I Got Spanked By My New Copywriter (embarrassing story)

Hi everyone,

My name is Joel, I’ve been writing direct response copy for the last 6 years. I currently lead the creative team and am in charge of overall performance across our different campaigns.

I’d say I’m a decent writer…

I’ve written my fair share of winning ads and together with my team, have grown our e-commerce business by 15x since 2018.

But there was ONE thing that always bothered me…

The fact that I could NEVER beat this one female writer in our company. 

Let's call her Niki.

Now, if you know anything about direct response copy…

You’ll know that it’s not about how good your puns are or whether you have good grammar.

Good writers understand how to connect and SELL products/services through compelling stories.

I come from a sales background.

I did door to door printer sales, I’ve sold MLM, I’ve sold $2.4M worth of courses and training programs previously…

I consider myself a good salesman.

So you can imagine how annoyed I was when my sales copy kept getting dumpstered by a female writer (with almost no experience).

We had just hired her.

She was new.

No sales experience.

A freshie.

A greenie.

I thought we were going to take a long time to see her start performing.

But to my surprise, EVERY ad she wrote kept beating my control copy.

I lost serious sleep over it.

My competitive nature had me writing 5-8 new ads every day. 

And I was still falling short.

She was just WAY better at this than me.

Eventually, I tapped out and made her Head of Copy in our business.

She’s nothing short of amazing.

Humble, coachable.

Tenacious as f*ck.

And extremely irritating when she gives me a small smirk every time she bags a new winning ad.

I love her to bits!

And if she continues down this track, she’ll be a A* class writer in a couple of years.

Here are 5 reasons why I think Niki beat me at copy (over and over again).

5 Reasons Why I Think I Got Spanked By My New Copywriter

Reason #1: Quality of Research.

For one of our core brands:

We sell a natural health supplement for ladies over 50, who want to get better gut health and lose weight.

I usually google symptoms, read a couple of posts on groups and start writing.

Sure my ads do okay, but her research is WAYYYYY deeper.

She’s everywhere.

In competitor sites, reddit, groups, ad libraries, news sites, research sites and plenty of other sources I’m not allowed to say here.

She has a secret research deck where she keeps intimate details of these women’s lives.

Every conversation with their husband, every complaint from their girlfriends.

I’m not allowed to get access to that money making folder 🙁 even though I’ve asked for it a few times.

Why is she such a good writer?

Niki is OBSESSED with her target market.

Her IG feed is flooded with their content. So is her Facebook & YouTube feed. She’s basically living her target market’s life!

How do I compete with that?

She knows everything about them.

Their pains.


What they eat for breakfast.

How many kids they have.

The shape of their poop.

Their exercise routine.

Bad habits.

And everything in between…

This insane commitment to know everything about your target market is a huge advantage as a copywriter.

You’ll never run out of things to say (that are relevant and different)!

Get Paid To Learn How To Write Copy That Brings In Real Results.

Apply as a junior copywriter at Maneuver below

Get Paid To Learn How To Write Copy That Brings In Real Results.

Apply as a copywriter at Maneuver below​

Reason #2: The details in her stories.

I’m a marketer.

That means I tell stories for a living.

I’m able to connect going bungee jumping in Maldives to a weight loss product (and sell it well).

But every time we compare ads, Niki’s stories always feel more compelling than mine.

The devil is in the details.

While I’m good to connecting interesting topics to our product…

Niki knows how to really HOOK the readers in with relevant topics and scenarios.

“Help, I look like I’m 7 months pregnant!”

That was one of the winning angles she came up with for an ad that spent $50,000 SGD in 1 day.

We made a boatload of money from that campaign.

When I first saw the angle, I thought it was pretty boring. 

“It’s been done before, I’ve seen it so many times Niki. Can we try something different?”

She insisted that her story was different and said the way she transitioned to the product appealed to a niche group of women facing a different problem…

So, I let her roll with the ad.


2x ROAS (return on ad spend) at $50,000 spend on the first day.

That led us to nett $280,000 USD in a 24 hours.

“Why do you think that ad worked?”- I asked, picking my jaw off the floor.

“I told you, the story I was telling in the rest of the ad was appealing to a different problem” – She calmly explained, sipping on her teh peng…

The funny thing?

I was the one who taught her how to craft compelling, detail rich stories in the first place!

Talk about the student becoming the master…

There’s another reason why I think she’s been kicking my a** at writing ads.

This one wasn’t as obvious but I realized this after a Valentine’s Day promo we did…

Learn How To Write Amazing Ad Copy That Converts.

Apply as a junior copywriter at Maneuver below
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Learn How To Write Amazing Ad Copy That Converts.

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Reason #3: Curiosity driven creatives

“Isn’t that the designer’s job?” – I was surprised that Niki was picking images for her own ad with the design team.

She explained that while her ads were factual and filled with good stories…

She felt that they was lacking attention after noticing a big drop in click through rates.

“We need to stop the scroll remember? I feel like I need stronger, curiosity driven creatives so people will read the first line of my ad”.

Her reply made a lot of sense.

We were facing a major increase in cost per click and needed cheaper clicks to increase profits.

Some of the cool ideas she came up with together with the design team:

– Different point of view (POV). Eg: Top down shots, close up from behind a door, from a weighing scale’s perspective etc.

– Food analogies that represented different body parts.

– Cartoon drawings with interesting labels.

They’ve since brainstormed a whole bunch of new concepts that have worked for us.

And while 80% of the test fail, the 20% that succeed, win BIG!

Brilliant stuff.

As a writer, I’ve always heavily valued good sales copy. 

But after seeing the impact a strong creative can bring to the table, I’m a big believer of the COMBINATION (copy x design) instead of just looking at copy.

We’ve seen huge performance lifts from simply just refreshing the creative.

Important for writers to work closely with their design teams.

As if we weren’t done, here’s another reason why I think Niki is beating me at writing amazing copy…

Reason #4: Retesting/Re-writing old winning copy

In 2018 we were doing $2M revenue, and in 2020, we were at $30M rev.

That’s a 15x growth in 2 years.

Here at Maneuver, we focus heavily on creating winning ads.

It’s one of the many, many reasons we’ve grown really quickly in a short period of time.

A winning ad is simply a combination of:

– Strong headline

– Strong creative

– Strong ad copy

That allows the ad to scale and take on significant spend profitably. 

We produce a good amount of ads and anywhere between 10-20% of them become winners.

While I tend to focus on writing new ads and angles every day as a writer…

Niki likes to relook at old winning ads, dissect them and rewrite them with different flavours/ style.

Sometimes she’d re-write the entire ad…

Other times she’d just tweak a couple of sentences.

Because she revisits working angles regularly, her “hit rate” on her ads tend to be higher.

“I like to ask myself, what about this ad is the most interesting to the reader? What parts are not as compelling? Let me take them out. What else do they want to know about the product? What’s stopping them from trying the product? Is the benefit clear to them? Why is the product different?”

– Niki, on editing ads.

By aggressively editing past winning ads, she’s been able to revive them consistently and reduces the volatility of swinging and missing.

Smart girl.

Great thinker.

Strong execution.

Why didn’t she join us earlier?!

The last (and strongest reason) on why I think Niki keeps whooping my a** at copy even though I have more than 3 years experience over her…

Reason #5: She's always testing new copies.

I typically like to play it safe when I have something that’s working.

After all, stability is a crucial consideration when you’re piloting a bigger sized business.

But Niki is an innovator.

She is always pushing boundaries and asking the “why nots”.

When she first joined, she followed through our training modules religiously.

She asked questions, applied herself and asked for feedback.

Action oriented, she’s never afraid to fail at something. I think her sports background definitely helped her.

But once she secured a couple of winning ads under her belt…

She started testing more copy variations.

She wasn’t afraid to write longer than our usual copy, or much shorter.

“It’s about how much I need to say to get my point across” – Niki on length of copy.

Niki also tested a lot of different tones.

– Humorous

– Lamenting/complaining

– Scientific/ medical

– Big brand (vague and big idea-ish)

All while being grounded in focusing on persuasion elements like pain vs pleasure, social proof, benefit vs cost.

I really like that about her.

On top of that, she’s constantly trying to influence readers with her copy in every part of the ad.

– Image captions

– Video scripts

– Headlines

She really understands the real estate she has and fully maximises it.

With only 3+ years writing copy, I can safely say she’s beaten me hands down.

Especially for this market.

Niki is a straight GEM and we definitely love to have more people like her in the team.

She’s currently in a leadership position and focuses on overall ad performance.


Closing Notes:

To aspiring female writers, if you think you’re good at influencing your friends to try different makeup products, you might be a good sales copywriter. 

For sensitive male writers, if you’re able to empathise with the pains women go through at different life stages you’ve got a good chance at making a career out of writing sales copy.

Ultimately, writing good sales copy is about being able to connect/persuade people through compelling stories.

It’s not about grammar, spelling or length (if you read this far, you should get what I mean).

If you want to learn how to write copy that converts, We'd love to chat with you.

Here’s the truth.

Writing good copy is HARD.

A lot of work goes into research, understanding the audience and testing a TON of copy variations.

It’s basically a huge social experiment with the goal being:

Get a customer to buy your product.

It’s an amazingly valuable skill once you have a level of mastery.

PLUS, great writers basically never have to worry about making money.

It’s a skill that’s always in demand.

And there are always people willing to pay for good copy.

Right now, we’re looking for 2 new writers to join our team.

We’ll train, coach and mentor you to be the best you can be.

But only talents with the right values get picked.

We’re looking for those looking to become experts and know that writing is going to be what they want to do in the next 3-5 years.

No outside distractions.

No side hustles.

There WILL be sacrifices made.

In terms of time and effort spent in honing this craft.

It’s definitely not an overnight thing.

But if you’re looking to grow and build something bigger…

We have the resources and infrastructure to groom/polish raw talent and hunger.

Read more about the copywriter role in the linkedin description below:

Apply To Be A Copywriter @ Maneuver

Please read the job description below carefully.

Apply To Be A Copywriter @ Maneuver

Please read the job description below carefully.

1 thought on “I Got Spanked By My New Copywriter (embarrassing story)

  1. Ryna Phan says:

    I really love your writing. It just gave me a ton of curiosity, kept scroll down to read with a gaping mouth. What a creative headline and opening graph! Love to read more from you.


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