can you learn copywriting - copify

Can you learn copywriting?

If you’ve got a passion for writing audience-specific, attention-grabbing content under pressure, then discovering the art of copywriting should be both enjoyable and achievable.

If you have a natural talent for engaging people through the written word, then it’s possible to go from beginner to pro within the field, and find your niche along the way. However, great copywriting skills take time and practice to develop, firstly to gain a good grounding in the discipline, but also so that you can figure out the types of copy you want to be writing.

So – can you learn copywriting?

It’s not as simple as a yes or no answer. And here’s why…

The more traditional methods of advertising copywriting, for example, slogans, banners, or any other copy that is included in advertising campaigns, whether in print, on TV or online, are highly creative and as such hard to learn without natural flair.

However, learning copywriting for other types of marketing collateral, like emails, brochures, and websites, is a little less reliant on originality and creativity. Instead, it relies on someone that knows what they’re talking about and isn’t afraid to use language to help frame their products or services in the best possible light.

Of course, all of this comes down to honed skills that are regularly practised.

It doesn’t take a degree or formal training to learn copywriting, but instead some fundamental principles that will become your mantra when starting to write killer copy. Whether you want to write the next Budweiser advert or develop on point marketing brochures, many of the tips and tricks to succeed are the same.

Learn to write copy through reading up

can you learn copywriting - copify 1

There are many copywriting books on the market that can help you to learn the basics, through to the more advanced ways of copywriting. As with learning any subject, the more books you read, and tips you absorb, the more effective your writing will become.

This does take time, but this will pay off if you schedule a little tuition in each day. Treat learning copywriting like revision or when you used to mark up your English literature homework. Annotation is key so that you can easily mark useful tips to go back to, as you develop your career.

Engage in some training develop your copywriting skills

There are hundreds, if not thousands of copywriting courses that you can take to help improve your copywriting capabilities. The range of courses means that you can study when and where it suits. If you’ve already got a day job, and only have the evenings to study, enrol on a distance learning online course that can work around you.

If you are able to spare a couple of hours a week to get to a course at a local college or university, this may be better in the long run, as face to face constructive feedback and Q&A is invaluable. Learning from a senior copywriter in the industry will allow you to gain more insight into what you’re doing well and what you need to work on. They can also provide you with personal examples and anecdotes for guidance, as well as sharing stories of successes and lessons learned.

A good copywriting course should teach you the skills to write for different mediums, and discuss the challenges and benefits of writing for each type. It should also teach you how to change the style of your writing for different topics and readers. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) is a reputable organisation, offering a one-day introductory course, covering the fundamentals of copywriting.

If you are already working in advertising or marketing, and there is a colleague you can call upon to mentor you, this really is a more hands-on way to learn the craft. Shadow your mentor and explore the types of copy they produce. You could even ask to join a brainstorming session, or ask to observe how they go about answering a brief.

Master one of the most important elements; the headline

can you learn copywriting - copify 3

Not only is the headline the first thing people see when they read copy, it is your one and maybe only chance to attract the attention of the reader. If you want your email, for example, to stand out against the noise of other emails, then the headline is what counts.

Learning to write headlines is one of the most important elements of copywriting. Developing skills to create concise, yet compelling, one-liners is paramount to getting your reader to take action. You can learn skills such as writing the headline first so that it focuses the rest of your content, and using the formula practised by journalists that write attention-grabbing headlines for the front of magazines, to inject some life and call to action into your copy. Copyblogger has a great free ebook on the subject of how to write magnetic headlines.

Develop and maintain a portfolio

As you progress your career in copywriting, keeping a portfolio is key to showing prospective employers what you can do for them, as well as acting as a record of your own continuous improvement. Having a folder of work to look back on will remind you of how far you’ve come, and is also good for positive mental attitude. If you can physically see the improvement over time of your copywriting, this will support you through moments of self-doubt or mental roadblocks.

All writers are critical of their own work; it’s human nature. To prevent you from getting bogged down in negativity over writer’s block or over-editing, take a look at your portfolio from time to time to remind yourself that you are a decent writer and that you can still take on a challenge! For further guidance, check out how to create a killer copywriting portfolio.

Learn how to use social media for selling

can you learn copywriting - copify 2

In the digital age, where most marketing is now displayed through social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, learning about how these sites can be used in the optimum way to get good copy out there is proving to be more and more integral. As well as learning to copy write, read up on how advertising works over these platforms.

As with your portfolio, keep your own social media in ideal working order to demonstrate to potential employers that you are savvy and know how to use social media to increase traffic to your website.

 

For regular copywriting hints, insights, and handy takeaways, follow Neville Medhora’s blog.

 

Main image credit: David A Ellis
Image credits: Sebastien WiertzStephen DannTayloright

Read More

Are you copy writing or copywriting?

Copy writing or copywriting (as it is more commonly known in the industry), is a writing skill that combines selling to a particular audience with compelling the reader to take action. It’s different to content writing, in that it influences a specific target market to want to hear more details about a product or service, or inspires them to make a purchase.

Content writing is usually more editorial in nature, more detailed, and sometimes has a journalistic tone. However, the two do cross over and often sit hand in hand, especially in the online world.

Copy writing or copywriting: is there a difference?

To some it may seem like a minor technicality, but you could argue the difference between basic copy writing and copywriting is a skillset that can be characterised by putting the reader’s emotions at the centre of your writing. It also includes learned techniques such as SEO-optimised language to help your content rank highly in searches. But of course, mastering these copywriting skills takes practice and staying power.

Whether you’re starting out in this field, have some level of experience, or are transferring from another writing discipline, it’s important to remember that there are certain secrets to developing the flair and style that will lead to the ultimate aim of your writing; to make a sale based on engagement and a call to action.

Just like learning to drive a car or riding a bike, our muscle memory plays a key role in how we write copy. This is where practice comes in, and training the brain to approach copywriting using a set of principles that will eventually become second nature, will give you the discipline to succeed and develop those killer skills. Essentially, you need to ask yourself whether you are simply writing copy for your website without much thought as to who the intended audience is, or whether you are committed to producing words that don’t just sell but also engage, inform and inspire.

Essentially, you need to ask yourself whether you are simply writing copy for your website without much thought as to who the intended audience is (this can be a very easy trap to fall into when time is of the essence). Or, if you are committed to producing words that don’t just sell but also engage, inform and inspire. And which ultimately increase search engine ranking, drive more traffic, and result in more conversions.

If you need a little guidance to get you started, there are several ways you can craft and structure your copywriting to convert a casual browser into a customer…

How to develop killer copywriting skills

1. Tap into your audience’s pain points

When you receive a copywriting brief, it’s up to you to make sure you clearly understand the details and ask questions if you’re unsure. This will help you research the target audience and tap into what makes them tick. This may mean speaking to colleagues who have previously engaged with the intended audience or carrying out your own desk-based work to establish company objectives or financial information. This will support you in positioning your offering when it comes to copywriting.

Copy writing or copywriting - Copify blog

If, for example, you’re crafting copy to engage business people to buy IT products, you need to work out what some of their current problems may be, and match up your products, services and expertise that you’re selling, in a way that solves their current issues.

This could be that they want a system with less infrastructure or maintenance required by their in-house IT department.

A simple formula for this is:

  • What is the feature that you’re selling?
  • How does this benefit the customer, i.e. solve their pain points?

From here, you can then wow them with the ultimate convincing reason to choose you and your products/services; the differentiator. Why should someone buy what you’re selling over your competitors? In the case of IT products, is this that they are the easiest to install on the market, meaning less disruption for those working for the company you’re selling to? Building trust in knowing what you’re talking about will create affinity and a strong reason to buy.

2. Use your inner critic as your own best friend

Writing to sell is fundamentally different from any other form of writing, as it has to resonate with the customer on a personal level. According to Alf Dunbar, people buy people first and products second. If you can tailor your writing to develop an emotional link between your product and audience, you can get them on side quickly and captivate their minds.

This is where your own self-censoring comes into play. Once you’ve written your copy, read it through with these points in mind:

  • Does this content create a rapport with the intended audience?
  • Would you buy these products/services based solely on this copy alone?

If the answer to either of these is ‘no’, go back and rethink how you can tap into the mind of the audience to greater effect. Does this mean creating more of an effective link between the audience and the people of your organisation? How can you sprinkle in a little more reassurance that your staff will solve your potential customers’ problems?

3. Picture the audience as one person, not a panel

It’s easier to sell to a single person, rather than a group of people. This is because it’ll focus your writing to make it seem like the copy is talking to one customer only. This technique will make them feel special and that you are there to support them exclusively.

Copy writing or copywriting - Copify blog

4. Don’t leave room for confusion

The smaller the sentences, the better. Longer sentences can confuse people and can even result in contradictory messages. It’s a real skill to be able to write copy that explains concepts and ideas simply, rather than over complicating them. Practice writing one sentence at a time. Read it out loud if it helps to refine what you’re trying to communicate.

5. Use the right language

Knowing your intended audience and how they operate will propel your thinking when it comes to using the right style, tone and language to make a sale. Copy can be written well, but if it’s inappropriate for the intended audience, it will not only alienate the reader and could even damage your brand. Getting it right requires an understanding of what’s socially acceptable within the context of your audience.

A good example to illustrate this point is the use of humour. When used well and at the right time, humour can be a key tool when it comes to delivering a powerful message. Times when this is appropriate may be when selling consumer products to young adults.

Copy writing or copywriting - Copify blog

The Got Milk range of adverts uses celebrities with the iconic milk moustache accompanied by copy that is both informative and funny. One of these adverts featured Kermit the Frog, with the slogan ‘milk isn’t just for tadpoles’. The effect of this line prompts a laugh but is also telling young adults that milk still has health benefits now, not just when they were kids, encouraging them to drink milk as part of a healthy diet.

Finally, perhaps the golden rule of copywriting; if it doesn’t sell, cut it out. There is a fine balance between telling enough of a story to get the audience’s attention, and including irrelevant details such as what you ate for lunch. The basic rule is that if it overcomes any objections to buying your service or product and builds a picture of trust with the reader, keep it. All the rest can be deleted. Executed well, effective copywriting should instil the reader with the impetus to act.

 

Main image credit: ThoroughlyReviewed
Image credits: grendelkhanFree ImagesSarah Joy

Read More