6 rules to follow to develop killer copywriting skills 3

6 rules to follow to develop killer copywriting skills

Becoming a great copywriter takes impeccable English language skills, attention to detail and a dedication to constantly improve yourself. Copywriting skills aren’t solely honed by the aforementioned trio of objectives, but once you have those down to a tee, you will be well on your way.

Thankfully, the world of copywriting is an inclusive one – the necessary skills can be learned and improved upon over time. From the perspective of each individual writer, a willingness to put in the time and dedication needed to improve is vital. In the same way that sports stars will only reach the elite level of their industry through constant practice, writers must be willing to hone their copywriting skills every day.

Even when you feel you’re at the top of your game, keep trying to improve. Remember, the pursuit of excellence is not a destination – it’s a never-ending journey. Here are six rules that will help you hone your copywriting skills.

In the absence of perfect G&S, your article will look a mess

6 rules to follow to develop killer copywriting skills 3In simple terms, make sure that your grammar and spelling is in order. If you have been tasked with constructing a piece of copy on behalf of a brand or organisation, your grammar and spelling needs to be perfect. This is non-negotiable.

In 2003, Lynne Truss authored a magnificent book about the importance of grammar and punctuation. ‘Eats, Shoots & Leaves’ remains an outstanding reference, many years after it was written.

Knowing when and where to position an apostrophe might sound basic, but the internet is flooded with ill-placed apostrophes. The same goes for commas, semi-colons and inverted commas. Don’t fall into the trap. When honing your copywriting skills, always remember that you’re better off knowing your s**t, instead of knowing you’re s**t.

Curiosity killed the cat, but it kept the copywriter in gainful employment

In many ways, the job of the copywriter is similar to that of a newspaper journalist. Journalists, however, benefit from having their articles looked over by sub-editors, while copywriters are expected to be strong writers and sub-editors rolled into one.

All of the best journalists have reached the top of their profession because they are supremely talented. However, talent alone is not enough. A curious and inquisitive mind is an asset that will take you very far in the world of journalism AND copywriting.

As a copywriter, you are unlikely to be sent on a risky assignment to a war-torn country. Much of your work can be carried out from your living room while wearing your pyjamas. However, that is not to say that you should be any less enthusiastic about it. Even if you are being tasked to write about something mundane like, for example, a paint chart, researching the history of paint will provide you with fresh angles to enhance your copy.

Example: “Did you know that the earliest evidence of decorative paint dates back to caves in South Africa from 100,000 years? We can’t guarantee you that our paint will last that long, but we can promise that it will add great vibrancy to your living quarters.”

Vikki Ross is a major player in the copywriting industry who knows all about the importance of finding a fresh angle. Follow Vikki, and others like her, on Twitter.

Be entertaining

6 rules to follow to develop killer copywriting skills 1

This follows on perfectly from the previous point. You won’t always be given an assignment that is particularly exciting, but it’s still your job to make it appear as exciting as possible. This can be achieved through an engaging and snappy style of writing that employs the use of puns and the odd play on words, where appropriate.

The stronger your command of English, and the broader your vocabulary, the more entertaining your style of writing is bound to be.

Clare Barry is a pro in the copywriting field, and her tweets on all matters relating to copywriting are well worth reading.

Avoid repetition

There are more than 200,000 words in the English language and, with such a wealth of choice, there is no excuse for repeating the same words throughout the text. Whether you’re writing a piece of copy that is a few hundred words long or a few thousand words, repetition must be avoided.

Instead of constantly referring to a food product as “tasty”, expand your horizons with descriptions such as “mouth-watering” and “finger-licking”. It’s simple but effective. An extensive vocabulary is a major tool for a copywriter, so avoid repetition by making sure your toolbox is overflowing with engaging words.

Networking and building contacts are important in any industry. Before even building a contact, arm yourself with the knowledge of who the influencers are in the business. Follow the likes of Adam Lowe and Brooke Preston on Twitter.

Read for enjoyment, not just for work

6 rules to follow to develop killer copywriting skills 2If you plan to become a respected copywriter, read at every opportunity. Whether this involves reading novels or journalistic features, fill your spare time with reading.

It is through reading that you will not only expand your vocabulary but also become influenced by writing styles, which will lead to you improving your copywriting skills. When somebody pays you a compliment by saying you have a nice turn of phrase, take pride in the knowledge that you’re making real progress.

All writers of substance have been influenced by other writers, and you should be no different. You’re not striving to be William Shakespeare, but you should be setting yourself the target of being the best copywriter you can possibly be. Bradley Williams has put together a highly relevant piece on 6 examples of great copywriting, which is well worth familiarising yourself with.

Embrace social media

Social media is a major tool that you can’t be without. If Twitter is not your thing, make it your thing, because there are a number of influential people in the world of copywriting who are active on Twitter. Follow them and even engage with them. Start yourself off by following ProCopywriters, Hannah Vickers, Kayla HollatzDan Brotzel and Josh Garofalo.

 

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what is web copywriting Copify

What is web copywriting?

So, you want to be a copywriter. But just what is web copywriting? It’s crucial you find out because writing for websites and other online products is going to be a huge part of what you do.

Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without, half of 18 to 49 year olds get their news and information from the web, and people now see double the number of ads a day that they saw in 1984. It’s a solid industry.

Broadly speaking you can split copywriters into two groups of people. There are copywriters who specialise in writing to get people to take an action. These people often focus on retail content. Then there are content writers, who write to inform. These people are often great at background and blog materials. Lots of copywriters have skills in both and switch and change between the two.

What type of content do copywriters produce?

what is web copywriting 2Web copywriters specialise in writing high-quality text and materials that sell an idea or product. This is often placed on website pages or blogs but there’s a host of other skills that will make you hireable. You might be great at the text you see in sponsored posts or in Facebook ads. You might be great at email newsletters. Basically, anything that’s put online to promote or sell products and ideas counts as web copy.

You’re likely to get the bulk of your work, at least initially, from writing simple texts for websites. These pages are the nuts and bolts of a company or personal website and include about us, services and other information pages. This type of work is about guiding people through a website and telling them what they need to know. You might also find early success in writing promotional materials. That could be press releases, backgrounders, blogs or reviews.

How to write for online

The first thing you need to know about great online writing is that you have more than one customer. The humans that visit your site need to be wooed and convinced of the quality of your product. Make it useful to them and better than what they could find via Google.

But so do the search engine ranking spiders that regularly scan web content to judge if it’s relevant and useful. Writing your content in a way that these spiders appreciate is called search engine optimisation (or SEO) and is a specialised art and professional writing skill.wha

Content that’s optimised for SEO will contain key phrases. These are the type of words the people you want to target are likely to put into a search engine to find information. For example, the keywords for this piece are “what is web copywriting.” See how that phrase appears high at the beginning of the article? This helps push your content further up search engine rankings and get more visitors. It’s important to understand how SEO works. There are more tips from SEO.com and our blog post on how to write website content for SEO.

The skills you need to develop will be making SEO copywriting quality writing. Sometimes you’ll need to work with unusual key phrases, but you’ll need to integrate them in a way that feels normal and natural. Your primary consumer is always humans. Write for them.

Goals for online writing

what is web copywriting

When you’re working as an online copywriter it’s important to remember the goal of your pieces. Great content for websites is the sort of thing that drives up online rankings and is clear and concise. It needs to share all the relevant information. But when you’re writing for blogs then the goal is to encourage people to share across their networks. Did you ever see a website page go viral? The goals and structure are quite different.

Blog posts have two functions for your customers. Fresh and regular content updates which use popular key phrases help Google recognise active and useful websites. This helps increase search rankings.

Blogs are also a great space to build a relationship with potential consumers. These should also be informative and targeted, but also user-friendly. It’s also important to integrate your content into the sea of other online material. Link back to authoritative sources to help the spiders understand the quality of your material. There’s more on quality blogging including how to begin a blog post on our site.

Top tips for online copywriting

1. Write actively

If you’re not up on your grammar then it’s worth spending some time researching before you start. Great web copy uses active voice. That’s where the subject of the sentence does the action – it’s not acted on. Sentences that follow this structure are powerful and easy understand. Active voice sentences can also begin with a verb, as in a command and this can be useful for copy where you’re trying to get people to do something. For example, ‘learn more about the new catalogue here’.

2. Get the details right

People use the internet to get good information quickly. You’ll need to ensure your content hits the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your personal or company story. Get all the details in and your material is automatically more trustworthy. Read these great tips for writing better web copy.

3. Write great headlines

Writing for online means a struggle between your words and those of the millions of others producing web content. You need to make yours stand out. Great headlines entice visitors to click-through and take action.

4. Get the sense across quickly

what is web copywriting

Once you have a visitor on your page you need to give them the information they need quickly. Online readers don’t read everything – they look for guides and markers that take them to the parts of the content they need. This means you need to make your content easy to skim. Some of the best ways to do this are:

  • Using headings and subheadings, particularly if you can fit your key phrases into these
  • Create lists for the key points (just like this one)
  • Follow long sentences with lots of information with shorter ones. This makes your material easy and interesting to read. Just like this.

So what are the takeaways from this little foray into the world of writing for the web?

  • Keywords are king, but make them work for you – not run the show
  • Remember who you’re writing for and exactly what they need
  • Write in a way that’s easy to digest and simple to scan

The breadth and scope of writing for the web make it actually a lot of fun. You’re never quite sure what will come along next, or how to fit that next phrase or link into an engaging and useful discussion. It’s a challenge, but if you’re up for it it can be highly rewarding. Have fun!

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Other image credits: Moses MehrabanSeth WerkheiserFlickr Account Kongress Media

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How to become a copywriter in Canada Copify

How to become a copywriter in Canada

Many Canadians love writing, and it’s no surprise that more and more of them are turning to copywriting as a way to make some money from their passion.

Luckily for them, there are lots of opportunities in the copywriting world for those with the right mindset and a strong dash of talent. In this article, we’ll take a look at some tips on how to become a copywriter in Canada and kick-start your career.

Work on that portfolio

How to become a copywriter in Canada If you’re planning to work as a freelance copywriter, your portfolio is what matters most.

It’s what signals to potential employers that you’re talented and able, and it allows you to stand out from the crowd by showing that you’ve got experience.

Your portfolio should be a living document that you constantly adapt and update depending on the job you’re applying for.

Say you’re going for a copywriting job for a country hotel, and you have previous experience working for a province’s tourist board. Rather than send in a standard portfolio which includes all sorts of work, it’s a good idea to zero in on the tourism work and show off your relevant experience.

What’s more, a strong portfolio is one that looks the part as well. It’s well worth considering investing in your online portfolio’s design in order to make it look beautiful: while it may seem like a large upfront cost, it’s likely to pay off as time goes on.

And remember, you should always emphasise in your portfolio how your writing helped the client achieve their key commercial aims. As Ontario-based health copywriter Elise Moreau has said, investing “the time to learn about what your [client’s] business goals are so the copy…actually gets you results” is really worth doing.

Sign up with content creation sites

For many people, the idea of setting up a portfolio and tweaking it every day until you find the perfect formula to get clients just doesn’t suit.

That’s where Copify comes in. By offering qualified and talented copywriters in Canada just like you access to a large pool of work, you can kick-start your career almost straight away once you’ve applied.

Practice your craft

How to become a copywriter in Canada If you’re looking to become a copywriter in Canada, it’s vital that you make sure you stay ahead of the competition by keeping your skills up to date.

Even with the strongest portfolio or excellent experience, many work providers will still want to assess you by giving you a test piece which demonstrates to them that you are right for their clients.

That means you should always be looking to expand your range of writing skills and keep your abilities tip top, no matter what stage you are at in your career.

If you’re already working with a content production site or an agency, you can start by making sure you pick up some slightly unusual briefs that push you to the limits of your abilities.

Of course, there’s no point wasting time on something irrelevant if you’ve developed a specialist career and skill set you’re happy with – but by taking the plunge on a path that has some small element of a new challenge, you’ll be able to keep yourself on your toes and give yourself that professional edge.

And if you’re not currently working with anyone, why not keep your hand in by whipping up a test piece for a company and sending it over to them as a way of pitching your services? Even if they decline your offer, you’ll still have had a chance to practice – which is great for your professional development.

Join an agency

How to become a copywriter in Canada For those who are looking for experience in an office setting, working at an agency might be for you.

While opting for this route doesn’t always offer as much autonomy, flexibility or diversity as setting up as a freelancer, it does offer you the chance to collaborate with others on specific projects.

What’s more, it also means you’ll sometimes get to work on the non-writing side of the copywriting industry, such as meeting with clients to find out their needs and building long-term strategies for them which suit their business goals.

To do this, opting for a graduate scheme or looking on jobs boards is a great place to start. These jobs exist all across the country, although in the case of agencies it’s most common to find them in big cities like Toronto and Montreal or regional hubs like Vancouver.

And while you’re waiting to land your dream agency job, gaining experience – and earning money – at content production sites or as a freelancer is a good way to fill the time.

Don’t give up!

If you’re just starting your journey to become a copywriter in Canada, it may all seem a little daunting right now. Whether it’s portfolio building that’s scaring you or it’s simply not knowing exactly which opportunity to go for first that’s putting you off, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed as you start out.

But the best piece of advice to remember is this: don’t give up!

The beauty of the Internet is that there are always new ways to market yourself and find potential clients, and even if one door closes then another is likely to open soon for those who are willing to hone their skills and put in the time.

As the experiences of successful Canada-based copywriters like Stephen Da Cambra show, it’s definitely possible to build your own brand and a career for yourself in this field.

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what does a freelance copywriter do Copify

What does a freelance copywriter do?

If you’ve considered writing for a career then you’ve probably wondered ‘what does a freelance copywriter do?’ The fact is that freelance copywriting is a varied career that involves everything from undertaking initial research to managing multiple projects and sourcing images. A freelance copywriter can craft everything from a quick blog post, to shaping the tone of a company’s online presence.

what does a freelance copywriter do It all falls into content marketing. A good freelance copywriter will be able to create SEO friendly content that’s engaging and gets visitors onto a particular page or site. Content marketing gurus such as Lilach Bullock recognise just how important effective content marketing is and regularly talk about strategies companies could implement in order to grow their online presence. Every single good content marketing strategy starts with good content, and that’s where a freelance copywriter comes in.

The main tasks of a freelance copywriter

Aside from writing, freelance copywriting will regularly include conducting research and interviews as well as editing and proofreading, they may also be called upon to use their copywriting skills to successfully implement a marketing campaign. Although writing is the main focus of the job, a lot of the time is spent researching, thinking and formatting to ensure the content is as well thought out as possible.

It’s quite common that half the time on a project will be spent researching and trying to figure out how to craft a keyword-friendly article or post without ruining the natural flow of the content. With the world of SEO continuously changing, there is much more to consider as a freelance copywriter than copywriting alone.

Who do copywriters work for?

One of the most cost-effective ways for businesses to attract new customers is through good content marketing. Research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute found that content marketing is much more effective than paid search and that it generates three times more leads than outbound marketing. On top of that, the cost of content marketing is 62% less than outbound marketing. All of which means content marketing is an extremely effective tool if businesses utilise it in the right way.

Businesses are constantly looking for ways to grow their online presence, meaning there’s always a healthy demand for writers of articles, emails, landing pages, blogs and general web content. Good copywriting can help a business engage with its core audience as well as push a product or service. It means freelance copywriters are usually highly versatile and have a broad client list. Most of the time a freelance copywriter will work under the client’s name and will work to ensure the client is completely happy with the content provided.

Having an adaptable voice

what does a freelance copywriter do 2Most copywriters will have their own style, but a big part of being a copywriter is being able to change and mould your writing so that it fits in with the clients. That means adapting the writing style and the tone to fit who the content is speaking to. There are plenty of rules when it comes to crafting good copy, but if the client has their own ideas on what they want, then that will generally come first.

Working as a copywriter means completing work for all sorts of clients, from start-ups to established companies. An established company is likely to have their own tone of voice as well as a definitive way they communicate with their customers, and whilst a start-up may not be established, they will almost certainly have an idea of how they wish to talk to their target market. A key part of a copywriter’s role is to do research on the client and to not be afraid to ask questions. The more information a freelance copywriter has, the more able they’ll be to immerse themselves in their client’s voice and meet their client’s expectations.

What content do copywriters create?

Freelance copywriters don’t generally specialise in one aspect of copywriting, unless they’re trained in a particular sector such as medical copywriting. Most copywriters, however, focus on crafting content for a wide variety of clients, all of which have their own unique demands. A typical copywriting project will usually fall into one of the following:

Blog posts

In order for a client’s site to rank highly on search engines, they need to keep updating their content. The most convenient way to do this is through regular blog posts. Depending on the client, a blog post can range from a couple of hundred to even thousands of words. Most of the time a blog post is more relaxed in tone and aims to engage and inform the reader on a particular subject.

White papers

Quite often a client will require a white paper to be written. These tend to be longer and focus on a particular problem and how it can be solved. White papers tend to have a more professional tone and are designed to be useful, educational and objective.

Email marketing

A good email marketing campaign can make or break a particular product or service. Freelance copywriters are regularly called upon to create enticing email marketing campaigns for businesses from all sorts of sectors.

Social media

what does a freelance copywriter do

One of the most common ways companies communicate with their customers is via social media. A good freelance copywriter will have practised effective social media techniques and be able to write effective Twitter and Facebook updates that encourage shares and grow the company’s social media presence.

Website copy

Writing for the web can involve everything from creating a step-by-step guide so that a customer knows the ins and outs of a particular service, to crafting impactful landing pages which improve a client’s conversion rate. It can also include product copy, creating a home page and much more. Website copy is incredibly varied and the best freelance copywriters will be able to adapt their style for every one of their clients.

So, the answer to what a freelance copywriter does is a little bit of everything. If you find yourself on a website and are compelled to purchase a product, chances are that a good copywriter helped you along the way towards deciding to buy it.

 

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