Are There Really Proven Copywriting Exercises To Help Me Practice Copywriting Skills?
I’m often asked how a copywriter can practice to improve their copywriting skills. Many have wanted a list of copywritng exercises they can follow. This is most likely because I’ve been a copywriter myself for over 14 years, and I’ve studied under some of the most famous names in the copywriting world. The bottom line is, if you want to get better, you’ve got to perform some basic copywriting exercises.
If you’re looking for copywriting exercises you can use today to practice your copywriting skills; then this is the post for you.
I’ve included 21 of my best tips and tricks to quickly become a better copywriter by practicing the following 21 copywriting exercises below.
Just remember, reading about improving your copywriting skills is NOT the same as actually practicing the skills. So make sure to put everything I’m sharing below into practice.
The Difference Between Results & Desire Is Practice
Michael Giannulis (just now.)
1. Read Classic Copywriting Books
I’ll start with this one because it’s a no-brainer. Don’t worry, though; we get into some really good stuff here a little later in the post. But you must know what you’re doing when it comes to copywriting. Otherwise, all the copywriting exercises in the world won’t help you.
The great news is that there’s not a lot of “new” stuff going on when it comes to the core of copywriting. The changes are in how the presentation is made, but because humans haven’t changed much in thousands of years, neither has good old fashioned copywriting.
So even the oldest books still hold up pretty well (I would also argue better than current books which over-focus on tactics instead of strategies and principles).
Here’s a quick list of my top 5 (note: Affiliate Links – if you buy from my link, I make money – oh the horror!)
- How To Write A Good Advertisement – Schwab
- The Robert Collier Letterbook – Collier
- The Copywriter’s Handbook – Bly
- Scientific Advertising – Hopkins
- The Ultimate Sales Letter – Kennedy
Read each of those books, but you must not just read and “forget.” After each chapter, right down in your own words, 3-5 ideas, or concepts that you’ve learned. This is a secret for learning anything. Read, Process, Write. Once you write it down in your own words, your odds of remembering something go way up.
Check out this short video on that subject of writing down what you read:
How To Read And Understand Anything
2. Write 3 New Headlines Everyday
This is the least you should be doing. Every single day you want to write at least three new headlines to help you write better copy. Ogilvy (master copywriter) assumed that 80% of the results from a sales letter came from the headline.
In other words, if you’re paying money, .80 cents of every dollar is going towards the headline. That means you better get the headline right if you want your ad or copy to work.
So, you’ve got to improve headline writing. You need practice. Here’s what I recommend you do. Spend at least 15 minutes a day thinking of headline ideas for everyday products you see and hear. Then write at least three different headlines to try to serve as the anchor for a sales letter that would sell that product.
Here are a few tips when thinking about writing headlines. There are tons of different headline formulas out there, but in general, they are broken down into four different categories:
- Headlines that stoke curiosity to get you to read more
- Headlines that offer you a clear benefit for reading more
- Headlines that use fear/scare tactics to get you to read more
- Headlines that sound like news or information to get you to read more
Notice the trend? The whole point of the headline is to get you to read more. The headline has one primary goal – to grab the attention of the reader, so they stop what they’re doing and keep reading.
It doesn’t matter how good the rest of your copy is, if they don’t get pulled in by the headline, they will carry on with their day and not think twice about you again.
Here’s a few quick examples of headline ideas you could write. I’ll give an example of each category trying to sell something basic – like coffee. In the real world, we would do lots of research on coffee first. Where it came from, why it’s different, etc.
But for now, we’re just selling basic coffee – the cheap stuff.
This Rare Dark Bean May Hold The Answer To Quick Energy, But Will It Work For You?
This is a curiosity based headline. notice it doesn’t reveal coffee but renames it.
Discover How To Get Near Boundless Energy Without The Crash
common benefit driven headline. Get X without y.
WARNING: If You’re Not Drinking This Every Morning You Could Be Headed To An Early Grave!
fear for sure, plus curiosity. just make sure this is true with scientific studies!
11 Ways Coffee Improves Your Skin, Digestion, Energy, & More…
sets up to read more like an article/content which pulls in more sophisticated buyers
3. Write 3 New Leads Every Day
What exactly is a lead? In short, the lead in copywriting is the first 3-6 paragraphs that open the sales letter after the headline. The lead has three main goals:
- Continue the conversation you started with the headline (deliver on the promise of the headline in some way).
- Keep the reader reading… it needs to be punchy and well written.
- Continue to build curiosity, so the reader keeps reading the sales letter.
So how do you go about writing these leads? You should start by knowing the types of leads that there are. The best book on this subject is by Mark Ford, and it’s called Great Leads. (affiliate link). I highly recommend the book even though it’s now only available on kindle. It’ll be amongst the best $10 you’ll ever spend if you are serious about becoming a good copywriter.
Anyway, as you read that book, you’ll discover there are six basic lead types, and they are as follows:
- The Offer Lead – this is the direct approach to lead with the product or a discount or a price. You do this when you just want to get to the point, and the reader most likely already knows who you are and what you do.
- The Promise Lead – Lead with the biggest benefit your product offers and keep talking about it.
- Problem-Solution Lead – Instead of starting with the product, you call out the problem the reader is facing, then explain how the solution is found in your product.
- Big Secret Lead – This one never quite gives away what you’re talking about. Uses ideas and phrases like “system” or “strategy” without revealing it. This doesn’t work as well as it once did, especially with paid traffic.
- Proclamation Lead – Here, you want to disarm the reader with a startling fact or a shocking detail. Pull them in with something outrageous or bold (such as a prediction) and then weave that into your product.
- Story Lead – The oldest lead of all time. Open with the story of the product creation, or the product creator, or a testimonial, or any other story that emotionally connects with the reader and pulls them in.
I have just given you a poor man’s version of Great Leads by Mark Ford, so do us all a favor and buy it. (affiliate link)
Anyway, what you’ll want to do as part of your copywriting exercise is to write at least three new leads every day. It should be part of what you do with your headline writing. Because in reality, the lead is just an extension of the headline.
Here’s a quick example of a “Secret” Lead picking up on our coffee headline above. Notice how the lead continues to conversation without revealing coffee just yet.
“This Rare Dark Bean May Hold The Answer To Quick Energy, But Will It Work For You?“
It’s true. There is a rare dark bean found growing naturally deep within the rare rain forests of Colombia. This bean has been used by the locals there for centuries as an instant energy boost.
They describe the energy boost as “almost magical,” and the best part of all is there’s no crash after like is common with sugar and other energy drink products.
So, if you’re looking for quick energy without the crash, this rare dark bean may be exactly what you’re looking for. However, it’s NOT for everyone. More on that in a moment. First…
From this point, I would move on to either more facts about the coffee bean or maybe even keep up the “locals talk”… like how they first discovered it. Notice, however, that I never reveal the coffee name. And I keep building up tension and curiosity.
That is something every great lead should do. Now, this example above is not excellent copy. I would have to spend a lot more time to write something good. This is just to give you an example.
So, as part of your daily copywriting exercises, you should practice writing leads.
4. Think About How To Make Something Normal Sound Outrageous
This goes along quite well with our talk about writing a great lead. The cardinal sin of copywriting is being boring. Many are afraid to write long copy because they think people won’t read that much.
The reality is people will read 1000 pages – if it’s not boring. Have you ever heard of Harry Potter? How long are those books? Now, I get it. We’re writing ads to sell stuff, not entertain.
But therein lies the secret. The more you can entertain the reader and educate the reader and enlighten the reader, the longer they will read. And the more time they spend reading your material, the higher the likelihood they’ll buy the product.
So, one way we make the copy more attractive and thus more entertaining is by turning “normal” things into outrageous sounding things. Like in the above example, we turned coffee into a “rare dark bean.”
I know that’s a cheesy example, but it’s crucial in copywriting. Especially if you’re selling a “me too” product or a product that has a lot of competition. What I’m describing as “outrageous” is just a loud way of saying that you should make sure your product or angle or hook has two essential components:
- Your product should have a unique selling proposition (USP), which means that you need to focus on the best element of your product and make it sound as unique as you can. Make your product look like it’s one of a kind.
- Your problem should be solved by what is known in the industry as a “unique mechanism.” This simply means that the way in which your product solves the problem should sound unique and different.
Now, odds are, you won’t always sell a product with a clear USP or a Unique Mechanism. That is where the above copywriting exercise comes into play. Don’t’ call it coffee; call it a rare dark bean. Don’t call it an iPod, call it 1000 songs in your pocket. Don’t call it an eBook; call it an enhanced digital book with dynamic content.
You get the idea. So you should spend a portion of your time thinking about regular things like food, products in your house, and the ads you see on TV. Think about different ways you could describe the product or the mechanism, and write the ideas down.
The more you do this, the better you’ll get. Promise.
5. Create A Swipe File
This one is almost safe explanatory. But I’ll explain it anyway because there are a few points I want to make sure you understand. When you are assigned a copywriting project, you’ll want to start by researching the topic thoroughly.
One great way to sort of “cheat code” that is to look for copywriting examples that already exist selling your product. Over time, you may come to specialize in selling that type of product, such as financial newsletters, health offers, supplements, or other industries (B2B, for example).
So, what you want to do is as you do your research, you want to create a folder on your desktop (or Google Drive) with all your favorite samples of great copy. You should organize it by type of sales letter, and if you get fancy, you can even tag it with things like sales letter, Video Sales Letter, Blog Post, Advertorial, Banner Copy, etc.
The key here is you want to build up a lot of “swipe” copy. That way, when you are assigned your next project, you can skim through examples to give you some ideas. It goes without saying, but don’t steal anything. Don’t copy anything word for word.
Copywriters will find out, and they’ll put you on blast. No one likes having their work stolen.
But I will give you a little bit of a head start. There’s a great website that allows you to search for and find thousands of the best sales letters out there for copywriters. And last time I checked, I believe it’s free.
So, head over to Swiped.co and make it a goal to add three swipes a day to your internal swipe folder.
6. Read One Swipe Per Day And Study It
This goes along with number 5. Make sure a day doesn’t go by when you’re not reading another sales letter written by someone else.
This is one of the best copywriting exercises you can do. You’ve got to fill your brain up with lots of copywriting samples in order to practice your copywriting skills. You want to see how other people used the headline to move into the lead.
You want to see how they structured the offer, how they laid out the testimonials, and so much more.
You can only learn this by study. So, you’ve got to spend time and read and study up on some of the greats.
Again, heading over to Swiped (mentioned above) will help you get this done.
7. Write Out In Your Own Words Why The Ad Worked
This is another example of taking internal dialogue and converting it to the written word. After you’ve read your “swipe of the day” right away, sit down and write down what you liked about the sales letter.
Explain why you think it worked so well. Layout the argument that made you want to buy the product.
On the other hand, if the ad didn’t work on you at all, explain why. Write out what you didn’t like about the ad, why it fell flat for you. Then, if you want to become a better copywriter, rewrite the portions you didn’t like and turn them into copywriting you do like.
This little copywriting exercise can help you get better faster. Few people do this because most of us are just taught to read and think. But the reality is we need to read, think, and write to learn and retain something.
You’ll be amazed at what you come up with once you start typing.
8. Handwrite Famous Ads
If you want to improve your copywriting skills, this is the most important exercise you can do daily for rapid skill growth.
You know that ad I told you to study every day? The one that is part of your swipe file? You should take about an hour and handwrite as much of the ad as you possibly can.
Now, some of these sales letters are long, so you’ll never copy it all in an hour. Just pick up the next day where you left off. And before you think I’m crazy, this suggestion first came from the greatest copywriter of all time, Gary Halbert.
Just read these instructions from Gary on the importance of handwriting copy:
Now that you’ve obtained copies of these ads and letters, I want you to sit down and copy them out word-for-word in your own handwriting. Next, I want you to create a hand-drawn layout of each ad and direct mail package.
From the gary halbert letter “Hands-On Experience”
Gary was a true genius, inventing, and taking copywriting from salesmanship to an art form. I highly suggest you read his instructions for rapidly improving your copywriting skills through this copywriting practice.
Head over to Gary Halbert On Handwriting Sales Letters to read it now (it’s FREE).
And if you’re wondering why this works, there’s no real science as of yet that has proven it, but I’ll give you my quick theory. I think that our brain is strongly tied to our hands—the whole “hand-eye” coordination and muscle memory thing.
So, the more you handwrite something, you are getting that info and format/structure into your brain directly. Over time, you’ll start to think and write like what you’ve copied. And if you’re copying from the best, your odds of success have just gone up.
And I highly recommend you check out this paid program that gives you a guided tour through the highest converting sales letters of all time, allowing you to copy the parts by hand while explaining how it all works. The program is called CopyHour and I’ve done it myself and it’s amazing. Click here to check out the next group session.
Note: the above is an affiliate link.
With that out of the way, let’s keep moving. As Gary Halbert would say. Onward.
9. Talk To Regular People To Find Out Why They Buy Stuff
You’d be shocked how many people want to practice copywriting, but don’t take the time to talk to real-life people to get a better idea of why people buy.
Let me let you in on a little secret in case you didn’t know this already. Copywriting is just sales. That’s right. Copywriting is selling. The only difference is you are selling using the written word or audio/video.
But at the end of the day, it’s just selling. So, if you want to get better as a copywriter fast, you need to learn how to sell. The best way to do that is to talk to regular people and do your best to get to the bottom of why they buy stuff.
One problem with this copywriting exercise is that people will lie to you. They aren’t lying so much as they don’t know the real reason why they bought something. So, when you talk to them, really probe deep.
Ask emotional questions and keep asking WHY? People will say they bought a car for the color or maybe the gas mileage. But odds are, there’s a deeper reason. If it’s a sports car, is it because they are getting older and want to feel younger? If it’s a mini-van, are they trying to shift their identity to “Mom”?
You also should pay attention to the way they describe things. Because, even if they don’t end up giving you the real reason they bought something, they will provide you with the surface reasons.
These surface reasons are what I call “justification points.” These are the logical reasons we tell ourselves to justify our emotional and sometimes irrational decision making. You can use these arguments in your copywriting because they will give the reader the excuse he’s looking for as to “why” he bought something.
You are arming her with the ammo she needs to justify her purchase to friends or family. And you’ll discover all this by just asking someone why they bought something.
Try to do this at least once a week.
10. Pay Attention To Ads You Hear On The Radio
This one is short and easy. As I’ve gotten better and better at copywriting, I’ve found one way that I like to practice my copy skills is by listening to the radio more intently.
It may be weird, but many times I’ll find myself changing the station to find ads to listen to. As you’re doing this, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Think macro. What kind of station are you listening to and what kind of ads are they playing? This is doing demographic research. You can even reach out to radio stations owned iHeart and ask them to send you a Cluster Overview.
This document shows all the local radio stations and breaks down the average age, gender, and ethnic/race backgrounds of the listeners as well as listener size.
Here’s an example of the iHeart stations by me here in Tampa.
Next, you want to listen to the ad itself. What kind of opening did they use? What was the headline? How did they keep people listening? Did they take a direct approach with the offer? Or did they feature a testimonial and use it as a story.
This is why I’m never bored in the car. For me, the ads are more fun than the music.
And, if you want to improve your copywriter skills even faster, go home and rewrite some of the ads to make them even better. Just remember radio ads are really short when written out. Usually, one page per 30 seconds or so.
11. Pay Attention To Emails That Made You Open (And Click)
This one goes along with the radio copywriting exercise. And this also makes for great practice. You most likely get a few hundred emails a week, at least. Many of these are nothing more than copywriting messages.
If you open an email authentically because something about it attracted you, remember that email. Even better, add it to your swipe file then write down exactly why that email spoke to you. Write down why you think you opened it.
And be honest with yourself. Don’t delude yourself with “justification points.” Then, you want to look at the emails that made you click on the link to learn more. What did it take to get you to click?
Getting a click online these days is no small feat. Everyone is so busy and scattered; the message must have spoken to you. Write down why it worked. Write down ideas you can apply in your email writing.
This is such a great exercise to improve your copywriting. Don’t overlook it because it’s simple. Sometimes, the simple stuff is what gets us the fastest results.
12. Learn To Write Like You Talk By Reading More Fiction Dialogue
This is one that I see a lot of new copywriters struggle with. And it goes one of two ways. Either they write in a professional, stilted manner OR (and maybe worse), they start talking in “copy talk.”
Here’s an example of each type of incorrect talking.
Professional - Dear Sir, it has come to my attention that your organization may be in need of my business services. It would give me great pleasure if I may have the honor of preparing a visual slide show during which time I might present to you numerous options I believe may provide value to your firm.
Copy Talk - To The Happiest CEO In The World: What? You? Happy? I know it's absolutely INSANE to think that you could be happy, but let me tell you why it's true. I'm about to reveal to you, for the first time ever, the one and only SECRET SAUCE you need to EXPLODE your business, SKYROCKET your PROFITS AND REDUCE your workload by 116%!!
In the professional version, you may attempt to use big words, so you sound smart. You may make the mistake of thinking you are talking to a “business owner” when, in reality, you are talking to a human. A human that has needs just like you and me.
In the Copy Talk version, you are making the mistake of talking in copy lingo. You may have read a post about copywriting buzzwords, so you start throwing in words like discover, amazing, secret, tremendous, wow, incredible, etc.
While these words can be used, too many copywriters overdo it because they want to sound like copywriters. In the next lesson, I’ll give you a copywriting exercise you can perform to figure out how you should talk.
But for this exercise, your goal is to learn how to write like people speak. If you go back and read this post, you’ll see that I don’t necessarily follow all the rules of grammar. I start sentences with words like But, And, and Because. Sometimes, I use short sentences or ellipses when I shouldn’t. That’s because I’m doing my best to write like I would talk.
And you should do that as well when writing copy. The way you can get good at this is by reading fiction books and honing in on how the characters speak. Look at the pacing of their words, the word choices, the way the author plays with the dialect of different characters.
Now, if you’re not a huge fan of fiction books, you can do the same thing by watching a lot of movies and TV shows. Listen to how they speak. Listen to the pauses, the breaks, the wrong words. You want to develop an ear for how people talk.
Because the longer you do Copywrite, the more you’ll discover that you’ll be writing in different people’s voices. So you need to learn how to listen and develop the ability to mimic the speaking style of the product creator frequently.
And how you speak will change based on the product creator. If it’s a weight management program created by a Doctor, you will need to sound more like a Doctor. If it’s a skateboarding kit (whatever that is), you will want to modify your language to sound like that type of person.
Make it your goal to read at least one fiction book per month or watch at least 2-3 movies per month, focusing on dialogue. Develop your ear. For bonus practice, write a 1-2 paragraph monologue in one of the character’s voices than compare it to the original book. See if a friend can pick which one you wrote and which one is actually from the book.
Hey, at least this copywriting exercise involves reading fiction or watching a movie! Can’t beat that, right?
13. Write A Letter To Your Mom (Or Someone Close To You) Selling Them On An Idea
In the previous copywriting exercise, we talked about writing like people talk. We said that it wasn’t good to be too professional or too “copy talk.” So, how should you write? This next copywriting exercise will help you immensely.
Here’s what to do. Think of someone you know and like a lot. I use my Mom or one of my Aunt’s. You can use whoever you want. But what you’re going to do is you’re going to write a letter to them.
The whole idea of the letter is you want to sell them on an idea. It could be something important to you or just a random thought you just came up with. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, you don’t even have to send them the letter.
I guess at this point; I should say – this could be an email as well. But the idea of physically writing a letter makes this a little cooler in my experience. So, as you’re writing the letter, I want you to be very conscious of the language you are using. I don’t want you in “copy talk” mode. I want you to write a persuasive letter to someone you love.
Notice how you don’t go overboard with claims or promises? You barely use exclamation marks or question marks? You don’t feel the need to browbeat them in the letter or “call out pain points”?
You are just talking. One on one. To a single person about an important issue. This is how you need to treat every sales letter you write. You are writing to one person, and as you write more copywriting sales letters in the future, you should be thinking like that.
The real truth I want to get you to realize is this. When you write a letter to your Mom, for example, you are treating her with respect. You aren’t trying to exploit her or convince her, or get her to do something that isn’t in her best interest, right?
You need to be in that zone every time you write. You want to treat your potential customers with respect and talk to them in a way that they will be open and receptive to hear what you have to say.
By practicing this copywriting exercise at least once a week, you’ll see a rapid improvement in your ability to empathize with your prospect.
14. Study Persuasion Tactics
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it one thousand times. Copywriting is selling. Selling is persuading. Therefore, copywriting is persuading. Sorry for opening up with the logic chain there, but it’s essential to make sure you spend a reasonable amount of time working on getting better at Persuasion.
There’s a very famous book in copywriting circles by a scientist named Robert Cialdini. He wrote an incredible book called “Influence.” (affiliate link) The whole idea of the book is how we persuade other people.
Cialdini ended up breaking down seven key ways to persuade people. He uncovered these through years of meticulous testing in the field. He would test different phrases and ways to say things.
For example, he did one study where he would have a student attempt to cut in front of someone else waiting in line to use the copy machine (this was a long time ago!). He began by having the person say, “Excuse me, would you mind if I cut in front of you because I’m gonna be late to class?”
Predictably, this had a very high rate of success—94%, to be exact. However, when just asking to cut in line with no reason, the success rate dropped to 60%. But what’s most surprising is that he did another test where the student said, “Excuse me, would you mind if I cut in front of you because I need to make copies?”
Incredibly this sentence still had a success rate of 93%. It turns out that the magic word is “because.” It didn’t matter what the reason was. As humans, when we hear the word “because,” we assume a valid reason is coming, so we comply. It’s a rather remarkable discovery.
So, here’s a quick look at the 7 Influence discoveries that Cialdini made. You need to dive in much deeper on this topic and add the study of Persuasion to your copywriting exercises.
- Reciprocity – give someone something for free, and they feel like they owe you, so they are more likely to buy from you in the future.
- Consistency & Commitment – Once you get someone to make a small commitment, they are more likely to make further commitments. This is why marketing funnels work so well.
- Social Proof – Humans are herd animals. If we see proof that it worked with others, that lowers our fears about trying something new.
- Authority – We can’t know everything, so we’ve learned to accept authority figures to tell us what to do. You can use authority by focusing on the expert who created your product.
- Liking – The more you like someone, the more likely you are to buy from them. Create empathy and a bond by relating to the prospect with your copy
- Scarcity – What do we want? That which we think we can’t have! When an item is scarce (or related – urgent – like a deadline), our desire for it increases. Why? Who knows for sure, probably some leftover programming from our ancestors.
- Unity – This is one that was added recently. It’s not in the original book. But it speaks to the idea that we want to belong to a group or community. This is why cults do so well. If you can create a “tribe” around your product, push that in your copywriting.
Alright, that’s a quick rundown on Persuasion. You should practice using each of these strategies in your day to day life and also in your copy. And make sure you read the book!
15. Become A Student Of Psychology & Human Behavior
This one goes right along with the previous topic, so I won’t berate the point too much. But as part of your copywriting exercises, you want to spend some time studying human behavior as well as Psychology.
As for me, I’ve come to love Psychology so much, I am thinking of going back and getting a Masters Degree in Psychology, so this exercise suggestion may be a little bit biased.
Spend at least one hour a week over at Psychology Today and read articles that have to do with human behavior and decision making. You’ll be amazed at the insights you’ll uncover that apply directly to copywriting.
For example, most of the problems we have stemmed from previous trauma. If you can uncover some of those pain points by reading studies, you can use those in your copy to better relate to your prospect.
If you relate better, you’ll empathize better with their problem. This will cause them to bond with you and like you more. This triggers the “liking” aspect of Persuasion, and you’re off to the races.
16. Read Your Copy (And Others) Out Loud
Here’s another short and quick copywriting exercise that is sure to please. With this strategy, all you need to do is read the copy out loud. Start with the pieces you’ve written. Just sit or stand and read it word for word.
You can try to make it sound as “talk-like,” as you can as opposed to robotic. What you are listening for is the cadence and sound of the words. This is one of the toughest things I’ve tried to explain before, but good copywriting has a certain “ring” to it.
It flows word by word, line by line, paragraph by paragraph. If there are any areas where you stammer or get stuck or if it just doesn’t make sense… that is the part you need to edit.
Likewise, spend some time (I recommend at least once a week) reading out loud a piece of copy that you know performed well. Perhaps something from Swiped that we mentioned earlier.
Pay attention to how it reads, how it sounds to the ear. Focus not on the words, but the flow. As you read it out loud, picture in your mind’s eye yourself seeing the words on a sales letter that you wrote.
I know I’m bordering on the woo woo now, so I’ll stop. But you want to practice your copywriting skills by reading as many sales letters out loud as you can and focusing on the cadence and pacing.
17. Create A Copy Club To Get Reviews
If you’re serious about getting better at copywriting, then you should look at putting together a small group of people who are also copywriters. (Or who are working towards that goal).
You’ll want to share your work with them and get feedback. Here are a few copywriting exercises you can do with a small group:
- Read each other’s copy out loud to see where the mistakes or issues are
- Practice editing for each other
- Pitch “big ideas” to each other – the hooks and concepts that are the primary driver of sales results
- Do a full review of the product you are offering to see if there are different ways to break the product down into various offers.
- Ask for ideas on bonuses or additional ways to make the product better.
And here’s one more tip for when it comes time to edit your copy or the copy of another copywriter. This advice comes from a great book called Copy Logic! (affiliate link) By Michael Masterson (aka Mark Ford).
This book is GREAT when it comes to editing copy, especially when you’re editing other people’s copy and need to be a bit more delicate. Anyway, the big takeaway from the book is to edit/fix the copy following the CUB technique.
In short, you would cut or edit the following types of issues:
- Confusing – any copy that reads weird or doesn’t’ make sense. Either cut it or rewrite it until it works.
- Unbelievable – any copy that seems far fetched or garnishes a “yeah, right” response… either edit it, rewrite it, or PROVE it with stats/figures/etc
- Boring – any copy that starts to drag on or if you find yourself no longer paying attention (especially during an out-loud reading) needs to be cut pretty much.
And that’s how you practice copywriting editing.
18. Create A Research Folder To Add Stats, Studies, Examples, Etc
This is part of the “Swipe” file collection, but so few copywriters ever focus on this aspect of writing high converting copy that I figured I’d point it out specifically.
You see, the reason why direct response copywriting has gotten a bad name in many people’s minds is that the industry as a whole tends to focus on the marketing a lot more than the product or the product creator.
That’s why it’s so important to do a TON of research before you even start writing a single word. When you do research, you’ll discover new product uses, new product ideas, angles, or hooks that haven’t been used before, and most importantly – PROOF.
Proof is the hands-down winner when it comes to all elements of Persuasion. The only reason Persuasion exists as a tactic is because we might not have enough evidence to convince the reader that what we’re saying is true.
Gary Bencivenga (world-class copywriter and great guy) created his Persuasion Equation and laid it out like this:
Urgent Problem + Unique Promise + Unquestionable Proof + User-Friendly Proposition = PERSUASION
Gary Bencivenga – register here for his bencivenga bullets newsletter
Notice that one of his four cornerstones is PROOF. And Gary will be the first to say that if you want a higher chance of success with your copy, then get more proof.
So, for this copywriting exercise, start a research folder and fill it with charts, stats, studies, and other proof elements so you can back up your claims. Anybody can write a hype-filled sales letter. It takes a real pro to ensure that every claim made has proof backing it up.
19. Rewrite 4 Paragraphs From A Sales Letter And Turn It Into 2 Paragraphs
This is one that I need to add back into my copywriting exercise routine. As you can see from the length of this post, I tend to be a little verbose. But I digress.
For this technique to work, you should grab four paragraphs of copy that someone else wrote. You can also use articles if that’s easier. The goal is you want to rewrite the four paragraphs and turn it into two paragraphs.
There’s a few catches, of course. One, you can’t just write longer paragraphs. The number of sentences should be 50% of the original. And the word count should be 50% of the original.
And secondly, (the hard part) the goal is not to LOSE any of the information that was provided in the original four paragraphs. You want all meaning to stay. It’s a challenge for sure, and it won’t always turn out well.
But, it will help you learn to be more resourceful with word count. This is especially helpful if you start writing radio and tv spots, or timed internet commercials.
20. Write 100 Bullet Points Selling A Book You’ve Recently Read
This is a copywriting exercise you should do at least once a month. Read a non-fiction book of any sort about any topic. As you read the book, highlight every fact or figure mentioned in the book.
Every time you learn something, highlight it, or type it out on a note pad file. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll have hundreds of thoughts and ideas that you learned.
Next, you’re going to convert 100 of these ideas, lessons, or facts into bullet points. Unfortunately, I can’t dive too much into bullet points during this post, so I’ll save that one for another post.
I highly recommend you read the PDF that is floating around on the internet created by (recently passed) copywriting legend Clayton Makepeace. I won’t link to it out of respect for Clayton. But if you can find it, it lays out all the bullet types you could ever want.
I’ll give you just a few examples of what bullets look like so you’re off to a good start:
- Think your health is in good hands at your local hospital? Think again! If you miss this one sign, you could be putting your life in danger…
- WARNING: What never to eat on an airplane
- Did you know there are more than 100 muscles in the human body and only one that controls back pain? (I made that up!)
- If you want to live a longer, healthier life, then you shouldn’t’ eat this food (see pg 18)
That’s just a few ideas to get you started. Notice how curiosity is the primary driver? It all is coming back full circle.
And that brings us to our last copywriting exercise!
21. Write A Social Media Post To Sell The Click To A Website
Here is the most practical copywriting exercise you can do. Odds are you’re already posting on social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tok, and whatever else the kids are into.
Well, this is just a distribution platform for you to test out marketing messages. And here thought it was for keeping up with your Mom or looking at funny videos. If you want to practice your copywriting skills, this is your chance.
Here’s what you should do at least once a week. Find something you are really into and write multiple posts about it. You should use everything you’ve learned reading this article as well as all your other copywriting study.
Write 2-3 versions of your post for each medium. So, you’ll have 2-3 posts for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, for example. Pick the same time of day but spread the posts out over 2-3 days.
You want to make sure that the post ends with a strict call to action. A call to action (or CTA in our lingo) is just a fancy way of telling the reader what step you want them to take next.
Here’s a quick example of a call to action and NOT a call to action. First, here’s a short ad that doesn’t have a call to action:
And you can get started today for just $1.99. That’s right, for less than $2.00 you too can take control of your health once and for all. I certainly hope you’ll join us.
Now compare that to this, which is 90% the same copy, but has a clear and specific call to action:
And you can get started today for just $1.99. That’s right, for less than $2.00 you too can take control of your health once and for all. Click the big blue order button below right now to place your order and get on the fast track to reaching your goals.
As you can see, one sort of just leaves you hanging, unsure of what to do next. With a clear CTA, you are told what to do, and because it’s clear and direct, you’ll most likely do it. We sometimes think that adding a call to action doesn’t seem needed because “people know what to do,” but the reality is people are super busy, scatter-brained, and are only half reading and paying attention during the best of times.
Our job, as a copywriter, is to help the reader move on to the next step in the sales process. Our job is to make it easier on the prospect, not harder. So, the more clear and direct we can be the better.
Back to your copywriting exercise.
You should write different versions of your “pitch” with different CTA’s. Then, post them around the same time but on different days. Setup link tracking with a site like bit.ly because you want to see which “ad” got the most clicks.
Not only with this give you insight into what sort of language works best for you, but you’ll also get some experience split testing, which is what this is. As you grow in your copywriting skills, you’ll be doing a lot of split testing, so it’s good to start practicing now!
Copywriting Exercises: The End?
Even though we’ve reached the end of this article, this is not the end of your copywriting journey. If you want to practice your copywriting skills, you’ll need to commit to taking daily action. Whether it’s writing headlines, studying Persuasion, writing a letter to your Mom, or just watching Stranger Things on Netflix, you’ll do it all with copywriting on the mind.
By doing this, you’ll be well on your way to improving your copywriting skills. Remember, studying copywriting doesn’t make you a copywriter. Only writing copy can make you a copywriter.
So, sit down, grab a cold drink, and start writing… or researching!
Have Any Tips To Help Others Practice Copywriting Skills?
Even though this is a pretty decent article as far as topics, I am 100% sure I missed more than a few things. Please share your favorite copywriting exercise or copywriting practice technique in the comments below.
If you have questions about anything I’ve written, please ask below and I”ll do my best to answer as soon as possible. I love copywriting, it’s given me a beautiful life, and I hope it can do the same for you.
Thanks for reading, now let’s write some copy!