How to Write Better Copy: The Beginner’s Guide
In this post, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about copywriting:
What it is, why it’s important, and what you can do to start improving your copywriting skills so you can write copy that compels your readers to take the desired action.
But first, let’s define copywriting.
What is Copywriting?
Copywriting simply refers to the art of writing copy.
These are words that are used in promotional materials, ads, and web pages. As a marketer, it’s important to know how to write persuasive copy.
It doesn’t have to be the best copy on the planet, but it does have to be compelling enough to move your target customers into action.
The process of marketing products or services to your audience is much like hiring a single salesman to reach every one of your customers and get them to act.
While a sales team might contact one customer at a time, your copy does the work of reaching all of them at once – whether it’s through your website, blog, social media, paid ads, email, or any other means in your arsenal of digital marketing tactics.
It’s copy that gives your website design meaning.
It lays the foundations for your search engine optimization and content marketing. Being able to write better copy will enable you to boost your conversions and turn a lot more readers into leads.
This guide is going to give you an advantage when it comes to writing copy for your online business and blog.
How Good Copywriters Are Made
If you’re able to leverage your writing so you can tell a compelling story that convinces your customers that they absolutely need your product, there will be no limit to your business’s growth.
But, if you’re finding yourself stuck writing generic ads, sales letters, blog posts, and emails, you can expect the rest of your entrepreneurial efforts to be a struggle as well.
You’ll have a hard time making a single sale without adequate copywriting skills (or at least having a good copywriter that you can outsource to).
But, the good news is that you don’t have to spend countless hours writing sales letters. There’s no need for you to read dozens of blog posts on copywriting, and there’s certainly no need to go to college to acquire a degree.
There is a much better, less stressful way of becoming a great copywriter.
And all it’s going to take is a few weeks of your time. As long as you can put in focused, intentional effort, the results will come and you’ll be a world-class copywriter in less than a month.
And before you tell me that it takes years, and even decades of dedication before someone can become a real master at copywriting, just hear me out.
I don’t think that you need to put in all that extra effort unless your life is totally dedicated to copywriting. Simply breaking out the area of ‘good’ copywriting to become one of the great ones is enough to help you run a successful online business.
The bottom line is that becoming a world-class copywriter is something that you can achieve a lot faster than you’d imagine.
With that said, let’s begin!
Step #1 to Becoming a Great Copywriter: Understanding the Product
The first thing you need to do to be a world-class copywriter is to understand the product fully. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling – you won’t be able to compel others to buy it if you don’t understand the product yourself.
You need to know every aspect of the product you’re writing copy for if you want to be able to come up with details that are compelling enough for customers to want to buy it.
So, the real goal of this step is to help you remember to first take the time to study your product and learn the features that stand out to your customers. Once you’ve determined what makes the product unique as well as what benefits or features it has that appeal to your customers, it’s time to move to the next step.
But in case you’re worried about the time invested into learning about products before you can write about them, remember that as a business owner, you already know your product and are familiar with its benefits to your ideal customers.
You already have a good starting point to write copy. You don’t need to spend hours doing any in-depth research or taking notes, but you can begin right away by writing down all the things you already know.
On the other hand, it can still be worthwhile to follow the steps for capturing your product’s details as they are laid out in this post, just in case you missed anything the first time around.
By writing down the product’s description, benefits, and features, you’ll be able to have all that information in one place for easy reference as you move on to the following steps.
Writing Down the Product Description
By writing down the description of the product or service you intend to sell, you’ll be able to gain a better understanding of how exactly you can go about selling it.
First, answer the following questions regarding your product:
How would you define this product in just 30 or so words?
Provide a simple, short description of the product. Don’t worry about trying to give a fancy or smart answer.
Just write down the first things that come to mind if you were describing that product to a friend.
What is special or unique about this product?
Your goal here is to find something special or unique about the product.
What is it that it offers that others do not?
- Is it inexpensively priced?
- Is it easy to use?
- Was it created in the US?
- Is it faster? Better? More durable?
Whatever it is that sets it apart from the rest, that’s what you need to focus on right now.
This is what you’re eventually going to use in identifying your USP (unique selling proposition).
There is a very detailed post on my blog that talks about everything you need to know about the topic of creating a USP, but for those who don’t know, a USP is simply a unique feature or benefit of your product or service that other businesses don’t offer.
What is the biggest benefit that this product provides?
In addition to knowing how the product is unique, you also want to determine the benefits that it provides to your customers. As a great copywriter, you simply cannot stop at a mere description of a product.
You also need to convey the benefits of using it.
For instance, instead of an email hosting company simply talking about how they provide email segmenting services, they could tell their customers that their software helps them to boost their website conversions by allowing them to send more targeted offers, which in turn would help them increase sales and generate more revenue from each customer they acquire (or something else along those lines).
After you’ve written down the big benefit that your product provides, it’s time to move on to the next question.
What pain does the product alleviate?
Consumers generally buy products either to increase pleasure or minimize pain.
In the question above, we identified a benefit that kind of ‘increases pleasure’, now let’s look at an aspect of a different product that minimizes pain.
For instance, a success coach might use a headline that says:
‘Are You Too Busy Earning a Living to Make Any Real Money?’
This is sure to grab someone’s attention!
The copy might go on to talk about how most people are stuck in the rat race with no end to their misery in sight, but they (the product creator) can help them build an online business based on a passive income business model so that they can have time, money, and location freedom to live life on their terms!
The aim of the copy is to first focus on your audience’s pain, before talking about how your product can alleviate that pain.
Just keep in mind that it’s often easier and more effective to focus on the pain eliminated than it is to focus on the pleasure a certain product provides.
You can test both approaches to assess their level of effectiveness with your particular audience.
What are the features and benefits of your product?
To answer this question, first write down your product’s features. You might not have to use all of them in your copy, but it’s a good idea to record them all in one place so that you have them handy if needed.
Some products have way more features than others, and either way you need to list all the product’s features with a concise description of each.
Make sure that you include the benefit of each feature.
Remember your customers care a lot more about the benefits that the features provide than they do about the features themselves.
For instance, rather than an Internet provider simply stating that they provide 15 mbps download speeds, which is a feature of the product, they could tell their customers that their high-speed internet helps them stream videos without interruption – a benefit they would actually care about.
Features showcase your product’s technical aspects while benefits show the way those features assist in your customers accomplishing their goals.
So when recording features of your product, always have the corresponding benefits.
Now that you understand every aspect of the product, let’s move on to the next step.
Step #2 to Becoming a Great Copywriter: Understand Your Customers
This is the next critical step in the process of becoming a world-class copywriter. You need to have an indepth understanding of exactly who you’re selling to.
This is important because how you sell your product is determined by:
- The people you are selling it to
- What they are willing to buy
- What will convince them to complete the purchase
As you can see, everything is about the customer and not you or your business. That’s why it’s vital that you understand them.
If you are selling to high-net-worth business executives, your writing is going to have to differ vastly than if your target customers are stay-at-home moms.
And if you sell products to startups, you’ll have to write differently than if you were selling to Fortune 500 companies.
Get the picture?
Each group of potential customers has their own hopes, dreams, expectations, fears, etc.
For instance, the business executives in our example obviously have different priorities than the moms. They value saving time while moms may value saving money. These differences have an influence over how you write and sell your product.
To succeed, you absolutely have to know the things that appeal to your customers.
Now that you’ve seen that defining your customers is one of the most important copywriting processes, how exactly do you go about doing this?
By putting yourself in their shoes!
If you’re selling a product or service that solves an issue you once had, you’ll find this relatively simple to do. You’ll have a much easier time writing copy if you used to struggle with that same problem.
You won’t have to rely on hypotheticals and guesswork when writing ads, emails, or posts for your blog.
You’ll know the pain your audience is going through, and how it affects them in their personal lives, workplaces, or socially. This will make it easy for you to speak to other people facing the same problem.
But, if you’re selling a product that you wouldn’t use yourself, then you have to gain a lot more knowledge on the issue.
This is a problem that is very common among freelance copywriters. And that’s where customer surveys come in. Instead of guessing what your customers want, simply ask them directly.
This brings us to the end of Part 1 of the Beginner’s Guide to Copywriting. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we continue with our section on Customer Research before going on to the actual writing of the copy.
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Updated: originally published April 17th 2019