Here's 103 copywriting tips. Scroll through and one may "jump out at you" and trigger a great idea!
1. Work backwards - What’s the goal?
Before you write about something, you’ve got to know exactly what your page / piece is supposed to accomplish. Whether it’s email replies, product sales, or something else, your job as a copywriter is to support that goal.
2. What is your success metric?
Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, you’ve got to be able to measure it. Whether it’s hard stats (like conversion rates) or softer measures like comments and happy email responses….track what you’re doing.
3. Focus on ONE metric?
Pretty much everything is trackable these days - but that doesn’t mean you should focus on everything. Choose one metric to focus on and you’ll quickly know whether your copy is hitting home or not.
4. Who’s your target audience?
What’s your ideal client profile? Define laser-focused avatars and you’ll quickly find yourself writing more clearly and connecting with your audience more effectively.
5.Interview your target audience?
Avatars are great reference tools, but nothing beats the real thing! Get up, get out, and interview the people who make up your audience. You’ll learn more from a single “real” conversation than any avatar-based thinking session.
6. Send your list surveys?
Want to dig into your audience’s psychology? Live interviews are great for 1-on-1 sessions, but there’s a better way to mine a big group of people (like an email list)...online surveys! Surveys can wind up generating ridiculous ROI - it’s like having a roadmap for your copy and content strategies
7. What would ___ do?
Looking for inspiration with a tough problem? Well, how would an industry thought leader approach it?
8. What would Warren Buffet do?
Financial issue? Trying to break down “value”? How would Warren Buffet approach it?
9. What would David Ogilvy do?
If you’re staring at a blank page and don’t know how to start….think about a few of the great copywriters. Pretend you’re that person and step into their shoes (or keyboard?). Ogilvy’s ads, Kern’s sales letters, Walker’s VSL’s should blast you right through any writer’s block.
Speaking of writer’s block, have you tried freewriting? Sit down, set a timer for 10 minutes, and start writing. It’ll probably be a terrible draft, but perfection isn’t the point. It’ll get you out of your head and kickstart the writing process.
11. Brainstorm with structure
Brainstorming is usually a pretty chaotic activity - sort of like freewriting. If you start the brainstorming session with a little bit of structure, you’ll channel that energy into something that’s actually productive and on point. Outlines, boxes, and other visual tools can help organize the ideas as they come tumbling out of your brain.
12. Create a swipe file for inspiration
See a great example of copy / design / UX? Take a screenshot and file that baby away! You’ll thank yourself later. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel with every project, you can cherry pick elements you love from real world examples and adapt them to your work.
13. Create a regular reading schedule
As a copywriter, you’ve got to stay in touch with your industry. If you set aside 20-60 minutes a day to read relevant news, blogs, and newsletters, you’ll be in much better shape than someone trying to “catch up” once in a while.
14. Use Google Alerts to stay on top of trends
Want to automate all that staying in touch? Use Google Alerts or other notification services. You can filter for exactly what’s relevant and valuable to you.
15. Create a database of articles for research
Think of this like a swipe file for deeper citation. Where a swipe file is fantastic for inspiration and planning, a well-organized database of articles will allow you to quickly and efficiently cite your research. This’ll cut down on research and writing time.
16. Read what your audience reads
Taking on a project outside of your regular niche / focus? The best way to get a feel for what an audience is thinking and feeling is to read the top publications in their field. Where do they hang out online? Which YouTubers do they follow? Start consuming the same content and you’ll be able to think more effectively.
17. Use Google suggestions
Your early research probably involves a whole bunch of Googling. You can expand and adapt your searches by scrolling down to the bottom of the results page and - voila! Google suggests a list of relevant searches you might want to check out.
18. Accountability groups are great for ideas
Staying on top of your industry’s content is great - but it’s a one-way street. It’s also valuable to bounce ideas around with other copywriters or industry pros. Join (or create) an accountability group - it’s like organized, scheduled brainstorming!
19. Keep a pocket notebook (or use a note app)
Inspiration strikes at the weirdest times. If you don’t actively capture a great idea, though, it may be lost forever. That’s why it’s a great idea to keep a pocket notebook handy - or just use a note-taking app on your phone (I love Google Keep).
20. Save your brainstorming notes to a dedicated folder (or notebook)
Most people treat a brainstorming session like a one-off activity. You come up with 20 ideas, choose one to write about, and then toss the other 19 aside. That’s a waste! If you organize your brainstorming notes in one place (like a dedicated Google Drive folder), you’ll have a great database of ideas to work from.
21. Draw it out
Ever start building out a piece and then realize you’ve drifted away from your original argument or purpose? To keep yourself in check, try drawing out what you’re trying to say. It’ll simplify and organize your thinking, making your writing easier and more compelling.
22. Think about your piece….then get out! Take a walk!
Creativity is a funny thing - sometimes trying just makes it harder to come up with the right words. If you stop trying and start doing other things, it’ll give your subconscious a chance to play around with your problem. A walk can be a great chance to stretch your legs - and your mind!
23. Talk out ideas with your editor
Some writers only let editors in during the final stages of a piece. This is a huge mistake! A brief chat with your editor will put you both on the same page, set clear expectations, and probably generate some great ideas to write about.
24. What’s the value you’re adding with your piece?
Why are you writing this piece? If you’re just repeating the same thing as a dozen major blogs or sites, are you really helping anyone? If you want your writing to stand out and connect with people, you’ve got to know exactly what you’re adding the wider conversation.
25. Where does your piece fit with what’s already out there?
Sometimes finding a unique angle is easier if you know what’s already out there. Position your piece to complement or oppose existing content and you’ll immediately join a conversation, instead of having to start one from scratch.
26. Use prompts
Stuck? Use short prompts to nudge your brain into action. Questions are great ways to focus your mind, get specific, and start producing. Who’s this piece for? Why should they care? What if ____?
27. How can I make this SUPER SIMPLE instead of complicated?
K.I.S.S.; simple and direct always trumps complicated and ambiguous. You can do this by simplifying your language, cutting down on extra words, and generally getting to your point more efficiently.
28. What if I remove 2 steps from this process?
Adding steps to a process is easy. Removing them, though, is a lot tougher. Keep stripping down the number of jumps you’re making until you’re left with a bare-bones outline. That’s the core concept to build your piece around.
29. What if I only have 2 options?
Analysis paralysis is a real thing. Give your readers too many options and it’s like giving them nothing. If you cut things down to binary choices, though, a reader can clearly and confidently follow your thinking.
30. What’s the STUPIDEST way to solve this problem?
The best answer is also usually the simplest. If you’re trying to get a reader from A to B….take them on a direct journey, not a winding route.
31. Write like you speak
Want to connect with your readers? Write conversationally, break some grammar rules, and you’ll immediately create more engaging copy.
32. Try reading short pieces out loud
What does your writing “sound” like in your readers’ heads? Is it too choppy? Does it flow smoothly? If you’re trying to be funny….is it working? Try reading short pieces out loud. Some style issues are easier heard than seen.
33. Try voice-to-text dictation
Have you ever tried dictating your draft? Voice-to-text apps let you “write” from anywhere - even while you’re out for a walk. They’re especially great for early drafts when you just need to get ideas out of your head.
34. Active voice vs passive voice
Want to make your writing punchy and engaging? Here’s a general rule of thumb - use active voice. It’s closer to the way we speak, making it more appropriate for conversational, “natural” writing.
35. Don’t justify yourself needlessly
If you’re trying to make a point….just make it! Some writers write like they’re prepping a debate team, trying to preempt opposing arguments and using super technical jargon. There is no debate team. There’s just your reader, who wants you to get to the point clearly and directly.
36. Use a pomodoro timer for productivity
Creative work like writing is best done in a series of short sprints rather than one long marathon. Pomodoro timers are built for that - 25 minute work sessions spaced out by short (5 minute) and long (10 minute) breaks. You’ll stay fresh - and so will your writing.
37. Use earplugs for focus
Alright, I stole this one directly for Neville. Pop in a pair of earplugs and you’ll be surprised how effectively the total silence will hone your focus.
38. Try writing from different locations
If you’re feeling stuck, try writing from a different place in your house. Even better, get out of the house entirely and try writing from a cafe or a coworking space. Different atmospheres will trigger your creativity - and sometimes having strangers who can see what you’re doing will keep you from browsing the web instead of working.
39. Don’t be afraid to change your routines
Schedules and consistency are great. But routines can also get stale. If you’re feeling stuck, change things up and try a different writing time. Just make it a planned thing, not a random action.
40. Use a writers group for accountability check-ins
The quickest way to develop as a writer is to surround yourself with other writers who are able and willing to give you constructive feedback. But instead of a one-off conversation or a sporadic relationship, try joining (or creating) a writers group. A weekly conversation with a structured agenda will create big results.
41. Create “writing time” with other writers
Working around other people working can be motivating and incredibly productive. Try rounding up your writers group just to write. No chit chat, just work!
42. Share your work with other writers
Some people are shy about sharing their work - don’t be one of them! The more eyes - especially professional eyes - you can get on your writing, the better. Ask for constructive feedback and take it on board.
43. Break down tough pieces into drafts
Complex topics and big projects can feel overwhelming. The best way to get past that feeling is to break everything down into smaller, more achievable drafts. Give yourself deadlines for those small goals and you’ll find yourself blasting through obstacles with ease.
44. Clarity > Cleverness
Ever read something that’s meant to be funny, but just falls flat? It’s awkward and very distracting. If you start by building a clean, clear core of an idea, you can always add cute little add ons later - but you can’t do the reverse.
45. Quality > Quantity
Every SEO professional out there knows that search engines reward quality, not quantity. Google number one priority is to find content that effectively answers user queries. Are you doing that for your audience?
46. Benefits, not features!
Features are easy to list and boring to read. Why should I care about this brand’s products? Benefits, on the other hand, are much more engaging because they explain what a user will get out of a product.
47. Use your editor
Editors are great at every stage of the writing process. If you’re stuck with an idea or you want to talk out an argument, get in touch with your editor. You’ll probably get more out of a focused 10 minute talk with your editor than you would in a couple hours banging your head against the wall, alone.
48. Create a consistent writing schedule
Writing and thinking about writing is sort of like a muscle. The more you practice, the easier the process becomes. Set aside a dedicated time each day to write and work out that muscle.
49. Write for scannability
We’re surrounded by distractions. If you want to get your point across to your reader, you’ve got to make your writing interesting and easy to read. Use short paragraphs and clearly organized headers. If you want to draw attention to specific points, use highlights and bold font.
50. Follow your outline’s structure, but don’t go more than 2 bullets deep
Nested bullet points are great for outlining. You can organize ideas within ideas within ideas - but that structure doesn’t transfer well to long form content. The more sub-steps you have, the more difficult the reading experience. Keep things simple and limit your headers to H2’s and H3’s at most.
51. Get away from the computer (again) -- after it’s written, let it sit before you edit
Breaks are great for productivity at every stage of the writing process. Once you’re done with a draft, get away from it for a day or two. When you come back to it, you’ll be able to read it with a fresh perspective.
52. Keep layout + format in mind while writing
Copy isn’t just a bunch of words on a page, especially when it comes to short attention spans online. You’ve got to understand white space, readability, and basic UX design to really maximize a reader’s experience.
53. Use templates for reliable structure / layout
Presentation can be just as important as writing style. When you’re studying great copy (or looking through your swipe file), try and absorb how the text is presented.
54. Use wireframes for layouts (pro move)
If you really want to level up, try drawing out your favorite pages as wireframe diagrams. This’ll help you learn how to structure your copy, how to stack your arguments, and write powerfully.
55. Use images to improve text
Images are a great way to attract attention, break up long boring blocks of text, and keep your copy fresh and engaging. You can use images to entertain, educate, or just hammer home a point you want to make. Here's why images are better than text.
56. Use images to replace text
Can you use an image instead of text here? Instead of just complementing your words, images can also just replace them. This’ll help strip down your text, making stronger and more efficient messaging.
57. Use visual / emotive language
Get in your readers’ heads with stories, especially ones in which they can picture themselves. Don’t just talk about things - make your readers imagine what it’d feel like to use your products.
58. Match your audience’s language + self-identifiers
All the style and structure in the world goes out the window if you use the wrong words. You’ve got to speak your readers’ language, use their terms, and show that you’re in on their inside jokes. Use their tone of voice.
59. Try out apps like Grammarly and Hemmingway
Writing apps go way beyond just spell checking. Grammarly and Hemmingway are two popular tools that can help analyze your style and suggest specific nuances to improve your writing.
60. Make your writing engaging...literally.
Transform your readers into action-takers. Use quizzes, calculators, and other engagement tools to encourage your readers to apply the concepts they’re reading about.
61. Update old content
Keep your content up to date by regularly overhauling old articles. It’s a relatively easy step that will keep you relevant and Google happy.
62. Upgrade existing content with….content upgrades
You can also upgrade old articles with add ons like content upgrades. For example, create a download that complements a specific article and add it to the piece.
63. Write with a different voice
Writers can get stuck in their ways. If you want to stay flexible, get out of your comfort zone. Try writing as someone totally different - can you do it effectively? This’ll come in handy anytime you’re writing to a new audience and need to adapt.
64. Write an opposing opinion
If you think style’s tough, try writing from an opposing point of view. You might hate it, but it’ll force you to focus on structure, message, and all the fundamental elements of a strong point of view.
65. What if I just remove 50% of the words.
Anyone can write for length - but nobody really cares about how many words you can stuff into an article. Be ruthless when you’re editing and remove as much non-essential text as possible. It’ll strengthen your message and create a stronger, more memorable connection with readers.
66. Use a swipe file...but don’t just copy, analyze
We mentioned swipe files earlier in this list. If you want to get to the next level, set aside time to really study the material you’ve saved. Why do you like it? What caught your eye? Don’t just use your swipe file for inspiration - use it for learning. Here's a free & public swipe file.
67. Set big goals…
What are you trying to achieve as a writer? What are a few of the crazy big goals you want to reach? If you’re struggling through a tough project or questioning your path, review your goals and re-energize yourself.
68. ...and break them down into small wins
Huge goals are great for motivation….but they can be meaningless in the short term. If you have a big goal you want to achieve in 10 years, work backwards and set milestone targets. If you goal is to write for a major publication, what are the stepping stone projects that will get you there?
69. Create a monthly check in on your small wins
Monthly reviews are a great way to gauge your development. Are you on track with your small goals? Do you need to adapt your strategy or reach out to bigger clients? Reviews keep you focused and productive while still allowing you to pursue the big dream.
70. Keep a database of your weak points...and fix them.
What are your weak points? Identify them, then attack them one by one. Get specific and measure yourself.
71. Regularly analyze why you like certain writers
Who are the writers that get the most emotion out of you? The type that have you laughing out loud or welling up with tears. Break down how they do it. Can you apply similar techniques in your copy? Do "Copy Work" for inspiration from other writers.
72. How can I make this one page instead of more
If you had to, could you distill your argument into a single page? This is a great exercise to cut down on needless fluff and focus on your core message.
73. Reach out to other writers
The more you connect with other writers, the more you’ll learn about writing, editing, project management, and career growth. Writing can feel like a lonely profession, but you should make it a priority to surround yourself with other professional writers.
74. Edit other writers’ pieces
Editing is a great chance to learn. You’ll get to see other writers’ style, approach, and thought process. If you edit others’ writing regularly, you’ll quickly see positive effects on your own writing.
75. Am I spending way too damn long on this?
Every stage of the writing process can throw up a unique set of problems. Whatever it is you’re facing, though, you can’t let it eat up your precious time. Get it done, get it out, and then worry about improving it later.
“If you’re not embarrassed by your first version, you spent too long on it.” -Reid Hoffman
76. Dig into your audience’s business
Copywriters need to understand exactly how their clients’ businesses operate. The more you learn about your target audience’s industry, the more effectively you’ll write about the challenges your clients face.
77. Review your past work for style and growth
Regularly read your past work to get an idea of how you’ve developed. How would you improve an article from last year? How about homepage copy from a few years ago?
78. Review your past work for readership stats
Are you reaching the right people? Are you growing your audience? The only way to tell is to track and analyze your site’s analytics. What are your most popular articles? This should give you a barometer for your performance and also guide your content strategy.
79. Ask for access to analytics
If you’re working for a client, ask for access to their analytics. Copywriting is a results-based craft, and it’s important to get your hands on the data that measure those results.
80. How did your project do? Ask for feedback
Your job isn’t done when a final draft is handed in. Ask your client for feedback, testimonials, and even a case study when appropriate. This will give you a chance to make concrete improvements and connect more deeply with the client.
81. Can you turn a project into more value?
Treat every new project like a potential foot-in-the-door. Where else can you help the client? How can you connect your current project to one in the future?
82. Become a full stack writer
Copywriting is so much more than just text. Nowadays copywriters need to understand UX concepts, design, and SEO. The more complementary skills you can add to your arsenal, the more effective your writing will become. Become a full stack writer.
83. Make 3 versions: Crappy, Good, Excellent
Give yourself three drafts to produce great work. Make the first one crappy, the next one good, and the final one excellent. This’ll keep your writing efficient and clear, and you won’t get lost in a series of random drafts.
84. Make 3 versions: Short, Medium, Long
What’s the most effective way to make your point? What sort of format do your readers connect with the most? Playing around with length is a way to ask these questions while producing content.
85. How can I make this more fun?
Is your writing really that engaging? How can you spice things up and make the reader’s experience more fun? Play around with your style, break some grammar rules, use GIFs, and maybe even try swearing a little. Get loose and experiment!
86. How can I make this more hilarious?
Writing funny isn’t easy. If you can figure it out, though, you’ll create attention-grabbing content people will eat up. Study your favorite funny writers from other genres - what can you adapt and apply to your writing?
87. Constraints Create Creativity
Limits can be great for productivity and creativity. Instead of writing generalist blog posts whenever you feel like it, give yourself structure to think and create.
88. Constrain the amount of TIME you have
Imagine you only have one hour to write this piece. How will you get it done? How much quicker will you dive into your writing? What will it do for your focus?
89. Constrain the amount of SPACE you have
Imagine you only have one page to write on. What will you say? What can you drop?
90. Constrain the amount of WORDS you have
What would happen if you cut your word count in half? Could you still get your point across? Could you replace text with images where needed?
91. Constrain the amount of SCREEN you have
Imagine finding out your audience was reading your material almost exclusively from small mobile devices. How would that affect your layout and format? Would you structure your message any differently?
92. Constrain the amount of READ TIME you have
Imagine your reader only has 30 seconds to skim your content. What would you highlight? How would you direct attention to specific points?
93. Niche down
The more you can specialize by field or by service (or both), the quicker you’ll build authority and attract better clients.
94. Productize your service(s)
Let prospective clients know what you can do for them. By offering packages and productized services, you can simultaneously control what you offer and give your clients options to choose from.
95. Showcase your work - write your own case studies
Past projects are often your best selling points for future work. Follow up with clients after a project is done and ask for concrete feedback and change metrics. They’ll appreciate your concern, you’ll get powerful marketing material, and maybe even more work with the client. Make your own case study.
96. Translate your work into measurable value for clients’ businesses
Do you know how much you’re worth to a client? If you want to be paid $1,000, you’d better be able to prove that the client will make a return on their investment in you.
97. Teardowns are great for content
Want to build authority and demonstrate expertise? If you don’t have an impressive portfolio (yet), run through a mock project and write about it. Take screenshots and explain exactly how and why you’d change certain things. Practical teardowns are much more effective than writing about general theory.
98. Plug into your clients’ community + use their language
Are you hanging out in the right places online? Does industry jargon roll off your tongue naturally? The best way to build trust is to talk the talk so you can walk the walk with a client.
99. Translate everything into specific business benefits
If you’re offering a service, how will it affect a client’s business? Sales? Leads? Better conversion rates? Whatever it is, get specific and give examples that clients can relate to and actually want.
100. Create an outreach schedule
How often are you pitching jobs or connecting with other writers? Outreach is the most important element of a new writer’s business. Prioritize it and create a schedule for your outbound marketing. You can even make a Command Center for this.
101. Use a CRM to manage your contacts and leads
If you reach out to a couple dozen people each week, how are you going to keep tabs on each conversation? CRMs are great because they help organize your contacts and track developments.
102. Create a regular job listing search
Trawling through job boards can be frustrating. Instead of randomly searching different boards, use a service like Feedbin to aggregate RSS feeds and create a single source of relevant listings.
103. Become a great interviewer
Great copywriters tend to be strong interviewers. In order to create compelling copy, you’ve got to understand your audience, their issues, and their deep dark feelings. The best way to uncover all that is through interviews.
Full Copywriting Tips List:
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