When you hear the word “copywriting,” you might imagine the characters from “Mad Men” drinking martinis at lunch and sketching out big creative campaigns. But it simply means any message that gets people to take action. That action could be signing up for your webinar, booking a consultation call, or buying a product. Copywriting can turn everything from landing pages to emails and social media ads into powerful, high-converting sales machines.
Copywriting helped me grow my first online business to $20,000 a month in sales from my college dorm room. Today, it generates millions in revenue for my businesses. The best part? I learned it all from scratch for no money down — and you can, too. Here’s how I did it.
1. Forget everything you learned in school.
A lot of people think you must be a good writer to be a good copywriter. While that certainly helps, they mistakenly think “good writing” means the type you learned in high school and college. Here’s the reality: What your teachers taught you about writing has zero application to good sales copy.
Great copywriters write simply, without flowery language or complex words, to persuade people to take action. It’s all about selling effectively, not following the same rules you would to write an academic paper or creative fiction.
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I like to say that good copywriting will make your former college professors tear their hair out.
2. Read these three books.
Reading a few classic copywriting books is essential to success. There are three I think every aspiring copywriter should read.
The first is Triggers: 30 Sales Tools You Can Use to Control the Mind of Your Prospect to Motivate, Influence and Persuade, by Joseph Sugarman, who is one of the most famous copywriters to ever live.
The second is Breakthrough Advertising, by Eugene M. Schwartz, widely recognized as one of the greatest books on copy and creative.
And the third is The Ultimate Sales Letter: Attract New Customers. Boost Your Sales., by Dan Kennedy, which provides copywriting and sales advice that can make you millions.
3. Understand your marketplace better than anyone else.
Great copywriting isn’t really about the writing. The greatest advantage copywriters actually have is that they understand their market better than anyone else. They spend way more time on market research than they do writing.
As a result, when it’s time to write, great copywriters are really just assembling their research into short, crisp sentences that persuade others to take action. You can get a lot of things wrong but still sell a boatload if you talk about the consumer and their situation in ways that resonate deeply with their wants and needs.
4. Write copy every single day.
You need to write something every day, even if you’re just starting your study of copywriting and it’s substandard. Too many people only read about copywriting but fail to sit down and write. It takes writing to get good, not reading.
Don’t get me wrong: Reading the right books is essential to becoming great at copywriting, as I mentioned.
But the best copywriters find at least an hour a day to practice. The absolute best ones I know spend the first three hours of their day writing. They go straight from bed to their laptop and don’t start their “work” day until the copy practice is done.
If you don’t have paying clients, start a free list to share your expertise around any skill or industry you’re familiar with. Or, take your favorite online products and services, and start writing mock ads, sales letters, and copy to promote them. If all else fails, write out word-for-word popular copywriting ads and letters from the greats, many of which you can find on a site like Swiped.co.
5. Dumb down your writing.
Great copy should read at a third- or fourth-grade level. Not because people are stupid — but because they’re busy with limited attention. Your market needs to quickly and clearly understand how your product, service or offer helps them. If you obscure your value in long-winded stories or complicated analogy, expect people to move on quickly.
That means great copy needs to be written in short and snappy sentences. But it doesn’t mean you can only have a few words on your sales letter or landing page. In fact, copy done right can compel busy consumers to read hundreds, even thousands, of words at a time — as long as those words talk about their needs, pains, dreams, challenges, and how you’ll address them.
A tool like the Hemingway Editor will automatically rate your writing level, so don’t be afraid to use it on every piece you create.
6. Get your copy into the market as fast as possible.
For those who want to be six-figure freelancers, you’ll want to start generating sales in the market using copywriting as soon as possible. You may even need to offer services for free to business owners to create initial results, then charge a premium for subsequent work.
Or, if you sell products or services, apply copywriting to your own products or services as fast as possible.
In either case, the goal is to prove your copy in the market, get feedback and improve quickly.
Great copy can sell anything. Once you learn this high-income skill, you’ll be able to sell anything too, as long as you have a solid foundation in copywriting principles and practice daily.
The great news is that you’ll know immediately when your copy starts to work: Because it’ll be accompanied by a significant increase in your bank account size.
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