Want to increase your writing income? It’s simple. Learn copywriting. Not only are copywriting skills essential for any writer; you can also provide copywriting services to others. Let’s look at 14 HOT copywriting tips which will help all your writing. By putting just one of these tips into action, you’ll be able to increase your income substantially.
If you’re self-publishing, copywriting is especially important. Use your skills in creating book titles and blurbs which grab readers’ attention. Copywriting also helps in writing fiction: you know what grabs attention, so you’ll leave out the boring bits.
1. Give Me a Reason to Read: Headlines Matter.
Everyone’s a copywriter these days. Whether you write “real” copy (advertising), or write blog posts, you MUST give people a reason to read.
Are you making these errors in your blog post headlines?
- Your headlines are blah: “Jane Smith’s new book is amazing” or “Book recommendation ___ (name of book)”. Neither headline is inspiring. Remember that unless you have a huge readership, your blog gets its readers via feeds – aggregations of blog posts. Prospective readers will see your headline and maybe a sentence or two. Make the headline read-worthy in some way.
- Your headlines are confusing: “Hey ____ (something or other)” for example. If your headline isn’t clear, readers won’t read.
Try this. There are endless headline formulas. Use them if you like. Or use this simple formula: Keyword + Benefit.
Headlines matter. That said, they’re not all that matters. Once you have someone’s attention, you need copy that’s clear and presents an offer that’s too good to refuse.
2. Remember Persuasion’s Magic Words: “But You Are Free…”
I love these words: “but you are free.” I usually use them in the form of: “but it’s your decision.” According to a research study, “but you are free (to ignore this ad)” doubled the success rate of advertising over 42 studies.
Try these magic words yourself.
3. Write It Now, Fix It Later.
Copywriting tends to intimidate writers. Look at it this way. The worst that can happen is that you’re completely ignored, or someone says “no.” However, if you never write the copy, you’ll never get to “YES.” Often, the road to “yes” leads directly through “no.”
Write your copy. Get feedback. How many sales? Tinker with your copy. You can and will improve your copy after you’ve written it, and have made the offer.
4. If You Want to Sell It, You Gotta Love It.
Fall in love with any product or service you want to sell. There’s no other way. Your emotions come through in your words. If you hate what you’re selling, that shows… become enthusiastic, by learning more about the product you’re promoting, by trying out the product, and by talking to customers.
5. Discover Modeling: Imitate, and Succeed.
My vintage advertising board on Pinterest
Copywriters copy ideas that work. Many keep a “swipe” file; a collection of copy which sells. I adore vintage ads for that reason. I love thinking about the era in which an ad was created, the emotions the ad is targeting, and why the ad was successful.
To succeed as a copywriter, learn to love advertising. Read junk mail. Read ads, wherever you come across them. Read labels. Ask yourself why an ad works. (Or doesn’t.) Model the best copy – not the words, or the presentation, but the ideas and strategies.
6. Start Writing: Conquer Inertia by Writing Yourself a Memo.
Can’t get started on an ad, or a longer copywriting project? Describe the project. Write yourself a memo: “Angela, the client wants to promote his new line of garden tools. Who’d use these things?… etc.”
Writing yourself a memo as a warm-up is surprisingly effective. It’s low pressure, and gives you a handle on the project. I like to write a little memo to myself as soon as a client okays a project, or if it’s my own project, as soon as I get the idea.
7. Stop Being Clever and Creative. No One Cares. You’re SELLING.
Yes, copywriting is a creative art. However, if you read an ad (or watch one on TV), and find yourself thinking “that’s so CLEVER!” or “that’s so CREATIVE!” chances are that the ad couldn’t sell a bottle of icy cold beer in the Sahara.
Your job as a copywriter is to be clear, and avoid confusion. You’re selling. Ideally, your prospect’s instantly drawn into the ad. Your writing is as transparent as a pane of glass. You need to be clever and creative to sell, but if anyone suspects that you are, the ad is a dud.
8. Keep It Short. We’re Living in 140-Character World.
In 2012, Nielsen reported that each day, 27 million pieces of content were being shared online each day. Who knows how much is being shared today? Your audience is faced with content everywhere they go – thousands of advertising messages from the time they wake up, to the time they close their eyes in the evening.
Brevity counts. Yes, you can write long copy. However, ensure that every word is needed. When you’re writing copy for the Web, you need to answer your reader’s questions. But do it quick. No one has time to read, so make each word count.
9. Help Others. It’s Not About the Sale. It’s About Helping, Always.
Hate selling? Many copywriters do, and it shows in the copy. Changing your mindset is simple. Look at writing copy as helping, rather than selling. You’re promoting a product you believe in. You’re helping the people who buy the product, and you’re helping your client (or yourself, if you’re writing copy for yourself.)
Without copywriters, how would you discover great products? Think about wonderful products you’ve purchased because of advertising. You’ve helped the companies which create the products to stay in business, so that they can pay their employees, and pay other companies which provide their inputs. Copywriting makes the world go around. Be proud to write copy.
10. You Can Never Know Enough. Get More Info About the Product, Any Way You Can.
Advertising genius David Ogilvy said:
“Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.”
You can never never know enough. Before you write a word of copy, learn as much as you can about the product you’re promoting, and its audience. Keep digging. You don’t have an unlimited budget, so you can’t do primary research and conduct surveys, but you can learn as much as you can with the resources you have. Tip: your local library is a great resource. Think beyond the Web.
Be wary of words like “best.” Be clear in your own mind what you mean, and be prepared to back up every word you write.
Ogilvy also said:
“I spend a long time studying the precedents. I look at every advertisement which has appeared for competing products during the past 20 years.”
When you’re writing copy for a client, look at the marketing materials he’s used in the past, what his competitors are using, and the materials your client is using now.
11. It’s Always About the Offer: Make It Stronger.
Yes, the headline is important. However, your offer is just as important. You can be the world’s worst copywriter, but if the offer is outstanding, you’ll sell. If you’re writing copy for someone else, you may not be able to do much about the offer. Try anyway. See what competitors are offering; then guilt your client into making his offer better.
12. Write the Way You Speak. (Read Your Copy Aloud to Yourself.)
I love language and tend to be something of a grammar nerd. However, I forget the rules when I write. You should too – forget the rules, as long as you know WHY you’re breaking a rule. Your job, when writing copy, is to get an emotional response which leads to an action. Nothing else is important. Write the way you speak – or the way your audience speaks. Then read your copy aloud.
13. “What Response Do You Want?”
What you want your audience to do – your call to action (CTA) needs to be totally obvious. Years ago, I was chatting with a new client who complained about the miserable failure of one of his display ads. I read the ad (I didn’t write it) and saw the problem. The CTA was “call us”… wonderful. Sadly, they’d left out the phone number to call.
Check your CTA. Then check it again. You can’t be too careful.
14. Have Fun – if You Don’t, You Won’t Be Creative.
If you grit your teeth when you’re writing, your writing will be dry and uninspired. Don’t believe me? OK, try it. Be serious if you like. You’ll hate your writing, and it will show in your words. More to the point, your copy will flop.
What’s fun for you? Maybe you like to listen to music, or do crossword puzzles or read something which makes you laugh. I like to read a few pages of PG Wodehouse if I’m feeling in a grim mood. Once I’ve lightened up, I start writing.
Set up your own copywriting business, and get clients, in ten weeks
In our Copywriting Pro: Build Your Copywriting Business In 10 Weeks class, you’ll use the 4Ps and much more.
You’ll create copywriting services which sell, and you’ll target those services to clients who NEED you, and who can afford to pay for your services.
Join us, we’ll have a lot of fun. 🙂
You can, when you discover the secrets of writing blurbs (book descriptions) which sell.
You can rescue books which aren't selling, and have confidence that your new books will have the best chance to find their audience.More info →
Resources to build your writing career
Updated: July 19, 2019