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"How do you come up with text copy for your business?" – A Short DIY Copywriting Guide for Entrepreneurs

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If you just want to read through the bullet points, here's an Imgur album with 6 key points.

Hi, I recently came across a few questions about copywriting from a small business owner. Here they are with my answers.

Question 1: How can business owners come up with text copy on their own?

Here's a very basic (but great) approach business owners can take to write great copy.

1. Put yourself in your customer's shoes.

I've worked with a ton of enthusiastic entrepreneurs and most of them have one thing in common – they see their product as their baby which means most of the time they're wearing mom-goggles. It's hard for them to see the short-comings that might be glaring to customers.

So forget that you know how it works, forget what it's intended to do, and look at your landing page like you're seeing it for the first time, as a customer.

2. Focus on benefits, not features.

Feature – r/entrepreneur has over 600,000 users.

Benefit – Participate in meaningful discussions with over 600,000 like-minded users.

A feature is what your product does. A benefit is what your product does for the user. An extremely important distinction between the two.

3. Consider A/B testing (test different copy and see which one performs better).

A/B testing is simply figuring out which copy converts most. A simple implementation of this would be to write to pieces of copy and share it with your peers to get their feedback.

You can also use different combinations of copy, web elements, and graphics to see which works. Alternatively, show different people different landing pages (when they come from different sources).

4. Include statistics/numbers

This isn't too complicated. Statistics inspire confidence and are great for grabbing your reader's attention. I like to start my content pieces with a powerful statistic.

5. Check out web copy on your competitor's site.

When I am creating a content strategy, I do something called a competitive audit along with the content audit on the client's site. A competitive audit is basically seeing what pieces get them the most traffic, where they're getting their backlinks from, etc.

If you're completely blank and have no idea where to start, just type in your service into google like [product development] and check the copy of others.

6. Do not buy courses (please). You can learn a lot more for free if you really want to.

Yes, they are some genuinely good courses on copywriting but a vast majority teach things that you can learn for free. Also, they cost $500 to $1,000… Here's what you should do instead.

Step 1: Take the $1,000 you were going to use to teach yourself copywriting.

Step 2: Give it to a decent copywriter.

Step 3: Roll in money you get from conversions, thanks to the new copy.

Step 4: Do the course.

Step 5: Profit?

Question 2: Do you get a brand agency, marketing company, or copywriter? Who does this sort of thing? What in particular do they do?

If you don't have the budget for it, don't hire a copywriter or an agency. A landing page can cost you anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. If you already have a healthy marketing budget, hire a copywriter, if you don't, use those funds for paid marketing.

Organic reach on social media is almost dead in late 2019 so I would suggest experimenting with ads and boosting your posts depending on which platform you use. This, of course, is more complicated but learning how ads work is a lot more beneficial in the long run.

As your company grows, you can hire agencies and freelancers to take care of all of this but in the initial stages, getting the word out should be your top priority.

Now, if you've got zero writing skills and think you couldn't sell something if your life depended on it, discard most of the advice above and hire a copywriter to help you out because you DO need good copy to convert your visitors.

That's it, boys and girls. Thanks for reading and I hope this was useful.

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Update after 1.5 months of Sharfly the Facebook alternative

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So it’s been about a 1.5 months from the opening day for Sharfly So Sharfly is a new Facebook alternative but it’s going to have a lot more features for an example we are building a “store” kinda like eBay has a store but no fees we also are adding scheduled posts for groups and pages.

The main feed isn’t your friends it’s everyone but you can change it to friends only to make it more like Facebook, we also use a reputation system with like and dislikes for the public feed if you get -9 meaning 9 dislikes and no likes (likes give you +1 dislikes give -1) it will be automatically removed.

I could go on and on but that’s Sharfly in a nutshell

so far here is a list of improvements

  • IOS and android app in the works.

  • earn activity posts for being active (you can redeem points for gift cards or upgrade your account)

  • Sharfly allows nudity in closed groups. (you can not post nudity on the public feed)

  • Update: dark mode. (toggle in your settings)

  • Update: custom profile backgrounds. (Background Settings)

  • Update: "Friends Only" Newsfeed (Option)

  • Update: Gobal user custom background changes (Option)

  • Update: Affliliate system earn %10 of any monthly fee from referrals

  • Update: -9 like/dislike ratio will cause the system to delete your post.

  • Update: Data limits are 200MB for free members (you can use activity points to upgrade or PayPal)

  • Update: Live Chat for groups and gobal (ShoutBox)

  • Coming soon: Stores

  • Coming soon: Auctions

  • Coming soon: Scheduled posts

  • Coming soon: Pinned posts for groups

We currently have 1100 active members with no advertising other then me posting on Reddit and members telling their friends about the site and to me that’s pretty impressive. We also currently are growing 25-50 new members a day and I can only imagine once we start advertising and getting ranked for our keywords it will really pick up.

I don’t expect to find a real investor on Reddit but I picked that flair because why not we do need one. Our current server can only handle 5,000 concurrent connections this doesn’t mean we can only have 5,000 members online it means we can only support 5,000 members clicking or chatting at any given second. I also have a upgraded server that can support well over 1 million concurrent connections. I just need funding or more upgraded members.

It’s been a fun ride so far and amazing how many people use the site everyday, it really looks like it will be successful. I believe there are millions of people who are sick of Facebook but can’t find a good alternative.

Everyone has said don’t try to take on Facebook and I said I’ll take on Facebook and eBay, it hasn’t made me millions but it is working and people actually love the site so to all the entrepreneurs out there reading this don’t let anyone tell you not to chase your dreams.

100% of entrepreneurs who never try fail so keep that in mind. If you believe in something keep going don’t give up. You can go get a job and work 40 hours a week but don’t think being an entrepreneur is easier it’s not you will work 100+ hours a week on a slow week.

Well that’s my update let me know if you have any questions I have been an entrepreneur for the last 18 years I have done just about everything from anything internet related to owning a lawn mowing company lol so even if it’s not Sharfly related feel free to ask me I’m always happy to help a fellow entrepreneur.

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You can (and should) start with less than you think

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No one likes to launch half-baked products that nobody wants to use. Committing tens of thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars to build a thing nobody cares about is a dark, lonely place.

As a response to this fear, sometimes founders overcomplicate their products as they believe the more feature it has, the better it is.

Even though the notion of MVP and incremental improvement are well known and internalized concepts, sometimes nit-picky details consume lots of resources while they shouldn't.

Donald Knuth, American computer scientist and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University famously said

Premature optimization is the root of all evil (or at least most of it) in programming.

I agree wholeheartedly. It's not only valid for programming, but I would also say it's true for every process of creation.

What's so bad about premature optimization? It's mostly wrong allocation of time and resources – you may find out that you didn't ever actually need it.

Sahil Lavignia, Gumroad CEO and founder, has showcased excellent examples in his recent tweet. I quoted a part of it as the title of this post.
https://twitter.com/shl/status/1224710019813380096

"Instagram still doesn't have an iPad app. Twitter still doesn't let you edit tweets or search DMs. You can launch with less than you think. You may not even need it, ten years later!"

While you may argue that Twitter made tweets immutable on purpose, and it's actually a feature, the Instagram example is spot on. They did the minimum in regards to the web application, too – e.g., one still cannot send messages to users in the web version.

As I run a software development company myself, I will stick to the examples of web and mobile products.

Now you might wonder – How one can reduce number of features and, at the same time, not make it just another buggy Proof of Concept that nobody will pay attention to?

Here are some common features that initially make it to the scope, only to be removed later as irrelevant for the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) stage:

  • Built-in chat/DM mechanism. Unless it's another Slack or Telegram clone, you are good to start with email and social accounts.
  • Profile picture edits. Cropping, zooming, saving to file storage, and so on is a pointless overhead. Pulling profile pics from Gmail/ Gravatar suffices. It might be crucial for social trust platforms such as Uber or Airbnb, though.
  • Multiple social signup methods. These are being implemented mostly to reduce sign up friction and boost users count. Good old email/password method + optionally Google is all you need. Notice some niche products may require platform-specific user data to import (such as a live coding platform and GitHub sign up method)

Remember those market leaders as you see them today, one day started as just an MVP.

What are the industries you run your business in, and what are the examples of premature optimization or mistakes you did in the past?

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Baseball Card Flipping Project – Part 13

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Hey guys!

I keep trying to find a good place to send an update “let’s wait until this auction ends” or “let’s wait until these cards arrive back from PSA” or “let’s wait until I list these items.” The problem is that there is too much going on to find a great stopping place.

A really really really brief recap of the past twelve parts

I started in December of 2018 with $1,165 with the goal of making $10,000 in one year. In 2019, I had bought and sold over $40k in baseball, football and various sports trading cards. I had a few great successes ($1,165 into $3,085 before fees – $2,771.20 into $6,200.10 before fees – $1,086.68 into $3,190.54 before fees) and a few duds. I generally sell my cards on ebay, but utilize auction houses every now and then. The biggest bottleneck I face is submitting cards to PSA (a third party grading company), a card might have a 2-4 month turnaround time. To successfully "flip" you need to balance some of these purchases with shorter flips. In 2019, I ended with a final profit of $9,262.28 – a tad bit short of my goal. In 2020, my goal is $20,000 (fitting). Using my margins from 2019, I would need to sell around $85k in cards.

You can find the previous installment here

Purchased

  • I bought a group of four signed Perez Steele postcards with Mickey Mantle and rarer Roy Campanella. I paid $676.59 after fees for the lot. For those of you who aren’t aware, Roy Campanella was in a car accident in 1958 leaving him in a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. His “pre-accident” signatures are particularly beautiful and carry a significant premium over his “post-accident” signature. Still, his signature is fairly difficult and rare on Perez-Steele postcards (which was issued in 1989 with Campanella dying in 1993). These postcards are collectible. I sent the group to PSA for authentication and will sell once back.

  • In the same auction, I bought another grouping of wax pack wrappers, paying $920.00 after fees. I bought another group of wrappers previously at a Huggins and Scott auction (which have been doing well for me). I saw these wrappers and figured I would try again. They are all football wrappers with several difficult types. They are already in hand and I listed the bulk of them last night, one sold this morning for $65.00

What Sold

  • Speaking of wrappers! Last update I told you that I was able to list all of the wrappers as buy it nows – sales continue to trickle in. Another $149.00 worth of wrappers sold, led by the 1972 Topps Basketball wrappers for $90.00. I’m going to let the rest of the wrappers sit a while. They are listed and stored. I’ll probably keep selling a couple each week for another month or so before I switch anything up. I am another $200 away from breaking even on the group and have over $2k listed right now.

  • I am taking a similar approach to the 1912 Blankets – I have listed around 30 of the 100 blankets and will likely let them sit as sales trickle in. I sold 3 individual blankets and five blankets listed as a group this blanket sold for $52.00. I paid an average of around $13 per blanket, the first few sold for $27.88 per blanket. There are a few that are worth over a $100, so I should do well on this. I just need to finish listing everything and wait.

  • I sold a few more items from the multi-sport collection I bought from Huggins & Scott. Led by the [first issue of Sports Illustrated, selling for $107.50)[ https://www.ebay.com/itm/August-16-1954-Sports-Illustrated-FIRST-ISSUE-w-1954-Topps-Cards-Sheets-NICE/293452722356?hash=item44532530b4:g:ruMAAOSw14ZeM7Jv], I brought in another $201.21 from the group. There are still a few items I need to list, but I sent 13 cards to PSA and one card is sitting with PWCC to sell. It’s still too early to see whether I turn a profit (largely depends on the PWSA cards), so I am leaving the tracker at breaking even.

  • The 1909 Ty Cobb card sold through PWCC on Tuesday, ending at $855.00. The final price is fine, it was more than I was being offered in my store, but I’m overall a little upset with Grey Flannel selling me a trimmed card. Oh well! I still have nine cards with PSA, nothing too special. I am predicting a ~$400 loss on this.

  • I sold all of the Parkhurst Hockey cards I didn’t send to PSA (the rejects). It came out to $55.76.

  • I sold the two remaining Yogi Berra cards for $224.50 and $175.00. I have a 1965 Topps Berra floating around somewhere and the remaining 22 cards are with PSA. I basically got full retail out of the first three cards, so I am hoping to do very well on this group, it is entirely dependent on how PSA treats me.

  • I sold the graded Mickey Mantle cards from that REA auction that I won. The total of those seven cards came out to $1,236.91. I should do very well on this group, I think that the remaining cards I sent to PSA have a conservative value of $1,500-$1,800. I put in $1,000 in the tracker just to be safe. Depending on how they grade I might keep a card (more on that later).

  • I FINALLY received some cards back from PSA (more on that later). One of the Hank Aaron cards from that group a purchased a while ago sold this morning for $125.00.

PSA Update

Here is a link to the Google Doc with the status of all of my PSA cards. The spreadsheet also includes a summary of where the project is.

Two of my PSA orders finally were finished. The oversized cards, including the last of the Hank Aaron cards and the last of the 1936/1937 Goudey cards were sent back. For the oversized order, the grades came out more or less where I expected. I was hoping the Koufax cards would so a little better, but it all worked out well. I am not changing any inventory value assumptions based on these results. The second order that completed was comprised of those multi-sport cards from that Goldin auction. What is frustrating about this is that while this order (which was received by PSA on 12/11) is completed, another order for this project (which was received on 10/17) is still being processed. Overall, I am very happy with the results. I think they were a little hard on a couple of the cards, but I was pleasantly surprised by the PSA 7 on the 1980 Scoring Leaders card (that’s around a $450 card). As a result, I increased the inventory value on the lot to $800.00 remaining on hand, which is fair.

I still have quite a few items with them, it appears there is some movement on a couple of the orders, hopefully they will get back to me soon.

So, to update the summary:

Item Cost Sold Fees Inventory^ Profit
1972 Kellogg’s Set $1,165.00 $3,085.64 ($462.85) $1,457.79
1960’s Mantle Postcards $27.99 $82.55 ($12.38) $42.18
1966 Topps Lot $20.50 $46.00 ($6.90) $18.60
1967 Vene. Topps Mantle $432.80 $825.00 ($123.75) $268.45
1960’s Insert Lot $420.00 $1,004.88 ($150.73) $434.15
1960’s Empty Boxes $645.00 $1,914.60 ($287.19) $982.41
1956 Adventure Gum Set $956.13 $1,405.40 ($210.81) $238.46
1961 Golden Press Set $3,451.20 $3,956.15 ($593.42) ($88.47)
1957 Topps Partial Set $122.01 $190.01 ($28.50) $39.50
1909-Modern “Grab-Bag” $796.00 $1,092.83 ($163.92) $132.91
1936 Goudey R314 Lot* $288.00 $714.55 ($107.18) $50.00 $369.37
1969-1973 Topps Yankees Lot $2,771.20 $6,200.10 ($930.02) $2,498.89
Hank Aaron “Odd-Ball” Collection* $1,086.68 $3,315.54 ($497.33) $150.00 $1,881.53
Pre-WWII card lot w/ Cobb & Mathewson* $1,882.55 $1,322.75 ($198.41) $400.00 ($358.21)
N154 Duke Presidential BB Club Pair $390.20 $675.00 ($33.75) $251.05
1934-36 Batter Up Low # Set $1,437.81 $2,120.35 ($318.05) $364.49
(23) Sandy Koufax 1950's & 60's lot* $869.60 1,315.00 ($197.25) $250.00 $498.15
1934 Goudey Wrappers Trio $84.00 $74.51 ($11.18) ($20.67)
1977-1979 Topps Rack & Cello Packs (6)* $1,090.00 $923.00 ($138.45) $250.00 ($55.45)
Perez-Steele set w/ 28 signed $570.00 $727.49 ($109.12) $48.37
Perez-Steele set w/ 42 signed $720.00 $1,104.52 ($165.68) $218.84
1952 Bowman Ftb Small Signed Lot (38) $1,140.00 $2,243.51 ($336.53) $766.98
1961-62 Fleer Oscar Robertson Signed Lot (2) $690.00 $886.06 ($132.91) $63.15
1969 Baseball lot w/ PSA graded $276.00 $403.44 ($60.52) $66.92
(5) 1961 Topps Magic Rub-Offs PSA Lot $112.72 $371.01 (55.65) $202.64
1957 Swift Meats Complete Set (18)* $800.00 $800.00
(41) 1933-2001 Multi-Sports PSA Lot $960.00 $2,065.72 ($309.86) $795.86
(36) 1950s-2000s Multi-Sports Group* $900.00 $488.93 ($73.34) $800.00 $315.59
1933-1989 Wax Pack Wrapper Lot (650)* $980.00 $996.00 ($149.40) $400.00 $266.60
1941-2004 Multi-Sport Treasure Chest (33)* $1,100.00 $490.43 ($73.56) $700.00 $16.87
1912 B18 Blanket Find (100)* $1,270.80 $223.00 ($33.45) $1,100.00 $18.75
1962-63 Parkhurst Hockey Lot (45+)* $545.40 $191.26 ($28.69) $450.00 $67.17
1953 to 1969 Mickey Mantle Group (16)* $1,800.00 $1,236.91 ($185.54) $1,000.00 $251.37
1956-1959 Topps and Fleer Baseball Collection (48)* $1,130.00 $1,130.00
1961-1969 Baseball Collection (61)* $804.95 $804.95
1948-1965 Yogi Berra Collection (26)* $1,452.17 $479.50 ($71.93) $1,050.00 $5.41
Lot of (4) Signed Perez-Steele Postcards* $676.59 $676.59
1950's-1980's Football Wrapper Lot (42)* $920.00 $65.00 ($9.75) $875.00 $10.25
$34,785.30 $42,236.64 ($6,268.00) $10,886.54 $12,069.88

*-denotes inventory still on hand (see below).
^ -inventory on hand is valued at a conservative estimate of fair market value for remaining items.
`-grading fees are expensed when the card is sent to PSA, fees are not paid until PSA has completed the order. Fees that are expensed, but not paid are sitting in Accounts Payable below.

Total Grading Fees`: $2,473.93 (2020: $113.00)

Current On Hand

Cash: $720.14

Inventory
This section will be moved to the Google Spreadsheet (it was taking up too much room).

ALSO! If anyone is interested in what the financials for this project would look like, see below. With 2019 officially in the book, I moved the final 2019 financial statement over for a year-over-year comparison:

As of 2/14/2020 2020 YTD 2019 Final
Cash $720.14 $1,680.15
Accounts Receivable $855.00 $-
Inventory^ 10,886.54 $10,605.75
Accounts Payable` ($1,700.52) ($1,858.62)
Retained Earnings ($9,262.28) $-
Initial Capital ($1,165.00) ($1,165.00)
Revenue ($2,073.49) ($40,163.15)
Cost of Goods Sold $1,315.80 $22,582.96
Fees (15% of Rev.) $311.02 $5,956.97
Grading Fees $113.00 $2,360.93

I look forward to continuing to update everyone on this. Hope you enjoy as much as I do.

Jason

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