Episode 272 Featuring Alex Bond

The Ultimate Copywriting Course with Neville Medhora

The Ultimate Copywriting Course with Neville Medhora

Neville Medhora is the Owner and Operator of Copywriting Course, a blog that helps existing businesses improve their copy and their conversion rates.

Neville figured out in the pre-Google days that you can get a bunch of very-targeted people to come to your website, consume your material, and even spend their money. He then applied this to every businesses he was a part of, including a rave company, the first financial blog online, Copywriting Course, AppSumo, and TheHustle.

Neville is fascinated by the ways in which humans can transfer information from one brain to another through different mediums. His fingers have typed words that’ve been sent across hundreds of millions of emails, his training videos have been viewed by thousands of entrepreneurs, and his self-proclaimed terrible jokes have made at least 3 people laugh.

On this episode, Neville and I discuss the misconceptions people have about copywriting, how to improve your copy, the blog community at large, and much more.


What is the Copywriting Course

Neville Medhora: Yeah. Copywriting course was started by another company called AppSumo, still part of the company. We were sending out 50,000 at first emails a day up to like a million people a day. And I was writing all of the copy for it. There's a lot of people reading your stuff, right? It's a big responsibility and also we're running a business.

So you're trying to get people to sell stuff. And so the reason I was able to do that was because I studied this thing called copywriting. I originally learned it from like the Gary Halbert letters, this old school back in the day, copywriter that I read his letters online. And I was like, Oh, you can actually educate people about why to buy a product.

And they won't hate you because you're actually educating them about a product. Rather than just selling them. And that's why AppSumo emails thrive because I was educating people about all these different softwares we were finding. And at the end, of course, we were offer a deal and all these people would reply back.

As you can imagine, if a million people are reading your emails, like let's say even 1 percent respond that's a lot of emails. So you get all these responses back being like, why do I love reading your emails? Like I'm not even going to buy this. But I read the entire thing. What's going on here? That was the most common question we got.

And I was just like, well, it's this thing called copywriting. And I would respond to each one. And then I was like, okay, maybe we should probably record some videos and tell people about this. Thus the copywriting course was born. So I was going to make a course about copywriting. So, you know, as you can imagine, my genius was like copywriting course.

How about that? And so it was originally kind of a side project, but enough people joined and were interested that I was like, Oh, this could actually be a real thing. Thus, that business was born around 2015. 

Alex Bond: No, that's amazing. And copywriting is one of those things that I know I have some people and some friends that are copywriters. And it's something that is a word and a term that we hear a lot. And we kind of think of it simply as like, you know, words that sell, you know, a company pays a copywriter to write the actual content to try to sell something. Is that an oversimplification? Because I feel like it is just when I say it out loud.

Neville Medhora: It depends if you're talking about nowadays. Yeah, because like think about all the media that we consume, Instagram, TikTok, all of these things are video first photo first text is almost secondary, right? And so maybe if we were if this is the 1920s, right? Maybe text, let's say the 1400s text would be the only way you can communicate to another person over the page, right?

There was no printing photos or anything like that. So back in the day, yes, copywriting was strictly words on a page, but over time what it's evolved into is. Photos, videos, how to make images, how to display a lot of data as a nice graph. To me, copywriting is getting information from one brain to another brain, right? Or one brain to a million brains. 

And so whatever that information may be, and whatever the tech of the time may be, that's what copywriting is. So maybe it's a little bit confusing. I think that the broader term would probably be like digital marketing. Right? Yeah. That would be the parent of copy. Would that make more sense?

It's just like digital marketing means all the ads that you do on Facebook with all the images, all the copy together, all those things combined. Back in the day, like I said, there was just text and then it became images and then it became video. Now it's all of the above and pretty soon it'll be like, you know, VR or something like that. So I will employ whatever technology I can to get my message across to millions of people. 

 Skills and Techniques Covered in the Copywriting Course

Alex Bond: And what are some of these specific skills or techniques that you teach in copywriting course? Cause I imagine some people were reaching out to actually get some specific answers, maybe not like teach me how to copyright better. So I'm curious what your syllabus looks like. 

Neville Medhora: Yeah. I mean, the reason I'm so qualified to do this because I walk it every day, we have like a giant community of like a thousand people that are constantly uploading their, their ads, their copy, their emails, all their sales page, homepage, landing page, et cetera.

And they say, what's wrong with this? And the reason is it's very difficult to modify your own stuff because you've seen it a million times. So my own landing page is hard for me to update because I've seen it so many times. And so one of the most common things, I think people start writing and then start meandering.

Have you ever told a story to your buddy and midway through the story you're like, What the hell am I talking about? Like, you just, you just catch yourself rambling and you're like, I don't even know where this is going. And so one of the things we always teach people is just like, okay, what's the end result of this copy?

A lot of people are like, I want it to be funny. I want it to be personable. And I'm like, wrong, you want it to sell something. That's ultimately what you're trying to do. If so for example, your audience is mainly e commerce owners, if you're going to be sending out emails for your e commerce store, the ultimate goal is to sell more of whatever you're selling.

That's generally what people actually want behind their email list, behind their market. And so a lot of people will start with just like, let me just write stuff and see where it goes. I think that's the wrong way to do it. It's like, what's the end goal? And how do we make this story get there? At the end, so there's little tricks like that that you could do that really like help focus people's marketing.

Another thing that we commonly teach people is how can we make this entertaining? How can we make it a win for us and a win for the audience to read it, right? We don't just want to be talking about our product all the time. If you sell bath towels and someone buys bath towels from you once in your e commerce store, do they really want a newsletter about bath towels every single day?

In their inbox. I don't know. Maybe. Maybe there's some weird people out there that really want that, but I don't think that that's something they want all the time. So it's trying to like gauge the audience and then what can we teach them that's more interesting for them to want to open our emails. So instead of just bombarding them with emails being like, buy bath towels.

It's like, can we talk about something about the history about why a specific bath towel is better for drying off? Why is it better for your health? Why is it that the bath towel will last longer? Even though this one costs 40 for one bath towel, it will last you for 10 years. Those types of things. Can we do that to interest people and make good content? 

So that's my goal. Like make content that people actually want to read, even if they're not going to buy your stuff, because then they'll always open it. 

Alex Bond: Yeah. And then eventually maybe they will, or at least they're, they're coming back and it's doing the job of word of mouth recommending to other people, Hey, you should read this thing that I've, I've been reading. And then that person might end up buying it. Even if person a isn't, you know? 

Neville Medhora: There's people that have followed me for 10 years and they're like, I finally bought something. And, and the cool, the cool thing about the digital world is the marginal cost of having that person carrying that person for 10 years is zero.

It doesn't cost me anything, maybe some money in email hosting or something, but yeah, yeah. So I can actually take 10 years to sell someone for like a hundred dollar product. Like that, that is okay, actually in the physical world, that would not work. 

Common Misconceptions About Copywriting: Insights from Course Participants and Colleagues

Alex Bond: And I'm curious, what are some of the misconceptions that people have about copywriting? I gave one at the top of the episode. Are there certain other things that you hear from people in the course or colleagues of yours? 

Neville Medhora: Yeah. I mean, one of the things I always think about is like copywriting has like a scammy connotation because it originated out of like the direct response world and got really popular in the fifties, sixties, seventies.

And in those times, like you look back at the old ads and you're just like, these are kind of scammy and shitty. And the reason is. They couldn't carry a person for 10 years. You have to pay. So let's say me and you go into business together, you know, in the 1970s, we're going to send a piece of direct mail out.

We have to put down thousands of dollars of our own money just to send out the physical newsletters and papers, right? And so if it doesn't do the trick and it doesn't bring enough money, like we could go broke right? Now I could send it out on on Twitter X what have you podcast anything YouTube for free right? 

Distribution is essentially free now whereas before it used to cost a lot of money that's where copywriting came out of and the thing is copywriting is one of those skills that could be used for good or for evil right so if you want to sell a great product that like a wireless mouse that works really well. That's great.

Everyone loves that. If you want to sell a product that's some scammy cough medication that actually has cocaine in it, like in the 1920s, you could also do that. And so I think that's where copywriting gets a bad connotation from some of the old scammy direct marketing things you see. And if you know, reddit. com slash vintage ads or anything like that, you'll see all these like crazy promotions from back in the day that you're like, geez, this would not fly today. 

The other thing is back in the day, people did not have the, the tools to research products. Like imagine in the 1950s. You had a catalog open and you're like, does this product really work? There was no way to figure that out. Like unless someone, you know, bought that exact product and got it, how would you have any idea what that is? 

Now you can just go in and just check on Google, like what the reviews are. And if they're all bad, then you'd be like, okay, crappy product. Or you could type in XYZ product scam and find it. And so I think that's the misconceptions of copyright that it's like this old kind of scammy, like only designed to sell type of thing. Whereas, yes, ultimately, we are trying to convince someone of an idea or to buy a product, but you can do it in a way that's helpful to both parties, myself and you. 

Alex Bond: No, I mean, you're a hundred percent right and, you know, some of the history does go back to these snake oil salesmen or these people who can't camp outside of carnivals and sell these elixirs that have no actually beneficial value, but they were so good at that piece of it. 

And, you know, it also kind of reminds me of maybe like propaganda, you know, propaganda is pretty much copywriting, but it's for a service or of some sort more than it is to like, maybe buy a product. It's more for like a general morale or something like that. So, I think there's something there. Do you see that good copy can actually be confused as some sort of propaganda or anything like that? 

Neville Medhora: I think that's a common thing, like whenever you describe what copywriting is, it's like using persuasion and psychology to like make people buy. People are like, isn't this manipulation?

And you're like, I mean, I guess that's like, sure, yeah, it could be, it could be used both ways. Just like a hammer could be used to break something as well as repair something. Right. So I think it's one of those things, like every technology, every tactic, every marketing thing can have like this light side and a dark side to it.

That's up to the individual person. I prefer in the long run. To err on the side of like people trust me and people like me so that 10 years from now, they will buy something from me. Right. They might not be the right fit at the right time. Maybe, maybe that they have no need for copywriting right now.

They have no need for any sort of digital marketing service, so they won't use me. But if they trust me over the long run, then that will, that's the way to win. And for the people I've seen that I admire most in life, they usually stick to some sort of principles like that. I think you could see a lot of bad copywriting in like the supplement world.

Yes. Lots of questionable stuff. Now, I'm not saying every supplement's bad. I'm not trying to make some sort of stance over here. I'm sure some work. But a lot of them don't and I've actually been hired to work on a lot of these and I specifically say like we can't work on some public companies because a lot of them will have like kind of dubious claims.

They'll be like, well, this 1950 study of three people said that maybe they sort of reported better liver function and you're like, what does liver function mean? And like, you know, they're building a really flimsy case to make it sound like this really does something when in reality it probably does not a damn thing.

And so I think you still see a lot of bad copywriting in the health world where it's just like. It's plausible claims, but you can't really tell, right? Like if I tell you to take like vitamin B6 or whatever, anything and says, or increase of liver function, I'm like, I don't know how to disprove that.

I don't know how to prove it or disprove it. So it just sounds plausible. I think there's a lot of that still going on in the health world where things are a little bit like, still unknown. And that used to happen a lot more, but I think it's being stamped out slowly and slowly. But yeah, copyright can be used for good or evil. Sure. Whichever way you choose to take it. 

 The Role of Copywriting in Informing and Assisting Consumer Research

Alex Bond:And you know, I think that when you're putting forth circumstantial evidence to support hyperbole, we're now in an age where that's a little, I think most shoppers are like myself and I consider myself a healthy skeptic. You know, I don't really just buy things impulsively.

I'm a very impulsive person. Don't get me wrong. I'll do things impulsively, but I don't really buy spend my hard earned money on something that I haven't ever bought before, or I haven't done at least a little bit of research on. And usually I go off the word of people who are more knowledgeable than me.

For example, I bought a TV for Black Friday last year, and I went almost solely and entirely off the recommendation of A close friend who's like a big gear head and he's into technology. So he said, I got this TV, I like it. And I was like, okay, I'm just going to do that then, you know? 

Do you feel that copywriting has the ability to inform and research so people can almost immediately buy so that they don't have to do their own research? I mean, is kind of the goal of copywriting to be supplemental for individual research? 

Neville Medhora: Yeah, I think sometimes people think of it as like this persuasion and manipulation tactic. I would say after doing thousands of pieces of copy, I'm just like, tell people what the product does. Like, it's I think that's a better way to put it.

I'm just like, Hey, this TV that you're talking about, it probably has a bunch of different features. Many other TVs probably have similar features, but you're looking for something that like basically has 4k, it looks really good. You're not like some like crazy audio file. Video file that's going to like come up to it with a microscope or anything.

And so for your purposes, that was the best TV. And it would be my job as a copywriter. If I was working on a campaign to say why this is the best TV. So for example, I bet price was a consideration for you. Yeah, yeah. I wanted like, I'm assuming you just paid 20k on the TV. No, I did not spend 20k. You wanted 4k.

You don't necessarily want. 8K, but here's the thing. Some people might not even know why 8K is like a little crazy. So for example, did you know like 4K and I'm just kind of going off basic memory of this kind of stuff. So don't quote the facts on this, but like if you're standing two feet away, you can't tell the difference between 4K and 8K, right?

Your eye doesn't see that resolution. So at a certain distance, 4K, 8K doesn't matter. So yes, if you're going to be using, you know, VR goggles, you want 8K resolution. If you're just a regular guy with the family and your TV is six feet plus away from your couch. You can't tell the difference. So you can spend 12k for an 8k TV, or you can spend a thousand bucks to get a great TV.

That's going to be you know, future proof for the next five years. And so it'd be my job as a copywriter to tell you those types of things, to educate you about the product, like why you don't need something crazy, why you don't want to go cheaper than this product, but why this is the sweet spot to buy that product.

So I'm just telling people like basic things they can understand like that. So when you talk about like 60 Hertz versus 120 Hertz for a TV, I think maybe you and I might sort of understand what that is, but I think the average consumer is like, I don't even know what hurts. So I don't, I don't get it.

Like, I don't know what the difference is. Right. And so it's your job as a copywriter to explain or show an image of like why you want the higher Hertz TV or why you don't want that type of product. And so that's why I think copywriting is just like literally explaining the features that people actually care abouton the car. 

For example, let me give you an example. Let's say that I was tasked with like selling Ford trucks. Okay? Like at Ford F-150. Now I don't know much about trucks, I don't know much about cars, but I could still be the copywriter. And here's what I would do. I would go to my local Ford dealer dealer, the biggest one in town, and I would say, who's the top guy here?

I'm working with Ford. Gimme access to your top salesman. And I would say what if people like stop and go like, Whoa, about the car. And so, for example, if you say like the Ford horsepower, people are like, Hmm. Okay, cool. That's, that's nice to us humans. Like we don't really have, like, we don't know what that actually means.

Like 426 versus 325, like what's the difference instead of he's like, you can tow seven horses. I'm like, Oh, interesting. Or I could tell one of those big fifth wheel trailers, right? I could tell the biggest one on the road and be fine with it going 70 miles per hour down the highway that actually relates to something real world. That I might actually use versus like 320 horsepower versus 425 horsepower. 

So if people are like, whoa, you could tow that much stuff, I would say that's a key point that people really like. The other thing I would ask is like, what makes people just stop and, and like play with something on the truck? And maybe he went, might say like, well, there's like this like flip down thing on the tailgate that you could, you could lower all the way to the ground and step up like steps. 

And people always want to play with that. They want to go up and down that. I'd be like, that's one of the things to figure out. So my job as a copywriter when selling anything is to figure out like what people really care about, right? 

Do they care that the chassis is made out of aluminum rather than steel? Like, do they really care about that? Or is that just something to put in the brochure on the side just to be like, well, you know, it has this, but it's not the main thing. And so my job is to figure out like what people actually care about and relate it to real terms that they can understand. So, I think actually copywriting is just like this vague tactic like you mentioned at the top of this.

This is vague tactic, but instead I'm just like, well, you have a business that makes 5, 000 a month, right? So, what if I could get you to 8,000 a month with just a couple of tweaks to your to your homepage. Would that be good? People are like, yeah, I like that. So that's what you want to sell and what really relates to people, not necessarily like the little features and benefits like that. 

Alex Bond: Well, and you're touching on something that I think is valuable. And that's the ability to have to thread the needle that I feel like can only really come from experience. You don't want to oversell and speak in jargon and to where the audience doesn't almost even understand, or they're just bombarded with too much information or they just feel like they're being sold to on a very plain, even field.

There's that sweet spot, as you said yourself, Neville, of being able to tell people what they could be missing out on by not having this product, while also not giving them a laundry list of all this stuff that I don't really care about the product. How are you able to thread that needle and find that common ground and what a customer wants to know without giving them so much information that they stop caring?

Neville Medhora: You know which customer you're selling to. So for example, maybe we do give all the jargon that See, if we're selling to the CTO of a company, the chief technology officer, well, this person was probably an engineer is probably this person probably is really interested is this made out of steel or is this made out of aluminum?

It depends who we're talking to, right? If we're talking to the person who's going to be manufacturing these aluminum frames. It really does matter. It goes into what type of aluminum, what grade is it, all that stuff. But to the end customer, do they care if it's aluminum or steel? I'd say 99.9% don't.

They don't even know what the difference is, right? Is that good? Is it bad? Is steel good? Is steel bad? Like, what's the thing? So you have to know who the end customer is and what they're actually using it for. I would actually say one of the best ways to do it is get on the phone with their customers. If you have a list of customers.

Try calling 10, try calling 20 of them to be like, why'd you buy this? What was the point? I'll tell you my first, like. Where, where this clicked in my head years ago, I ran a drop shipping company called house of rave. com is a rave and light up company. I no longer own it and it was there was all these people buying these like finger lights, but like the lights that like rubber bands that go in your fingers.

I thought it was ravers who are 16 going like on a dance floor, just waving these lights around. That's what they were marketed as. And then one day, this plumbing company. Bought 50 packs of them. And I thought it was a fake order. So I got on the phone. I was like, did y'all place an order for 50 lights?

And they're like, yeah, we did. And I was like, what are you, what are you doing with them? Like, what are you doing with these? Like, Oh, we give them to our plumbers cause they could put them on their fingers to see under, under sinks. So like they'll often have a headlamp, but you can't like, there's all this stuff blocking it.

You can't always get like the light from the lamp to like behind the sink, right? Like the pipes and everything is blocking it. I was like, holy crap. And they're like, yeah, these things are so cheap. We just give them, they mess them up. They're just dispose of them and get new ones. And I was like, holy crap.

Like I never thought about that. So meanwhile, I thought I was focusing on all these like ravers and in reality, this plumbing company was buying a bunch of them. And I was like, Oh, maybe there's like different things that people buy these for. And I used to be the person that picked up the phone for support calls.

And I knew for a fact that all these people, like I remember this parent, parents would buy them to check for monsters under their kid's beds. And I was like, man, I couldn't in a million years have thought about that. And then one time MTV bought a bunch for a set design on, on like laser guns on there.

There's some sci fi show on there and they were using it as like the laser gun, like head and then all throughout the set for like little lights and stuff like that. And I was like, Oh, for Halloween stuff, people can use this for costume design. Right. And so I actually sent out an email being like, here's all the crazy use cases for this one product.

And all these people brought it was one of my record sales days where I use good copywriting to explain all the different reasons you could buy this product. Me as a dummy thought like it was 16 year old ravers going to raves using them. In reality, 90 percent of the people were using for something totally different.

And for multiple uses. So people would think when I sent out that email, they're like, Oh, I could buy these and it would be like a handy little light. I could give it to my kids while we're camping as a little flashlight. They'll lose it. Who cares? It's so cheap. It's sense. And then there's all these different uses.

I could use it for Halloween, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And so that's, that's where I started. That's where it finally clicked. I was just like, Oh, you need to talk to your customers and see like, what are they actually using it for? Because it might not be what you think it is. 

From Blogging to Success: Neville's Journey

Alex Bond: And that's one thing that I've found a lot with a lot of the guests that I've talked to on the show is the relationship with the customer doesn't end once they buy the product. You know. 

And there's so much that happens after they actually make the purchase and get the product that a lot of brands neglect to get data on or get any feedback on. And that's kind of what I hear you say, Neville is, is that relationship and your ability as a brand to grow can be elevated with all this additional work and on the backend of things. 

I did want to kind of pivot a little bit because to my knowledge, Neville, you're heavily involved in the blogosphere and a blog is this kind of how you got started in this space, right? How did you kind of first get involved in that? 

Neville Medhora: Well, the internet was a different place at the time, right? It was a pre social media pre feeds. It's almost difficult to think now, but like the way you would like browse a social media, so to say before social media was like you had a list in your head or like a RSS feed or like bookmarks of blogs you liked.

So like, that's how you were like, I like this guy's blog. I like Alex's blog. And then you go through and just read everyone's blog. That's what you did. Now there's so many different aggregators and feeds that it's a little bit different. But I also realized that like really impressive people scroll the internet just like you do.

So for example, Elon Musk and Mark Cuban are browsing the internet. Just like me and you right there. They're going on Twitter. They're going on Facebook. They're going on Instagram and just looking at stuff and they see the same stuff. And so it was interesting because I started publishing online. I just really loved writing.

So this is before you can even make money online. But believe it or not, no one knew you could make money online a long time ago. And I would write for free just about events. I went to cool things. I was trying how to make a little business online, that kind of stuff. And whenever I go to actual conferences, I get all these people being like, Oh my God, I read your blog.

I read this. I know this. I was like, wow, these people like know me. From these dumb articles that I put online for myself, and there's really no way to like, check like how many people were viewing these, you know, like, or yeah, like primitive analytics back in the day. And so that's when I started saying like, oh, like, this is what content marketing is essentially like putting out blogs, right?

You're putting out content online, people consume it. And so that's just evolved over time to like better and better channels. And then YouTube started becoming a big thing, right? It used to just be like a free video host. They could host 30 second clips on and it got bigger and bigger. And now like, I mean, you could really build a business.

You can build a brand off of just making videos on different social platforms. And so the blogosphere I would say has actually evolved. Into these other things, you know, like I always think like if I started my career, like, you know, maybe 10 years later, maybe I just would have been a YouTuber. I probably wouldn't even been a blogger. I might've just been making videos and putting like hosting them on my blog. Maybe just like that's where it's nice to live. 

Alex Bond: Yeah, that's where vlogs came from, you know? 

Neville Medhora: I'm technology agnostic, like a person who's posting on TikTok and has a following I consider them like, you know, what we would call like a blogger back in the day, you're a person with an audience, right? And you're sending out videos or content to your audience that they love. And like I said, in the future, whatever new technology comes along VR, AR, whatever, you still have that audience. 

And so I think just like content marketing, making stuff that people like, so they follow you. Is pretty powerful and then the cool thing is like, let's say I start a new business if I have somewhat of a following already, I can announce it to these people that are just interested in what I do and you have this instant base built in.

So for example, if Disney comes out with a new they come out with a little mermaid, whatever the new thing. Every parent in the world is following Disney, so they have this marketing firepower to put behind it, where like every movie they make is going to have at least some degrees of success, right, just because they're able to get eyeballs on that movie.

And so that's my goal is to have enough eyeballs on me that if I launch something, I have a little bit of a base to jump off of and get that ball started. I'm sure you've posted Alex on the internet before on a, on a blog or something like that. 

And if you have no following, it's like you're tweeting into the void or posting into the voids, or you post a video and it gets zero views and you're like, well, that's depressing. Right? So having some sort of following is helpful. And blogging was the way that I started that. And then it's parlayed into social media, YouTube, all that kind of stuff. 

The Evolution of Revenue Generation: Assessing the Viability of Blogs in the Era of Email Newsletters

Alex Bond: Yeah. And what's interesting now is. You mentioned that it's kind of turned into the YouTube blog, social media aspect of things. But from my experience. I have a couple newsletters that I subscribe to and the perfect one to one example for what a blog was and what a blog is now would probably be email newsletters that people subscribe to more often than not. 

My question to you is, are blogs still a viable source of revenue nowadays or have they been almost totally replaced by email newsletters or even, you know blogs?

Neville Medhora: Each content format has its pros and cons. So if you're posting just on social media. Major pro, as soon as you post, you're getting likes, comments, all that kind of stuff. Major con three days from now that post is garbage. It's gone. Right now, now YouTube is like almost the opposite, like a force to get a little bit of a bump when you first post, but three years later it might take off again.

So that's one interesting thing. The interesting thing about a blog is, I'd say a blog right now, of all the content forms to put out, is the hardest to make. I mean, I don't know about you, but I used to spend like hours and be proud like for hours or 18 hours in a row working on a blog post and then putting it out.

But now, there's so many different ways to put it out that it's just like that almost seems like not as wise to just spend all your time writing that blog post and then like not post it on social media or make it into a video. So, blog posts have this weird thing of like, They are the hardest to make, in my opinion, and I think most people would agree with this.

You have to like publish it and then tell people about it, right? Whereas like if you post a tweet, Twitter tells everyone about it, right? Or Facebook tells everybody about it. You don't have to do anything. A blog, you have to go and then send it out via a newsletter or via your social media. But here's the thing.

There is a thing about blog posts that if you're able to rank, okay? Now, so if you're not, then, you know, this is a different equation. If you're able to rank your stuff, so I've been good at SEO for a long time, and I'm able to rank certain articles as a top number one to three to 10 spot, right? And over time, what happens is the rich get richer with like with those types of articles.

So someone's typing like copywriting exercises, and I'm ranking number one, all these people come and search for copywriting exercises, find my post. Now maybe only 1 percent are really interested in what I have to say or going to sign up to my email list. But if I'm getting 100 to 1000 visits a day on that thing, that adds up to a pretty good number.

And so for years up until now, the last three years, basically a big tectonic shift in SEO. All my businesses relied on SEO to get all the leads. That was, that was my superpower for sure. And so I think blog posts are still worth it. If they can rank, how about that? That's, that's the huge thing. 

If you're writing a blog and it just doesn't rank, I am seeing a little bit less reason to just do blogs rather than social media because social media is just so immediate. I mean, if I have a thought, I don't write a blog post about it or I read a Twitter post about it. And then if that Twitter post does well, I write a blog post. 

Alex Bond: Yeah. I'm sorry. I just, I think that the ability for us to now think and position our words and our thoughts into 150 characters or less. Is kind of a valuable asset because everyone knows how to do that now so you don't need to say what you need to say in 500 to 1000 words when you can say it in 200 letters, you know? 

Neville Medhora: Do you remember the SEO advice from 5 to 7 years ago was make 10,000 word posts and now I'm thinking. Do you need a 10,000 word post to explain, explain how to make scrambled eggs?

No, I think you need a 20 second TikTok to do it. Like you don't need it. You just have to remember like a lot of that information that people are saying is old information, right? And so now I would never write a 10. Actually, Google actually actively doesn't show those really long posts anymore, which it was the funny thing.

They actually show like medium length to short posts. And the reason is back in the day, if you want to learn how to make scrambled eggs, You looked up the first result on Google and just read that. And that was the whole thing that was your entire search. So you need to learn everything. You need to learn the history of scrambled eggs, how to make a scrambled egg, how to make scrambled egg with cheese, et cetera.

Now I can find all that stuff to sound like I didn't have to click into the results on Google, or I could search Instagram. I could search YouTube and find video results. And so people searching are searching different for different things. They used to want one search result that had everything in the world about that subject.

Now it's just like, I want this specific piece of information. And then with the next step of like generative stuff, like, you know, chat, GPT, Google, etc. I mean, it's getting even more granular to where I could, I don't want the whole history of something. I just want the exact thing I'm looking at. 

So what people want is changed and people don't want a 10, 000 word post on how to like do a simple thing. They want the quick stuff. And so you're right. It does take a lot more mental effort to say, well, there's a lot about the subject, but here's the core of it. So, yeah, I actually think people want more succinct stuff now. 

I don't think I fully answered your blog question, though, because the thing is, if you are putting out newsletters, the thing is, if you send it out and it's just done, right, you have a weekly newsletter, it doesn't live anywhere. And unfortunately, what happens is that your your stuff just goes into the ether. 

So I do think you want to keep it on a blog somewhere so you can build an asset. And at some point, if you want to recycle that content, reuse it, republish it somewhere, it does live somewhere. So I think a blog is an important part if you are sending out information or doing content marketing of any sort.

Also, man, I don't know about you, but we have seen platforms come and go. I mean, it used to be Facebook pages was like what people were spending millions of dollars on to build up their Facebook page. When the hell is the last time you went to a Facebook page? I mean, I know this product still exists in that ecosystem, but it's not promoted.

And then it used to be Facebook groups. That was like the big hot thing. Now it's like I look at all the big groups I was part of, they're deserted, right? It's just like people aren't using that the same way they used to. If you're building on top of a platform, at some point that platform or that product might fall out of use. And if you at least kept all your information on a blog somewhere, you still control it, you still retain it, you still have ownership of it. 

The Essence of Compelling Blogs: Decoding the Balance Between Good Copy and Unique Voice

Alex Bond: Yeah, no, I think that's an excellent point. That's a really good point. I wanted to know Maybe why people aren't just recently, your example, why people don't stay on Facebook. Maybe it's not compelling enough. The it's to user generated there. The voice is all over the place. 

But my question to you, Neville is which is more important in a compelling blog. I'm going to try to ask you to pick one of these two things. Is it is it good copy? Or is it a unique and original voice? 

Neville Medhora: Can it be both? Well, I mean, the thing is like, if you're asking a question now, like just remember the technology is changing. I think the generative stuff, like if you're like asking how to unclog a sink, do you really need like a compelling voice? You necessarily could just like chat GPT spin up something being like, Hey, plunge the sink, whatever.

Alex Bond: But for example, with how gives me pictures, so I kind of like going to them to get all my, my questions answered because I'd consider that part of their voices. It almost operates like a children's book. So I can use it regardless of the expertise of the question that I'm asking, you know, because that's kind of the best way for people to learn.

Neville Medhora: That's how you learn the best. And so, yeah, I do think that is a thing. The other thing I think having a unique voice is going to be even more important. It's always been important. I think it's going to be far more important. Actually, I think it's going to be actually one of the only things. So for example, all your people are e commerce people, right?

So if you sell yo yos or or cool shorts, but that's all you, you just sell that. There's no personality on your site. You just sell a commodity. So people buy the shorts and then they leave and never come back. But then a brand like Chubbies has made it like this lifestyle type of thing, right? They've really made a brand, a voice around it.

So you almost like, I mean, I don't even like. Buy chubby stuff, but I like subscribe to their newsletter because it's kind of fun. It's goofy and like, you know, and so I come back over and over and then, you know, it actually, sometimes I do buy every once in a while I do buy it. 

And so having that unique voice, I think is important in building a brand or building some sort of voice online because like now there's so much generative stuff that how do you know it's Neville? How do you know it's Alex? How do you know it's someone? 

And having some sort of unique hook is always helpful. Yeah, it's always been. Like, I started years ago drawing little stick figures. And people are always like, I love your little stick figures. I'm like, of all the things, like my crappy little drawings that I just, they were crappy because I don't know how to draw.

People started associating me with that. And I was like, this is actually a cool thing. Because like, if I put a little stick figure on something, they instantly know it's me, right? I didn't have to say it is. They're just like, oh, that's novel. And so it's, it's cool to have like some little hook. And sometimes those hooks come up by accident.

With AppSumo, I started calling the customers Sumo lings. There was like all these other alternative, like AppSumians and stuff like that, but it was just a Sumolings. And people just love that term. And that just like became the hook, right? And so it's like in our copy of like, Hey, Sumolings, like that was like a small amount of like branding.

We didn't spend a lot of time on it. It's just like that little intro. People enjoyed that kind of thing. So I do think having some sort of unique voice, unique opinion, it is pretty important. I think right away, you don't have to have that all the time. And sometimes you develop it over time. I'm interested.

Beyond Copywriting: Exploring Transferable Skills and Industries for Copywriters

Neville Medhora: Let's change it from copywriting to like digital marketing to selling online or just selling in general. Right. I'm 40 years old and I, by the time I'm 50, I want to be out of my competitive. I want to retire from competitive work life. And what that means is I don't want to retire. I don't want to do nothing, but I don't want to be in an industry where I'm competing against an 18 year old kid across the world.

Cause they're going to be hungrier. Like, so if I want to be like the coolest, craziest travel blogger, by the time I'm 50 and you have a family and all that stuff, you're just not going to be able to like have the time or energy, or maybe even the desire to do something like that. Whereas an 18 year old kid with nothing to lose.

It's going to fucking eat you every day. And so, so I want to retire. And from that, I do consulting for people and there are a whole host of industries outside of the internet world. We just live in this internet world. So we think everything's an e commerce store. We think everything is some sort of like content marketing course or something.

That's not true. That's actually a very small part of the economy, the entire economy. There's a company. That develops like train systems, right? This is all they do. There's software for like scheduling trains, big hundreds of millions of dollar a year company. There's all these different companies outside of the internet world that need help writing things, convincing things, selling things.

So I actually focus on more like, do I know how to sell to people? And do I know how to make people who want to buy stuff come to me? I think that's what I view it as. And copywriting is a way to do it. But the ultimate end thing is like, if I want to go into the train industry, how do I become the guy that everyone trusts in the train industry? Right? 

So there's one there. The old school way is actually like getting on the phone and cold calling everyone. Right? And that does still work. But there's a bit, there's a different dynamic over there. Whereas the way I'm thinking about it is like, okay, give me a year. What can I do to become like super well known, well respected, or at least the person that people come to, to ask questions about this industry.

And then if I want to sell something or some sort of service or product that they come to me rather than me, you have to go to all of them. Right. So that's the way I view it. And copywriting is just one way to do that. So if you notice it, copywriting course is actually not designed to make you a copywriter, like a professional copywriter.

If you go through our sales page, there is something about that. It's a career accelerator because like whatever career you're in, if you're good at copywriting, you'll be better at it. But you'll notice like we actually don't train people to become professional copywriters. That's never been our focus.

People will sometimes join for that and be like, how do I get a copywriting gig? And I always actually tell them, I'm like, hold it. Why do you want copywriting only? Is it because some person told you that copywriting is a great way to make money? I actually encourage people to start a freelancing business where they freelance on anything.

It doesn't have to just be copywriting. And so a lot of people that want to become professional copywriters, I actually think that's maybe a misdirected thing. Don't become a professional copywriter. Learn to sell. Right? In general. So you can go to any industry you want. Like I, I am confident that if I went into any industry, even if I don't like it, I could probably do really well just because I know the principles of selling or how to get people to listen to me.

And so that's what I get out of copywriting. We actually don't train people to become copywriters. Because like you said, I think some people are just like, I want to become a copywriter, but then they're not interested in any of the clients that they're, they're involved with. So I'm like, learn to sell. That's the main thing that we're teaching over here. 

The Impact of AI on Digital Marketing and Copywriting

Alex Bond: In the current zeitgeist, I've already asked a few guests something about this question. But you're extremely passionate about digital marketing and copywriting. I'm curious what your opinion on how much this industry can be changed or affected for good or bad by proliferation of artificial intelligence.

Neville Medhora: Massively. What's not? I mean, I remember starting out. The online thing in like the year, like 1998, 2000. Right. So, I mean, it wasn't even like technically that, that long ago, but it was a completely different landscape, right? Like people used to read the newspaper, people read magazines, people watched TV, not everyone even had cable.

And so it was a whole different landscape. So imagine me in 1998 being like, Yeah. Do you think this, like, internet thing is going to catch on? Because remember, this, like, look, go look at the 90s. Yeah. Look up 1990s, 2000s news broadcasts. And they're like, you know, what's this thing, the internet? Like, it's kind of dumb. It's for nerds. 

And to be fair, not to like, you know, throw them under the bus. It was this really niche, random thing. There was no rules on it. It was hard to access the internet. Not everyone had access to it. You know, in the year 2000 or something like, you know, 30 or 50 million people in the world had had internet and it was slow and it was stupid and it was expensive and you had to have a very expensive computer to access it, right?

It's like a cable plugging in, you just sat in one place. Now, obviously with your phone, it's a whole different equation, right? And so I think the artificial intelligence thing is like, It's like being in the year 2000 being like, do you think people are going to read news on the internet? You know, I think it's almost like a silly question.

The answer is absolutely 100 percent resounding. Yes. I cannot see an argument for how this goes backwards at this point. And so what's going to happen is All these emails that I see people stressing over of like, how do I send an email to this company? How do I do a cold email intro? Those types of things that people didn't necessarily want to do, but had to do are going to go out the window.

Now it's going to be like, okay, artificial intelligence make you five emails. Which one do you want to send? I think that's the way of moving forward. And that's why I think when, when people only say like copywriting, copywriting has reshifted from like copyright from just text to, to just images, to videos, all that kind of stuff.

That's why I say that the parent is like maybe digital marketing is probably the parent term. So is it going to be affected? Absolutely. Yes. I think in the short run, not much is going to happen in the long run. A lot is going to happen. It's going to absolutely drastically change. It's like going from people literally typesetting Metal plates to print out the newspaper to being completely done on Figma, right?

I think the ultimate end goal is going to be the same that like copywriters are going to be trying to sell or content marketing people are going to be trying to get eyeballs and sell, but the tools are going to completely change. And yes, artificial intelligence going to be a big part of it. And the good news is all the monkey work that you don't want to do is going to go away when I started.

To just, like, get a domain name was very difficult. To get a domain name and a website set up, you had to be, like, a tech person. You had to. Now, that's just done. You get a Squarespace, you're up and running, right? You get a blogger. com, you go to twitter. com, you essentially have a blog, right? 

So all those things that were like really annoying and hard to do and expensive are just going to go away. So think about all the things that are annoying and hard to do and expensive right now, and those will all be replaced by some sort of AI stuff. 

Alex Bond: But to kind of follow your thread and pull on it a little bit. With that analogy of the Internet, I was young, but I do recall it being very Wild West. I mean, even still, the Internet is is really hard to regulate, right? And so I come into occasions where You know, I don't, I'd much rather, I don't know, support people. 

And for example, I read an article the other day, I read the entirety of the article and then at the bottom of it, it said, you know, this article was generated by artificial intelligence and chat, and I was like, what the heck? I felt like I got hoodwinked a little bit, you know, instead of maybe at least being at the top of the article. 

I'm just curious if you have any sort of, I don't know, insight or theories on if it will follow the same path of the internet and being like, people are just going to use it in any way they want to know how until it gets regulated and there are no rules, essentially. Because that's what kind of scares me, if I'm being honest. 

Neville Medhora: That's going to be like an old person way of thinking. Like it's like an old person back in the day being like, you know, back in my day, I remember the same thing with ATMs. Like, I didn't like going to the bank and older people would be like, yeah, I used to go to the bank and have a chat.

And so I'm like, how the hell would I go want to chat at the bank? That's so stupid. And I think it's going to be the same thing that people are like, well, this video was generated by artificial intelligence, not a person. And in my mind, I'm like. And like, what's the problem here? I don't see the inherent problem in it.

I think it's just nostalgia. Right. I remember when it happened with cursive, they were like, they're not going to teach cursive in schools. And I always thought like, Why don't why do you need to learn cursive cursive was invented with like pens that were dimmed in ink so you couldn't lift it off the page.

This is not a problem anymore. So what is why are we still learning that solution when this isn't a problem anymore? And so I think it's going to be like that where there will be some sort of delineation that this is written by a person versus an artificial intelligence or. A lot of times people won't care.

So for example, whenever you type in like how to cook an egg and Google has those search results at the top that say like, you know, they give you the little snippet answers. Those are generated by a computer, but I read them just as well, right? So long as I'm getting the answer, do I really care who it's from?

Right? Now let's say I'm looking for investment advice. Right now I probably want my investment advice from Warren Buffett rather than a computer at the moment. Right. So, so that, that would matter, but for a lot of things on like, how do I replace the battery on my iPhone? If it's not charging up enough, do I care that that's the GPT given answer?

If it's correct, I don't, I personally don't care. And I think that the way that that question is posed by people of like, well, it's not made by human. I'm like, at some point, the, the, the AI is going to be better. And so it's like, kind of like, you'd rather have a human driver. 

But now like the Teslas are getting so good that you're like, maybe I'd rather just have a machine driver than a human driver. So I think it's going to go that way. I think it's just going to get so good that people won't care. Or if they do care, they'll follow a specific person where they can hear a human perspective on something. But I think that's going to happen.

Alex Bond: I think that's a totally valid point. And maybe it's because the article I was reading was like, An analysis of a movie that I just watched. And so I feel like the arts for me personally, this is totally a person. I don't I don't want to speak on behalf of anyone aside from my own, but, like, movies, film, TV, creative stuff like that is very human emotion for me. 

So when I watch a movie. Feel a human emotion from it and then read a critical analysis from it and then find out it was done by a robot. I felt some type of way about it. I'm just being transparent.

Neville Medhora: You know what? You know what though? That's only a year old. That's only a year old. GPT came out about a year ago. And so there was, there was GPT before that. GPT 2 was a joke. It didn't really work. GPT 3 finally worked, but you had to use a company like Copy AI, Jasper, et cetera, to actually use it.

And now chat gpt came out, but just a year ago, not even, and like, this is so new that there's going to be this period of adjustment of like, whoa, like some artificial intelligence wrote this. We are not going to be saying like an artificial intelligence wrote this. It's going to be like, like your business is on the web.

You know, it's going to be totally natural that like walmart. com that you go to bonobos or chubbies they hit, they sell online every, of course they sell online. No one's blown away that people sell online anymore. Right. And I think no one's gonna be blown away like in five years that you use AI in some case.

And keep in mind a lot of the stuff that we're doing, so for example, us talking to each other. This is all modulated by machine learning. So AI used to be called machine learning far before that. It's been around for a while. It's just getting to this point that people can use it easily and interact with it that they're like, Oh my God, this is kind of a breakthrough moment. But I guarantee you in two years is all the old news. Won't even be talking about it. 

Alex Bond: And it already is in certain parts of our life. And that's what I totally am on board with you on. We just don't like when our autocorrect is called AI. Well, we've been using autocorrect for probably eight years now, and that's all. Spell check was a big thing. It's the exact same thing. No, I mean, you're totally right. 

Neville Medhora: They were just like, with spell check, will kids learn how to spell? And my answer to this, like if I have featured children. Is it the most important thing that they learn how to spell a word correctly if the computer is going to do it?

Or for example, right now, it's like, I don't need to know directions all that well because my phone is so good at doing it. Look, if the apocalypse happened and I have to learn how to use a map again, I'll be able to do it. But at the same time, do I need to memorize all the locations when just Uber will pick me up and do it?

Do I need to? I don't know. I don't think so. I think technology kind of lifts a lot of that burden off of your plate. And so writing Boring stuff. So far, here's a, here's a good example where AI is super helpful for us. We post a video on YouTube and you have to make those little chapters on YouTube. So you have to go to this part and say, Alex and Neville talked about this, and you have to write a description of it.

AI will just do that. It'll just take your transcript and make that, make that stuff for you. It'll find the most interesting spots. It'll make a description and it does it about 85 percent to 90 percent good, which is pretty, pretty good considering it's instant. Before it used to take me an hour to do it or an assistant an hour to do it.

Now it takes no time. That's a great example of where just like supporting content, supporting copy. Where we don't really want to write it, but we just have to AI could just totally replace that and you and I can focus on the more human aspects and more creative aspects of stuff. So I think I think it's a, it's going to be one of those things where if you, if you stick your hand in the sand and don't pay attention to it, it's going to pass you by.

And actually the best way to get over your fear of it because like it is a bit of a scary thing, right? It makes your heart flutter literally think like. Can this thing just do what I do? Right? Like you start worrying like, what is my value out here then? And the way to get over that is to start using it extensively.

You should have chat GPT open. You should experiment it. You should upload your emails to it. Say, how do I make these better? What can I add? What can I subtract? How to make this shorter? What are better ways to write this? Start using it. And then you start seeing its limitations. You also start seeing its strengths.

And then you start seeing how you can use it and apply it to other stuff. So it's a really cool tool and people should be using it a lot more. It's going to be part of our everyday lives. But yes, at first it can be scary to people when they don't use it. And then when you actually use it more, you actually don't fear it as much.

Alex Bond
Alex Bond

Meet Alex Bond—a seasoned multimedia producer with experience in television, music, podcasts, music videos, and advertising. Alex is a creative problem solver with a track record of overseeing high-quality media productions. He's a co-founder of the music production company Too Indecent, and he also hosted the podcast "Get in the Herd," which was voted "Best Local Podcast of 2020" by the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia, USA.

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