What is Sleazy Copywriting and What to Do Instead

I have a vendetta against bromarketing and sleazy copywriting. If you follow me on Instagram, or if you’re on my email list, you already know that. A huge part of my entrepreneurial journey as a copywriter and a copywriting coach has been dedicated to formulating non-sleazy and non-manipulative approaches to marketing and copy. In this post I introduce you to the ethical copywriting framework I came up with.


I was watching a YouTube video today about why 95% of copywriting businesses fail. The host starts off the video saying, and I paraphrase, “It’s true that people can make an amazing income from copywriting. The bad news is it’s probably not gonna be you. But I can help you

That is when the alarm went off in my head. See, when I talk about sleazy copywriting and doing away with it, this is what I mean. That statement in italics up there, is a prime example of sleazy copywriting. Let me tell you why:



Problem – 95% of copywriting businesses fail.

Agitation – “it’s probably not gonna be you.”.

Solution – The rest of the video is the host swooping in to rescue you from this terrible fate that would certainly befall you if it wasn’t for him.

It’s an age old formula, and it’s worked successfully for a long time now. So what the heck is my problem? It’s that I’m a stickler for ethics and treating people right.

Since I started off my entrepreneurial journey, I have been taken aback by how many businesses run by making their audience feel terrible about themselves. Of course in retrospect it’s very obvious, but it felt new at the time. Anti aging creams feeding on the insecurities of women going through a perfectly natural process, bromarketers shaming people for being poor, so they can sell their courses, slimming teas, the list goes on.

The “Problem – Agitate – Solve” model will continue working for a very long time for a specific kind of audience. But audience is not an unchanging monolith. As our values change, our culture changes, and so does what appeals to us. Marketing needs to adapt to these new kinder values, especially when you’re a coach or a course creator.

When I first started learning copywriting, I came across a YouTube channel with copywriting tutorials that has a huge following. I binge watched those videos, and for a while I couldn’t get enough.

But after about 50 videos, I started noticing a pattern which made my heart sink. This guru’s entire strategy was to talk about how he hustled and got rich, and how freaking amazing he is, and shaming his audience for not being the same. The scripts of his videos very much follow the problem – agitate – solve formula.

That’s when I stopped following him and looked for a kinder approach that works just as well. And that was the beginning of my journey into ethical copywriting.


What is a kinder model that works?

Try this instead :



Let’s try the same concept we started with, but using this formula:

Problem: 95% of copywriting businesses fail.

Empathize: If you’re just starting out with copywriting, I understand that can be a scary prospect.

Empower: But once you combine your copywriting, a skill that you’re already excellent at, with some simple marketing strategies and persistence, there’s nothing standing in your way.

Guide: Let me show you how.

There. Much better. Now you try it.

Want me to check out your attempt and give you feedback? Join my Free Facebook Community and post it there.

Tahmina Ferdous

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