Interview with Peter Panda: “My success – luck? No, understanding the specifics of work, perseverance and a lot of work”

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Ekaterina Svyatova, copywriter since 2013, traveler, introduces you to an interview she conducted with copywriter Peter Panda.

Today the guest of our site is the journalist and TOP copywriter Peter Panda, the author of 3 books for copywriters. Founder of the “Panda-copywriting” project, forum of copywriters, owner of the site Here is what he says about himself:

“In 2012, I came to the Network. I had nothing but the desire to achieve and grow. I went through all the stages, from penny orders to working with holdings. In just 4 years, I achieved everything I wanted. And even more “Luck? No, understanding the specifics of the work, perseverance and a lot of work.”

Anyone who comes to freelancing wants to learn more about the success secrets of those who have successfully gone from beginner to pro.

Петр Панда, копирайтер

Peter, open at least a little the veil behind which the secrets of the success of a TOP copywriter are hidden. You have a journalistic background. Did you go freelancing because of the desire to work for yourself or without leaving home? I understand that everyone is individual, but I would like to know how long it took you to reach the level of earnings on “bread and butter”? (if the person will persistently follow your advice).

I went into freelancing because I realized that I couldn’t just burn myself in secondary roles. I had a certain potential, there were some inclinations, but all this was not realized even by a third.

Yes, I could go up somewhere in the profile profession, but I simply could not force myself. It’s like in love: well, you fell out of love, and that’s it. End. The same person, the same interiors, but pretending is no longer possible.

And so it happened to me. I just once realized that it would be better to earn, relatively speaking, five thousand and eat noodles, but at the same time my own boss, than fifty and caviar, but for my uncle and forcedly. I am lucky in that I have small enough needs to be happy, I have enough books and peace.

On bread and butter. After about three years, I began to earn quite well. But here everything is individual. Someone has a family, children, some parallel affairs. I’m a fanatic and married to work. So you can safely throw in another year or two for a normal indicator.

It is often said that journalism education does not guarantee success in copywriting. Why? After all, most of the way has already been covered here – the speed of writing, the ability to find news and information, how to process them, and much more, which a former engineer or economist encounters for the first time.

Копирайтер, расти

You have a very superficial understanding of journalism. In fact, journalists are the same ordinary students. They also fool around, fail the sessions and drink beer more often than they are on steam. You don’t need to be seven spans in the forehead to graduate from the faculty of journalism.

I will say even more terrible thing: there are few good journalists. As a rule, the most ordinary people come into the profession who have learned something, but not fully. Colleagues regularly write to me who believe that the title of “journalist” gives them something in terms of bonuses. In fact, almost nothing. On the contrary, it rather interferes. As the saying goes, to teach a scientist is only to spoil.

What about information processing? Well, just imagine. I have 5 notes per week. Well, I came, took an interview, wrote something. How did it help me process information? Same routine.

Yes, if you mean some experience in a major media outlet, and if you also wrote for the site, there are some bonuses. And that is only at the initial stage. For me, now, for example, the information processing skills are already out of the blue. But before it helped in something, yes.

In one of your interviews, you said that the proponent of self-learning copywriting is to read world-class copywriters, write daily, putting into practice what you read. But someone has to evaluate your creations, right? And, in my opinion, the independent path can become too long. I was wrong?

Why do you need someone else’s assessment of your creations? Why such a craving for someone else’s opinion?

In fact, this is a shaky indicator. Van Gogh did not sell a single painting during his lifetime, and Bulgakov was constantly hounded. Come on, giants, even in our profession, you can get 10 different reviews for the same text. Constantly waiting for someone’s assessment is stupid and dangerous.

It is better to look at the customers. Here is our barometer. Order? It means everything is OK. Raised prices and still ordering? Great, keep growing.

As for the independent path, in my time there simply were no those who could guide me along it. I read the works of people who presented themselves as teachers and did not see them as teachers. So I had to. If there is an intelligent mentor nearby, this is wonderful. Alas, most of the time it doesn’t. So it’s better on your own.

Should a copywriter choose his niche by topics and types of articles or try to learn how to write on different topics and formats (I don’t take narrow specifics)? Again analogy with journalism. After all, journalists, probably, also have different tasks. Moreover, they did not master any other specialty in life.

Do not confuse niches in copywriting with the tasks of journalists. Well, yes, today a journalist writes about cereals, tomorrow about sex in submarines. And still writes, as a rule, the same way. There are introductory, he writes. In his own style, according to the usual patterns. And then, a sports journalist, for example, is unlikely to undertake to write about the Baroque style. Stupidly not his.

The niche in copywriting is much wider. It’s like quitting driving a tractor and leaving to drive a race car. Well, yes, it was necessary to steer here and there, but there are a lot of nuances. It takes years of work to gain a foothold even in one niche and become a pro in it. Write the same commercial proposals, for example, but there are hundreds of nuances.

Peter, you recently ran 2 compelling positive writing marathons. You call it persuasive positive copywriting. How do you think it differs from other styles?

тексты, которым верят

It’s really a special style. As I said, at first I worked in it unconsciously, there was an understanding that something else was needed, but there was no clear vision. More came from the character, from the habit of communication in real life.

Then I noticed that some chips work regularly. Began to search. First in the dark, then, slowly, understanding began to come. Soon there were already some contours. As a result, in the fifth year of work, I sat down and put together all my knowledge. As a result, the book “Texts that are believed” appeared, completely devoted to this style.

It is lively and simple, yet versatile. I believe that this format of presentation is the future. Why? Because this is a combination of selling texts and positive – all that is so lacking in our age of monotonous informational texts.

Why did you want to write books? Have you been asked a lot of questions? Bursting with experience and knowledge? Or did you want to show expertise, as they teach at some trainings?

Books are always hemorrhoids. It is necessary to drop orders and go to work for several months. Considering that in four years I published three books, I had enough of this hemorrhoids. But without books, there would simply be no Peter Panda. It would be, of course. But different. Small and ordinary. Well, books are a way to shout “hey” loudly in the ear of their target audience. If you scream all the time. They will hear. Such are the things.

I can’t help but ask about your attitude to Glavred and his info style. According to the definition of its creator Ilyakhov – “Informational style is not really a style. These are editing techniques that help clean up the text from garbage, fill it with useful information and make it readable.” Some people think that infostyle dries up texts. The author’s style is lost and emotions are absent. Your opinion?

The only positive grain in the info style I see only in the fact that there are practical tips on working with text, its simplification. And those who have read Zinsser know that Ilyakhov simply called by his own name what had been working for a long time before him. It is quite a natural phenomenon – this is a “return” to, sorry, tons of shitty texts with water, which are scribbled by thousands of authors every day. The network is simply tired of the avalanches of nonsense, which is why it received it so well.

I myself don’t work in this style, I don’t check anything with any programs, and I prefer to have a dialogue with people and sell to them, rather than look at the numbers in the programs. So it’s not my style and never will be.

There is a lot of talk about storytelling these days. Do you use it in your texts? And, at least, an example of application.

Exactly what they only say, but they almost never apply it. I read a couple of books and several dozen articles about storytelling, but I never saw a simple and confident answer in the spirit of “guys, storytelling should be done this way and that way.”

Some heroes, anti-heroes, conflict and other nonsense. The first sign that people themselves do not understand what they are writing about is a lot of complex bells and whistles and chatter. When I know what a persuasive positive style is, I just sit down and write about its components. Just like a mop device.

With storytelling, it’s more difficult: many gasp, but don’t really use it. As I see it personally, this is a very complex format. Let me explain. Now there is an all-out fight for the client’s time. The era of quick sentences in the text has come. It is very difficult to hook a person with a story, to draw him into reading. This also requires literary talent. But with a bias in copywriting. Rare combination. Therefore, many lick their lips, but to say “Guys, here is storytelling, but here is a crazy conversion from it”, this is still a rarity.

Peter, you are also known as a great motivator. Reading your books, articles, posts on social networks, I get the feeling that you believe in me more than I believe in myself. Let’s talk about faith, motivation, time management.

Believe it or not, these are sore topics for me. I have been torn between “should” and “want” for years. For example, imagine that several people write to me every day and ask for support, advice, and so on. In theory, I myself am responsible for sparking hope in them, but I can’t help everyone for a long time. And if you don’t answer, they will say “Panda is a liar, he is not like that at all.”

копирайтинг: по зову Сети

As a result, a lot of time is spent on some minor things like correspondence. Again, today I have several groups, a forum, and now we are opening an agency. So there is only one motivation so far – to live up to the moment when it will be possible on Sunday night not to answer interviews, because there is no time anymore, but it’s stupid to watch the series.

In general, from a distance everything seems different. Now I have clients, money and so on, but I often miss those times when I could fall asleep to watch my favorite series for a couple of days. Now this is no longer possible. So take your time to become famous and loud.

Peter, have you had such failures when the customer was dissatisfied with everything or many things? How to keep believing in yourself and move on?

I’ve had all sorts of failures. And he returned the money, and missed the deadlines, and did everything. I don’t see any connection between occasional failures and constant work. That’s life. These are different people. You can’t always hit the target exactly.

Yesterday you and your client have love and emoticons, and tomorrow his car was smashed and he is angry with the whole world. Yes, even if you were Dovlatov, you will not please him. Recessions and failures are normal as long as they don’t become the norm.

Do you have a “white sheet” problem? After all, procrastination often hides a lack of ideas, thoughts “how to start”? Vysotsky in his song describes this problem “… The Muse visited me today. She sat for a bit, and left.” How do you tame your Muse? Have you developed any of your own techniques to “pin” it? Maybe there is some kind of magic button “Start”?

I don’t have any tricks. It happens that for several hours an idea does not come to mind, there is no vision. Then I drink tea in buckets and smoke like a locomotive. Sooner or later the idea comes, but this birth is not always easy. Sometimes it’s flour. Creative work is not so difficult physically, but it burns out well inside.

It is no secret that many people are switching to remote work in order not only to work from home, but also from anywhere in the world. You visited Thailand last year, and even led part of the marathon from there. What do you think, apart from the bad internet, is it possible to live and work there? Or is it just pretty pictures? Or is it a habit? Or is there a “rake” the same as at home?

I am already choosing an apartment there, I hope to buy it soon and visit from time to time. No pacifiers: the sea, delicious food, palm trees and other exotics are quite available. And the Internet there is cooler than my current one, by the way.

In general, organization is needed everywhere. It is difficult to sit down to work when there is so much outside the window. Over time, you get used to it, of course, but adaptation is needed. Therefore, advice: never take any work on vacation. And to do it – you won’t really do it, and spoil the holiday.

Peter, talking about freelancing, often talk about self-discipline, waiting for the Muse. Let’s assume it’s all there. But what about sitting at the table for many hours? This can negatively affect health. Have you felt the “results” of low mobility, and how do you deal with it?

I felt I was fighting. While more, however, in the plans than in reality. I go with the dogs to the river, we walk. I built the gym a long time ago, but for the second year I still can’t get to it, even though it is 5 meters from the office.

At the end of such meetings, it is customary to ask about future plans. And at the same time, it is not recommended to tell, so as not to make you laugh … How to be?

I don’t care. I always announce my plans. While all the dreams are at the agency, we’ll see. Probably a new book, coaching and so on.

Peter, did I understand correctly from our conversation that success in freelancing can be achieved with hard, daily work, constant improvement and faith in yourself?

Good quote for social network status. True, too glossy. I would say otherwise: be a fanatic, burn and dream one day to come to honestly earned money and spit from the Eiffel Tower. Be patient and force yourself to be better than yesterday. In time, everything will be.

Peter, thank you for your sincere answers to my questions!