50 Top Tips to Improve your Copywriting
Copywriters are a mysterious type because not everybody knows they’re there. They work in the background, they (mostly) keep to themselves and they understand that words make the digital world go round.
If you’re starting out as a beginner copywriter, it can be daunting. So we’ve created 50 top tips to help develop your copywriting techniques and skills.
This guide has been split into three sections: Project Preparation, Copy Creation and Remember Yourself.
#1 – Research everything. As soon as you have a topic to write about, do your research. Imagine building a house on a hill; without a solid foundation, the whole project will fall apart. Take the time to make detailed notes, and research any points you’re not sure on yourself.
#2 – You’re the Expert. This doesn’t mean that everybody is too. We all know the phrase “Elevator Pitch”.
If you don’t, it means explaining a concept in the same amount of time it takes to take the lift between floors. This is usually about 30 seconds.
If you can’t explain a complicated concept in a few short, simple sentences then you need to adjust your thinking before starting to write.
#3 – Never forget the old. If you’ve previously written on a specific subject, take the time to repurpose old content into a brand-spanking new creation.
Some points may still be relevant, but if gives you a starting point for topics that may be more complicated.
#4 – Avoid distraction. This may seem obvious, but removing all distractions from your surrounding area can save you time in the long run.
If you’re working from a home office then turn off your mobile, or at least leave it in another room. If you’re in an office with other people, put your headphones in and get your head down.
#5 – Never forget a pen and paper. Sometimes the older ways are the best. If you’re writing and mid-flow another idea pops into your head, it’s good to make sure that you have a pen and paper handy to scribble notes.
This doesn’t distract you from your main task, but keeps all your ideas in one place for after.
#6 – Create a persona. Regardless of writing for B2B or B2C audiences, you need to understand your readers.
Creating a reader profile at the start of the project means you can target your language and content in a specific way.
You can learn more by taking a look at this easy guide to creating your own reader profile.
#7 – Find the USPs. Identifying the Unique Selling Points of a product, business or service means you can effectively explain the benefits to potential readers or clients.
#8 – Think like your audience. You really need to put yourself in you target audience’s shoes. Remember the 5 W’s.
- Who are they?
- What do they need?
- Why are they reading your content?
- Where are they from?
- When do they need something?
All these questions gives you a targeted starting point for any content you’re going to be creating.
#9 – Images are your friend. If you have some ideas of the content that you’re going to be writing, then make sure that you can find images to suit.
Using images in a long-form piece of content breaks up the user experience on the page, and creates more interest in the content.
Phew, that’s section one completed. Now, onto the Copy Creation section!
#10 – Write like you talk. In our opinion, there’s nothing worse than clunky copy on a web page that’s only written for Search Engines.
If you’re writing about products or services, always remember that people buy from people, so write like you talk and readers will be more responsive.
#11 – Nail your headline. Never, ever, ever think that the body copy is the most important part of your copy.
The headline is what attracts readers, and it’s their first impression of your content. If you’re struggling to find the right words, note down variations, and ask someone for their opinion.
#12 – Ruthlessly self-edit. You should be able to Cut down as many of the words included in your copy paragraphs as possible, as this allows the reader to fully understand the specific point that you’re trying to make making.
#13 – Keywords are crucial. Understanding the Search Terms that your target demographic use is one aspect of copywriting you need to nail, especially with the evolution of digital content.
If you’re starting from scratch, then you might find this “Beginner Guide to SEO” from Moz useful.
#14 – Don’t Keyword Stuff your copy. Optimise organically, and only use the keywords if they fit into the copy.
Both Google and your readers will easily see when you’ve “Keyword Stuffed”, so make sure that they’re used naturally. Search Engines and readers alike will love you for it.
#15 – Nail the layout. With all copywriting, you need to make sure that the layout of the page is structured in a way that your readers can easily scan the content.
Make sure you break up your copy with Headings, Images and formatted text.
Imagine that you’re reading your copy from an outsider’s point of view. Are there large blocks of text you get bored reading?
If there are, then split them apart.
That’s the first 15 down, here’s a picture of a swimming pig to give you a break.
#16 – Make the readers feel. Words can be a magical tool of emotion (used correctly of course).
Using emotive language means that the reader are going to be more inclined to relate to the content, especially if you can link the next tip into your writing.
#17 – Find their Pain Points. These could be anything from:
- Pharmaceuticals – why the reader is suffering from a specific ailment, and how the product can help
- Fleet companies – why the company is struggling to transport large amounts of cargo, and how your services can help
- Pet owners – why they can’t decide that treatment is best to aid their poorly pet
Identifying the Pain Points for each reader gives you a better understanding of why they’re reading your content, and what they need to gain from the copy of the page.
#18 – Be persuasive, not pushy. There’s a subtle difference between using persuasive language and being pushy sales copy.
Persuasive language appeals more to the emotions of the reader, whereas pushy sales copy usually leaves the reader feeling defensive. You need to avoid this at all costs.
#19 – Include numbers and statistics. You might have heard the saying “72% of statistics are made up”, but using statistics in your copy give it a more authoritative tone. They work particularly well when backed up with a case study, or have a hyperlink to a research paper.
#20 – Appeal to their Self-Entitlement. Yes, you do deserve to be a better copywriter, and why shouldn’t you? You’re an expert in your field, and you always put 110% into your work. Why shouldn’t you benefit once in a while?
Appeal to the feeling of Self-Entitlement of your readers, they’ll be persuaded by your copy. Understand what motivates them, and you’ve won half the battle before you’ve even started.
#21 – Address common objections at the start. If you can address the common objections customers may have to specific product or service at the start of your copy, they’re going to be more receptive to the rest of your messaging. Make your points short, snappy and above all, informative.
#22 – Focus on the benefits. How is your reader going to benefit from the product or service in question?
- Are they going to save time?
- Are they going to save money?
- Is it going to have a positive impact on their lives?
Features are great, but the benefits are even better.
If you’re buying a new washing machine, it may feature an LED display, but you’re going to benefit from the 15-minute quick wash cycle, you won’t have to wait forever for your clothes to be cleaned, ideal when you’re in a hurry.
#23 – Cut the crap(py phrases). As much as we try to avoid it, marketing phrases slip into our copy no matter how hard we try to avoid them:
Crappy – Without our Search Engine Optimisation service, your website is going to become a small fish in a massive digital pond, floundering for the rest of time with no one to help.
Better – Our Search Engine Optimisation services improve your web visibility; increase ROI and aids brand reach through organic copy optimisation.
#24 – Be succinct, don’t waffle. Using long, complicated technical jargon is the best way to alienate readers.
Keep it simple, keep it sweet, and make sure your message comes across. Remember the “Elevator Pitch”? (go back to Tip 2 to remind yourself if you can’t)
#25 – Everybody likes free stuff. This will only apply if you have a product sheet, or want to increase your mailing list.
Offering a free downloadable is the easiest way to gather data, and can sometimes be the difference between someone using a product or clicking away to the nearest competitor.
We’re half way there, here’s another picture of a cute animal, and can you guess what it is?
#26 – Always be Active, never be Passive. Using the voice is one of the best ways to show your authority in a specific sector, or make a point more appealing to your readers. For example:
Passive – It would be good if you signed up to my newsletter, because we send out emails each month with some advice in them.
Active – You’re struggling to write compelling copy, so sign up to our free newsletter today and we’ll send you a free PDF guide on exceptional copywriting.
#27 – The first draft is never enough. Linking back to Tip 12, the first draft of copy is rarely your best work.
For the best results, give yourself at least a 30-minute break from what you’ve written, and then come back with a fresh pair of eyes. You’ll pick up mistakes you didn’t notice before, and define your key messaging.
#28 – Ask questions that get a “Yes”. Asking questions that the reader can only respond to with “Yes” is one of the best ways to attract more readers, or entice them to purchase a product. For example:
- Do you want to increase your profits by 50% next month?
- How can you become a content marketing expert?
- Do you want to make your website better than ever before?
#29 – Use Power Words. Similar to using an Active tone of voice (Tip 26), using Power Words in both your headline and your copy encourages the reader to take action. Power words can include:
- Free / Sale
- Professional / Guaranteed
- Test / Improved
- Unique / Endorsed
#30 – Use Examples (as long as they apply). If you have previous examples of case studies that you can include in your copy, then only include them if they apply.
Having a real life example adds authority to your piece, and gives proof that what you’re writing about has had a real impact on someone’s business or life.
#31 – Repetition isn’t always bad. Repetition of the main point of your copy reinforces it into the readers mind, ensuring they understand what the message of the copy is. This creates both memorable copy and a memorable brand.
#32 – Never forget a Call To Action (CTA). A compelling CTA is the main ammo in a copywriter’s arsenal. A strong CTA makes the reader take a specific action or complete a specific task. For example:
- Call today for a free consultation
- Click here to get a free eBook
- Enter [this competition] here to win a 5* luxury holiday for 2
If you want to learn more about how to create a compelling CTA, take a look at this “How to Write a Call to Action” post.
#33 – Don’t neglect the Meta Description. The Meta Description is the summary blurb that you see in Search Engines. For copywriters, it’s important to include keywords, and strong CTA’s in their Meta Description.
Take the time to think about the content of the Meta, as it is the difference between a reader clicking on your website or navigating to one of your competitors.
#34 – Use a specific formula. In particular, using the AIDI method which stands for:
Put simply, you need to construct your copy to draw Attention to a product, create Interest within reader, get them to Desire the product, and take Action (buy something).
#35 – Use short words. Unless you’re writing a technical document or a scientific paper, sometimes using shorter words is better than using jargon.
For mobile users, this is especially important. Most will be skimming the content, and as soon as the eye hits a large word that doesn’t make sense, it disrupts the flow of the page.
#36 – Be positive. You want to inspire confidence in the reader, and you want them to be encouraged to buy a product or service. Focussing on the negatives can give across the idea that you’re not fully behind what you’re writing about.
#37 – Add important information in image captions. Going back to Tip 9, your readers are more likely to remember an image than they are with a block of text.
Any important information you want them to remember should be added into the image caption.
#38 – Never forget mobiles. Over 52.7% of global Internet access is through mobiles, so you need to create copy that can be easily read and digested on a mobile device.
This includes headings, single sentence paragraphs and open, white space when formatting a page. If you’re writing for a responsive website, this is something you need to take into account during your first draft of copy.
#39 – Take a break. Honestly, I had to writing this blog post. Taking time away from a project gives you time to relax, and builds your energy levels for the next round of copy creation.
Go for a walk, move into another room or just stand a stretch. Sitting for too long in front of a screen can sap your energy, and the content definitely won’t be your best work.
#40 – Talk to everyone (but don’t be a weirdo). This might sound strange, but talking to other people is a double-barrelled approach to creating epic content.
- If you’re writing a series of blog posts, then ask a friend or family member what they think. They’re a fountain of new ideas. What would they search for? What don’t they understand? The possibilities are endless.
- You’ll be writing from a copywriting viewpoint, but others will see it from the consumer angle. One “off-the-cuff” comment can lead to an angle you might not have considered before.
#41 – Keep a “Swipe File”. At One2Create, we have an “Inspiration Chest”, which is an actual chest we keep things in that either have a good design, or might inspire us during campaigns in the future.
A Swipe File is somewhere you can swipe ideas from. Now we don’t mean plagiarise; we mean pieces of content of newspaper clippings you can develop into your own content.
#42 – Everything is inspiration. Just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean you only gain inspiration from the written form.
Keep an eye out for anything that catches your eye, or makes you feel. This could be a picture of a tropical island, it could be a well-designed marketing flier, or it could even be as simple as a drawing.
#43 – Don’t think, just do. This is one of the best pieces of advice I can give you. When you’re writing: don’t think, just do. The more ideas you get down on paper the better, there’s always going to be time to self-edit afterwards.
The subconscious mind works even when we’re busy, so just make sure that you keep writing and let your mind go wherever it wants. You never know, some of your best ideas can come from your unscripted thought process.
#44 – Take criticism. As a writer, you like to think that the content you’ve carefully crafted over time is the best that it can be, but taking criticism is about learning and self-development.
The type of criticism we’re talking about isn’t: “That’s rubbish, just start again” but the type that gives your constructive feedback that both improves the copy as a whole, and you as a writer.
#45 – Create Evergreen Content. Evergreen Content is the foundation of all websites, especially those with blogs.
The benefit of Evergreen Content is that you’ll always have a source of information that doesn’t go out of date, ideal for web traffic and referring customers back to your site.
Most content has a shelf life, so making sure you have a batch of Evergreen Content available gives you a safety net should you suddenly hit writers block.
#46 – Use the tools available. Just because you’re starting from scratch, doesn’t mean there isn’t help available. From headline analysers to content idea generators, you’ll always be able to find a tool to help you craft the most exceptional copy you can.
#47 – Don’t think you’re the best. You’re not, sorry to say it, but if we were all the best what would be the point in writing at all? (Let’s be honest though, would you be reading this guide if you were the best?)
As individuals, we’re always learning about new skills, new topics and new updates in the world that’s helped by the nearly unlimited access to the Internet we have today.
Like I said, you’re not the best, but that doesn’t mean you can strive to be.
Make sure that you self-edit, always take constructive criticism, and read as much as you can about copywriting. The first step is always the hardest, but the longer you do it the more naturally it comes.
#48 – Don’t just link internally. When you’re writing content that contains specific links, make sure that it’s not just linking to pages within your own website.
A select number of links to external sources shows the reader that you’re not afraid to point them to other content they may find useful.
Copy that is shamelessly self-promoting can easily become too sales-ey, and this is off-putting from some readers.
#49 – If all else fails … ask for help. Whether you like it or not, sometimes you need to ask for help.
This doesn’t show weakness, it shows that you’re willing to learn more and want to evolve as a copywriter.
Whoever you ask for help will be able to look at your copy from an objective point of view, and if you’re using them as a sounding board for ideas, they may be able to offer more suitable alternatives.
#50 – Sharing is Caring. This is the part we enjoy most, sharing the content that you’ve written.
This can be on social media, it can be a newsletter, or it can be just with your friends and family. Share your content with them, and they may even share it with others.
This gains exposure for not just the content but yourself as a copywriter, and we all like to see our content shared on social media don’t we 😉 We’re not different, and that’s where you come in.
We’re going to be doing more of these posts in future, and you could help shape the future of the content. Leave us a comment below and let us know if you think we’ve missed anything out.
Like we said, sharing is caring 😉 So if you could share this post on social media we’d really appreciate it. All you have to do is use the social sharing buttons below.