, along with my responses, on his blog. (See the link at the end of this article.)

1. What do you LOVE about copywriting?

Wow, a lot of things just went through my mind. I’m an information junkie, so getting deeply involved in a new topic each time I take on a new topic is fantastic brain food.

When you get a project for Real Estate investing, or stock investing, or natural health and so on… you get paid to sit there and research these things heavily. That’s really fun for me.

Copywriting can also be like putting a puzzle together that doesn’t have a “correct solution.” So it becomes an art and a science. I do love that.

2. What do you HATE about copywriting?

The isolation! I’m often envious of people whose work involves a lot of socializing. Most of the time I’m working it’s just me and the computer.

That said, because of copywriting, I have a lot of time outside of work to see friends.

3. What is the single best investment you’ve made in your copywriting career?

By far, it was hiring Michel Fortin to be my coach. I started writing copy when I was young, so my biggest weakness was experience. Hiring Michel allowed me to zap that problem.

So I highly recommend getting a copywriting coach to anyone just starting out. It’s incredible how helpful it is to have someone with more experience take a look at your work as you go.

4. What’s the biggest MISTAKE you’ve made in your business?

I could mention a lot. Not raising my prices fast enough. Not following up with every client to get real performance numbers for the copy to put on my sales page (still need to be doing that).

But another I’ve noticed lately…

I stayed in the “Make Money Online” niche for far too long. And by “stayed,” I mean that’s pretty much all I wrote for. That was fine when my fees were lower. And there still is a lot of work here…

…but as I raised my rates and was approached by more clients in different niches, the only work I had in my portfolio was for one niche. They doubted I could write in their niche and I lost work because of it.

5. What’s the biggest trend impacting copywriters today?

I think everyone’s paying attention to online video. Are copywriters going to be writing scripts in the future? Will copywriters produce videos?

There aren’t many “video copywriters” out there yet, but this could change soon. I don’t see video completely replacing written copy, but it could become a vital component.

One problem with video is that you can’t skim it. That’s terrible for someone like me who skims sales letters. So I only see it complimenting the sales process.

6. What are some untapped markets or opportunities for freelance copywriters?

For U.S. copywriters I’d guess it’d be U.K. clients. With the dollar falling at the rate that it is, it seems like clients from the U.K. keep getting a significant discount courtesy of The Federal Reserve.

7. What’s your #1 tip for finding quality copywriting clients fast?

Do a Google search and check out the sites that are using Adwords. Look for sites that are obviously employing copywriters and get their physical address (usually by looking up their WHOIS information for their domain name). And then start sending them promotional material through postal mail.

It can get more complicated than that. You can see how big their Adwords budget is and if they’re involved in several different markets (which means they’ll probably continue to expand)… but that’s a good start.

This way you’re targeting and choosing clients who have money and experience working with a copywriter.

8. Why do you blog? Is it to attract clients, sell information products, or something else? Explain.

Hmm… Neither, either or both.

To be honest I forget why I started blogging. I’d just come home from Ryan Deiss’ seminar in Dallas so maybe I was encouraged there.

I can tell you why I blog now. The ultimate goal is to establish myself as a copywriting authority and get clients. More and more clients are finding me by searching for copywriters through Google… this would be difficult without a blog.

And since I have several hundred posts, these clients can see that I’ve been around a long time and know what I’m doing. So it helps them to trust me, which is important because sales copy isn’t cheap and they’re going to approach hiring me carefully.

At the same time, having a blog with decent traffic gives you quite a bit of freedom. I could stop writing copy tomorrow and change my focus to selling products.

Because I have a steady flow of traffic I wouldn’t need to start all over again.

9. What’s your #1 tip for instantly boosting conversion rates?

This probably isn’t what you’re looking for. But it’s the first thing that came to mind: Find a higher quality traffic source.

If your copy is converting at 3% from traffic on Adwords, you’re likely to get higher than a 10% conversion from an endorsed mailing. So it’s important to seek out those partnerships when you see that sales are coming in.

10. Is there more money to be made in selling secrets or keeping them? Why?

This is an amazing question because I’ve been thinking about it lately too. James Brausch seems to sell his entire business, doesn’t he?

Is it because he thinks “competition” will help his business or does he think most people won’t act anyway? (Truthfully, I guess that’s not an either/or.)

I definitely have not come to my own conclusion about this. Could KFC sell their secret recipe and stay dominant? They sure don’t think so, check this out off their web site:

“For years, Colonel Harland Sanders carried the secret formula for his Kentucky Fried Chicken in his head and the spice mixture in his car. Today, the recipe is locked away in a safe in Louisville, Kentucky. Only a handful of people know that multi-million dollar recipe, and each is obligated to strict confidentiality by contract.”

In this case, they may be right. Could they continue to get people to pay franchise fees if the secret was spilled? Or keep someone else from offering franchises with the same recipe?

While I’d like to believe in an “open source” business, I’m still not able to get over my instinct that you can make more money by keeping some things secret.

I can guarantee I’ll be pondering this for a long time however.

11. Where do you see yourself two years from today?

Hmm… well I like to shoot big. So in 2 years I see myself leading a team of copywriters putting out 10-20 letters a month… and hopefully most of those will be for my own products/services.

I also hope to be taking a lot more cruises and other various vacations!

12. Where can people learn more about you?

CopywritingDean.com is where I discuss copywriting, business and life. I have a free split test software that I give away in exchange for an email address. I read all comments left on my blog.

It’s also where you can find out more about my “Sales Boostin’ Services!”

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If you liked this interview, or if you’d like to read my responses to Stephen’s questions, go to this link now:

==> 12 Questions with Copywriter Ryan Healy

-Ryan M. Healy

Ryan M. Healy

Ryan Healy is a financial copywriter and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like WordStream.com, SmallBizClub.com, and MarketingForSuccess.com.

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