- “What’s the Experience?”
- 9 Copywriting Principles and Human Psychology Tips
- How to Be a Copywriter
- How to Copywrite: A 15-Step Copywriting Formula to Creating A Winning Promotion
- 5 Solid Copywriting Tips
- 2 Viable Copywriting Strategies
- Free Copywriting Resources To Further Your Learning
- A Few Copywriting Books to Read
- How to Write a Simple Sentence That Piques Self-Interest and Evokes Curiosity
- How to Get Copywriting Jobs and Gigs for Freelance Writers and Freelance Copywriters
- One of the Best Clients You Can Have is…Yourself
- How to Establish Yourself, Your Career, and Get Long-Term Clients as a Professional Copywriter
- How to Live a Great Life as a Copywriter
- Additional Tips and Things to Consider
While I don’t expect you to be a salesperson, the mechanics of copywriting and sales are very very similar: a person is presented with an offer, and they either invest/buy, or not. The principles of good salesmanship also apply to copywriting.
The copywriting industry is always looking for people who can produce results. If you want to learn how to be a successful copywriter–one who understands the needs of your prospects, makes irresistible offers, and creates success, then this may be the most interesting article on this subject you ever read.
There are a lot of great resources showing you how to copywrite–some of which I’ll mention here. These resources talk about the mechanics of copywriting. But, a lot of them miss something that I feel is the underlying, unseen dynamic that explains why your copywriting may (or may not be) successful.
So, exactly what is this underlying, unseen dynamic? It’s the #1 Secret to Great Copywriting. And that secret dynamic is W.T.E., which is the question:
I can hear you ask: “Okay…what?”
Let me explain it this way–and, if there’s only one thing you take from this article, it’s this: the #1 reason why anyone does anything (especially within the context of sales), is because they’re seeking a desirable experience (or to avoid an undesirable one).
Let’s use an example, and suppose you’re a professional copywriter who’s using their copywriting skills to write copy for a series of blog posts that promote a product or service.
It doesn’t really matter what that product or service is, but to illustrate things, let’s say that product is…a set of copywriting books.
And further, your readers may even say that they want that set of copywriting books.
And even though a successful percentage of the readers of your blog posts may go on to buy the books, ultimately, they don’t really want the books, even though that’s what they say.
What they really want are the experiences of what they believe the books will lead them to. Those experiences can be numerous things, but since these readers are aspiring professional copywriters, I’d say that the experiences they seek are a feeling of autonomy, a sense of accomplishment, and a feeling of confidence.
(Sure, there are many ways to word these experiences, but I think we can agree that the reason why people aspire to be copywriters is, ultimately, a variation of a feeling of success.)
Do those aspirations resonate with you? If so, good: I chose them because before writing this article, I asked myself, What’s the experience my readers are seeking?
You see, one of the first copywriting skills you should develop is this one: asking “What’s the experience that my target audience wants?”
There are 9 copywriting principles that should function as the framework you use in any type of copywriting projects you undertake:
- Human nature hasn’t changed. The oldest part of our brain (sometimes called the reptilian or primal brain) is still ever-present, and at the core of what we do. It’s interested in survival.
- As stated above, people do things because they want an experience (or to avoid a bad one).
- People want what’s in it for them. In fact, some playfully say that most peoples’ favorite radio station (or, TV channel) is WIIFM: What’s In it for Me.
- Self-interest is key to everyone’s survival, well-being, and at the back of every decision.
- Curiosity (especially combined with self-interest) can be key dynamics for winning and maintaining the attention of your prospects. (Did it work…? Did the title of this article pique your curiosity?)
- A successful copywriter knows that they are, in a way like a salesperson. In fact, copywriting was once described as “salesmanship in print” by John E. Kennedy, who was a successful advertiser. You can also say it’s persuasion in print. (Don’t take this the wrong way: a good salesperson isn’t pushy, but rather, helps a prospect make the best decision.)
- People don’t want to be “sold to,” but they do want to feel that they’ve made a great decision, which they arrived at with a combination of logic and emotion.
- Why are there usually more sales when prices are discounted? Because people want value. But, there are many, many ways to measure value other than “value for your dollar.” Convenience, time savings, customer service, aesthetics, delivery options, and done-for-you are just a few ways of conveying value. (And yes, there is something called “perceived value,” but your job is to make that value proposition as real as physically possible.)
- In copywriting, if you can simply present a good offer to an appropriate prospect at the right time and place, and communicate that they’ll get more in value than what they pay for it, a lot of your work will be complete.
Habits help to contribute to what you are.
So, if you want to be a great copywriter, you need to develop the habit of habitually doing things that great copywriters do.
- Learning about human nature.
- Taking this article to heart.
- Reading good sales promotions and their compelling copy and understanding why they worked.
- Copying out great sales letters and landing pages by hand.
- Doing the things that a good copywriter does: write compelling copy (even if only for practicing), and tracking results.
Depending on the scope of the promotion and the aims of the company, there are many, many things that can go into the creation of a marketing campaign for your own business that reaches prospective customers and turns them into current customers. The 15 steps I’ve detailed below can be divided into a seemingly limitless number of steps.
That said, I think that the creation of almost any sizable promotion involves the following 15 steps.
- Have a caring desire to provide value and make a difference in someone’s life. This attitude will put you in the right state of being, a place that will propel you to find honest offers that will make a difference.
- Do your research–into the market, the prospect, the specific audience, the offer, the product, the company, past promotions, current promotions, competitors…everything that’s viable.
- Know what the objectives of your client are. Do they want to gain newsletter subscribers? Have a sale? Introduce a new product line? Gain more followers in their social media platforms? brand awareness?
- Learn about the promotion. Is it a one-off? A sequential series of promotions? Where will the promotion be seen?
- What propositions do you think will win the attention of your potential customers (This is where piquing curiosity comes in.) It’s good to know what will gain the attention of your prospect, because you can use that in the initial headline, image, and opening sentences of your promotion.
- When you sit down to create your promotion, think of your prospect, their level of product/solution awareness, and what you can say to attract their attention.
- Write a number of potential headlines, and pick the one you think is best. (A good headline has some element of curiosity and self-interest.)
- Write your opening sentences. Keep in mind that you have to keep holding their attention.
- Talk about the problem they may be having.
- Make them distinctly aware of the consequences this is having on their lives.
- Introduce the solution: your product, the product’s features, or the service that you offer, all the benefits they get.
- Provide proof in the form of testimonials, stats, studies, charts, demonstrations, etc.
- Make your offer–present the price.
- State your guarantee, return policy, or risk-reversal.
- Provide your call to action, ask for the sale.
- Track your results.
- If this will be an ongoing promotion, then you can work to improve your written copy and your writing process (subsequent headlines, split-testing, etc). One way to improve your promotion would be to measure your conversion rate and use split-testing to try to increase your conversion rate.
- The offer is the most important part of the promotion. By offer, I don’t just mean the product or service, I mean how you present it, how you show it’s value. Show that the buyer gets more in value than they exchange in payment, time, and effort.
- The headline is usually one of the first things your prospect will see. To help you come up with a good headline, refer to a set of proven copywriting headlines. Use them as models to come up with your own headlines.
- I know I’ve said it before, but it’s worth stating: copy out, by hand, classic, winning promotions. That way, with enough repetition, the mechanics of writing good copy will be ingrained in you on a neurological level.
- Every prospect is at a different stage of product awareness. (If you’re not sure what the Buyer’s Journey or Eugene M. Schwartz’s Stages of Awareness are, you may wish to look into those.) You want to either present your offer when the prospect is ready, or slowly, step after step, coax them toward your offer. That may mean repeated messages or some type of ‘sales funnel.’
- When planning a promotion, you don’t have to start from scratch. If there are competitors in your space, see if you can discover what works for them. Don’t do this to outright copy or plagiarize, but to get just a handful of ideas that can be your reference for your landing page, blog post, etc.
- Using everything you learn (both here, and on your own), you can begin conceptualizing your own multi-part promotion. It’s a lot of work, but the strategy is simple: know your prospect, meet them where they are, and lead them to an experience they seek. Simple. Not easy, but simple.
- Build split-testing into your process. Split-testing is where you test one version of something against another. For example, Headline A vs. Headline B. Then, you run traffic to each one, and after a certain amount of traffic is sent to each one, you pick the winner. (Facebook does something like this, so if you advertise there, you may wish to learn more.) Split-testing, over time, can lead to new discoveries like what writing style work for your audience, what copy brings in more traffic and ever-increasing sales.
The Gary Halbert Letter, (TheGaryHalbertLetter.com) Gary Halbert is said to have been one of the most successful copywriters of all time. His Gary Halbert Letter is a treasure trove of what it’s like to be such a person.
Swiped.co is a resource of winning promotions. You can look through their catalogue and see what past promotions were like. The word swiped refers to swipe file. If you’re not sure what a swipe file is, it’s basically a term that refers to something copywriters did in the past (and continue to do today): take a file folder and, whenever they found a winning promotion (in the newspaper, in a magazine or even a phone book), they’d cut it out and place it in their file folder. That file folder was called a swipe file.
Neil Patel’s List of 75 Copywriting Resources These 75 resources are a library of information. Neil Patel has done well in compiling these, and although I haven’t looked at each of these 75 in detail, I’m happy to recommend this list to you.
I love reading books about a topic that I’m passionate about. There are many, many books on copywriting. The ones listed below are some solid ones I’d recommend.
The Go-Giver, by Bob Burg and John David Mann, is one of the most influential books I’ve ever read. It may seemingly not apply to copywriting, but I believe that if you really read it and can understand it’s message, you’ll know exactly how it applies to copy writing.
Cashvertising, by Drew Eric Whitman, is a book with dozens upon dozens of points pertaining to sales psychology. It’s a refreshing read that takes a different approach to this. It’s not a dense how-to, but rather, a packed, quick read.
Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, is a writer’s reference book. While it may not have been written with copywriting in mind, it was written to help you communicate better with the written word. If you want to write professionally, a book like this should be in your library.
The Ultimate Sales Letter, by Dan S. Kennedy, can be thought of as a how-to for writing sales promotions. It’s been recommended by many direct-response copywriters.
The Robert Collier Letter Book, by Robert Collier, is a book that may take you time to work through, but I think it’s worth it. Depending on the edition you get, it may be a bit dense and hard to read, but it’s packed with hard-won wisdom.
Breakthrough Advertising, by Eugene M. Schwartz, is probably one of the most universally-recommended copywriting books I’ve ever seen. I think what it’s most known for is it’s Stages of Awareness. This book may be expensive, but if you take it seriously, it may be worth the investment. You can get it at BreakthroughAdvertisingBook.com
If you can write a simple sentence that has some persuasive power, then you can move onto more complex sentences that pack even more punch.
That’s it. That’s the sentence–or rather, a sentence. It’s a one-word sentence, and because of the lead-in I built up for it (how to write a sentence that piques curiosity), that one-word sentence hopefully either got you interested, or continued your interest.
I hope it definitely got you to want to read further. I know that because, presumably, you read the sentences above, and are reading this one.
If I had to boil it down to 2 things, I’d say that writing persuasive sentences involves:
- Mentioning something that the person ought to be curious about or interested in, and
- Continuing that thought by implying that, by reading further, they’ll find out more.
That’s really all it boils down to. Average sentences merely state facts, which are also necessary, but you also want to continue the conversation until you lead the reader to a conclusion. As you practice, you’ll develop your own copywriting process.
There are sites such as Fiverr.com, and Guru.com where you can show your expertise.
But first, before you try to claim to be a professional freelance copywriter, you need to be certain that you can get results for your clients.
But, how do you get results for clients when you don’t have clients to begin with, when, in order to get those clients, you need to prove you’ve gotten clients?
It’s seemingly a never-ending circle.
What you can do is enroll in a copywriting course.
Then, you can write copy for one of your own projects.
Yes, you heard me right: write for yourself. In fact, that’s so important I’m going to give it it’s own heading:
If you can write profitable sales copy for yourself, then you’ve earned the right to claim that you can do it for others.
There are a few steps you can take toward writing for yourself:
- Undertake one or two copywriting certification programs or online courses. The American Writers and Artists Institute (AWAI) is a good, authoritative source for such programs.
- Find a market that can use an information product.
- Create that information product (which isn’t too difficult).
- Write the copy for that product. (Ads, emails, promotional material.)
- Run traffic to that product, whether it be paid ads, SEO, etc.
- If that copy sells your product, then congratulations! You’re a copywriter!
As an alternative, instead of writing copy for your own product, you can become an affiliate for another company, and create your own sales letter that pre-sells their product. If your sales letter converts, then you’re a copywriter!
Once you’ve followed the advice above and proven that you have copywriting skills, you can then rightfully establish yourself as a somewhat experienced copywriter. There are numerous ways to do this.
Here are a few steps you can take to start your successful copywriting business.
- Know that you can be a professional. Own it and step into it. You’ve already proven this to yourself.
- Create a website (or find a website) where you can have a portfolio of your writing samples and a list of your copywriting services.
- Create and promote content that would appeal to prospective clients.
- Write guest posts that portray the value that a good content writer can provide to business people.
- If you can, meet the person at the company you’ll be dealing with. Or maybe you can connect with them over a Zoom call or the phone. Meeting someone gives you another level of association with them–they’re not just a name or an email; you can actually say you’ve at least spoken to them.
- I think it’s rare, but if you do get to work for a big client or marketing agency, see if you can have some sort of ongoing, preferably passive-income arrangement with them. Maybe you can agree that you get a percentage of the profits of the sales funnels you create, for as long as they run. Or (even though this isn’t passive), maybe you agree to do a certain quantity of work each month.
- One of the great things about being an in-demand copywriter is that you can, theoretically, set your own hours. Plus, with a lot of this being remote work, you can work from anywhere you have an Internet connection.
- When you have all the free time you want, as well as the income to enjoy that free time, you have the basics for a promising copywriting career that can give you a great life.
- With all that said, it usually takes some time and effort to get to that point. Thankfully, there are a lot of copywriting courses and how-to programs available online. You can start there, build a portfolio of successful campaigns, and then run your own promotions yourself!
Content marketing can be defined as using content (whether it be articles, an email series, white papers, videos, audios, images, etc.) to spread information about a company’s offers. A copywriter doesn’t have to just write promotional pieces–they can also do softer, informative content.
Writing white papers (assuming you have expertise and the vocabulary for that industry) are another type of content you can offer.
Have you considered that you can offer social media management to your clients and other business owners? Why not write social media posts for them?
While I don’t like the phrase ‘copywriting formulas’ (because it can imply that this is simply formulaic with no intuitive aspect), there are some proven formulas and sales letter structures that you can refer to when you’re stuck or need a boost.
It’s been said that it’s easier to sell to a current customer than it is to try to find a potential customer. That’s why you should treasure your customers. If you treat a current customer well, they may spread the word to someone else, who may be a target customer.
When doing research on your prospective customer, you should keep in mind the level of awareness they’ll have when they come across your advertising campaigns.
Unless you have a high hourly rate, you may wish to consider how you’ll be compensated, whether it be per project, monthly, or hourly. I’d say you should consider being paid per project (assuming that the pay is worth your time). That way, your pay isn’t directly tied to hours, which can free up time for you.
There are a wide variety of copywriting examples online. If you’re looking for headlines, openings, and instructions, the books recommended above are a good start.
With everything I’ve told you here, I think you now have a solid informational base on how to copywrite.
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