Interviews Frank Kern

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Q1. Where are you from?

I’m from Macon, Georgia and I live in La Jolla, California.

Q2. How did you discover copywriting?

I’m an introvert, I have social anxiety, and I generally don’t like dealing with people. 

I’m also uneducated and have no “real” skills – so the only job I could get outside of washing dishes (which ain’t too bad really. You can drink on the job. Pay’s no good though).  …Anway, only job I could get was a door to door salesman.

I hated it and wasn’t good at it. I don’t like rejection. And I don’t like to inconvenience people. So I hated being stuck in that position of trying to make a living doing something I hated and was bad at.

So in 1999 I did a search for how to sell things on the internet and it took off from there.

The idea that you could make a living without having to talk to anyone was like a lifeline for me.  

Q3. What forms of copy do you write?

I’m not a real copywriter.  Stefan, Halbert, Johnny Casino (Carlton) …those are real copywriters.

I’m a guy who writes ads and emails and all the other words and stuff that are required for me to be able to sell stuff. 

I’m better at email than I am at other forms of copy. 

Q4. What are your favorite niches to write in?

Business development. I like to write stuff where the ad can educate and sell at the same time. So I’d take a crack at just about anything where that approach would work.

The only problem is I don’t like writing copy.

My “writing process” is like this:

1. Copy needs to be written in 4 weeks.
2. I spent 3 weeks, 6 days, and 23 hours complaining about the fact that I need to write the copy.
3. Then I sit down and write it in an hour.

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Most of the time it does but that’s only because I’m writing to my own audience and I feel like we have a good connection.

I tried to write stuff for cosmetics once and it was a disaster.

Q5. What is the #1 lesson you've learned as a copywriter?

Within the context of what we’re talking about, there is no activity that yields more in terms of “dollars made per hour working.”

So the lesson is: Write more. Write all the time. Obsess over it. It pays a LOT.

Naturally I don’t follow my own advice.  

Another important lesson is don’t expect it to work right out of the gate. Just because it took forever to write doesn’t mean it stands a higher chance of working. Be prepared to revise. It’s normal. 

Q6. Who is your favorite copywriter & why?

David Ogilvy. 



Carlton and Dan are still alive so John Carlton and Dan Kennedy. 

I don’t want them to read this because then they might get mad at me. Carlton is very dangerous. Especially if you drink with him for several consecutive days. I’ve done it and I’m willing to do it again just to prove that my statement is true.

Anyway …aside from those two, Ogilvy.

He wrote ads that helped the reader. His ads – especially the longer form ones – they make me proud to be an ad man. If everyone wrote as honestly as he did and with as much class as he did, people would actually like marketers.

Q7. Do you have any recent wins to share?

I had a private client who was a really nice guy but a pain in the ass when it came to implementing. I wanted him to write an advertorial and run it in the newspaper. He was a dentist who specialized in helping people who had chronic migraines due to something weird going on with their teeth. Like their jaws were out of balance or something and it was causing these migraines.

Anyway – I got tired of waiting for him to write it so I wrote it myself in an hour.

We ran it as a newspaper ad and the damn thing worked. Pulled a hell of a profit. Can’t believe it. 

I’ve written stuff that made more money but that one – that one was the real thing. 

Writing an advertorial for a newspaper ad about something as weird as dental-related migraines …and having that thing pull …that’s a lot different from the stuff we do online. I felt like a real copywriter for a minute. 

Q8. What would you say to a prospective client who wants to hire you?

I would be very grateful for the opportunity. So I would thank them sincerely and then I would refer them to Stefan, Dan, or Carlton …depending on their niche. 

Those guys are better than me at sales letters and such. I’m better at building sales processes and automations and multi-step, multi channel campaigns.

…And all that stuff is hard …and I make more money doing it for my own brand than I do for someone else. 

But I’d be really polite about declining the offer and I’d do my best to introduce them to someone who could help them.

Q9. What is a good email address for prospective clients to contact you?

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