Neuro-Linguistic Programming

The Real Reading Modality

I’ve posted before on the modality of reading.

The reason it matters is because if you’re writing persuasive copy, you want to know how it’s affecting your reader. Is it visual because he’s using his eyes to take it in? Is it auditory because she’s repeating the words in her head? Is it kinesthetic because he’s using his hand to follow the lines of copy?

At the last NLP MeetUp group I went to, I asked a couple of the most experienced NLP guys which modality they think reading is. The answer seems obvious now but I’d been missing it.

Modalities are based in the person, not the activity. It’s a matter of how each individual processes the experience.

For example, you’d think receiving verbal directions to get to a restaurant would be verbal, right? Well, not for me. For it to stick, I have to visualize the layout in my head. Otherwise I have a tendency to forget it.

Another example is a professional guitar player I know. We were talking about this and he said playing guitar is like his fingers dancing. He plays “by ear” but processes the experience kinesthetically.

We’re back to the answer being to use a little bit of all of them unless you have information telling you your target audience is predominantly one or the other. The only real way to know that is to test.

To test modalities, instead of doing 25/25/25/25, try something like 30/20/20/30. Don’t go for 100/0/0/0 all at once unless you’re goal is to make a point. Multivariate test small changes until you have the best mix.

Thoughts on Freelancing

I recently had a course member (Be a Hypnotic Writer) ask me the question I always used to ask:

“There’s so much stuff out there on being a freelance copywriter, where do I start?”

Here’s what I wrote back:

To go into business as a freelance copywriter, you need two main skills… the ability to write copy AND the ability to market yourself. They’re actually not the same thing although being able to write better copy helps with marketing.

If I were starting from scratch and wanted to take the shortest route, I would learn the structure and then study actual letters so you know what you’re looking at. For structure, I recommend Dan Kennedy’s book, The Ultimate Sales Letter. It’s not exhaustive but you’ll learn all you need to start.

Then use Google to find good letters. Look for swipe files. Look at samples at top copywriter’s websites. I know I listed a few in my course. When you find those letters, type them out manually. Most people (myself included) wrote them out longhand on paper but I’ve heard typing is just as good. Keep those letters so you’ll have a place to look for ideas when you’re writing.

Bob Bly has a large amount of structure and business advice for copywriters on his website. Look under Portfolio, Methodology, and For Writers Only.

If there’s a particular niche of writing ability or NLP you want to explore further, I listed almost all the resources I know at

For marketing yourself there’s a nearly infinite number of places you could market yourself. Some low hanging fruit is evidently brick and mortar businesses who realize they need an online presence but don’t know how to do it. If you know how to set them up with a basic website (or especially a WordPress blog), you can make decent money as a marketing consultant.

You can be merely an adequate copywriter for that niche. If you don’t know how to install WordPress they have all the directions you need on the site. Make sure you go to the one where you download and host your own. The other one they host and get credit for your traffic.

I haven’t gotten it, but Ryan Healy just released a product on marketing yourself. If I were trying to market myself as a freelance copywriter, I would get it. Google his blog and you’ll find it. [EDIT: Go here –]

If you want to get really good, you’ll eventually need a coach. Shop around and read what other people say.

The time frame really depends on how fast you get your ability and confidence up to speed. I imagine if you learned what to look for (and you know more than most because of your NLP training) and start copying out letters – 1 letter per day 3x each, you’d be better than most folks within a month. I probably only copied 10 different letters to be honest. You might try copying different elements of letters all together… like copying several headlines, leads, closes, etc so you can compare them.

Another consideration is that more and more copywriters are moving toward building information businesses. As much money as copywriters make, the folks they write for make a lot more plus they can outsource the operations. You can’t really outsource copywriting so you’ll always be tied to it.

Also, funny that you should ask because my current project is using NLP modeling to create a model of a freelance copywriter. I’ve been dissecting over 500 pages of interviews with 60+ different copywriters. I’m at least a few weeks away from launch.

I’ll probably offer it for $100 with a short (not more than a few days) special offer for $35 when I first release it. Watch my blog if you’re interested. Creating models is the info publishing business I’m moving into.

Hope that helps.

[EDIT: Once you get started with some knowledge, the best teacher is live testing. The easiest thing is to split test pay per click ads. Graduate to multivariate testing your own product. If you don’t want to create your own product, sign up as a Clickbank affiliate and write a better letter to test. At least that’s what I would do.]

Calibrating Pacing

Last week I attended a Hypnosis MeetUp group.

After some explanation we broke up into groups to practice putting each other into trance. As newbies, we have a long way to go in calibrating our paces. Even though my partner “missed” several times, I was still able to go into trance.

What occurs to me is that as you’re using NLP in your copy, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Your reader does have a modicum of vested interest in interacting with your message or else he wouldn’t be reading it. She can help you at points where you’re less than elegant.

There are limits of course. In one exercise we were supposed to say, “that’s right” every time we noticed our partner going deeper into trance. One of my partners had a hypnosis audio she used to fall asleep to. The voice was almost comically deep and repeated, “that’s right.” So every time she tried to say it, she started giggling. I wasn’t able to go into trance like that because I would end up laughing too.

All that’s to say you don’t have to be perfect to be effective. As long as you’re not completely breaking state, you’re probably getting through to some degree.

Modeling Copywriting

Now that I’ve finished creating the Be a Hypnotic Writer course AND Gordon and Dawes’ book on modeling, I’m ready for the next project.

I was thinking of modeling a few practice “hobby” interest exemplars first… like one of my friends who can listen to a song for the first time and play it almost immediately on his guitar.

Now I’m thinking I ought to create a copywriting model. I have hundreds of pages and hours of interviews and training from expert copywriters and I think I could create a useful model of a professional copywriter.

The reason I want to do that is that someone with solid copywriting skills would get more out of my hypnotic writing course. It wasn’t necessarily designed to be an entry level course. Without some level of confidence in copywriting, you might not know how to begin applying advanced writing skills.

Keep an eye out. The copywriting model will be forthcoming.

More Resources

This past week has seen some interesting developments.

I learned that some local long time NLP experts started a blog. The said that they intend to eventually release many of the NLP models they created over the years for the semiconductor industry. In the meantime, the first few posts have been worth reading.

James Brausch changed domains again. Fortunately if you’re just getting started or would like a refresher on the basics, this looks to be the place. I noticed he’s testing the picture in the top right corner so check that out too. So far, I’ve seen a racially ambiguous bearded dude in a suit and no picture tests.

Richard Lee is going to start over from scratch and build up his internet business almost entirely at no cost. If you don’t know him, he’s consistently been ranked in the top few results for the highly competitive search term, "internet business." It ought to be instructional to follow his progress.

Trying NLP out in a Speech

Over the weekend I got to announce the Toastmasters District Fall Conference since I’m chairing it.

I only had a few hours until I was to make the announcement (due to procrastination on my part) and most of that time was already accounted for in other events.

I decided to throw some patterns in there anyway just to see what would happen.

Here’s what I scratched together on 3 pocket sized spiral note pad pages:

Do you… remember a time when learning was fun.

You’re excited and fascinated with both the journey and the destination.

Imagine a day devoted to your improvement. Do you want to…

  • Improve your voice
  • Relax your body
  • Iron out internal resistance
  • Resolve external conflict
  • Align yourself with what you really want out of life

The theme of the fall conference is, "Your Best Self Ever."

We’re taking a value based approach where you could easily pay the full price just to hear any of the speakers we have lined up. It will be a one day conference.

As you’re getting your [registration] fliers, you’re probably already thinking about other members who’d like to come as well.

Then I talked about how to sign up and who to give the money to.

Did it work? Who knows. We had more than the usual number of early registrations but that could have as easily been due to the fact that the price was lower than usual and the value was higher than usual. It was fun trying it out.

Is NLP Manipulative?

Since I didn’t take the practitioner courses, I’ve been learning NLP on my own.

I realized that I could benefit from being able to practice NLP in persuading people in person as well so I joined a couple of local Meetup groups. One is a hypnosis group and the other is an NLP group. I’ve also considered starting a Toastmasters club based on learning NLP in any and all contexts.

In talking to people about NLP, I’m faced with the difficult issue of trying to explain NLP. Usually I say it has to do with hypnosis and behavior modification. Now that I’m studying modeling, I might tack on modeling excellence. If someone said "modeling excellence" to me, I doubt I’d know what they were talking about so maybe not.

Once I’ve said that much though, I often get looks like I’ve just told them I’m dabbling in black magic or the occult. Sometimes I get asked (or accused) whether it’s manipulative. And I haven’t even mentioned the applications of speed seduction at that point.

Here’s how I see it: NLP is a tool like anything else. It can be used for good OR for evil if you like to make that distinction. It’s an especially helpful tool if you’re wanting to persuade another person. Any moral judgment about that persuasion is up to the intent of the persuader or observer, not the techniques employed… as long as you’re not violating another person’s will. Obviously involuntary trauma based brainwashing is something totally different.

As a persuader, are you responsible for respecting other people’s boundaries? It depends on your worldview I suppose. Does your doctor? Does the car salesman? Once you realize how maliable subjective reality is, you may wonder how useful boundaries are at all. That’s a topic for another time though.

Another consideration is in using any tool. Do you want to be more versatile and skilled or less? Do you want the tools of persuasion used on you or do you want to be the one using them? You have a responsibility to safeguard your own interests as well.

So is NLP manipulative? Absolutely. It’s as manipulative, dirty and evil as money, cars or hammers. 🙂

Getting Started in Copywriting and NLP

I’ve been asked a couple of times how to get started in copywriting and NLP.

If you Google “getting started copywriting” you’ll see over 200,000 results. Most of the advice I’ve seen and followed boils down to a few steps:

  1. Study the masters
  2. Copy out successful letters
  3. Build a swipe file
  4. Practice on low risk jobs
  5. Build your portfolio
  6. Specialize in a market
  7. Get bigger clients

What I want to point out is that your path depends greatly on your end goal. Do you want to be a corporate copywriter? Freelance? Or how about run your own business?

Personally, I started out following the above steps before I finally accepted the fact that many of the most successful copywriters write for themselves. Even the top copywriters that still write for clients also have their own products, services, coaching programs, seminars, etc. That’s where the real money and real freedom are.

If you’ve managed to stick to the steps long enough to become a half decent copywriter, branching out into your own business won’t be a terrible shock. Selling is the hardest part of any business and you already have a leg up. Plus, if you go after information products online, you’ve chopped your learning curve down again. And you won’t have to go looking for step 4. You can do your own stuff.

If you follow the career path of many copywriters, the steps that follow after the six above are:

  1. Charge your clients more
  2. Get more clients
  3. Get burned out
  4. Have an existential crisis
  5. Get fed up and start your own business

Why not start at step 4 in the first list and jump to step 5 in the second? Anyway, that’s not the point of this post.

I wanted to elaborate on step 1 in the first list for copywriting and NLP. That was the original question… how to get started.

I read the original guys like Hopkins, Caples and Ogilvy. I don’t recommend anyone start with that unless you want to be a corporate copywriter. For direct response copywriters and entrepreneurs, I recommend you study some of the guys who are doing it well online already. Specifically, I recommend (not affiliate links):

  • Michel Fortin – has a great online presence and community
  • Clayton Makepeace – master of melding copywriting and existing business (aka profit sharing and royalties)
  • Ben Settle – a great resource to go for learning about swiping
  • Michael Senoff – an amazing resource for free seminars, interviews and ads on a multitude of business topics. It’s a great place to find ideas.
  • Dan Kennedy – he has a number of good books on the basics. I’m looking at a copy of The Ultimate Sales Letter on my shelf. You can see the 2nd edition free on Google Books.
  • Google “internet business ” and visit the top results. If they’re private business guys with blogs, they obviously know what they’re doing. Richard Lee, Cybercashology and Terry Dean come to mind.
  • [EDIT 5/23/09]I used to recommend James Brausch for his straightforward business formula that went something like “Product + Traffic + Copywriting = $$$.” He’s since sold off his blog and business and the new owners ran it into the ground with poor products and service. Terry Dean has a highly recommended beginner’s guide.

For NLP, it really depends on what you want to do with it. There’s a ton of general info online. Here’s what I recommend:

  • If you want a solid general overview, get a book like Introducing NLP by O’Connor and Seymour.
  • If you want to learn how to do NLP, you have 2 main options: take a practitioner course or read the original books by Bandler and Grinder and find someone to practice with. The first method would probably be easier although I’ve taken the second.
  • [EDIT 10/20/08: Richard Bandler has a new book out, “Get The Life You Want” that has most of his NLP patterns. Each chapter is a background story and the pattern laid out step by step. I highly recommend it as a pattern reference.]
  • [EDIT 5/23/09: It now appears that NOTNLP may have streamlined many if not all the patterns of NLP. If you’re wanting to do NLP in person, I recommend you check it out.]
  • If you want to learn to do Therapeutic Metaphors, learn the vocabulary of NLP first and then get David Gordon’s book on it. Some of it will be lost on you if you don’t know the basics.
  • If you want to learn modeling,  get Gordon’s book on it. [UPDATE: Steve Bauer has a more comprehensive list on modeling approaches listed in a recent post . It includes Gordon’s book.]
  • If you run across something you’re not familiar with look it up in the Encyclopedia of NLP .
  • If you want to learn it for personal motivation, get Tony Robbin’s materials.
  • If you want to be entertained and awed by it, look for Derren Brown on YouTube. “The Heist ” and “Subliminal Advertising ” are especially eye opening.
  • If you want to learn it for a face to face sales context, get Kenrick Cleveland’s materials. I haven’t studied his materials beyond his blog but Harlan Kilstein highly recommends him.
  • If you want to learn if for a seduction context, get the Speed Seduction materials.
  • If you want to have it done on you without worrying about learning it, get some Paraliminals or visit a hypnotherapist or NLP practitioner. I created a similar product you can download free called Passionate Heart.

And finally, if you want to learn NLP for a copywriting context, get my course. The only thing even like it is Harlan’s $1000 DVDs. Even then, a couple people have commented that my course is easier to understand than his. It’s way less expensive too.

You can get the first lesson free here: .

Modeling Customers

At Harlan’s NLP Copywriting II seminar (I didn’t attend), he said he was going to teach people to model their audience.

He also said he’d modeled someone without their knowledge.

The notes of that modeling are here:

Recently, Steve Bauer posted on what’s required to model people . He said you can’t model people you’ve never met.

Given those things, is it possible to effectively model a whole group of people? It doesn’t sound plausible to me. What you can do is come up with some general trends. According to David Gordon (and thus Harlan) it’s about discovering beliefs, strategies, emotions and external behavior… then yes, you can find out some of that as a trend for your market.

If you want to see an outline for the things included in David Gordon’s system of modeling check out the Table of Contents of his book. I ordered it last week so I can tell you more about it after I’ve read it.

Any maybe Steve will weigh in with his opinion too. 🙂

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