Nick Poninski is an author and expert copywriter for course creators. After university, Nick travelled Asia and lived for two years as an expat teacher in South Korea teaching communication.
It was an eye-opening experience that sparked his curiosity in human psychology; what makes people tick and “why” they do what they do. This was a perfect match with his love for 20,000 word dissertations and Nick was guided to his calling in life.
Today he is living his passion as a copywriter, writing the words that tell, sell and compel to get you more: leads, customers, sales and profits.
He has created the “The 5 Minute Client Grabber” course, and written a top rated book: Stop Struggling: Sell Your Course This Week – helping you master words that sell!
What you will learn
- The unlikely way Nick discovered his love for copywriting
- How to find and land clients that will pay you what you’re worth
- Discover how to shift from “writing” copy for an online course to “selling” it
- Nick shares his best secrets to writing sales pages for online courses
- Discover the sales pages that convert best in 2022 (and why!)
- Learn more about the power of words when communicating with your audience
- Find out the easiest way to drive traffic to your sales pitch
- Nick shares his best tips for selling online courses
- Plus loads more!
00:00:00 - 00:02:02
Hi everyone, welcome to The Jeff Bullas Show. Today I have with me Nick Poninski. Nick is an author, and expert copywriter for course creators. I'm going to find out some things about how to write copy for courses, how to build email lists and all the fun things that you can do around creating an online course, especially for selling it. After university, Nick traveled to Asia and lived two years as an expat teacher in South Korean teaching and learning communication. It was an eye opening experience that sparked his curiosity in human psychology; what makes people tick and “why” they do what they do. This was a perfect match with his love for 20,000 word dissertations. And Nick was guided to his calling in life, which I believe is copywriting for courses. Today he is living passion as a copywriter, writing the words that tell, sell and compel to get you more: Leads, Customer, Sales and Profits.
He has created “The 5 Minute Client Grabber Course” and written the top rated book “Stop Struggling: Sell Your Course This Week”, “How To Write Words To Get Your Course Sold”.
So welcome to the show, Nick, it's an absolute pleasure. And I'm curious about, it took you from there where you were here today and while you're doing copywriting. So how did it all start? You mentioned about going to South Korea and fell in love with communication, which I totally get because the power of words both written and spoken are underrated by a lot of people and when you get on to something like
TikTok sometimes the words aren't crafted, they're just sing to music. So we're gonna learn about the power of words and I'm looking forward to hearing more about that. So Nick, what sort of tipped you into being a copywriter and saying I'm going to do this as a full time business. Where was the inspiration or desperation? Either or so you can have both. How did you start?
00:02:03 - 00:03:35
Yeah. Okay, firstly thank you for that great introduction that made me feel, although emotional. So, yeah, I used to live in South Korea. I was doing that for two years. I was an English teacher as, you know, as a foreign language, loads of fun. After a couple of years, I realized, you know, that's not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And then I came home and you know, I thought, well what can I do? And I just, you know, as you say that, I've always enjoyed the psychology, why people do what they do. And I thought that HR would be a great fit for me. Because there's a lot of, you know, why do people go to work? Why do they commit? Why do they not commit? Why do they perform well? Why don't they perform well? Right. And then, you know, I was working in HR, that it wasn't providing as much of a spark because I was hoping, and I think like a lot of people like lockdown came and you know, you have that moment where you stop and think to yourself, is this really what I'm looking for? And yeah, before you know it, I'd signed up for a course to be a copywriter and yeah, here I am a year and a half later. And yeah, I'm now a full time copywriter, have been for a while. It's great. I love it. I love it so much.
00:03:35 - 00:04:08
Good. What's great about that in an online digital world that's connected globally through the internet and the web and amplified by social media which connects all of us, well mostly some people out on Facebook, we know that so but that's okay. Well let them stay there, that's fine. So you can work from anywhere really, you could do this from Lake Como, you could do this from Lisbon as long as you've got an internet connection.
00:04:09 - 00:04:12
Yes. If you got a laptop, you can work.
00:04:12 - 00:04:19
Great. Was that part of the attraction as well of doing what you do today with the copywriting?
00:04:20 - 00:05:09
Do you know that kind of freedom was, I think that was like a secondary benefit. It wasn't as much of a benefit as you might think like it's a nice idea. But when you're first starting out as I, you know, I have been for a few months but for the first initial period, right? You don't have those clients. You don't have any retainers. Everything's a little bit up in the air, right? So the idea of working from anywhere is appealing. But the reality is that I spend 12 hours a day working. So yeah, I could work it Lake Como but I would never see Lake Como.
So it's not happened yet, but certainly in the future, it's certainly something that I want to do. Yes.
00:05:10 - 00:05:34
So the other thing that I'm intrigued by too is did you start copyrighting and looking for clients and working for clients while you had a full time job? Or did you just go, I'm going to be a copywriter and trying to find them and hunt them down. And so how did it start?
00:05:35 - 00:06:44
A bit of both. Actually, yeah. So I had a full time job and That was in HR and I was trying to transition into be in copywriter. So I was trying to find clients. And I spent, I must have sent out about 400 cold emails. And I've never run a business before. I had no idea how to find clients. And you know, I signed up for this course and they talked about doing cold emails. So I tried that and tried different ways of doing cold emails. Never got a response. So, yes, I tried while I had my full time job. But my full time job had a temporary contract, it came to an end at the certain period of time. I can't remember now when and I didn't have any copywriting clients by then. But I think having that kind of deadline when I didn't want to know the job in HR wanted to be a copywriter. Like at that point it was full on commitment and had been pulled away because I didn't have had that safety net. But once it's been removed, trying to find copyrighting clients.
00:06:45 - 00:06:51
Yeah. So this is where desperation starts to come in, isn't it?
00:06:52 - 00:07:07
100%. That's when I started to get a little bit more creative and that's when I ended up creating my method of getting clients which is The Five Minute Client Grabber which I've then turned into an online course now.
00:07:07 - 00:07:29
Okay so, let's dive into that a little bit. So can you give us an overview of how you get clients and a little bit about the course? So what are the steps that you now have developed for you to get clients? The five steps.
00:07:29 - 00:08:33
Yes. Okay. Yes. So the first thing to do is to realize that not everybody values copy. Right. I'm sure you've seen plenty of websites where the copy is terrible. The emails, the marketing material. It's all doesn't convey any benefits. It doesn't talk about the customer's pain points. It could be better if I can be polite about it but not everyone values it, right? But there are some people who value it and those are the people that you want to target. These are people who has great return on their investment from their advertising and they're already paying for advertising. So the idea of paying for a copy doesn't seem like a bizarre concept for them. So those are the people that I target first.
00:08:33 - 00:08:39
And so the people you target first, are those that are already advertising and are willing to spend money on advertising. That's the first step.
00:08:40 - 00:09:27
Yes, first step. And just to speed things along, I basically look at Facebook and who is advertising on Facebook and then I send them a video via Loom. I recorded myself on Loom going through their website talking about what works, what doesn't work. What could be improved? How it could be improve? Why it's important to improve it? Then I have a call to action at the end and say listen if you want to work with me, great. And then I send them the video and yeah I get a good response rate because it's very different than a cold email because a cold email, we get so many of them you could just ignore it but not many people would ignore somebody taking the time to go through their website and explaining what works and what doesn't work.
00:09:28 - 00:09:51
That's actually a very good thing because my marketing manager who was a specialist in SEO, initially, did some evaluation on my website and then he said and gave me a lot of tips for free and then it went well let's put him on a project. So yes. So it's the free trial almost, isn't that you're offering?
00:09:52 - 00:10:15
That's exactly it. Yeah and you know I have fun doing it because I get to get across my personality.I get to smile. I get to put a little and I can compliment them and great.
00:10:16 - 00:10:24
I couldn't hear you and I don't know what's going on. The sounds a little bit just breaking up. So just can you restate what you just said?
00:10:25 - 00:10:28
That's not good. Can you hear me now?
00:10:28 - 00:10:30
I can, yeah. Yeah.
00:10:30 - 00:10:45
Perfect. So ideally they will hire me to write copy for them it's not necessarily going to be the case. They may decide to fix it themselves.
00:10:46 - 00:11:18
Right okay. And that well that is always a risk, isn't? When you give something away for free that will be used and you won't take the next step and that's fine. But reversing the risk by offering advice for free as a trial certainly is a very well known marketing tactic which works. So once you've done that, so that's essentially the five steps. Just put into a couple of steps really. Is that right?
00:11:19 - 00:11:25
Yes. That's about it, really. Send the email, chase them up if required.
00:11:26 - 00:11:42
Okay. Done. Alright. So what made you sort of double down and focus on doing copy for online courses to sell online courses, isn't it? So, what made you double down on that?
00:11:43 - 00:12:08
Yeah, that is a great question. I think that, you know, like being from a background where I was teaching, I already had that feel for wanting to share information with people. I felt like that was a good match. And also, you know, originally when I started getting into copywriting and I was listening to a lot of podcasts and, you know Amy Porterfield?
00:12:08 - 00:12:12
Yes, absolutely, yeah.
00:12:12 - 00:12:34
Yeah, she's great. Right. So, yeah, the more I listen to her, the more she advocates for people building their own courses. I was like, well, I will be a copywriter for people who build their own courses, because there's a lot of people listening to Amy taking her advice, wanting to build their courses, wanting to sell their courses.
00:12:34 - 00:12:53
Okay, so let's take a closer look then at what you see the top tips or steps to sell a course. So, where do you start? For example, what do you write copy to sell the course? Where do you start?
00:12:54 - 00:14:24
Okay, that's a good question. Okay, there are different ways of looking at it, but ultimately the sales page for the course has to explain what the audience is going through. You know, the bad feelings, the pain points, that terrible life that they going through exacerbate that pain and bring in the course of the solution, make sure that the benefits of the course are very clear. A lot of the time, people tend to talk about features or, you know, what they'll get in the actual caution in module one, you will learn, this is, it's all well and good doing that, and that information does need to be there, but they need to learn more about benefits. So, you know, say, for example, for my online course, I'm talking to people about getting a steady pipeline of high paying clients, and it's easy to get these clients, because you're only going to spend five minutes creating a video for them, you're gonna save a lot of time because you're not having to create bespoke copy and, you know, send it over. It's like a free trial, you know, there's all sorts of benefits. So I would say that a good sales page which communicates across the benefits of your course is essential stuff.
00:14:25 - 00:15:10
Yeah, and there's a few different approaches, but long as they've got the basics and essentials written there, so testimonials could be one, but if you've only just started the course, you're not gonna have those, There's gonna be then you've got long copy which is like goes on for like 15, 20 pages sometimes. Then you've got medium and then you've got short copies. So what are you finding works best today? Because I've seen all of those from very long to short. Now we've got the video sales page as well, which is important. Okay, so what type of sales pages working best in 2022?
00:15:11 - 00:15:56
Okay. So just to quickly circle back when you were saying that if somebody has an online course, they're only starting out, it may not have testimonials. So there is a way around that, say for example, there will be scientific studies which proves that what you're advocating works and you can use that. So you know, scientific studies, qualitative data, quantitative data. If there are quotes from people with credibility, for example, you know, if you report field or yourself said this works that you know, and it doesn't necessarily, you don't necessarily have had to done that course but you will have done something similar.
00:15:56 - 00:16:09
Okay. So in other words, you use the credibility of something else and someone else to help add credit. That sort of by association creates credibility for your course.
00:16:10 - 00:16:14
Exactly. Exactly. Yes.
00:16:15 - 00:18:15
I like that. Okay. So I think the thing as a copywriter which we can have a quick chat about it now is to take complexity and turn it into simplicity. And I am constantly trying to work out the power of getting people to read what you gave them as well. And there's a great company that sold itself over half a billion dollars called Axios recently that started in 2018. And their concept is how they looked at the data going. People are reading the headline, but they're not reading anything else. Even though I'm getting five million views, no one's reading anything. In other words, the data looks good, but you're actually not getting the message and pulling people in. So they've created a copy model which can be used both texts called Smart Brevity as a book out now about it. So, and in essence, their strategy, three steps to get and then there's lots of different ways to optimize. But number one, write a great headline. We all know about that. Number two, tell me something interesting, intriguing that I have never heard before. Line two, after the headline. Third line, one paragraph. Tell me why that matters. In other words, you give me the fact why does that matter? And then they go into what's in the news. It's really, really clever and it's called Smart Brevity model. So I went, you know what, I'm gonna take this and try it out. So yeah, so as you know, I'm sure you are too, it's like learning the power of communication with words and words are used in video, words are used in podcast, words are used in writing. So copy starts with the written word. You've got to craft it, don't you?
00:18:16 - 00:19:33
Yeah, 100%. It's interesting that the model that you're talking about that this company, I miss the name. But yeah, it's a very clever model, very clever model because, you know, if you can get people's attention, if you can keep their attention,that is ultimately great copy, you know, to get people to get on and then write the slide and just keep reading. So yeah, it's a circle back when you ask what works in 2022 long copy, medium copy, short copy, I think you're absolutely right. It's headlines. But long copy will always sell because people will read, but only once they figured out that information that's going to be there is relevant to them is going to help them somehow. So, yeah, ultimately it has to be scannable because people will just flick through, looking for the key information and once they've decided it will or won't help them, that's when they'll decide to commit and that's when they will read the long copy and they will get the message because people are looking for answers to their problems, not going to change, you know, people do read books still.
00:19:34 - 00:20:12
So yeah, and I heard a great quote, trying to remember who wrote it. Said the job of the headline is to get people to read the first line. The job of the first line is to get people read the second line and the job of the second line is to get them to read the third line. So this where art and science of writing becomes a lot of fun. So and then you've got to stand back and going, okay, is my writing doing this? And sometimes it's good to give it to one of your colleagues, one of your team going, okay, tell me if this has got your attention.
00:20:13 - 00:20:35
Yeah, 100% you should always get someone else to read it because you know, you will not see the bias from what you've written. I've got you know, I've got copywriting mentors, I've got people who are way better than I am to make sure that what I write is better because they're better at it than I am. Yeah.
00:20:35 - 00:21:30
I fell in love with words when I started my blog in 2009 and discovered that I did enjoy the craft. And when I started, I was crap and there is still a long way to go. But when I start writing, my whole afternoon can disappear as I do research and crafted. And then the other thing I learned about books is that don't do your own editing, give it to someone else because and I think Stephen King said it really well, he said it's like killing your babies when you cull words because you've created them. So if you delete them, it's like killing your babies. And so that's where you've got to get an editor who's gonna be brutal.
00:21:30 - 00:21:56
It's 100% like what long copy. Exactly that because every word which doesn't add any value, which is boring, which, you know, is unnecessary. It will kill conversions. Like you said that first line has to lead on to the second line, has to read on to the third line. And if you've got pointless useless words, you know, you're losing sales.
00:21:57 - 00:22:37
Okay, so let's move on to the next part. You've created the sale, you've created the sales page. Now, here's the thing, you've got to get people to read it and it's got to convert. So how do you get people to read it? Which is comes down to advertising or it could be, you know, an email list. Okay, so what's some of the top tactics you used to make sure that when you're advising your clients, advising them as well, aren't you about advertising a bit, I would say, what's the top tips you say? How do we drive traffic to that sales pitch?
00:22:38 - 00:23:50
Okay, so yeah, I mean, ideally there would be a war in audience rather than a cold audience, which is, you know, from advertising, whereas a warm audience, you know, perhaps they followed them on social media for a while, they're already familiar with the messaging, they're already familiar, you know, they've already got that. No, like, trust principle applied, but if we're talking about cold audience as well, you know, a bit of a mix, it's always a great idea to get them on an email list, and at that point, you know, you can send them valuable, the benefit driven emails that talks to them about where they are in their life, you can start off and ask them where they are in their life, what are they struggling with, help them shine a light on the pain that they're in, and once they've realized that, then you can send them these follow on their emails and just say, you know, following on from this, these are some really important things that, you know, we could work with together to get you to a place where, you know, dream life. So yeah, email marketing is certainly the way forward, as far as I'm concerned.
00:23:50 - 00:24:44
Yeah. Yeah, it's still seen as old school by some, but email still works. The other thing that I've been intrigued with, experimented with is how do you see the role of SMS in sales copy? Because texting or SMS gets about 98% open rate compared to email at about 20-30, if you're good, so have you had an experience with SMS copy and what works or not? And if you don't, that's fine. But it is something that you can see SMS as intrusive, but if you've asked permission they've given it then that opens the door. And so have you had an experience with SMS copywriting marketing?
00:24:45 - 00:24:59
It's really interesting that some people might think that's interesting that you say you've provided the phone number, you've got to presume that they're going to contact.
00:25:00 - 00:25:18
You’re breaking up a bit here, I don't know. You might be okay now.
00:25:19 - 00:25:20
Yeah. Am I back?
00:25:20 - 00:27:33
Yeah. your back. Yeah, I don't know what it is. But anyway I think I think we should be able to edit out most of most of the issues but if I'll see how we go. But okay. So yeah, so they give permission as a text, right? So in terms of SMS it's something we're about to experiment with because email is good. So they might go, I want email as well. But if they give you permission, in other words they gotta give you it and they've got to give you permission. So and also the messaging via text is going to be a lot shorter than email copy. So we're about to experiment with them to see how that works in terms of offering a new service monthly newsletter that we do for people who want to start a side hustle. So we're about to experiment with that. And I'm also reading in terms of copywriting and tactics as a book by J. J. Abrams who have been reading since the early 90s about different ways of upsells and cross-sells and all sorts of things, which if they're already buying something, give them something more to buy, if they brought something this year, going back to something else in three months or next year, because you're always leaving a lot on the table if you don't have a loyal customer, they want to buy from you again. So, and Kevin Kelly said in a very well known email, well known within the industry I suppose, is that you only need 1000 true fans. So if you can get 1000 true fans and they pay you $100 each a year, that's all you need. You don't need a million. We just need 1000 true fans.
So email is good. Now let's talk about one other thing. It's important, which is the lead magnet. Tell us about some lead magnets that you write copy for and which ones, some of the top lead magnets that you'd recommend.
00:27:34 - 00:28:22
Okay, so for me, the lead magnet should solve a problem that your audience has and so that it helps them see you as a problem solver. Someone who has helped them overcome some sort of problem that's going on in their life and they will attach positive feelings towards you. So yeah, something like, instant satisfaction, you know, perhaps templates or something that gives them an easy win or a guide, a challenge. Perhaps for me, I'm a big fan of the incident satisfaction, it gives them a nice quick, easy win.
00:28:23 - 00:29:18
I'd agree with you. That's a great tip. In other words, cheat sheets, templates, It could be a checklist, all of those. The other one that I think is worth checking with using as well, like e-books is like tried and proven, but a lot of people moving now to short video. So it could be a 60 seconds video from you saying these are the five top things you should be doing. I'm not gonna waste your time. Here they are. Bang bang bang bang video, which could be part of your sales funnel. So, and that's the reality. I think with the likes of Instagram reels, TikTok, now moving to a very short attention economy and that's what we're going to work out. I think you said and the thing you talked about was also a power of instant gratification.
00:29:19 - 00:29:43
Yeah, I think it's one of those things where giving someone an e-book can be difficult because you're asking them to commit their, you know, and they don't know if they like you or trust you. So any book can be a really big commitment for them. Whereas as you say, a 20-second video, a cheat sheet, template. These are quick wins, instant gratification.
00:29:43 - 00:30:07
Exactly. So just before we wrap it up, Nick, what are some of the top tips that you would recommend to anyone trying to create an online course that you think you just have to be done? And we've mentioned some of them, but maybe just quickly summarize what are the top tips if you're gonna sell your online course?
00:30:07 - 00:31:00
The first thing that I would say is make sure that there's an audience for it. Don't think that because you see an audience for it, there is definitely an audience for it. I think, you know, we've all watched Dragon's Den or Shark Tank, right? Where people go on these entrepreneurs with these wonderful ideas about products that they've spent years developing that will solve all these problems and their utter junk. You want to make sure that your course is not going to be something similar. You're investing time, money and effort into building something that doesn't add any value to anyone. So that would be my first step as an overall look at online course creation. After that, you need to understand your target audience that they're going through. What is the dream life that they want? And these are the two things that you need to talk to them about.
00:31:01 - 00:32:18
Okay and I totally agree with you and that's why sometimes here's the challenge with an online course in that you can spend 2, 3 to 4 months developing it and people go, you're not helping me, I don't even know who's this for. So because maybe the best way to do it is to create a mini course first, which could be a minimal viable product and then build the longer course later, once you've actually tested it with your audience and tested your marketing funnel as well. So because when you think of an idea and think, okay, this is a problem for me, is it a problem for my potential audience? And then the audience goes yawn. You've wasted all this time. So I think yeah, maybe creating an online course, a short mini course.
So your course that you've created, and also the book that you've written, how long is it in terms of time for people to commit to in terms of a lot of people start courses but never finished them? How many modules?
00:32:19 - 00:32:56
It's actually a relatively short course. I would say you could finish it in about an hour, it's not that there's not that much to it to be honest. If you, once you understand the basic principles of, you know, I start talking about why video outreach is so much better than cold email. And then I talk about where to find these people? And then I talk about what to talk to them about. And I think the key bit is to make sure that you've got a strong start and a strong finish after that. There's not a lot else to know really. So it's a relatively short course.
00:32:57 - 00:33:05
And what price point is that next? So that audience has an idea.
00:33:06 - 00:33:22
Of course, to help copywriters find clients, you know, it doesn't cost thousands, it's 497. And ultimately, if you get one client off the back of it, it pays for itself for me together.
00:33:22 - 00:33:37
Right. That’s awesome. And the book you wrote, which Stop Struggling:Sell Your Course This Week. How many pages is that one?
00:33:38 - 00:33:45
It is about 32,000 words. I can't remember how many pages it is.
00:33:45 - 00:33:50
My guess would be around about 100 pages.
00:33:51 - 00:33:55
00:33:55 - 00:34:09
Any other final tips to our audience, Nick, that you'd like to share in terms of copywriting and importance for helping people sell their courses or anything really.
00:34:10 - 00:34:57
Yeah. Okay. My favorite tip is always when you're talking about the course, if you're talking about whatever it is that you're talking about selling. Put the benefit in there and then to put it on the end of it. So about you. So you're bringing the benefit to life for that person. What does it mean to them. How does it going to affect their life, you know, so that you can, let's talk about, buy this book so that you can be smarter than you were yesterday, rather than just buy this book. It brings it to life.
00:34:57 - 00:35:13
Yeah. So what you're saying really is what's in it for me, that's it your audience. And if you get that nail, then you're 80% there.
00:35:14 - 00:35:24
Yes. Yeah, yeah, 100% on that Jeff, it has to go back to the audience. Has to go back to the reader. Yeah, exactly.
00:35:24 - 00:36:03
Alright well, thank you very much for your time. We've had a few audio issues, but I think that's okay. It happens because we live in an internet world that sometimes as its technical issues, but it's fine. Alright mate, we'll enjoy the rest of the evening. I know it's 10 o'clock now and it's maybe well past 1:00, I'm not sure. Beer o’clock or just go to sleep o'clock, I don't know. But thank you very much for sharing your insights and your wisdom. I always enjoyed doing this so much. So thank you very much for your time. It's been an absolute pleasure.
00:36:04 - 00:36:07
Yeah, thanks for having me. It's been a real pleasure. Thank you.
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