Engaging content is now a critical component to the success of any content marketing strategy.
That’s because 51% of people find content by searching on Google. The higher you’re ranking, the greater your odds.
Unfortunately, it’s also one of the biggest challenges businesses face. As many as 65% of businesses admit they struggle producing content that’s engaging and converting their readers.
Which is why if you want to become a copywriter, now’s the perfect time to do so.
Sounds great! But what if you’ve never written a single blog post in your life?
In this guide, I’ll be sharing with you all the vital stuff you need to know to become a copywriter, even if you got no experience.
By the end of this guide, you’ll:
- Find out how to get rid of the five culprits that’s ruining a copy’s conversion rate,
- Discover 4 most effective copywriting models that’ll bring in readers and customers, and
- Learn copywriting tips and tricks you can quickly use to wow your first client.
Myths about becoming a copywriter
Myth #1: You need to be a literary genius to get into copywriting.
In fact, I’ve met excellent copywriters that didn’t have a journalism degree or marketing background when they started. Others I’ve met stumbled into copywriting because they love writing.
So, yes! You can become a copywriter, even with average writing skills.
Myth #2: Everyone that writes publishes content online are copywriters.
While you don’t need to be a master wordsmith to become a copywriter, you can’t say that you’re a copywriter just because you can write.
Copywriting is part art and part science.
It’s an art because you got to know the right words to use and where to put it to compel your readers to take the action you want.
Copywriting’s a science because some specific models and elements need to be in place for your copy to be considered effective. At the same time, there’s a great deal of testing and experimentation you got to do before publishing it to make sure your client gets the results they expect.
Myth #3: Copywriting is just for ads.
This was a copywriting myth I’ve believed in for a very long time—and for a good reason.
A lot of those highly recommended books on copywriting tend to focus on writing sales letters and other forms of advertising materials.
But as I delved deeper, I was pleasantly proven wrong.
Copywriting, as it turns out, isn’t just for writing sales pages or promotional emails. It’s a writing style that persuades people to take action.
Think about it:
When you write a blog post, your goal is to persuade your readers to either leave a comment to start a conversation or download something you’re offering.
The same’s true with your About page. You’re convincing readers that they can trust you and your business.
It’s this “why you’re writing” that separates content writing from copywriting. Content writers inform, educate, and entertain. Copywriters convince and persuade.
Why your copy’s not converting
As a copywriter, you can’t afford your copy not convert your client’s target audience. That’s what they’re paying you to do.
That’s why it’s crucial you know why your copy doesn’t convert visitors to customer. Also, what to do to avoid these from happening.
1. You didn’t ask them to take action.
This is the most common mistake newbie copywriters make. Fortunately, it’s also the quickest to fix.
Believe it or not, your readers like to be told what to do, no matter how obvious it may be.
Adding action phrases like “Buy Now,” “Sign Up,” or “Schedule a Demo” at the very end of your copy will get more readers to do so.
2. You sound too good to be true.
Thanks to the surge of fake news and bogus websites, your readers have become extremely skeptical about what they read online. And can be why your copy’s not converting.
You can fix this by adding photos of your clients and their testimonials in your copy. This would give you the social proof they’re looking for.
3. Your copy intimidates them.
Another reason why your copy’s not converting your readers is that they don’t get what you’re trying to tell them.
This usually happens when you use a lot of industry jargon and complicated words. You may think you’re impressing your readers because these make your copy sound clever.
Well, they don’t.
In fact, these will make your readers feel dumb and confused. Rather than trying to figure out what your copy’s saying, they’ll go elsewhere.
4. You’re not psyching up your readers.
Successful copywriters understand that if you want your copy to convert readers to customers, you got to mix in a bit of sales psychology in this.
Your readers’ buying decisions are driven by emotions, specifically the desire to avoid feeling that they’ve lost or missed out on something.
Psychologists found that people are more motivated in taking action to prevent losing $5 than they would to earn the same amount. They call this behavior loss aversion.
5. You’re not giving them an enticing offer.
This is perhaps the most difficult one to fix when you become a copywriter because the problem doesn’t lie on your copywriting skills. It’s the fact that the product or service you’re offering in your copy sucks!
To fix this, find something in common between what your readers want and what your product offers.
4 persuasive copywriting techniques
1. The AIDA formula
Source: Smart Insights
AIDA may be the oldest technique used by copywriters. But it’s still so effective.
Four different stages make up the AIDA formula. Each of these has a specific goal that you got to hit for your copy to become effective:
- Attention. This stage is all about getting your target readers to take notice of your copy.
- Interest. Your job here’s to pique their curiosity by touching on your reader’s pain points and make it personal and real to them that they’ll want to keep on reading.
- Desire. It’s at this stage where you present the product you’re offering, its features and benefits, and how it can address your readers problems and concerns.
- Action. This is the final stage of the model where you instruct the readers what to do next.
2. The Slippery Slide
The crux of this copywriting technique is to write your copy in a way that’s so engaging to your readers that they couldn’t stop reading, even if they wanted to.
Storytelling is an excellent way of making this happen.
When you inject a story in your copy, it makes it more personal to the readers. They could easily picture themselves experiencing the emotions and challenges they read. As a result, the need to find a solution to fix this will compel them to take action.
Another tip is to only write as much as you need to.
Sure, some studies show your copy has a better chance to rank higher in Google if it’s got more than 1,000 words.
But more than landing on Google’s first search engine results page, you got to put more importance on whether or not your readers would want to keep on reading your copy.
3. The Inverted Pyramid model
Although this is primarily a writing style used by journalists and reporters, copywriters have also been using this technique with lots of success.
The reason this works is that it trains you to dish out the essential details in your copyright at the very beginning. Doing this quickly hooks your readers. In turn, two things can happen: they immediately scroll down to click your Call-to-Action (CTA) button, or they read more about the product you’re offering.
4. The Bucket Brigade
In the olden days, villages would set up “bucket brigades” to help them put out fires.
This principle of passing the bucket from one person to another has now become a technique copywriters use to keep people reading.
A simple, but effective, way how copywriters do this is by using phrases ending in columns (:). I’ve used this quite a lot throughout this article. Can you find them?
How to improve your copywriting skills
1. Write like you talk.
You can quickly spot copy that’s written by a copywriter that’s just starting out by the way they write their sentences and the words they choose.
Copy written by amateurs tends to sound too formal, almost robotic.
Don’t take it personally. If you’d read my previous blog posts, you’ll find I was guilty of this, too.
The reason why this happens is that we’ve been trained to write this way in school (no offense if you’re a teacher). It’s great when you’re writing a formal piece like an essay. But not with copy, especially those you’re publishing online. In fact, this will make your copy sound stiff, uptight, and downright boring.
A compelling copy’s one that sounds like your having a conversation with your readers. Not only is it easier to understand, but it also makes them more willing to connect with you.
To do this, you got to break a few rules.
English writing rules, that is.
Sound pretty radical. But if you seriously want to become a copywriter, hear me out.
There are some rules we’ve been taught in our English writing class that we’ve never followed when we’re talking. That’s why when you apply these rules to your copy, it sounds very unnatural.
Here they are:
English writing rule #1: Don’t end your sentences with a preposition.
Examples of prepositions are “to,” “with,” or “about.”
But think about it.
You don’t ask someone, “To whom you are writing?”
You ask, “Who are you writing to?” That sounds more natural.
English writing rule #2: Avoid writing in fragments.
This is among the most basic English writing rules we’ve been taught. Even some writers would say breaking this rule’s a big no-no. Always.
Then again, try recording yourself when you speak. You’ll be surprised how many fragments you’ve said.
But who cares? It’s how you talk.
Uh-oh! I just did it.
Whoops! There I go again.
See what I mean?
English writing rule #3: It’s a crime to use slang.
If you want your English teacher seething, try submitting a paper riddled with slang words and phrases.
It’s ain’t proper.
However, if that’s how you talk with your hommies, then roll with it.
There’s a fine line with this. And that’s this: only use slang you actually use. Otherwise, it’s going to sound you’re trying too hard.
2. Take out all the fluff.
By fluff, I mean those overly-complicated words that your readers will need a dictionary to understand, let alone pronounce.
Yes, these words may make you feel and sound smart. But they also intimidate your readers. That’s going to make their defenses go up and more hesitant to take action.
The solution: use short, simple words you use every day.
This will make your copy easy for your readers to understand.
Trello’s product tour page is an excellent example.
By using short, simple words in their copy, they’re able to explain how their product works in a way that’s crystal clear for their customers.
Using specific numbers also helps.
Rounded percentages and numbers make your copy hard to believe because, quite frankly, they’re easy to make up. And your readers know that.
Take a look at this copy from BidSketch’s homepage:
Note how they wrote out the exact percentage potential revenue potential clients can earn from their service. The number itself may not be too impressive, but it’s more believable. That’s what matters!
3. Write short paragraphs.
One of the things you got to remember when you become a copywriter is that writing online content is different from writing for print.
Perhaps the most significant difference between the two is the length of your paragraphs.
Long paragraphs on paper are fine. But online, they look intimidating and can easily overwhelm your readers.
As a rule of thumb, try sticking to just three sentences per paragraph or less.
And yes, it’s perfectly okay to even have paragraphs made of just one sentence.
4. Focus on the “Why.”
In today’s highly saturated online marketplace, it can be tough to get your target readers to pay attention, especially if the product’s very similar to your client’s competitors.
More than helping make your copy sound unique and stand out from your competitors, adding your why enables you to connect with your target customers on a more personal level.
Apple’s one company that does this exceptionally well.
Rather than focusing on the specs of their products, Apple focused their copy on their beliefs, principles, and values. In short, they focused on their “why.”
Bestselling author renowned speaker Simon Sinek calls this the “Golden Circle.”
So even though their products are getting a lot of bad reviews, they don’t sway their customers.
5. Write in the active voice.
To give you a refresher, a sentence written in the active voice is where the subject of your sentence does the action.
For example: She wrote an amazing copy for their product.
With the case of the passive voice, the object of the sentence acts upon the subject.
Here’s the example we’ve used earlier written in the passive voice: The amazing copy for their product was written by her.
You may probably be thinking, “there’s not much difference between the two, so why bother?”
Glad you asked.
Sentences written in the active voice use lesser words than the passive voice. This makes it easier to understand, no matter how complex it sounds.
Another reason is that it does a better job making an impact with your audience because your readers can easily visualize what you’re saying.
That’s not to say you should avoid writing sentences in the passive voice. In fact, there are instances where writing in the passive voice is more effective.
For example, there are cases when sentences in the active voice make you look like you’re getting up in your readers’ face. In cases like this, opting to use the passive voice will neutralize the sentence enough so that it still makes an impact without sounding offensive.
6. Make it easy to skim.
Let me let you in on a little secret: people don’t read online.
Studies show that people only scan through your entire copy, especially if they’re using a mobile device. If they do read your content, the most they’ll read is 20% of what you wrote.
When someone sees your copy for the first time, they’ll first scan it to see if it’ll be worth their time.
Only when something in your copy captures their attention will they slow down, and actually read through your copy.
Some ways how to make your copy easy to skim include:
- Dividing your copy into sections with subheadings
- Using bullet points and number lists
- Writing shorter paragraphs
7. Add testimonials in your copy.
As I mentioned earlier, testimonials help you write a copy that’ll effectively convert your readers into customers.
But that doesn’t mean you’ll include every single praise report your customers send. You also got to be strategic about it.
Here are some tips for doing this:
List your key clients first.
This is especially important if these clients are either social influencers or large-scale companies. Doing this will give your content that much-needed oomph in winning your readers’ trust.
Add a photo.
Source: Search Engine Journal
Having a photo of the person that gave you a testimonial helps increase the credibility of the testimony you add in your copy. After all, it’s going to be so easy for a copywriter to write up a testimonial.
Choose testimonials that strengthen your copy.
Review your copy and ask yourself: “Which areas do you want to put more emphasis?”
For example, if your copy’s highlighting the quality of customer service clients will get, choose testimonials that talk about that.
8. Show, don’t tell.
When I was a kid, we’d use to have a day in school for “Show and Tell” where we bring something (or someone) to class, and then we talk about it.
Well, this copywriting tip lends itself from that, except that here, you’ll focus on the “Show” part over the “Tell.”
So how do you do that? By paying attention to the little details.
Because it’s these little details that help your copy paint a picture in your reader’s mind not only what your product can do, but how it’ll help them.
A perfect example of this is this Rolls-Royce ad written by legendary copywriter and advertiser, David Ogilvy.
Source: Optimize Press
Right off the bat, you’ll see that the headline cleverly gives you lots of details about the car: It’s fast (well, for that time, at least), it’s fitted with a clock, and the engine’s very quiet.
It’s that attention to the fine details about the product that made this copy the company’s most successful and longest-running ad.
The key when it comes choosing which details to add in your copy, and how much to include, lies in how well you know your target audience.
Put yourself in your reader’s shoes and ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the features I’d like to know more about the product or service?
- How exactly would this product or service help solve my problems?
- What makes this product different from the others out there?
9. Tell a story.
I touched on this earlier, but this copywriting skill is so vital that it’s worth mentioning again.
You got to master the art of storytelling if you want to become a copywriter. People love telling, reading, and listening to stories. It’s also an effective way for people to learn new things while keeping themselves entertained.
There are two ways you can add stories to your copy. The first is by sharing a personal experience related to what you’ve written in your copy. This not only draws your readers in and pay attention to it but also learn a little bit more about yourself or the company you’re writing for.
The second way is to make your reader the hero of your story.
Putting your reader front and center of your story helps spark their imagination. They also feel the pain points you’ve shared in the copy more easily.
What’s more, it also brings to their mind other people they know experience the same thing. That’ll prompt them to share your copy with those in their personal network. In turn, you’ll get more eyeballs on your copy, which means more people you can convert into customers.
The best time to become a copywriter is now!
Marketers need you. Businesses need you.
If you’re seriously considering this, you got to practice and develop your skills. How well you write your copy won’t just affect your career, but the profits of the businesses that hire you.
I’ve shared guide everything you’ll need to learn and avoid as a copywriter. Reading this once and applying what I’ve shared here to your copy will give you quick wins.
I said earlier, copywriting is both an art and science. This guide’s helped you with the science part. The artsy side to copywriting is something that you’ll only develop by being committed to this craft and career.
Study the audience you’ll be writing for. Take time to learn as much as you can about the product or service you’ll be promoting.
Above all, don’t be afraid to bend and break a few rules and give each copy you write your personal touch. These are what will make you stand out from other copywriters, and make you an indispensable asset to your clients.