Ben Settle

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Recently Sylvester Stallone was quoted about his Rocky movies.

And, specifically, how he has zero ownership in them.

Doesn’t get even a single percentage of its ticket, merchandise, or other sales.

This, even though he created the characters, wrote and directed almost all the Rocky movie scripts, and was responsible for the franchise and its two Creed spin-off’s existing at all, and the nearly $2 billion in gross profits the movies have amassed over nearly 50 years.

As he put it:

“Who knew Rocky would go on for another 45 years?” Stallone asked rhetorically. “I’ve never used one [line of dialogue] from anyone else — and the irony is that I don’t own any of it. The people who have done literally nothing, control it.”

I don’t want to say it’s exactly the same as freelance copywriting.

The typical copywriter is nowhere near as important to their client’s businesses as Stallone was to the Rocky franchise. But I do wonder if, for example, copywriters like the guy who wrote that famous 17-year control for The Wall Street Journal secured royalties for himself or not… and if not, if he ever felt the way Stallone does about Rocky.

I’ve said it before, I’ll keep saying it:

Copywriters with genuine talent and skill should be their own clients.

Or at least have some kind of asset they own, that they can grow, keep all the money from, and pour their hearts and talents into to give themselves and their families a lifestyle and security, instead of putting it all into their clients’ businesses to give them and their families a lifestyle.

Not saying not to do freelance work.

Just saying to also work yourself into the client rotation.

To learn more about the Email Players Newsletter go here:

Ben Settle


Email Players subscriber Ben G. asks:

You always talk about going 10x with material you wanna study and really master. But at the same time, I notice you have read a lot of different things.

If you were to go back in time and speak to the young 20-old Ben Settle,

How would you advise him on 

a) Which book/material to study or read 10x

b) How to allocate his time between 10x material versus other material (leisure or one-off)

[In other words, how do you deal with information overwhelm]

And I’m curious if the way you would allocate your attention to learning/mastery has changed as you’ve become a more seasoned business owner over the years.

My hopefully-as-wise-as-he-thinks-I-am answer:

1. I would not have done anything different as far as what I consumed 10x

2. When starting I had a lot of time and ambition and motivation to pay stuff off. I didn’t study or do anything else.

3. Re: “info overload” — if you made it through high school and/or college, with all the bull shyt filler courses, without failing, then you can learn marketing. You just do the work and figure out how to get it done.

4. Nowadays I study people and how they solved problems more than technique.

So biographies, case studies, interviews, etc.

With only the occasional marketing-related book.

And even then, it’s almost something I am revisiting.

So that’s that.

More on the Email Players newsletter here:

Ben Settle

A few months ago I read a book called:

“The Dan Kennedy Diamond Faxes”

The book is all his faxes to his members from 2012 – 2019.

And I underlined and took notes on practically every page.

One recurring theme I kept seeing — besides his contempt of all things smart phones (I don’t think he’ll be lining up to use Learnistic or make a bundle selling Learnistic Pro any time soon…) — is how the herd is always, almost without exception, wrong.

Dead wrong.

As in, just do the exact opposite of the herd, no matter whose advice they’re taking.

And this is especially true when it comes to business, money, marketing, etc.

That’s also a theme that runs through nearly every other product of his I bought. And, if anything, I blame his products for installing the “baseline” reaction I have had for the last 20+ years up in this business to simply do the opposite of the herd whether I am in doubt about something or not.

Take the weight loss biz for example.

I partnered with two people in that niche back in the day.

One of who is my pal Jim Yaghi.

A few years after we high-tailed it out of that deal, he told me he was looking at all the stats and noticed my combined emails and sales letters (my part of the business relationship) converted 40+% of the list into buyers.

And that’s just the stuff we could track.

There were also a lot of Kindle book and Amazon sales.

And while 40% conversion to sales may or may not be guru #’s, we did it:

  • Without tracking a single open rate
  • With nary a single before/after pic on the ads anywhere
  • Using a pic on the sales letters of a hot early 20’s-something Colombian chick (the opposite of the middle aged wine moms & aunts we were selling to) I kept being told was a huge no-no when selling to middle aged white chicks
  • Using a plain vanilla-looking sales pages with minimal if any graphics
  • Displaying zero testimonials on the sales pages
  • Sending mostly “superficial” emails (usually probably less than 200 words) that, if they gave any tips at all (most were just really short anecdotes or stories) they were super basic & obvious — like talking about drinking more water, walking more, exercising during TV commercials, etc
  • Hardly ever talked about benefits in the emails, just bonded over problems the market shared i.e., built the relationship before the transaction
  • Didn’t look at a single ad in my swipe file when writing the ads, and certainly not “what’s working now”, preferring only the market research we had

And probably a lot of other things that went completely against the herd in that niche.

I don’t think I even so much as looked at any other ads.

I based everything — emails and sales pages — on the market.

I distinctly remember, for example, the main partner in the business (it was his baby) complaining to me that the emails were too superficial, needed more depth and meat, and then he’d point to some list he was on for libertarians (who will happily read 5,000 + word articles about free trade and all-things economics), while his own research showed the market segment we sold to barely had the time or the bandwidth to pinch a loaf every day much less sit on the internet and pontificate about the subject for 45 minutes per day.

The irony:

I reckon 90% the people reading this will miss the big lesson entirely.

But chances are, those are the people constantly chasing herds off cliffs.

All right, class is over.

To learn more about the Email Players newsletter go here:

Ben Settle

A reader asks:

First, you fucking rock. Thank you for doing what you do. I mean it.

I am a big fan of yours and someone who has purchased and studied your 10-Minute Workday course (by neural-imprinting every module about a year ago).

More importantly, I’ve put it to use. Over the past year I’ve accumulated a rabid list and fanbase of 5,000 people who love learning, reading and writing the old school way–using analog tools (pen, paper, writing drafts by hand).

I am about to launch my physical monthly newsletter and I’ve been struggling with the title for over a month.

Halbert advises using your name in the title (see his GHL attached).

You recommend focusing on a niche as it’s difficult to sell vague philosophy.

I’ll be teaching writing, copywriting (influential writing), reading/learning strategies, and marketing.

I can see the pros and cons vs. both.

Specificity (Using a Niche) vs. Freedom (Using Your Name)

No pressure to answer, but this could be a good one to address in a daily email, and it would help me greatly.

Couple things he got backwards:

First being niche vs general. There are times to niche down and go narrow, and there are times to loosen up and go wide. All depends on the situation, the business, the goals, and probably at least 100 other variables.

Second, this might sound like evil direct marketing “sacrilege” but:

I do believe in selling philosophy.

True, not “vague” philosophy.

But I even taught selling the philosophy first in Email Players last year.

Specifically, as a weapon in a series of trainings I invented that I call:

“Sixth Generation Marketing Warfare”

I taught the philosophy side of this in the July 2021 issue.

So I am not going to give away the whole punchline here free.

But, the basics are:

1. There was a time when it was very hard — maybe even impossible — to sell philosophy up front with direct marketing and not go broke. For example, I doubt even the late, great Marty Edelston paying Gene Schwartz his last $3500 could have gotten away with sending a bunch of direct mail about his philosophies up front, instead of the offer & benefits, and going for the jugular.

Gary Halbert also warned of the dangers of selling philosophy in a seminar.

And, back then (during the time of 3rd Gen Marketing warfare) he was right.

2. But with the internet, and especially the advent of community building… plus a gigantic glut of info marketers now bombarding your leads with direct marketing, all more or less citing the exact same benefits (ain’t nothing new under the sun) that you are plugging… I argue and have been practicing this myself for years, that a business’s philosophy is what many people now “buy” first, and then the benefits. They buy into your philosophy, they’ll buy your offers, no matter how weak your copy or ineptly marketed your offers or even how obviously and blatantly corrupt a business is in a lot of cases.

So I want to make that abundantly clear.

I am pro selling the philosophy.

But, he is right, it can’t be vague philosophy.

As for his question about titles:

I use multiple methods for naming my book, software, and other titles.

And I “codified” all those methods in my upcoming book Markauteur — about how to grow a feening horde of customers inside a visual & design marketing ‘universe’ they love to buy from and hate to leave. Believe it or not, I consider the words in a title to be as much a part of the “visual” design as the images & graphics, and vice versa. Something old school advertising masters like, for example, Leo Burnett did as well.

All right so there you are.

My flagship product is called Email Players.

It’s a monthly newsletter, and you can learn more about it here:

Ben Settle

I recently saw an amusing meme that said:

“Sometimes I visit my blocked list just to see how my prisoners are doing.”

And for whatever reason, it reminded me of the legions of people I’ve blocked, banned, and black balled from Email Players over the years. Some of them have gotten quite sneaky with trying to fraudulently slink back in. Many have gotten just as creative in dreaming up conspiracy-like theories about why my “no coming back after leaving” policy exists in the first place. And a few of the really creepy ones have literally argued with my auto-respondered email they get upon leaving that tells them about the policy, so I don’t have to waste time responding to them if they can’t figure out why I just cancelled their subscription right after subscribing.

Strange seeing someone argue with an auto-respondered email.

But such are the times we live in & the unhinged who roam.

Anyway, I originally wrote about the policy publicly back in 2018.

Then a couple years later I wrote about it again in my elBenbo Press book which is about my high-ticket book & newsletter business model, of which my policy is the “lynchpin” that makes it all ultimately work long term.

Since I was asked about it the other day, I might as well republish it again.

Here it is:

(Edited to reflect more recent thoughts I’ve had since)

1. People who go are reliably & consistently – and often immediately – replaced by better business, higher quality customers, longer term subscribers, etc. So there’s no real reason to let them back.

2. With very rare exceptions, if someone cites money as having left, they are almost certainly not telling the truth (to me or themselves), and I don’t like to do business with liars. Even a bum tweeking out while taking a dump on the streets of Portland while rattling a dirty styrofoam cup of change at pedestrians “makes” more than the $3.23 per day Email Players costs. Price got nothin’ to do with it.

3. It makes the newsletter legitimately more exclusive.

4. I don’t cater to quitters.

5. I don’t like encouraging new product junkie-ism.

6. I prefer a 4 quarters to 100 pennies kinda customer base.

7. I want to build a professional league team of stars, not a peewee league team of amateurs who can’t get their shyt figured out.

8. I prefer dealing with long term customers vs one time or off-and-on-again buyers.

9. Those who take the troll route when sent away after trying to return and then get nasty or combative with me make great “orc heads” to put on display for my audience, which usually leads to more business, content, sales, etc, as well as good sport for those watching.

10. Makes for better, less flaky, more serious customers.

11. Makes people far more likely to consume, implement, and succeed with what I teach, and not just let them pile up, or skim, nod, file away.

12. Cleanly & clearly separates the players from the spectators.

13. Rattles trolls (which makes for great content to sell and/or sell with)

14. I can’t realistically help anyone with a “I gotta go, but I will be back!” mentality, since they miss the entire point of the newsletter to begin with, including how each issue compounds on the prior issues, and sets things up for future issues.

15. Wards off the non-forward thinking types who I also cannot help.

Just to be clear:

I am talking specifically about those who try to sneak back later. I have zero respect for such types, and consider them functionally children, and in some cases even functionally illiterate. But if someone simply wants to go, with no desire to return, they absolutely should go, and do so with my blessings.

I have never tried to “convince” anyone to stay.

Nor do I care to or even have the time to.

And yet, more often than not people on the way out think they need to pend time to write something like, “I understand I cannot come back”, which always comes off like they are trying to save face or something.

But that is simply not necessary.

The way I see it:

They are adults and know what’s best for their business. And, at the end of the day, the newsletter is obviously not for everyone, nor should everyone be subscribed, nor do I let just everyone subscribe anyway.

(i.e., the block list).

If anything, I sell people as hard on NOT subscribing as I do to subscribe.

And strange as it sounds to the normie, newbie, & needy types…

I sometimes even test certain people (as those who read the August 2021 – 10-year anniversary – Email Players issue know all about, so I will not explain more here) to try to get them to leave or not subscribe in the first place.

But here’s the irony of it all:

The exiled who are displeased with the policy need only look in the mirror to see the main reason why the policy exists. They truly are their own worst enemies and don’t even realize it.

And I’m afraid I got more bad news for them:

My policy is slowly but surely becoming more “mainstream” amongst those who understand the peace of mind and high quality customer base it can grant businesses with the foresight to eagerly adopt & aggressively enforce it.


I am not sure who this person below is exactly.

(I heard about him second hand.)

But I have been told there is a director of a gigantic direct marketing company that has helped that company bring in well over a billion in sales, who absolutely loves my policy, and wants to use it in a newsletter of his own, when he decides to go solo and launch his own venture.

Again, I heard that second hand.

But it certainly pleased me to hear it.

All right, one last thing about this:

My “no coming back” policy has always been rather fringe as far as the typical direct marketer thinks. Most can’t wrap their heads around why it’s good and more profitable to turn business away at times. And maybe I will write about this in more depth in an upcoming email or newsletter issue.

But for now?

I predict with the rise of subscription offers… and with businesses realizing how profitable creating & enforcing standards on those they sell to can be… and when they experience the time & frustration saved by not catering to the dishonest and/or uncommitted in their markets… my policy will eventually become the rule rather than the exception.

We shall see.

In the meantime:

To learn more about Email Players read the letter very carefully – so you have all the facts and know what to expect and what is expected of you – at this link: 

Ben Settle

One of the most harmful things spewed out in the marketing world to hapless newbies and normies trying to figure the game out but who still don’t know better is the so-called:

“law of attraction”

This’ll no doubt irk people who teach that severely flawed idea.

But too bad.

I won’t say it never works. Even a broken clock is right twice per day, after all. But it’s a terrible concept to build a business around. And it is an even worse concept to live life by.

For one thing, you don’t attract what you think about.

You attract what you are.

That is why cheap-minded business owners are always bytching & moaning about how penny-pinching and miserly their customers are, or why marketers who use unethical methods are so paranoid about being scammed themselves:

They’re projecting.

I’ve never seen that not be the case in over 20 years up in this game.

I could easily list dozens more examples of this.

But the point is, the law of attraction is amateur on its best day.

Always has been, always will be.

All one has to do is look at the personal and professional lives of those who advocate it. Not the fake Facebook and TikTok life and businesses they pretend to have. But their actual personal lives and businesses. It’s rarely pretty. And is far more often beset by all kinds of abuse of vices, weird coping mechanisms, and desperate exaggerations of claims & lifestyle.

There are probably exceptions to this.

So any reply guys or gals reading this can relax.

They can go back to stroking their dog-eared copy of Think & Grow Rich like Gollum stroking the One Ring while trying to hamster spin away why Napoleon Hill died dirt broke.

Anyway, the main reason I bring this up?

Because what works far more reliably, more efficiently, and more consistently is the good ol’:

“Law of the Jungle”

In my experience it not only beats the fake law of attraction all to hell, but can make selling your offers — especially the really expensive and high ticket offers — almost as simple as falling out of a chair if you have your marketing game dialed in.

The Law of the Jungle the way I am talking about means this:

We pursue that retreats, and we retreat from that pursues.

And probably the single most profitable thing a business can do is to use this law to create conditions where customers, JV opportunities, high-quality vendors, and everyone else you prefer to do business with and associate with pursues you, instead of you pursuing them.

I can only speak for my own business here.

But the above not only creates better positioning for my business, it also creates far better customers and an all-around better business experience.

All of which begs the question:

How do you get customers chasing you?

There are many ways to do it, Chuckles.

And in my experience, it’s a natural by product of using email the way I teach in Email Players.

More info here:

Ben Settle

A recent voicemail transcript from a “consultant” I got about my Villains books:

(Some details redacted to protect the guilty)

Hi, I’m leaving a message for Ben Settle, author of the book Supervillains Persuasion. Hi, Ben. My name is ___. I’m a senior consultant for ____, and I’m reaching out to you because your book has the potential to be more successful in the publishing world. And you have here already 3 books for success villains.

I’m wondering, what have you done so far for this?

You have here a very impressive, number of reviews from Amazon, wondering if this was being acquired already by a traditional publisher. I mean, you have from the book one you have already 286 rating.

So that’s really, that’s a really impressive already.

So I’m here right now more on focusing to your 3rd book then which is the lowest rating among these 3 books.

So I’m wondering what have you done so far for this?

And as well as what I’ve checked here right now for this book. It was independently published by you. So if you have any marketing strategy, we can help you to enhance it. If you don’t have one, we can talk about marketing and have it settle or have this, have your book being to maximize the exposure. I know that you know that we need a structure campaign for your book that will bridge the gap of your book’s unexplored potential. Because no matter how good the story of your book here, if people doesn’t know that your book exists, it’s totally useless.

So Ben, I would like to discuss more the opportunity for your books.

If you receive this message, give me a call at____ extension number 3149. Again, ____. Extension number 3149. And I’m available for Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Pacific.

Thank you and have a nice day.

I get this sort of thing sometimes.

And I always wonder how many people are dumb enough to fall for it?

I will never know.

But in this case, it was a useful.

Because it made me realize just how low the bar is for selling books — especially high-ticket books, and other offers. Including books like fiction that aren’t even “how to”, and are just pure entertainment.


Last year, I got the idea to create an offer selling my Enoch Wars: Omega Edition (all 7 novels plus a bonus 8th novel, along with appendices, etc, under one cover) for a turkey-busting $10,000.00.

Yes, my little Who-ling, ten thousand dollars.

  • For a book less than .000000000000000001% of the population has ever heard of.
  • From a non-famous author with a modest-sized list.
  • Selling something that brings no “value” whatsoever other than pure entertainment — and even that is dependent on the person reading it, as some people have outright hated the novels.

(The books ain’t exactly Shakespeare.)

At this point, it’s perfectly reasonable for someone to ask:

“Is it really possible to sell copies of a novel for $10k a pop in this case?”

My answer:

I cannot say for sure, as I haven’t done it yet.

And even though I am changing the above plan slightly since I am doing away with the Omega edition (the Omega edition is the first 7 books, plus a bonus 8th book…. but now that I have written a 9th book that 8th bonus book will soon sell on its own, making the Omega edition obsolete)… I believe it is not only possible, but very probable.

I doubt this will matter to many people reading this.

But it seems significant since I am talking about selling high ticket offers – which is one of many profitable things my email methods can help most businesses do.

Subscription info here:

Ben Settle

A reader asks my humble opinion:

Hi Ben,

Given your respect for Tolkien, I’m curious how you would’ve recommended Amazon deal with all the negative feedback they received for Rings of Power. For example, I suspect you would have recommended they take a different approach than erasing negative reviews.


I haven’t seen the show nor do I have any desire to.

That said:

It smelled like Amazon was in deep dog pewp the second they started pulling a Disney by manipulating reviews, blaming the fanbase instead of its converged writers/directors for so many people not liking it, trotting out actors from the old movies to paint everyone who didn’t like it as trolls, racists, sexists, yada yada yada.

The solution Amazon could have done?

What Tom Cruise and the creators of the recent Top Gun sequel did:

1. Hire content creators who respect the fanbase & lore

2. Create content those fans want to consume in the first place

Otherwise you get the idiotic Star Wars sequel trilogy, the unwatchable last season of Game of Thrones, and, yes, “it’s so good we had to scrub away all the bad reviews!” Rings of Power, She-Hulk, and other shows/movies that rely on getting hate watched to have any significant numbers.

That’s free advice to Amazon they didn’t ask for.

But, even if they had, probably wouldn’t take anyway.

And yes:

All this applies to any other kind of content too.

Especially high-ticket content that costs hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Speaking of which:

One of many things my email methods help businesses with is selling high-ticket content. Including content that cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

More info on the newsletter here:

Ben Settle

Yesterday I listed some controversial people I have been influenced by in my marketing & copywriting, and not everyone was pleased with a few of the names on ye olde list.

But it’s like I tell people who say they are offended by something I write:

“It’s okay if you’re offended, don’t worry about it.”

There’s also a teaching moment here.

You need not “approve” of everything someone thinks to learn from them.

Take two of the books in my Audible library, for example.

One of them is the bio of Vladimir Lenin.

And another is Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.

I don’t like either one of them worth a dayem or approve of what they stood for one iota. But I’d bet someone else’s left testicle I’ll learn some valuable ideas from them I can use — without engaging in genocide or domestic terrorism — in business, marketing, copywriting, and selling.

Fun times ahead…

So that’s my take on that.

For more takes from my side of the business aisle go here:

Ben Settle

Came an email not-too-terribly long ago from an ex-Email Players subscriber:

“hey ben – I run a list right of 5K+ agency owners/freelancers. big fan do what you: we spoke about this. worth exploring a potential JV?”

My answer?

With one or two extremely rare exceptions I only JV with Email Players subscribers. And there are even fewer exceptions with former subscribers who have frozen themselves out of the running.

And that’s just the bare minimum requirement.

Why am I such a snob about these things?

Am I not missing out on some potential sales by limiting my JV options?

First, yes I am a big fat snob about who I do business with.

And secondly, I am also a big fat proponent of something self-made billionaire Sam Zell says in his book “Am I Being Too Subtle?” — about the importance of betting on the person and not on the deal.

And the fact is, deals are a dime a dozen.

There is no shortage of deals.

If anything, there are too many options for deals floating around.

But there very much is a shortage of the kind of people I like to joint venture with. And the first “cut” one must make is being an Email Players subscriber. Email Players of the Horde tend to be “my” kind of people. And they are more likely to sell offers that are in line with what I do, believe, and teach when it comes to the game of business and marketing.

Frankly my ways aren’t even compatible with most other stuff out there.

This becomes abundantly clear to Email Players subscribers rather quickly.

And I even have an entire philosophy around this principle.

There are many more criteria I use, too.

But being an Email Players subscriber is the bare minimum.

Word to the wise and all that jazz.

All right on to the business.

More fun inside the Email Players newsletter here:

Ben Settle

Double Your Sales With Email

World Leader In Email Copywriting Education is Giving AwayTips For Doubling Sales With Email Right Now

Use the button below to open his daily email tips & a free digital copy of the prestigious Email Players newsletter

  • Book & Tabloid Newsletter Publisher
  • Email Supremacist
  • Alt-Copywriter
  • Software Investor
  • Pulp Novelist

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