Few great businessmen have ever reached such stratospheric heights and stumbled as far as the infamous Gary Halbert.
During his lifetime Gary became an unquestioned master of direct sales letters.
Every bit as talented as , Gary saw all his hard work go down the drain during a stint at Boron Federal Prison in Nevada, but rose to the top once again by the end of his life.
Yet despite the grim circumstances of prison life behind barbed wire fences, Gary used his time wisely and created what would become his most famous work in the .
These candid conversations between Gary and his son Bond were Gary’s way of teaching Bond the art of copywriting at the young age of 16 years old. The letters are touching, insightful, and outright one of the best lessons on writing ever put together.
In just 25 short letters Gary left so much detailed wisdom to Bond that practically any writer can enhance their craft just by a quickly clicking through them. (Note: The letters require you to sign up for an email list, but are otherwise completely free to read.)
But just in case you can’t be bothered to enter an email address, here are Gary’s most important lessons from The Boron Letters.
1. Keep Moving
Halbert never let anything stop him from improving himself.
Even a federal prison sentence for mail fraud didn’t stop him from creating numerous direct mail order ideas for Bond to use.
Keeping yourself moving is great advice when you are struggling with a bout of writer’s block.
Rather than avoiding that pesky project, put the pen down to the paper and write about anything that comes into your mind.
The act of writing, even if it’s gibberish, will do far more for you than starring at YouTube videos.
2. Become a student of markets
Gary was a huge proponent of knowing what people were buying first, and then creating a product for a carefully chosen segment of the marketplace. Gary’s long body of success helped prove that a good product in a hot market will almost always outsell a great product in a lousy one.
Bushels of money can be yours too if you find a profitable niche and create a product to satisfy its needs.
3. Describe the world around you
I bet you noticed the bushels of money comment didn’t you? That little gem is actually Halbert’s and it shows his true mastery of descriptive writing.
From Gary’s writing we learn that it wasn’t just hot at Boron Prison, it was so sweltering that Halbert needed a “blue handkerchief” just to stop from sweating on the paper.
Your stories will come alive like Gary’s just by describing what you are seeing, smelling, and felling.
4. Even in business your family comes first
Gary won and lost a fortune enough times that he could have set a land speed record, but he never let money take over his family life.
The Boron Letters are first and foremost about making sure Bond got the fatherly advice kids so desperately need in their formative years.
Halbert knew teaching his son would brighten up his day more than any $40 million sales letter ever could.
Never forget those who you care about most.
5. You don’t need to act tough; you need to be tough.
Without ever shanking anyone, people knew not to mess with Gary at Boron. Gary was notorious for cutting people out of his life who were not positive influences rather than surrounding himself with people who wanted to see him fail.
This lesson bears repeating: Surround yourself with well-minded people if you want to have to be successful. All the fights in the world won’t make you appear anywhere near as tough as continually dominating your niche in life.
6. Be a copycat
Put together a collection of the all-time best direct sales letters and copy them down word for word.
This is easily the easiest to implement piece of advice to Bond, and one that can improve any writer’s ability.
Over time copying down others masterpieces will help your own words mimic theirs.
7. Short and readable text
Readers love brevity so you would do well to make most of your writing easy to follow. Keep sentences short and paragraphs to 3-4 sentences.
Parentheses are another neat trick that helps provide eye relief for your audience. (Not to mention a chance to make witty remarks)
Breaks in your text like these will help keep your readers glued to the screen longer.
8. Catch their attention
Are you more likely to read a plain letter about real estate, or a letter about Hawaiian beach front properties with a bag of sand attached to it?
Gary perfected the art of using specific locations and relevant mementos like a bag of sand to make an impression in the readers mind.
In fact it must have worked, because most of his best-selling letters contained some form of attention grabbing object.
This technique is still used by internet marketers today, but just with a free e-book, or white paper as a substitute for a physical object. Don’t miss your opportunity to follow his winning formula.
9. Write headlines so effective that they will still pull decades later
The headline “” made Halbert a killing back when it was written in 1973. But as the comments on the link show, even 38 years later the ad still draws plenty of interest from buyers.
The power of a simple headline that delivers your message in a clear fashion is essentially self-explanatory here. Make a headline that offers what your market wants and you too can make a killing.
The ultimate collection of FREE writing lessons around?
The Boron Letters are about as thorough a writing education as you can get in such a short time. Requiring less than 2 hours to read, these 25 letters still manage to pack an emotional punch stronger than most inmates.
But don’t stop there, because every single newsletter at tells a great story with lessons from a master writer at the top of his game.
So if you want to find out became of Bond’s copywriting career, or how Gary picked himself up and amassed another fortune after his time at Boron, check out rest Gary’s .