Ryan Healy, The Interview 4

That was a close one.

Remember when I lost all my blog posts last month? Well I tried to get as many of the valuable posts back as I could from Google’s cache.

One post that I didn’t find the first time around was an awesome interview I did with Ryan Healy.

I was reminded of it when I saw that the interview he gave me was still one of the most popular posts on his blog. Well, I didn’t want to lose this interview. I got Google up and running again and searched for that interview…

…I had to be clever, but I found it. So here it is, once again. The interview!

1. What attracted you to copywriting?

Actually, copywriting found me.

Starting in the 8th grade, I knew I would be a writer. I wrote for the high school paper, poetry journals, and the college paper. I wrote essays, speeches, and fiction — the whole gamut.

At every job I had, people would come to me to edit their writing. At Merrill Lynch, my managers would have me edit and rewrite their most important emails before they sent them out! (I wasn’t hired to do this; it just kind of happened.)

Anyway, I was approached by the owner of Sonlight Curriculum to write copy for him. He wanted to replace himself. He knew I loved to write and had an entrepreneurial bent, so he hired me.

I spent three years writing sales copy for him and his company, and doing all their Internet marketing.

And that is how copywriting found me.

2. When did you first know you had MADE IT, and that a copywriting career would work?

That’s an interesting question.

I guess I first knew I had “made it” when I got three clients in less than two weeks of launching my freelance career. That was one level of “knowing.”

I then knew I had “made it” (again, at a deeper level) a couple years later when I had more work than I could handle and a constant flow of new leads.

3. How would you recommend someone with NO copywriting experience… get some experience?!

First, hand copy some proven ads.

Then see if you can get somebody to mentor you.

John Holzmann was my first true mentor. He really forced me to become a better copywriter.

In fact, he also taught me perseverance — how to accept criticism, get better, and keep pressing forward.

This is one reason for my success. When the going gets tough, I keep going.

4. Where do you think there’s more money to be made, online or offline?

It depends on your definition of “more.”

In my own experience, there are more online copywriting projects than off-line.

So, in one sense, you could say there’s more money online.

On the other hand, one successful off-line project has the potential to generate more profit than multiple online projects.

There are more online projects to be had — but there is more leverage in an off-line project.

5. What’s your #1 productivity tip?

The strategy: Eliminating distractions.

The technique: Using a content filter to block most of the Internet — especially sites that naturally cause distraction.

I personally use Safe Eyes.

6. What keeps you MOTIVATED to keep writing amazing copy?

I’m like a kid with a stick. I like to poke people in the brain and see what happens.

Every sales letter I write is another experiment — and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

(In fact, I sometimes get just as excited to see how people respond to a new blog post as I do watching people respond to sales letters.)

7. What’s your favorite technique for researching/preparing for a project?

I have two favorite techniques:

a. Interviewing the client or the person who created the product.

b. Consuming the product.

These two things alone can provide mountains of information you can use in a sales letter.

8. From Rebecca at MissCopy.com: How do you find sales letters to be in your swipe file? And how do you make sure they should be in a swipe file?

I buy stuff.


If you buy a few products from Nightingale-Conant, you will start getting boatloads of sales letters.

If you subscribe to an Agora service (like The Oxford Club), you will get boatloads of sales letters.

If you subscribe to Bottom Line Personal, you will get boatloads of sales letters.

If you buy a book from Rodale, you will get boatloads of sales letters.

These companies pay a lot for good copy. Watch your mailbox for pieces mailed more than once. Those are the most profitable letters.

Another way to get sales letters: Ask a client to seed your name on his list.

I have a client in the financial industry who did this for me, so I get a ton of financial mail as well.

In the online world, I look for letters I know were written by a great copywriter. Right now, it’s very easy to find John Carlton letters, Clayton Makepeace letters, Michel Fortin letters, etc.

All you have to do is subscribe to their email lists.

9. What’s your #1 tip for instantly boosting conversion rates?

In general, I would say split-test.

Specifically, I would have to see the sales letter. Sometimes I can immediately see “trouble spots” and eliminate them.

Actually, that’s the fastest way to boost conversion rates: Stop doing stuff that kills sales.

Knowing what that “stuff” is, is a different question all together.

10. The headline: do you write it first, last or neither?

I like to write it first. I then like to rewrite it last.

When I worked with Alex Mandossian, he had me write at least 20 headlines for a sales letter. I would then write at least 30.

I’ve heard some people write at least 100.

I don’t know. Every time I’ve done this, I usually go with the headline concept that comes out somewhere in the middle. You might get a breakthrough at headline 100 — or you might just get crap because you ran out of good ideas.

Anyway, I like to write the headline first because it gives me some direction in my letter. But I like to rewrite it later, after I’ve written the letter itself.

Every letter is different though.

If I don’t write the headline first, I write bullets. More than once, one of my bullets became the headline for the letter.

11. If you had no contacts and no one knew your name, how would you get a client quickly?

I’d get on a plane, fly to a couple marketing seminars, and make my name known.

The first marketing seminar I went to, I landed a $1,000 project… in the bar… the night before the seminar started.

I’ve traced more than $60,000 in fees to that one seminar.

Historically, I get at least one new client from every seminar I attend.

The best part about this strategy is you don’t need a web site or a sales letter. All you need is a smile, a firm handshake, and a decent business card.

12. Where can people learn more about you?

You can go to www.RyanHealy.com to read my blog. I write new posts weekly about business growth, copywriting, and advertising.

I’ll be focusing more on direct response advertising & copywriting during the next month or two.

Thanks Ryan!

4 thoughts on “Ryan Healy, The Interview

  1. Reply Dec 19, 2008 2:24 pm

    Peer-Aided PREPARATION for Estate Planning’s last blog post..Estate planning: merely “technical”?]]>

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