You might find this surprising...
But there’s a lot more to being a copywriter than just knowing how to write.
In fact, writing isn’t even the most important skill when it comes to copywriting.
It’s just a small piece of the puzzle. And there are LOADS of mediocre writers out there making a good living from copywriting.
That’s because, at the end of the day, your clients don’t care if you can write like Hemingway…
They care about SALES.
Today we’re gonna look at ten skills needed to give your clients what they want.
If you tick all these boxes, you will not only survive as a copywriter...but THRIVE.
Alrighty, let’s get started.
#1.) Basic software skills (for easy communication with clients)
Let’s start with the easiest one.
Copywriting in today’s day and age requires a few technical skills.
I mean, you can’t expect to write out a sales letter by hand and mail it to your client.
Not gonna work.
At a very minimum, you should have a firm grasp of Google Docs.
Google Docs has some surprisingly cool features for writers and is one of the easiest ways to collaborate with your clients.
Apart from that, you should also be able to create a basic copywriting portfolio, manage an online calendar, and run video calls (this is super easy with Google Calendar and Google Meet).
#2.) Deep research skills (to build strong arguments)
Copywriting without research is like building a house on the sand.
There’s no foundation.
The better your research skills, the easier it is to write.
Your research might include…
- Spying on competitors
- Digging through customer reviews
- Studying the ins-and-outs of the product your selling
- Interviewing your client, their employees, or their customers
- Uncovering studies and analyzing data to support your arguments
For example, let’s say you’re writing copy for this flexible cell phone tripod.
First, you might interview the owner, who tells you their biggest competitor is Joby Gorillapod. He also mentions that for every tripod sold, they donate one to inner-city kids who want to learn photography (highlight that!).
Next, you head over to the Joby website to check out their marketing.
Finally, you pop open Amazon to see what people are saying about similar tripods (and the language they’re using to say it). Three-star reviews are often the most useful.
These are all issues and objections you’ll want to address in your copy.
#3.) Creative thinking skills (to make common products more interesting)
If your market is jaded and has “seen it all” in regards to ads, you need to find creative new ways to make your product seem different and better.
Like a lawn chair, for example.
Instead of writing about how your lawn chair folds easily and has a handy carrying case (like every other lawn chair)...
You could focus your ad on the sturdy material used to make the chair, marketing it as the “last lawn chair you’ll ever buy”.
So with your creative writing skills you can make the marketing more interesting.
BORING LAWN CHAIR MARKETING:
- Green lawn chair
- Camping lawn chair
- Portable camping seat
- Camping chair with armrests
- Folding chair with a cupholder
INTERESTING LAWN CHAIR MARKETING:
- “The last lawn chair you’ll ever buy”
- “It’s like sitting on a LA-Z-BOY...except while camping”
- “Trump’s favorite camping chair”
- “For every camping chair purchase, we plant 10 trees”
- “This camping chair is made with the same aluminum used in space shuttles”
#4.) Empathy skills (to understand how your market thinks)
People buy when they feel like you understand their problems.
You know exactly what they’re going through.
You mirror the thoughts rattling around in their head.
You make them feel like you’re speaking directly to their situation.
This is easy to do when you are part of the target market.
Say you’re a motorcycle enthusiast selling motorcycle helmets...easy peasy. You already know their needs and pain points.
But as a copywriter, you don’t always have this luxury.
For example, I’m a man with no kids. I have NO IDEA what it’s like to be a 35-year-old mom.
If I want my ads to connect with them, I need to understand how they think.
Good copywriters have a natural ability to put themselves in their reader’s shoes and look at situations from different perspectives...
But even the best copywriters need “empathy fuel” to kickstart the process.
An easy source of empathy fuel is Amazon book reviews.
To understand 35-year-old moms, I looked at book reviews about motherhood...
Woah. I had no clue that so many moms feel alone and judge themselves for the feelings they have.
But armed with this empathy fuel, I have a clearer idea of what they’re going through. I can now empathize with their struggles in my copy, make them feel understood, and gain their trust.
#5.) Time management skills to meet deadlines (while still having a life)
You can be the best writer in the world...but if it takes you a week to write an email, good luck.
Freelance copywriters wear a lot of hats. You have to…
- Promote your services (e.g. job applications, networking, email outreach)
- Meet with potential clients to sell your services
- Manage and meet with current clients
- Research and write copy (while juggling multiple deadlines)
- Manage your business (e.g. taxes, tech support, growth planning, etc.)
Add in the fact that many copywriters face distractions working from home, and you can see why good time management is a crucial skill to have.
Fortunately, time management is an easy skill to train.
Three of the best ways to get more done in less time are:
- Blocking your schedule so you only do specific tasks on certain days
- Learning to write faster
- Writing a SIMPLE to-do list before going to bed every night
Apart from that, here are some other non-conventional work from home productivity hacks to manage your time (and make work much more entertaining).
#6.) Having a network of like-minded people who support you
This one is less of a skill, and more of a necessary condition.
Copywriting is hard to break into with no experience.
It’s even harder if you’re a lone wolf.
By networking and surrounding yourself with other copywriters and entrepreneurs, the journey gets a lot easier (speaking from experience here).
Being connected to like-minded people allows you to bounce ideas off each other, share job opportunities, get valuable feedback on your writing, and help each other stay accountable.
We’ve got A LOT of this going on inside the Copywriting Course Member’s Area. So if you’re tired of being a lone wolf, come join us!
#7.) Ability to sell your services
Most people interested in becoming a copywriter don’t realize it also requires becoming a bit of a self-marketer.
Freelance jobs usually don’t fall in your lap.
You need to go out and find them.
- Applying to jobs
- Sending cold emails
- Networking with other writers
- Networking with potential clients
- Networking with other types of freelancers
- Possibly creating and promoting your own website
...just to name a few.
The more you’re able to get your name out there, the more opportunities you’ll find.
One easy way to get the word out is to make a public Facebook post offering your services. Here’s an example script you can model:
For $100 I will setup a full WordPress website for you within 24 hours.
Any website you need (can be a personal blog, photography portfolio, company website), I will make for you. If you’ve ever wanted a running website but didn’t know where to start, I’ll guide you through the whole process. We’ll hop on a call together and within 24 hours I’ll get your entire website up and running.
These websites are designed so:
–You can easily update them.
–They have a chance of getting ranked in search engines.
–You can send people your website link.
I am doing a very limited promotion of a flat $100 fee for this ENTIRE service. Many web developers charge starting at $125/hour, so this is extremely generous!
WhateverYourNameIs – Phone/Text: 555-555-5555
P.S. If you know anyone that might want my help setting up an entire website, please tag them.
Tapping into your network (people who already know and trust you) is one of the easiest ways to find jobs.
After posting publicly, you can also write personal messages (email, text, etc) to the people most likely to have good connections. It can be as simple as:
I just saw a photo of your boys on Facebook and can’t believe how huge Jake and John are getting. It looks like they’re turning into impressive little athletes!
Things are great on my end. I started my own freelance marketing business and am working on building up my client roster.
I help companies write blog posts, emails, and other marketing materials.
Do you happen to know anyone who might need help with these things?
Hope you’re doing well!
[YOUR NAME] - Phone/Text: 555-555-5555
P.S. - Business aside, let’s catch up sometime—Let me know if you want to grab a coffee!
As you can imagine, it takes longer to send out private messages, but oftentimes you’ll get a much higher response rate (especially if you personalize it).
#8.) Thick skin (to be able to accept feedback with no emotion)
As a copywriter, you need to get comfortable with rejection.
First drafts will get rejected.
Cold emails will get rejected.
Job applications will get rejected.
Copy you write will flop.
Copy you write will have edits suggested to it.
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
The key to surviving is to not take ANYTHING personally.
When you do get rejected, instead of getting butt-hurt, look at it as an opportunity to improve. It’s as easy as saying:
“I’m sorry you didn’t like ____. What could I do to be better in the future?”
It’s sometimes tough to spend a lot of time writing something, then someone makes changes to your “baby.”
But remember: The goal of copywriting is to make sales, not get your ego stroked.
#9.) Native language skills (to write error-free copy)
If you don’t have a complete grasp of the language, finding copywriting work will be challenging.
Think about it.
Say you’re looking to buy new headphones. You click around the internet and find a great deal. But wait—the ad is full of grammar mistakes. What’s up with that? Are these headphones legit?
Clients expect the work you turn in to be error-free.
I’m not saying you need to give up your dreams of copywriting if English is your second language. But I would recommend first exploring options in your native language.
After all, businesses sell in every language (and you may even have less competition).
Here’s an example of a Copywriting Course Member who landed a great copywriting gig in German.
#10.) Writing skills (to clearly communicate your message)
Notice how I saved writing for last.
Obviously, writing skills are important. If you completely suck, copywriting probably isn’t for you.
But if you are an average writer plus you have all of the other skills on this list, it’d be pretty hard NOT to succeed.
One of the best ways to level up your writing skills is to start a daily copywork habit.
Copywork consists of:
- Finding successful ads (or content from writers you enjoy reading)
- Copying them out in your own handwriting
- Trying to get in the head of the writer to figure out why they wrote what they did
Here’s an example of what it looks like:
Copywork done by Shaggy Eells, a freelance copywriter and Copywriting Course member.
If you do copywork on a regular basis, you’ll notice some of the writing concepts will start to “rub off” on you and become part of your natural writing style.
That said, copywork alone won’t make you a better copywriter. You need to make time to practice writing your own copy as well.
BONUS: Triple Threat Skills
In addition to writing copy, you can make yourself more valuable (and irreplaceable) to clients by learning complementary skills (AKA becoming a “triple threat”).
Think about it.
There are tons of people who can write words in a document.
But if you can write words AND make images, that puts you ahead of most other writers.
And if you can write words AND make images AND make videos…
That makes you a triple threat (and extremely valuable to clients).
Copywriting Skills Cheatsheet
Hope this helps!