Feeling overwhelmed when writing your content?
You’re not alone.
Learning to write better copy can be frustrating. Everyone has more tips, more advice, more copywriting rules.
Write tight. Use attention-grabbing headlines. Add features and benefits. Don’t forget the hook. Check your grammar rules and punctuation. No jargon. No adverbs. No … whatever.
Trying to remember the advice makes your head spin. Following the rules sucks the energy out of your content (and out of you, too).
But writing doesn’t need to be such an exhausting, grueling and tortuous process. It can be relatively simple.
The five most critical copywriting rules follow.
Concentrate on these five basic rules only, and you’ll find yourself writing pretty persuasive copy. You’ll turn so-so text into seductive content, and win more business.
1. Start at the end
Staring at a blank sheet?
Pulling out your hair because you can’t come up with your first sentence?
Pro copywriters don’t write the first sentence first. They start at the end.
Before you start typing, answer this simple question first:
What is the purpose of this piece of content?
The purpose of this blog post, for instance, is to help you write better copy so you can win more clients. Each piece of content should have one specific goal. A few more examples:
- An About page aims to make you more credible and more likable so you receive more business inquiries
- This sales page from Pamela entices you to buy her Ideal Customer Finder ebook
- My home page encourages you to sign up to my free snackable writing course
Once you know the purpose of your content, for every sentence you write, ask yourself, Am I on a side-track and confusing readers, or is this sentence helping achieve my content goal?
When you know the ultimate goal of your content, you find yourself writing both faster and better.
2. Answer the So what? question
Your copy is about your product, your service, and your company.
Not quite. Good copy speaks to readers. It tells them why your product or service makes them happier, richer, or more productive.
When you live and breathe your business, you want to share your enthusiasm; and it can be surprisingly hard to focus on your readers. The So what? trick helps you focus on what you can do for your readers. This trick works in any industry:
- Our cars have cruise control. So what? You don’t have to watch your speed all the time. So what? You can feel safe.
- We monitor your servers. So what? Your servers won’t go down. So what? Your staff can continue working, uninterrupted.
- I design high-converting websites. So what? You can convert more web visitors into leads and business.
Persuasive copy connects to your customer’s desires, such as feeling safe, saving time, reducing costs, growing your business, or becoming happier and healthier.
How do you make the life of your clients better? Which problems, glitches, and hassle can you take away?
Whenever you share details about your service or features of your products, ask yourself So what? And write down why your reader should care.
3. Write with your ears
Legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz said he writes with his ears because he believed that the ability to listen was one of the greatest assets of a writer.
Writing with your ears also saves you a ton of time.
Did you know that Schwartz was one of the highest paid copywriters in the 1950s and 1960s, but he only worked 3 hours a day?
He could work so fast because he stole marketing messages from customers and prospects. Rather than trying to be creative, he asked people what they’re looking for, and repeated their words back to them in his marketing copy.
When you use the language of your readers, your content becomes more engaging; and when you write about what’s important to them, your content becomes more persuasive.
Have you asked your clients why they love working with you? You might be surprised by their answers.
4. Avoid marketing prattle
You’re a fan of Pamela Wilson, right?
So, I expect you to be a bit like her … honest, helpful, and frank.
But could it be that a dash of sales hype sneaks into your copy, turning off prospects? It happens all the time. The web is full of marketing prattle.
By making your statements more specific you can stop gobbledygook from sneaking into your content. For example:
Vague marketing speak:
- Our world-class widgets help you increase email sign-ups
- We provide the quickest printing service in town
- Friendly customer service
More specific and more persuasive:
- 549,333 websites use our widgets to increase email sign-ups
- Get your brochures printed in 48 hours or receive a 25% discount
- We pick up the phone within 3 rings
Generic statements make you sound like a sleazy sales man. In contrast, specific statements instantly boost your credibility. They turn hollow phrases into tangible arguments for buying your products and services.
So for every sentence you write, ask yourself: Can I make this more specific? Can I paint a more vivid picture in the reader’s mind?
5. Cut redundant words
Wordiness is a copywriting sin.
Wordiness slows readers down, and invites them to start scanning your content rather than read it word by word.
Cutting the flab in your writing requires discipline. Try these tricks:
- Ask a friend to read your copy and tell you when they’re getting bored
- Read your copy aloud and notice where you stumble
- Look for weak phrases you can either remove or replace by stronger words—phrases like very, actually, and just
- Replace complicated words with simple versions that are easier to understand—to ease is better than to alleviate
- Cut all sentences and paragraphs that don’t contribute to achieving your content goal
When writing your first draft, write as fast as you can because it can make your copy more enthusiastic. But when you edit, slow down. Examine each sentence. Review each word. Make your copy as tight as you can.
The truth about persuasive copy
Writing seductive copy isn’t about knowing which word converts best. It’s not about putting your commas in the right place. It’s not even about perfect grammar.
Persuasive copy is created with a specific audience in mind.
Identify who your audience is. Crawl into their mind to understand their dreams, their motivations, their wishes, and secret desires. Know what problems they’re struggling with. Understand their hesitations and fears.
When you understand your customers, persuading them to buy from you becomes easy.
Offer a service they love.
And tell them why they’ll love it.