In one of the comments recently to an article I added here on the site, I was asked to add in some posts on copywriting. The individual thought that I would have some value to add to this much-discussed topic in our online marketing world…
Copywriting is something that I have used in so many aspects of my life, both on the personal and professional sides. It is a subject that has been covered many times and it seems there is TOO much out there!
In any case, I agreed to add my opinions on the subject and also see how I might be able to help some of the people that happen to stop by the site. There is too much to cover in one post, so I decided to make it a 3 part series…
Consider this series a starting point, you definitely will have more of a base to go forward with after reading these posts, but there is no substitution for getting your hands dirty so to speak and trying it yourself.
With that, let’s get started…
SO YOU WANT TO BE A COPYWRITER
Whenever you present information to someone, whether verbally, visually, or through the written word, you want to make it as effective as possible when it comes to engaging readers, keeping their attention, and convincing them to take action.
This means that you want to have the receiver understand your words or thoughts, provide them a call to action, and do so without wasting their time, yet do it in a way that is captivating and has some humor even, at times…
Copywriting is the process of putting together words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into an article, a report, an eBook, or something even larger such as a proposal or similar.
It is also the art of creating headlines, short bullet comments, ideas etc. that will inspire lots of thought far beyond the words that appear in front of the reader of those words…
Please believe me when I say that copywriting is a creative process, and to be good at it, practice and study are essential. There are many benefits to such a trade or skill, however, whether you learn better how to do it for yourself and your business, or if you want to do it for a living…
A good copywriter can demand a very high price for sales copy they produce .Just as with other skills, it takes time and effort to hone and perfect copywriting skills.
If you do enjoy writing, seem to have a knack for it, and are thinking that you want to take a shot at copywriting, here are a few things you should be aware of…
(1) STUDY. A lot of studying on your part is required to learn all the ins and outs about copywriting.
(2) BECOME AN EXPERT. If you want to demand the high prices that clients are willing to pay, you will have to become an expert in this field. This is a process it will not happen overnight, no matter the level of skill you have to start…
(3) GIVE IT TIME. Remember that writing good copy also takes time. Expert copywriters do get paid well, but it can sometimes take days or weeks to produce the copy that clients will be happy with.
(4) WORK CONSISTENTLY AND REGULARLY. Approach this skill as you would any other skill that you want to become adept at. Work daily, consistently, and plan your educational process so you are always becoming better.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with copywriting is to think that you can start and immediately charge high prices for your services. This is largely a reputation based business. Start off with very reasonable prices, and show results with the sales pages and etc. you produce, then you can raise your prices.
This is largely a reputation based business. Start off with very reasonable prices, and show results with the sales pages and etc. you produce, then you can raise your prices.
When you can show results, the word will get around, and potential customers will hear how your copywriting is converting, as in they are making the sales for the client.
Over time, you will receive more requests for work based on this, and then you can you start to charge higher prices. So the caveat here is that copywriting is not a way to make lots of money fast, rather over time it can do so.
The way to establish yourself is to build up your portfolio. have a set of work that potential clients can review and see for themselves that you are good at what you do. Potential clients will get not only word of mouth from others, but they will be able to see your work and successes.
When you are starting out establishing credibility may seem like a hard thing to do. This can be done however in several ways, including offering to write copy for free or for a nominal or introductory price. In exchange get the clients to agree to have the product included in your portfolio. They win and you win.
How to find such willing customers? One tactic many new copywriters use is to look for existing sales pages that are not converting well and re-write them.
They then contact the product owner with their new sales page. Get the owners to use your page. When your revised page starts to make sales for that client, you have your first happy customer and your first entry for your portfolio. You may also want to ask for a review or testimonial that you can add to your portfolio.
Practice, practice, and more practice…
How can you practice daily to improve your copywriting skills? One way would be to find headlines and rewrite them. Headlines are such an integral part of copywriting skills, you really need to be good at these. Practice makes perfect…
Knowing how to craft enticing headlines is just one skill that you will have to learn, but it is an important one. I have a software tool that I use that rates headlines by different factors such as length, power word usage, and various other things.
Using such a tool over time, you will begin to get familiar with what makes a good headline and it will become easier to put it together quickly. This is something you can spend a few minutes on daily, and I find it actually is fun.
So how else can you get your name out in the market?
Well, you could start a blog that focuses on copywriting, and write interesting articles and add in examples of your work. This will also take time, but it is worth the effort because the work and time invest in preparing and writing good content will force you to go through some of the steps and lessons to becoming a proficient copywriter.
Bottom line here is that if you truly enjoy writing and have a knack for it, then progressing in the niche to the level of a copywriter could very well be the perfect opportunity for you. It is definitely worth considering as the good copywriters are making a good living providing their skills.UNDERSTANDING WHAT COPYWRITING IS
It is definitely worth considering as the good copywriters are making a good living providing their skills.
The copywriter field is a skill where a person in the niche writes copy for many different products and purposes. Since many folks reading this are in the online marketing business, one that you likely have heard of people paying a copywriter for are in preparing sales pages. While this is one of the most popular requests a copywriter receives there are plenty of others, including writing press releases, material for trade magazines, articles, white papers and brochure content, etc..
While this is one of the most popular requests a copywriter receives there are plenty of others, including writing press releases, material for trade magazines, articles, white papers and brochure content, etc..
If you are a freelancer as a copywriter, you are your own boss. Your overheads are low and basically, all you need is to have access to a computer and the internet.
At that point, you can work from anywhere in the world you choose. Deliverables are sent through digital means, so you can work on a beach if you want to!
The downside to this freedom is that you have to practice discipline to get the work accomplished, on time and to the standard the client is expecting.
If you fail to deliver as agree to or expected, your reputation will suffer quickly and it will not be long before you are working for someone again, or you are starting in a new field of work.
You have to remember that what you are doing is a business, just as with any other brick and mortar business, and the requisite time, dedication and effort must be adhered to.
While you can set your own hours and decide which projects you will take on, and involve yourself only in the projects that interest you, there are cautions in order. As you do this, make sure that you taking in enough work to cover all of your expenses.
Copywriting is a way to earn more money of course. This is what attracts many to the field. Fair warning here is that starting out, this will not be the case, you will have to go through the process of building your name and reputation before that can take place.
How Much Can I Charge
As a freelancer, you can set your own prices. There are many ways to determine what you can charge for your services, but realize that until you have a considerable amount of work behind you, the really high charges will not fly.
Starting out, if you have no other sources of income you could determine what it is you need to live on, and how many jobs you want to work on, how many hours you want to devote to the copywriting business, and base your charges to cover these expenses.
The next step in this process if to divide the hours you will spend working on copywriting into the dollar amount you need to live on, and you will have an hourly rate you need to get.
As a rule of thumb, for planning purposes, an experienced copywriter will charge as much as $750 for 8 hours of work. A less experienced copywriter may charge around $400 for the same number of hours.
When you negotiate with potential clients you will have to add in your experience level, your successes to date, and the job they are requesting support for. This is not a science, rather it is based on many factors that are not that easy to measure.
The more successes you can show that client, the better your chances are of getting a higher price. It could be that starting out you ask for a rate per word. Remember also that your job is only the text, while the graphics are another ball game altogether.
Another point with the fee per word. That price point is for your reference only. You will quote your client a one off fee for the completed work. It is up to them to determine the length of the sales page or article they require. They give you that total, and you make a proposal based on the length.
Fiverr has some excellent guidelines you can look at. One of the areas they offer outsourcing for is copywriting. You can see what the best are charging, what some of the newer providers are charging, and follow this when you make quotes. If you do not want to work through Fiverr or a similar site, this will keep your prices within the prices found there…Later you can raise your prices…
If you do not want to work through Fiverr or a similar site, this will keep your prices within the prices found there…Later you can raise your prices, based on all the factors we have discussed here…
GOALS OF COPYWRITING
While this may seem like an obvious point, there is more than making money when it comes to copywriting. That is just the end game. There are many other goals to consider….
It would be smart to do a mind mapping exercise to determine what other goals you may be working towards when you start a copywriting business.
A copywriter also needs to keep other goals in mind, as follows…
(1) TRUST. Likely you will find that you also need to build a sense of trust in a reader. You are satisfying the client’s needs, but effective copy means also that the readers of that copy are going to have to have a trust in what you are saying and be moved enough to take the desired action.
(2) AUTHORITY. The way you package the words has to convince readers that the product or company is a good one, that the company will deliver on the promises, and follow through with what they are offering…This creates the sense of that company as being an authority figure. If your copy does this, the reader will have no hesitation taking the final action, which is hitting that opt-in or buy now button.
(3) ENGAGEMENT. While information copy is viewed as a written advertisement it really is more than that. The most effective sales pages will immediately engage the reader and make them feel as though this product that is being presented will fix their problems or needs. That is why it is extremely important to highlight issues and problems at the beginning of your sales copy. It immediately strikes a chord with people. After all, they are ultimately looking for a solution, and you are providing it.
(4) CLEAR AND CONCISE. Good copy needs to be clear and concise. You will want to write your copy and then go back and rewrite, edit and clean it up. You may go through this process several times, each time looking closely at every section, taking out unnecessary words and punctuation that does not add to the point. Eliminate any fluff or filler in your sales copy.
(5) FORGET SOME GRAMMATICAL RULES. When it comes to strictly following the common grammatical rules you should get into the habit of not worrying about this. I know that this can be difficult for you to accept, and seems counterintuitive, but if you follow all the grammatical rules in your copy, that copy will most likely not work/sell!
(6) REMEMBER SOME GRAMMATICAL RULES. Having said do not pay attention to grammatical rules, this may seem also to be nonsensical. Here is what I mean: Avoid misspellings and slang, avoid things like “pleaz” instead of please etc. That makes your copy amateurish and unprofessional.
(7) HIT THE PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS. You are seeking to get inside your readers head with your copy. Try to put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer. What are the problems, the needs, what are the fears they may be having. Do some research on the product and discover what problems and fears your customer has when it comes to it. What is the audience profile, i.e. what age and gender are the target audience? Once you know who you are writing for, who the audience is, your job will be much easier when it comes to deciding what to write.
(8) SIMPLE & FEW POINTS AND HYPE FREE. Another goal you need to consider is creating copy that is very easy to understand and is “hype” free. We are sure that you have read plenty of sales pages which come across as nothing but a major sales pitch, cheesy with their copy and graphics. These are not effective sales pages…
(9) TALK TO READERS, NOT AROUND, ABOVE OR BELOW THEM. Your copy needs to make the reader feel as though you are talking directly to them. Make them feel that this product is just the thing they need to fix their problems. Do not get any more technical than necessary, stick to presenting the salient points clearly in a way that they can relate to and understand.
OK, this is a good start for considerations as you start to create your masterpieces of work. There are more considerations I could add, but these basic ones will point you in the right direction as you start to write..
I would like to mention some words from a VERY wise man: Einstein said, ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.’
This concept holds true, especially in the copywriter field…
BASICS OF GOOD COPYWRITING
OK, you may have decided by this point that you do NOT want to be a copywriter, it is NOT as easy as it may seem for sure…BUT, writing good copy is a skill that people still should learn, regardless of whether they actually want to be a copywriter or not.
If you send a lot of emails, if you are designing opt-in pages, writing blogs, reports, eBooks, or almost any other kind of writing, you need good copywriting skills…
The following list is a quick overview of what it takes to write good copy.
(1) UNDERSTANDING YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE. I think you would agree that it is much easier to write to someone when you have at least a little bit of background on them. Try and come up with a mental or written image of who your target audience is. Maybe spend a little time at the start of the project to go through this exercise. What is their age, where they likely live and what their average income may be, and even what their likes and dislikes may be.
(2) ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS. When you create copy, you always want to know and present the answers to these two questions for the reader:
===> Why should I buy this product and
===> What’s in it for me?
(3) STAND OUT. Make your content unique. Try to find a way to make your copy stand out from others. Look for similar sales pages then come up with an angle or hook that is different.
(4) SPECIFIC PURPOSE. Starting out, have a specific purpose in mind as you create your copy. Yes you want the readers to buy, but also think about helping them to solve their problems by offering solutions.
(5) HEADLINE. It all starts with the headline. If you do not take the time to write a good headline or if that headline is weak, the customer will most likely not read all the way through the sales page. You will have lost them before they really started. If the copywriting is emails, this pertains to your subject line. You have to give your reader a good reason to open your email.
(6) USE HEADINGS AND SUB-HEADINGS. When you use these they help in a couple of ways…First, they break up your copy into sections that are easy to digest and understand, but they also help to highlight the benefits of the product. NOTE: Remember that ‘what’s in it for me?’ question!
(7) KISS (Keep It Short and Simple). This is so important, in the case of writing sales page copy, more is not necessarily better. Avoid using filler or fluffy words – don’t use weak words like maybe, hope, wish, try could or perhaps. Instead, create concise sentences that are short and contain words such as will and can (strong action words).
(8) USE PRESENT TENSE. When you prepare copy, always write it in the present tense. For example, instead of saying ‘was going to’ use the word ‘did’. This active voice will add strength to your entire copy.
(9) USE TESTIMONIALS AND CUSTOMER QUOTES. Whenever possible, use testimonials or customer quotes if it fits in. Social affirmation or proof is a strong selling point. This proof reassures the prospect that others also had the same feeling as they are having and made the decision to buy…Include a photo of the person and hint…a video testimonial is even more powerful if you can fit it in…If these seem real to your potential customers, it will be a powerful persuader for the reader and your copy will convert.
(10) READ FINISHED COPY OUT LOUD. I also recommend that once your copy is finished to always read it out loud, several times. Either you can do this or it may be better to have someone else read it for you while you listen to the words and flow. If there are stumbles as it is read it may indicate that you need to go back and edit it. Remember if you are having problems, the readers will too. They are there to buy, not tweak or struggle to understand what is being said!
By applying these basic concepts to each piece of copy you right you should have no trouble in converting readers into customers.
OK, that is enough for today…Read on, however, to see what we will cover in parts 2 and 3 of this series…
TIP – WHAT IS COMING IN COPYWRITING PARTS 2 & 3
There are two additional posts on copywriting you will find here on the site. The second covers you writing your own copy as opposed to outsourcing, then will drill down to more specifics such as how long to make your copy, payting attention to headlines, titles, and sentences, bullets, and finally will cover how you can write copy for an unknown topic.
The third post on this three part series will go a step further on the subject of copywriting. There are those who have a real affinity for writing who will want to start their own business or service to provide copywriting to others. We will cover how to get a business started, and what types of copywriting service businesses there are that you could focus on.
Today we covered some of the basics of what copywriting is and how to approach the topic from a standpoint of someone who is interested, either in doing it themselves or knowing what to expect from a copywriter they may outsource some of their work with.
We also let you know what is coming in two additional posts – the idea is that at the end of the three posts you will have a good handle on how to go about gettingthis important piece of the online marketing business puzzle in place. It is a cornerstone for a lot of what you do…
Now is the time to take the information provided and start practicing the tips and ideas by creating your own copywriting material. Look to see what is out there, what works and what does not work, and why. The more you do, the more you will feel comfortable, and the more effective you will become.
There are no shortcuts in this process, learning by doing is pretty much the best way to become competent at copywriting. Because you will use copywriting in the many aspects of your online marketing business, you really need to get proficient. Have fun!
You will notice that I add in a paragraph that looks similar to this one in most of my posts lately. Why? Because I want to reemphasize that I ask for your feedback, input, ideas and discussion on Copywriting (subject for this post) or whatever the subject may be ion each post. This helps us all become better marketers online or offline, and we can all learn from each other! Thanks in advance for taking the time to share…