How to write a Soap Opera Sequence

I want to teach you one of my favorite ways to get my emails read. You in?

Well, there’s a new(ish) game in town to quickly bond & build trust with your email community like superglue…

It’s called the Soap Opera Sequence.

I’m talking about a series of emails that has certain beats designed to get your readers frothing at the mouth for the next “episode.”

Here’s how it works…

You send out a series of five related emails. Each of these emails creates rapport with unfolding stories…and ends with a cliffhanger.

You don’t sell immediately. Instead, you build the tension until the final email (which reveals your offer.)

Let me break it down for you…

Email #1 – Set the Stage

Just like you would change the channel on a boring show on TV, you wouldn’t read a boring start to your Soap Opera Sequence. So the first email is the introduction…but with a bang.

Don’t just start off with, “Hi, I’m {firstname}.” You need to start with some exciting event that keeps them wanting to find out what’s next.

Email #2 – High Drama

This email starts getting really juicy. Here’s where you’ll reveal something dark or embarrassing about yourself. After all, no road to success was ever paved with rainbows and chocolate.

Being vulnerable makes you relatable. And let’s face it…we’ve all had moments that aren’t our shiniest in our pasts.

Email #3 – Epiphany

This email reveals what you learned from your less-than-stellar experience. You went through this so they don’t have to.

Email #4 – Hidden Benefits

So far, your emails have been all about you. Now the focus shifts. You’re making them the star. You’re going to show them how what you learned can make their lives better. Then tease that you have the solution in the next email.

Email #5 – Call to Action

They’ve laughed with you. They’ve cried with you. They’ve clutched their pearls that such a thing ever happened to you. But most of all, they’re WITH you. Together you’ve been on this journey. And now you tell them how you can help them even more…with your offer.


Sounds pretty simple? It is really. Just be willing to be open to sharing true, deep feelings. And know how to tell a story.

Now, I’m going to show you an example of my own Soap Opera Sequence. Each email will relate back to this one with its own lesson…but I’m not going to drop the fourth wall and tell you that’s what’s happening, okay? I’m simply going to show you the sequence. (You might even consider saving them in your swipe files. I promise they’ll be packed with undercover lessons.)

EMAIL 1 – Why I REALLY moved from NC to California

Both of my sons graduated from college in 2014. And they really didn’t know what to do next. I’m their mom so I’m supposed to guide them, right? Well I don’t know what the hell to say.

And the grinding guilt about not having all the answers for them hits me like a bag of rocks. The business world has changed so much from when I graduated college in North Carolina so many years ago.

“What did you do right after you graduated, Mom?”

Uh…stammer, stammer

Well, I tell them, the truth is I didn’t have a clue what to do.

I had graduated with a degree in Journalism, even though I knew the entire time I wanted to be an actress. (My parents STRONGLY discouraged me from getting a Drama degree…can’t really blame them, actually.)

So, I didn’t do anything really. Like a ghost who doesn’t know her new life is different now, I stayed in Chapel Hill for nearly a year after graduation. Didn’t use my degree at all. In fact, I worked as a personal trainer, a waitress, and an aerobics instructor. (All perfect side jobs for an actress, by the way.)

But not using my degree wasn’t the worst of it…

No, the worst part was getting ENGAGED

To a man named Tom who I’d only known for 3 months…

Because I didn’t know how to SAY NO!

Yup, that happened. I wasn’t quite as good at communication back then as I am now.

And since I ended up with a ring on my finger because I couldn’t say “NO, I don’t want to get married to you. Can’t we just fool around?” I obviously couldn’t find the right words to BREAK UP with Tom either.

So, I made plans to move to California to follow my dream…

No walking down the aisle if you don’t live in the same state, right?

So, I packed up my cat (Marvin Gaye), my futon, and my bike. I’d saved a whopping $300 to start my new life.

It wasn’t bravery that brought me to Cali, but near-paralyzing terror.

I like to imagine that my passion for acting and for writing morphed together to make me outrageously connected to story.

That’s one of the reasons behind why I’ve been such an advocate of mastering the storytelling process myself. During my career, I not only advanced myself to international status with story, but I also created programs and communities around story.

One of those creations is the free Flash Fiction Factory group on Facebook. It’s been a proven breeding ground for writers of all levels to sharpen their storytelling skillset.

Honestly sales stories are THE ANSWER to getting your emails and web pages read and REACTED TO.

Think of it this way…

Our senses are blasted with over 11 million bits of data every single second. But on average we can only take in 40-50 bits. That means a ton of information scoots right past us.

Selling with stories cuts through the crap and gets attention like nobody’s business.

Be the message that they read and buy from!



P.S. Moving to California wasn’t all sunshine. In my next email I’ll share one of my most humiliating times from my younger days. I’m so glad my sons aren’t on this email list.

Email 2 – My invitation to being a “kept” woman

I thought long and hard about if I should reveal this little slice of my life.

I mean I’m really setting myself up to be judged here. But in the end, I decided to share this tale because the message is just too important…

In my last email, I explained how I ended up in California to pursue acting after graduating with a B.A. in Journalism.

Since I had next to no money, and certainly no plan other than to be “discovered,” you might imagine my road was rocky. And you’d be correct.

I ended up being roommates with a woman I met waiting tables at the California Pizza Kitchen. (Not just ANY California Pizza Kitchen, but the very first one…from opening day no less.) Let’s call her “Thelma.”

Every cent I made went into headshots, acting lessons, and dance classes. I was doing everything as right as I knew how. Still I wasn’t having any luck.

Turns out directors and producers weren’t waiting on every corner to cast me in their projects.

Over time my enthusiasm for acting started to wane.

One afternoon I was digging change out of the bottom of my person (no lie) so I could afford to buy a bag of popcorn to fill me up. I felt like a pathetic loser.

Thelma walked in on me just as I was melting into a fountain of tears.

I knew she felt bad for me. She mentioned that she knew this guy who had helped out a friend of hers in a similar situation. Let’s call him “Dale.”

She tells me that Dale will pay for all my housing & food expenses. He’d even give me an allowance and take me shopping. I could focus more on lighting the fuse to my invisible acting career.

All I had to do was…

Be available at his beck and call. He’d give me reasonable notice if he wanted to see me. I was free to date other people as long as it didn’t conflict with my availability for him. And no – he didn’t expect s-e-x. He wanted an attractive arm piece to go with him to social events.

Hmmm. What can I say? I felt desperate.

At the risk of you judging me, I have to let you know that I agreed to meet Dale.

He arrived at our apartment in a suit and tie. He was clean cut. About 6 feet tall, dark hair, and 400 lbs. He looked a lot like Oliver Platt actually!

Then he starting checking me out like a piece of cattle he was going to butcher. I felt super uncomfortable with the way he was leering at my body and touching my hair.

“I like her,” he tells Thelma, as if I’m not standing right there.

He smiles at me and asks if we should get started next week.

Even though rent was due I told him it’s a big commitment and I needed to let him know.

He leaves. THANK GOD! I felt like I needed a shower. How could I even have considered such a thing?!

Trust me, I was in such a dark place I easily could have gone with it. I wanted to break into acting with all my heart.

But if I had allowed myself to live that kind of life I know I’d end up unhappy and unconfident, teeming with low self-esteem.

Why am I telling you this raw story now?

Because when you feel passionately about what you do, sometimes choices are difficult. You want to do things that further your business, not make you feel like crap.

In our overloaded world, standing out can be a challenge.



P.S. There are creeps everywhere in the world. In my next email I’ll share with you how my will to continue acting was tested yet again, and the lesson I finally got. 

EMAIL 3: Cookie cutters are for cookies

When I moved to California to become an actress, I was pretty naïve. I halfway expected to just be “discovered” and become a star.

I wasn’t afraid to work at it. I took acting and dance classes. I went out for auditions. But I didn’t have the elusive SAG card from the Screen Actors Guild. So, it was difficult to get much momentum going.

Not to mention there were about a million other hopeful actors in town looking to get any available job. Competition was fierce.

Besides studying and burning gas driving to auditions, I worked at the original California Pizza Kitchen. And I hung out with other aspiring actors (e.g. waiters). We were all doing the same grind.

Enter Angelo…

Angelo was an older hairstylist with flowing, gray locks. He was too thin and bow-legged to look like Fabio, but I bet when he was younger he did. But he had connections in “the industry” as we call show biz in La La Land.

He was one of the customers I waited on in the restaurant. And he thought I had IT…but I needed to work on some things, he said.

He wanted to transform me from the softer Southern girl I was to a head-snapping BOMBSHELL.

That meant I needed to become a size “0”, get fake nails & implants, whiten my teeth, bleach my hair blonde, get a tan, and buy a brand new wardrobe.

Just look like a completely DIFFERENT PERSON! That’s all…

To be fair, he was giving me the recipe for success in Hollywood at that time…

The problem was that I would have ended up looking like every other actress out there.

I would have been a cookie cutter image of every young starlet in Hollywood.

Now that I’m in marketing, I see the same “recipe” repeating itself. The emails, the websites, the promotions are starting to look strangely homogenous.

Regular selling formulas have become so transparent. So predictable. So boring.

That’s why stories are the way to go when you want to drill directly into the cellular level of whoever’s reading your message.

And that’s why storytelling is so freakin’ remarkable! No one is going to have your exact story or point of view. That makes it easy peasy to stand out.

If you want to sharpen your storytelling chops for free, mark your calendar for [INSERT DATE].

That’s when we officially launch the free 5-Day Flash Fiction Challenge.

There’s zero pressure to turn out well-formed or perfect stories in this challenge. It’s all about practice, practice, practice.

Go ahead and add it in your calendar, and I’ll remind you when we’re getting underway.

This. Is. Going. To. Be. So. Much. Fun!



P.S. In my next email I’ll share a shortcut with you to get really good at storytelling…REALLY FAST!

EMAIL 4: What’s YOUR story?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about “what happened next” in my California story…

Well, part of storytelling is making choices.

And my last email was about my choice to not to be a run-of-the-mill actress by changing everything about my look to fit into Hollywood’s standards.

Today you know that I work as a copywriter. You know my face isn’t plastered all over TMZ. You might even know some things about my life on the ranch with my partner, our horses, and Belle, the Perfect Dog.

So, does my life in the present mean I didn’t “make it” in Hollywood by bucking the trends and not complying to their formulaic standards?

I guess it’s a matter of opinion but to me I absolutely did “make it.”

By not turning myself into a Barbie who looks like everyone else and honing my craft I did have some critical success. I even got my Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card which is the holy grail for actors in this town and I was in “Baywatch” for a summer.

But my greatest success was living life on my terms. Because of my choice to be an actress, I met the father of my children, Richie.

He was a lawyer. I remember meeting him in his office for a car accident I was in. I knew it was a bad case so I made sure I wore a cute mini skirt and some heels.

When I walked into his office he’d just gotten back from Palm Springs. He was tan and those eyes! Wow…so big and blue. And he knew it too.

I was smitten and we were married within two years. I got pregnant on our honeymoon.

Buh bye, acting. I won’t miss thee.

I’d found a new love…being a wife and mother.

Years later my entrepreneurial spirit took flight. (I’ve never fit into the 9-to-5 mold, I guess.)

In 1999 I made the decision to work from home, discovered copywriting, and made it my quest to be the best I could be. And Red Hot Copy was born.

THE END (sorta)

Now let me put on my mentor cap…

What I’ve demonstrated in the past four emails you’ve received is one of many stories in my Marketing Journey.

YOU have your own unique Marketing Journey. And when you know how to tell it to your community with authenticity, the connection (and the sales) will soar.

Let me be clear though…telling a marketing story is a much different structure than writing a 300-page novel or a 150-page screenplay.

Here’s the basic formula…you use a condensed version of the popular Hero’s Journey, made famous by Joseph Campbell in his book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces (published in 1949.)

Let me summarize the Hero’s Journey for you:

Basically, the hero (you) leave your common world to encounter new discoveries and wondrous things. There’s struggle, wisdom, and enlightenment along the way. Then you return back to your everyday world to share your insights with the people.

So, when you tell people your story (or stories), that’s the blueprint you should use.

The challenge is this though…

You have to be succinct in your storytelling without losing the layers of emotion.

It can be a tall order if you don’t have a system.

In my next email, I’m going to share how you can rock your stories for more rapport and more sales.

Until then, have a great weekend!



P.S. If you haven’t joined the FREE Flash Fiction Factory yet, well…why not? 😉 It’s a fast way to hone your storytelling skills. And we start a new 5-day challenge on [INSERT DATE].

EMAIL 5: Tell your story with flair (workshop announcement)

This is the final email of the 5-part Soap Opera Sequence. If you’ve been following along, we went on a twisting ride…

The first email was setting the stage by sharing why I moved from North Carolina to California.

High drama was the theme of the second email which was all about the embarrassing scenario that happened when I nearly gave up on my dream.

Next came my epiphany that in order to stand out, you can’t blend in.

The last email took you on a journey to hidden benefits of how YOU can stand out…and the device I’m using in this sequence is storytelling.

This final email in the series shows you how to get really good at storytelling, REALLY fast.

Listen, I KNOW you have oodles of stories of your own. They just sell better when they’re sculpted to fit a marketing agenda.

If you’re wondering what’s inside the program, here’s a taste…

  • You’ll get my super succinct storytelling template that’s specifically designed for use in marketing
  • Get ready to be flooded with so many story ideas that your marketing is practically on autopilot
  • I share the simple, but powerful secret behind tapping into EMOTIONS to make your reader FEEL your story
  • No more writer’s block with the IDEA FACTORY for starting a story with universal appeal that’s irresistible to read

I’ve supercharged this program with a new video training that helps you easily drill down to tell YOUR story, step-by-step. This high-octane template will work with ANY marketing or short story you want to create.

It’s like breaking the dam on your creative juices. Stories will flow from your noggin so fast you might need an extra hard drive to save them all.

Red Hot Copy Storytelling

You’ll also get a tsunami of these fat bonuses…

Red Hot Storytelling Template – ($37 value)

Marketing stories don’t develop every step of the Hero’s Journey. This down and dirty guide helps you break down your story in a condensed format. And it’s

21 Hooks That Work for Any Market ($37 value)

Need story ideas? I got you, boo. No matter what industry you’re writing for, these hooks will grab attention. Print it out and keep it near your computer to come up with brilliant leads.

Red Hot Picture Prompt Percolator – ($37 value)

This imaginative collection of story prompts will activate your senses and your creativity. The best way to get good at storytelling is to actually practice daily. To make it brainless for you to focus on writing instead of finding things to write about, I’ve gathered up a month’s worth (30 days) of various photo prompts to stimulate your creative juices.

Hypnotic Storytelling with Dr. Harlan Kilstein – ($67 value)

I interviewed this master copywriting and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) expert on his techniques to reach and unconsciously persuade with metaphor and story.

Powerful Storytelling for Web 2.0 with Kate Yandoh – ($67 value)

Storytelling copywriter, Kate and I did a highly-acclaimed teleseminar about using story with social media to make yourself stand out without looking like you’re a used car salesman.  You’ll also get the special Checklist of how to use storytelling in sales & social media.

Four Stories to Use on Your Website by Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. – ($37 value)

Storytelling is the Swiss army knife for copywriters and marketers:  every aspect of your marketing will be more efficient – and easier – when you do it with stories. With this report, you’ll know exactly what stories to tell, when and why.  

Just as a caveat I need to let you know that this guide is not filled with a lot of useless fluff.

I’ve already gone through the reams of theory, the live workshops, the expensive storytelling courses…and what is in this guide is just the best of the best of what you need. It’s a huge timesaver.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have to ENGAGE YOUR BRAIN.

How to Write a Damn Good Story Online is all about connecting your creativity with some basic exercises and theories. But you have to put the time in to get the results. It’s so worth the investment in every single way.

Look, the best way to stand out above the crowd today is by using stories. There are a lot of ways to tell a story but a “selling story” is an entirely different animal. Seriously. You want this guide. It’s like having me with you as a storytelling mentor.

Once you “get” the lessons in this downloadable guide your sales messages will never be the same.

What stories are locked in your closet? Let ‘em out! The world is waiting.



P.S. Don’t write more of the same ol’, same ol’. Create your stories the painless way.

Red Hot Copy Storytelling