How To Write Copy: Boost your Copywriting Skills in 2021
Table of contents
So you’re a great writer, and you’re looking for ways to monetize that skill.
Well, copywriting could be just the thing for you!
Every business in every industry needs someone who can write compelling copy.
It’s a career you can do completely freelance, directly from the comfort of your home!
Or, if that isn’t your style, there are agencies or in-house marketing teams to hire you too.
Let us introduce you to the art of copywriting and take you through the key formats and skills you’ll need to write copy that converts.
Keep reading to kickstart your copywriting skills.
Before we start, it’s crucial for you to know what copywriting is.
Copywriting refers to writing copy, obviously!
The copy is the words used in any form of marketing ― written or spoken. It is an absolutely essential part of every marketing strategy and can make or break an offer’s success.
The core purpose of copywriting is to call an audience to take some kind of action.
If the copy does not compel its audience to take action, there is no point in writing it.
To be compelling, written copy must be short, sweet, and loaded with purpose.
Every character of every word counts!
In the world of copywriting, you can have three possible employers:
Freelance is the most flexible copywriting option.
Freelance copywriting allows you to be your own boss and find your own jobs.
This is great because you’re able to work on the projects that you choose.
You can also choose when, where, and how much you want to work.
Your salary depends on how much work you take, but 20% of freelance copywriters are earning more than $100k.
Working through an agency means you will have a steady salary and guaranteed work.
You will also get to work for multiple types of businesses and get lots of industry exposure.
A typical salary for a copywriter in an agency is $47k to start and $88k at a senior level.
In-house copywriting means that you will work in a marketing team for one specific company.
Although this is a very secure option, it limits you to only working with that one company.
It is also the least flexible option.
The average salary for a junior in-house copywriter is $48k, whereas the average for a senior in-house copywriter is $84k.
For more insight into copywriting salaries, read this guide.
While freelance is the most flexible and can make the most money, we recommend starting at an agency or with an in-house team so you can learn and network.
Then you can start freelancing with a strong base of knowledge, skills and connections.
Below are the most common copywriting formats that you’ll need to know.
To begin with, you should choose one or two of these to work with.
As you master them, you can start learning more until you can do them all.
Eventually, you might want to work in all or most of the formats, but moving between formats could get confusing and could ultimately hinder your success.
We suggest you revisit each one often enough that they are always fresh in your mind.
The appropriate format for a newspaper headline is probably not going to be sufficient for SEO-targeted content, for example.
Keep reading to learn what these copywriting formats are!
We’ve also thrown in some tips on how to write them!
The headline is the most important element of any copy — it needs to make the customer want to know more
This makes it the one necessary skill for every single copywriting project.
A good headline gets the reader to the next line.
However, a great headline is:
The industry rule is to spend 50% of your writing time just on perfecting the headline ― if the headline isn’t perfect, no one is going to keep reading.
These are the numbers to beat!
And if no one is going to keep reading, there’s no point in writing.
Read Niel Patel’s step-by-step guide to writing powerful headlines.
That means you’ve got between ten and twenty seconds to capture their attention.
However, a distinct value proposition can buy you several more minutes.
A value proposition ― in very few words ― should capture the essence of your brand, set it apart from competitors, and present the brand as a problem solver.
Let’s look at an example.
Systeme’s value proposition is: “The only tool you need to launch your online business”
These ten words offer systeme’s essence, are competitive, and solve a problem.
They convey the ease, simplicity, and confidence that comes with using system.
The words “the only tool you need” imply that without systeme, users will end up having to use multiple tools because competitors can’t do all of the required work ― but systeme can.
Lastly, this value proposition solves the problem of wanting to launch an online business but not knowing where to start — systeme makes that easy.
There you have it, anyone who clicks on systeme’s page will see its value o
And if it suits their needs they willstay on the page.
That’s exactly what a value proposition needs to do.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
This copywriting work is tailored for online search engines.
Optimizing your keywords to perform well on search engines means the advert has a greater chance of being found by people searching the internet.
This is done by making sure that your headline is loaded with commonly searched keywords.
Using a keyword research tool, such as Builderall, will help you identify the best keywords for your copy.
The company you are writing for may have a list of specific keywords that people use when searching for them online. Try to incorporate these as well!
You’ll also need to test these keywords to check that your intentions match the search intent of those keywords.
To do this, type your keywords into the internet and check what kind of content comes up.
If the content matches yours, great! If it doesn’t, you may need to go back to the drawing board.
Direct response copywriting aims to invite an immediate response.
This means that as the reader finishes reading the copy, they are compelled to take direct action.
Direct action could mean signing up for a newsletter, making a phone call to a hotline, or making a decision to purchase.
Your choice of words must have a sense of urgency for this type of copywriting.
The words need to convince the buyer that they need the product and that the time to buy is now.
Direct response copy is usually long-form, meaning it contains more copy or words.
Radio and television copywriting are different to direct response copywriting because their goals are different.
Rather than wanting a direct response, radio and television copywriting aim to build brand identity and make people aware of the product.
This is done so that one day, in the future, they will purchase the product.
Radio copywriting differs from television copywriting because you have to be extremely descriptive.
Listeners can’t see body language so the words need to show how the product can make the buyer feel.
The audience also can’t see the branding so the brand’s identity needs to be portrayed entirely through words ― this is where a catchy slogan becomes a game-changer.
Both of these copywriting styles need to be written in the way people actually speak, which is very different from how we write.
So make sure to adjust your style accordingly!
Also check out this beginner’s guide to writing tv commercials.
Business to business is abbreviated as B2B.
The other types of copywriting deal with business to consumer (B2C).
In a B2C situation, the time between an individual’s decision to purchase something and the purchase itself is relatively small.
However, in a B2B situation, the purchase takes a lot longer.
Businesses often buy in bulk and therefore spend a lot more time doing research and comparing products.
That is why B2B copywriting has to take an entirely different approach.
Adopt a business-like toneand keep things extremely succinct but not boring.
Landing page copywriting, also called website copywriting, is lucrative work.
Businesses all need captivating websites, this can literally make or break their success.
And because it’s often a once-off expense, they are willing to pay higher rates for this work.
Therefore, being able to write effective landing pages will boost your career.
A good landing page will incorporate a value proposition that keeps users on the page long enough to get invested in the copy.
Then it needs to lead the users down the page, towards a “sign up” or “purchase now” button ― the call-to-action.
This guide to landing page copywriting might be of use to you.
This type of copywriting is in high demand.
Companies love it because the returns are so good ― 38 to 1!
Sales emails usually go out on a regular, scheduled basis. So if you can get into it, you’ll constantly be in demand.
Consumers receive multiple sales emails every week, and only 9% of these are actually opened!
To ensure yours gets the click, your subject line needs to entice.
A good subject line needs to be less than 60 characters so it can be read in full before the email is opened.
You want your subject lines to have a conversational tone.
They should also give readers a sense of urgency or curiosity.
It is easy to monitor the click-rate, conversion rate, and deliverability rates of sales emails, which means it’s easy for a company to see how skilled you are when your sales emails smash the ratings!
Ad copywriting is a staple in the copywriting industry.
In fact, it’s been around since 1477!
This is the type of copywriting that really is everywhere and isn’t going anywhere.
Ad copywriting is usually done by a marketing team who will strategize the whole advert together.
The work of the ad copywriter has to fit seamlessly with the rest of the advert.
There are generally very few words in this type of copy and these words need to work alongside the advert design to express a very clear, attention-grabbing message.
The words need to add to the design just as the design needs to add to the words.
This is why teamwork is a core skill for this copywriting format.
Typically, ad copywriting is not well-paid or well-credited but it can get your foot in the door if you’re looking to get into an agency or in-house team.
500 hours of video are uploaded onto YouTube every minute.
That’s 500 hours of video competing for viewers!
A well-written script is what puts some videos ahead of others. This makes videoscript copywriters very sought after.
This video takes us through the process of writing for this format.
A videoscript should include an opening, a middle, and a closing that includes a call-to-action.
The opening should introduce the topic of the video or tell a story that introduces the topic (cold open).
The middle (the meat) should not contain more than five points. This keeps the video interesting and to the point.
Lastly, the close (wrap-up) must end the video. You should include a call-to-action for something immediate.
For example, encourage viewers to leave a comment below responding to one of the main points in the video or ask them to subscribe to see future videos.
This might sound really obvious, but you need to write well.
Your copy will fall flat if it isn’t pleasing and easy to read.
This means good writing and good grammar are key.
Writing software, such as Grammarly, can help with this.
Dedicate yourself to practicing your copywriting skills and put loads of time into proofreading and editing your work.
Consider doing writing courses to help you improve.
Although there are loads of copywriting courses you can take online, here are the best ten.
In order to write copy that persuades, you have to know everything about your product.
You need to know why your product is unique and what features as well as benefits your audience will love.
To create a helpful summary of your product, QuickSprout suggests you ask yourself the following questions:
Once you’ve spent some time jotting down answers to these questions, you should have a detailed product description.
Use this product description to work out what should be included in your copy.
Decide which aspects of the product will make it sell.
It’s also helpful to speak with the client to find out how they would answer the questions above and how they want their product to be perceived.
Knowing your audience is just as important as knowing your product.
Knowing your audience means you’ll understand what they are looking for and how to speak to them.
You can’t use the same tone you’d use to sell bubblegum to kids, to sell software to business executives.
Your copywriting needs to appeal to what people are feeling, fearing, or hoping for, and you cannot appeal to these without some customer research.
Conducting customer surveys is an effective way to build a clear idea of your target audience.
This is also referred to as defining your audience.
Defining your audience will give you insight into what they already love about the product.
It is also useful to note who your current customers are, as well as who your dream customers are.
This way you can write copy that includes your current customers, but also targets those beyond them.
The aim of all copywriting is to persuade.
Your copy needs to be persuasive, so that it can convert.
Persuasive copy starts with a value proposition.
You’ve already learned that the key things to remember for this are company essence, competition, and problem-solving.
Now you need to show off the benefits and features. Carefully select information from your product description.
Prioritize benefits over features because these impact customers more than the actual features do.
This is because customers experience benefits that are caused by features.
You must choose which of these three types of benefits to focus on:
Once you’ve explained the benefits, you can move onto a straightforward list of the features so the customer knows exactly what they’re getting.
Add social proof into your copy by including reviews from other customers or known industry professionals. People tend to be persuaded when other people are persuaded.
Talk to your audience how they’d talk to you and address them directly, using the word “you”.
Don’t underestimate the importance of your diction.
These are sometimes also called power words or magic words.
They’re words that jump off of the page.
They are turbocharged. These words aim to evoke emotion or trigger curiosity.
The persuasiveness of your copy depends on your diction.
The five most persuasive words for copywriting are:
We suggest you keep these five words at the top of your mind while you write.
You can also come up with a list of power words to keep next to you while you write.
Avoid using jargon because readers might not understand it.
The best writing is simple writing.
And don’t forget about keywords if you’re writing SEO-targeted content!
Often copywriting clients are paying per word or have a strict word count that they want you to stick to.
You need to pack as much useful information into that word count as possible.
This means you cannot waste a single word ― if you do this, you’re wasting the client’s money and they won’t work with you again.
To make your copy as precise as possible, we suggest you try the following writing exercise:
If you’ve been given a job requiring 100 words, write the 100 words and then challenge yourself to edit it down to 50 words without losing any vital information.
Now try to edit it down to 20 words. You end up with 100 words worth of content into 20 words.
And, technically, you can get 500 words worth of content into 100.
You’ll be left with precise copy that gets to the point and doesn’t waste a single word.
Clients will love you!
The call-to-action (CTA) comes at the end.
The customer understands what you’re offering, but they need to know what to do next.
Your CTA needs to be clear and actionable. If it’s quick, easy, and the process is clear, your chances of conversion will go up.
The videoscript copywriting CTA example to ‘write a comment below’ or ‘subscribe to see more videos’, is a perfect example of a straightforward CTA.
It’s straightforward because viewers know exactly what to do and what outcomes to expect.
Make use of imperative verbs such as “Act Now”, “Apply Today”, or “Download Now”.
Visually, the CTA should stand out, so make it larger or more colorful than the rest of the copy.
If you’re staring at a blank page and you’re not sure where to start with your copy, you should try the AIDA formula!
This formula includes some of the tips we’ve already discussed and is a great way to get them in the correct order for your copy.
With AIDA, you can also make sure that your copy is ticking all the boxes it needs to tick.
AIDA stands for:
Your copy must start by creating awareness and capturing audience attention.
Your heading is pretty central here ― use it to capture your audience and make them want to continue reading.
Then you can move onto interest.
In this phase, your value proposition does the work.
The audience’s attention will be held by your value proposition and they will stay if it speaks to their problems.
In the decision phase, you need to make your offer clear and focus on the benefits of the product.
By now, your audience should feel ready to take action.
The action phase is where you’ll make your CTA.
As you can see, the AIDA formula takes you through the important steps for powerful copy and ensures that nothing is missing.
If you like what we’ve told you, systeme has another article about how to become a copywriter in 2021.
This will give you more insight into what actually goes into working as a copywriter and the added roles you’ll have to play if you work freelance (which is essentially running your own business).
It also speaks about putting together your portfolio and how to come up with your rates.
Although copywriting has been around for ages, it’s always evolving and finding ways to keep modern audiences captivated.
The world of copywriting is big, with loads of space for you.
We hope that this guide has given you some helpful tips to get you off the ground!
Remember: Keep practicing and keep learning.
And, if all else fails, whip out this guide and your lists of power words to get inspired!
Now that you know everything about the art of copywriting, it’s time for us to call you to action!
Start copywriting now!
Get your free account
systeme.io is 100% free, forever