In a world where everyone and their mom is a branding expert or marketer, it’s all too natural to assume that skills like photography or copywriting comes naturally for all of us. But as professional copywriters will tell you, copywriting is a legitimate discipline that takes years to practice and master.
We’ve collected some of our favourite tips to up your copywriting game, so you can turn it from blah to art.
Many people believe copywriting is a straight-forward tasks, where certain content is provided in order to inform the reader. While being a good writer or communicator is important, what really sets good copy from just mediocre copy is the perspective it offers.
Novels, pop culture, current events, and academic journals are all fair game when it comes to adding depth to your writing. Of the 100 interesting facts you read, it’s likely that you’ll only use one or two, but it’s those connections that make all the difference, and relays a sense of connectedness with your reader.
Separately, as all writers will attest to, the fastest way to improve your writing skills is to: (1) WRITE, and (2) read, and read A LOT. There’s no shortcut, folks.
Another common mistake used in copywriting, which we can typically get away with in E-mails, is using a passive voice. Copywriting should, in its essence, exude a sense of confidence and nothing indicates the opposite more so than using a passive voice.
Similarly, using promise words like ‘will, can, do’ are more effective than words that indicate uncertainty or weakness, such as ‘may, hope, perhaps, could’.
Yes, confidence is important, but it’s meaningless when there’s no support to back up your claims. Properly citing statistics & facts, and providing testimonials & case studies are important for legitimising your brand, and building trust with the reader or customer. Putting in the needed work pays off in how your copy is consumed, and how you approach the writing in terms of tone.
Similarly, do the necessary research before delving into a topic also makes all the difference in the world between a newbie and a seasoned copywriter. Even if you don’t apply specifics in the content, your scope of knowledge directly informs the quality of your writing.
Good copy is always precise, or really understanding the information you’re trying to communicate, and carefully selecting the diction in order to encourage your call-to-action. This means no templates or generic one liners.
Only by accurately providing all the necessary information, is the reader able to see the entire picture about the product or service you’re trying to sell. Crafting your words carefully will allow readers or customers to not only see the value in returning for more of your content, but fell drawn into the story you want to tell.
Another element of precision is keeping your copy on topic. For instance, if you’re writing a blogpost, try to save the subject line for last, as it’s common for the body to be off-track or even unrelated to longer form content. If you struggle with this, try writing a thesis statement like you would an essay, and refer back to it as you write.
Relaxing one’s tone can be a challenge for those making a transition from more traditional writing disciplines to copywriting. In most instances, understand that your audience is reading your content leisurely, or in a non-professional capacity, of which your writing should reflect.
This may mean using conjugations, incorporating a bit of slang, or using fewer clauses. As a general rule, speaking to your audience like you would a friend is far more important than sounding ‘proper’.
Similarly, the format of your copy should also reflect the sphere of writing you’re in, namely one that’s easy for the reader to digest. Using bullet points, shorter paragraphs, sub-headings, and highlighting important segments (i.e. bold, underline, italicise), are all ways you can make your copy more approachable and appealing to the eye.
The most powerful tool a copywriter has is their ability to understand, relate to, and emotionally connect with their audience. Through this knowledge, the writer is then able to forge a sense of trust, which then lends to helping them achieve their ends.
One example of this is the rhetorical question. Asking questions that get begs the reader to answer ‘yes’ is a great way to reel them into relating to your product or service. When used effectively, there’s no better way to capture the reader’s attention and make then laugh at the same time.
The second way to appeal through shared humanity is by incorporating very real motions into your copy. While it’s usually best to focus on the positive benefits of your value proposition, sometimes fear, greed, or even anger are the most effective in triggering the reader to act.
Welcome back to Mandy's In-House Notes, a twice-monthly column touching on all things brand-building, entrepreneurship and female-empowerment related, from the mind of Mandy Pao.
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