James Brausch

Experiences with Diego Norte

I think I can credit about 80% of what I’ve learned about online business to James Brausch and his more recent Diego Norte incarnation. It was his blog that finally convinced me to shift my focus from copywriting to product creation.

These have been my experiences so far:

  • I’ve followed his blog(s) for approaching 2 years.
  • I proofread his first two books and was one of only two people who actually proofed all of the first book. I opted not to do the third because I got tired of correcting the same grammar mistakes over and over AND I’d already read all those blog posts AND I’d finally created a solid product at that point.
  • I’ve purchased most of his products.
  • I’d considered going to Costa Rica to model him (his personal blog said he’s moving so I doubt that’s a possibility).
  • I’d participated in his intern/contractor program on 3 different occasions. The first time, I did every task for about five weeks and then the autoresponder ran out of emails/I quit doing them because there weren’t any new tasks. My two ghost written blog articles were published on his blog.

The thing that gets me about James’ business is that he refuses to communicate with his customers. I can appreciate his motivation to do the most immediately profitable thing. But as one of his most loyal customers I’m really frustrated with my experience.

Some grievances I have (only because I have no other way to contact his business):

  • On two occasions, I wasn’t paid for my contractor work.
  • His Life Management 101 product was an absolute waste of money. I don’t need to pay for a half hour audio telling me not to watch TV.
  • His DVD creation product was mostly a waste of money too. It’s a video version of the instructions you can get for free from Kunaki. Robert Phillips has a more thorough video for half the price if you want help via video. I’d pass on his cover creation product though. If you want to learn to do covers, get my graphic design product coming out soon. The rest of the info is available via Kunaki.
  • James has been fairly incindiary to his customers and even peers online. He had a couple of posts back in the day accusing one of his students of lying and stealing one of his products. If you went and read the accused person’s blog it seemed like the story didn’t line up as he’d actually purchased the product in question and had gotten permission IN PERSON to do what he did. It seems like if James hadn’t sequestered himself and refused to communicate with anyone, that could have been avoided.
  • I personally got flamed by James’ blog once too for saying something regarding TV. When I read the post response to my comment I thought who in the world would have said watching TV was okay. I went back to the comments they referenced and realized they must have meant me even though I said nothing of the sort. I realized it wasn’t James that wrote that so I wrote a tongue in cheek response saying his contractor in India was overreacting to what my contractor in India said.
  • His business’ posts have become 80% junk since diegonorte.com started. They’re obviously written as filler. Most aren’t even worth the time it takes to scan and figure out they’re junk. The fact that he obviously isn’t concerned his business is cranking out junk concerns me as a business practice.
  • A couple of times, his franchise system didn’t give me another viable task. I clicked through to the next task and it wanted me to critique and article for example. But there was no article. Another time, it wanted me to comment on something like 20 blogs. I combed through the list of 100+ urls given and found that most of them either 1) weren’t blogs, 2) weren’t in English or 3) hadn’t been posted to in several months. There was literally no way for me to complete the task or to tell them I couldn’t.
  • I purchased MuVar 2009 but it didn’t include complete directions. Some features mentioned in the sales letter I got via email weren’t even mentioned. I really don’t like learning from video for most things but what I’ve heard is those videos are the exact same ones as for the prior version of MuVar. I think the software must work, I just don’t know how to do it. I did spend 2 full days trying to set up one page. After the video instructions way didn’t work, I tried everything else I could imagine with nothing to show for it.
  • I must have subscribed to a trial version of James’ newsletter last year. I recall receiving a couple of issues and thinking they weren’t worth $25. It was mostly his MuVar testing results which I’d already seen elsewhere. I only received a couple of issues so I forgot about it. Turns out that right around Thanksgiving I get an unexpected $300 charge for subscribing to his newsletter. I might be mistaken but it seems that I subscribed to a one year trial but only got 2-3 months of it. I sent an email to get a refund but never heard back. No doubt they don’t offer refunds and I don’t want to argue with PayPal at this point. I just got the first issue in the mail so I’ll check that out before I do anything else.
  • His business offered a Christmas special. I missed it last year so I made sure to check it out this year. It was supposed to be most of his products on sale plus a free trial of his Ranking Factors software. I plugged my url into Ranking Factors and it didn’t work. Great. Thanks. I checked out the rest and the only actual discount was on his email customer service – did I mention that? If you want customer service, you have to pay for it. I was intending to wait until Jan to start working on MuVar again and pay the $25 for them to help me work my $50 MuVar product. Hopefully I don’t have to explain the ethical problem I have with that but it’d still be worth it monetarily to get MuVar working. The customer service option was only $1 so I figured why not. The form only allowed something like 62 characters so I did my best to explain my MuVar delimma. Here’s the response I got back yesterday:

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

You asked the following question:

I can’t get MuVar 2009 to work. Not enough space to explain.

It wasn’t presented in the form of a question or it wasn’t gramatically
correct so we first had our team reword your request into a gramatically
correct question format.  Here is what we were able to reword it to:

How can I get MuVar 2009 to work without enough space on my server?

Here is our response:

MuVar 2009 doesn’t take very much space at all on your server.  The script
files are less than 100K.

MuVar does store data about all of your visitors and sales but even the
most modest hosting plan should be able to handle tens of thousands of
visitors and hundreds of sales.

With hundreds of sales, you can easily upgrade to a most robust hosting plan.

MuVar 2009 is extremely simple to use.  It is sold on a CD with all of the
script files and step-by-step videos showing every step of installation
and setup.  Most people are able to install MuVar 2009 in less than an
hour the first time.  After the first time, 10 or 15 minutes is much more
typical.  There is nothing complicated at all about installation or

It’s really that simple.

We also offer an email consultation service and a monthly coaching service
if you ever have any specific questions.  Training is never an issue with
any Diego Norte product including MuVar 2009.

I hope this answer helps.  Please contact us at this URL if you have any
other questions:


Sarina Hendrickson
Nashville, Tenessee, USA Office

If you missed that, they not only didn’t answer my question, but reworded my question into a ridiculous question and answered that instead. All I can say is I’m really glad I didn’t shell out $25 for that.

I’d wanted to invest in James’ franchise system now that I’ve gotten a grip on how to create some unique products. I’m not going to though because my experience with it as a user has been so poor. Even so, I’m still interested in seeing how his latest experiment with homepages goes. And even after all that, I still took advantage of his 24 hour special yesterday to add another 10K publishers to my article marketing database.

I have really mixed feelings about Diego Norte. On the one hand, I really admire the hands-off systems style business James has built. I gather he’s now a multi-millionaire because of it.  On the other hand, I think half of what his business is churning out is junk and damaging to the relationship his business should be trying to cultivate with its customers. I agree it’s good to be profitable but not at the cost of cheating people out of money and spreading ill will. That doesn’t seem like it’d be profitable long term.

I’d normally avoid saying anything negative about anyone in particular. James just doesn’t have any other way to give feedback except product purchase. I guess the only feedback he wants is product purchases through MuVar. I’m pretty sure the flaw in that thinking though is that MuVar doesn’t measure repeat purchases and lifetime customer value.

Any comments? I don’t want this to be a rail against James post but I’d like to hear any thoughts regarding business systems, product creation, profitability, longevity, etc.

Multivariate Testing NLP Language Patterns

I recently got my copy of MuVar 2009 which is James Brausch’s multivariate testing software.

I find it really interesting that not may top copywriters do multivariate testing that I’m aware of. They’ll split test things but generally speaking they write one good letter and that’s that.

I’m planning to install MuVar on my hypnoticwriter.org site to get better conversions but also to see which NLP language patterns work better. I don’t know if anyone is doing that. So far, opinions of what works better seems to have been based on what works better in speech or guesses about what the reader might think.

I’ll be posting some of the results here. I anticipate releasing some of the results to customers who’ve purchased the Be a Hypnotic Writer course.

The main thing to know is that I’m also going to be multivariate testing the $1 trial offer. If MuVar decides that the traditional full payment up front converts better, that’s what I’ll go with.

If you’ve been waiting to take advantage of the $1 trial offer, I recommend you do so before Monday. I’m going to set up some variables by then. After that, MuVar may show it less often and even stop showing it all together.

Again, that link is: http://hypnoticwriter.org

[EDIT 9/29: I’m having a terrible time setting MuVar up. Evidently it has some “features” that aren’t explained in the set up videos and I don’t know how to get it to work. And then James doesn’t offer support on any of his products so I may be out of luck until I can hire someone to straighten out the php code. Ugh.]

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.


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: http://hypnoticwriter.org .

Every Word Matters

Several blogs were talking about words recently and I wanted to bring them to your attention.

First off is A-List copywriter David Garfinkel. He showed how newspaper headlines can have drastically different interpretations just by how you read the same words. He was at Harlan’s NLP Copywriting seminar last fall too and mentions an NLP application. Check it out here .

Then James Brausch wrote about a similar idea . His centered more about how emotionally laden words can alter the entire meaning of a message and thus your thoughts… even simple changes like terrorists vs freedom fighters. Here was the original post. Then he gave his readers some practice . He followed with some explanation on why some things don’t make sense and an indirect complement [Thanks, James].

Finally, I noticed Steve [didn’t see a last name] who has an NLP blog. He talked at length about nominalizations . Of course we NLP marketing folks use nominalizations a little differently than the mainstream NLP Practitioners. It really depends on the result you’re looking for and whether you’re looking for your reader’s energy to move or to dissipate.

All those things are covered in my "Be a Hypnotic Writer " course… including practice. In another week or so, I’m going to be raising the price and turning it into a one time payment instead of subscriptions. If you’d like to take advantage of the low price now, you better do it soon. Click on the free lesson in the sidebar.

Testing Bullets

I was pleasantly surprised to see the results of James Brausch’s testing on bullets versus paragraphs.

I’ve often felt that leading with bullets intuitively felt more appropriate. Clayton Makepeace often does it and it makes a lot of sense. Check out this sales letter he has up. After you read the headline, you can read some bullets and really decide whether you want to plow through the long copy or not. Of course long versus short copy is a different discussion.

Since Clayton does it and James has verified it usually converts better through multivariate testing, you might think there’s nothing more to say about it, right? Well…

What if in addition to testing feature, benefit, or nothingness bullets as James recommends, you also tested an NLP pattern? You’d figure out what kinds of patterns converted better for your particular market. You’d also begin to figure out how elegant you need to be.

One copywriter insists that you can use the equivalent of BUY NOW type embedded commands and get results. So test it. I don’t recommend testing something that obvious but you can sure calibrate it down until the conversion rate starts to turn against you.

You’re free! You’re free! Run wild… free from the shackles of paragraphs. 🙂

The Holy Grail of Copywriting

There’s lately been some discussion on the value of NLP in copywriting.

I haven’t seen too much hype about NLP Copywriting being the holy grail of copywriting. Jon McCulloch posted today about how it’s just another tool for copywriters. I don’t know that anyone is arguing that point.

Copywriters worth their salt will tell you these are the most important elements of a promotion:

  1. The list
  2. The offer
  3. The copywriting

These aren’t percentage contributions either as I saw one marketer teaching. This is a situation where if you miss on #1, it doesn’t matter how good the other two are. You can nail #1 but if you miss #2 you still don’t have a very successful promotion.

Conversely, you can do a terrible job of #3 but still have a moderate success if you got the first two down. Obviously you’d want to do well on all three to optimize your chances for success.

That said, NLP Copywriting is about optimizing the effectiveness of #3. It can’t rescue a promotion that missed on the first two elements.

The other point I wanted to add to the discussion is on testing.

James Brausch does as much testing as anyone else out there. Through using his multivariate testing software, he turned the visitor value of one of his sites from $5 to now $31.35 . And that’s without deliberately testing any NLP. [FYI: Visitor Value means for every unique visitor to that site, the average payoff is over $30]

James also posted a good and brief explanation of the different types of testing (including Taguchi). Split testing is better than nothing but why would you do it when you can get results so much faster these days?

As an aside, I’ve participated as a subject in several double blind studies and they’re not usually as blind as people would like to think. There are ALWAYS incentives at work that people tend not to take into account.

It would be ridiculous for an entrepreneur to spend time trying to set up a double blind study. In a medical setting, double blind means neither the doctor nor the subject knows which medication is being dosed and tested. But believe me, sometimes you KNOW which one is the placebo.

Why would an entrepreneur want to set up a situation where the winning variables were in a black box (double blind) that they had to sort through after the fact? James’ software, MuVar, automatically sorts it out for you and selects the best ones to display.

The point of all of this is the overall approach I’ve intended to take with this blog:

NLP Copywriting is simply another variable to multivariate test while you’re improving your copywriting.

There’s no perfect sales letter. There’s no magic pill persuasion technique. There’s only a point of diminishing returns where it becomes more profitable to either focus more energy on increasing traffic or create a new offer.

If there is a holy grail of copywriting, it’s multivariate testing.

The Ultimate Intellectual Property

The final fronter for intellectual property seems to be NLP’s ability to model people.

Harlan Kilstein’s modeling seminar ended last Friday (I didn’t go but I may get the DVDs at some point).

In it, he was going to share and install his models of several A list copywriters. As part of the promotion leading up to it, he shared a model of negotiating he’d modeled from two top negotiators. The interesting thing about that was that one of the exemplars (person being modeled) wasn’t a willing contributor.

And then John Carlton posted recently that he’d done a live seminar in which he went through the process of what he does even before he starts writing copy to make sure it goes like greased lightning every time. It’s in the PS if you want to see what he said about it.


So what’s the deal? Do each of us have some kind of intellectual property over our own personalities? I don’t know. It’s an interesting question. As long as you keep growing and improving, no one will ever be a better you than you are. I don’t know about the ethical implications of modeling people who don’t want to be modeled.

In reviewing Persuasion Engineering , Richard Bandler said that many top entrepreneurs (esp. in MLM) were recovered drug addicts. James Brausch comes to mind. He’s told his story of recovery on his blog openly. Evidently the deal is that an addict’s life depends on him following directions to the t. I definitely see that in James’ story. That skill then serves him well in following business systems.

So it’s more than just copying the outward behaviors of a successful person. To truly get the same results, there’s the whole mental and emotional components too. If you think and feel what they do, then you’ll really behave as they do. In NLP, it’s known as acting "as if." That’s pretty different than the mantra, "fake it ’til you make it." In the latter, you’re acting with the full knowledge that you’re not doing or believing the same thing. In the former, you’re taking action with the same foundational beliefs and will eventually replicate the outcome.

All that’s to say that if someone wants to model James Brausch or others like him, I bet that would be a hot selling product. I may see about doing it myself some day if no one else gets around to it.

EDIT: I actually wrote this post last Friday and scheduled the posting for Tuesday. During that time, James came out with a new product that sounds eerily like what I’d just suggested. Of course it’s a 27 minute DVD so I doubt it’s a full NLP model. Funny thing about the timing though.