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The beauty of studying yourself

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Welcome to the first weekly issue of the Conversion Alchemy Journal! The goal is for it to be actionable and something you can go through in 5 minutes per week. Let’s dive in.

I have a secret to reveal…

I have been bad.

Let me explain…

Last week I got back from New York, where I dove into a mega food-fest from the moment I got out of the metro in Manhattan.

Why’s this bad? Well, for those who might not know, I’ve talked before about how I’ve been on a pretty strict diet for the past 10 months. I’m currently “reversing”, meaning taking my caloric intake back to normal, veeery slowly.

And I’m still supposed to track every single thing I eat – the danger if I don’t, that I will gain all the fat I lost back in an instant.

Anyway, long story short, that week in NY was tough. Temptations behind every single corner: pizza, burgers, bbq, cheesecake, pancakes…. you get the gist, it’s been a tour de force.

And I indulged. Way too much:

Anyway, this is not a food blog, so why the hell am I telling you this?

Because since I got back, I started looking at myself in a deeper, more curious way.

I started digging into the science and mindset of willpower, so I can get better at controlling myself. And I think one of the concepts I stumbled on, can be applied to how we write copy too.

In her book “The Willpower Instinct”, Kelly McGonigal, explores the intricacies of mind and body when it comes to resisting impulses and emotional responses.

She explains how studies have defined 3 regions in our prefrontal cortex that dictate how well we do it.

Here’s a piece from the book:

“One region, near the upper left side of the prefrontal cortex, specializes in “I will” power. It helps you start and stick to boring, difficult, or stressful tasks… The right side, in contrast, handles “I won’t” power, holding you back from following every impulse or craving…. Together, these two areas control what you do. The third region, just a bit lower and in the middle of the prefrontal cortex, keeps track of your goals and your desires. It decides what you want.

I will, I won’t, I want.

Anytime your readers stumble on your copy, they have to satisfy these 3 checkboxes.

In other words, are you making it easy for them to stick to the page? Are you making it hard to leave? And are you promising what they actually want?

If you have no clue what each of these mean for your audience, it’s time to find out with research.

Copywriting is a lot about what people want, but also about what they don’t want. It’s the yin and yang of your target personas.

The more complete of a picture you can get, the better at addressing their needs you’ll be.

✅ In case you missed it

  • A while ago I was a guest on a podcast for the guys at Debutify. It was great, we talked about psychology and UX in ecommerce. You can check it out here.
  • If you haven’t watched it yet, last week we shared a new video on the Youtube channel, all about how to be productive and get things done (can be applied to any business).

📚 3 things to get better at copywriting

  1. World building is super important in copywriting. I love how this guy built an Etsy business and an entire universe for his products using ChatGPT.
  2. When it comes to understanding people, knowing cultural differences is very useful. And it helps when you have to empathize with your audience. Check out this thread on the differences between the US and the UK (I can confirm most of them – should probably write one with Italy too).
  3. I’ve been enjoying reading Justin Murphy’s newsletter Other Life since he re-launched it. Lots of counterintuitive and insightful ideas on writing, like this one: “To write for oneself alone, one must now go far off the normal path—a certain degree of anti-social discipline and effortful re-cultivation is necessary to even have a self for whom one could write.”

🤔 Thought of the week

“Productivity is often a distraction. Don’t aim for better ways to get through your tasks as quickly as possible. Instead aim for better tasks that you never want to stop doing. – Kevin Kelly, Excellent Advice for Living

We often set goals to achieve, to obtain, to acquire. What if our only goal was to keep doing what we’ve been doing all along? To seek a perpetual state of motion? One where we’re constantly growing? Make the journey the ultimate goal.

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brain dump?

Every week I write about what I’m learning at my copywriting/UX desk ,with fun, insightful and quirky stories.

Let’s nerd about decision making, persuasion, habits, and conversion optimization.