Do you want to write your own ads and content for your business but don’t know where to start? Here are five copywriting tips to keep in mind before you start to write.
Do these 5 things to immediately improve the quality of your content
- Plan what you want to achieve
- Focus on one message
- Bullet point your content before you write
- Think like your consumer
- Be your own worst critic.
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Copywriting tip no.1 - Map out what you want to achieve before you write a thing.
This is basically a copy strategy and that sounds scary but it’s not. You are just mapping out what you want to say before you do anything. It’s your success plan.
Now that might sound like a pain but it will help enormously. A copy strategy will give you focus and keep you on track and it is not difficult to do.
It prevents you from waffling on and going off on tangents. It’s very tempting to just dump everything you know about your product into your ad copy but that’s the worst thing you can do. Remember, people have the attention span of a goldfish. A copy strategy keeps your writing on point.
- What you want to achieve with the copy? This will give you an objective.
- Who do you want to read it? This will help you with the tone.
- Where will they read it – on a phone, the side of a van, on a webpage? This will help determine the length.
- What do you want their take-out to be?
Answer those questions and you will be able to target your message. All the important stuff will be included and all the waffle excluded. If you want more detail about developing a copy strategy, you can find it here.
Copywriting tip no.2 - Say one thing and say it well.
If there is one copywriting tip here you should take to heart, it’s this one. Your customer is time poor. They will stop reading your ad at the drop of a hat if they don’t get what they need quickly. Focus on communicating one thing well.
Clarity is the single most important part of writing good copy. A rambling message will lose customer’s attention and lose you sales.
Keep your sentences short. Make each paragraph cover one subject and try to be as succinct as you can.
You want to write like you talk because that is how people communicate with each other.
Copywriting tip no.3 - Make a list
Okay, so now you know what you want to say and how to say it. The next copywriting tip is to bullet point the things you want to cover.
This will help the flow of your communication.
Quite often, it is better to write the beginning and end first and then fill in the bits in-between.
This will give your copy a natural flow, progression and feel.
Once you have the structure of your copy in place you can start to write. But because you have taken time to build a structure, you writing will flow better. You will have a beginning, middle and end and that will make it more compelling to read and ultimately, more persuasive.
Headline writing, more than anything else, will determine the success or failure of your ad. Research tells us 60% of people never get past your headline. That is a massive drop off, so if your headline is bad, it doesn’t matter how good your content is, it is never going to get seen
Copywriting tip no.4 - It’s not all about you, it’s all about your customer.
Have you ever been at a party and meet someone new? They look good but then they just go on and on about themselves all night, you can’t get a word in edgeways. They don’t want to listen to what you have to say, they are all “me, me, me”.
Don’t be that person.
You’re writing content for your customers. It is information that will help them, it will solve a problem or fulfill a need. Think about what they are looking for and answer it from that perspective.
You’re giving them information, so that they can act. Be inclusive, think about what they are looking for – you want to be their best option.
Copywriting tip no.5 - Be harsh on yourself.
Okay, now you have a first draft of your copy. Put it down, walk away, go and have a cup of coffee. But when you come back, read through with a critical eye.
60% of your readers will not get past your headline and very few will read all of your copy. Getting your headline and your first paragraph right is crucial. The goal when you are writing is just to get someone on to the next sentence.
Get that red pen out and cut out everything you don’t need. It is better to be clear than clever.
If you can, sleep on it and look at your copy with fresh eyes in the morning. Look back at your copy strategy and make sure you have followed your plan. Anything else you’ve snuck in there, cut it out.
After you’re happy with the content, check for spelling and grammar. Seems obvious but if you read a piece of copy over and over again as you are writing it, you can easily miss mistakes. And don’t trust spellcheck to catch everything. It is a good start but read through what you have written. A good tip is to read the copy from back to front. It will help you focus on each word and stops your eye gliding over the copy.
Running a small business is tough, you have to be the jack of all trades and turn your hand to everything. Writing ads and creating content is one of them.
Like most things, you are always going to get a better result if you ask a professional copywriter to do it for you. But the if the budget doesn’t stretch that far you can do it yourself. Give yourself a plan, map out what you want to say and be brief. Good luck with your writing.
About the author
Steve Girdlestone is a professional copywriter who has worked in advertising for over 20 years, developing concepts and branded content for companies all over the world.