How to Position Yourself to Get Paid High Fees Only – An Interview with Doberman Dan

Doberman Dan
How to Position Yourself to Get Paid High Fees Only – An Interview with Doberman Dan


Dan Gallapoo (AKA Doberman Dan) is a direct response entrepreneur and copywriter. He is famous for his “Doberman Dan Letter“, an offline newsletter which is highly praised within copywriting/marketing circles. He’s also written hundreds of successful ads, sales letters, direct mail packages, websites, e-mail marketing campaigns, feature articles, press releases, and newsletters for his own businesses and his clients

In this interview Dan reveals…

  • The secret to charging high fees
  • How to set your business up so that you can be super-selective and only accept the best copywriting/marketing jobs (and still pay all your bills)
  • Why you must create your own larger than life persona for your personal brand
  • The intelligence/creativity stimulating secret of the A-list copywriters
  • The 2 quickest ways to beat your control piece without even editing any of the copy
  • And plenty more. Just click the play button below to listen to the interview or read the entire transcript below the video

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Joey Bushnell: Hey everyone, this is Joey Bushnell. Today I have with me a top copywriter you probably know him as Doberman Dan. Dan thank you for being with me today.

Doberman Dan: It is my pleasure, thank you for inviting me.

Joey Bushnell: Dan how did you become a copywriter?

Doberman Dan: I was a police officer and decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur so I tried various businesses. For 12 years I was a full time cop. I was 9 years a part time entrepreneur but every single business I tried to get off the ground failed.

Finally I wanted to try the mail order business because I was introduced to Dan Kennedy’s “Magnetic Marketing Kit” and I bought it to try to use the marketing info for one of my failing businesses. When I saw what he had done and had just sold me paper, ink and a couple of cassettes for $400 I thought “That’s a way better business than what I want to do, so I want to do that. I want to sell paper and ink by mail order.”

I needed good copy for that but was completely broke so I couldn’t hire a good copywriter, so I had to learn to do it myself. I learned to do it just to write copy for my very first mail order business in the body building market.

Joey Bushnell: How did you become known as “Doberman Dan”? You are known all around the world on the internet as that. How did that take off?

Doberman Dan: I think it was around the mid 90’s or so that I started this very first mail order business, which as I said was in the body building niche. That happened to be a hobby of mine at the time so I figured why not make a hobby, a business?

I produced my own body building course that was all published under my real name Dan Gallapoo. I started selling online in ’96 and this was back in the wild west days of the internet and you didn’t really have established URL’s back then when you were first starting out. You had these crazy free pages on tripod so I had one of those pages which eventually morphed in to

I started writing regular articles for that website and one of the articles was about my doberman when he was still a puppy, probably only weighed about 50-60 lbs. He got into a fight with a Rottweiler which was twice the size of my doberman but he won the fight because he was so lean, muscular and fast. So I wrote that I wanted to switch from my power lifting phase of eating everything in sight and get lean like my doberman. I signed it “Doberman Dan” and all the followers of those particular articles at the time they started calling me Doberman Dan and it stuck ever since.

Even though I sold that business and have gotten in and out of various other businesses the “Doberman Dan” moniker continues and like I was telling you earlier, nobody can spell or pronounce my last name. It’s not even spelt correctly, it’s meant to be a french spelling and nobody remembers it. But everyone seems to remember “Doberman Dan”. I didn’t come up with it my readers grabbed a hold of it and ran with it so I’m sticking with it.

Joey Bushnell: So these days you’re teaching copywriting and you’re writing copy. If we go over to your website what sort of things can we expect to find?

Doberman Dan: Since my very first successful mail order business, that was after the 9 years of various other businesses which all failed, I’ve been a serial direct response marketing entrepreneur and serial online marketing entrepreneur. So my model has always been: I’ve always started my own businesses in a variety of niches, run my own niches and written my own copy.

Occasionally I would do client work when asked but I never really pursued it, with the exception of about a year and a half when I worked with a copywriter known as Gary Halbert, the rather famous copywriter. During that period I did do a lot of client work but they weren’t my clients they were all his clients. So with the exception of that period I’ve always been a serial direct response, online entrepreneur. I wrote my own copy and occasional client work, until February 2012 I sold one of my last remaining businesses which was the 3rd supplement business that I started, which was also in the body building market. I sold that and started freelancing full time just a year ago.

The website you are referring to I think I started in 2007 just as a way to start getting all of these direct marketing lessons I’ve learned from the school of hard knocks and get them out of my head and on to paper or digital paper so to speak. I’ve lost count, I think I’ve got close to 250 different posts on there all about being an entrepreneur. It’s been all over the place Joey, when I first started it was accommodation of just wanting to get all of my marketing lessons preserved for posterity, some success lessons and some relationship lessons. Mostly it’s about being an entrepreneur, direct marketing, copywriting and online marketing but there are a few, what I feel are some vital life lessons I’ve learned, that may seem a bit off topic but those are included on there too.

Joey Bushnell: Let’s talk a little bit about being a copywriter and what we can expect if we were to take this route as a career. You mentioned on your site a secret to charging high fees as a copywriter. What is that secret?

Doberman Dan: Your timing for that question, in fact your timing for everything Joey is really good, that’s why I appreciate this invitation to chat with you today because this past year, like I’ve said, I’ve always been a serial entrepreneur, the client work has been something I’ve only done occasionally. But this past year when I decided to sell that supplement business and do client work full time has been a crash course in being a freelance copywriter and dealing with clients.

All the stuff I observed Gary Halbert do when he was dealing with clients and the stuff he tried to teach me, which unfortunately I guess I wasn’t paying much attention at the time, all of that has come flooding back to me. All the things I’ve heard Dan Kennedy say over the years about working with clients, it’s just come flooding back.

It’s almost like I’ve got a little Gary Halbert on one shoulder, a little Dan Kennedy on the other shoulder and this entire year they are saying “For the love of Pete, we’ve been trying to tell you this for 20 years! Now finally you’re paying attention!” So I have stuff that I should have learned and should have paid more attention to over the past 20 years, has been reinforced a million times over the past year since I’ve been freelancing full time.

One of the biggest lessons has been about charging fees and charging high which kind of goes hand in hand with only working with certain types of clients. The way I look at it is once you have a proven ability that you can get results, whatever those results are for your client such as; you can generate leads, you can get people opting into an opt in page, you can get traffic for them or you can get the sales copy to convert at a cost per acquisition that is acceptable for the client.

Whatever the goals are for the client, once you can do that and you can show results that you can do that, I don’t care if you’ve been writing copy or you’ve been a freelance copywriter for hire for the past few months or the past 30 years, once you are a proven entity.

What you’re able to do is extremely valuable to a lot of businesses. Not just online businesses or businesses that use direct response marketing, if you choose you can market your services to a variety of businesses including brick and mortar businesses, those businesses need your services worse than anybody!

I don’t care about number of years in the game or any of that stuff.Once you are a proven entity and you can accomplish the goals that the client wants you to accomplish, you are extremely valuable to them. In my most humble but accurate opinion, I believe that you should be charging value-based fees.

What a lot of service providers, especially copywriters do, is they go around and do little informal surveys and say “What’s the going rate for a squeeze page, sales page or this or that” and I’m going to price myself about there or maybe a little under that price. I understand a lot of “rookies” doing that.

That term “Rookie” is used when a police officer is new in the academy the veterans call them rookies. Actually for almost your entire first year once you are out of the academy, the veterans call you rookie or rook for short, it’s a newbie or a new guy. In the police department it’s always said with this disdain and it’s usually said when you screw something up. The crew gets called into the sergeants office for getting a citizen complaint or doing something wrong and the veteran’s response is always like “It was the rookie, talk to the rookie it’s the rookies fault”. So it’s a holdover from when I was a cop. When I say rookie, I mean a relatively new copywriter.

But I figure once you’ve proven the value that you bring to the table, you’ve made sacrifices to learn to do what it is you do. In many cases you’ve made sacrifices most other people don’t have the discipline to make. It requires a certain amount of study, most importantly what it requires taking action, putting things into action that you’ve learned and the most painful part of that is putting that stuff into action and making mistake after mistake to get it right. The reality of human nature is that most people will never make it that far to discipline themselves to gain those skills.

If you gain those skills you become one valuable guy or gal. I figure if you’re going to invest the time, go through the discipline to learn that stuff, develop those skills, you’re going to invest the time to work for clients and write client pieces, you should get paid as much as you possibly can.

We could talk forever on this one topic. I’ve learned so much from Gary Halbert about this that within the past year I’ve now had a crash course in it myself by making a lot of mistakes. We could talk for hours about this but one of the most important secrets to getting high fees is simply ask for them!

Most importantly, after you ask don’t laugh. If you’re on the phone or on Skype, if you’re face to face don’t smile and don’t flinch. You basically ask for the fee, you shut up and you don’t say a word. If the other person remains in shock for a half hour then put your mic on mute. If you can’t control your mouth and can’t remain quite put your mic on mute because the next person to speak is going to be, and I hate to use the term but, a loser in this negotiation.

So the most important thing is just to ask for the fee that you want. If you bring value to the table, in many cases the fee that you’re asking is going to more than pay for itself. Good copywriting shouldn’t cost anything, in fact it should make the client a lot of money so even what you may think is a high fee in a clients mind is not a high fee. So ask for what you think the job is worth then shut up.

Joey Bushnell: Do you regularly turn away copywriting jobs if you feel it’s just not something you want to be getting involved in and you don’t see that it’s a right fit for you? Are you more than happy to turn that away?

Doberman Dan: I turn most of them away as a matter of fact for a variety of reasons. A lot of them get turned away before they ever get to me. I have a bit of a screening process. They have to go through a personal assistant of mine who refers them to a “here’s how I work website”. Which has changed every so often, I keep trying to make it more and more difficult.

It depends on certain clients. If they are clients I know and I’m familiar with their business and how they work, a lot of times they can bypass my initial step. Or if I’ve worked with them before one of them recently was a major publisher, they were able to bypass my first step because it wasn’t appropriate for them.

But if it’s somebody new I’ve made this initial step rather difficult for most people. Most people don’t want to jump through my hoops so they eliminate themselves before they ever get to me. The ones that do jump through my hoops, a lot of them get turned away just because I feel they aren’t a good fit for me and I don’t want to work in that particular niche or for other reasons, we don’t end up working together. If we do wind up having a conversation and if I immediately get a bad gut feeling about them, they are gone.

About the question, “do I turn copywriting jobs away?” and your question about “fees”, there is a very pragmatic reason I can do that and only take the high fee gigs and turn most of the copywriting jobs away that I’m offered. If you’d like to hear that pragmatic reason, and this is something I encourage most young copywriters to do, there is a financial reality here. You have probably developed really bad habits, I imagine you have them too Joey, like myself bad habits that you have to support. Especially because you are married to Christina and you have little Joseph Junior, you have these bad habits and probably Christina and Joseph Junior also. They enjoy sleeping indoors and they probably enjoy eating something regularly don’t they?

Joey Bushnell: Yes they do!

Doberman Dan: I imagine they’d be pretty disappointed with you if you weren’t able to provide those to them?

Joey Bushnell: Yes

Doberman Dan: So there is a financial reality here. There is a saying in the US that “We have to cover our nut”. You need a basic income to make sure you are paying the rent or mortgage and paying for the services you need like electricity and all that good stuff and putting food on the table. The faster you can get yourself in a position where that monthly nut is covered however that is that much more quickly you can be much more selective about the type of clients you work with. You can start asking for those high fees, start seeking out those high fee jobs and only accepting them.

There is a very pragmatic way that I did that, like I said, being a full time freelancer, I’m only a year into that after an 18 year entrepreneurial career. The way I did it is I immediately started seeking out retainer clients and I got a couple clients on retainer. We defined what services I would provide and what they would pay every month. Because I’m paranoid, I made sure that even just with one of those retainer clients my income would cover my mortgage, food and basic utilities. With 2 retainer clients I could relax. So from a practical stand point all the bills were covered even if one of the retainer clients left for whatever reason. With 2 of them I could relax and it allowed me to be extremely selective about other clients I could take.

I really encourage freelancers to get themselves into some kind of situation like that where their monthly nut is covered. It’s great to talk all the attitude stuff like you request these high fees and you turn down these gigs that you just don’t feel are ideal and blah blah blah. But the reality is you have to pay the rent and you have to eat. So there may be gigs you have to take that aren’t ideal paying gigs. But the sooner you can get yourself into the situation where the monthly nut is covered the sooner you can start being way more selective about what clients you work with and only going with the higher fee opportunities.

Joey Bushnell: Brilliant, so we make sure the bills are covered and then the extra on top we are more selective. I guess in a way the fact that people do have to go through this process just to get to you, there is no neediness from your end and they are probably going to be mentally preparing themselves that they are going to have to pay quite a bit to buy your services. So do you find that when you do come to the price do they still gasp out loud or they were a bit prepared and knew that was coming?

Doberman Dan: In most cases they are prepared for it because with the hoops that they have to jump through they are prepared that there is a normal minimum range of fees depending on what they want done. The whole system is engineered so they obviously know there is no neediness. You can try to engineer it so even if there is a neediness on your part you can try to engineer things so you don’t broadcast that neediness.

The problem I’ve had in the past, because I’ve gone broke a lot, I’ve had so many businesses fail, I’ve done so many stupid things with money. I’ve gone broke and had to start over a lot of times. The problem is even if you try to engineer things in your copy or our qualification copy or whatever your client process is, to try to broadcast that there is no neediness the minute you have personal contact with these people if there is a neediness, if you’re truly in a financial situation where you need the money bad like you’re 3 months late on the rent, no matter how hard you try to fake it for some reason most people can sense that neediness.

I love talking about the mind set stuff but I don’t think many people can fake that. A lot of people are forced to fake it. I think the better way to do it is my way, cover your basic nut so there is no neediness. So when you’re talking to a client and you get a gut feeling of “This guy is already a jerk upon first contact” here’s a lesson you can take to the bank. I’ve learned when any relationship starts out the teeniest, tiniest little bit weird, there’s something not quite right when a relationship first starts. Whether it’s a first contact via email or phone it never get’s better it always gets worse. So you’re on the phone with the guy and you think “Man he’s already kind of a jerk on the phone” I guarantee it’s going to get worse you should probably walk away from him, but when you need the money you take the gig and wind up working with a jerk and you wind up hating the guy.

That’s why you’re in a better situation if you’ve got your basic nut covered. I’m such a pragmatic guy I will even say that if you keep your day job for a while whatever it may be, if you have a stable day job while you’re starting your work as a copywriter or service provider you’re still going to be in a much better position because your day job has your nut covered. You’re going to have so much more power in negotiating fees and sifting and sorting clients.

Joey Bushnell: Awesome. Would you recommend that freelancers use self aggrandizement? Is that a strategy that you would employ Dan?

Doberman Dan: That is so contrary to my real personality. Just to let you know a little secret the “Doberman Dan” persona when I started writing as Doberman Dan the copywriter and not the body builder, I developed a whole persona around him and he’s somewhat of a tough guy. He doesn’t accept any excuses and if you read my blog although I’ve tamed it down more recently, Doberman Dan occasionally uses some colorful metaphors that offend people, certain word choices that occasionally offend. He’s like an army drill sergeant and it’s all part of the persona.

My real personality is not like that, at times yes, at times I can be like that when I get all fired up and passionate. But most of the time I want to be a laid back likable guy and have most of my life been self deprecating.

Halbert always used to say “we’re not in the copywriting business, seminar business or guru business, we’re in the self aggrandizing business”. A lot of people found him arrogant and the people who actually knew Gary knew that the public persona that you saw wasn’t his real personality, he was actually really quite humble. But self aggrandizement in letting the world know about what you can do and the value you provide as a freelancer is important. The problem is I see most people do it wrong.

For some reason Halbert’s public persona was able to get away with the arrogance because it wasn’t taken offensively by a lot of people, it was actually amusing to a lot of people. He was able to get away with making statements like “I’m the greatest copywriter who has ever lived. There is nobody who can write better copy than me” and other things like that. I see people try to do that and it just doesn’t work for them, for some reason I see very few people that it works for.

First of all whats way more important than what you say about yourself, is what other people say about you. So it’s way more important that other people are talking about you and talking about results you’ve gotten for them. There’s a way to self aggrandize and a way to promote yourself that doesn’t come across as arrogant. You can do it using stories or you can talk about results you’ve gotten for certain clients.

Standing on a stage or standing on a proverbial platform, if that’s a blog or news letter, and pounding your chest talking about how great you are just doesn’t work for most people. It’s going to be a turn off for most people.

There also is a balance to this. The self effacing, self deprecation, I was told my entire life that was how you were supposed to be and even if you are good at something be very self deprecating about it. So that’s the complete other opposite end of the spectrum. You’re going to go broke if you’re a copywriter and you use that approach. You have to find some kind of balance between the two.

Joey Bushnell: OK, so let people know you are good but don’t do it in a way that is going to turn people away and make them resent you.

Doberman Dan: Yes exactly and I think the best way to do that is to let other people do it for you.

Joey Bushnell: So you’ve created Doberman Dan as a persona. Is there anyway that we can create our own larger than life persona as a copywriter?

Doberman Dan: I think it’s a good idea because here’s one thing I’ve discovered that clients are looking for, and I just had this conversation with a service provider the other day. He actually heard the client’s sigh of relief on the phone when he expressed his confidence in his own ability. She was just looking for somebody who rather than waffle and say “We may or may not get these results it may take a while, it depends” his answer was “Yes I can do that for you” and he literally heard her sigh on the phone.

People are looking for a leader and a lot of people who hire consultants or freelancers of any kind are looking for a scape goat. They can’t handle the responsibility themselves or it stresses them out or they don’t want the responsibility of the results when things go wrong. So when they hire you, you become that person and you take everything off of their shoulders.

So a person who is wishy-washy, you ask a question and the answer is always ”Well it depends, we could get these results you want, we could not, it depends” Even though that’s the truth because you can’t predict anything, and all kinds of different things can affect the results. A variety of things outside your control can affect the results of your copy, the copy is just a small portion of the success of any website, direct mail piece or business and all of that is outside of your control.

People are looking for a leader and the larger than life persona or personality helps. It’s basically just creating a more confident better version of yourself, your good qualities get exaggerated, your bad qualities either aren’t mentioned or they are mentioned as a way to teach a lesson.

For example my going broke a bunch of times that’s been very instructive for my clients and I’ve explained exactly to people because they don’t understand how you can go from making millions to going broke. I can tell you it’s extremely easy to do, I’ll tell you exactly how to do it. So the bad things I use as instructional lessons and we’re all flawed, fallible and hurting human beings.

We don’t need to portray that when we are positioning ourselves as the expert and trying to get hired as an expert. We need to portray the best version of ourselves that we can. One way to do that is to create that larger than life persona. Don’t go over the top or make yourself a super hero.

In fact super heroes are a great study, every super hero has a weakness. So if you create this larger than life persona that you’re the best copywriter in the world and you’ve never had a failure and everything you write turns to gold, well, you’ve just completely destroyed your credibility. But if you create your larger than life persona and magnify your good points but yet still talk about your faults in a way that is instructional that’s how you create a persona like that.

Joey Bushnell: You mentioned that there are some outside factors which effect the results that you can get from your copy. Do the top A-listers always write great sales letters that make a great ROI or can they even still sometimes go wrong?

Doberman Dan: Most of the guys that have been positioned as the best of the best and are the copywriting heroes, most of them, their pieces fail more times than work.

A great example is Agora, one of the largest direct marketing companies in the world. They have the sharpest direct marketing minds working for them. They have these nerdy account engineer guys with pocket protectors which have these crazy computer programs which can predict stuff that seems impossible to predict as far as numbers go. Their managers are the best in the world, their marketing directors are the best in the world, they’ve got decades of experience and they hire the best copywriters in the world. Here’s their track record…

Out of every 10 projects they try, on average 7 of them are bombs and are abandoned because they just show no life they’re not even worth pursuing.

Of the remaining 3, to use a baseball term, 2 are base hits. They’re tweakable, they could be improved but nothing to write home about.

One possibly is a home run and is a big hit. That’s out of 10 and that’s with the best talent in the world, with more money than God to work with to test these projects. The best people in the world and the best copywriters in the world that is their average track record. So why should the rest of us expect any better?

You could resurrect Gary Halbert, Gene Schwartz, Robert Collier and Caples and combine their minds with the greatest living copywriters in the world now Jim Rutz, Gary Bencivenga, Clayton Makepeace, Arthur Johnson, David Deutsch, you could combine all of their minds together and write the greatest piece of copy ever written and that can still bomb because the copy is a very small part.

Usually in most freelance arrangements the most important parts are completely outside of the copywriters control. The only thing a copywriter is told to do is to write the copy. The copy really is just a very small percentage of the success of the promotion, maybe 20%.

Joey Bushnell: That’s good to know that even the best copywriters from time to time can still have a piece of copy that doesn’t perform as they’d like so I think for the rest of us that’s comforting.

Doberman Dan: Absolutely, I worked side by side with Gary Halbert for a year and a half. For 4 months he shared my home in Costa Rica, he was a room mate. Then he talked me into moving into the same apartment building as him in Miami, so we were together a lot of the time.

We worked on a lot of projects together and in most of the stuff that he wrote not only did it not work out but some of it didn’t work and just needed to be tweaked but most of it was just pure 100% bomb. It stunk so bad it wasn’t even worth saving it just needed to be crumpled up and tossed into the waste basket. Most of the stuff he wrote, a small percentage was successful and that’s all you need. If 1 out of every 10 pieces you write is successful that 1 piece more than makes up for the 9 failures.

Joey Bushnell: What’s the intelligence or creativity stimulating secret of the A-list copywriters?

Doberman Dan: I’ve been writing a print newsletter and I’ve just finished my 28th issue so you made me go back into issue #9 to make sure I get it all right. I came up with that name, I don’t know if a lot of the A-list copywriters do it but I’ve shared this with a few of the A-list guys and I know a few have learned a few of these secrets on their own.

Basically it’s something you can use when you want to really focus on something. Whether it’s some sort of creative period or a writing period you really want to focus with maximum creativity and maximum mental energy on the task at hand.

What we’re going to do is manipulate certain hormones through diet and a couple other supplements and manipulate some brain chemicals to give us a super boost in mental focus and creativity. It’s pretty easy to do, I’ll go through the steps….

Let’s say you want to be super creative during a writing period you need to schedule that writing period first thing in the morning. But this whole process needs to start the night before. So the night before don’t consume anything but water at least 5 hours before going to bed.

Then immediately upon wakening in the morning you’re going to consume a supplement called “branch chain amino acids”. You can Google it, it’s a combination of 3 amino acids. Amino acids are simply what protein is made of when you eat a steak or chicken. When your body digests and breaks the protein down, it breaks it into a variety of amino acids. Branch chain amino acids is a supplement that just contains 3 of those amino acids; Leucine, Valine, Isoleucine. You don’t need to worry about the details for that, just look up “Branch chain amino acids”.

A little consumer warning, there’s a lot of unethical supplement companies who use really poor quality ingredients or the products don’t meet label claims. So make sure you use a well respected companies Branch chain amino acids. If it’s a generic, lesser known brand and the price is really low, that’s a pretty good indicator that it’s not a good product. That can cause all kinds of problems like diarrhea and stuff you don’t want to deal with so buy the highest quality Branch chain amino acids you can find.

The product I use each capsule is 1000mg. I take at least 10 of those capsules. So I take 10,000mg, at times I’ve taken more. At times I’ve taken 20. You need that amount for the effect to take place. By the way this is something I learned from my body building days, this is something we used to do to burn fat and feed muscle. What’s unusual about these 3 branch chain amino acids is they are the only amino acids that can be used by your brain as an energy source.

So you wake up in the morning and you take your branch chain amino acids, you don’t eat anything just your amino acids with water. Then wait 30 minutes before your writing period. I think Ideally what you should do is go for a quick walk. It doesn’t have to be a brisk paced walk, it can just be a slow walk just to get yourself moving and move your mind.

When you come back from your walk you need to eat a combination of protein and fat with zero carbohydrates. This is because we are manipulating hormones, insulin being one of them and the minute you eat carbohydrates, insulin is secreted and that can cause mental fatigue.

So let’s make this as simple as possible, the 30 minutes after taking your amino acids eat 2 eggs. However you want them, hard boiled, scrambled or however you want. Just 2 eggs. They contain the ideal portions of protein, fat and there is no carbohydrates, we have to avoid carbohydrates like the plague for this to work. In fact if you go through this whole process and you eat any kind of carbohydrate you have just ruined the entire effect and it’s not going to work. So eat 2 eggs and I like to eat just until I’m satisfied so I like to still be a little bit hungry. Halbert even recommended people write when they are hungry so have just a couple of eggs or just 1 egg.

What that does is, with the combination of the amino acids and not eating any carbohydrates, so no insulin is released, it keeps your energy levels steady and the branch chain amino acids give your brain a bit of a boost in energy. I think you’ll find it allows you to focus better during that creative period.

There’s a way that you can take that up another notch and “put it on steroids” if you want. In addition to everything we just described we can add a drug to this process which can be quite helpful for stimulating creativity and mental focus. Don’t worry it is a legal drug. It is now my favorite vice and drug and that is caffeine. I prefer my caffeine in the form of coffee. So after you’ve eaten your 2 eggs or with the eggs you can have a cup of caffeine, pills if you prefer or a cup of coffee.

Again if you are going to drink coffee or tea, in the UK I think a lot of people prefer tea to coffee, you still need to have zero carbohydrates. So you cannot use any sweeteners period. Don’t even use the artificial stuff because that can also cause insulin release. So just coffee or tea you can’t even use milk or half and half. If you prefer you can use heavy whipping cream which is pure cream that has no carbohydrates, it’s pure fat so it won’t stimulate insulin release. Any insulin released is going to screw up the results of this.

If you’re going to try this I would prefer that you try it without the caffeine and see how you react to it. Then maybe wait a week, try it again and add the caffeine to it and see if that takes it to another level. But I think what you are going to find is it’s going to allow you to focus much more on the task at hand your mind is going to wander less and you may find yourself coming up with much more creative ideas than you normally would. The most important part of this that you are going to find is just a much more intense focus.

Joey Bushnell: Do you find that it’s a subtle change or is it noticeable?

Doberman Dan: For some people it can be subtle, other people it can be quite dramatic. Especially if people are accustomed to eating a breakfast consisting of some sort of cereal like cornflakes, toast or fruit and that’s their breakfast. Those people are going to feel a rather dramatic effect. If I sit down to a breakfast of just toast, that immediately stimulates an insulin release, it spikes the blood sugar and this all goes back to my body building days and how I wound up turning this into a copywriting lesson.

So those carbohydrates stimulates an immediate release in blood sugar which is an immediate energy boost. Add coffee, tea or sugar and a crumpet and you get this immediate energy boost. The problem is you get an immediate insulin release so insulin starts shoveling that sugar in your blood away into other cells like fat cells. So it’s an instant energy boost but you also crash quite quickly, it’s not a long term energy boost.

This system we’ve just been talking about because of the branch chain amino acids, the hormone manipulation, the avoidance of a blood sugar spike, an avoidance of an insulin release and the combination of the protein and the fat give a long term energy source. So if you are accustomed to tea and crumpets as your breakfast and you try this plan I think you may be amazed by the effects you feel, the increase in focus and in energy levels.

Joey Bushnell: Brilliant. To take it in a slightly different direction Dan, what statistics should matter most to a copywriter? Percentages, like conversion rates? Or just cold hard dollars earned?

Doberman Dan: Well, spending most of my career as an entrepreneur I tracked percentages of course but frankly I didn’t care about them. The only thing I cared about was bottom line net profit. Or if it was a customer acquisition program, all I cared about was cost per acquisition. I knew my numbers. I knew what each customer was worth to me on average lifetime customer value, I knew what I could afford to spend to get a new customer.I didn’t care if my customer acquisition was .0000001% I really didn’t care as long as it brought in new customers and in brought in customers at the cost per acquisition that I wanted to stay within.

To hell with percentages. Same thing when I was promoting products on the back end. If I invested X amount of dollars in a back end promotion and the response was .0000005% yet I had a 5 times return on investment, I couldn’t care less about the response percentages. I wrote a piece of copy back when I was looking for clients, that got a 100% response. I sent out to a cold list of people who didn’t know me from Adam and I got a 100% response and guess how much money I made from my piece that had the 100% response?

Joey Bushnell: I’m not sure, millions?

Doberman Dan: Zero! I made nothing, not one cent. I was actually in the negative because I sent it via Fedex so I had to send each prospect via Fedex which was a little bit costly for me back then. So 100% response on a piece of copy and I lost money.

Frankly I don’t really care about percentages, even working for clients I see a lot of freelance copywriters bragging about how “on a recent piece I got 40% response” that tells me nothing. Their client could have lost millions on their promotion that got a 40% response. I really don’t care about percentages. I track them but what’s more important is what is important to the client.

I had a recent client who said “Mate, if we can get new customers for $150 each I’m going to be ecstatic. If we are a little over that it’s fine, if we are under that then we are going to have a huge party”. He didn’t care about the response percentage, that’s the goal we were shooting for. Based on my experience as spending the past 18 years as a serial entrepreneur and now the past year as a full time freelance copywriter, yes we track percentages but that’s really not important.

Joey Bushnell: Brilliant. I often hear the term “control” being used as a copywriting term can you clarify for us Dan, what is a control piece?

Doberman Dan: A control piece is the piece that you’re using or your client is using currently that is working for them right now, whatever that might be; an email, website or direct mail piece.

A lot of times you’ll hear about beating the control. Once people have a control that is working for them, it’s either acquiring customers at the cost they want to acquire them for, it’s a back end piece, it’s returning a certain percentage on return on investment or making a certain amount of money each month. They want to constantly tweak and improve that so they get better results and that’s when you hear the term “beat the control”. If they say I want you to “beat the control”, what they want you to do is either write a new piece that works better than the current control or make some changes to the current control to get it to perform better.

Joey Bushnell: I know this is a very huge topic Dan but what would you say are the main factors? What are the things that you would try to tweak first of all if you had to try and beat your control piece?

Doberman Dan: The first thing I look at is… The copy is definitely not the most important thing, the most important thing is the eyeballs reading the copy. So the first thing I want to know is who is reading this copy? Who are you sending this to? Who are these people? How are you getting these people in your funnel? Who are these people getting your piece and tell me about them? The client may be sending their piece or maybe getting traffic that is not the ideal prospect or the ideal customer. So if you can change the deal so that they are getting a more qualified person receiving their piece, that can have a huge impact.

The second thing I look at really doesn’t have anything to do with the copy per se. I always look at the offer and try to evaluate… Is this the best possible offer we can make? If it’s to acquire new customers, so this is going out to people who don’t know us and we are trying to get them to spend money with us for the first time, I always look at the offer. Have we created the lowest barrier to entry as we possibly can? Have we made this as risk free as we possibly can?

A very easy way to beat a control if it works out with the numbers and you’re willing to do it if you’re the business owner or if the client is willing to do it, is to do some kind of deal where it’s as risk free as possible. They get some sort of free trial or they just pay a small shipping and handling fee. To get free trial there is the classic 30 day hold, “We are going to send our our widget, give us your credit card number so we can charge you shipping and handling fee. But we are not going to bill you for 30 days. We want you to try this free for 30 days. If you’re not happy with it in 30 days send it back we won’t even charge your card, we will just destroy the credit card information. If you’re happy with it we’ll bill you in 30 days.”

Those are some quick, easy ways to beat the control and that’s without even touching the copy. That’s leaving 99% of the copy as is.

Joey Bushnell: Fantastic. Dan thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me today. It’s been good and the information that you’ve shared has been great. Where can we get more of this kind of information and content from you?

Doberman Dan: The best place for that is my website at I’ve got a couple hundred blog posts up there and you may also want to check out my resources section.

Where I share my best stuff is in my offline newsletter: The Doberman Dan Letter

You can find information about that in the resources section. But there are a ton of articles and case histories that you can read for free at

Joey Bushnell: Fantastic, Dan I’ll include a link to your site and also to where they can read more about your offline newsletter. So Dan I just want to thank you once again, this has been really fun and thanks for all the information that you’ve shared today.

Doberman Dan: Thank you Joey I appreciate the invitation and it was great speaking with you.