The Doberman is back.
Once upon a time he lived with Gary Halbert…
In Costa Rica.
Aside from working alongside a master, Dan cut
his teeth writing for himself.
His own supplement businesses.
So in 2012, when he went freelance…
He made some rookie mistakes.
He had to hustle up copy gigs because he no longer had an income
after selling his business.
It was a grind, but he’s a quick study.
In his second appearnace on the podcast, Dan reveals a
system that saved his freelance bacon.
A secret system that has provided him with a steady stream of
So he can pick and choose his copy projects.
A system he learned from Gary Halbert.
In this episode, you’ll discover:
- The “Barberton Parking Lot” method Dan used to get Gary Halbert’s attention. (Gary’s own methods used on the master – to great success!)
- The honest, “no bull-crap” mistake Dan made – and newbies make all the time – when he finally went freelance.
- The one mistake even professional copywriters make. (Dan has seen people spend 30 years in this phase!)
- How to protect yourself against your own neediness. (Hustling to get this first step taken care of will work wonders).
- The Gary Halbert secret to cure neediness by finding a steady stream of leads. (Dan doesn’t look for clients anywhere else now).
Intro and outro backing music: Forever More by CREO
David Allan: Hey, everybody it’s David Allan. Back with another exciting podcast. Today’s guest is someone I’ve been looking forward to talking to for a long time since I first heard about him and read some of his stuff and his name is Doberman Dan. Welcome to the show.
Doberman Dan : Thanks David. Appreciate the invite. Been looking forward to this.
David Allan: Yeah it’s really great to have you. I first heard about you from Ben Settle if my memory serves me. He turned me on to you. I got into this stuff through Gary Halbert, but I don’t think that’s where I heard of. I think it was Ben because I wasn’t up to date on all the Gary Halbert stuff at that point. I read some of your stuff. Your rookie copywriters survival guide a couple years ago that I got off Amazon and you’re just one of those classic and somewhat legendary direct response guys still floating around. How did you get into all this mess of direct response advertising Dan.
Doberman Dan : Yes, a legend in my own mind. Well, I didn’t want to get in to all this stuff to be totally transparent with you what I wanted was I wanted a mail order business. So I had a job that I was not crazy about. That’s quite an understatement actually. And I just you know nine years prior while I still had this job I was trying all these different kinds of businesses and failing and all of them. But I discovered I discovered direct response marketing through Dan Kennedy through a product I bought from him. And I thought this is cool man selling like paper and ink cassettes that cassettes just saying that, that alone, just totally dates me. And I thought this is a cool business man he’s sending letters in the mail like do ads and in magazines and selling stuff in the mail and I thought if I could do that and just equal my job income. So I was a police officer for the city of Dayton. So not making a big income. And I thought man if I can just do that – equal my job income because I know it’s not like I’ll be working eight hour days with a mail order business. I’d be like I could be free I could be free of the job I’d started to hate and go do all the stuff that I really wanted to do was like Go pretend I was a real musician and play music and stuff like that. So.
David Allan: That seems to be a common thread among people…
Doberman Dan: I know. Weird right. That was that was that was the goal. That’s what got me into I didn’t you know didn’t want to write copy. I didn’t even know what a copywriter was really. I didn’t know that was the right term. I didn’t you know I didn’t want to learn any of that stuff. I just wanted the benefits of mail order business. But of course I was broke so I couldn’t pay somebody to write the copy and copy is pretty darn important for a mail order business so I was… somewhat right. So I had to learn it myself. And that’s that’s here we are 22 years later I’m still doing that stuff.
David Allan: The rabbit hole…
Doberman Dan: Yeah. Big time.
David Allan: So did you learn about Gary through Dan Kennedy then?
Doberman Dan: I did. So I subscribed Dan Kennedy’s letter Dan talked about Gary all the time subscribed to Gary Halberts newsletter and then spent a couple of years chasing Halbert down and getting on his radar. Before I finally wound up working with Gary.
David Allan: How did you?…you say chasing him down just attending events or corresponding with him – how did you kick off that relationship?
Doberman Dan: What I did. I totally used this technique that he taught in his newsletter and turned it around on him. Yeah. It shows that it works. So he taught a technique about how to get the attention of a big shot. It’s what I did which was this he said you know write like a fake news article about them have it look like a newspaper article. Frame it in a really expensive frame send it to. So that’s what I did. I wrote a news Gary Halbert and I were both from the same hometown Barberton, Ohio so I – I wrote a newspaper story like it was in the Barberton Herald had a graphic designer make it look like it was from the barber and Harold put it in a frame and put all kinds of stuff in there that I thought he’d find amusing like that it told a story about. So these two Barberton guys you know Doberman Dan and Gary Halbert started working together on these mail order projects and they were so successful made so much money. They bought the entire city of Barberton and turned it into the world’s largest parking lot. So it got his attention or at least got me on the radar and then I sent regularly – usually monthly. I sent another mailing with that kind of theater you know just to stay on his radar for probably a year and a half and it eventually wound up to a working relationship together and then which wound up and turned into a friendship.
David Allan: Now, you lived in. Correct me if I’m wrong. But you lived with Gary in Costa Rica, right? What’s the story behind that?
Doberman Dan: That’s right. Yes. So that was actually part of this whole process of eventually working with with Halbert. So you know by that we’ve been communicating for a while and he wrote a newsletter about Costa Rica and I sent him a fax like asking some questions about it. He called me when his girlfriend from Costa Rica was in town and they and so she answered my questions and I’m like oh thanks man. Sounds really cool. And we left it at that. And then about 30 days later the next correspondence he got for me was an e-mail and said you know based on that newsletter you wrote in that phone call I got from you. I sold all my earthly possessions except my doberman,my laptop and three changes of clothes and I’m livin’ here now. So you know when your town hit me up let’s go grab dinner. And he was like oh God I can’t believe you did that. And so next time he was in town we did go grab dinner. The next time he came in town again he said hey could I crash at your place for the weekend. And I told him Sure Gary and he wound up saying like four months.
David Allan: That sounds like something that became standard Halbert lore. Living with other people…
Doberman Dan: Yeah. Yeah I think so he just you know hey man maybe I think he had the best of intentions when I did. You know I really intended only stay a couple of days. But he gets comfortable I guess.
David Allan: So at this point did you have a business of your own or how were you making some money while living in Costa Rica?
Doberman Dan: So it’s living my first little mail order business I told you about I was in the bodybuilding niche. And so I still had that going. When I moved down to Costa Rica and ended it it morphed into a supplement business also. So initially I was just selling information products and then it morphed into a. So I still had that business when I was living in Costa Rica. That was my frankly to be totally transparent. I had like I was letting that thing just run on autopilot at that point you know and doing as little work as possible and just enjoying this crazy hedonistic lifestyle down there… It actually was hard not to.
David Allan: So at that point Gary’s living with you and are you working together or how is that relationship evolving?
Doberman Dan: So what what he did is I was writing copy with him which most of it was his client copy and then so then he landed this one big guru at the time in the Internet marketing world who this guy just had a ton of work that he said he was going to keep us busy for the next year and so Halbert wanted to move back to Miami. And he talked me into moving back. I said I wasn’t going to do it but he talked me into moving back to the States. I moved back to Miami and lived in the same building as him. He let me stay in what he called his client apartment. So I lived there while we we we worked on a couple of different clients stuff but this one big guru guy was like most of it that most of the stuff was his stuff in spite of my newspaper my fake newspaper article. He and I never actually started any of our own projects together. It was just always working on client work.
David Allan: So what did it go from there? When did you start taking on your own clientele and branching out…
Doberman Dan: I felt like I had rarely done any client or I can think of only two client gigs I ever did you know back in those days back even prior to meeting Gary and after meeting Gary because I was always just doing my I was writing copy for my own businesses and I and I started you know I started a bunch of them and several different niches. So and then when I worked with Halbert So I still had the bodybuilding business going. But I mean it was you know just kind of an autopilot thing at that point. I wasn’t investing much time in it. So they were all his clients. So I wasn’t you know I wasn’t a freelance copywriter for hire when the arrangement with Halbert dried up because our our big whale guru client pulled the plug. I ignored it. I it I put that previous bodybuilding company on autopilot. Well let’s just be honest. I was ignoring it. So I’ll get to that. And at that point you can only do that so long at that point. That thing had dwindled down you know like just barely surviving a life support and the gig with Halbert and this is sometime in 2004. And I’m like you know I have really become accustomed to sleeping indoors and eating regularly so I gotta get something to go on. So I started another bodybuilding supplement company to take advantage of some supplements like that were super hot in that market back in the time. So I started in 2004 and that was I mean I had several side projects in other markets throughout that period of time but that was my main gig so to speak that supplement company and I. So did that from 2004 to 2012. And I sold that in 2012. And like I said with the exception of you know literally a handful of client gigs over all those previous years I really wasn’t a for hire guy but in 2012 that the deal to sell the business came together so fast that I didn’t plan out my next move too fast so I just decided OK well just you know I’ll give people my heart for free but I’ll whore out my mind for a price. And I became a hired gun copywriter. Then in 2012
David Allan: So, for people – a large part of our audience is freelance copywriters. First trepidatious steps towards that career. What were the first steps after you said “I’m going to be a freelance copywriter”…
Doberman Dan: You know one of the importance of client attraction and client management even though at the time I first became a hired gun you know I’d been writing copy for a really long time but I’d never had to manage clients. And I underestimated how steep steep learning curve was going to be for me and I underestimated the importance of that process that was like I felt like I got thrown in the deep end of the pool even though I was a really experienced copywriter and a lot of people knew of me they didn’t know me as a freelancer because I was I was just a dude who wrote copy for my own business. So I felt like I was starting from scratch in 2012 as a freelancer. And you know so I had to hustle to get gigs. So guys you know like who hire freelance. They didn’t know me from Adam. So I did everything wrong I screwed it up I severely undervalued my skill set and the value to the marketplace. And you know I think that energy came out people could sense that I did everything wrong, David. I don’t feel like even though you know I had worked with Halbert I’d been writing copy for a long time. I really didn’t feel like I had any advantages as a freelancer. I’ll give you an example. I was I was hustling gigs on LinkedIn. Don’t think that I had this big network and I was you know I just make one phone call hey I might be available… and I’m flooded with offers. Quite the contrary. You know like all of a sudden I sell this business and realize wine I got an income. And I you know I want my income. I I was hustling gigs on LinkedIn from people who didn’t know me from Adam. It was it’s been a learning experience.
David Allan: Things that you know for the benefit of our listeners like I think is just absolutely botched. Point out ’cause I’m sure people are still botching – just by listening to your voice. I know I’ve done some things too. What are some of the really bad things that people do. When they’re looking for new clients.
Doberman Dan: This is this was going to say it borders on philosophy. But I guess not borders on this is philosophy but and I’ll clarify I’ll clarify this because I’m afraid there’s a freelance copywriter who’s going to hear this start rolling his eyes. Neediness man when you are needy you repel the like even if somebody is interested in hiring you as soon as even if they don’t and they’re unconsciously they’re just completely unconscious of it. If you’re projecting neediness you will drive clients away from you so fast. Now I can hear somebody saying like I am needy I need the money. Well OK. Trust me I’ve listened. I’ve gone legally bankrupt once and technically bankrupt an additional four times. I’ve lost everything dude. I lived in my car for a while you know so I understand financial need but that neediness is – even when you need the money. There’s head stuff you can do so you don’t project the neediness. But when I got really excited about a gig you know I know that neediness came across or the over anxiousness. So I had to work on the being detached – just doesn’t matter. You don’t get this gig. Another one is going to come along. You don’t need any particular client or gig. So that was that was a big that was a big lesson there.
David Allan: Yeah, absolutely. I think I know exactly what you’re talking about. For me it was very helpful that I had. I’m a professional magician too – just to say I had something else to do to make money while I was getting into copywriting. So for me I didn’t need you know that came across the fact that I don’t need this gig per se because somebody else as it turns out that that’s what you’re talking about is to walk away or seem un-needy even when perhaps you want that or need that gig.
Doberman Dan: That’s so important. By the way, that’s way cool that the magician gig. I find it fascinating.
David Allan: You learn a lot about psychology, that’s for sure.
Doberman Dan: Oh my gosh. I can only imagine yeah. You know here’s a really pragmatic you know I’d again like I had been talking about heads stuff of not projecting neediness but so I mean like that that’s a that’s a totally different topic but here’s a real pragmatic way to take care of that problem is that if you can just get like something going. So you you knew you could rely on on the income from the magician gig if you if you can land. Let’s say you can lay in a retainer gig. All right so you’re going to get retained for whatever it is you’re gonna write emails every month and you can count on x number of dollars coming in per month while there in your head. Hopefully that will give you a little peace of mind that you’ll know. Worst case scenario I got that now. When you know you’re talking with clients and they’re interested in hiring you you know now just think like OK I got that. I mean if if this gig comes about. That’s that’s cool. If it doesn’t come about. That’s cool too.
David Allan: And you know I’m sure there’s lots of people out there I know because I talk with e-mail back and forth. People ask these very same questions. You know what are some ways that you have found or thought about because people obviously when they’re beginning their career they’re not they are needy like you said earlier. It’s a fact. You know they say they need these gigs and they try to look you know – trying to project neediness. Are there ways to like you know people often say fake it to make it I guess. Are there ways to appear to be honest. Here we are with how that comes across. Other ways to appear needy even though you might be.
Doberman Dan: I’m still learning those lessons, David. You know like I get excited about gigs and I often think like now wait a minute. You know I’ve got a I’ve got a pull back. I’m excited about the gig because I know this is going to be a lay down but you know on the other hand I don’t need this gig. You can do all kinds of head stuff to not project it. But the thing I think that works the best to have a system in place that constantly brings you a steady flow of prospects because now you know if something doesn’t feel right you get a bad gut feeling. You don’t want the gig you don’t have to take it because you get a steady flow of prospects coming in or you know if the client is if the client says I don’t think so and then we’re not going to go ahead with this. You know we don’t think you the ideal fit for this. It’s no big deal because you know that daily or weekly or monthly you have X number of prospective people looking into your your service. That’s probably like the most important thing a freelancer can do is to have some sort of system now. Now I’ve also done the the hustle thing you know and chase down gigs that’s I get temporarily OK. You got to do what you got to do. Ideally if you want to make a business out of this and this is what you want to do long long term you better develop a system because I mean I know guys who’ve been doing this 30 plus years who are still in the hustle phase and always hustling gigs because they never established a system.
David Allan:So for people out there that are looking to establish themselves build a system and take some initial steps they can take to get to where they have that in place.
Doberman Dan: The most. Here’s what I realized a few years ago. So it was 2011 I started publishing a newsletter an actual – a newsletter the way God intended newsletters to be published and that you get paper and ink delivered by the Postal Service.
David Allan: What is that?
Doberman Dan: That’s right. Let me explain to you what that is. This is something you hold in your hands…So I still have my supplement business at the time so this was a side project. And at the time it was just a newsletter subscription now it’s it’s morphed into a membership. There’s my members I don’t call them members they’re knights because I call my membership the Marketing Camelot so my nights get this monthly newsletter delivered in hard copy to their mailbox – their real mailbox their snail mail box you know. But it also includes a membership site with content. And and I do a monthly webinar for my knights. But initially when I launched it was just the newsletter and I wasn’t launching that as as to get client gigs I still had the supplement business. I wasn’t even freelancing at that time. But then what I discovered after I’ve been doing it a little over a year I start getting offers to write copy. And then once I did become a freelancer in 2012 my best client opportunities came from that newsletter came from the subscriber base and it’s almost to the point now where I won’t I I won’t really probably even entertain any client gigs that come from outside of the newsletter. I mean yeah I mean never say never but it’s the best gigs and the best people come from that newsletter. And that was Gary Halberts entire purpose for publishing his newsletter. It was just a system to generate clients. That has been even though it was here dumb luck on my part. I just launched that newsletter because I wanted you know a little side hustle income in addition to the supplement business and I wanted to start getting down all of these marketing lessons on paper for posterity and some sort of you know legacy. And but what it wound up being is like the smartest thing I’ve ever done for my freelance business. And that’s like a super huge secret there even if you don’t charge for it if you just start writing a monthly print newsletter and comping people for a subscription. The people who would be your ideal client and don’t send them a letter saying hey give me a free subscription. Send them a complete new subscriber fulfillment package as if they just paid for it. Don’t tell them it’s free because I mean if these guys are players or gals our players their readers and they subscribe to a bunch of newsletters and a lot of them will just think oh I must to subscribed to this. So you know why I’m so dogmatic. Pun intended. Dogmatic – Doberman Dan – and all that about this thing being in print is just pure psychology math and print MRI studies have shown print lights up areas of the brain responsible for memories emotions buying decisions spatiality that the same word for word message. Delivered in any form digitally in a pdf an email on a Web site like just fizzles. So the magic of this thing is the fact that it is delivered in hard copy so now your perceived value is much higher the footprint it leaves in the brain and it is much deeper. And plus you’re showing us a live demonstration of your writing ability. You’re also showing you’ve got the discipline to complete a monthly newsletter every month. And clients value that more than you know because you know what. Very few people have the discipline to do that.
David Allan: Well, Dan – you have provided us excellent stories. You want to get you know find out what you have to offer and maybe what you can do for them and then you know hit you up where should they go?
Doberman Dan: The most typical entry way into my little world is at my website at dobermandan.com And I also have my own podcast called “Off The Chain” with Doberman Dan and so they can find that on iTunes where they can find that at it offthechainshow.com
David Allan: And I highly recommend it. I listen to it. It’s great. Thanks for coming on the show man it’s been a real honor and a privilege and it’s been fun.
Doberman Dan: Well the pleasure was mine. I appreciate the invitation David and I had fun. Hopefully you did too.
David Allan: I did. Thanks everybody for listening to this edition and we’ll be back with another exciting guest next week. Tuesday as we are wont to do so. Join us then.