Why Reading Trash Will Help You Make Money

 

There’s a simple secret to make more sales in any medium.

Seriously, this secret works on the phone, in a meeting, when speaking from the stage, in a webinar presentation, and in a letter.

Here it is…

The secret to selling anything is to create trust, tell an inspirational personal story, give an irresistible offer and make your audience feel good about buying.

That’s a simple and powerful statement, but how do you do that?

You must write in a fun, direct and easy to understand way. A way that pulls the reader into your story and leaves no doubt in their mind about what happened and what’s in it for them if they keep reading.

How do you do that?

The short answer is to write how you speak.

The longer and more detailed answer is that you must write better than you speak. By better I mean in a more immediate, exciting and engaging way.

You see, writing is organised thought. Writing takes the jumble of ideas in your head and organises them so your reader can easily understand you.

Writing takes a process that you do instinctively and transforms it into a step by step process that can be learned.

But…

To pull your reader into your message, you’ve got to make your message fun. You’ve got to make your message exciting.

The secret to doing that lies in reading trash!

 

The Trash Every Entrepreneur And Copywriter Should Read

 

 

Every US copywriter I’ve spoken to and learned from reveres The National Enquirer.

The National Enquirer is a trashy celebrity magazine that feels like it’s been printed on recycled toilet paper.

For months I read The National Enquirer from cover to cover searching for why the great copywriters loved it. Searching for why a celebrity gossip magazine had cult status.

Yes, the headlines are sensationalist.

Yes, every article takes pleasure in the pain or downfall of a celebrity.

Outside of that, I couldn’t understand the appeal. I’m not interested in the lives of musicians and movie stars, and there were few articles that I wanted to read to the end. There was nothing in the writing or subject matter that made me want to keep reading.

Great writing pulls you into the article or message with a compelling headline and then pushes you with increasing speed to the finish.

Great writing leaves you breathless. And makes you want to read more.

The National Enquirer did none of those things for me.

But as the dutiful student, I continued to take the medicine, no matter how bad it tasted.

Why do copywriters revere The National Enquirer? Because it outsells any other magazine!

You see, if you want to write a message that will make people feel good about buying for many years… then you must keep this quote top of mind.

“The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the Senate, it’s the sand of the Colosseum. He’ll bring them death and they will love him for it.”

That’s a quote from the movie Gladiator that perfectly sums up the appeal of The National Enquirer and why business owners and copywriters should study it.

It’s not about what you like. It’s about understanding what appeals to a mass audience.

You’re right, this isn’t necessarily your audience.

But…

Most people kid themselves into thinking their customers are super smart. They also believe they can command much more of their customers' attention than the reality.

The truth is, we all live in a busy and distracted world. If we are going to read an email, watch a video, or anything else that needs more than 30 seconds of our time, then we need to know what’s in it for us… and consuming the content must be easy.

That’s where reading The National Enquirer comes in. What can you learn from the way they write the story. What simplified language can you use in your next email?

If celebrity horror stories are not your thing, what else can you read to make your writing more engaging and easier to read?

 

50 Shades Of Grey

If we’re looking for the sand of the Colosseum, there’s no better place to look than in books that have sold millions of copies. 50 Shades Of Grey sold 125 million copies worldwide, making it one of the most successful publications in history.

The books have been made into films which is not that surprising. What is possibly more surprising is the fact that 50 Shades Of Grey has created spin-offs like the movie Book Club starring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen. The film is about 4 women in their 60s and the effect reading 50 Shades Of Grey has on their lives.

When 50 Shades Of Grey launched, it created a secret society. A new language and in the know, of the people who had read it.

When I would ask my wife why she couldn’t put the book down and why so many other people loved it, all she would say is, You’ve got to read it.

So, finally, I did.

To my complete surprise, this has become a textbook for me. Something to be studied. Something that holds the key to writing in a fun, powerful and easy to understand way.

It’s easy to say that 50 Shades Of Grey is written in a conversational way. That is doing the book and the writer EL James a disservice.

You see, 50 Shades Of Grey is written better than we speak.

On first glance, it’s fun and easy to read.

On closer examination, it’s written in what I call Sensationalist Language.

The verbs are not what most people use in their everyday speech. The verbs are over the top. Verbs such as: invade, explode, tortured, screaming.

Seriously, when would you use the word invade in conversation or writing if it wasn’t because one country and invaded another.

I would never ask you if this article had invaded your mind?

I would never ask you if the offer in my online trainings tortured you for days?

And that’s the sensationalist language that EL James uses.

That’s the sensationalist language that sold 125 million books.

I know, it’s not just the sensationalist language that sold so many books. It’s the story and the events that happen.

And I know this for sure. If the books were hard to read (if they were written in textbook English), then they would not have sold 1 million copies.

So, give yourself a break from reading business and personal development books. If you want to increase your sales, you need to get better at writing in short, simple sentences, and use words that a 5-year-old could understand. To learn how to do that, I recommend you read 50 Shades Of Grey.

That’s your new reading list. And… you are reading for study as well as for pleasure.

If 50 Shades Of Grey is not your thing you could also read…

 

The Daily Mail

If you want to learn how to write sensationalist headlines, then you need to read trashy newspapers.

I have to confess that I’ve fallen out of the habit of reading the Daily Mail every day.

I didn’t read it for fun. I read it to learn. To study their headlines. To then see if the article is related in any way to the headline.

The fact that the headline often blew the point in the article entirely out of proportion made me so angry that I stopped reading the paper.

But…

That’s really just an excuse! I need to keep reading the paper both for the headlines and for the simple use of language in the articles.

You see, writing in words that a 5-year-old can understand is harder than it looks… especially if your idea of relaxing with a good book is to read Dickens, Melville or Tolstoy.

What’s the importance of writing in simple language?

The shocking truth about…

 

The Average Reading Age In The UK

The average reading age in the UK is that of a 9 year old!

Impossible!

That’s exactly what I thought when I first heard that terrible statistic.

What convinced me that it is true, is the fact that I’ve read the same thing again and again, over many years in a range of books, newspapers, and blogs.

Here’s a reading age chart that I refer to on a regular basis:

 

 

Microsoft Word has a Flesch-Kincaid reading grade assessment built into it so you can see the reading age of what you write.

I work hard to simplify my writing, and I have never got below a reading age of 10. Most of my work is between a reading age of 11 and 12 years old.

It's easy for me to say to myself that this is okay because my customers are smart. They have a reading age of at least 18, so 11 or 12 is great.

I’m sure that’s true.

And…

I’d like to know the difference in response if I could make my work and stories even easier to read.

As I’ve already mentioned. The one thing I know for sure is that if the 50 Shades Of Grey books were hard to read (if they were written in textbook English), then they would not have sold 1 million copies.

Here’s a question for you?

Are you trying to write great literature? Or are you trying to write a high performing message?

For many years, I was trying to write great literature. I wanted to write like John Steinbeck or Ernest Hemmingway or Jack Kerouac.

After all, these are the great storytellers, so what harm would it do to try and write like them.

The answer lies in…

 

Show vs Tell

The number one rule in creative writing is Show Don’t Tell.

Here’s an example of Showing Language

After dining out alone at a nearby Italian restaurant. Sarah knelt in the light of her open mini fridge, in her hotel room. Pulled out a little bottle of gin and a little bottle of tonic and made herself a drink in a plastic cup.

 

Here’s an example of Telling Language

Sarah fixed a strong gin and tonic to drown her sorrows.

 

Which version do you find easier to read?

Which version is shorter?

Which version is more immediate?

Which version leaves no doubt in the readers mind?

Creative writing classes teach you to write in Showing Language.

I have to admit that is a skill I practiced for a long time. A craft that I want to dedicate myself to.

But…

I’m not trying to write great literature! I’m trying to write a persuasive message. I want my emails and sales letters to inspire people to take action.

To do that, I must learn from the writers that sell millions of books or magazines or newspapers.

EL James does not use a lot (or virtually any) Showing Language in 50 Shades Of Grey.

She uses Telling Language because it is shorter, more immediate, and leaves no doubt in the readers' mind.

There’s one more writing rule that I’d like to share with you.

 

Get To The Verb Fast

If there's one thing I remember from English lessons at school, it's to use a lot of nouns. Use a lot of flowery language, and that shows how clever you are.

The truth is that fun, immediate and powerful language uses some well chosen verbs.

Here's an example to illustrate the point. The first version is written with lots of nouns.

The strawberry blond beauty wiped a tear from her eye as she told her weeping lover that their passionate affair was over.

Here’s an alternative version with some well chosen verbs.

The red headed bitch tore out his heart and stomped on it.

 

Which version do you find easier to read?

Which version is shorter?

Which version is more immediate?

Which version leaves no doubt in the readers' mind.

In the second version, two powerful verbs give the sentence immediacy and power.

So…

When you’re editing your next email, particularly in the first two sentences, ask yourself how quickly you get to the verb.

Then ask yourself if you could replace the verb you’ve used with a more powerful one. A verb that will give your writing a greater emotional punch.

Here’s an example of the same sentence with a different verb.

To cars collided in the rush hour traffic.

To cars bumped in the rush hour traffic.

To cars smashed in the rush hour traffic.

Which verb carries the greatest emotional punch?

The books that I would like to recommend for their impeccable use of verbs are Travels With Charlie by John Steinbeck and 50 Shades Of Grey by EL James.

 

Now It’s Your Turn

Steven King wrote in his book On Writing that the secret to great writing is to read a lot and write a lot.

If you want to write more persuasive copy, you aren’t going to find the secrets in Dickens, Melville or Tolstoy.

If you want to learn how to write simple, fun and powerful messages, then you need to read the authors that have sold millions of books, newspapers or magazines. Authors like EL James and Harold Robbins and Horatio Alger.

You don’t have to read them for pleasure. But you do have to read them.

Because…

The secret to their success lies in the way they tell stories and the language that they use.

If you read their books then you will see how to simplify your message to make it easier to read, and more powerful.

So, head over to Amazon right now. You can download Horatio Alger books for free, and you can pick up some Harold Robbins books for pennies.

If like me, you are wondering what all the fuss is about 50 Shades Of Grey then buy the books and earn your place in a secret world.

If you've found this useful, then please leave a comment below.

If you know a business owner or service provider that is great at what they do and struggles to get their name out there, then please share this post with them.

Until next time…

Carpe diem

Roland Eva

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

I’m a copywriter and business growth trainer, mentor and consultant.

For the last 5 years, I’ve helped authors, coaches, mentors, consultants, software developer and health professionals to sell products and services in industries as diverse as property, technology, finance, personal development, business opportunity, weight loss, and alternative health.

These products and services have ranged in price from £5 to £12,000. My most successful campaign made £672,989 in just 9 days. I took that result and transformed it into a simple repeatable system. A system that I teach to ambitious entrepreneurs that want to make money on demand without a sales team.

Why do I want to help other business owners? Because my marketing journey began when I lost my first business, a photography and graphic design studio. The pain of watching my business slowly die, and being powerless to do anything about it, motivated me to discover how promotional messages can make money on demand without a sales team.

Today my mission is to prevent every business owner from suffering through the same pain as I did. I’d like to take entrepreneurs on the joy ride that comes with having a proven system to make money on demand and to relax with the security of knowing where your next sale is coming from.

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