Joanna Wiebe – Copywriting That Converts: How To Sell Without Selling Your Soul – MicroConf 2013

The MicroConf Hub Page with links to all the notes for all the talks can be found here.

Speaker: Joanna Wiebe (@copyhackers)

Watch the video (sorry, but I’m not allowed to embed it here)

How do we write for conversion while avoiding sounding like bloodsucking salesmen? 

The MicroConf Hub Page with links to all the notes for all the talks can be found here

Selling Is…

  • We don’t want to be like sneezy salesmen
  • We boast about our bank account, not about the sales we made to make it happen
  • bad behaviour:
    • “The first one’s always free” – just like with your local drug dealer
    • “The more people you get into it” –
    • “Hook ’em young” – just like your favorite cigarette dealer (Or McDonald’s, or Disney)
  • We are constantly sold to by others and selling to others
  • good behaviour:
    • “the first one’s always free” – almost every SaaS business ever


If you want to start selling….

  • Stop leading with free
    • Believe in your product
    • charge twice as much as you would pay yourself
  • Email like a growth hacker
    • Start collecting emails from leads
    • aggressively selling in emails is OK
    • Unsubscribes are good (they wouldn’t buy from you anyway)
  • use long-form sales pages
    • even though you probably don’t like them as a customer, they convert REALLY WELL
    • You are NOT your customer – projecting your idea is WRONG
    • Use the long-form sales page to educate the reader
    • Power of the long-form sales page –> keeps you reading
  • test to increase conversion
  • stop looking at marketing as an experiment
    • Do one tactic until you get really bored with it


6 Copywriting Tactics

  1. Replace “We” with “You” (Your customers care about themselves, not about you)
    1. Pro tip: Replace “Choose the best CRM software” with “YOU should choose the best CRM software”
    2. Also working: “Get me my download”
  2. Use the Even-If Clause 
    1. Ex: “Even if you hate marketing….”
    2. Ex: “Write High converting Copy in 2 Minutes or Less…. Even If You Can Barely Spell Your Own Name”
    3. Pro Tip: “Could this be” structure –> “Could writing a blog be the worst decision you’ve ever made?” (thanks to @ericabiz)
  3. Create a Gap of Curiosity
    1. Introduce something that feels a little strange and clear up later
    2. Ex: “Your Wife Is More In Love With Your Business Than With You”
  4. The World Is Against You
    1. People have this “My life would be better if only that thing had not happened” feeling
    2. Ex: “You Can’t Be Eyxpected to Grow Sales Every Month – Not With So Many Hats to Wear”
  5. Create Word Pictures
    1. Stickiest copy is made out of “raw and visual words”
    2. Ex: “Decode the Secret Langauge of Your Website’s Visitors”
  6. Be 3D
    1. Positioning the exact same message in 3 different ways next to each other
    2. Get your readers into the habit of saying “Yes”

Bundle it

  • If you can bundle products, go and bundle them
  • Lots of things for just 1 price –> increases sales
  • Don’t give it away for free, though


NOTE: Lukas Fittl has put his own notes on the talk online.

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About Christoph

Christoph lives in Munich, Germany and is bootstrapping his own SaaS application as a part-time entrepreneur.

He likes to write on this blog about anything of relevance to single-founder bootstrapped software startups.


  1. Thanks for the notes. I love how actionable and direct the copywriting tactics are!

    • itengelhardt says

      Hi David,

      Glad you liked the notes. Being actionable is probably the best thing about MicroConf (take a look at the “lessons learned” post I wrote – pure gold)



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