“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”
– Leo Burnett
Getting started as a copywriter can be tough, in part because it’s a huge business with beginners and pros alike. Like any great writer, you’ll need experience, but this isn’t always easy to find. That’s why writing great copywriting samples is one of the best things you can do.
An effective way to get hired as a copywriter, writing a sample is incredibly simple: you identify a copywriting job you’d like to do, and then you write a piece of copy that’s very similar to what that brief asks for.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at how to get started – we’ve listed some of our favourite examples of great copywriting as well to help inspire you.
Great copywriting samples: where do you start?
1. Create a brief
It’s incredibly difficult to write a copywriting sample when you’ve got nothing to go on. Therefore, we believe the best way to start is to come up with your own brief.
It is a lot easier than you think. Simply choose a local business – this might be a hairdresser, plumber, or an accountant (it doesn’t matter too much) – and create a copywriting brief for them. You’ll need to decide what type of content you’re going to write as well, which might be a digital ad, a print advertisement, an email or a landing page.
The main thing to remember is you shouldn’t make this harder than it needs to be. After all, you probably don’t know very much about the company (other than what’s available online), so don’t attempt to write a 400-word web page if you know from the outset you’ll struggle to meet this.
2. Look at examples
Looking at other web pages, ads or emails of a similar length and topic that you’ve chosen for your sample will be a big help here. This is especially true when you’re writing copy for ads, which can be relatively small. There is nothing wrong with getting inspiration from other copywriters, just make sure yours is unique and shows off your personality (if the brief allows for this). You’ll often find that as long as you do plenty of research, words should flow pretty easily once you start writing.
3. Check your grammar and spelling
Although the main aim of copywriting is to raise awareness or encourage a purchase, it still needs to look professional and read well. However, when you’re writing your sample, you most likely won’t have someone on hand to check your writing for you. As such, we recommend making use of as many online tools as you can.
Grammarly offers spell checking, grammar checking and plagiarism detection, so it’s definitely a must-have. There’s the Hemingway Editor too, which tests your copy’s readability, counts the number of adverbs used, detects passive voice and highlights hard-to-read sentences. Finally, be sure to check out the Guardian and Observer style guide, which covers everything from abbreviations and acronyms to how to write dates, times and phone numbers correctly.
4. Add it to your portfolio
You don’t need to worry too much about how your sample looks – the aim is to highlight your writing skills, so too much design work may detract from this. Using a Word document will be fine.
However, don’t simply present the sample without any context. You’ll need to include a header which explains a little bit about the business and your aim for the project. For example:
‘Ad copy for a hair salon [name of business] to promote their latest offer on colour and highlights.’
Examples of great copywriting
Now that you know what you need to do to create great copywriting samples, let’s take a look at some excellent examples and consider why they are successful.
Tesco’s apple ad
This advert was produced in 2005, and although it’s 15 years old, we had to include it on our list.
“What’s the difference between ours and our competitors?”
“Not much really. They’re the same quality as Waitrose. And the same price as Asda.”
Short, snappy sentences don’t always work, but in this case, it’s incredibly effective. The two copywriters behind Tesco’s apple ad used just the right balance of wit and personality, putting down both its cheaper rival and its expensive one. And they achieved this in just 25 words!
Short sentences won’t work in every piece of copywriting, so make sure you carefully consider who your target audience is and what you’re trying to sell before deciding on the most suitable tone to use.
The Economist is famous for its intelligent advertising, and its witty and bold adverts were previously created by the late David John Abbott, who was regarded as the greatest copywriter of his generation.
“A poster should contain no more than eight words, which is the maximum the average reader can take at a single glance. This, however, is for Economist readers.”
This works so well because it has one clear message and the wording is simple. The call-to-action is very much there too, it is just cleverly disguised: if you want to read brilliant articles, you need to read The Economist.
When KFC UK ran out of chicken in 2018, its copywriters salvaged the brand’s reputation with a witty response that generated a lot of buzz.
“FCK… We’re sorry.”
Incorporating a clever play on words, the copy is effective because KFC takes responsibility, apologises and then laughs the whole crisis off.
So far, we’ve focused on ad copy, so for our final example, we’re going to take a look at Harry’s.
“Our founders, Jeff and Andy, created Harry’s because they were tired of overpaying for overdesigned razors, and of standing around waiting for the person in the drugstore to unlock the cases so they could actually buy them. When they asked around, they learned lots of guys were upset about the situation too, so they decided to do something about it.”
Their about page perfectly communicates what’s important to the founders while acknowledging a problem many of their buyers can identify with: expensive razors.
However, an about page also needs to address how it will solve the problem buyers have. Ultimately, it comes down to showcasing a business’ values – if people share these, they’re going to convert.
Create your own great copywriting samples today
Hopefully, these tips have given you the guidance you need to start writing your own copywriting samples. Don’t forget to do your research, and be sure to take a look at the content produced by other writers and brands for inspiration.