There’s a certain tone of voice some biz owners use in their sales copy that irks the shit out of me. It is the internet marketing equivalent of Chad from the high school track team. I call it Bro Copy. Which according to a friend of mine is not a term I coined, but one he did during a chat we had, so I am going to throw credit over to him. You’re welcome, James. You’d better bloody be reading this.
ANYWAY. Bro Copy. It’s usually written by a 27-year-old white dude (a ‘Copybro’, of course) who is hustling on a beautiful island in Thailand to growth hack his business. Copybros are often part of the digital nomad tribe. That’s because freelance writing is touted as one of the best ways to get started as a digital nomad. The Copybro’s ultimate goal is to earn a shitload of cash online so he can travel the world constantly (but strangely he seems to stay only in cheap countries).
The way he attempts to accomplish this is by writing hyperbolic, formulaic bullshit that tricks people into paying large sums of money for utter crap. However, often the only thing Copybros manage to sell are their own courses about how to write hyperbolic, formulaic bullshit so you too can make six figures* selling a course about writing hyperbolic, formulaic bullshit.
* definitely not six figures.
How to Identify a Copybro
Let’s begin with how to identify the man himself. A Copybro’s morning routine starts with wanking over the picture of Tim Ferriss he’s taped to the inside cover of his Moleskine (black, soft cover, ruled), followed by three hours of meditating with whatever the latest cool meditation app is, usually unsuccessfully because he’s still thinking about Tim.
After this, he will consume a litre of coffee with butter mixed into it (because coffee is nothing but joyless fuel for the mind and body). He will blend them together with his Vitamix, which he brought over to Thailand in his tiny carry-on backpack, which is the only luggage he needs, because the only possessions he owns are his Moleskine, his MacBook Air, his podcast recording equipment, a pair of aviator sunglasses, and two sets of quick-dry clothes, which he washes by hand and hangs to dry overnight. Oh, and the Vitamix. And all the stuff he left behind at his parents’ place. Once the coffee has become one with his bloodstream, the Copybro will complete an optimised 47-second bodyweight workout.
Next? Writing 150,000 words in a mind-shattering five minutes. However, don’t let this make you feel inadequate, because this is a habit he’s built gradually, which means you can totally do it too. Incredibly, he started out writing just three words a day – and now he’s all the way up to 150,000! You too can achieve this by buying one of the pisspoor, unedited piles of binspiration he publishes to Kindle every week. Every single one of them becomes a NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER!! instantly under at least seven irrelevant, obscure categories no one ever searches for. He also has a pisspoor, unedited Kindle book for sale about HOW TO BECOME A BESTSELLING KINDLE AUTHOR IN 24 HOURS EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE TALENT, INTEGRITY OR ANYTHING WORTHWHILE TO SAY.
The Copybro’s website is a good place to confirm your suspicions that you are, indeed, faced with a Copybro. If you are ultra short on time, you can simply look for photos that fit this description:
- Young white dude on a tropical beach
- A coconut in his hand and a laptop on his knees
- Aviator sunglasses, as discussed
- If he’s wearing a shirt (unlikely, but we must be vigilant in our search for all types of Copybro, even the Lesser-Spotted Fully Clothed Copybro) it will be unbuttoned a bit too far
If you have a little more time, you should consult the suspect’s about page. If he is a Copybro, he will have divulged his passion for travel, his lust for life, and how he funds his travels by making ‘a killing online’. He will also disclose his location, of course, which will be Thailand.
If you really want to remove all doubt, you can read through his blog. It will be updated intermittently, and the posts will be littered with elements of Bro Copy (which I will discuss shortly) and will often talk about how great his life is and how good he is at copywriting.
Now let’s talk about how to identify Bro Copy itself. We’ll start with the way it makes you feel.
How You Will Feel When You Read Bro Copy
1. General sense of unease
It will begin with a scrunching of the nose. If, within seconds of starting to read, your face resembles a pug who’s chewing a grapefruit, you have probably unwittingly stumbled upon some Bro Copy. Something is not right here, but you need to keep reading to figure out what.
2. Full-on revulsion
It’s starting to become clear. There are too many underlined bits and words written in ALL CAPS. Too much bold text. Red text. Lots of arrows drawing your attention to specific bits. Countdown timers and scarcity tactics. Too many declarations of how this thing will help you CRUSH whatever it is you’re hoping to crush. (The last bit of your dignity, perhaps?) And just to add insult to injury: nary a single apostrophe is used correctly. And that’s a really unambiguous punctuation mark. It goes where it goes and it’s hard to argue with that. Sigh.
Do you suddenly want to punch someone in the face? Ideally the writer? You’ve realised now that what you’re reading is a sleazy river of bullshit. Do people actually buy this crap? you ask yourself. And then you start to wonder if, yes, perhaps this is what you need to do to be able to sell your stuff. And that brings us to…
Oh god. Is this really how you need to write to be able to make sales online? You can’t do that, can you? What will happen to your soul? Does this mean you have to go to hell? Oh Jesus, is that where all Copybros end up? Are you doomed to spend eternity in what is essentially a fiery frat house, teeming with arrogant, loud-mouthed douchebags?
The choice before you now is plain: you can either forge ahead with this style of bullshittery in a vain, soul-destroying attempt to sell your stuff online, or you can call it quits. You didn’t really want to make money online anyway, and you happen to quite like your commute because it means you can listen to a good three hours of your latest audiobook every day.
DISLCAIMER: This is how you will feel when you read Bro Copy – unless you are a Thailand-living, Vitamix-toting, Tim-Ferriss-wanking Copybro in the making. In that case, you will feel a growing sense of megalomania as you begin plotting your new life of making six figures and scoring hot Thai chicks.
The Common Tactics of Copybros
If you’re interested in becoming a Copybro, you’ll need to learn a few tricks to use in your sales copy. To make this super easy for you, I have listed out some of the more common culprits below. You’re welcome.
Your opening line absolutely MUST be an outrageous claim of some sort. This can either be posed as a question or simply as a statement. Example: Do You Want To Learn How To Make $1 Million In A Single Day? IT CAN BE DONE.
You should also make sure you scatter hyperbole throughout the rest of the page too, and you need to ensure all your headers are formatted in the way I’ve shown above, because you can never capitalise too many words. If you feel the urge to write the rest of your copy in this way too, go for it. Let the Copybro inside you run free.
2. Full of cliches, bullshit and other nonsense
No piece of Bro Copy is complete without some buzzwords and overused phrases. You need to hammer home that you are a shady person, and there’s no better way than using these meaningless phrases. Which ones you should use depends on what you’re selling, but these are a few firm favourites: Killing it, crushing it, hacking, hustling, exploding sales. If you decide to write them in full caps, so much the better. Also consider using 10x as though it is a legitimate verb. 10x Your Sales!!!
3. Name dropping
Since you are bullshitting here, it’s unlikely you have any legitimate testimonials to use. If this is the case for you, it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about all that amazing training you did under [name of superstar in your field]. Because reading an e-course on any subject automatically makes you really good at it.
4. Extravagant, un-backed-up claims
Little tip for you: it is far easier to bang on about how awesome this thing worked for you than it is to go out and get real testimonials, because this way you can just straight-up lie and no one can call you out on it. Thank me later.
5. Ridiculous focus on money
The only thing real business owners care about is MONEY. Be sure you don’t mention anything at all to do with making your life better in any other way than getting richer. Keep the focus 100% on how much money you can help people make and you will be golden.
These guys fucking love hashtags, so make sure you hop on that bandwagon. They have to be ones nobody would ever actually use, though. #viralhacking is a fine example. It makes more sense to use these in sales copy on social media, but hey, if you want to include them on your website, no one’s stopping you.
7. Spelling and punctuation mistakes
Because smart, high-rollers like you don’t care about dumb shit like spelling words properly or putting apostrophes where they belong. You’ve got more important shit to focus on. You also get bonus points for using as many exclamation marks as possible.
8. High intensity of ‘scarcity’ words
If you don’t use the following phrases at least ten times per page, you’re doomed to fail as a Copybro: Exclusive, Apply Now, Apply Today, Limited Spaces, Buy Today Before This Deal Goes Away Forever! (Don’t forget to capitalise them! This is super important!!!)
You must also use a countdown timer that resets itself automatically when it hits zero. Because if you don’t scare people into buying for no good reason, you simply cannot call yourself a Copybro.
Wait, You DON’T Want to Write Bro Copy?
What are you, some kind of honourable, decent specimen of a human being? Who actually has something worthwhile to sell? That you care about and believe will help people?
… and you’re terrified of writing sales copy for it, because you don’t want to come across as a sleazy, underhanded money grabber? Because selling is dirty, and not in the good way?
But what if you could sell your stuff online without using any of the shady tactics above? If you could do so in a way that made you feel okay on the inside? (I bet you can guess where this is going.)
That’s right: I can help you write non-sleazy sales copy – so you can sell your stuff without selling your soul.