How The “Tube Dominance Test” Can Help Freelance Copywriters Create Small Wins

How The “Tube Dominance Test” Can Help Freelance Copywriters Create Small Wins

I recently heard of an experiment called the “Tube Dominance Test” and immediately thought about how copywriters could use it to their advantage.

Here’s how the test works:

Researchers put two mice in a tube, facing each other. They meet in the middle and push.

The first mouse that finds herself out of the tube, the end she came from, is determined the loser. The other mouse that pushed her out is the winner.

Image from Stanford medicine.

Image from Stanford medicine.

What’s interesting is what happens to each mouse after a win or loss.

The winners, if put back into a tube dominance test, will be statistically more likely to win a match vs. other mice.

The winners will also be more likely to win in other scenarios — like if they’re placed in a cage with no heat, the winners will dominate the space next to a heater.

What’s really interesting is that even if you help the winner win by pushing her forward, that winner will still be more likely to win in other unaltered scenarios.

The loser, even though they had no chance of winning, will now be a “loser” in other unaltered scenarios.

One theory is that the winners… no matter how they win… are benefiting from forward movement. They are pushing forward, not being pushed backwards. And that forward movement activates chemicals in their brain that help them win in other scenarios.

So… how can we use this information as copywriters?

Well, I’ve talked a lot about it before, but I think a major reason why handwriting sales copy helps copywriters is because it creates small wins.

Your brain perceives that you are moving forward, creating little hits of dopamine.

Try to sit down and write your own words… writing is a massively frustrating endeavor.

You don’t know if what you’re saying is good and will work (produce sales).

You feel like you’re moving backwards.

Handwriting, on the other hand, is an easy task that feels like forward movement. You don’t have to worry if it’s working or not. You don’t have to worry about much besides just hand copying. But when you’re done it feels like a win.

You’re like that mouse getting a free push forward.

So… once you’re out in other scenarios… like when you need to write for yourself… you’re more likely to win.

Your brain chemistry has been primed to be a winner.

Anyway, that’s just one possible explanation of why handwriting works.

If you’re feeling stuck with your own writing, like you’re going backwards, it could be because you don’t have enough “winner juice” flowing through your brain and body.

Try a little hand copying first to get some forward momentum.

Photo by Ricky Kharawala on Unsplash

“What Is Copywriting?” How To Explain It To Your Mom

“What Is Copywriting?” How To Explain It To Your Mom

You’re mingling at a party.

You get introduced to a new group.

Some dude with slicked-back hair, a big watch, and those stupid pointy leather shoes shakes your hand a little too firmly.

“What do you do for a living?”

You say, “I’m a copywriter.”

He says, “Oh. Legal. Got it. I’m in real estate.”

Before you can correct him he’s assaulting someone else’s hand.

You stand there in your flip flops and breathe a giant sigh of relief. “Thank god he didn’t ask any follow up questions. Now I can drink.”

If you dare to become a copywriter you can look forward to many scenarios like the above.

People will be confused by what you do for a living. When you say “copywriter”, they will hear “copyright”.

People will assume you make little-to-no money. But Slicky McGoo in the story above will need to sell 3 expensive houses this month to keep up the pace.

And oh yeah, this party might be the first time you’ve been “forced” to leave the house because you work from home and set your own hours. “No Saturday open-houses for me, Slicky.”

What Is Copywriting?

“Copywriting is the act or occupation of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing.”

Mmmk. Thanks Wikipedia.

Here’s how I explain it to my mom:

“I write ads.”

That’s plain and simple the easiest way to explain what copywriting is.

The best ways to get paid as a “copywriter” are to write promotional…

  • Ad campaigns (for Google or Facebook).
  • Emails.
  • Sales pages or Video Sales Letters.

And all these things have the purpose of selling something.

That’s the important distinction.

Copywriting is meant to sell something.

That’s why it’s sometimes called “salesmanship in print (or text)”.

Editorial writing is meant to express something… like an opinion.

You CAN be a content copywriter. You write content that leads towards a sale.

You CANNOT be a journalist copywriter. You don’t want to lead someone to think. You want to lead them to ACT.

And preferably that ACTION is to buy something as soon as possible.

So during the holidays, if mom or a relative asks what you do, you say, “I write ads.”

Trust me.

She’ll think about Madison Ave and you can resume drinking heavily with your uncle Bob.

Copywriting IS NOT Copyrighting.

Again, if you make the mistake of telling a layman:

“I’m a copywriter.”

They are going to hear, “copyrighter.”

And think you’re some kind of lawyer.

Copyrighting is, of course, the act of securing the legal right to publish, perform, film, etc.

So they’ll ask, “You help people copyright their work? Like music?”

Then you’ll have to use my canned response and say, “Oh no, I do copywriting for ads. I write ads.

Why Are You Thinking About A Career In Copywriting?

Here are the main reasons why most people get excited about becoming a copywriter:

  • You can work from home or anywhere in the world. I’ve lived in Thailand, Argentina, and Colombia. I now live near the beach in San Diego, CA.
  • You don’t need qualifications. I have a degree, but I’ve used it approximately zero times. A lot of the best copywriters I know didn’t even finish college.
  • You can actually make a lot of money without a ton of physical effort… or even really hourly effort. It’s one of those skills that can help you get paid while you sleep. Making money while you’re awake is sooo early 2000’s.
  • As a business owner, copywriting will make you more sales and more money. A lot more business owners should ve interested in learning how to write copy… but they’re always so busy.

What Qualifications Does A Copywriter Need?

Anyone can become a copywriter. Literally anyone.

I’d say it’s better the dumber you are because you won’t overthink things.

The cool part about copywriting is that there’s only one requirement…

That you are able to produce the results you promise your clients.

It’s that simple.

You don’t need a degree, or a certificate, or a license. (I’ll sell you one of those if it makes you or your parents feel better.)

Let’s drill into this for a second: “Can you produce the results you promise your clients?”

If you’re a freelance copywriter, can you make the amount of sales you promise you’ll make for someone?

You say to a client: “I’ll write you an autoresponder (emails) that will make more sales than you’re currently making.”

If that’s true that’s all you need.

As you get deeper into the game, you’ll understand better what value you bring to your clients… which means, your rates are not fixed. You can charge more and more as you get better and better.

But the bonkers thing is… if you can produce results, you can apply the “advanced” tactic of value-based pricing for your services immediately, before you have a ton of experience.

Essentially, you base your rates on how much net profit you anticipate bringing a client. You can also base it on a percentage boost you’ll give to a client over their current conversion rate. Value-based pricing is a topic for another article but know that it’s not as complicated as it sounds.

How Much Money Do You Copywriters Make? “Can I Make Six-Figures?”

Hey, how big is your…?

But seriously, this is a tough question to answer. It’s not a normal career.

The best copywriters in the world, who are working for bigger companies, can demand up to $1M a year plus bonus incentives.

This is not professional sports, or even Wall Street, where the top people can make $100M in a year.

If you’re a pure copywriter… and an employee… your income will be capped in this range even if you’re the #1 person in the entire world. You’re still an employee.

The nice part, however, is that once you learn the skill of copywriting, you’re never limited in how you use that skill.

In other words, you can use those sales skills in whatever scenario you choose.

I have lots of friends who make millions a year as business owners. A copywriter can also be a business owner.

But to answer the question: six-figures as a copywriter is very achievable. Of course you have to work hard and smart.

I’ve had students achieve the six-figure level in under 6 months.

I’ve had others without as much fire or natural talent take longer to get there.

I’ve had still others who didn’t have a lot of time to devote in the beginning, use copywriting as a side-hustle, and eventually build up their business over the course of several years before quitting their regular job.

Look… copywriting is still writing. Some folks are going to be better writers than others and will ascend faster.

However… again, this is NOT professional sports. You don’t have to be the best of the best to make a decent living and add value to the businesses you work with.

You don’t have to take a traditional path to be successful as a copywriter.

Some people will work more than others.

Maybe it takes you 40 hours a week to make a six-figure salary.

But another copywriter has found a more lucrative niche and/or they’re a more gifted writer, so with only 20 hours a week, they make six-figures.

The interesting thing is, you really can have a choice in the matter unlike other professions. You can work more or less. Experiment with rates, etc. and make as much as you want.

The possibilities are endless.

What’s The Best Way To Learn How To Become A Copywriter?

You’ll hear some snarky “veteran” copywriters say, “Just start writing copy, that’s the place to learn how to write copy.”

They’ll tell you to avoid books, courses and coaches and “just write”.

In what other career do people give you that advice?

“Just go start lawyering, dude.”

That’s going to cost you a lot more time, energy (and money) than getting a solid foundation with a copywriting book, course or coach.

That’s why I created CopyHour and why I have copywriting coaches here to help.

A great first step on your copywriting journey is to join my free copywriting newsletter. I’ll send you a 5-part training series on writing copy that sells.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Ever Wondered What It Takes To Make 6-Figures As A Copywriter? Meet Ian Stanley.

This is a long interview I did with a very cool copywriter – Ian Stanley. Ian just hit the 6-figure mark in ~18 months time.

You’ll get some really great insights into copywriting, the writing process, and what it’s like working as a copywriter for 7 & 8-Figure direct response companies.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How Ian became the head copywriter for Crisis Education
  • Ian’s morning routine for being a productive copywriter
  • Ian’s full process for sitting down & writing copy
  • What it’s like for a copywriter working with a big direct response company
  • The books Ian reads
  • How Ian built his copywriting skills
  • How Ian got his first few jobs as an email copywriter, what he charged, and how he moved on to bigger & better projects
  • The secret to writing for mass market audiences vs. niche audiences… the differences are profound in Ian’s opinion
  • How Ian writes his bullets & dissects a product
  • Ian’s take on big ideas and hooks
  • Ian’s work with “tripwires” and how big direct response companies are structuring their offers
  • How to make sure your sales letter Close is solid
  • Ian’s process for email copy (he writes emails to 1.2 million people)
  • The 2 big types of emails


How To Listen:

(This interview has many curse words. If it were published on iTunes it would certainly have an “explicit” tag next to it. If you’re uncomfortable with the “F” word or “S” word then please don’t listen.)

Right click and “Save As” to download

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Some of the above mentions are affiliate links which means I might make a small commission – most likely in the neighborhood of $1. You could think of buying something through a link on this site as just giving me a small “tip” for a job well done. The other option is to think negatively of me for trying to “make a buck”. The choice, as always, is yours!