Images? Cool. Videos? Great. But Clay Manley knows they can’t do a thing without sales copy | RGR 078


When someone tells you a picture is worth a thousand words, remember: they’re using words to measure value.

The fact is, every other kind of marketing content — images and video — relies on sales copy to close the sale. That’s what Clay Manley knew when he was starting his own copywriting business.

He had been writing his own blog for a while, and when it was acquired and he got a full-time job writing content, he began to realize, “Copy is everything.” Clay turned that passion into a career writing for businesses, large and small, in hospitality, pet supplies, health and wellness, and real estate. And how did he start? By giving stuff away.


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clay manley sales copy

| Rise Grind Repeat 078 |

Todd has a booming business. He’s been on Netflix he has one of the top 10 gyms in America. Drew Brees is his client like this guy’s killing it. I emailed him, cold email. Hey, Tom, my name is Clay Manley introduced myself and said, I love your stuff. I understand your voice. I’m a writer. You don’t have enough content. Don’t pay me a dime. I’ll write for you. Well, Todd responded in five seconds. This sounds great, absolutely do your thing.

On today’s episode of Rise, Grind, Repeat, we talked to Clay, who went from corporate America to starting his own copywriting business. And well, all we talk about is copy, copy, copy, let’s dive right in. Clay, thank you so much for joining us on another episode of Rise, Grind, Repeat, I’m super pumped for this, you know, we got connected through an old baseball teammate, connected for an hour and Phil like, made a best friend in less than 60 minutes and, you know, learned more about you. I mean, just the whole sales copy side of things when it comes to marketing. I personally think that is it is undervalued, everyone is putting so much more attention now and videos and imagery and all that which does a good job at getting the attention. But I think that once you have the attention, they go up and read the copy, which is what drives the actual sale. So I’m excited to kind of hear your journey and just get some tidbits on on how to make better sales copy on the branded side and sale side before we get in there.

Yeah, I’d say music to my ears because not everyone feels the same way you do. But when I look at it one every creative is unbelievable. So the video guys media guys, all that good. Not blasting anybody. But when you look at copy, it’s probably the only form that can stand alone. Mm hmm. And then also, I don’t see videos, for example, producing sales unless there’s copy

with them. Exactly. Whats

the CTA button say, What does everything is wrapped with say? How about the script for the video? So to your point, I think people just forget about copy and think it’s old school. And it’s kind of like, I’ll use an analogy. It’s kind of like direct mail. Yeah, direct mail can work right now. Is it old school? Sure. Is it disruptive? Because it’s old school? Yes. So to me copies everything. And I’ll go on and on for days, and you’ll have to kind of yank me off, but

I love copy. Awesome. No, I love to hear that before we get more into, you know, advice and all that we’d love to hear your story. What is, you know, how did you get into where you’re so passionate about copy? And kind of what does that entrepreneurial journey look like?

Yeah, so for me, it’s it’s a shock. I never was like into copy didn’t even know what copy meant until I got into it. But way back when I grew up in Illinois, I was into fitness. So when I got out of college, I was a fitness manager. As you can imagine running fitness centers is a grind, and there’s not much money in it. So for me, it really wasn’t the future. Well, I was managing fitness centers. I started a fitness blog. I was like, pretty good writer could write naturally. My blogs got a little bit of traffic, but I was also stabbing in the dark. I really didn’t know what I was doing other than spending nights and weekends at a community college library writing. Yeah, sure enough blog gets acquired, which sounds way more impressive than it is I made a little bit of money. But the startup that acquired me was in California, and they offered me a full time job to come on as a content coordinator. So I quit my job, bought a one way ticket, shipped my car, moved to Orange County, California. The startup at the time was doing fairly well. They just brought in a few million in funding, but they were truly a startup. Yeah, I was will say employee somewhere between like 10 and 12. And I came in and lived on the floor of a shared home to make ends meet with these guys. I had a mattress on the floor of a room that had a built in desk, like covering the boundary of the room. So it was like desk, mattress, me. Yeah. And I’m like, Well, I’m in California, which is way better than Illinois. And we’re gonna try this thing out. company grew rapidly. We brought in 4 million real quick after I joined. I had nothing to do with it. But that’s just what happened. And we had to grow. So when I came on this company had a sports website that was doing well. They acquired me to help launch a men’s lifestyle website. And we launched 13 other verticals. Wow. So we went into women’s lifestyle, we went into cars, we went into gaming, really anything that was popular at the on the Internet at the time we went into, we also had to grow the team. I was the only person with management experience. And they were like you can write that’s why we hired you. So I hired a bunch of writers ended up having a full time team of about nine. And I was managing literally hundreds of blogs going out every day because we had 200 plus contractors too. So did I really know copy at the time? No, but talk about a crash course. Yeah. And so this this startup ended up getting acquired, kind of at the 11th hours things were going downhill but for me, it was just a moment. valuable education worth way more than the millions we brought in right? From there I went to a company called preferred hotels and resorts. They do global hotel marketing, essentially luxury boutiques that don’t have the budget of like Hyatt or Hilton, pay this company to do their marketing. So I was writing about these awesome hotels around the world. Places like in Nicaragua, where celebrities come in on helipads are coming out helicopters and landing pads, right? I’m like, I can never afford this. But it’s darn good writing. Yeah. So I’m like now I’ve got sports. I’ve got fitness. I’ve got all these other verticals. And I’ve got this hotel side. Where else can this go? Well, I cross paths with kind of my idol in the fitness industry, Todd Durkin, he ended up hiring me as his director of marketing. Like, this is cool. I’ve always wanted to work for this guy. So I got back into fitness and the marketing end, and something wasn’t right. I told you this earlier, but it wasn’t the right fit for me or for Todd. And the reason I say his name is because a lot of people, at least in that industry know Todd, so they’ll understand the authority there but just wasn’t right for either one of us. And looking back, what I now realized the problem was was I was doing marketing, not copyright. Yeah, and those are two very different things. So I quit on my own, a few months in and I took my first stab at freelancing. I was charging like $20 an hour and begging for clients also doing a lot of free work, which has been a big part of my path. And I did that for about a year. And then I landed at Petco and not Petco Park, Petco, the stores like the retailer, and they’re I came on right away and managed all the copy and content for their private label brands. To look at a company like Petco, they have, we’ll say 15 brands and when you walk into a store, really don’t say Petco on them, but are owned by Petco. All those brands and copying content. So that was me. I had a team got promoted pretty quickly took over packaging design to a creative like us back that Yeah, so it was like I’ve got the sales copy. I’ve got the content, I’ve got the packaging design. For those that don’t speak marketing. That means me and my team were writing everything going on packaging, we were writing what was going on in the stores on signage. We were writing scripts for internal trainings and store partners. I was working with an in house creative team to create videos and photography and things like that a hell of a job. under my leadership, we crossed 1 billion in sales for private label brands cheese. Now that’s a heavy statement. But all I will say is the copy correlates. It’s not that I’m the reason that happened. The copy correlates. And that allowed me to feel like you know what, I have the authority now. I’ve been through the grind of the startup, the mid sized business like the hotel company, and now this huge corporation like, what am I doing? I can do this on my own. Yep. And copy is what I’m passionate about. It wasn’t going to the video shoot, it wasn’t leading the photography. It wasn’t the meeting after meeting after meeting in that corporate. You don’t enjoy those? Not at all. For me it was really the copy. So I think there I just at Petco, my last gig, I really realized the value of copy, realize how good I was at it now that I’ve managed over 200 writers, including professionals making good salaries in a corporate atmosphere. I was like, in my opinion on the best of the bunch. And I can do this on my own, and I can do it better than just about anybody else. And so I left Petco, just about a month ago, just about a month ago, I turned in my two weeks call it quits. I had used COVID and short term furloughs to line up some business. So well, others were, and I want to blast anybody. But what I’ll say is when I would when we would come back from furlough, so we would have these occasional weeks off. Yeah, where you’re still an employee. But you don’t have we’re not getting paid for that week, but your job secure. We come back and our big team would get together in a group meeting. And you’d hear people instantly talk about what they watched on Netflix, or current events, what they did with their friends, what bars they went out, because they had patio seating. And I’m like, I went into the business building retreat, and spent that week grinding every hour of the day, working up at a time or waking up at 5am to work going to bed at 9pm after work to build something better. So that’s when I was like, Oh, this definitely isn’t for me. And to go back to copy copy was what was allowing me to do that. I was picking up clients and I was offering copywriting services. So now I’m on my own. And I’m doing all sales copy. And like we talked about the beginning, man, I just think sales copy opens so many doors. There’s copywriters everywhere. 99% of them can’t write sales copy. So that’s where I come in. And to me it’s the copy that gets ROI. That’s really the difference.

I there’s so much I can appreciate in there. Would love to get into the free work here in a second but the thing I can appreciate out of everything that you’re mentioning Is that you’ve come in, after you’ve come in, there’s been big changes in terms of growth and that it’s not, you don’t attribute to that one single thing. And I think that’s the big thing that a lot of business owners miss or people are trying to do their marketing it’s, they think that one individual tactic or thing is going to do it. It’s a combination of all of it working together the script of the video once you have the attention, the copy there the call to actions when they land on, it’s a combination of everything in a team working together. And that’s Yeah, I love that. But getting into the the free work, I absolutely love that. You mentioned that because a lot of I mean, the the videos that there’s been a lot like my background is the paid media, but you know, do SEO, we do video, but it’s you know, what, last two years has been a lot of learning. To expedite that learning. It’s easier to get someone to say yes, whenever you’re like, hey, we’ll do for free. How has that helped shape your path to where you are today?

So the free work has been? It’s been a big door for me. That opens up more doors you go through and more calm, right. So for me looking back when I was building my own blog, that was free work. I didn’t make any money on that. And I was spending nights and weekends at the local community college after my full time job, which was a grind mind you doing that for free. So boom learning experience, also proving yourself Yeah, later on. I told you I connected with a guy who’s famous in the fitness industry, Todd Durkin, Todd has a booming business. He’s been on Netflix, he has one of the top 10 gyms in America. Drew Brees is his client, like this guy’s killing it. I emailed him cold email. Hey, Tom, my name is Clay Manley introduced myself and said, I love your stuff. I understand your voice. I’m a writer and you don’t have enough content. Don’t pay me a dime. I’ll write for you. Well, Todd responded in five seconds. This sounds great. Absolutely. Do your thing. Yeah. And so that’s what I did. And for me, that name alone opened a lot of doors. So I would encourage other people, like anyone, anyone who’s bigger than you in your industry, or a brand you want to work with, or a business, you want to work with an entrepreneur and influencer and offer them free work. It’s it really, it’s easy on you, in a sense, because there’s no pressure. Yeah, that’s the difference. The difference is there’s no pressure, I didn’t feel like anything, I write it or write it. Anything, I didn’t feel anything I wrote for Todd, yeah, required ROI. I felt like I’m proving to him that I can do this. Yeah, I’m proving to myself that I can do this. And I’m practicing. Practice makes perfect. You’re a baseball guy, you know, I’m a basketball guy, I get it. It’s, it’s about the practice. And if you can do that practice, in a no pressure situation, more power to you, you look good to others, you show your soft skills, you show your proactive, you show your care, and you get better and better and better.

Yep, I couldn’t agree more. And it’s funny, because so many people are like, well, I understand the value of my time. And to me, I’m like, and that’s why they won’t charge or they won’t do anything for free. But to me, it’s like, well, you don’t value you know, your time because you know, without a portfolio without people saying that you can do it. That’s your it’s gonna take longer to get more work. And so all you’re doing is expediting how quickly you can increase your prices and actually charge. And to your point, there’s a lot more pressure when someone’s actually paying for it. And it’s like, you know, if you’re just starting out, you’re probably not going to get the 10s of thousands of dollars that you want. So it might be 500 bucks or $1,000 is that $500? More like worth the the pressure and all that where it’s like, you know, if you’re open and transparent, really no, I’m trying to learn, I’m trying to do better. It’s all about that expectation setting up. And I think it’s such a huge opportunity and more people need to be doing, you know, offering free work, especially at the beginning to those people that say I appreciate my time, and I’ll never do free work. I mean, what do you have to say to them? Well, I

think one free work is also free feedback. And it’s free networking. And it’s free opportunities. So first off, change how you look at it. Yeah, yeah, you’re doing work for free. But the doors that could open could be huge and can open doors in ways you don’t see right away. For those who say their time is valuable. And everyone’s time is valuable. A lot of people have made it really far doing free work. Look at Gary Vaynerchuk. He talks about it all the time, right? He’s like you do the free work, it will open doors, I think at the end of the day, and I don’t always agree with this, but it’s one of those sayings like it you know, it is about who you know, not what you know, well could free work, build that network for you. Maybe that’s how you need to look at it. Maybe two, if you’re young and you’re hungry. Maybe you don’t need to spend. I’m not encouraging this. But maybe you don’t need to spend money on a degree maybe you don’t need to spend money on extra courses. Maybe you need to spend money and time on doing things for free to master your craft. So to me, look, would I do free work tomorrow? Absolutely not. Yeah, I mean, not unless it’s the perfect brand, the perfect opportunity, and I feel like there’s a near guarantee at the end of the road. But coming up, I wouldn’t have got where I am with free work, some of my best testimonials, clients that I did free work for some of the biggest names. I’ve worked with clients that open doors from free work. So not to hammer home too hard, but I think it just goes so much beyond the value of your time and more. It’s about like the value of your life.

Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s the the perspective of it, because everyone thinks it’s free because you’re not getting anything monetarily. But if you’re getting, you know, portfolio building, if you’re getting education, that that’s valuable stuff probably

worth way more than the dollar or two that you’re going to be charging for whatever it may be. And when I did, I’ll give an example give a copy specific example. So there’s a copywriting community AWAI its alliance of writers and artists, something like that. AWAI is what you need to know. They do a copywriting contest almost monthly. And you can make 200 bucks for writing a basically a fake email based on some prompts they provide. Also, if you don’t want to do free work, find a contest, find something you can enter, like find a way to make it worth your time. You mentioned it and you nailed it. testimonials, free feedback, all that stuff is valuable. I think there’s also resources out there in this day and age where you can find a way to have a shot at earning money too.

Yeah, absolutely. I love everything about that. And kind of getting into what I love that you mentioned is there’s so many copywriters out there and a lot can do can tell great stories, I mean, can write really well. But there’s a difference between writing copy just to storytelling, one that actually drives sales. And that’s what businesses are looking for. What is the difference between branded copy and sales copy?

That’s funny. I literally just recorded a video for my own Instagram Reels in that question, because those are the two things I do. And it’s great question. So what’s the difference between branded copy and sales copy, sales copy is persuasive. Sales copy is designed to convert sales copy needs to make an action happen. And generally that action is tied to ROI. branded copy is about a brand’s tone of voice, it’s about getting their personality or their message out there. So when I look at branded copy, that could be as simple as like the homepage of Petco’s website. Yeah. But when we’re talking sales copy, that’s now the emails intended to promote something. Or if you look at a small business, their branded copy might be their customer service macros, the responses they send on customers acquire things. But the sales copy is now their emails, it can be intertwined in their blogs, it’s their advertisements, you name it, that really is the difference. Now one thing that I think is important clarification is sales copy can be story based. That’s that third piece that I think people miss. It’s there’s branded copy that’s about personality and voice, their sales copy that’s about persuasion and conversion. And then there’s also using story to sell, which is kind of a combination of both, but ultimately, the word sells in there. So you should be persuading someone to take some sort of action.

Yeah. And how do you I mean, from your experience, how much does that storytelling piece, improve overall conversion rates, and I mean, overall sales a lot, a lot of recent guests, I mean, just huge on storytelling, and really, that that hero’s journey, and whenever they started doing more of that they started seeing more sales come in. And so are you seeing that that is a major impact when it comes to sales copy? Or is it

110% if you look out front of your office, here, you have the word disruptive on the wall. Story is disruptive. Story is different right now, because so many writers cannot write story that sells, they just don’t get it, it becomes an incoherent jumbled mess. When you have a strong story, based on strong sales copywriting, you can, I don’t know three to 10 X, your revenue or your sales you because it’s going to stand out. And I’ll use another analogy. If you’re looking at a movie, right? A movie is about a story. It has elements of storytelling. And it’s what sticks in people’s minds. You me and Andre could sit here and talk movies for a while we could talk music, that’s all based on story. So that’s how you stand out in a crowded market, you tell stories, and then that allows you to be disruptive, which then gets attention. We know attention equates to money if you do it right. And you use that attention to sell.

I love it. So I mean, without giving secret sauces away or anything like that. I mean, how do you approach that story? And how what are the components that you know someone should think about or incorporate as they’re thinking about? I’m about to write this ad or this email that I want to incorporate storytelling, I want to incorporate who I am I want to basically drive more sales. But what is the process? Or what should someone think through when it comes to that storytelling,

so you have to be wildly creative, which not every copywriter is, you have to be wildly creative. Because every moment in your life can be flipped into a story that sells that’s what I believe and you have to read it you have to see it. You have to feel it. You can’t just start doing this. And so I would tell people go follow someone like Ben Settle, who’s a huge name and story for sales. Go look at AWAI. Look at how they’re constructing these stories. And then start thinking about how you can do that in your life. So I’ll give an example. I came in here, you and I talked on the phone Thursday, today’s Saturday, we’d never met before, never crossed paths list. I don’t think so. But we were like instant friends. I’m going to flip that into a story that sells something. I don’t know how right now. But that’s a moment I’m going to remember. And maybe it’s gonna be about selling myself to you. And two days later being on your podcast and your office. I’m not quite sure. But these moments happen. And you can tie them into sales. If you get creative. That’s the name of the game. There’s no secret sauce. It’s literally about taking the stories of your life and flipping them into sales. And the best place to start is to look at people who are already doing it.

Yeah, no, I couldn’t agree more. I mean, aspire to those that are doing and take the learnings from them. And I think you hit you know, something really good is the creative side. Is that something that you can teach at all? Or is that? You know what I mean? Like,

yeah, I don’t know, for me, you know, I never considered myself creative. I remember when I was at the startup, my first full time content gig. I was like, guys, I get management, I can write pretty good. I don’t know about the creative piece. And now I consider myself very creative. So I don’t know if it’s a flip that switched or what, what I would say is, I think for me, it came with experience. And it came with rubbing elbows with true creatives. I think that I was in a mindset, but my dad was military. My mom has been at the same job her whole life. And it’s a great job. And I was like discipline and sports. And I think I had to change my mindset to be open to people with other attitudes and other interests. And that starts sparking creativity. And then again, the more I rubbed elbows with creatives, I call them true creatives, like real creative people. Yeah, the more rubbed off on me, it’s like you are who you surround yourself with. So I think it’s the atmosphere. And I think it’s the people you’re around, and then also just opening your mind up to thinking differently, because as creatives we think different. Mm hmm.

Now, I couldn’t agree more. When it comes to just copy in general. I mean, there’s there’s something that that I talk with a lot of clients with, when I mean even just ad copy or landing page copy, short versus long. Yeah. What What is there a better approaches that are, you know, when do you use longer copy?

So it’s the same question that you get on what’s the best time to send an email, there’s no best time, there’s no right or wrong way. What I tell copywriters who write for me or who I outsource to is we need to test it. Because it depends on the audience. Some audiences are going to eat up long form copy, like you wouldn’t believe other audiences want quick direct information. And if you send them something long bye so for me, it’s about testing. It’s about trying long form, trying short form, mixing up your subject lines, mixing up your approach and your leads and your CTAs and seeing what works. And I think that’s where you and I are alike. And I think that’s where a lot of people go wrong is what do you actually testing? It’s not just the subject line, open rate, it’s not just the conversion rate, and the click through as a copywriter. It’s the style of copy you’re writing, like you are your own test subject. And so you should be trying both long form is going to be more sales folk, or sorry, more story focused, long forms, your stories. Short Form is generally more promotional or more sales. But again, if you can do it, right, those long forms can be exciting to read. People can look forward to it, which doesn’t happen much in inboxes. And they don’t even know they’re getting sold to. It’s so natural that they’re like, yeah, I need this because that story just captivated me. Yeah.

No, I actually loved that. And I love the the data and analytics and testing part. I mean, we have something an acronym here, ABT and stands for always be testing no matter what, what piece of the journey, what, no matter what what, you know, the overall aspect of the marketing strategy is there are things to be tested. And to your point, I think people are realizing that and doing more of it. But without an actual game plan. It’s like, oh, we’re testing the subject lines like, well, what are you testing? Is it the call to action? Is it the emotion you’re trying to convey? And I think that’s where, you know, there’s a lot of opportunity, people are getting to do more testing, but not defining a solid strategy. Yes. That being said, You’ve worked at, you know, corporate gigs, you’ve worked, you know, with mom and pops. What, how much has testing, you know, driven and impact and overall copy and just strategy in general, those that are testing? are they seeing much bigger sales and ROI on everything that they’re doing compared to those that don’t.

So I think when you look at businesses that are a little smaller and will use your and I sweetspot of one to 20 million. If you aren’t testing, you’re not getting to the next level, because you’re stabbing in the dark. So you might get lucky here or there, but you’re not getting to the next level. I think when you look at bigger companies, and we’ll use Petco since I was there as an example, they say they’re testing. But it’s such a big machine that you have to wonder, like, I’m not seeing any data. I’m not seeing results, I don’t quite know what’s going on. And so they may preach it, but are they practicing it? I think the smaller you are, the more you need to be testing, or else you’re dead in the water. I think when you get to a certain level, you should still be testing. But I don’t know. Is there too much to test? Is it too much analytics? Do you not have the people to sort through it? That’s kind of the question. But the short answer is on the smaller end, or the one to 20 million Test, test test and more.

Yeah, no, just from our personal experience, those that are testing more are seeing incremental growth quicker. But to your point, once they’re getting to that upper level, the billion dollar companies, it’s, yeah, we’re testing all the stuff, but there’s no defined plan. And it’s what KPIs are we looking at why did we decide to test this? And it’s, it’s, I think, again, being so data and analytics rich in today’s world, everyone hears we got to test but there’s no solid strategy. And

so let me add something on testing. And this is for the copywriters, you should have. Let’s say you’re writing emails, you should have categories of subject lines you’re testing, the business you’re working with doesn’t even need to know that you’re doing it, you ask them for the result. And you know what categories are working? Same with your short form long form. So I have eight to 10 categories of subject lines, I always test and they’re opposites. So we can a B test one, verse two and three, verse four, and five, or six. And then inside of there, I’m also running my own little mastermind test I love like long form or short form, what is my lead look like? Where am I putting the CTA? How many times Am I linking out like, you need to be proactive and own that as the copywriter because if you do that, you’re now going to know what works. And you now can flip that into more business and flip that into ROI. And flip that into a true strategy that you can sell to others

as you love it. So are there any other tips when it comes to copywriters, specifically on how different things they can test one at one of their approaching what they’re doing?

Yeah, so I think you know, and we’ve touched on a lot of it, but long form for short form is an easy way to start. So maybe you’re going to do this email is going to be story based, I’m going to have a CTA at the end, cool. This email is going to be super short, three, four sentences. And I’m gonna have a CTA right away, we’re going to see if they pound the buy button earlier, they pound it later, right? subject lines, I pulled from several categories, I’ll give you just the very basics, blind and direct, blind curiosity inducing, you’re not quite telling them what they’re going to get if they open it great for storytelling direct, very much a sales email, we’re running this promotion, you can save this money, benefit rich, short form, copy tested to see what happens. Blind versus direct, easy, easy, easy way to do it. And it’s not just email, you can do that with your blog headlines, you can do that with the subheadings. Within your blocks, you can do that really in just about anything you’re writing, look at us look at a video script. At the beginning, you can be very direct, or you can lead them in and be blind. As a writer. I like blind because it’s fun. But direct can work to a really hands on the audience.

Yeah, no, that’s awesome. So with all this, I mean, you’ve worked, like I said, big small companies done tons of different testing. What’s one experience that whether it’s a campaign or a single email that that you just nailed it? loved it? And what were those results?

Ooh, that’s a tough one. So I’ll give you, I’ll give you a few give you the first one would be, I recently worked with a clothing brand named West major, new brand, men’s, men’s western shirts, we’ll call them. And this is a brand new brand, the owner literally quit his job and is bartending to build this thing. He’s like stitching the patches on the shirt themselves, right. So I love it. Maybe I shouldn’t say the name. But I love this brand. I knew nothing about them. And they were like we’re at a stage where we need to build a brand book because we have no idea what we’re doing with our messaging. One conversation, I built this world around this little brand that I am so proud of and so want to live in. But I’m not cool enough. I’m not the audience. But to be able to build a world is pretty special. And to me that stands out because this was essentially taking a bunch of ingredients that are mismatched and maybe not ripe and not good and throwing them in a blender and pulling out something great and something magical and something unique and special. So that was one I don’t know the impact because that’s brand brand gotta be it’s tough to say. But I’ll look at another one, which is one of my clients was in real estate. And again, I knew nothing about real estate when I started working with this gentleman. He’s got a team of 13 it’s a very successful business, I’m gonna guess 10 to 12 maybe 15 million a year, and they needed copywriting. And I came on and took on their biggest high ticket online program for training new real estate folks, mostly wholesalers and he looked at that sales page the week after I wrote it. And he’s like, how did you? How did you know all that? And I’m like, I didn’t. I researched forums I got inside your audiences had, I figured out the psychology, I watched pretty much every piece of content you and your competitors have ever put out. And I turned it into the words that sell. And he was so floored. And for me, that was so rewarding, because he told me even if this product doesn’t sell, I know it’s the it’s not the copy. Yeah, it’s anything but the copy. And he’s like, I don’t have a library of copy that I can pull from for every channel. He’s like, everything you wrote is now influencing my social media. It’s influencing my emails influencing my blogs, he’s like, and frankly, it sounds better than I sound like, I don’t know where you came up with this. So for me, that was really rewarding. And that opened up more doors with this particular client. And I started writing his emails and doing his blogs, and really every piece of content he has. And he said to me, he now goes on podcasts. And people are like, dude, your copy is the best in the industry. It’s the coolest stuff we’ve ever seen. We’ve never heard anything like it. And he’s like, I sheepishly have to be like, I didn’t write it. And I’m like but it’s in your voice. Yeah, like that. So for me, of course, he’s getting sales. I’ll give you an example. He’s got a list of a few thousand. We did a sequence for a new program. First email, I did like a sneak preview, where it was almost like a speakeasy. I was telling his audience, they had to respond to him and say they’re interested to get any more information on this new and exciting thing. Well, I got 30 replies, wow. And nowadays, and no one’s really replying to emails. Yeah. And they said, I’m interested, which is exactly what they were supposed to. And they now have 30 leads from one email that was actually super short form, and just a creative approach to a new product. So for me, it’s rewarding in many ways. It’s hearing the business owner, entrepreneur, or the bigwigs at the company, saying they love the copy, it’s then being able to repurpose the copy elsewhere, it makes their lives wildly easier. And it’s them feeling like they sound like an authority, they sound how they want to sound. But they also know there’s persuasive elements in there. From there, they should get results, the one thing I would say is I don’t promise or guarantee any results. Because I don’t know your list. I don’t know your client. I don’t control the images, you put in that email, I don’t control the videos, I don’t control all text. There’s so much that I don’t have a pardon. What I tell them is, I can guarantee your copyist setup for success. Yeah, if you do the right things, and you send it to the right list, you’re gonna be very happy with the results.

Yep. No, I couldn’t agree more. And that’s and you know, as digital marketing grows, there’s so many different components that drive success, that it’s not, again, it’s not that single piece of copy, it’s the copy that goes with the images on their what are you know, who is the listener? We’re sending it to? How are we distribute it? There are so many things that go into it. But, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s awesome to hear lots of good wins, big wins. That being said, you know, pretty early off in your entrepreneurial journey, I mean, as am I, what are, what is one big thing or hurdle that that you’ve had to overcome? And how did you overcome it that just really like, I don’t know, if I’m gonna be able to get over this, maybe I should just go back to full time or this is what I did. And this is how I got over it. Great question, for me was stability.

So work would come in, and I wouldn’t know how long it would last, I wouldn’t know how long the relationship would be. And as a copywriter, instantly, you have to learn the niche. So you are diving, if you’re good, as good, as you say, or you’re diving deep into the psychology of the audience, you’re scouring forums, you’re scouring reviews, you’re scouring competitors, you’re scouring analog brands, you’re spending so much time getting up to speed on what you’re talking about in this research phase, that if you don’t have a long term relationship with the client, you’re definitely losing money. So for me, the big flip was starting to put clients on long term contracts, and getting on board with all of their copy. So now when I take someone new on there’s either a bare minimum fee, they have to pay, or there’s a bare minimum term of the contract. So I feel I have some stability. Yeah. And that’s a big difference from just doing hourly work. Right. So for me, that was a big flip. Yeah,

well, I mean, it’s tough. And I we’re literally going through the whole same thing. We’re just taking random projects, custom proposals all the time. But in terms of forecasting, it’s tough to know what the future looks like, which then it’s tough to make business business decisions today. That that’s going to be right. And that’s the main thing we’re working on right now is to help whether it’s those minimums, the contracts and all that that stability so that we can forecast a bit more,

you know, and I don’t know if you’ve had this experience, but for me, it’s also been strike while the iron is hot. If a client comes my way, and I don’t follow up right away, I feel like I’m not going to get that deal. And it’s happened a lot where you’re on vacation, or you miss the email or you’ve got other priorities, and you lose that opportunity. You don’t know when the next one’s coming. So for me, anytime there’s an opportunity with a new client. I’m quick to jump on it, even if it means telling them hey, I’ve got a waiting list. It’s Gonna be a few weeks, I’m building that relationship right away. I’m taking the meeting, and I’m getting to understand their business. Because to me, if I don’t take advantage of it right there,

I may lose that opportunity forever.

Yeah. And what is that length of time? I mean, I mentioned short and that huge on that, to me, it’s especially if you’re dealing with lead generation words, phone calls or something like that. It’s like, you need to get back within seconds for every second that goes by that conversion rate, down, down, down, down. And as that conversion rate goes down, your profitability goes down as well. I mean, what what is that length of time? Well,

I think people are fickle, right? So they change their mind, they find someone different. They hear hear about something else, they get shiny object syndrome, when they’re on to the next product or person. And so for me, it’s same day, no matter what it’s at least following up on the same day, and then getting a meeting as soon as possible because I believe in the human connection, and if it’s on Zoom or whatever, it’s making that happen ASAFP so I go for same day, and if they want to meet on a Saturday or Sunday, for me, it’s worth it. And that’s what’s worked for me. My conversion rate is probably through the roof. Since doing that,

yeah, no, I love it. I mean, speed, it’s, it’s, I couldn’t agree more. And really, you’re doing quite a bit. Now, before we get kind of into the future. You’ve brought up psychology quite a bit. And I love this, because it’s, I mean, I’ve seen so many different studies where it’s like, I mean, this has not to do with copy, but they had their own diapers. And they had, they’re looking at people’s eyes, and had a little baby one was looking up. And then one was actually looking at the copy. And literally 98% more people actually read the copy from the baby looking because they go where Where’s the baby looking? There’s the copy. Now I caught the attention and read. So those little nuances can make such a difference as you’re trying to get into the psychology aspect. I mean, what is it that you’re looking for? Is it the sentiment of the industry in general of that brand? And what are the different things that you’re looking for build that

psychology side of things? So I think first there’s to me three things that are essential elements of great sales, copy, one, gain, two pain and three transformation gains easy. It’s what are they going to get? Yeah, pain is a little bit deeper pains, what are they going to avoid? And then transformation is how is their world or their life going to change? When you go beyond gain, which is where everybody starts. And you get into pain and transformation, you can convince people to buy and it doesn’t matter if it’s video, copywriting, you name it. And so for me, it’s how do I find their pains, their insecurities, their worries, their stressors, a lot of times that’s in forums, a lot of times it’s Googling questions around the industry, and seeing how people are responding. It’s going on competitors, blogs, and looking in the comments. It’s reading books about the industry, or looking at the titles of those books, which may be answering the questions that they have. It’s reading reviews, I’ll look at reviews of books, podcasts, anything that’s similar in that industry. And I look at the one star and the five star reviews, the one star is going to tell me what does that audience hate or what is not working for them. And a five star is going to tell me what do they love, I’m going to work that into the copy suddenly have pain and gain covered. And then transformation, you have to put yourself in the audience’s shoes. And so you have to think like them, you have to put yourself you have to be able to creatively put yourself in their position and understand how they’re feeling. And then translate that the written word. So I’ll give you an example. And it’s getting a little it’s staying in psychology, it’s a little different. But here’s the example. If we’re thinking pain, gain transformation, look at water filters. The gain is get clean water. Okay? Yeah, the pain is never drink dirty water again. Now we’re getting somewhere, the transformation is never worry about what’s in your water again, and feel confident that what you’re drinking is safe for you and your family. So now suddenly, I’ve gone from get clean water to this is about your health. This is about your safety. This is about your family. And this is solving your worries and your stresses. That’s the difference. That to me is where the psychology comes into play.

I love that. I mean immediately as you went through there that that last piece. All right, I need one now. One on the leg. You know, it’s uh, yeah, it’s amazing.

One I’ll do another one for you real estate because we’ve talked about it so game pain transformation, game, close, more deals, pain, never blow a deal again, transformation. Be a confident closer. Okay, so now you’ve got three levels here and every copywriter. Every marketer gets the game part. There’s more deals. Yeah, once you get into never lose a deal. Again, that’s powerful stuff. And then once you say you’re going to become a confident closer, you’re touching on those emotions that play into the psychology that get them to buy. And if you’re really good, and I mean really good. You start stacking these things together. So let’s take the pain and the transformation. And let’s say become a confident closer so you never blow a deal again. Well, now you’ve got a headline. That’s gonna convert, right?

Yeah, that I mean that that is amazing. That is amazing what just a little piece of copy can do just I mean in terms of just make conveying different things. emotion and that emotion is what drives someone to buy.

Yeah, look, you don’t you know, in video, you’ve got music and you’ve got other cues to make that happen. When you look at copy, what are your other cues? I mean, you do have photo and video worked in there. But there’s plenty of times where the copy stands alone. Yeah. And that headline needs to be strong, powerful and transformative. And if it’s not, they’re not going to bother with the video, they’re not going to bother with the images, they’re certainly not going to bother with the CTA button. So to me, it really is it’s game, it’s pain is transformation. And it’s really hitting the second and the third home, hard to kill the psychology.

I love it. I love it. So you’re helping a lot of a lot of brands, you know, get their voice out there really drive sales, you’re helping brands quite a bit. What is the you’re doing for yourself that, you know, is gonna grow yourself the next six months? What are the biggest things that you’re working on now? And what are your biggest goals over the next six months?

Great question. So almost breaking free of corporate, that grind the pressure, the feeling like a number was not working for me and I can’t relate to the brands I want to work with if I’m some number under fluorescent light in a cubicle, right so one it was getting out of an atmosphere that wasn’t conducive to me growing and then to x surrounded myself with the right people. So I have a mentor right now Vitola Fatah who’s sorry Vito levada, who’s very successful, but it’s getting the right mentors in place that you can learn from it’s rubbing elbows with creatives like you and Andre and others, so that I’m sharpening my sword. And then it’s also what am I doing on my own time to get myself better? Am I reading books? Am I studying newsletters? Am I looking at the late great people in copywriting? Who do this thing way better than I could ever imagine? and stealing? So one of the biggest things for me, has been creating what’s called a swipe file, which is essentially a file of copy that gives me inspiration. How do I do that? I joined the right newsletters, I scour blogs, even when I’m watching TV, I’m pulling quotes from shows and movies that is awesome that I can work into my copy, right? It’s pretty incredible stuff. And literally, it’s a Google Doc, right now. It’s about 25 pages. I’m hoping to someday flip it into a newsletter that I actually sell like a monthly swipe file other writers can buy. But for now, that is probably my biggest continuing education. And it’s crazy, because the brands I follow for fun of my personal time will look at barstool sports, watch their video, a video, one video, and I’ll pull five or six things I can work in there. Be like that. Yeah, it’s so for me, it’s the swipe file. It’s the people you surround yourself with and the mentors. And then it’s also your mental health, which for me meant getting out of corporate and being in an atmosphere where I have control. And I feel like I’m really in the driver’s seat of my life and my business.

Yeah, no, that’s awesome. Very similar to all things that we’re working on as well, the the swipe file, that’s really cool. There’s actually a newsletter that I just stumbled on that what they do is kind of pull other people’s ads and just give their two cents on it. It’s almost similar, where it’s like you’re building, you’re compiling all these different types of copy, and then just giving your two cents. And it’s like, I mean, one, there’s so much that you can do with that. But if you’re gonna turn around and monetize it, I think that’s, that’s huge

one, if you look at, for me, it’s kind of a sports reference, I was a basketball guy, you were a baseball guy, you can’t just go a step up to the plate and hit a homerun, right, yeah, you’re warming up, you’re in the batter’s box swinging, basketball, I can’t just go in and nail a three, I’ve got to be working on that. And frankly, I still probably can’t, but I gotta be working and working and working. My swipe file is the same. It’s the warm up for my writing. So I go in there and I start getting inspired, I start getting creative, I start finding things that can influence what I’m writing about. And then suddenly you get in that flow state, and the writing comes more natural. So again, I quit to warm up.

I love it. I mean, I love all the sports analogies, I get it like that.

So you’re not

awesome. So I mean, before we kind of wrap up and kind of get some advice. Is there anything that we didn’t touch on that you were really wanting to tell the world?

I would use the story of us crossing paths. I think that’s an interesting one. Have we had a mutual friend? Yeah, I posted something on Instagram, just letting people know that hey, I’m on my own. Now I left Petco and I’m building my business. I didn’t need any leads or sales from it. It was just kind of this moment of I need to start putting myself out there because someday I’m gonna need leads and sales from it. And we cross paths. We talked Thursday on a Zoom call. It’s Saturday. I flew in from California for other reasons, but we’re here. We’re filming. It’s 9am. It’s a testament to you guys for being willing to get up and come in on a Saturday and do this. And then also, it’s a testament to that networking piece. Like this wouldn’t have happened if we just weren’t proactive and network. So I think whether you’re a copywriter a videographer and editor whatever you’re doing in the marketing space, like people in network and also speed kills we made this happened in 48 hours.

huge proponent of speed kills that’s, yeah, strike while the iron is hot, I think. Yeah, being proactive. I am I love all of that. Are you planning on putting more out there? Because I, I saw Chase’s a post and I was like, Oh, well, what’s he all about? And then I looked, he mentioned in the story, I think it was your post that is the first time that you’re kind of, you know, posting about business related that it isn’t, you know, just personal, private type of stuff. Are you planning on posting more of that type of content? What was the feedback like? Well, look, I’ve

been lurking in the shadows of these big brands, like I’m hiding behind Slim Jim, and people like that for a long time. And it took a moment of me realizing, Wow, you’ve done some big stuff. And you can do this on their own on your own, to start getting comfortable, like coming out about this. And it’s not a crazy big reveal. It’s not politics. It’s nothing like that. But it’s just having my truth of I’m damn good at what I do. I’m now taking this into my hands. And if you want to work with me, here’s how it goes. So yeah, I’m plan on putting myself out there more. I’m excited for a few clips from this podcast to put myself out there. Right. But it’s also for me, you know, and a lot of copywriters struggle with this. They can write great magical copy for anybody but themselves. That’s that’s


And that’s a challenge. And it’s also another business challenge of what’s the audience. So for me, my audience right now is my friends and family. People don’t know that I’ve wrote some of the biggest campaigns in the world, they don’t know that I just pretty much a ladder rebrand for one of the biggest companies in the world. Yeah, they don’t know these things. And I can always talk about these things. So how do I relate to my audience in a way that’s also good for my business and true to me, and I’m still figuring that out. But being on something like this and chatting with you, getting some videos cut up from Andre, things like that, allow me to do that. And yeah, I need to continue to put myself out there, and I will

do it 100% it’ll lead to so many opportunities. And yeah, it’s tough at first. But once once a you know, you get over that fear. And the opportunities start coming in it just it almost,

it gets much more fun. When you know, you said something to you’re like, what was the reaction? The reaction was I told people I literally told my friends and family. If you don’t want to follow me anymore, you don’t want to hear about this. Go ahead and mute me or cancel me or unfollow. I mean, I did. Look, I had two unfollows. I don’t know who they were, it was probably like spam account. Yeah. But at the same time, I’m like, I need to build an audience that wants to learn from me, and wants to buy from me and wants to work with me. And that’s not my friends and family. Because those aren’t people running 120 million dollar businesses. Yeah. So for me, it’s got to be less about what do I have right now? And where am I trying to go? And I’m slowly getting over that hurdle.

Yeah, no, it’s tough. And as we as we wrap up, I mean, for businesses that are trying to figure out their copy, like, there’s a lot that is great. And here’s the psychology, the testing and all that. For those that are just trying to figure it out. What’s the one biggest piece of advice you’d have for them as they just kind of move forward from here,

learn your audience, spend time understanding your audience, interview people who have bought from you understand how they talk and speak like them. If you don’t want to write the words yourself, and you can’t write the words, talk to your audience. You get testimonials, you use their language and their questions to influence your content. But the more you understand them, the better. That’s why people with common interests get along. And so I you and I hit it off, we understand each other that as a business owner is what you have to do, and it doesn’t matter what you’re selling.

Yeah. And that is very difficult to do while trying to run a business. So if someone goes I don’t even want to deal with that. How can they reach out to you?

Yeah, hire me. So if you need help with that, here’s the thing. My wife calls me the speakeasy of copywriters, because I’m like the secret weapon that nobody knows about. And I’ve been hiding behind these big and small brands for so long. I’ve never put myself out there. I’m lucky enough that my name Clay Manley, is a brand and its own because no one else is named les Manley except for like someone’s dog on Facebook. So for me, I am the brand for now reach out to me via Instagram at Clay.Manley M-a-n- l-e-y hit me up. Like I said, I think speed kills we’ll have a conversation, we’ll see if it’s the right fit. If you’re not doing one to 20 million, or it’s not the right fit. I’ve managed over 200 writers. So I have a network and I may be able to put you in touch with the right people. And if I am the right guy, we’ll find a way to crush it.

I absolutely love it. So don’t don’t hesitate to reach out and I’ll get back to you quickly and can’t I can’t thank you enough for your time. I know you’re down here for a wedding and everything and to make time to come in here on a Saturday. Can’t think Oh look,

this was the highlight of the weekend. And you know we got the wedding later today. Probably crush a few beers. Maybe I’ll talk to you and be like, this was awesome. But I had an absolute blast. For those who haven’t been here at this office is freaking

awesome. Thank you.

I was telling you guys like I’m about like the true creatives like you guys are true creatives. There is a sense over here. We got a crazy lion lighting this up. We got things that we don’t even know what they’re called shelves. We got disruptive on the walls. I mean, this place is awesome. So I love what you’ve built. Glad we got to connect. Shout out Chase Barbiere for being our mutual friend. But yeah, it’s been a blast. Awesome.

Thanks a ton. Thanks, brother.

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