What are some beginner tips for copywriters?
I must admit, when I first got into copywriting I had no idea what I was doing. I came from a literary background, so I fancied myself as a writer - but I little did I know that my background counted for pretty much nothing. I soon learned that I had a LOT to learn.
The trouble was that I was finding it hard to distinguish between good writing and writing copy that sells.
They are two different things. You could be the best novelist in the world but it counts for nothing if you can’t write words that sell.
As such, my paragraphs were like a page long.
I was using words like “engender”.
My clients were telling me that I my copy was “too flowery.”
Even after a few rewrites, it was still too flowery.
The road to becoming an astute copywriter was long, and I had to abandon old habits that had treated me well so far, and adopt new ones.
I had to change my language, use different kinds of words (“power words”), and understand that I wasn’t writing for myself anymore - I was writing for other people.
If you’re just starting out as a copywriter, let’s take a look at some beginner tips for copywriters.
Trim Your Paragraphs
The easiest mistake to make as a newbie copywriter is to use long paragraphs. It’s what you’re used to. Your teacher taught you to use long paragraphs back in second grade, and books are full of them.
However, if there is one place that isn’t full of long paragraphs, it’s the Internet.
People on the Internet don’t want to be greeted by thick, chunky paragraphs when they visit your website. The moment they see looooooong paragraphs is the moment they get the heck out of there.
Apply this rule: Your paragraphs should never have any more than five sentences. If you can, keep your paragraphs to just three sentences max.
Good copywriting is all about keeping the reader engaged. The shorter your paragraphs are, the easier it is to keep people engaged.
Remember Who You’re Writing For
You’re not writing for yourself anymore. You’re writing for an audience.
This can be hard for creative writers to wrap their heads and pens around. Especially if you’ve always written for yourself, it’s difficult to accept that you now have to write for other people.
Indeed, you don’t even matter anymore.
Heck, it no longer matters if your writing impresses you.
In fact, if you grin to yourself like a cat that got the cream when you read a piece back to yourself, it actually means that you’re doing something wrong.
If you’re still not getting it, there is one hyphenated word you need to be mindful of from now on: self-indulgent.
You start to indulge yourself, you lose your audience.
Always, always, always put your reader first. You don’t matter. Only they do. They wanna know what’s in it for them. They don’t care if you know how to use the word “benediction” properly.
Always Use Subheadings - Classics Beginner Tips For Copywriters
I fell into so many traps when I first started writing, and one of them that had me fumbling around in the dark and losing clients was writing copy that had no subheadings.
I was handing in walls of text and expecting my clients’ customers to actually read it, enjoy it, and take something from it.
If my clients had asked me “are you for real?” I could not have blamed them as I look back now.
Subheadings guide the readers eye. They let the reader know exactly what they’re in for before they properly begin reading the article. They’re orientation points that let the reader know what’s in the content, and whether it’s going to be of any use to them.
An article without subheadings is just a mess. It’s a major turn-off. It’s a novel. Nobody has time for that.
Break your copy down with catchy subheadings that explain exactly what’s in each paragraph in just a few words.
Creative writers are a bit resistant to research. I know - I was the same.
The great novelist Paulo Coelho says he doesn’t do much research, as the reader can always tell when a novel has been heavily researched. It makes it boring.
So true. But Paulo is talking about novels - not copy.
To get good at copy, you have to know your product inside out. The more you know about it, the easier it is to write hooks that catch the audience.
You also need to research how people talk about your product. Let’s say you’re writing about the latest Mercedes Coupe. To write copy that appeals to Mercedes buyers, my suggestion is that you go out and research how Mercedes buyers talk about Mercedes’. What language do they use? What are they looking for when checking out these cars?
These were some beginner tips for copywriters. Check out my blog for more tips and tricks.