Do You Use An Outline When Writing Long Form Sales Copy?

As some of you may have seen from my talks, I have a fairly detailed sales letter outline. It’s not perfect, but it does cover all the major sections of a long-form letter, and it further breaks down those sections into little pieces.

What I like about it is that: 1) It makes writing sales letters modular and 2) It provides a checklist that can be consulted as you’re going through each section. In other words, it makes writing long-form copy less daunting, and reduces your margin for error.

The Sales Letter Outline In Action…

Lately, as I’ve been teaching and training lots of copywriters, I’ve been reminded of just how valuable this outline can be. One of me and Justin Goff‘s Copy Accelerator members recently shared the first draft of his new sales letter with us. We saw right away that he’d explicitly followed each section of the outline, to the point where each part was prefaced with his internal comments about what section it was, and what was included. Then he made sure to actually include all of those things. And no surprise, as Justin and I looked through the sales letter for him on Tuesday during our weekly Copy Accelerator call, neither of us had a ton of feedback. The headline needed some work, but that was pretty much it. Everything else was really strong, logical, and convincing. Now of course, this guy is naturally a very good copywriter, and that helps. But I really believe the outline is what allowed him to create such a flawless first draft.

Another example…

One of my coaching clients just wrote his first long-form sales letter. Previously, he’d only written shorter 5-7 minute scripts. He felt nervous and a bit overwhelmed about writing a full on VSL. But I gave him my outline (and customized it for him a bit). Then I walked him through each section, so he fully understood how the outline worked. We did this in about an hour. And guess what? 5 days later he came back to me with a really good first draft. It was like 8,000 words, which was nuts to him. Because prior to starting the writing process, he kept saying “I have no idea how I’ll be able to write something so long.” Yet when he followed the outline, it happened automatically. This first draft was not perfect btw, but it was very workable. We spent another two hours this week going through some tweaks, he’s making final edits over the weekend, and the VSL will go into production on Monday. I really think it’s a killer offer that will do very well. So in two weeks, this guy went from never having written a long form VSL to having a final draft that’s now going into production and that could make him millions of dollars.

And here’s the thing…

I’m not writing all of this to brag or hype up MY outline. I’m sharing all of this with you because having a strong, templatized outline helps so freaking much. And from my own observations, it seems like all of the most prolific, consistently successful copywriters follow an outline. While those who struggle don’t. So whether you follow my outline, your own outline, or some other copywriter’s outline…just make sure you DO use an outline of some sort.

In fact, just last week, Justin shared his personal outline for writing killer upsells. It was different from the outline style I use. But it was awesome. It made so much sense. And considering Justin is one of the absolute best when it comes to upsells – and routinely helps his clients optimize backend copy to increase both their AOVs and Day 1 Profits by 25%…50%…even 100%…it’s something that I’m going to start using for my backend stuff as well So will most of our Copy Accelerator members I’m sure. In fact, already this week one of our members posted a new upsell in our private FB Group, and asked for feedback. I provided some, and so did Justin, but our number one directive was to go back, look at Justin’s template, and actually USE it. Which, this writer did. And sure enough, draft #2 of his Upsell was dramatically better.

So again…

It’s not about my outline, or even Justin’s outline. It’s about making sure that no matter what, you DO have an outline that works for you, and that you then follow it consistently.

And with all of this being said…

I’m curious -do you use a sales letter outline right now? If so, does it work well for you? Or if you don’t but still manage to write massive winners again-and-again, I’d be curious to hear about that too. I’m pretty convinced about the power of an outline, but if you think I’m wrong – I’d love to hear why as well.

Note: This originally appeared as a post on the public FB Group Stefan and Justin Talk Copy. I’m trying to post there every-other-day, with Justin Goff posting on the other days. You can join the group here: Stefan And Justin Talk Copy FB Group