Interview: How Brocton Rye Started From Scratch And Became A Successful Freelance Copywriter

Haris: Hi Brocton, thanks a lot for agreeing to share your best tips on getting copywriting clients and your background. Let’s start with how you got started in copywriting? Please, tell us more about your story.

Brocton: I started reading the Gary Halbert letter when I was 16. When I read his story of how he had 40 full-time employees whose only job was to cash the checks coming in from his famous Coat of Arms letter, I craved that power.

So I read everything I could. I bought everything I could afford, and some things I couldn’t, from Gary Halbert, Scott Haines, John Carlton, Carl Galetti, Dan Kennedy, etc. I bought all the classic books by or about guys like Robert Collier, Bruce Barton, David Ogilvy, Albert Lasker, John Kennedy, Eugene Schwarz.

I became obsessed.

But while I knew more than anyone should ever know about advertising, it wasn’t until I was on deployment as a Marine that the rubber finally met the road.

I was stationed in Kuwait, working the flight line, and when I should have been sleeping, I was completing assignments in John Carlton’s Simple Writing System instead. I remember I was so determined to make this work that when the EOD crews were blowing things up outside, the explosions would warp the walls of this little hut we were in with every BOOM and send sand flying everywhere, and I would just wipe the sand off this sheet of paper and keep writing.

Same story with sandstorms, We’d be wearing goggles indoors, and I would be knocking out assignments from John Carlton, Scott Haines and Kevin Rogers.

When I got home from Kuwait, I went down to L.A. to a persuasion seminar, bought some nice suits, and made a good impression on the right people. One of those people was the CEO of a nutrient company called Advanced Nutrients. I worked there as an ‘in-house’ copywriter for 7 years before moving over to the contractor lifestyle.

Haris: How did you transition to freelance copywriting?

Brocton: I’ve learned a lot of good lessons working as an employee for 7 years for someone who understands direct marketing, sales letters and lifetime customer value. The past couple years, I’ve been approached by different agencies, friends of friends, and approached some agencies myself, but the stars haven’t aligned on those projects yet.

And truth be told, it wasn’t a choice or a comfort thing for me, it was do or die, because the company I was used to working for was restructured and my employment was terminated, so it was either figure something out or the family doesn’t eat. I was terminated while my wife was 6 months pregnant and we were moving across the country, with our 3 year old daughter and everything we owned packed into two vehicles and a U-haul trailer, so it was a very sink or swim sort of scenario. I would say ‘transition’ is too gentle a word for how it happened.

Haris: You have some amazing ideas and strategies on getting clients. Could you tell us more about that?

Brocton: The absolute best way to get any client as a copywriter or a marketer is to be your potential client’s biggest fan. If you love someone’s work, if you know more about it than anyone, then you’re already in a great position to sell it, because you are their best customer, and you’ve already done the hardest part of marketing, which is get into your prospect’s head. Well, if you’re their number one fan, then you’re already there.

It’s funny, a common thing that’s repeated in the biz op world is to sell your passion. Well it works out great if you’re passionate about a business that’s already established because the product is already created for you. And, you know the business has a pulse. You don’t have to worry about throwing your idea out if it doesn’t work when you test it, because it’s already tested.

Your job now is to convince the business owner you can write ads that will make them money. By far, the lowest hanging fruit for any business owner to make money is to run what’s called a re-engagement campaign, which means you re-engage their current customers. The idea is this: it’s much easier to sell to people who have already bought from you than to convince people off the street to spend money with you.

So let’s say you are crazy about a certain musician, maybe who you found on YouTube. And she has 12 CDs she’s put out, but most of her customers have only bought 3. The easiest way to make her more money is to sell those customers who have bought 3 the other 9, or as many of the other 9 as you can. Or invite them to her next concert. Or whatever. The point is, before you go knocking on the doors of strangers, you want to get every last dollar hiding out in the list of people who have already converted into paying customers.

Understanding the idea of ‘lifetime customer value’ is absolutely the most important thing you can know as a business.

Most business owners, even if they’re not very sophisticated, have at least the information and records of sales to be able to do this.

And, it’s pretty easy to do this. Check out Gary Halbert’s dollar bill letter, or Robert Collier’s. That’s a great, tried and true re-engagement letter you can use to sell anything.

With this gameplan, for those who are crafty and motivated, all you have to do is send an e-mail to whoever your hero is, who you’re interested in working for, and say hey, my name is so and so, I’m a copywriter by trade, and I think I can make you a lot of money.

Here’s how… blah blah blah.

I have had 100% success with this approach.

I also have a strong portfolio and resume, but here’s the thing: I did NOT have any proof except my performance at the seminar that I could write a good sales letter when I got my first job. No resume. No portfolio. No college degree. No nothing. I had some nice suits and I knew the material at that seminar better than anyone but the person hosting, so I established myself as an ‘expert’ in the room and used what Oren Klaff calls ‘local star power’ to position myself. That’s just a fancy phrase for when you seem impressive like a big fish in a small pond for long enough to be an authority on something.

This is what millenials don’t understand about college too, or building resumes in general. This is why people are tens of thousands in debt in student loans and wondering why they’re not living their dream life. At least it’s one of the reasons. Here’s the thing: who you are, your achievements and accomplishments, are not important to whoever you’re approaching. What’s important to them is what they want. So you’ve gotta start there. Focus on their criteria, what moves them and drives them, and THEN position all your fancy bells and whistles as the easiest, quickest, most logical, or, if you can, the best way is to make yourself seem like the ONLY way to get what they’re after.

Nobody cares that you graduated from Stanford, unless you can convince them that fact will somehow help them get what THEY want.

But if you want to learn to do that really well you’ll have to go talk to Kenrick Cleveland.

Haris: How do you prepare for a writing session?

Brocton: I prepare the same way Matt Furey teaches in his Tao of Email Copywriting course. I can’t reveal the details here because that would be stealing. But I highly recommend that course to any copywriter or marketer because the method of prep Matt teaches is second to none, and it has boosted my results literally every time I’ve used it. (I know because when I don’t, for whatever stupid reason, it shows.)

Haris: How did you learn to write copy? Being a great fan of Matt Furey like me, are there other teachers, books or resources you can recommend?

Brocton: Scott Haines, Kevin Rogers, and David Garfinkel have been my most influential real-life mentors. I spent the most time actually talking with them and getting feedback from them.

Haris: What’s your best piece of advice to someone who wants to break free from working for someone else and become a freelance copywriter?

Brocton: Make a list of the things you enjoy buying regularly. What would you spend your time doing if you did not have responsibilities?

Do you have a favorite brand of golf clubs? Do you have a favorite brand of clothing or shoes? Do you enjoy a certain brand of coffee?

What do you like?

Then, see if you can’t approach one of these businesses and help them increase their business. That’s the great thing about your favorite stuff, is all of these people are in business already, and whatever else they may be driven by, businesses are by nature in the game to make money. If you’re the person who can make them more money and grow the business, you’ve already got something great to offer them you know they want.

So tell them a story about how easy and great it will be when you can grow their business.

I can’t recommend Kenrick Cleveland’s material enough here, MaxPersuasion.com, because you will have to talk to people on this journey, and when you do, you better know how to find out what they want, and tell your story in a way that makes them believe you are the one they want to help them.

Haris: Who’s your favorite copywriter or piece of copywriting?

Brocton: I like Matt Furey. For my money, he’s the best in the world. Nobody else even comes close to how good he is at writing simply, and connecting with his audience. Also, the energy he is able to put into his words so that it hits people a certain way, I’ve never seen anyone else replicate it.

Haris: Besides money and freedom, what are other advantages of life as a copywriter?

Brocton: My favorite advantage of life as a copywriter is the sense of purpose. Many jobs have an indirect sense of purpose, meaning you never really get to see the effect of your work on the goal. You get that ‘cog in the machine’ sort of feeling. As a copywriter, you are on the front lines of the business, and everything you produce has a direct effect on the bottom line.

Haris: If someone wants to hire you, what is the best way to get in touch?

Brocton: Email: rye.usmc@gmail.com or Linkedin: BroctonRye

Haris: Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience with us.

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