When I first started freelance writing, I devoured just about every blog, article and book I could find about copywriting. I wanted to know everything about the industry. How much could people make as independent writers? How could I personally improve my writing style? What were the secrets to building an audience that could hardly wait for my next piece to drop?
Among the many open doors and familiar stories, I found that almost everyone has their own unique way of doing things. People generally tend to find their rhythm when it comes to approaching the same task. I’ve probably discarded more advice and methods than I have kept over my life, and anyone with enough experience has almost certainly done the same. While the plethora of eye-opening tips and clarifications helped to take me to the next level of my craft, a few outstanding tips really gave me the boost I needed to make my career a full-time endeavor.
Even though I have found that the “best” writing tip differs from person to person and moment by moment, there are a few overall things writers need to apply in order to outshine their competitors. Particularly, I’ve found tips relating to writing convincingly to be the most useful for my day to day life.
I would strongly encourage you to apply the following principles. If used regularly, you can expect your work to absolutely dominate your niche; year after year.
1. Not OR but WHAT and WHEN
Don’t give your readers a choice in their heads about why they want your product. Phrase your copy as a choice between two paths that both lead to a desired outcome. Sounds mystical? It’s really not. Here are some examples:
Poor copy: Wanna grab lunch sometime?
Good copy: Would you like to go to Starbucks or McDonald’s for lunch today?
Get it? The first one gives them the mental option of whether or not to go to lunch. It also allows them to think about the most convenient time to perform X action. The second version of the question is not only more direct (which is important), but it gives them a limited choice and definite timeframe.
Here are some more examples:
Poor copy: Hope to hear from you soon.
Good copy: Are you going to call me or send an email tomorrow?
Poor copy: Which room would you like to book?
Good copy: Do you want the standard or luxury suite for the 11 am check-in?
I hope that’s starting to make sense. I’ve reviewed hundreds of copy pieces and one of the clear indications of unpersuasive content is the wishy-washy way that the author begs the reader for attention. Don’t be like that. Again, don’t phrase your copy as an OR. Phrase it with the WHAT and WHEN in mind.
2. The REAL profit
Nobody likes wasting their time. Get straight to the point when talking to your customers. Instead of endlessly droning on and on about all of the “amazing” features your service or product has, highlight the ultimate benefit they will receive from you. Why should they choose you over the hundreds to thousands of other companies?
Before you even begin writing, think carefully about why a certain characteristic, action or feature is important to your customers and describe that. Let’s look at this in-depth.
Let’s say you’re opening up a clothes dryer store. Why do people want dryers? Is the fact that your dryer finishes 5 minutes faster than the competitor really important? People want dryers because they want their clothes dry and in the closet so that they can do something else. Period. So how would I market that?
Poor copy: I will dry your wet clothes really fast.
Good copy: YOU can now save the time you spend drying clothes with our new Dryermatic 9000. Not only will YOU have a perfectly dry, lint-free wardrobe, but you’ll have it with enough time to spare for your favorite hobbies!
Additionally, you can add a nice story to draw the customer in even further. Don’t get carried away though – stick to the point. It’s not about you, it’s about them!
3. Don’t Make Your Customer “Work” To Get Your Product
I see this all the time and it drives me crazy. People phrase their copy as if it’s the customer’s royal honor to send them money.
Why would you make your customer have to spend additional energy to give you money for your product? Humans tend to be pretty lazy unless something directly affects them. So make it easy for them to spend their hard-earned cash on you.
BAD copy: Read more…. (ugh, I gotta work to get more out of you?)
Good copy: More information…. (oh cool, there’s more stuff for me to consume)
Poor copy: Subscribe to newsletter… (yikes, I have to open my email?)
Good copy: Always up to date / the best tips / the best stories / …. (oh I really wanna know more about you)
Find out what your customers really want and get to the point. Make it about them, the benefits they will receive and how they can get more out of you as easily and painlessly as possible.
4. Get To the Heart Of the Matter With These Questions
Now, this really isn’t anything revolutionary. If you don’t know much about your audience, I’ve collected a series of questions over the years that help you connect with your audience.
What does his or her day look like?
What are some of the customs and traditions of people in your niche?
What are your customers proud of?
How do your customers talk to each other?
What is the general history of the niche?
What kind of humor does your typical customer have?
What are his or her ideals?
What is he or she lying awake from?
If you can answer at least 90% of these questions off the top of your head, you’re ready to write some killer content. If you can’t answer half of these with any certainty, you have much more research ahead of you. If you create any copy without having a clear understanding of your audience, expect to spend a lot of time and wasted money driving traffic to content that hardly persuades anyone.
I really hope that helps and I would love to hear more from you. Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible :-)!