CN#11. Ben Settle: Copywriter extraordinaire with a 40,000 list


TYPE: Professional

FREQUENCY: Daily (7 days)

PURPOSE: Sales of Ben Settle's copywriting newsletter, affiliate products, and occasional classified advertising.





SUBJECT LINE: How Hollywood’s most bizarre & reclusive movie director creates frothing-at-the-mouth fans

DESIGN: No masthead. Plain text. No pictures.

Like most Ben Settle emails, there’s a story-led approach. In this one the story's about how film director David Lynch built a cult following, leading to astonishing film sales without need of the usual Hollywood marketing hype.

Why is he telling his reader this apparently random tale? Well, it's interesting, and there's a good point to it, which Ben is coming to.

The point is by building a brand, just like Lynch did, any business can generate sales almost by default.

And in the case of email marketing and newsletters, the subject that Ben specialises in, he tells people that even just relentlessly sending emails, so long as they are well written and attached to a brand, can bring home the bacon.

Here's the email in full:

My opinion: 

Hollywood is an irredeemable swamp & cesspool.

But there are some lessons the wise marketer can extract from it. 

Take movie director David Lynch, for example.

I can’t say I like or understand all David Lynch movies. I did mostly enjoy the original Twin Peaks (not the movie, and haven't seen the new show) and Blue Velvet, though. And I have been applying one thing he does in all his films and TV shows to email for years that's been quite profitable. 

But a while back I remember reading an article in The Guardian about him.

And I took notes on some of the more interesting success-related lessons within.

Like, for example:

* Lynch is a "Mission first" guy through and through.

* Which is how he generates so much loyalty from people who should hate him, and despite him avoiding people via his being extremely reclusive.

* He's a filmmaker who rarely watches movies.

* Whether purposely or accidentally, he has mastered the art and craft of creating a status about himself, where even if someone thinks his work is dog shyt, they will call him a genius while badgering anyone who disagrees.

And the list goes on.

Here is why I bring this up:

David Lynch is an example of someone with an especially powerful personal brand to those who know him - both those who like him or his movies and those who can't stand him or his movies. That brand makes his movies sell and his ideas taken seriously by his core fans by "default." If they see a Lynch movie advertised, they are going, no trailer or hype required, and very likely bringing friends.

Sales by default is a beautiful thing for any business.

And it’s something I have seen happen simply via relentless daily emails.

Over time, this phenomenon can happen automatically.

You just have to do the work of sending the emails.

And, also, do the work of learning how to write the emails.

For help on that, check out the Email Players newsletter.

Details here:


Ben Settle

He takes an interesting story about something most people might know a little about (film director David Lynch), adds something you probably didn't know, then manages to slide it neatly towards the link selling his wares.

For subscribers, this happens every day, often with the same product being plugged, but the copy is engaging, interesting, and gets-you-to-the-end-of-the-email (or at least it does me).

The aim of a line of copy is to make you read the next line, and there are plenty of techniques for achieving this on display.

The reader gets intrigue, bold statements, pace changes (several shortish, equal length lines, followed by an extra long paragraph) vulgar words (for shock but spelling changed to soften the blow), a deliberately controversial personal opinion, and finally the relevant swerve to the link.

There are probably more than a few other copywriting techniques I’m not even recognising.

The purpose of the email is to get you to subscribe to Email Players, his $97-a- month paper (yes, paper) newsletter on copywriting and email selling.

If he gets you to the end, there’s a much greater chance you’ll be sold on the concept, and a greater chance you’ll become a subscriber. The copy is all about increasing those chances.

It’s plain text infotainment, with a purpose.

Ben Settle sends at least one email a day to his list (one day I counted 6), of varying length and subject matter. But they’re always plain text with no illustrations or fancy formatting, simple to output, you just have to write them.

They’re usually led by eye-catching and curiosity-inducing headlines such as:

“Why I should not be allowed anywhere near a crypto wallet”

“Advice to raw and “wriggling” newbie writers”

“Customers who love being lied to”

“Steve Jobs & the sound byte of doom”

The copy can be a story, a response to a reader’s clever or stupid comment, or a 241-word extended quote from Steve Jobs.

The variety is part of the attraction. Although after a while you can guess the kind of thing that’s being sold, clever wordsmithery and a bolshy attitude means you keep opening for the fun and admiration of the craft.


It’s simple. The newsletter uses direct response copywriting techniques to sell a subscription newsletter and many kinds of affiliate products.

The main audience is copywriters.


What’s being advertised, or more accurately direct sold, includes:

  1. The “very expensive” (Ben Settle) $97 a month, the fashion-shunning paper & ink newsletter, sent by smail mail, featuring a mixture of email, copywriting, marketing, & other business teachings. It’s aimed at people who have a (email or direct mail) list and an offer (something to sell). Readers can ask the editor, self-styled as “Yours Crotchety”, questions by email. The commitment to paper is interesting with frequently quoted users explaining how they enjoy reading it in the toilet and in bed as an escape from the screen.
  2. An email broadcasting & autoresponder platform.
  3. Ben Settle’s latest new book.
  4. Membership of a small curated community. “A shamelessly self-serving place to shill my books, newsletters, novels, offers, software platforms, and anything else frying up in my psyche I want to talk about.”
  5. A learning and publishing platform
  6. A crypto currency training program

7. Classified advertising sharing the newsletter with 10 other advertisers for $2,500 if you are an Email Players subscriber and $5,000 if you're not.


It’s not clear how Ben Settle gets new subscribers other than word of mouth, and the occasional appearance on a podcast.

He's been writing for more than 20 years and has some appreciative testimonials from the copywriting world's big hitters, which can only help.


The multi-billion dollar direct response marketing industry has proved over and again how long, clever copy works (sells). So I’m surprised it's not more widely adopted by publishers and internet businesses, particularly in the sale of information products.

I don’t know the reason, but I suspect there’s a kind of snobbery going on that looks down at the business of selling. I’ve got a clue it might be because of the dubious financial products flogged using these techniques.

Aside from that, there's much to learn if you sign up for the daily email here (and I'm not being paid a penny, by the way):

✅ How to sell with a story

✅ Evidence email is all you need to create significant sales activity

✅ Compelling subject lines, a unique writing style and persona (create your own)

✅ One of the best examples of an email newsletter with clear purpose - to sell

Playbook on being a welcome guest rather than an irritating pest

✅ A 7-day-a-week copywriting showcase

I sent Ben Settle a few questions. He declined to answer, saying anyone could work out his business model by deduction. That’s true. It’s all there in the emails.

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