I’ve been making a comfortable living as a full-time freelance copywriter for a number of years now, so believe me when I make a claim like the one above. Obviously, I know what I’m doing, or clients wouldn’t keep covering me up with regular work month after month.
Copywriting is a skill that uses words to sell — anything from products and services to memberships or brand loyalty. That is really what a copywriter must remember above all the other tricks and tips: you are a salesperson first, a writer second.A Unique Boast
I often make the boast that anyone with middle-school-level writing skills can be a copywriter. That statement is often met with raised eyebrows or an emphatic “No way!” How can I make such a claim? I spent a few years as a middle school writing coach for 7–8th grade students. By the 8th grade, students are taught the basics of grammar, punctuation, formatting, research, word choices, and more that every type of writer should possess.
“Anyone with middle-school-level writing skills can be a copywriter.”
Aside from that, they also practice creative writing and formal writing, which are helpful skills to employ in copywriting. After all, copywriters are storytellers much of the time, so creativity is helpful. And some formal writing is also needed for certain industries, such as legal or medical organizations.
The rest is easily learned, as I’m about to show you. If you have decent writing skills and average intelligence, you can become a successful copywriter. The essentials I share below are more often caught from a mentor than taught in writing or journalism courses. At least, that’s how I learned them. And, more importantly, I continue to prove their worth every day in my own busy copywriting business.Copywriting Essential #1: Point Out a Problem & Solve It
Copywriting seeks to persuade readers to take a desired action:Click a linkSubscribe to a newsletterDownload somethingBuy a productBook a serviceSchedule a consultation
Remember that you are primarily a salesperson — what are you selling? And why do your readers need it? The best way to create successful copy for businesses is to target a pressing problem, create unrest about that problem, then show how your client’s product/service/whatever solves the problem.
“What a copywriter must remember above all the other tricks and tips: you are a salesperson first, a writer second.”
A popular television commercial for car warranties is a great example:
The problem is your older car’s factory warranty has expired. To create unrest about the problem, they use FUD to agitate the viewer’s thinking. FUD stands for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.Car breakdowns are inevitableCar repairs cost many thousands of dollarsIt’s only a matter of time until it happens to you
Then, add some social proof to show how great your product is and how it solves the now-pressing problem. Real-life-customers (or paid actors) who demonstrate relief at how much money they saved with your product.
Repetition here is also important. Keep showing huge car repair costs that were met, and keep emphasizing that the clients didn’t pay a dollar out of pocket. Show several smiling, relieved people and highlight the dollar amounts saved with each.
Point out a problem, create unrest about the problem, then solve the problem.Copywriting Essential #2: Make a Big Boast with Your Headlines — and Meet It
Let’s face it — people are bombarded with advertising from every direction. They’ve grown wise to the traditional, infomercial-type bombast. You have to be bold to catch their attention — but you’d better deliver on what you promise.
Today consumers can rate and record a testimony that hundreds or thousands of other users will see and heed. Making a loud, bold promise can attract users to spend a few seconds viewing your ad or article. But if you don’t deliver on that loud, bold promise, woe be unto you (or your client).
That headline should include a benefit that stops your target audience from scrolling and compel them to engage with your article. Consider the headline of this article:
5 Copywriting Essentials from a Successful Writer that Anyone Can Learn
Why did you stop and at least browse this article? Any number of reasons could be:You’re interested in copywritingYou are already a copywriter but are interested in learning moreYou are intrigued with the idea that “anyone can learn” the essentials of copywritingYou want to know what a “successful writer” uses to be successful in copywriting
Think of other headlines that recently caused you to pause, click and peruse an article. What caught your interest? Anyone can learn what a target audience seeks to know or gain and create bold headlines that appeal to the audience’s needs or desires.Copywriting Essential #3: Write Clearly and Provide Valuable Information
Winning the attention of a reader is only the beginning. As you identify a problem, agitate that problem, and present a solution, be clear and concise. Offer real solutions. Don’t waste words or use worn-out clichés.
Most Internet articles seek to provide information related to the problem or solution that can be used by the reader right now. They gain an immediate benefit by sticking around long enough to read your writing. It is worth their time and they realize that. Then, an offer for something more comes at the end.
Your target audience is also what determines what type of information you need to provide. Teenagers will obviously want different content than Baby Boomers.
This is also where your middle-school-level writing skills come into play. Write clearly, use words that are easily understood by your target audience and spell them correctly. Use correct punctuation. Write in brief paragraphs that do not appear intimidating. Use headings to break up the page. You should also use current SEO practices to ensure that search engines can locate and rank your articles favorably.Copywriting Essential #4: Make a Valuable Offer
Here’s what you’re after all along. What are you trying to sell?ProductsServicesSubscriptionsYourself
After sharing valuable information that provides immediate help, make a good offer of even better value. The offer is not necessarily your product or service; it is how they can obtain it. Some copywriters call this the “bundles and bonuses” section. What extra value can the user get from you right now, at the end of the article or page?Bonus materialFree membershipExcellent guaranteeExceptional savingsPersonal attention
After providing valuable information they can use right now, making an even more attractive offer is a compelling reason for the user to sign up, click on a link, or pull out their credit card.
Photo by Jamie Templeton on UnsplashCopywriting Essential #5: Clearly Indicate the Desired Action
All this effort is to elicit a response. So, your call to action (CTA) must clearly instruct the user what to do next. Great information to use now and a fantastic offer should be followed by clear instructions.Click here to order nowBook a consultation todayRegister for my newsletter and get your free download todayDownload our app for your free trial
This is how users can open the door to your business and take advantage of what you have to offer. Make them stand out and be easily visible. Focus on one desi