The very best copywriters in the world didn’t suddenly roll out of bed and begin churning out incredible copy. It’s a skill fine-tuned and developed over years of practice. Writing sales content drastically differs from producing the next great novel or seeking out facts for the Washington Post. In reality, while each person behind these varying forms of content is, in fact, a writer, copywriting requires both creativity and the search for truth and fact. Great copywriters display elements of journalism, novelization writing while also leaning on marketing and advertisement insights. For anyone interested in becoming a world-class copywriter, it’s important to, like every other form of writing, to practice, practice, practice. However, beyond that, here are a few tips and tricks to be well on the way to becoming a world-class copywriter in a month’s time.
There are all sorts of different writing types out there. While many starts out with the dream of writing the next great novel or selling a screenplay for millions of dollars, most end up in a niche while they bide their time towards these potential future goals. A handful of professionals do target becoming copywriters right out of school. They either graduate in marketing and see the potential or they have looked over the different writing professions and decided on copywriting as the best avenue to make a living.
So what makes copywriting so desirable? When compared to other forms of writing, the average copywriter has the ability to earn more. While in truth technical writers make nearly double that of copywriters (according to PayScale, 2017). However, technical writing is the first on the docket for automation takeover, where computer systems create the technical content. Due to the high salary for technical writers and the removal of creativity (and instead sticking to specific facts and specifications), technical writing is not long for the professional world. That is what makes establishing a strong foundation in copywriting so desirable to many professional writers.
The median pay for copywriting, including profit sharing, salary, and bonuses, is upwards of $93,000 annually. However, this also means copywriting is becoming more and more competitive, with established professionals looking to push out the competition. This is why developing skill within the profession and looking for ways to improve writing skills is vital for not only becoming a world-class copywriter but survival.
Understand The Market
Rule number one to becoming a world-class copywriter is to understand the market. It’s impossible to create excellent content for an industry the writer knows nothing about. This prevents he or her from connecting with the target audience while holding back the quality of the content as well. A client may request a copywriter to produce material on an industry initially foreign to them. When this occurs, the writer must, before writing a single word, focus on research. They need to discover who reads the material, their education level, where they live and what interests them. They need to know what’s currently important in the industry and what may no longer drive sales. Without understanding, the target audience will turn away from the produced copy, rendering it a failure.
According to The Daily Egg, when writing to a given audience, the copywriter needs to understand their age, gender, household size and income (to name a few). Additional, psychographic research includes their religious beliefs (which can affect their opinions, their lifestyle choices and even what kind of music they listen to. With this in a writer’s back pocket, it becomes that much easier to write successful content. The copy doesn’t need to elegantly flow like a novel by Steinbeck or keep the reader on the edge of their seat like a Michael Crichton fictional tale. It just needs to connect with them. That, first and foremost, is essential to becoming a world-class copywriter.
Don’t Focus on One Field (At Least At First)
One of the biggest problems new copywriters run into is painting themselves into a corner. The world of copywriting is vast, so focusing in on one topic or field prevents growth. Eventually, the most successful copywriters can pick and choose their topics based on expertise, but in order to survive the early years of copywriting, remaining open to a wide range of writing topics is crucial.
By simply looking at the most popular blogging and copywriting topics of the year, it is possible to identify emerging trends and areas in which writers need to begin growing their knowledge on. According to Convert Kit’s State of the Blogging Industry’s 2017 Report, there are 20 different blogging and copywriting topics that at least 10 percent of all Internet users view on a regular basis. Personal development content receives the most viewer traffic at nearly 45 percent. Entrepreneurship makes up the second largest topic at around 33 percent, with small business, online business, productivity, and marketing all right behind it. Additional topics include fitness, travel, Web design, career development, technology, lifestyle design and parenting.
Naturally, each of these topics then has sub-categories, splitting off into more finely tuned, specific categories. However, it demonstrates the vast number of focuses a copywriter may find him or herself writing about. Due to this, in order to become a world-class copywriter, any new writer needs to expand their creative horizon and focus on as many different topics as possible, all while continuing to research and uncover the analytical insights regarding each topic they take on.
In order to become a world-class copywriter, an individual needs to read content from current world-class copywriters. Now, sifting through countless blogs and content throughout the Internet is time-consuming, and many new writers won’t know where to start. The best way to begin and to start reading copywriters is to stop and look at headlines and titles that grab a viewer’s attention. What kind of topics makes the copywriter stop and instantly take notice? Is there something similar, or at least shared amongst all the articles that do this? Copywriting, above nearly all else, relies on the ability of a writer to sell the idea of a topic. It doesn’t matter how great the article is if it doesn’t draw viewers in they won’t ever read it. So constantly looking for attention-grabbing titles is key.
According to Conductor, including numbers in headlines generates the most interest from a prospective reader. In terms of overall headline preferences, 36 percent of readers in a Conductor survey indicated they prefer number based headlines (such as top 10s, or “20 ways to drop the weight”). The next most popular headline preference is when the article title addresses the reader specifically (“Top ways for you to lose weight”). Following this is how-to headlines, “normal” headlines (direct and to the point, without speaking to the reader or using numbers). Lastly, asking a question in the headline makes up 11 percent of preferred titles.
By constantly reading current copywriting content and focusing on how other writers create content, it is possible for new writers to learn, adapt and evolve their own, personal styles.
Formatting is Very Different From Traditional Writing
One of the biggest problems new copywriters run into is formatting for the Internet. Whether coming over from a journalism background or from an education in creative writing, formatting for copywriting requires a different approach.
When writing content for a story, regardless of journalistic non-fiction or fiction for a short story, a paragraph will vary in size. A single paragraph focuses on the completion of a single thought. Due to this, paragraphs in most forms of text vary drastically in size. However, the opposite is true for copywriting. For starters, every paragraph should more or less be similar in size. Large blocks of text are undesirable when publishing to the Internet, which is why using shorter paragraphs is desirable. In fact, paragraphs should contain anywhere from two to four sentences (max). Paragraphs do not need to come to a conclusion following the completion of a singular thought. Often times, a single thought is broken down into several different Internet paragraphs in order to cater to paragraph size. This way, it’s easier to scan for the reader and they are not burdened with large blocks of texts.
According to How To Get Online (2017), modern Internet copywriting material is made up of several different headings and body text. The largest heading, or title, is referred to as H1. There are times where a copywriter will need to reference the heading type, so knowing the title is H1 (the largest font) is important. Major section headers throughout the text are known as H2 headings (slightly smaller text), while sub-headers within a given section are known as H3 headings (text just slightly larger than the body text).
A subheading is larger text that summarizes the content of the article and usually goes under the H1 heading. The body text should consist of three to five lines per page, although this can vary based on screen size. That is why it is important to target around three sentences per paragraph before creating another body text paragraph.
Sell the Sizzle, Not the Steak
Novice copywriters often fall into the trap of focusing on the product. All of the information they pump into an article centers on the product itself, yet this is all information a reader can derive from the picture, or at the very least is common knowledge. It doesn’t entice the reader into buying anything and it also comes off as boring. Instead, a writer needs to focus on “selling the sizzle, not the steak.”
This means instead of selling the feature of an item, focus on the benefits. All products, regardless of what it is, solve a particular problem for the customer. The problem might be they are cold and want something warm to wear, or they want to drop weight or their feet hurt, no matter the shoes they wear. The product always offers a benefit and solution to the given problem. These are the benefits of a product. The only reason a customer will make a purchase is that they believe the product can address their problem and make life better.
People are selfish. It’s part of human nature. A person is, no matter how selfless they appear, does, in fact, think of themselves. When they purchase an item they want to know it is going to make them better. Or help them in a described way. Talking about the features of a product does not inform the customer of how it helps them, it simply says what the product can do. Sometimes it isn’t clear how exactly the features will assist a customer. However, when selling the benefits of the product, the benefits are problem solvers. By telling the reader how the product solves problems, they can then connect it with their own life and, from there determine if it is the right fit for their given needs.
Listed below is a graph showcasing the differences in describing a product by its features and by its benefits. For example, medication might have 500mg of acetaminophen. This is a feature. The benefit would be, “One dose of this medicine will relieve your headache.” There’s a big difference in selling a product based on its benefits. It’s also something a world-class copywriter understands and knows how to do.(Source)
How Good Copywriters Become Great
Copywriting is a field current writers need to continue to develop and grow in. With the increased focus on quality content that sells, it’s more important now than ever before to strive for improvements. This is true for both writers who have worked in the industry for years, and those just entering.
According to the Content Marketing Institute (2017), the number one factor leading to improved B2B content over the last year is more efficient, higher quality content (85 percent of businesses polled said this is a major factor). Other factors include spending more time on content creation, content marketing and creation has become a greater priority, the overall creative strategy and even content distribution (an improvement in targeting the key demographic and where they are more likely to read it). So no matter how good a current or new copywriter is, they need to continue on and strive to become great.
Becoming a world-class copywriter doesn’t happen overnight. Even if an individual comes from the world of books or newspapers, writing copy differs greatly. However, while it doesn’t happen overnight it is possible to learn the traits and focus on ways to becoming a better, more successful copywriter. By taking into account these different tips and tricks, it is possible to see a dramatic improvement in the overall quality of the content within a month’s time, which puts writers well on their way to becoming world-class copywriters.
Benefits, yes. But, even better is using benefits and then features. Not only do you cover the selfish side of people but also those who like a few features. And, use power words, of course.