Episode #158 – Justin Goff On What The Best Copywriting Clients Want. Lessons From A Former Freelancer Turned 20 Million Dollar Business Owner.

by John McIntyre

He started selling websites to settle a $1000 gambling debt.

Then he became a “just-skating-by” freelance copywriter.

The real turning point was what he termed “3 Days Of Hell”.

His freelance consulting client fired him – erasing 90% of his income…

He girlfriend of 3 years dumped him…

And finally – the coup de gras – Lebron James announced he was leaving Cleveland behind for Miami.

So he picked himself up and started to whittle away by starting an online business.

In three months taking his ads from break-even to $100/day – then $500/day and beyond…

He’d made himself a cool $100,000.

He parlayed that money and experience into his next venture.


A few days before this recording, he sold off his interest in what had become a $20+ Million company.

So whether it was being a freelance copywriter, or in a position to hire some of the best…

He has some immediate advice for you and other business owners.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • The single biggest difference maker in his copy career. (This crucial advice is NOT for the faint of wallet)
  • An easy, “almost-magic” way to set yourself a part from a sea of copywriters business owners loathe.
  • One secret “Mr. Moneyfingers” divulged which changed everything about Justin’s upselling.
  • Do you have these 6 talents? The skillset growing business owners want from their copywriter today.
  • Discover secrets of growing a company from zero to over 20 million. (Without this one indispensible factor it’s IMPOSSIBLE!)

Email Marketing Podcast Episode 152


Intro and outro backing music: Forever More by CREO

David Allan: Hey, everybody We’re back with another edition of the podcast. I’m David Allan and we got a really special guest on the show for you today from what I know he’s just sold his controlling interest in a big supplement company. Justin Goff Welcome to the show. I saw that post this morning I think so I don’t know how recent that is but he sounds like you sold your interest in more than 20 million dollar company.

Justin Goff: Yeah I did. Twenty three million in 2016. My partners just worked out a deal last Friday. So.

David Allan: Wow,congratulations.

Justin Goff: I’m officially unemployed

David Allan: And unemployable too I’m sure. So maybe for people who don’t know much about you let’s sort of start with your super hero origin story where did you come from and how did you get to the point where you were selling your interest in such a big company?

Justin Goff: Yes. Lots of twists and turns along the way. I started making web sites online in college mostly because I had a thousand dollar gambling debt and it needs to make back and a bunch of money.
I got the first taste of making money making sales online which was great. Kind of a big turning point was 2010 now. I basically was doing some client work I was doing freelance copywriting more just skating by than anything I had been sitting on this project. I was working on for a while which was a health offer kind was focused on my paleo diet and I was kind of before paleo got as big as it is now. And I had everything ready had to side up I had to copy written and VSL and I was really good. I was really just sitting on procrastinating and that around this time I basically had what I call three days from hell.

Over the span of three days my biggest consulting client that made up about 90 percent of my income fired me actually didn’t fire me but here’s moving on to a different business than I need for me anymore. So as I let go I suppose my income there my girlfriend that I’d been dating for three years at the time and I was wondering when I came home from work on nights that you were breaking up with me. And wow that same night. So I drove like Rainier right near Cleveland. I’m a huge Cleveland sports fan and this was the same night that LeBron James went on TV and said he was like

three for three.

I got my heart broken toys and one night and I lost all my energy. So amazing that three days from now on a good note it did spur me into into action. So I said I was sitting on this project basically I was depressed and sitting in this apartment by myself and my dogs for two months after that and doing nothing but trying to make this offer work. I literally had maybe a month maybe two months worth of money left. Right. I was seriously contemplating moving back in with my parents for a good amount of time until I got back on my feet. I was thinking about going get a real job.

I was I had a really bad Spargo I was really doubting whether or not I actually had to do this. Wow. And that’s kind of why I started playing around with Facebook ads. I served on some traffic to our offer get a bunch of testing.

We’re seeing slow improvements which is really cool. And then finally for a while I get to the point where it was breaking even and when it was breaking even I was like well it can’t be that much harder to get this to like make like $100 a day. And that kind of happened over probably about I don’t know two or three weeks or I went from breaking even to making a hundred bucks a day. And then once I make it 100 that I start to realize I’m like well that’s really not that much more work if I get it to $500 a day. And really that’s all it was. It was improving the ads was improving the click the rate it was improving the cells copying the cells.

And before I knew it I was spending $5000 a day on Facebook.

I had basically from the moment when everything kind of fell apart to kind of turn this all around. I love making about 100 grand profit in about three months. And I kind of gave me the kind of gave me the confidence gave me the reassurance that this was the right thing I knew what I was doing and also gave me the money to kind of go through what I really want to drink.

Now at that point where you were you know you suffered this three days of hell which sounds terrible. To be honest you know you said you were procrastinating on putting this offer up that was were those things at the time that were sort of plaguing your life in general like you were you didn’t you didn’t finish things you know you were putting it off as a very much the typical like QuickStart are not good with follow through type thing right.

Yeah I would definitely just kind of settle into a pattern and be like Gunton just get comfortable with what I was doing. That was a big problem for me back then. But I mean like I said it kind of motivation to turn things around and then a business wound up running for about a year. My partner and it wanted to go out and do something else on his own so that business kind of fell apart. But like I said I had enough money that I started the supplement company with that supplement company. So with myself and then I had one other partner at that time and then he left about a year after that. And then my current partners

came aboard and we scaled that supplement company for $1.5 million in sales in the first year to about 6.5 in the second and about 23 million in the third while we of those 23 million what we did in 2016. And I just sold my interest in that company on Friday. So right.

I’m here talking about an it is so that 1.5 million in the first year. So I took off pretty fast anyways. Like when you started this one company.

Yeah I mean what I was always good at and I know Im very good at is making sales and getting a front end offer that brings in customers. I’m very good at that. The one reason I partnered with my partners that I helped scale it was they were very good at the infrastructure side. OK. It took me a while to realize that I had no interest in building out infrastructure and hiring employees all the stuff that really matters for scaling and maybe even take these companies pretty small and go to like a million two million three million with very very few employees very few infrastructure. If you got to do it right

but you’re never built by a 10 20 30 million dollar company with like an assist and a customer service person that’s really where the structure and infrastructure and everything and operations wise comes in. So my focus has always been on acquiring customers the cell phone calls writing my copy and creating new products that I think our customers are like that kind of stuff.

Right. Thats awesome. So you went from a single yourself being the single employee quote unquote. And when you sold your control sold your interest on Friday how many employees did you guys have.

So we were sharing employees between this company and then another company that they own in the survival space. I couldn’t tell you exactly but it was somewhere around 70.

OK. Wow. So it’s a decent size company possible. So now here you are here.

Now you said you started basically as a freelance copywriter before you got this Paleo thing off the ground and then this supplement business you were taking on clients and stuff I presumed. What was that like back then.

I mean theres ups and downs to client work when you dont have clients or when you’re like stuck in a regular job. The thought of having the freedom of being able to pick and choose clients who you want to work with and working on your own time is like the greatest thing ever cried. And I totally understand that. And then you talked to a copywriter who’s been doing it for 10 years and they absolutely fucking hate their clients. Working with clients and they’re so sick of chasing clients and getting them to implement stuff. I totally see both ways of it because I’ve done both. And then like I said we’re on the other side for a year as well where I was writing notes

on copy and then we’re also hiring very good writers. So I mean I see it from both ways there’s a lot of upside and a lot of downsides too.

To work on science Yeah it seems to be the case like when I got into copywriting So the forced first stuff I was exposed to was like the Gary how John Carlton stuff.

And that seemed to be like the recurring theme because of course they’ve been doing it for decades. Was that they you know the hated the clients or all clients shock and now being it should be a dick if you’re going to be a consultant on that kind of stuff. And I you know having done it myself now I can see why they would say that I’ve not been anywhere near a successful or as the longevity of them but I’ve certainly encountered enough ridiculous situations where I’ve just I’m like oh I see why they talk about that. But I can also see that you know I’ve never had to hire a copywriter. But having interviewed many of your readers now and having any friends or copywriters I can certainly see

the sort of constant stuff you hear about copywriters. You talk to you know other copywriters and about the industry you sort of share these things that recur about you know people missing deadlines and sort of bad things that copywriters do to clients that pissed them off and you can speak to both of those things. I mean you were a copywriter what I mean you’re hard and fast on deadlines you are you are no good at then end of things are you just as famous people.

Yeah I mean I was just as faulty as everyone else when I was governor.

And he’s more of a freelance writer. When I was writing my own stuff actually you know what I was writing my own stuff about I was still probably a month behind a lot of stuff.

I can tell you from the standpoint of the person hiring the copywriters meeting deadlines is a huge one. It’s amazing how quick you will set yourself apart from everyone else by simply meeting deadlines and some of the things.

So we talked a little a little bit in the Facebook post that I posted.

A lot of copywriters. It’s amazing for how good copy writers are persuasion. They tend to be really terrible at trying to get clients.

It is an interesting curiosity isn’t it. Yeah I mean.

Yeah a lot of them. I think most carburettors go about it the wrong way.

A lot of them are doing like very shotgun approach types of e-mail cold email and people and I mean really like I see this all the time or masterminds like the smart guy I know will kind of do anything they can do to get into a mastermind. And then there and I asked him I would send people that are able to hire them. And those 10 people in the mastermind are all like you is a very smart direct marketers like they’re the type of clients you want the people to actually implement and who understand exactly what you’re doing. But they don’t do it themselves so like they’ll give you free rein to do everything right. I mean the worst kind of client is someone who does not understand our kind of

marketing and you’ve got to sit there and try to convince them that one copy is better than the short copy and is at a high pressure sales type sales. They just don’t do. I mean that’s just a nightmare. You want to be working with people who already understand exactly what you’re going to do and understand the value of what you’re going to do because I mean companies that really understand that like we would pay a high and copywriters a lot of money. I mean anybody that’s going to work with the top a lot copywriters they have no problem shelling out a bunch of money because they know if they had a home run or were going to make millions and millions of dollars from it. So I mean kind of I mean that’s really one of the first things that a find in the clients that actually understand what you

bring to the table.

Now I saw on your Facebook posts where you talked about being traffic and conversions because you guys had some sort of mastermind there. And you’re talking to you know other business owners other product owners and they were lamenting of what you’re just saying which is like maybe they don’t have the wherewithal to work with the David Deutsch’s of the world. But they’re sort of looking for that. I hate to use the term you know middle grade I would refer to myself probably as middle grade and my dad is my ego getting in the way just right you know but looking for sort of that does the stumble of the absolute zenith let’s say for copywriters

you know and sort of you know $10000 whatever you want to say you know and you are sort of saying that people were looking for that because they sort of dealt with the dregs that haven’t they haven’t got any response they’re looking for those helpers person but they’re also looking for people who can handle a lot of the other aspects of copy not just the right in the copy but maybe going to more about that. What are they looking for.

Yes. I mean it’s kind of two separate issues but to me right now I really believe that the biggest opportunity for copywriters is learning how to do everything else around and offer and not just copy. So structuring the cells and writing up cells obviously a huge part of that doing kind of back and stuff like almost all of these businesses now run daily emails it’s knowing how to do the daily emails and building like a personality and a following around the customers that type of stuff and pretty much everything with coming up with new products and like pricing and how to position the offer. I mean you’d be amazed at how many just from that Facebook post

how many high level copywriters actually reached out to me and like many others hit me over the head like a ton of bricks like i realize i’m really good at writing copy but I don’t know shit about the others.

That it’s you know it’s true because if you’re not if you’re really not like you’re your client is actually I mean because you out of business you’re on yourself.

You sort of had to take apart all those different procedures so for you it was like on the job learning but for most people who aren’t involved in an actual business or just a freelancer be came as a big surprise.

Yeah and I mean that’s a really what a lot of people are looking for so it’s one thing I would suggest to to to kind of if you don’t want to keep looking for new clients out there. So one of my friends actually has a pretty good up and coming copywriter. He’s honestly just kind of learned in the last I would say two years or so. He knows how to do the who knows how to funnel stuff. He understands all the back and marketing type stuff and he has left the current company he was with and he was kind of worried that he didn’t know what he’s going to do next. And I’m just like dude you have so many skills. Anybody who would hire you for. Like every company that’s kind of growing and has like five to 10 employees is

like really like for people that know exactly what you want to do and actually try and conversion that person and another person I know who is doing similar stuff who has a really good copywriter. I play both of them and showed both of them into a role with basically being the marketing person for one company where they’re going to get a really good payment plus performance bonuses plus they still keep all their freedom. So I mean that’s another option for a lot of people. You’re not hunting for clients. I know lot just like me for a lot of copywriters it’s keeping the freedom is such a huge part of it. So if you could work from

home keep the freedom get paid a pretty high six figure salary and then get performance bonuses on top of it. I mean that’s a pretty good gig for a lot of people.

Absolutely. Absolutely. And that you could afford that coaching now. Now when it comes to up sales because you bring all the copy for your you know most lot of it it’s for yourself and the company for your paleo company before that.

Any talk about selling because this is something that I get annoyed when I go into places even like restaurants or you know any kind of store really I don’t get.

Something a copyright I guess it’s very hard to be a copywriter I guess it kind of annoys me because I think that myself I am honored to be doing this.

But let me talk about that because you’ve obviously had to structure a lot of your own offers in your own Opsahl funnels and so forth Saluki get into that a bit so we can educate people a bit about what that’s about.

So if you’re going to make an offer whether or not for an end especially to get new customers the sellers are absolutely crucial. That’s pretty much where all the money is made for most offers end up sells. There they are kind of a different beast. There’s a lot that goes into them and forms so like formatting so whether you do just text or you do text and video or you can do just that. So all that matters. The offer for ourselves is one thing that pretty much the problem with ourselves is very hard to test unless you have a lot of traffic. So most people don’t ever really do any testing and hence they leave tons and tons of money on

the table. So I mean if you could really just get like here first for I always recommend just focusing entirely on the first up so that’s pretty much we’re about 80 percent of the money is made of cells. That’s a good 80:20 little principle there. Yep. So I mean the best the best rule of thumb for the first up cell is of a huge important point Chris Dodd taught this to me about two years ago and it was kind of a breakthrough moment for me. Your first up cell. The best thing to sell is more of what you just sold them. Right. So that on the surface it seems kind of like now right. Because all that.

But that wasn’t all. Right. But it’s precisely because they bought that that is.

Exactly. So like my friend Mike Geary has a paleo cookbook that’s doing really really well right now. He gives the first cookbook away as a free shipping offer for like five bucks. And then the first upswell is for more paleo cookbooks.

Like I said like a lot would dictate we’ll sell them something else like a workout program that’s kind of like related or something like a diet guide or something. But the fact that you have a cookbook buyer the idea is to sell more cookbooks.

That’s what they buy it sounds stupid to even say it doesn’t but it’s really. Yeah. I mean honestly it took me so long to realize that.

And then I went for a set. I was like oh shit. I mean I make so much sense to them and you think about like direct mail of yourself on a weight loss product. The best buyers for weight loss products are somebody who bought weight loss product. Every day.

It’s crazy but it’s so true.

Yeah and people people really tend to forget that. And I mean so people put tons and tons of time into selling us into what they are and put up sell which products we use that is without a doubt the easiest thing is to sell them something that is literally almost the exact same as what they just bought. So if you did lay a course on like a dating thing like how to pick up one in the first up so it could be something like Volume 2 of it or an expanded edition of it was videos and audios and more stuff. So I mean really it’s selling them exactly what you just saw. It’s almost like the McDonald’s Supersize Me kind of idea.

Right. Which is they are selling you more of what you want.

Now when it comes to the pricing of things them a Garci upselling. What have you found in terms of I know you tests.

You’re a good person to speak with when it comes to these things in terms of like you know how much when Uppsala isn’t a big jump in prices and so forth.

Yeah. So we’ve seen between stuff I worked on in-between stuff I’ve consulted with other people and I think most people tend to probably price their selves too low. You can really jump pretty high. I mean I’ve seen a lot of free shipping offers where you’re giving away some for free and then you can easily solved something thats over $100 on the first upswell. Right. Get 15 to 20 percent of the people to take it. And so I mean and one other thing kind of pricing is a lot of people make this mistake is that they’ll kind of look at just the conversion rate on the up cells and I mean really what you want is what’s up

so actually as the most Munnings your average order value. So if something is priced at I don’t know a hundred bucks and 10 percent are taken then you’ve got some price that 20 bucks and 25 percent are taking it right. So you want to do the higher priced line because it’s adding more value. But I mean a lot of people even smart people will get this wrong and just use the one that’s given the hives take rate. So I mean pricing. I would always kind of push the boundaries a little on pricing and probably you don’t want to be a higher price than what you first offered them whatever the original product was doubling higher price than that. So yeah I would say Put

you can push the boundaries more than than you really think.

That’s good that’s good advice. It’s interesting I always find that I think you’re right.

I think some people trying to sell it some time. I have seen people waste time trying to stairstep like these small increments can make bigger jumps and I know some other marketers are testing some interesting things in that regard. But when it comes to you know for you own sort of the goal the entire funnel sequence that you guys had going. You know you had that up so what sort of unended you cross sell people on stuff as well. How did it work.

Yes. Oh we mainly focused on to ourselves. And then we did a lot of thank you paid offers as well. I’ve consulted with a couple clients and helped them on the page. This is kind of we’ll take a page Alvar’s it was like hidden areas breaking you could find some really good money.

So you can add five one time offers on the Thank-You page and you’ll be amazed at how many people will add stuff to their cart on the thank you page. Even if you’ve already offered it up so.

Right. So it’s like a redundant offering offer almost. But don’t take it on the thank you page whereas before they did.

I mean you can do that with like a one click up cell type thing. And if you want to do this super lazy man edition promote put a couple of banners down the bottom of your thinking page for affiliate offers. I mean that kind of stuff you’d be shocked at how much money I can add especially if you’re bringing a lot of customers.

That’s that’s great advice good advice. I know we had Terry Dean on the show awhile ago and he talked a lot about the thank you page offering something right after people opted in. Even our e-mail lists for just you know custom no info collection. So for copywriters out there now when you were a freelance copywriter did you endeavor to ever get into selling your own copywriting products writing books about coffee or taking any of those things or you just got caught up in your own business.

Yeah. No I never got into any of that. I was mostly writing my own copy.

I did a little bit of consulting but it was pretty much all focused on getting clients writing copy for clients.

Oh great. Now for people who are endeavoring to learn more about you know the stuff that they don’t know if you’re going to advise me or whoever it is that’s out there that maybe doesn’t know all the different aspects.

You know what sort of resources would you recommend for people looking to learn more about this peripheral stuff which is actually more important in many cases than the copy.

I’ve actually had a lot of people reach out to me and ask this. I keep trying to figure out like where a source would be from. I haven’t come up with one specifically to write but I would say a studying actual funnels of offers that are working.

So go into a health match going the financial match those type offers are all over you’ll find them all over like Boola little ads that are at the bottom of a lot of like news websites.

Right. Those type of things you’ll find those products. And the simplest way to figure it out is spend 39 bucks by the supplement and go through the whole funnel and write everything down that they’re doing just process wise. But like one of the copies of a video or a long form sales page are they how are they pitching up so all that kind of stuff that I mean that’s your best education. If you really want to do that go find five products and do that strike spend to our bikes find buy products and figure out exactly what they’re doing on their absolves you know you’ll see a bunch of similarities.

Is there anything that’s a similarity means it’s working for all of them. So right.

You’ll probably see a few differences but there will be a lot of stuff that’s similar. One course that really kind of helped me with a lot of this was Dan Kennedy as is really I think it’s pretty old. It’s called the back and J.B. course write the one with Jeff.

Yeah I think Jeff was back right.

Just a really really good in depth I mean is it a high level advance advance direct marketing type stuff. But I mean everything he just kind of talks about in there with back and and up sells just throws that idea after idea for I don’t know nine CDs or right.

But if you’re really kind of want to get an idea as to how back and then everything after the initial sales made how it works it’s a great course for.

Well I think you’ve given us a lot to think about. You certainly an interesting to hear your story in sort of the different things you’ve gone through in your in your career so far it looks like you’re headed in a new direction.

So not really sure what’s next. I’m going to take a couple of weeks.

I’m forcing myself to go for it. Going to do some wakeboarding or something I’m sure. Yeah.

I was the entrepreneur our personality were like three days without working.

I was like itching just or doing something right like putting restraints on myself and not doing anything for at least two or three weeks. That’s probably good it sounds like you’re in need of a vacation. You know we’ll sell it last. So people want to get in get in touch with you Justin.

What’s the best way to do it right now would be just Facebook Facebook dot com slash Justin Goff get a price start post a lot more business copywriting stuff there. So yeah you want one all day. Check it out.

Awesome. I really want to thank you for coming on the show. I know.

Your life has been acting I’m sure with this business and everything and I’m happy you made time for our audience because I think you get a lot of great ideas here today.

Awesome. Thank you for having it.

Yeah great. And for everybody else listening you have gotten do it just in sense because those were some of the best ideas we’ve divulged on this.

Yes. So go take action. Obviously listening is good but actually better. So we’ll be back again with another edition of the pod cast next week and hopefully they’ll be as half as entertaining and insightful as Justin

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