5 Simple Copywriting Tips To Make Anyone A Better Writer
Brilliant writing is an art. But is it impossible for mere mortals to master? Of course not.
You don’t have to be a trained writer to know how to speak to your audience like an actual human being. It helps of course (luckily for copywriters like me everywhere), but there are some essentials that absolutely anyone can follow to improve their writing.
We’re not talking crash courses in grammar or complicated writing techniques. These tips are the absolute basic, easy peasy things that should be obvious, but are missed more times than you’d expect.
So whether you’re a biz owner, a blogger, a content writer, or just someone who has to write to customers/clients/the public – these basic copywriting tricks will help make your writing stronger.
- Know your audience inside out
I’m often asked to write copy that ticks several boxes, hits 10 key messages, does this and that – all without a single thought for who we’re actually writing to.
Before you even pick up your (virtual) pen, you need to have a clear picture of your target audience. Give them a name. What does their average day look like? Where does your product/service/blog post fit into that? Know their hopes, worries, wants, needs etc. That way you can make sure what you’re writing is actually helpful and relevant to them.
Marketing myth-busting time: appealing to everyone isn’t the key to success. Saying that your product/blog is for ‘women under 40’ won’t really help you narrow things down. Knowing that you’re writing for first-time creative biz owners like Sally, who want simple and effective solutions to market their business, is going to help a whole lot more. We often worry that narrowing things down means we’re missing out on potential readers/customers, but effectively marketing to one group can be far more successful than being vague and trying to appeal to too many people.
Now that you know your audience, nail down exactly what you’re trying to make them Know, Feel and Do with your writing. And if you want your copy to really start singing, check every sentence against that list, making sure you cut any words that aren’t helping you get the message across.
- Don’t be a robot
Every brand should have a crystal clear brand personality. Whether that’s your own brand, your business’, or a big financial services company like the one I write for. And trust me, if I can make Terms and Conditions sound human and friendly, you’ll have no problem.
The key is to make your writing natural for your audience (that’s why the ‘knowing who you’re writing to’ bit comes first). Insurance salespeople might not mind if you include the odd bit of jargon here and there, in fact, they’ll expect it, but the average person doesn’t want to wade through lots of complicated language to find what they want. They want words that speak to them on their level. And if you’re a blogger or biz owner, they’ll want to see your personality shine through in everything you write – from your blog posts to your sales pages.
So imagine you’re sitting face to face with your customer. How would you get them interested? How would you describe your new product or blog topic in your own words? If it helps and you have to break down something complicated, record yourself and write that down (edit it first if you need to).
The very best writing tells a story. It connects with the reader and creates an emotional response. And the only way you’ll do that is if your writing sounds like it was written by an actual person, not a bunch of robots.
- Get straight to the point
Of course it makes sense to put your main point first – especially if you’re asking the customer to do something. But does this always happen? Not so much.
We’re often scared to get straight to the point and will waffle on with pleasantries and rationale before we get to the main event. But if you want to hook your customer quickly, why waste time on unnecessary words?
If you’re writing a press release about the wonders of your new fitness app, don’t spend two paragraphs talking about your company history and what’s come before – get to the good stuff. Tell the reader how your app will help them go from slob, to sprinting up staircases Rocky-style in a month. If you’re blogging about how to contour without looking like a dazed giraffe, don’t spend the first half of your post talking about what you had for breakfast (even if you had blueberry and bacon pancakes).
It sounds mind-numbingly simple, but look at some of the last emails you received and you’ll realise that more people need to follow this rule.
- Sing about the benefits
I’m sorry to be the one to say it, but most readers don’t really care about you. Unless you’re a mega brand or a lifestyle blogger with a gazillion followers, people usually want to know what you can do for them.
So when I say you should be getting to the point, that means getting to the benefits – whether that’s the features of an actual product/service, or the key reason for your audience to keep on reading.
Let’s say I’m writing about a 0% purchase credit card offer (seriously, how jealous of my day job are you right now?). I could just put the offer in bold and hope it does the job, or I could explain how this credit card will let customers shop when they want and end up with some savings in their pocket.
If your new e-course explains how to increase blog traffic through Pinterest, make sure you tell readers that you’ll teach them how to bag 200 new followers a day and turn those new faces into real-life sales (does that course exist??).
Each time you write ask yourself: So what? Why should the reader care what I have to say?
Don’t be all mysterious and leave your big reveal to the end because chances are, they’ll give up before they even get to the good stuff.
- Make your headlines count
Your headline is the most important first impression you’ll make. It’s what stands between your readers and your brilliant content. So you need to use all the steps above to lovingly craft one that does your writing justice.
So no pressure, right?
Everyone agrees that headlines are super-important – but frustratingly, everyone has a different idea of what makes a killer headline. That’s because it all depends on your audience, what you’re writing and the platform you’re using. Just Google ‘catchy headlines’ and you’ll see what I mean.
The real key to creating effective headlines is to test, test and test some more. And to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing for an idea on what works and what doesn’t. That way you’ll find out exactly what’s effective for you. But whilst you’re figuring that out, you can follow these general guidelines:
- Give readers a super specific reason to find out more
- That means putting the benefits and promises up front
- Make it relevant – personalise and show you’re writing to them
- Create a sense of urgency – why should they click through right now?
- Keep it short and to the point – and only keep your strongest, most powerful words