Copywriting is the act of writing text for marketing, advertising, and promotional materials. Simple enough, right? The hard part is making sure your copy is good. It’s easy enough to hit the word count, but what’s difficult is making sure each word belongs in its place. They need to hold their own and stand out when viewed by a consumer. Maybe that doesn’t sound like too much of a challenge, and in some cases, it’s easier than others. Let’s say you’re promoting a once in a lifetime revolutionary product that will change the way we live. Chances are, if your copy isn’t great, it won’t put that much of a dent in sales. But if you’re trying to market a fork to someone eating soup, it’s going to be an uphill battle. That’s why good copy is so important. The average user spends 5.59 seconds looking at a websites written content. Now, this may dishearten you and begs the question, if that’s the case what’s the point? Well, the point is that you are a writer. You tell your stories and leave your mark on the world through the words you leave behind. Another point could be the freedom to work anywhere with a solid Wi-Fi connection. Whatever your motivations may be, if you’re looking to improve your copywriting skills, you’ve come to the right place.
This might sound like an obvious one, but it's important to limit distractions when getting in the zone and getting ready to work. Turn off your notifications, sign out of your emails, put on some noise-cancelling headphones or listen to some music to help you focus. Whatever works for you. The key is to make sure you won’t lose concentration and break out of that flow state.
Do your homework
Well put together research says a lot about you as a writer, and will always go a long way when you’re trying to persuade someone to do something. Anecdotal evidence can work sometimes, but it’s always best to back up what you’re saying with facts and figures.
Know your audience
Knowing your audience is key. The type of language you use must fit the brand image and the reader you're aiming at, otherwise it’s just more empty words that will fall into the vast chasm of unread information.
Put together a structure for your work
At the start of any project, a plan of work is essential to helping you hit your deadlines and keep track of your progress. It also takes away the stress of working off the cuff. If you can separate your workload into 3 chunks, planning, writing, and editing, then you’ll be able to accomplish much more than if you just randomly attack. As Sun Tzu said, ‘every battle is won before it is fought.'
Write for the reader
When writing, it’s easy to delve into personal tangents. You need to make sure that your voice is consistent with the brand or product you’re promoting. Now this doesn’t mean you need to be void of personality and spirit, it just means you need to stay focused, and remember who you’re writing for.
Use engaging language
This one is an easier point to cover. When writing, you need to use language that will engage the reader. In the same way some novels have you hooked from the first page, the language you use must be capable of the same thing. Don’t use boring words. Use powerful ones that invoke emotion. You can search for synonyms, use apps to suggest new words, or just grab yourself a thesaurus. Whatever you do, don’t use boring words.
You may have a long story to tell, but sometimes people don’t have time to hear it. Make your points clear and concise. You need to get right into what people want to hear. You can weave key points around a more creative line of thought but don’t make the two mutually exclusive.
Formulas can be used to help clear the brain fog and give you a clear tried and true technique to help you complete your copy. We’ll use the 4 P’s for this example, but there are plenty more out there. The 4 P’s stand for problem, promise, proof, proposal. Present the clients’ problem to them, make them a promise on how you’re going to fix that problem. Show evidence of how you’ve solved this problem before, and finally, propose what you plan on doing for them. Easy enough, right? If this formula doesn't work for you, you can find more here.
Think about the word count
The type of content you write will change drastically depending on how many words you have to send a message. If it’s not a lot to work with, you need to cut to the chase and give your audience what they want ASAP. If you have more words, then make sure you use the freedom you have wisely. Always think about the word count.
Take your time
Wanting to reach your deadline as soon as possible is understandable. You want to impress your employer, you want to get content out to your readers as soon as possible, or you just don’t want to have to deal with whatever you’re writing anymore. But what’s better than quick content is quality content. Leaving your finished work and coming back to it after a couple of hours, or a couple of days can help inspire creativity. Ideas you may not have had yesterday may come flooding into you when you next sit down to write. So, make sure to give yourself and your work some time to rest, so that you can regroup later with fresh ideas.
Make sure to spell check your work. Do it twice, do it three times, more if you have to. It sounds obvious but we can often miss these tiny mistakes. Help yourself and make sure all your spelling and grammar is correct.
Remove useless words
You’ve just finished that 1500 word article on the best way to shine your shoes. It was a tedious one, and one that you’re glad to see the back of it. But when you go to edit, you find that lots of words you used were filler. You cut and cut, and soon realize that you still need 300 high-quality words. A difference between an average writer and a great one is the ability to persevere, and re-vise work you don’t want to. It’s especially hard as writing is a creative skill and almost impossible to force. But with discipline and dedication to getting the best work out there, you’ll make it.
Maybe, you have too many commas, in your writing, and it makes it, very, annoying to read. Or maybe you shouldn’t be shouting! Punctuation is an often overlooked, but powerful tool to master when wanting to write great copy.
Formatting is key, especially in long-form copy. You want your reader to have a seamless experience where all they need to focus on is the words Infront of them. You don’t want them annoyed by the inconsistencies in spacing between paragraphs. Or the different fonts you used in the intro and conclusion. Make your work professional and presentable and win clients and readers alike.
It’s important to inject some personality into your copy. Keep in mind what your readers want, but don’t be shy about being yourself. Show off what makes you a great writer! If you’ve got creative flair, then show it off.
Telling a story is another essential to think about whilst writing good copy. You want to take your readers on a journey, with the destination being selling your products, or convincing them to go to an event. It’s much easier to do this by telling a story rather than giving them a boring list of reasons why they should go.
The value of reading
Reading is already an incredibly valuable tool to improve many aspects of your life so, if you don’t read regularly, start now. You won’t regret it. What’s even more helpful is reading relevant material in your desired field. If you want to write about selling crayons, read what other people have written about it. Over time, you’ll passively and actively absorb knowledge and your writing skills will increase.
Don’t be feel ashamed to use technology to help you improve your writing skills. Tools like Grammarly can save you a lot of time and can help you improve your writing with suggestions of clarity. There are also plenty of apps out there that will give you new words each day. Simple but effective in expanding your vocabulary. There are also plenty of useful tools to help you find keywords to improve your SEO ranking like Ubersuggest and Screaming Frog,
If you’ve been given something to write about that you have zero interest in, it can seem a laborious battle trying to write about it. But it’s times like this you must remember some key things. Where you’ve come from, why you’re here, and where you’re going. These are things that will be unique to everyone. But something we can be sure of is that the difficult, the mundane, and the arduous moments of life are often the ones we look back on with the most joy and delight. You will look back knowing that you conquered the unimaginable and tamed the impossible.
Fear of failure
Your writing is something unique to you. It’s like a fingerprint or a DNA sample. That’s why it’s scary when putting it out there into the world for judgmental eyes to see. While this is understandable, it’s not always (if ever) the case that people are out to critique you at every turn. If you’re worried about your work, don’t be shy to ask for feedback from a colleague, friend, or family member. Take on board their criticism and assess whether you agree or disagree and make changes accordingly.
Embrace your creativity
Now while copy is more about problem-solving than projecting your own ideas and values onto the page, it’s important to embrace your creative side. Assuming you’re already a writer, you no doubt have that creative spark that itches to be set ablaze, but keep in mind that you have a job to do. Hone your talent and apply it in the best way you can to the task at hand.