Ben Settle is one of my favorite business badasses.
He is brash and contrarian…hence why his podcast used to the “Antipreneur Show”.
Like Ben years ago, you may be starting into the freelance game (or deep in its clutches!).
He was once where you are…and lived to tell the tale.
Not without some battle scars though.
So listen while he recites the do’s and dont’s of freelance copywriting and then…
What he does now.
A business which in the simplest terms…
Takes only 10 minutes a day.
You’d better sit down to listen to this.
In this episode, you’ll discover:
- The book of “Lost Secrets” that gave Ben a head start and the incredible way it tied into Gary Halbert.
- The single critical piece of advice Ben would give a freelancer (prevent burnout and get paid!)
- Why the “natural” way most people want to go in business is dead wrong (and why no one thinks Ben’s way should work!)
- A business lesson Ben learned the hard way. The reason he abandoned a membership site and what it means for you.
- How Ben gave a girl a personality. Discover how to fashion your own without becoming REPULSIVE.
Intro and outro backing music: Forever More by CREO
He’s been on John’s show before and his name is Ben Settle. Ben Settle, how are you?
Ben Settle: I am doing great. How are you doing David?
David Allan: I’m doing fantastic. It’s a nice day here in Monterey California. And you’re up in Oregon.
Ben Settle: Yeah I’m in I’m in Bandon, Oregon where it’s pretty shitty out here. Can I use that word on John’s podcast?
David Allan: Yes absolutely. John would probably tell you to only use those.
Ben Settle: Yeah it is pretty it’s probably – it’s one of those days where it’s like really windy and everything’s blown all over the place and I like it though. I like the storms and everything and it’s right up my alley.
David Allan: Oh good. That’s awesome. Now I think I first heard about you from Michael Senoff I believe…
Ben Settle: That’s very possible.
David Allan: Yeah. Because I first started learning about email marketing from my course put up by Matt Furey.
Ben Settle:Me too.
David Allan: Yeah. And I later found out that you were much the same and then I stumble across Michael’s web site when I first got on the Internet I think it was poking around for a couple of years and then you guys had some dealings together so I think there were some products and stuff to you guys worked on together.
Ben Settle: Yeah. And we’ve been friends for a long time we’ve worked on a lot of stuff together.
David Allan: That’s awesome. You first started out as kind of a freelance copywriter, is that right?
Ben Settle: Yeah. Yeah when I first started out I didn’t even know what I was doing. I just knew I wanted to learn this copywriting thing and I thought I’d better get some clients so I can figure out this game as fast as possible. And you know it didn’t happen fast.
David Allan: I know the feeling. This may have been covered in the other podcast but what was the first sort of your first. I think I heard the story somewhere but who knows how much I’ve listened to or read. It was something to do with like you had a business at the time that was kind of failing and then you stumble across a book or something.
Ben Settle: Yeah I was I was I was partaking of the gateway drug known as MLM at the time.I was like the worst distributor that’s probably ever walked the face of the planet. I’m like this introverted Grinch like crotchety guy. I don’t want to go up to everybody and say hey do keep your options open for ways to make money. It’s just you know and that’s what they want you to do. And it’s like oh yes. Yeah I end up living in like this office because I was in so much debt. I was passing recruiting tapes out door to door to businesses and getting laughed at and mocked and rejected. And one morning like 3:00 a.m. I woke up I was laying on the floor of my office because then I didn’t have furniture or anything and I was like God you obviously don’t want me doing this is like two years. I hate this guy. And I went and picked this book up just in my other room which I had read a couple times before but it never really got me or anything it was called The Seven Lost Secrets of Success by a guy named Joe Vitale. Joe’s a copywriter and author and it’s about this old school advertising guy named Bruce Barton. And most people don’t… Well I don’t know I think I’m spreading the gospel of Barton because I tell this story so many times. But basically he was this old school advertising guy and he was well-known. He was like a contemporary of John Caples and he was a congressman and he was a open enemy of FDR and he is well known in the business world on Wall Street and just you know just everyone knew who he was at the time. And in 1919 or after World War Two or were World War One I should say and this is in the book this is the page you just turned to. Some out of work sales manager came up to him and said I need help, Bruce. Help me find work. And he’s like well tell me about yourself and I guess the guy turned out to be. His specialty was sales letters. He was a sales manager but his specialty was sales letters. And so Bruce takes him to the window and says Look at all these buildings out there full of businesses why don’t you’re supposed to be good at writing sales letters why don’t you write a letter to them on selling them on hiring you. And that’s when the light bulb went on for me after that. You know that’s where I learned – discovered this magical kingdom called copywriting and never looked back.
David Allan: That’s awesome. Yeah I’ve read that Joe Vitale book too. And probably because on your recommendation I’m sure along the way somewhere probably because I heard what you said. Now when you first started down that copyrighting – because a lot of our audience is of course freelance copywriters and people probably looking to hire freelance copywriters as I have found out. And also you know new business owners the stuff that they’re sort of learning about the importance of copy. What sort of steps that you take to try and find those clients? Did you pull a. you know, Bruce Barton-like idea?
Ben Settle: Well know this was in 2002 so we didn’t really have the options you have now. It’s so easy people now getting started so freaking easy to get clients it’s like you’ve got people with no talent what’s what we’re getting you know five ten thousand dollar jobs. I’m thinking Holy crap this Facebook has made people so gullible and stupid that they just hire anybody off there. You know honestly I didn’t have that I would love that man but they didn’t have that back then at least not that I was aware. I ended up getting my first few clients. They weren’t even paid clients – I had read this this article by Gary Halbert called Why MLM sucks or why multi-level marketing sucks and and in the end that newsletter he was talking about how look don’t even bother with clients just go make deals with people who already have product to sell you just write the ads and then you split the money which sounded really good in theory. I did that and I never got paid on anything until I met Michael Senoff, and him and I did it. And that turned into a very like a three year relationship where we sold a lot of stuff and we split the sales and it just worked out great. But that was such a rare thing to make happen. It’s like that was like winning the lottery in a sense because I’ve never found one since I like that you can trust at least. Right. People get weird is what Michael told me. He goes Ben we’re going to have to sign. We’re going to sign an agreement here for your own protection. And I said why is that. And he’s as honest as the day is long. He goes because when big money starts being made people get weird and I don’t want that to happen with us.
David Allan: So you know that’s a very you got very lucky that because I know I’ve been burned personally myself and seen other you know happen other people and it seems very counter-intuitive that something that’s going so well would cause such issues. You know in some case I think Michael said it perfectly when he said that when that big money starts being people get weird because. Yes. I remember Gary Halbert even talking at some of his seminars about how people stopped mailing stuff at no reason other that just like I’m bored you know I don’t want to do more. I mean just rake in money and they’re like what are you talking about you know. So if you had like that because you sounded like you went through several instances where you sort of tried to partner with people. And ended up getting nothing. What sort of advice would you have for people who are looking. You know look at what clients are looking to partner with people who maybe approaching them?
Ben Settle: Well I you know I’m probably the last person who should be answering those questions. I haven’t done client work for like six years but I’ll say this I will say this. You know get paid up front and establish like a relationship with that client and if it makes sense later to do something like that fine. But you know otherwise just don’t don’t like go in there with someone you don’t know. I mean you know I’m not saying it’ll never work. But I will say that it is you know in my case that even people that that you would think would not pull any shenanigans did. And no I see it. Yeah I’d just look back and think I would have I wish I had gotten paid other than what Michael Senoff. I wish I had because it worked out with him but I wish I would put it taking money up front and then if it made sense you know make a partnership – But, I’ll say what you don’t want David even that you’ll get burned. I was in the golf niche and I wrote an ad for this very prominent golf company. Am I going to name who they are but they’re very very prominent. And I wrote that I wrote their sales letter for them and it just you know they kicked ass and all that and it was great. And then I approached them I said well what if I’m just the copywriting guy and you know I write all the emails and sales letters and they liked it. And then I ended up you know ended up kind of not being very ethical and and that just not ethical. You know at the same time it was my fault. I should never know. I didn’t hold them. I didn’t hold them to the standards I should have and you know I mean it’s all my fault at then end. But even in those situations where you life not liked them originally I really did. I didn’t know they were crooked all that and you know. Yeah. I don’t know man. I just think that people should do…My whole thing is this…sell your own stuff. Be your own best client. Until then you know work for other people. But on the side. But the first hour of every day into your own business selling your own stuff and eventually you won’t need clients. And if you do have them they’ll be optional.
David Allan: Right. I think that’s very good advice. And you know I once heard John Carlton I think one of his seminars I watched on DVD was funny that he you know mentioned it, because I’m going to ask you a question about how your sort of business personality has evolved and one of the first things I really heard about this was John Carlton – the way he said a consultant needs to be a total prick and you need to double your price.
Ben Settle: I like that. I wish he told me that.
David Allan: So now you have a very – you had a podcast for a while.
The antipreneur podcast and you have a very strong personality that people see come across in your daily emails that people are familiar with you of course know what I’m talking about. For those that don’t know you jump on Ben’s list you’ll see has a very distinct personality – did that evolves out of those dealings. Or were you like that beforehand? Or how did that sort of come to fruition?
Ben Settle: I’ve always been a crotchety guy like that. But what I you know well the longer I do this the more I like to put a little bit of a show on for people. So the personality you see in my emails on my podcast is 100 percent me it’s me with that with less. With without the filter I would do in polite society. And you know and that’s all it is it’s actually more me than the ME. I deal with in my little small town of Bandon here. You know I can actually I could I mean you know I’ve been getting kicked out of restaurants and stuff and that’s the beauty of it like in marketing you can be you if you can be whoever you want. I just did that. I just consulted some girls on this actually. You know I told them I would help them with some stuff.
And one girl who I just look around sometimes and I told her the look I said don’t worry I will give you a personality with because she does videos and stuff. She was I don’t I need help like that. I go don’t worry I’ll give you a personality. And I said I was joking when I said it at the time- her and I we’re always flirting with the others though. Yes. So it’s just like kind of a joke. And then when I had her on this call her and these other people on this call recently she goes I really want to impress you on this like what personality should I have. And I said I don’t know. I told you I’d give you a personality. But in the meantime I want you to take your personality and then just ratchet – exaggerate it a couple of notches. And that would be the advice I would give to anyone is to take your personality whatever it is. Don’t try to be somebody you’re not because this is where everybody goes wrong. They’ll read my e-mails and I’ll try to be me or they’ll read someone else’s stuff and I’ll try to – They’ll read David Allan’s stuff and try to be David Allan or whoever and that’s the wrong way to do it. You’ve got to be you. But you can exaggerate it a little bit just be you with – If you didn’t have to worry about when you had to say. And as I say that with this little bit of a warning you know I’m not a big fan of being like the potty mouth guy.
You know it happens sometimes. But some people take this to such a degree where they become repulsive to the point where nobody wants to deal with them. So you’ve got to modulate to your market at all timews.
David Allan: That’s a very good advice. Now from people I’ve interviewed on my own podcast – I’ve interviewed a lot of the best copywriters that are alive and John’s had a lot of them on this show as well. One of the things I’ve noticed is that people tend to go in a full circle they sort of start with the client work then they come out with their own products and work themselves eventually. Now you seem to be one of the people which is one of the reasons I want to talk to you who sort of spent as little time as possible in that client aspect and then you sort of figured out OK I need to do my own products to make my life so much easier like what we’re talking about. So when did that sort of click for you.
Ben Settle: What I’ve always you know if I hated authority. So I’ve never really liked doing client work. There was never a time doing client work where it wasn’t just a high paid job for me. You know like I mean I was inspired by it. Well you mentioned earlier I was originally inspired by Matt Furey like back in like 2003 2004. He would talk about in his daily emails and he wasn’t writing to business people, he was writing into the fitness market and he would he would brag about you know I’m not even going to edit this email this is all I’m doing for the day and I’m when I’m in China right now I want to go ride elephants. I thought that is such a cool lifestyle like I don’t need to ride elephants but I love the idea of just writing an email and being done and have my business set up in such a way where I can do that. So it was very early on but it took me many years the kind of put it all together because there was nobody showing. I mean there is stuff out there that would show you how to do an informational business but not like that. I mean it’s it’s simple but it’s not necessarily easy to set all that up and have it going so you’re full time in it and it took me many like seven or eight years to figure that out.
David Allan: Right…now you have a new product that just came out. I said just came out to me and like the last quarter or something of last year a product you did with AWAI – may want to talk about that because that’s sort of the offshoot of all that you’ve learned in those last you know years of starting your own project and become more Matt Furey-like.
Ben Settle: Yeah and it’s funny because in that program which is called the ten minute workday I think that by the way I would love to take credit for that name but one other writers at AWAI figured that out and I just took it is – They’re like the greatest people in the world over there I just can’t think of a single negative thing about them they’re just awesome. But it’s funny because in that program I like one of the first slides is something like Furey-esque origins or I give all the freaking credit for this because without him like studying his business and studying just him I don’t think I could have figured this out. And it’s not like there’s a lot to figure out in fact it’s all very simple and that’s the problem. It’s so simple nobody thinks it should be able to work. And it’s like the biggest sales job is convincing people yeah it really is that simple. You know what they want to do ? Everybody wants to complicate stuff like they will go out of their way to complicate. I mean I gotta tell ya.
This is why I don’t take, by the way, personal like students anymore one on one because all they want to do is comp… I will show them the most simplest thing and they gotta go out into the weeds. It’s like when I’m walking my dog I just is like an epiphany I had yesterday actually while walking my dog. I’m trying to get her to. I want to take her to the beach where she loves to walk. So on the way to the beach or she keeps wanting stray off into the side you know into the woods. And it’s like I’m trying more in the morning in the morning time she wakes me up in the morning every day and then I say Oh let her out but she will pin me to the ground and will let me get up. I’m trying to give her what she wants – but she won’t let it happen and that’s what people do with the ten minute workday stuff I’d like. I mean hopefully they’re not because we’re doing like monthly webinars this year for that or anything to help people. But I think that’s the biggest challenge people have with this kind of stuff. They want to like. They want to try to personalize it – don’t – just take the raw materials and build the house. However you want why don’t we use the blueprint I give you?
David Allan: Well it’s true and you’ve been a big inspiration for me too I think to some people I had on my other podcast were people who kept stuff very simple and they sort of stayed away from – you know funnel is a big sort of… everyone funnel this funnel that funnel cake – who knows – but it’s it just serves to complicate things. You know those things have been around forever. Those aren’t new things. It’s just because you know it’s become it’s become a terminology, a jargon but in reality those things are what every business does. Hopefully you know how they have some funnel in place. And so I think it just gets in the people’s head and I think have to be the sort of big parade- a show like you’re saying.
Ben Settle: Yeah. Yeah. It’s like 30 steps and they don’t have a product yet to sell and that’s just like you know you don’t need all that. I mean there’s a place for all the software like you know all the popular – like Russell’s. There’s a place for it. And I’m talking about Russell Brunson like is a place for that stuff but not for the new person who still hasn’t figured out an offer and it’s like all they should be focused on is getting the opt in. Making a sale and then selling those buyers something else. Start with that and then you can start branching out. But they want to start with everything. They have these big flowcharts and all this like what are you selling. I don’t know yet but I have my funnel figured out and doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. But now – there it is.
David Allan: It’s true. Now what do you getting into copywriting – then most people listen whether they need to make the jump into copywriting as well or may go the freelance route or write for themselves hopefully like you’re advocating. Were you one of these people who took old letters and copied them out by hand sorta the Gary Halbert advice and advice to people of you know either copywriters give that advice – the A-list quote unquote copywriters give that advice. Is that something you did?
Ben Settle: Oh yeah I did it day and night. Like whenever I could at my job I worked at I mean I even I was. And then I learned and I got -some advice I would give on this for people because people get people who find this hard to do sometimes and I get it. It’s tedious writing. It’s like hand cramps and all that – pick a one copywriter that you actually like you read their stuff for fun. For me that was Gary Halbert. I would read his stuff for entertainment. And so it’s much easier to copy his stuff out than someone else. And I don’t know why I would focus on his stuff. I’m not saying that the listeners should I I think the listener should find a copywriter that they just they like reading their stuff and do it with them. And I like copy like his or Boron Letters book by hand like goes also but it was it was great. I think it really does work. I mean that people say..that’s just bullcrap I don’t know. I think it does make a. I think it definitely does – there’s something to that because yeah there’s something to it. And even certain novelists have done that like the guy who wrote the book Roots. That’s the reason I’m thinking is because it’s in the book on letters you talk about Alex Hailey. Yeah. He said the guy the Alex Hailey Not only did he go across the ocean in the belly of an old ship so he can get experience what that was like. But I think he I think he said that he wrote some a book out by hand to like some I don’t know what book it was just so he can understand what writing a book feels like and there’s something to it. I don’t you know I’m not going to say I’m the expert at it but there’s like a product that I hear a lot about that – I am not endorsing it I don’t really know much about it called Copy Hour and I know they do that. Well actually one of the one of the owners I think is Ian Stanley who I like him alot of I don’t I just have never used it. You know I can’t tell you. But I mean even if it’s advocating this stuff I don’t think it can be a bad thing.
David Allan: Yeah I heard too. I think it probably was from Copy Hour because I was a previous member as well that Hunter Thompson also wrote out if not whole books then certainly passages by people like Hemingway and stuff like that that he could get better at writing.
Ben Settle: Yeah I didn’t know that but that’s interesting to know actually.
David Allan: Now one of the things that I really enjoyed about stuff that you put out over the years was when you started your antipreneur podcast back then I was listening to the different podcasts and I hadn’t really found one that I truly know I would list them on and off. But when you sort of started yours that was when I really you know I admired and it was succinct and short to the point it got a lot of good information out and you and Jonathan of course are both funny guys – I’ve had Jonathan on my other podcast as well.
Ben Settle: Oh Good. He’s great.
David Allan: Now what made you get into podcasting originally because I don’t think I’ve ever heard the story.
Ben Settle: On New Year’s Day or of 2014, I put an e-mail out there. Where I said here’s my goals for 2014. And one of them was to start a podcast. I know nothing about podcasting. I didn’t know nothing about how to do one or how to produce one how to do on iTunes I knew nothing why. I just thought it would be fun. Like I I had no purpose for it I didn’t think it would be a money maker and I just I just I have so much to say on this stuff it’s like therapy and I thought that would be a cool thing to do. Well I can’t say there was that was the only reason I I had recently like a couple of weeks before that I had a talk with a guy named Danny Iny and he just he really changed my brain on some things in a good way about the idea of building a list and how building an audience is much more important than building a list. List is part of your audience. What an overall audience isn’t just an email list. It’s it’s a lot of stuff. And the bigger your audience the better so that was another aspect of it. And Jonathan Rivera replied to that email said well if you want to help with that you know I can I can help you with that. I was like holy crap. Yeah. I knew nothing about this stuff. So that’s what got me into that and it lasted a hundred and thirty seven episodes the last 12 which were like secret episodes we never aired publicly. I just gave those away to buyers of my villains book when I launched that a couple of months ago. But it lasted over two years like two and a half years and then we decided we’d want to put it to a paid membership site because I was giving away. I was teaching way too much and I was like I didn’t mean to.
David Allan: I was the opposite of your emails.
Ben Settle: It really is. It was ridiculous and Jonathan kept saying Ben what are you doing. I just paid you to learn that. And is here right now we’re going to put this in like a membership site or something. And you know we’ll see what happens and we could add some more stuff to it like he would interview some A-list copywriters. We had that in there. I had some other stuff going on. And that turned out to be like a huge nightmare. I mean I just hated the idea of having a membership site I hate having to rely on a team of people – I’m a one man band. I missed my print newsletter at that point. It was super successful. It was like the most successful launch I’ve probably been involved in but it was just to me it was a nightmare. People were chasing me down and our other partner Misty who does the voice on the podcast chasing her down like for technical stuff where we don’t know
jack about that stuff but they’re like chasing her down on Facebook and chasing me down. It’s like if this is this bad it like 950 members how is it going to be when we get to know 5000 members like it’s a nightmare. So I literally the day after the launch I just told Jonathan I want out. And I thought was going to be mad at me you know but he was so relieved. He felt the same way. So. So it all worked out. You know whatever. So then I took I took the rest of the year off and I relaunched the new one on New Year’s Day this year and it’s so far it’s getting some pretty good pretty good feedback from people. So we’ll see how that goes.
David Allan: So I guess a lot of the problem stems from like you want to keep your lifestyle the way it is. That’s very very you know, uncluttered if you will.
Ben Settle: Absolutely and that clutter it quite a bit because he had – like Jonathan has a great team in place now but even they were getting like you know even they were like It just I don’t know what it is. I’ll tell you what it is. And I thought about this because like why was this such a miserable experience for me just because because my name is attached to that to that which was a different entity than my main website and stuff like that was all owned by Jonathan and his team dealing with that. And people are just used to contacting me personally you know. And so it’s kind of my own fault like I almost did too good of a job branding myself over the years as like so you know I think that was a big factor of it. But yeah I don’t want to discourage. I have to say because I don’t want to discourage other people from doing a membership say for some people that’s what I see. I see some people starting to do print newsletters because they just want to copy what I’m doing. And they’re missing the point because I can tell they hate writing and they don’t really want to do it. They just like the idea of it but they would be better off just you know recording some audio or something. Or doing a paid YouTube channel or something. Yeah I might. I mean I can’t speak for what people are doing but I just see that people are much more like naturals as video for example and yet they’re struggling writing a print newsletter because that’s what Ben’s doing. I’m not saying people should do that at all. I think that’s one way of doing it. I wish I was a video guy. I would definitely have a paid YouTube channel. I would just let them handle all the hosting. They’d be the easiest thing in the world. But nobody wants to do that.
David Allan: I think that’s good advice too because it’s a lot of people are much more comfortable with the different mediums. I myself I’ve enjoyed doing audio and I’m entertaining the idea of doing an audio product instead of like you know a paid letter or something like that.
Ben Settle: Yeah
David Allan: I really want to thank you for coming on the show, Ben. It’s been really illuminating talk just as I hoped it would be.
Ben Settle: Oh I appreciate you having me
David Allan:. Yes. You had a lot of good advice now. People want to get in contact with you which I’m sure they will what’s the best place to sort of go. So they can get involved with the you know being brainwashed by Ben Settle.
Ben Settle: The brainwashing begins at bensettle.com and if you go there and I think if you give me your precious e-mail address you Opt-In and not some stupid hotmail address but like a real email address you know. You know if you’re really into this you don’t just do this for the freebie like a loser. No actually be committed right. I mean I have to say that because…
David Allan: Don’t pull any punches Ben
Ben Settle: You know there’s certain people that just do that and they wonder why they’re spinning their wheels. But you opt-in. I’ll send you the first issue of my email players newsletters in PDF. Now it’s a newsletter but I’ll give you the PDF for the first issue 24 ways in there to make more sales with emailing starting right away. They’re not hard things to do or anything people have. Some people told me they’ve made thousands and at least one or two cases tens of thousands of dollars just with that free information just applying it to their their business.
David Allan: It’s a great issue. I can attest to that.
Ben Settle: Yeah. And it’s a very real retail value of $97. It’s not like I’m making the value of what people charge – it cost them. So you get that if you don’t give me your e-mail address you can still like click through to the blog and there’s like 2000 pages of blog posts on there and I’ve got all my I’ve got over a dozen hours of audio and video training and I have a podcast on that site but it’s hidden now I give the link to people who are actually on the my list but if you get that link then you’re going to have all three two and half years of my old podcasts plus the new one all at your fingertips. So much stuff there I would only I mean I could spend like two hours of time all this stuff but that’s at bensettle.com
David Allan: Yeah that’s a great place to go. I’ve listened to all those past podcast before you attempted to make it a paid thing so I can attest to the content there like you said you were almost teaching too much. And I was thankful for that. And yeah if people want to get involved with Ben go to bensettle.com but opt-in like not with a lazy e-mail address like who says I know you will be rewarded because I have made money by listening to Ben and it’s a real pleasure having you on the show again Ben, and I wish you the best in the future I look forward to seeing what you’re up to.
Ben Settle: All right man I appreciate it. Thank you.
David Allan: Thank you very much to everybody else. Of course our podcast will have another exciting guest. I think it’s going to be a guy who’s coming out with some new auto responder software that you need to know about. So for people tuning in this should be a chronological order. You know a very exciting guest is going out with a sort of a game changing auto responder software so tune in next time for that. And for people who want to get a hold of me, David Allan, go to makewordspay.com Yes for those that I’ve been asking I still do take on clients if the fit is right. So go to makewordspay.com or shoot me an email – [email protected] and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.