$6,000 for Writing Words

by Tim Francis on March 9, 2012

Recently my buddy and I made $6K on Kijiji with a single ad.  Here’s what we did, PLUS the exact ad we used.

We had two rooms for rent and needed to fill them… fast.

As you know, when a rental room goes empty for even one day, that revenue opportunity POOF! vanishes forever.  Can’t sell yesterday’s empty room today you know?  Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever…

What we did

To be clear – our Kijiji ad didn’t do all the work.  Far from it.  Our house is attractive, my buddy did a great job qualifying leads and following-up, and I impressed prospects with cleaning and showing.  So I’m not trying to wave some pixie dust here about Kijiji or anything.

Our experience over 5 years, though, is that getting people to inquire is by far the hardest part.  And that’s the sole responsibility of our advertising.  Doesn’t matter if we’re offering a mansion for $1, if no one calls, we’re S-O-L.

For example, in the past we’ve had 300 pageviews on Kijiji with ZERO inquiries.  People are clearly looking at our ad, but the damn phone doesn’t ring – ARGH!!!

So that ad plays a crucial role in the sales process.

I cheated.  And I’m beaming with pride because of it.

As a full-time pro marketer with multiple clients, I have a larger arsenal of marketing tools than the typical landlord.  They often have bigger real estate portfolios and budgets than my one-trick sideshow, but – for what I’ve got – I’m hitting it hard and mobilizing every marketing resource I’ve got.

Recently I’ve been building my copywriting skills.  I’m not talking about legally protecting something – that would be “copyRIGHTING”.  I mean the other, less-known homonym “copyWRITING”: improving my persuasiveness in sales writing.  Also known as writing copy, or “copywriting”.

What is Copywriting?

Copywriting is all around us.  It’s the choice of words in any communication: the script of a sales video, the script of an infomercial, the headline of a credit card offer,  the text of a website, email, blog post, tweet or facebook update.  It’s all “copy”.

It may shock you to learn that the world’s top copywriters make millions per year to write ads and infomercials.  But if you think of how many millions of dollars informercials make, mail-in credit card offers generate, etc, etc, etc, those companies are actually getting a bargain.

Think of it – the copywriter is basically building a little salesperson that marches out to tens of thousands of people (letter, video, email, infomercials, etc) and works it’s ass off to make a sale.

Little-known aspect of Copywriting

Copywriting actually has a second component to it, beyond the words.  Copy is also all about constructing what you offer and how you offer it.

I’m studying John Carlton right now – a world-class copywriter – and he often says that your headline and opening sections get people “up on the fence”, then your closing including bonuses, guarantees, special offers, etc, are there to knock prospects “off the fence” and into buying.

Yes – the 3-payment plan, 12-month money-back guarantee, and bonus steak knives really do work, and that’s why they been continually used for decades now.

The Strangest Ad on Kijiji

Knowing that we needed to fill these vacancies ASAP, I thought – HEY now is as good as ever to see if these copy skills can make us some money!

The only problem is that nearly every Kijiji goes like this:

“3 bed, 2 bath, non-smoking home.  enjoy your own separate bath.  close to transit and university area.  owners are quiet, non-partiers.  $500/mo + DD.  Call Karen at 555-55555 to book a viewing.”

So writing a long, online sales letter would be completely foreign.  My alien ad would be the ugly duckling on the entirety of Kijiji.

…BUT WAIT – is that really a problem?  Or maybe a huge opportunity to stand out?  Here’s what I came up with…

Live With Normal People,
Get Your Own Space
(No More Snoopy Family)
And Feel Proud of Where You Live!

Come live in St. Albert’s coolest, CLEANEST townhouse for people under-30 that have a life
– career, travel, business, whatever floats your boat…

PLUS: The Most Outrageous Rental Offer On All of Kijiji! (keep reading…)

Hi, my name is Tim Francis and I own a safe, friendly townhouse in St. Albert with one single room for rent. It’s available immediately, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

I’ll Question Your Sanity if You Don’t Call After Reading This…

I will give you $20.00 just to come over and look at the place. You don’t need to rent the place or make any commitments of any kind – literally just SHOW UP and the twenty bones is yours.

Why Would I Do Such a Thing? I own my own business and time is money. I know it seems too good to be true, but bear with me… the sooner I can get this roommate thing dealt with the sooner I can focus on my business again – and I’m willing to part with 20 bucks to make it happen. Know what I’m sayin?

How Do You Qualify?

Pick up the nearest phone, dial 555-555-5555, and speak with my partner in crime, Kyle McNeil. We’re heterosexual life mates (i.e. good friends, not lovers). We own this place together.

We’re expecting a tidal wave of calls on this one; he’s taking care of booking viewings; I’m taking care of showing you the place.

(The reason his # is area code 403 is because he’s working in Calgary these days. If you’re on a super tight budget, and don’t want to call long distance, just text Kyle at 555-555-5555 and he’ll call you right back.)

Curious About Who We Are?

Watch our Video Tour.  Simply copy and paste
this URL to your web browser:

This Once-in-a-Lifetime Offer Will

This $20.00-for-showing-up offer won’t last long. The precise nanonsecond that we find the winning roommate, we’re pulling this offer off the internet.

We’ve got it advertised in no fewer than 64 places online, so – make no mistake – tons of eyeballs will see this thing.

There’s only one room available immediately, and if someone else beats you to the punch, well… you won’t get $20 for checking us out (or the chance to live with us for that matter).

Call or text Kyle now. 555-555-5555.

About the Place


  • Your OWN Space: nobody likes snoopy roommates or – even worse – a probing mother that always nags you about what you’re doing.


  • Independent Vibe: this place is totally focused on you (and us) having our freedom to do whatever we want. It’s a prime place for you to build your own independent life. We’re all working on buidling our respective careers and businesses, and would be supporting you as you do the same.


  • Safe & Comfortable: we’ve all passed a criminal record check, and you would be expected to do the same. You’ll sleep easily at night knowing your stuff is safe, and – more importantly – you are too. Over the years we’ve had multiple female roommates, and they’ve all felt secure and cared about.


  • Rockstar Location: we are super close to the Henday, Yellowhead Trail, 170 St., St. Albert Trail – in 30 mins or less you’ll sprint to West Edmonton Mall, Whyte Ave, the U of A, Grant MacEwan, NAIT, downtown Edmonton, and – obviously – anywhere in St. Albert. Even the International Airport and IKEA are within 30 – 35 mins.


  • No Wheels? No Problem: we have a bus stop literally 38 steps from our front door – you are that close to transit in case you need to take a bus somewhere.


  • Chill Out: when life and work is just too much, go for a super-relaxing stroll along the trails by our place, even checkout a stunning sunset by the lake. Because of our location on the edge of the City, 7 mins of driving into the country, and you would will escape the madness of life.
3 Things I Would Worry About If I Were You

Based on my experience of living with roommates for 5 years now, this is what I suggest you look out for, whether it’s at our place or somewhere else:

  1. People: Most important thing of all is WHO you are living with. An inconsiderate, disorganized slob can make a mansion look like a madhouse, wreck your stuff, and keep you up all night while he plays music too loud. To be avoided at all costs.
  2. Place: Location, location, location. How pretty a place is will wear off. Just like a new car, after a few weeks you get used to it. Sooner or later the honeymoon phase always wears off, then you hafta LIVE with the dang thing. If you choose to live somewhere with a location that totally doesn’t suit your life, you’ll hate it more and more with every passing day.
  3. Price: Gotta be within your budget – ideally below budget so you aren’t in a pinch when life’s curveballs happen.

Of the three, though, the biggest one – by far – is #1. People.

Why Your Roommates Matter So Much

Location can be dealt with creatively, and if you’re a few bucks short some months you can probably pick up an extra shift, or talk to mom and dad.

But People on the other hand – will absolutely make or break a situation. Just think about it – you rarely ever hear about how nice the paint and drywall was in a house, but you’ll often hear nightmare stories about roommates. The People totally make or break it!

Our last roommate – Renee – was a student and server at a restaurant. She had this to say about us:

“These are some great inspiring individuals; definitely the type of roommates you want. Not snoopy, definitely clean, easy-going and sensible. It was sad leaving.”
– Renee, former roommate
Are You Still Reading This?

Whatcha doin’?

Pickup the nearest phone, and give Kyle a call already! Call or text Kyle now. 555-555-5555.

And if you don’t get through just leave him a voicemail message including your phone number. In the message, say “Come on Kyle, call me back already!!!”

(and if you seriously want to take matters into your own hands, just call him back over and over until he finally answers… take the bull by the horns you know!)

If phone isn’t your style, or you don’t have time right now to call, then simply fill out this box below and Kyle will get in touch with you via phone and email.

Hope to hear from you soon! I wanna give you that crisp $20 bill… before it’s gone!

Tim :)

P.S. With the $20-just-to-come-over-and-look deal in place, you have absolutely nothing to lose, and everything to gain.  You’ll get $20, and maybe even an awesome new place to live.  Worst-case scenario, is that you make $20 just to look.  Total no-brainer.  And as strange as it would seem to get paid just to look at our place, believe me – my business really needs meso the $20 makes total sense to me.

P.P.S. There’s some truly weird people out there.  Respond to our ad and you’ll see for yourself that we’re totally normal, cool people.  Just a few mins on the phone and you’ll realize that everything is good… you’ll move in with confidence :)


So What Happened After the Ad went Live on Kijiji?

Before I reveal the results, I will point out that I got skewered by some friends and – frankly – really intelligent business people when they saw this ad online.  I look up to these leaders, so it was challenging to deal with.

Their warnings included:

  • the $20 is ridiculous – you’re going to get ripped off by dishonest people who come over just to get the cash!
  • you’re going to attract low-quality people who are desperate for money
  • you’re going to get such a flood of requests you’re never going to be able to show it properly to anyone
  • this looks cheezy
  • no one is going to read an ad that long

That’s when I remembered a lesson from long ago:

3 Steps to Finding Flawless Advice

  1. Find someone who has already succeeded at what you want to do.
  2. Copy them.
  3. Ignore everyone else.

…this became a little tricky when I considered how wicked-smart many of these businesspeople are.

But I finally stepped back and said: “Ok – let’s get specific.  I’m learning copywriting from John Carlton who has literally sold millions of dollars with this exact style of sales letter, and has had dozens of students learn from him with spectacular results in a wide variety of industries.  That’s what I want here.  Listen to John, ignore everyone else.”

Time for a leap of faith….

Results of my Ridiculous, Too-Long, Too-Cheezy, Too-Bottom-of-The-Barrel Pro-Copywritten Kijiji Ad

350 views of our ad.

5 inquiries.

3 turned into viewings

2 have signed 6-month, $500/mo rental agreements.


…maybe I should say $5,940 because I had to give away $60 cash to the 3 viewers, but I’ll take it.

Take-away Lessons

1) Me Tarzan.  Her Jane.

Sometimes I think of myself as more sophisticated, intelligent, efficient, refined, civilized than our ancestors.

Nope.  At least not when buying.  You and me, our buying decisions haven’t changed since two cavemen fought over one cavewoman.  Things like:

  • Fear
  • Greed
  • Sex
  • Pleasure
  • Loss
  • Scarcity
  • Safety
  • (and many more!)

…have been with us since the dawn of man, and always will be.  To think our customer’s suit and tie, university education, or high-powered title changes any of that is simply false.

So figure out what they deeply desire, then massage that tender spot again and again.

2) Surprisingly, Length is a Total Non-Issue

If someone isn’t interested in what you’re selling, they won’t read whether your ad is 10 words or 10,000 words.  So ignore them – the length of your ad literally makes no difference to them.

Think of your own choices: when you pick up a newspaper, do you read the whole thing?  No.  You pick out a few sections and read those.  But even then you don’t read every story, you skim for headlines that excite you.

If someone isn’t interested in you, they’ll just skim by whether you are 10 words long or 10,000.

But those that ARE interested in what I have to offer, why wouldn’t I sell them as deeply and thoroughly as necessary?  Highlight thrilling features and benefits, anticipate then smash objections, seduce with no-brainer offers, and establish supreme confidence with complete risk elimination.  Why wouldn’t you want to do that?

If a sales letter or ad or any piece of copy is basically a salesperson working for you, wouldn’t you want that salesperson to spend as much time as they needed to to completely sell a prospect?

Legacy of Long Letters

My lessons here would come as no surprise to anyone that has studied copywriting.  My new lessons aren’t new at all.  My experience simply confirms what multi-millionaire marketers and entrepreneurs have known for decades…

Length doesn’t matter.  Use emotionally captivating copy til the job is done.

Things to think about…

Onwards and Upwards,

Tim :)

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Pete March 9, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Damn… great article Tim, easy to read with very interesting take aways. Thanks!


Sandra Mattar January 2, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Thanks Tim – great article! Very timely too as I’m putting up my business for sale!


Stephen January 3, 2013 at 12:11 am

Hi Tim,
What an awesome marketing campaign. I am impressed. The copy was fun, interesting, captivating, and compelling.


Trina February 18, 2013 at 1:50 am

Love it Tim! Excellent job and all true!!


Johannes March 24, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Hi Tim

Well done and thanks for sharing. I just finished reading some Halbert stuff and just started Collier. This is good stuff and a well executed sales letter. Ver inspirational.



Tim Francis March 24, 2014 at 9:58 pm

It’s now a full year since writing this post, and I continue to have 100% occupancy on all the rooms in my home. This ad is now an asset to me just as much as the real estate it advertises.

Recently I received comments from prospective renters such as: “This ad is genius”, “By far the best rental ad I’ve ever seen”, “I was looking for a one-bedroom apartment, stumbled across your ad and now I want to live at your place!”

And of course the ad’s strength repels some away too: “This is possibly the creepiest ad I’ve ever seen” and “Are you trying to start some kind of hippie, Entrepreneur commune?”

….why yes, yes I am :).



Tom Adams March 27, 2014 at 9:10 am


Fabulous. This is a great explanation of how great marketing chops can serve you in so many aspects of your life. On top of that, I love the way you’ve positioned your rental… not as a room but as an entrepreneurial incubator of sorts. Really nice. Thanks for sharing your story and the results.


Tim Francis March 27, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Thanks Tom! Meeting with interested candidates has been fascinating: some aren’t even entrepreneurs, yet they still want to move in because they love the order, cleanliness, and energy of the house. Propsects know we’re committed to “going places” in life and want to be surrounded by it, even if their life’s journey has a different direction. Didn’t expect that, but gladly welcome it :)


Aaron August 14, 2014 at 9:36 am

I am copying the crap out of this once we’re able to dump our realtor next month who’s been trying to sell our house now for 10 months and hasn’t brought us a single offer. You may have just saved us close to $10k. Thanks Tim!


Tim Francis August 20, 2014 at 2:05 am

Awesome… copy away! Hopefully everything works out with your home sale :).

How did you find my blog post in the first place?



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