We all come into contact with the words of hardworking copywriters every single day. From our cereal packets to the blogs of our favourite brands, copywriters are keeping the marketing and digital worlds ticking over with their ability to produce coherent pieces of writing according to tight deadlines.
However, with so many talented writers out there providing reams of compelling and eminently readable copy, the art of copywriting can often be taken for granted. Copywriting is, in fact, a highly valuable and often elusive skill that takes years of practice and training to perfect.
While a competitive line of work, copywriting can be a lucrative and incredibly rewarding profession for those at the top of their game. What’s more, those with a gift and passion for the written word are often well-placed to learn the skills needed to thrive in the role.
If you love writing and are wondering how you might use your passion to make a living, the following tips should give you some idea of where to begin learning the skills and know-how to be a good copywriter.
1. Write, write and write some more
This may seem like an obvious tip but it can be easy to forget when life is so full of distractions, chores and other activities we could be concentrating on. Writing every day is THE most effective way to improve your writing speed, flair and concision, all fundamental traits of good copywriters.
Indeed, copywriting jobs (particularly freelance ones), require copy to be turned around fairly quickly, and practice is the best way to ensure you never let down any of your treasured clients.
2. Do your research
Copywriting briefs can vary wildly depending on the sector and intended purpose. Good copywriters are thirsty to learn about a wide range of subjects from building materials to ecology to shoes to medicine. The list really is endless.
Once you’ve picked up a brief you think will be interesting, make sure you do thorough research before starting writing. This will ensure you do the piece justice, get your point across, and are able to show off your superior writing skills to the world.
3. Get to grips with the burgeoning digital world
Being a good writer simply does not cut it in the world of copywriting any more, particularly as a majority of the copy you write will end up on the internet. Online content is now absolutely fundamental to most successful organisations, who are often after writers that are fully literate in fields such as search engine optimisation (SEO).
SEO copywriting is a practice which helps businesses draw in web users to their websites by pushing them up the search engine rankings. Let’s take a look at a couple of key principles…
Getting to know which keywords to use
Using keywords appropriately is one of the top skills copywriters need to help businesses improve their SEO scores, and there are various tips and tricks that can help give them an edge.
Google’s Keyword Planning Tool, for example, is an invaluable application for any good copywriter. It allows users to input relevant words they think might boost search results and find out how much search traffic they are generating at any given moment. What makes this tool even better is that Google will suggest synonyms and related terms that may offer better SEO scores.
Understand long-tail words
As this blog post from Think Creative Group suggests, many of the most effective keywords are so-called ‘long-tail’ words. These tend to be three to four words long and encompass your main aims and offerings. Generic single-word varieties are good for attracting lots of browsers, but long-tail words are essential for drawing in customers that are after exactly what your copy is selling and will have a positive impact on conversion rates.
4. Get to know your audience
Chances are that if you are writing for a number of clients, the audiences and demographics will vary quite considerably. Therefore, a sure-fire tip for how to be a good copywriter is to learn how to adapt your writing style and language at the drop of a hat.
If you are writing for a financial or technology firm, for example, it is imperative that you do your homework to get to know a little about the company’s industry and the key issues affecting it. Get to know the meaning of the technical words you use and seek confirmation if you are unsure whether you are using them in the correct context.
Having said this, it is also important that copywriters are able to be concise and use appropriately simple language in their writing. As this blog from TM34 Marketing states, not all readers will have the sophisticated and extensive vocabulary with which you are blessed.
Good copywriters, therefore, know not to show off their wordy knowledge and instead opt for simple words that convey their message concisely. Good sales copy, in particular, should sound friendly and approachable rather than elitist or academic.
5. Always proof your work
This may seem like an earth-shatteringly obvious point, but seasoned copywriters, in particular, can often get lazy when it comes to proofing their work. Bad spelling or grammar can seem unprofessional and can be a burden on the person who has to tidy it up. Sending out clear, crisp and typo-free copy shows that you’re dedicated and professional, and will increase your likelihood of picking up jobs in the future.
To ensure you are not making common spelling and grammar mistakes, it may be a good idea to look through a few articles detailing the silly mistakes we all make. This is a great little article from Write My Site which offers some great advice on the temperamental Oxford comma and those pesky little apostrophes. Or take a look at our grammar checklist for writing great copy.
6. Take feedback on board
Good copywriters learn from their mistakes and are able to use feedback constructively, rather than taking it straight to heart. If you receive some negative feedback from a client or colleague, look into how you might be able to improve your writing rather than storing it in the back of your mind to fester.