Best and Worst Places Online to Learn Copywriting

August 22nd, 2007 by Bob Bly

There are a TON of promoters online today selling how-to programs in both “how to write copy” and “how to make six figures as a freelance copywriter” — two different but related topics.

Which ones have you found that are the “real deal” — great content, clear instruction, and a guru who is a genuine expert.

Which ones have you tried that did not work — and were so bad you’d advise others to stay away from?


This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007 at 12:56 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

34 responses about “Best and Worst Places Online to Learn Copywriting”

  1. Gamermk said:

    Even though anything you would have wrote on this subject would have obviously contained a certain bias, I must say that it’s disappointing that you are asking us to do your writing for you when the heading gave me the indication that I was going to be reading already created lists.

    That being said, a couple of my favourites are and (I realize that not everyone might agree that copywriting = blogging, but if you are blogging right, I think it does)

  2. Michael said:

    Great question, Bob! I finished the AWAI 6 figure copywriting course, and I must say it helped tremendously at work. The course provided a lot of instruction and practice. I’m glad your question didn’t simply lead to a list you provided. This way, I get a sampling of views from across the copywriter community and not just your favourites.

  3. Bob Bly said:

    My short list: Clayton Makepeace and the Total Package … John Forde’s Copywriter’s Roundtable … AWAI … and tons of free copywriting articles at my Web site — and there are more, of course. For freelancing, Peter Bowerman’s Well-Fed Writer … Steve Slaunwhite’s book Start and Run a Successful Copywriting Business. Career Coaches for copywriters: Chris Marlowe, Nick Usborne.

  4. aj said:

    what about dan kennedy/bill glazer? anyone care to comment? thanks.

  5. Bob Bly said:

    Dan is an excellent copywriter, though I think of him more as a teacher of marketing rather than just copywriting, where Clayton, AWAI, Forde, and I teach copywriting specifically. Bill Glazer is a guru in information marketing online.

  6. SpongeBob Fan said:

    Not quite sure where post-er #1 is coming from — anything anyone writes obviously contains certain biases! Bob is always clear about his.

  7. Art Luff said:

    I like Marlon Sanders down to earth approach to writing!

  8. John Gilger said:

    I spent thousands of dollars learning copywriting (I’m a sucker for a good sales letter).

    John Carlton’s course has been the best. Michael Masterson’s (AWAI) Six Figure and Master courses were good. John Forde’s “Secrets for Writing for the Internet” is great.

    Clayton Makepeace has the best newsletter and the best “writing club”.

    I always learn new stuff from anything I dig up that Dan Kennedy or Gary Halbert wrote.

    As for books, you (Bly) lead the pack 😉

  9. Ted Grigg said:

    Comment in response to Gamermk.

    You may have found this blog from Bob wanting. I, on the other hand, admire Bob’s blogging ability. He consistently brings out many comments from readers.

    After all, doesn’t his successful blog speak for itself? 🙂

  10. Mike Braun said:

    Bob, recently I have looked into the AWAI six figure course and found it very intriguing. In fact, I wanted to write you an email about it asking your opinion. Is it true that I could simply write a few sales letters a year and bring in that type of income? To me it sounds almost too good to be true. If you could give me your opinion on here, or via email I would appreciate it. Any info other posters can provide would be great too.

  11. Bob Bly said:

    Is AWAI a great course? Yes.

    Can it teach you to write direct response copy at a very high level? Yes.

    Are the people behind it really great copywriters and direct marketers? Yes.

    Is it as easy as everyone claims to “just write a few letters a year” and earn a huge income?

    The answer to that question is a bit more complex, and I give it in detail in my new program “The Copywriting Industry Exposed.”

  12. Charles Cuninghame said:

    Hi Bob

    I think one of the most underrated copywriting courses is AWAI’s Secrets of Writing For the Business to Business Market by Steve Slaunwhite.

    It’s a little cheaper than the Six-Figure Copywriting course and has everything you need to know to become a journeyman copywriter and handle just about any type of project.

    Steve Slaunwhite’s copywriters website ( has tons of advice for building your copywriting business and he also does coaching.

    I wish I had these resources when I started out freelancing.

  13. Dianna Huff said:

    My favorite course? “The School of Hard Knocks.”

    I learned to communicate my ideas logically, correctly, and coherently while in school. I learned how to write marketing copy — a whole different kettle of fish — while on the job.

  14. Bob Bly said:

    Charles: I agree with you, but of course, I EDITED Steve’s B2B course. Best source I ever took: “Direct Respone Copywriting” with legendary copywriter Milt Pierce at New York University in the early 1980s. Milt is retired and no longer teaches the course, but I compiled his writings and classic letters into an e-book, “Milt Pierce’s Marketing Success Secrets.” To learn more, click here now:

  15. lawton chiles said:

    I have not yet ordered AWAI but have tried Clayton’s 6 Figure Copywriting Course. While it gave some good resources like finding newsletter publishers and asking for a royalty, I think I need more concrete, step by step examples, while his was more of a rambling audio interview.

    Granted, you guys covered a lot but I think i need
    more specifics and how-tos, especially when it comes do actually writing great copy and text formatting for print vs. online practices and how that differs.

  16. Bob Bly said:

    Lawton: to learn copywriting order my book The Copywriter’s Handbook from — less than $15. To learn the BUSINESS of being a freelance copywriter, get my book Secrets of a Freelance Writer, also under $15 from

  17. Sheri Cyprus said:

    I’m quite new to copywriting. I’ll hit the two year mark next week. When I first started, by landing a job as a Junior Copywriter in a direct marketing agency, I soon found out no one was going to show me what to do. I went to the bookstore and bought Bob Bly’s The Copywriter’s Handbook and David Ogilvy’s Confessions of An Advertising Man. I kept these two ‘copywriting bibles’ in my desk and referred to them and really thought about the material in them every day. These two books gave me the foundation I needed and I couldn’t have accomplished what I did (beating controls and writing marketing materials higher ups called “brilliant” in only six months on the job).

    When I chose to leave the agency after ten months (due to office politics :)) and start my own copywriting business, I ordered Steve Slaunwhite’s book called Start and Run a Copywriting Business. I’ve been a self-supporting freelance copywriter for a year now thanks in great part to Steve’s excellent advice! So, I’m personally against these online copywriting courses that cost a sizable amount of cash and promise you fortunes and all this step by step stuff. I think the best copywriters need to be able to be curious enough to look for good sources of advice in more resourceful ways and really think for themselves more and learn to create their own ideas/methods from it.

    There are many top-notch copywriters that have free newsletters and blogs such as Bob, Steve and Gary Bencivenga and Susanna Hutcheson.

  18. Bob Bly said:

    Sheri: it always amazes me that people go directly to a $3,000 coaching program or $5,000 boot camp, when they have not even read the free newsletters and $10 books available from the same gurus!

  19. Mike Braun said:

    So what is the equivalent of the AWAI copywriting course? Does this course lie to you about the potential salary gains you can make? I’ve read a lot of great articles and books, including The Copywriter’s Handbook, and I’m a new college graduate. Will taking this course really give me such an income increase? I’m trying to sort fact from fiction and sift through the hype.

  20. Mike Braun said:

    I should also clarify that I do have a job as a copywriter, though I graduated college earlier this spring. I have been in this business for about 5 months now. My employer has been very happy with my work.

  21. Sheri Cyprus said:

    Mike: From my point of view, for what it’s worth, a great copywriter doesn’t need those courses to make six figures. I’m not saying anything against the AWAI courses or anything, it’s just that I think the best copywriters definitely have to learn the basics from the gurus, but at the same time they really must think for themselves and go from there and promote themselves and that there’s only so much good advice you need to do that.

    That is only my opinion, but I’ve just reached my first year as a freelance copywriter and I’m accomplishing the income goals I set for myself. Within five years I can realistically expect to earn six figures. I think it’s important to learn the basics from Bly, Ogilvy etc. and then really really think creatively every single day. I study the master copywriters and the industry without spending a fortune to do that and I’m really certain I will be earning those six figures within five years. After all, copywriting is all about thinking, promoting, confidence and creativity!

  22. Bob Bly said:

    Sheri: Thanks for putting me in the same list as Ogilvy, which of course I don’t deserve. I think the hierarchy of information on copywriting or any other field is something like this:

    1. E-zines, blogs, free e-books — zero cost.
    2. How-to books (me, Ogivly) — $20 or less each.
    3. “Courses” sold mostly online — $100 to $3,000.
    4. Boot camps, coaching, consulting — $3,000 and up.

    Different people learn in different ways, and there are entries at every level I recommend.

    But if a person is on a budget, no need to spend five grand on someone’s big event. Read his free e-zine first! Once you master what he gives away there, then consider his expensive product….

  23. Sheri Cyprus said:

    Bob: To me, you and Ogilvy really do belong on the same list. As I said a few posts ago above, both The Copywriter’s Handbook and Confessions of an Advertising Man really gave me a start in what copywriting is all about and helped propel me to amazing success in only six months on the job. It was just the advice I needed to stand out in a direct marketing shop. Otherwise, without your detailed “how-to” copywriting advice when I needed it, I wouldn’t have been able to pull a 13% response rate in sweepstakes dm packages right off the bat — so thanks! (:

    You’re right about people learning in different ways and I guess I do learn best from the written word. But, don’t most copywriters if they are voracious readers/wordsmiths? I do have to admit that I’m also way too ch—frugal! to ever go beyond the middle of #3 on your list, but your list of the different levels makes sense as a logical progression of learning/spending.

  24. Bob Bly said:

    Sheri: I am frugal too. I can’t understand why people spend $5,000 to go to a guru’s boot camp when they have not yet bothered to read and study the hundreds of pages of content on his site which are available free. I say: do that first. Master what he gives away. Then if you want more than he gives for free, buy it from him.

  25. Jenn said:

    A professional copywriter can make copywriting look easy. As you try to do it yourself, however, you will quickly learn just how much work goes into a good advertisement or piece of copy. If you keep trying, however, and take the time to learn the skills, you will become better at it. Be patient with yourself. Eventually you will be very good at selling your products and services.

  26. online learning said:

    I prefer to learn copywriting in person, look for copywriting seminars and workshops under each category that allow you to do just that. You’ll find online copywriting seminars; workshops conducted via telephone; and in-person, classroom-style gatherings where you can learn copywriting straight from the pros.

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  30. cynthia said:

    Just today I read a promo for the new AWAI Masters Program v3.0 and to celebrate the launch, they are offering a 2-year money back guarantee if it doesn’t help you double your income in that amount of time. Sounds like a no brainer for copywriters who think they may want to take a course in order to take things up a notch. Expires May 4 2012.

  31. Malok Mading said:

    I have been reading your articles and several others. I have to say there is a lot of goldmine from blogs than buying or attending those seminars. Imagine ordering a certain book that the author claims to contain some secrets but later find those elsewhere free…Think twice.

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