You might think copywriters possess some magical skill where persuasive words automatically flow onto the page...
...but the truth is, it really isn’t that complicated.
Yes, it takes practice.
Yes, it requires research.
Yes, it involves creativity.
But as you’ll soon see, writing copy that sells isn’t as mysterious as you might think.
Whether you’re a copywriting beginner or have been at it for years, here are 20 easy things ANYONE can do to improve their copy chops.
#1.) Pass the “Caveman Test”
The simpler you can make your copy, the better.
Before hitting publish, go through line by line (including images) and put it through the Caveman Test.
Pretend a caveman is reading your copy. If they’re scratching their heads saying “ME NO UNDERSTAND,” then you’ve got a problem.
Here are some ways to help pass the test…
- Eliminate buzzwords
- Break up long sentences
- Simplify charts and images
- Check the reading level using the Hemingway app
- Add captions or markups to your graphics with explanations
#2.) Talk it out
Good copy is written in a conversational tone. This is a common stumbling block...especially after having formal academic writing drilled into us our entire lives.
If you want to get better at writing copy, you need to UNTRAIN everything you learned in school.
One of the easiest ways to switch into “casual mode” is to talk it out.
If you sound like a robot with a stick up its butt whenever you type, try just saying it out loud instead.
Not only does talking it out help you use a casual tone, but with practice, voice typing can also be WAY faster than finger typing.
#3.) Be hella specific
This is one of Joe Sugarman’s legendary persuasive triggers.
Vague copy doesn’t sell. People want SPECIFIC numbers and SPECIFIC details. Since they can’t be there to test the product out in person, they need to be able to imagine it.
The quickest fix is to substitute in specific numbers, dates, places, etc. For example…
Now let’s add in some specificity:
But don’t stop there. You want to eliminate ALL vague ideas.
To do this, read through each sentence and ask, “What would this look like in real life?”
❌ Imagine being able to do whatever you want with your day.
✅ Imagine never having to set an alarm clock again.
❌ You have complete freedom with your time.
✅ No more looking into your daughter’s disappointed eyes after missing another dance recital.
❌ No more guilt about spending money.
✅ Never again debating whether to pay for extra guac on your burrito.
See how easy it is to make your copy more tangible and lively?
#4.) Build a swipe file
Most winning copywriting ideas don’t come out of thin air.
They are inspired. A swipe file is basically an inspiration bank for copywriters (or any type of creative).
Whenever you come across…
- Useful formulas
- Catchy headlines
- Successful sales letters
- Emails that get you to click
- Anything that persuades you to buy something
- Anything that gives you a strong emotional reaction
- Or anything else you find inspirational
...just add it to your file.
Then, if you’re ever stuck for ideas, crack open your swipes for inspiration.
And if you’re too lazy to build your own file, feel free to use ours!
#5.) Copy language your audience uses
If you want your copy to connect with your reader’s emotions, you have to mirror their language.
The best way to figure out what language your target audience uses is to…
- Interview them
- Snoop around in forums and Facebook groups
- Read product reviews (3-star reviews can be goldmines of useful intel)
Once you learn their lingo and understand their pain points, you can transfer it directly to your copy.
For example, let’s say you’re selling a crock-pot. You know nothing about crock pots, so you start reading through reviews on Amazon:
You quickly discover many reviewers refer to crock pots as “cookers”. Interesting! That might be a good word to use in your ad.
Then you start to see patterns of complaints people have…
If the cooker you’re selling “heats evenly”, you might wanna mention it in your copy to overcome a common objection.
#6.) Make it about them, not you
Sear this into your brain:
People don’t care about you. They care about THEMSELVES.
They care about solving THEIR problems.
They care about achieving THEIR dreams.
They care about not wasting THEIR hard-earned money.
So put yourself in THEIR shoes and ask, “Why would I give you money?”
If your copy doesn’t make it a no-brainer, make it more about them.
#7.) Use images instead of words (sometimes)
Adding the right image can make or break your copy.
As copywriters, we like to think we can hold people’s attention with our slick words alone.
And while it’s possible, images make it WAY easier.
There are loads of reasons to use images…
- Communicate ideas faster
- Break up intimidating “walls of text”
- Make your ideas easier to remember
- Clarify confusing concepts (and pass the caveman test)
- Bring your words to life and make your ideas more tangible
For example, I could write 1000 words on how smartphones are killing our social skills, or I could just get my point across with an image:
You don’t need a fancy graphic design degree to do these either—here’s how to make cool images on the cheap.
#8.) Practice writing copy (DUH!)
It’s crazy how many new copywriters try everything to get better at copy….EXCEPT for actually writing. (I used to be guilty too).
They read books, watch videos, listen to podcasts, buy courses, and overload their brain with theoretical knowledge…
But they never actually put pen to paper.
If this sounds like you, it’s time to stop consuming, and start producing.
As soon as you finish reading this article, I challenge you to choose an object (look around the room for ideas) and write an email trying to sell it.
The ONLY way to become a successful copywriter is to write copy.
For even more practice, give these 9 copywriting exercises a try:
#9.) Run experiments
While regular copy practice will make it easier to write copy, it won’t necessarily make you better.
The only way to truly get better is to TEST.
You could crank out 100 sales letters, but without testing them, you’ll never know what works and what doesn’t.
Test different headlines, different hooks, different images, different mediums, different pricing structures...different everything until you’ve crafted a message that can’t be beaten (and then test some more!)
Neville ran a homepage split test to see which type of image converted the most visitors into email subscribers.
After 30,000 unique visits to his site, he found that the animated image outperformed his headshot by 1.52%.
#10.) Use formulas and frameworks
If you’re starting from scratch with every project, you’re doing it wrong.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when copywriting. There’s plenty of proven formulas and frameworks that have sold billions of dollars of products.
The AIDA formula (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) is one of the most popular.
But you’ve also got PAS (Problem, Agitate, Solution)...
The 4 P’s (Problem, Promise, Proof, Proposal)...
QUEST (Qualify, Understand, Educate, Stimulate, Transition…
And a bunch more.
Just remember—these frameworks are guidelines, not strict rules. Use them as a foundation to organize your ideas, but feel free to get creative and experiment.
#11.) Ask yourself “creativity questions”
It’s easy to get stuck in the “box” in copywriting (and in life).
Sometimes the quickest way out of the box is to ask yourself thought-provoking questions that flex your imagination.
- What does the SIMPLEST version of the product/message look like?
- How is this achieved in other industries?
- What would make this a no brainer?
- How would a 5-year-old sell this?
- What would Dan Kennedy do?
By combining these questions with other creative problem-solving activities, you’re guaranteed to get unstuck.
#12.) Ruthlessly cut fluff
Fluff is a silent copy killer.
People’s attention spans are basically nothing. Take too long to make your point, and you’ll lose them.
Think about it this way:
Everything you write should earn its pixels. Imagine each word on the page cost you $100 to post. I guarantee you’d polish away that fluff until you’re left with a sparkly copy diamond.
#13.) Uncover your unique angle
Why should your target audience buy from you over your competitors?
If you can’t answer that, you’re gonna fight an uphill copy battle.
You need a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Maybe it’s...
- Cheapest prices
- Highest quality
- Widest variety
- Rare materials
- Secret ingredients
- Patented technology
- Products made in the US of A
- Delivery in 30 minutes or less
Whatever it is, weave it throughout your entire message.
If you’re stuck, one way to create an instant USP is to narrow your audience.
That’s the USP approach NerdFitness took, and now it’s the foundation for everything they write.
#14.) Test different copywriting “lenses”
Another way to get out of the box and come up with new angles is to view your offer through different “lenses”.
Three useful lenses are Competitive, Benefit, and Inspirational.
For example, let’s look at the Snapper lawn mower homepage:
Not bad...but let’s try out some different lenses.
- Competitive Lens: Have the best looking lawn on the block.
- Benefit Lens: Spend less time mowing and more time with the family.
- Inspirational Lens: You’re never too old to mow with a Snapper.
Depending on your audience, one type of lens might work better than others. But you won’t know until you test!
#15.) Get feedback (from the right people)
Apart from testing your copy and getting hard results, the next best way to level up your copy skills is to get your work reviewed.
Even the best copywriters need a second set of eyes sometimes.
That said, not all feedback is created equal.
The most valuable critiques will come from members of your target audience or other experienced copywriters (like we do in the Member’s Area).
Just remember not to take critiques of your work personally. Stay humble, be open to new ideas, and look for opportunities to grow.
Pro Tip: If the feedback is not coming from a member of your target audience or an experienced copywriter, take it with a grain of salt.
#16.) Read books that AREN’T about marketing
When you’re trying to master a new skill, it’s natural to want to binge-read everything on the topic. It’s the same with copywriting books.
But the truth is, once you reach a certain level of understanding about how marketing works, you’ll start to see limited returns. You’re better off branching into other genres.
Read books that keep you engaged.
Did you spend 3 days straight reading Harry Potter? Well, there’s a reason for that. It captured your brain in some way.
How can you apply that to your writing?
Reading and learning about different topics also widens your knowledge base. This will give you endless examples, stories, analogies, connections, and angles to draw on when writing copy.
#17.) Write to ONE person
Another trick to writing conversational copy is to pretend you’re writing a personal message to one person in your target audience—picturing them in your mind as you write.
This can help eliminate stuffy corporate-speak, but sometimes it’s still tricky finding the sweet spot between a casual and professional tone.
If you’re struggling with this, try using the “Conference After Party Technique”:
Imagine an expert in your industry is giving a presentation at a conference. After the conference, everyone heads to the bar. People start asking this industry expert questions after he’s downed a couple beers (he’s not drunk, but he’s loosened his tie).
What language does he use?
This is the perfect
#18.) Back up your arguments with proof
If you want your copy to convert, you can’t just spew out a bunch of claims and hope readers take your word for it.
People are skeptical (especially if they’ve never heard of you before). If you want them to trust you, you need to add proof.
Imagine someone is reading your message and saying, “Oh yeah? Prove it!” after every line.
There’s plenty of ways to do this:
- Past results
- Research and data
- Examples, stories, and analogies
- And more (here’s a list of 20 other creative ideas)
Let’s take a look at proof in action...
❌ Most people who work on the computer have bad posture. This causes them to develop painful neck problems. Our laptop stand is perfect for helping you avoid this.
✅ A recent Department of Labor study showed that 78% of office workers suffer from posture-related neck pain. The study revealed that 9 times out of 10, improper posture was caused by a poorly positioned monitor. Our ergonomic laptop stand was designed by two physical therapists from the National Posture Institute and has helped over 10,000 workers relieve their pain.
See how sprinkling in proof elements makes this more believable?
#19.) Do CopyWork (handwriting copy)
You’ve probably heard rumors of people sharpening their copy skills by simply handwriting out successful ads.
But does it really work?
Yes. It does. But only if you follow these three steps:
#1.) As you’re writing, stay mindful. Put yourself in the author's shoes and pay attention to each word you’re copying. If you just zone out, you’ll waste your time.
#2.) After writing, go back and analyze WHY the author wrote what they wrote.
#3.) Finally, apply the new concepts to your own writing.
It sounds like woo-woo magic. But every time I do CopyWork, my writing improves.
And I’m not the only one. Lots of Copywriting Course members have used CopyWork to transform their writing too!
Copywriting Course student using the forum for his CopyWork accountability.
#20.) Practice mental “copy makeovers”
There’s no rule saying you have to be sitting at your computer to practice copy.
You can do it ANYWHERE.
A great way to train your copywriting muscles on-the-go is to do “copy makeovers” on ads you see out in real life.
Billboards, restaurant street signs, flyers, direct mail…
Start paying attention to all the ads you see, and think to yourself, “How could I make this better?”
How to Get Better at Copywriting Cheat Sheet
Hope this helps!