Both beginner and pro copywriters have the same goal; producing good, influential copy. Whether fresh-faced or grizzled, if a copywriter can’t produce this consistently, they’ll find work opportunities drying up quickly.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best copywriting tips to aid both newbies and veteran freelancers. The list below is by no means comprehensive, but we’ll continue to add more useful tips in the future.
Research speeds up the writing process and, when done efficiently, is essential to creating valuable copy. Without it a copywriter might as well be throwing darts in the dark, hoping something will land.
Key points of focus for your research should be the client/company, the industry as a whole, and competitor copy. No matter what you’re writing, I guarantee there are a few blog posts, articles, product reviews, etc., written about it already. You can use them as a basic guide for what to include in your copy, what formatting/keywords are relevant to the topic, and questions that competitors have left unanswered.
Define the Objective
The format, framing, and structure of your copy is greatly affected by its main goal, which means you’ll need to define your project’s objective early on in the writing process.
This will most often be your client’s objective for a project. If it isn’t clear in the brief be sure to ask your client directly for the intended goal of the project.
Refine Your Headline
While revising and refining your copy is a given, doing the same for your headline is almost more important. Writing compelling headlines increases the likelihood of your copy being read by and influencing buyers.
When refining your headline ask yourself:
- Is it attention grabbing? Your headline should pull people in and make them interested in what your copy has to say.
- Is it simple? Complex headlines turn readers away. Keep yours as simple as possible while still being engaging.
- Is it related to the copy? It’s often better to write the copy first and then pull the title from the most interesting portions.
- Is it specific? Target your desired audience. Generic headlines might attract more people, but specific ones attract more potential buyers.
- Is it personal? It’s been shown the more personal a headline sounds, the more likely people are to continue reading.
Focus on Benefits, Not Features
Your copywriting shouldn’t focus on the features of a product or service, but the direct benefit to the customer. This is one of the most important copywriting tips for beginners since it is a common mistake just about everyone makes.
For example, a new wireless earbud might let you change songs, channels, or playlists through voice commands. While this is interesting on its own, a customer will respond better if you highlight how this will give them more hands-free control while cooking, cleaning, or doing other tasks.
Knowing your target customer and what they want is extremely helpful here. Having statistics and trends can give you a general idea, but having a specific individual buyer in mind will improve your copy’s impact. Focus on the benefits your imagined customer would find compelling.
Use Facts & Data
If you have facts and data to back up the claims in your copy, include them. Solid numbers and evidence not only give clients a rational reason to purchase, but often lend your copy authority.
The data doesn’t have to be directly related to the product or service of your client. You can use statistics to help sell a narrative, bring an issue to light, or impress a specific point on a reader. Charts and graphs are also a great visual way to engage readers.
Don’t become over-reliant on facts and data, though. While they can definitely help you sell and improve your copy’s persuasive power, they can become overwhelming or distracting if used too much.
Make Visually Appealing Copy
The way you present your copy is just as important as its content. Use design concepts and skills to make your copy more visually appealing and easy to read.
The most important thing to remember is content and design should go hand-in-hand. If your design doesn’t emphasize the focus of your content or your content is at odds with some portion of the design both become less effective at achieving your client’s goals.
Appeal to Emotion
If there is one thing you can trust as a copywriter, it’s that emotion sells. Most people like to believe they make completely rational purchasing decisions, but hidden emotional motivators are what actually drive people to buy.
Anger, envy, pleasure, fear, etc., are important emotions to tap into when writing your copy. Evoking an emotion creates a stronger pull for any customer considering their purchase. It may take some research and practice to figure out which of these emotions will be most helpful in each case, but the extra time invested will be well rewarded.
Appealing to emotion also makes a lasting impression. When an experience or item is tied to an emotional response, it becomes far easier for someone to remember in the future. Connecting your client’s product or service to an emotion through your copy is a great way to increase the likelihood potential customers will remember it.
Use Active Voice
It turns out all English teachers were right; active voice makes writing more engaging. We don’t have to tell them that, though.
Below are two example sentences to prove the point.
Active: Passive voice steals energy from your writing.
Passive: The energy of your writing is stolen by passive voice.
Which of those sentences had more force behind it? Even though they both say the same thing, the active version feels more engaging and impactful.
It may take some time and practice until you can start to notice where you’re using passive voice while writing, but you can always check for it during the editing phase in the meantime.
Use Effective & Persuasive Copy
Every word you put in your copy should be an important one. Rambling writing, unclear words, and vague statements will cause readers to ignore, misunderstand, and become irritated with your copy.
You can use powerful and direct language to increase the effectiveness of your copy. Look back over your writing and see if any words can be replaced with bolder or more impactful ones. Also, look for areas where you can trim the fat by cutting unnecessary sentences or words.
You don’t get points for cramming your copy with the longest and most complex words. Everyday language appeals to buyers and makes it easier to understand what you want them to do.
Include a Strong Call to Action
Your call to action (CTA) is what points your readers to the specific action your client wants. No matter how convincing your copy is, without a CTA you won’t be able to convert it into results for your client.
Your CTA could be as simple as a few words (“Shop Express Deals Now”) or it could require a longer phrase (“Subscribe to our newsletter for all of the latest updates and new blog posts about copywriting tips for beginners and pros!”). You should aim for concise and direct CTAs, but also remember to make them specific enough to fully describe the client’s goal.
When buyers reach the CTA, it should feel like a continuation of the rest of the copy. Think of your copy as a movie trailer with the CTA being the juicy teaser reveal just before it ends. Everything should build-up to that final reveal to fill as many seats on opening night as possible.
Use Copywriting Formulas
Remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are some well-tested copywriting formulas both beginners and pros can use to aid their writing process.
The AIDA formula stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. It is one of the most well-known acronyms in direct response marketing.
When you’re struggling to decide on the right approach to your copy, you can fall back on the AIDA formula. Following its steps will take most of the burden of planning off your shoulders and allow you to focus on creating quality content.
For a more in-depth look, you can check out our post on the AIDA copywriting formula.
The PAR formula stands for Problem, Agitate, Resolve and works for most forms of business copy.
First, you’ll want to address your audience’s main problem. For instance, if you were writing for a guitar brand, the main problem could be how the quality of your strings’ sound decreases over time.
From there you make the problem into a monster. Agitate the issue in the minds of your readers to the point where it feels insurmountable. For our guitar example, we’ll point out the difference between a fresh set of strings and a month’s old set.
Then you resolve it. Present the product or service of your client as a solution to this massive threat. In our case, the client has a brand new string set which retains its sound quality twice as long.
Tell a Story
It’s probably one of the most common pieces of advice you’ll hear when looking for ways to improve your copywriting and for good reason. Humans are hardwired to create and respond better to narratives, which means that selling a story to a potential buyer is much easier than selling a product or service.
A well-crafted marketing story will hardly feel like a piece of marketing copy at all. However, finding the right balance between drawing readers in and promoting the client’s goals can be difficult.
Practice makes perfect. If you are patient and put in the time learning how to implement a story in your copy, you’ll see great results.
Read Your Writing Aloud
It’s difficult to know how your copy sounds when it’s sitting dead on the page. Reading it aloud can give you a better idea of what is flowing correctly and what sounds off.
Even though most buyers will be reading off paper or a screen, the verbal feeling of sentences can still have an impact on their response. It can also help keep your copy’s flow natural. Conversational writing makes your copy appear more down-to-earth and relatable.
Proofread & Edit
The dread of every copywriter, proofreading and editing are something that no one can escape. You can minimize the pain of editing by establishing a process with clear steps to follow every time.
As an example, my editing process after finishing the first draft looks like this:
- Short break. This allows me to have fresh eyes when coming back to the copy.
- First skim. This is where I cut everything unnecessary and make it more concise.
- Grammar/Grammarly check. It’s always good to have someone else look over your copy, even if that someone is a proofreading program.
- Final edit. Here I read back through the copy for anything else I missed and simplify my writing wherever I can.
Feel free to use this one or develop your own process. You can’t get out of editing, so you might as well make it as easy on yourself as possible.
Create Your Own Swipe Files
Swipe files are collections of tested and proven copy from expert copywriters which showcase the results of various different copywriting projects and can help inspire your own.
Look for swipes files that you think could help inspire and improve your copy down the line. There are thousands of files made by other copywriters out there, but you’ll have the best results if you compile your own unique collection.
These are just some of the useful freelance copywriting tips for beginners and pros which can help improve your copywriting skills and deliver better results to clients. We’ll continue to expand this list in the future and make sure that you’re as well-equipped as possible for a career in freelance copywriting.
If you have any questions you’d like to see answered or other topics/tips you would like us to address, feel free to leave a comment below.