Inspire Change Through Words

33 Copywriting & Messaging Principles For The Rising Personal Development Star


Personal Development Copywriting & Messaging Principle #4: Play On The Edge Of Darkness

There are opportunities hidden in places many people are too afraid to go. 

This is a bit of a lesson in the dark arts, so be careful. But it’s a good idea to get acquainted with the dark side. 

Here’s how positioning works. You have one axis for the outcomes your service provides, and one with a market. Most of your competitors will be scattered around somewhere:

So you focus on a position you can own.

Here’s the broad stroke: I help women make more money, find love, and live a complete life with both.

More focused: I help female entrepreneurs scale their business while managing their relationships or finding the love of their lives. 

What no one thinks about are the edges:

Personal Development Offers That Thrive In The Dark

There was a woman I knew who’s no longer practicing who taught sex workers how to make more money at clubs and how to manage their finances, get out of debt, and do it all while being a mom and partner. She made a lot of money. Personally, I don’t believe it to be all that criminal and “dark.” But this offer lived on the edges, near the dark side of personal development. 

If you go to the Clickbank affiliate marketplace and browse the self-help section, you’ll see tons of other offers that thrive in the dark: how to get women to be friends with benefits, how women can trick men into being obsessed with them. These exist because there’s demand. 

But Why Men Love Bitches by Sherry Argov sold four million copies by dancing on the edge of darkness, and Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules For Life” has sold five million copies, and helped hundreds of thousands of people find meaning in their lives, regardless of his controversial opinions. Be elastic, Superstar, and don’t be afraid of the dark. 

Example #1: College Admissions

This is an example of how playing on the edges can end very badly. 

There are plenty of “get your kid ready for college” coaching programs.

And yes, there are even coaches or tutors hired by parents who want to best prepare their kids to get into the Ivy League. These services are valuable, and when the provider delivers, everyone wins: parents get an Ivy League kid, the kid realizes their self-worth, and the coach gets paid to help facilitate their happiness.

However, an investigation in 2019 discovered a wide-ranging, $25 million scheme devised by one man to inflate test scores and bribe college officials at seven top universities. Tons of people—including well-known actors and prominent businesspeople—got charged as criminals. 

All because their desire drove them over the edge of darkness.

Example #2: Seth Godin’s Purple Cow

This is less of an example and more of a handbook on how to keep yourself balanced as you stand at the border between light and dark. In case you haven’t read this seminal marketing book, the idea is that people get tired of seeing the same old brown cows. 

But what if you saw a purple cow? You’d stop and stare. 

A purple cow = a remarkable product. 

There are some that say Seth’s approach is an oversimplification. A closer look at those who’ve dared to play on the edges make a strong case: for every factory line furniture retailer, there’s an Ikea. For every stale period of lukewarm hip hop music, there’s a Kendrick Lamar. There’s Amelia Earhart, who became a flying symbol of equality before disappearing over the edge. Or, there’s an Oprah Winfrey who wasn’t afraid to stare down the faces of middle America while the camera rolled.

The self-help world was deflated and bogged down by the same repetitive drawl, then one day a book with the word F*CK on the cover appeared everywhere, and Mark Manson became a popular figure almost overnight. 

Ariana Huffington went after lesbians and the radical feminist Germaine Greer in her book The Female Woman. And don’t forget she founded the Huffington Post along with our dearly departed Andrew Breitbart—his Breitbart News outlet these days mostly associated with far-right figures such as Steve Bannon et al. Now people bounce around at Thrive Global events like a liberal new-age cult.



Copywriting & Messaging Principle #5: Walk Backwards Through Time

The emotional path that your market carves through time can be traced. Follow it. Understand it. Then lead them towards a better life, for the prosperity of you both.

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