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An Exercise to Help You Write Sales Copy

Today I’m going to share a simple exercise that will benefit your blogging and help you with writing sales copy. You can do this exercise in as little as four minutes, and I found it to be effective.

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Ed Dale of The Challenge and MagCast recently shared this idea at a conference. His talk was brilliant, and I took pages of notes on copywriting and sales because these are things I’ve struggled with.

For most people, selling doesn’t come easy. Ed made a lot of sense when he said that selling shouldn’t be about getting people to buy, it should be about “pain relief” and “gain creation”.

If you are trying to sell a quality product that will enhance other people’s lives, you might want to give this exercise a try.

In Today’s Episode A Simple Exercise to Write Effective Sales Copy

  • For 2 minutes – List as many pains of your readers that you possibly can. Big, small, tangible pains, something personal, anything you can think of.
  • Pause for 2 minutes and list these pains
  • For 2 minutes – List as many gains as your readers may want. What results and outcomes do they have? What are their dreams?
  • Pause for 2 minutes and list these gains

Key Takeaways

  • After the exercise we wrote our sales copy.
  • Sales copy is most effective when it aims to bring pain relief or gain creation
  • After the conference, I used this technique to write a sales email
  • Before Ed’s talk, I was stuck on this email writing process
  • I went through the exercise, and highlighted top pains and gains, then I began writing
  • Now I wasn’t writing about the product, I was writing about my readers pain and dreams and how this product would help them
  • This process changed the email and the energy I wrote it with
  • This email not only converted well, my readers thanked me for selling them that ebook
  • This exercise really helped me, and I would encourage you to give it a try
  • This exercise could also be useful in a whole heap of other places
    • Best place to try this is before you create the product – what are your readers pains and desired gains
    • Thinking about starting a new blog or niche
    • When choosing categories for your blog
    • When creating opt-ins for your blog
    • When brainstorming and deciding what to write about
    • When writing a post – get in touch with the specific need
Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view

Hi there and welcome to Episode 105 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind, a blog and podcast designed to help you to blog better and build profit around your blog.

Today, I want to talk to you about writing a sales copy. It’s a task that many of us as bloggers avoid and don’t feel comfortable doing. We’d much prefer to write a blogpost than to sell something, but it is an important skill to develop. Today, I want to suggest to you a simple exercise that can help you to do it—to get you into the right frame of mind to write a sales copy. You can find today’s show notes at

The exercise I want to share with you today should only take about four or five minutes. It’s something that, as I’ve mentioned before, is going to help you to get into the right frame of mind to write sales copy. It’s something that I learned a couple of weeks ago now at a conference from a guy called Ed Dale. You can find Ed at and he’s the founder of The Challenge, MagCast, and numerous other businesses.

Ed gave a really great talk at the conference, SuperFastBusiness, which was all about practical tips on copywriting. I literally took pages and pages of notes on his talk, mainly because selling is something that I’ve always struggled with. If you’re anything like me, you also probably need some help with writing sales copy. It’s a job I don’t like to do because selling never really came easy for me.

I used to actually work in sales in an office supplies store and I really didn’t enjoy the job. For me, it always felt a little bit on the sleazy, manipulative side, trying to make people buy stuff that perhaps they didn’t really want to buy. Ed’s exercise that he talked about in his talk reminded me that selling really shouldn’t be that way. Selling really shouldn’t be a sleazy, manipulative type of thing.

Ed said something during his talk that really stuck in my mind. He said, “Selling shouldn’t be about trying to manipulate people into buying something that they don’t really need. Selling should be about pain relief and gain creation.” This will become a little bit clearer as I explain this exercise. 

Before I give you the exercise, I do want to stress that this only works when you’re selling a quality product, if you’re selling something and writing about something that’s going to enhance people’s lives. It’s not going to work if you’re selling a dodgy product, but that’s not the type of product that I’m confident you’re creating.

Hopefully the products, the ebooks, the courses, the physical products that you’ve created are things that help people in some way. As a result, we need to be confident about that. I think that’s one of the first things that we really need to understand when we’re writing sales copy, is that we need to believe in the products that we are promoting. It’s not manipulating someone when you are presenting them with an offer to buy something that you believe in.

Ed’s talk was a good reminder to me on that because the products that I’ve developed over the years, the ebooks, the courses, and the events that I run, I believe in them. There are things that I do believe eliminate pain and help people make gains. I think that’s the first point—is you need to think about that product and I guess there’s an analysis on is it a good enough product. That’s a whole other podcast. Today, I want to talk about this exercise and this exercise is very simple. It only takes a few minutes. All you really need to do it is a piece of paper and a pen or something to write on and something to write with.

The exercise has two parts to it. Grab your piece of paper and pen. You may actually want to do it right now. Pause the podcast in a moment when I tell you to start writing but for two minutes, I want you to list as many pains of your readers as you possibly can—as many pains, as many problems, as many needs, as many painful things in their lives that relate to the product that you’re going to sell them, of course.

Anything really goes here. They might be deep pains, they might be little pains. They might be pains that are justified and they might be pains that are a little bit selfish. Anything goes at all. They could be tangible or they could be something more personal. It might be something like, “I don’t know how to do something and that’s painful,” or it might be something really more personal like, “I feel lonely,” or “I feel like a failure.” If you’re able to, I encourage you to pause this podcast and list as many pains of your readers as you can in two minutes. Set yourself a timer and go away and do it right now. Okay, go.

Hopefully you’ve listed a whole heap of pains of your readers. Now, the second part of this exercise is a little bit more positive. We’re not going to dwell on pain the whole time. The second half is to do pretty much the same thing but this time, I want you to list as many gains that your readers want as you can in two minutes. What results do they want? What outcomes do they want? What dreams do they have? What do they want? What are the gains that they are looking for as they pertain to your product? You might want to pause the podcast again and list them off. You’ve got two minutes to write as many gains as you can. Go.

You’ve got this list of pains and gains. Now, the task is to write your sales copy based upon those things that you’ve written, those things fresh in your mind. This exercise is most effective when you have these things at the top of your mind as you think about the sales copy. Your sales copy is more effectively written when it comes about from these things and it aims to bring pain relief or gain creation. When we tap into the reality of the pain of our readers and the gains that they want, we’re going to write something that is much more effective.

I found this to be true because two days after the conference, I found myself sitting at my desk with the job of finishing writing a sales email that I’ve been assigned to do. I’d not really had to write too many sales emails for the last couple of years because I’ve hired someone to do that for me, but that person finished up in their role just before the conference. So, I had this task fall upon me, to write this sales email. It was to promote an affiliate product that we were promoting on my Digital Photography School. That job fell on me.

Before the conference, before I heard Ed’s talk, I sat down to write that email and I’d gotten very stuck. I’d gotten very bogged down in writing that email. It wasn’t something that I was enjoying. I got bogged down in writing about the product’s features, its price, and all kinds of things about the product, but I knew the email wasn’t very good so I put it aside and then I went off to this conference.

Then, on returning home with Ed’s talk fresh in my mind, I decided to tackle that email again but this time I was going to start with his exercise. I set myself a timer on my iPhone and for two minutes I brainstormed the pain of my readers as it pertained to the product that I was writing about; the product was an ebook. Then, I came up with a list of about 15 pains of my readers. Then I did the same exercise again, thinking of the gains, things that my readers wanted. Again, as it pertained to this particular ebook.

I came up with 20–25 things, the pains and the gains. Once I had my true list, I spent a few minutes going through the lists and then highlighting the top pains and gains. I circled a few that I felt this particular product, this ebook, was going to help my readers with—pains that I thought it would help relieve and gains that I thought that would help them to create. Then I started to write. 

This time, it was a very different process. This time I wasn’t writing about the product anymore. I wasn’t writing about why the product was good. I wasn’t writing about its features or its price. I wasn’t writing about the offer itself. This time, I wrote about the pain I knew my readers had and I wrote about the dreams that I knew that they had. Then I introduced them to the product that I knew would help fill the gap between those pains and gains.

It was like chalk and cheese. The first email and the second email were so different. The first draft of the email was about the product. The second email was about my reader. The first draft felt like I was trying to convince people to buy something. The second email felt like I was presenting a solution to something that I knew my readers were already looking for. It really changed the email itself and also changed the energy that I wrote with.

It was quite a remarkable thing. It’s something that I’ve done a couple of times since. I had to write a second email a week later about the same product. We did a two-email campaign and I did the same process again. That time I wrote about a couple of different pains I knew my readers had that I knew this product would solve. I was able to come up with this two-email campaign that was based purely upon the pain of my readers and the gains that I thought that this product was going to deliver to them.

I had this first email edited, loaded up. We sent it out that night and it converted really well. I even got emails back from my readers thanking me for selling them that ebook. That, to me, is gold—when you not only make a profit but you get people thanking you for convincing them to buy that product. That is just where it all comes together for me. That’s a dream come true.

This exercise really did help me, and I would encourage you to use it next time you need to write something where you’re selling something to your readers. Having said that, I think this exercise is also useful for a whole heap of other places. I want to suggest that you do it whether you’re writing sales copy or not. I think this is ideal to do in a number of places. Let me suggest six of them for you.

I think this is actually the best place that you can do this is before you develop your product as well. Don’t just do it when you are writing the sales copy for a product but before you even create your product, do this exercise. What are the pains of your readers, what are the gains that they’re looking for and develop a product around that. That, to me, is an even more logical place to do this exercise. You can do it again when you’re wanting to sell that product. But if you’ve done that before you create your product, you’re developing a product with those pains and gains in mind and selling it is going to be so much easier.

Another place that you might want to do this exercise is if you’re thinking of starting a new blog or you’re thinking about choosing or refining your niche, working out your unique angle as a blogger—the sorts of decisions, “What’s my blog going to be about? How am I going to brand it?” Those types of decisions that we make in the early days of our blog, this would be a perfect exercise to do just before that.

When you’re choosing categories for your blog, it might be another time to do it. List the pains of your readers and put them next to the categories of your blog. Do you need to add a new category, a new topic, for your blog?

You could do this before you’re wanting to create an opt-in for your blog. If you’ve heard us talk in previous episodes about the value of having an opt-in for your blog to get people to sign up to your newsletter but you don’t know what to create as an opt-in. Again, do this exercise. Brainstorm the pains and the gains of your readers. Then create a little opt-in that relieves pain, that creates a gain for your readers.

You could do this exercise when you’re deciding what to write about on your blog, when you’re brainstorming ideas for content. To me, this is probably one of the most logical places to do this exercise. You can do it for two minutes and come up with 20 different pains of your readers and then go away and you’ve got 20 different blogpost ideas there.

Of course, you can do this in the moment just before you’re about to write your blogpost. You might have your topic but you want to really get in touch with your reader’s pains and gains as well. That’s going to make your blogpost much more effective as well.

I hope you can see the value of this exercise. I actually think it’s probably well worth doing at least once a week in one of these different ways on your blog. You may actually want to do it every time you write a blogpost. I’ve certainly used it probably four or five times in the last week, both alone but also with team members to help them to get inside my reader’s heads a little bit more as well.

Even as I’m just thinking about this, this is something you could do with your team. I’m just thinking of my customer service team, this would be great to do with the person who does my customer service emails to help them appreciate where my readers are coming from, to help them appreciate the support or request that they get all the time. You could use this exercise and the results of this exercise with potential advertisers on your blog as well.

I’m coming up with a whole list of things here on the fly but hopefully you can see the use of this particular exercise, and I would love to see what happens when you do it. If you go to, there’s an opportunity there for you to suggest where you think this exercise is most useful and to tell us about the results that you get when you do it as well.

Hopefully, this has been helpful to you. Love to hear your feedback on it, and I’d also love it if you have a moment to review this podcast over on iTunes or on Stitcher, or whatever podcast listening tool that you have. Those reviews help us to get more people to listen to the show but they also help me stay a bit inspired but also improve the show. If you’ve got any practical suggestions, you can leave them there.

The other thing I would encourage you to do is to head over to I’ve actually just set up a little tool there on that particular page where you can ask a question using your voice. I want to take some of the questions that you ask on that particular page and feature your voice on a future podcast and tell everyone where to go and find your blog if you want to leave a URL as well. But most importantly, I want to get your questions and answer them.

I would love this podcast to be based upon the real problems, needs, pains, and the gains that you want. I would love the future episodes to be based upon those. If you’ve got a question, a problem, a pain, or a dream that you want to achieve, head over to where you can ask a question. You’ll see there is a little green button with the words, “start recording.” You’ll need to have a microphone. Most computers have them built in. Hit that button. It may ask you to give permission to use the microphone and then you’ll be able to record your question. You can listen to it back before it goes live and then it will be sent to me via email just like a voicemail. If it’s a question I think I can answer, I will tackle it in a future episode.

Again,, if you’ve got a question. Please do leave your name and a URL to your blog if you don’t mind people knowing where they can find you. You might get some new readers as well. 

Thanks for listening to episode 105. I’ll chat with you in the next couple of days in episode 106.

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