Copywriting is as old as the hills, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant in today’s digital society.
In fact, when you think about it, copywriting is more important than ever due to the sheer volume of content we now digest on a daily basis.
So, if you’re blogging for ‘boring’ industries, or writing copy for a brand new website and you’re only just starting out, we’ve got thirteen tips to get you off to the best possible start.
1. Research as much as possible
Depending on who you’re writing for and the type of copy you need to produce, you’ll need to do a fair amount of research to ensure everything is factually correct.
Keyword research is particularly important here, but don’t forget to research common pain points, stats and any claims you’re making.
When researching keywords, think about voice search, too. It’s expected that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be started with voice. However, for the foreseeable future, that’s likely to be simple stuff like driving directions and opening times – regardless, your copy needs to be written with that in mind.
2. Inject your personality
People don’t want to read boring, functional page copy. We live in an age when storytelling is vital, and in order to do that effectively and draw people in, you need to inject your personality.
Copywriting is about your client’s product or business, but there’s nothing wrong with using your personality to make the words jump off the page.
3. Spend loads of time on the headline
The headline of a web page or blog post is what will draw people in initially. Therefore, you could have the best possible copy in the world beneath it, but if those initial few words don’t work, your hard work will be wasted.
4. Focus on storytelling
This is so important, we’re going to mention it twice.
Any form of copy you produce – be it a blog post, product description or service detail page – needs to have a beginning, middle and end. Most importantly, it needs a hook and a cliffhanger to keep people reading.
5. Run it by someone else
A second pair of eyes on your copywriting is vital. Even if you’re only writing a 200-word product description, getting someone else’s input on your words will help you identify errors and missed opportunities.
Just make sure you pick someone who will offer honest, genuine advice. And be ready for constructive criticism.
6. Just write
Stuck? Writer’s block? Just write!
One of the best tips for copywriters, regardless of their experience, is to simply write. It doesn’t really matter what falls onto the page, either; the right words will be in there somewhere, and you can refine later. Just getting stuff on the page will get rid of any form of writer’s block.
7. Think about the ‘look’ of your copy
Copywriting is a form of design. Pages need to look visually inviting if people are to dive in and start reading.
That means you need to avoid long paragraphs and blocks of text and instead mix in bullet points, headers and imagery.
8. Know when to break the rules
Remember what you learned at school about writing?
Forget all of it. Well, most of it.
Decent grammar and correct spelling are of course important, but if a sentence feels cumbersome just because you’ve followed ‘the rules’ – break those rules. Some of the best copywriting on the planet doesn’t follow common guidelines of any kind.
9. Keep free of distractions
Email, Facebook, smartphone notifications… the world is full of distractions that seem to be designed to put copywriters off the task in hand.
When you write, get yourself into a situation where there are as few distractions as possible. Turn everything off (yes, even email), and, if it works, put your favourite focus playlist on. And just write – don’t let anything get in the way.
10. Write for one person
When you write, pretend you’re doing so for just one person. Sure, the audience might be colossal in reality, but if you focus your attention on just one person, you’ll write the most compelling copy possible.
This works, because when people eventually hit that web page, they’ll feel it was written for them and them only – and that’s one of the best ways to encourage positive action on their behalf.
11. Always think about the solution
People don’t want to read about how great a company is or how many awards it has sitting in the board room – they want to know what’s in it for them.
When you’re writing copy, always think about the solution. And, while writing for that one person (see previous tip), think about how the product or service will benefit them – what problem will it solve or what question will it answer? It’s all about them, after all.
12. Appeal to an emotion
Anger, sadness, happiness, frustration; appealing to a particular emotion in copywriting is a powerful way to engage people.
You’ll know which emotion you need to appeal to based on the product or service you’re writing about, but whatever it is, don’t be afraid to pull those strings hard.
Humans are emotional animals, and one of the best ways to make us do stuff is to identify and play on a specific emotion. You can do that brilliantly with words.
13. Always include a CTA
What do you want people to do?
Imagine writing loads of web copy that’s brilliantly engaging but never grabbing a single lead or sign-up from it. What gives?
You probably forgot to include a call-to-action. And this is a common mistake. Your CTA might be to download something or make a purchase, but whatever it is, it should be clearly visible at some point (or several points) within the copy. Don’t leave home without it!
If you like writing, copywriting is a brilliant career choice. But it isn’t easy, and you’ll encounter times when the words just don’t flow.
When that happens, revisit this blog post and heed our advice. None of the tips above will result in overnight success, but with a concerted effort, you’ll become a much better copywriter in time and should be able to build a roster of very happy clients.