Ask Jonathan: happiness, blogging and those annoying sales letters

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I’ve had my Ask Jonathan advice box up on the right column for a few weeks now and gotten questions on a wide range of topics, so I figured I’d answer a few of them in today’s post. In fact, I think I will probably make this an every-Friday thing, next week, I’ll answer more of the “lifestyle/career” questions I’ve received.

So, here we go…

Q: Can you direct me to a place where I can learn how to do that video thing and rss button? My 8 year old has a blog and he wants to do a video like yours.

A: Wow, that’s pretty amazing that your 8-year old is a blogger! I actually checked out his blog and I have to say it’s very cool, love the drawing! If you give me permission in the comments, I’ll post the link, so everyone can check out his artwork!

The little sumo dude is a Sitepal. Go to and you can choose or create your own character and record a message by phone for it to say. You can also set it to auto-play every time someone visits, but most people find that annoying, so I have it set to speak when you click on it.

Q: I’ve been looking all over for your theme to install in my WordPress, but can’t find it, can you tell me where to get it?

A: I’m so glad you like the design of this blog, because I actually designed it myself and then had a number of different people help with the original build and then the revised theme. So, the downside is, it’s not available for use by anyone else right now.

Q: What is my divine purpose?

A: Chocolate

Q: I love the way you write on your blog, but when I clicked over to your Career Renegade website, I was really surprised to see one of those really long one-page websites written in a very different style. I don’t understand, why are sales pages like that? Can’t you just write in like you normally do and do the same thing?

A: Great question. The challenge with sales pages is that they are designed to essentially mimic a live sales conversation. But, there’s a big problem.

When you’re speaking with someone, in person, you have the opportunity to learn about their personal desires, needs, concerns, objections and preferences. This gives you the ability to share only what’s most relevant to that one person’s needs and desires.

On the web or in print, though, you can’t do that, there’s not easy to way to ask each person what’s most important to them and then give them only the select information they need to decided whether what you are sharing is right for them or not.

So you are left with one of two options.

You could just try to guess what the most important factors in making a decision are and speak to those. But then, if you guessed wrong or, even if you guessed right, many people would have different, non-mainstream interests, different motivating factors and concerns, leaving them without enough information to know whether what you were offering was relevant to them.

So, you lose the chance to share your product or service with so many people who would likely have benefited from it, had they only understood how valuable it was to them.

The second option is to brainstorm all of the possible factors that might be most important to the broadest number of people and try to address all of them. That’s what sales letters do.

It’s why you often see a ton a bullet-points and the letters often grow so long. When you write the letter, you know that certain things will resonate with certain people and other things won’t.

But you’d rather include too much and have people skim until they find what’s relevant to them, than include too little and have people “never” find anything personally-compelling.

The challenge is to keep it engaging and informative. I always keep a strong desire to add value to peoples’ lives in the back of my mind when I write sales letters.

Does this format sometimes put off some readers?

Sure. Especially those who have developed a knee-jerk reaction to letters hyping services and products that lack integrity or don’t live up to the promises of the letter. I’m happy to share that, now that my first Career Renegade bootcamp is over, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. So, I feel great about having written a letter that encouraged people to do something that added to their lives.

Hopefully, if it’s done artfully enough and with integrity (I can’t write for something or someone I don’t believe in), a sales letter will draw-in and appeal to vastly more people than it turns away and even share some good knowledge or entertain along the long.

If you guys are interested, I’d be happy to write some future columns on the fundamentals of writing a compelling sales letter. Just let me know in the comments.

Q: What makes you happy?

A: Recently Alex Shalman turned the table on me and asked me a bunch of questions about happiness. The Jonathan Fields Happiness interview is now posted at his great blog. Go read it now.

If you have any questions you’d like me to answer, please enter them in the Ask Jonathan box to the right.

Have a wonderful weekend, gang!

P.S. – The photo above was taken during a yoga retreat I lead in St. John, USVI a few years back. The rainbow appeared after a brief downpour as we all did yoga on a deck overlooking the ocean. It was truly magical!

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5 responses

5 responses to “Ask Jonathan: happiness, blogging and those annoying sales letters”

  1. I found your site on google blog search and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. Just added your RSS feed to my feed reader. Look forward to reading more from you.

    – Randy Nichols.

  2. Alex Shalman says:

    Hey Jonathan, thank you very much for sharing this with your readers 😉 I loved your interview and I’m sure they will too!

  3. Chocolate! I knew it….

  4. I don’t like ‘sales’ conversations either. And I don’t think it’s a knee-jerk reaction. If someone is trying to talk to me for five minutes before they bother to tell me what the product is, then I don’t feel that person is in integrity. Or treating me like I have any intelligence.

    You are just getting someone in the habit of saying ‘yes’ to you.

    Yes, I could use more money. Yes, I would like more freedom to work. Yes, younger looking skin would be amazing. Yes, yes, yes, yes…wait, did I just buy something? Seriously, though, what are you selling?

    What’s so great about a ‘live sales conversation’?

    I get it – you’re in sales and I am not. You make more money than I do. But if your product is so amazing and spectacular, why not just tell me up-front what it is?

  5. natasha says:

    I want to see the blog link. 🙁