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How to Sell Anything With Words–Including a Used Ceiling Fan

In: Writing,

I’m about to cry.

I’m about to cry because I am so filthy proud of one of my former copywriting students.

When wrapping up our last conversation on writing take-’em-to-their-knees product descriptions, I left her with a challenge:

Look around your room. The first three items you see? Sell them to me.

The rationale, of course, is that if you can learn to effectively sell the most commonplace items, you can sell anything.

For our purposes we’re talking about selling through words, of course, but this applies to any type of selling.

It’s an excellent exercise—go ahead. Look around your room. What would you say to someone if you had to sell them your used air conditioner? Your old threadbare carpet? That 1920’s record player? A chipped coffee cup?

As always, it’s about taking whatever you’re selling, and creating an emotional experience out of it—one that’s in line with an emotional experience your target audience is seeking to have.

And my student? Fucking nailed it. Here’s what she wrote.

1. Ceiling Fan

You took your time picking out the perfect house.

The 1967 Italian hardwood floors reminded you of that one summer you both nestled up during a rainstorm underneath a disheveled, little hut off the coast of Venice.

104 hours of seductively smitten, clothing-optional gratification.

You knew immediately he was the one after he whispered I’m completely yours at 4 o’clock in the morning when he thought you were asleep.

You weren’t.

And you smiled because

Instincts matter.

The tiniest details matter.

You haven’t settled yet, so why would you settle for just any run-of-the-mill ceiling fan in your adorably, perfect sanctuary for two?

Our Monte Carlo Centrifico Ceiling Fan is the perfect mix of unmistakably sensible and devilishly spontaneous.

It says I’m here for you + I dare you not to love me.

Because you thought perfection was impossible to find.

Until now.


2. Mirror

“You look nice” isn’t going to cut it.

Save nice for your grandma’s sweater and that pink ballerina outfit you wore when you were 7.

Now, look yourself in your Seville Glossy Red Mirror and say you’re sorry.

Because no one ever felt smoldering, sexy, or stunning looking nice.

Well, maybe Beyonce.

But you’re not Beyonce.

You’re you and guess what? That’s more than enough.

Because you don’t need to sell out stadiums or make millions to feel like a million bucks.

You just have to strut like you do.

So tell the world who you are.

And let the others have nice.


3. Chest of Drawers

You play it cool in your fitted jeans and cotton tee-shirt. You’re down to earth. Practical. Level-headed. Unassuming.

But your vintage French boudoir knows better.

The secrets those outfits could remember should only be whispered in the strictest of confidence. Secrets that would provoke a loosening of the tie and a flush of candy-apple red.

Introducing Vanguard’s line of Milk Mirrored Dressers.

It’s not the secrets you put in; it’s the ones you’re willing to take out.

And since your guilty pleasures deserve to be treated with the utmost care

From start to storage…

This secret’s on the house.

We’ll leave the rest up to you.

Go ahead.

Peek inside.


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40 thoughts on "How to Sell Anything With Words–Including a Used Ceiling Fan"

  1. Michael Rodriguez says:

    I’m sitting here thinking, “how in the actual fuck is everyone typing so beautifully and fluent like a Pulitzer Prized author/poet.” I don’t know if it’s the lack of confidence within me thinking I cannot pull it off, or what! I’ve attempted to write about the first thing I glanced out which was a poster and the ‘writer’s block’ is unreal.

    Can you help me out someway @TMFproject:disqus, or at least smack me virtually if it’s ME who’s telling myself I’m incapable.. I don’t know the cause. Bollocks! (No, I’m not British, haha.)

    1. Ash Ambirge says:

      Awww @disqus_nTiREmvjhZ:disqus – this DEFINITELY takes practice. It’s more about trying to see things in a new unconventional light, and then the writing comes. What, metaphorically, could the poster be about?

  2. Lori Reeves says:

    Well, it looks like I’m a bit late to the party…..but I was inspired, and I want to try my hand. This was a difficult assignment, but one I’ll do again and again. So, here’s my sale…..for a coffee table.

    You’ve made it through another day.

    Your feet hit the ground running this morning, but the urban jungle didn’t defeat you on this day. The tigers crouching behind the conference table didn’t get close enough to leave a mark. Their roars were met with your confidence and ability…..and quieted.

    After crushing the workday, you tackle the arduous task of ducking in and out of traffic, avoiding texters, knee-steerers, and cell-phone conversationalists, and finally feel the triumphant bump of your car leaving the street and entering your driveway.

    The doorway to your home is a portal to your unwinding. You kick off your heels, take off your jacket, loosen your belt…..and the couch opens its arms to you as you melt down into it, to let it cradle your tired body.

    And the coffee table….yes, the coffee table is there.

    Yes, on the surface its purpose is to hold magazines, your favorite scented candle that reminds you of warm baked break, your celebratory end-of-the-workday glass of wine.

    But it also has another purpose… transport you from the hectic pace of the workday to the serenity of settling back in at home. To uphold your feet as the couch cradles you and melts away the stress of the day. Yes, the coffee table, as it turns out, is the most comforting piece of furniture in the room.

    1. Lori, I LOVE the extended jungle metaphor. Tigers crouching behind the conference table in the urban jungle? Pure. Gold. WELL DONE, (and welcome to the party!) We have wine! 😛

      1. Lori Reeves says:

        Wow, Jess!! Thank you so much! I’m so humbled and pleased that you liked it! I have always had what I call a “knack” for writing…..what an incredible feeling to have it validated (’cause you know we’re all out for nothing more than validation!). I recently found your blog, too, and freaking LOVE. IT. You speak my language, girlfriend! Thanks for the warm, wine-included welcome! I’m gonna stick around!

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