Writing Copy: 13 Tips To Write Great Copy in 2021
Plus The Best AI Copywriting Tool Ever Just Got Better!
Copywriting is hard - there are few people who are truly skilled at it, the rest of us are simply trying our best and striving to get better at it.
I love to write copy. I've been a writer, mainly writing marketing content, for over 30 years and have noticed - contrary to popular belief - that little has really changed in that time. The words are the same, but how we produce them - well, that's a whole different story!
If you're like me, you get sick of reading long, descriptive paragraphs online. Why? Because they don't catch my attention right away. I'm just skimming to see if there's anything interesting in there. I'm not a fan of content that wastes my time.
It should go without saying, but writing great copy isn't easy. This is what I'm going to help you with today.
Whilst many brilliant copywriters today still use pen & paper, there has been a shift towards copywriting software and in 2021 there have been significant advancements in the artificial intelligence copywriting world.
Why is writing called copy and what makes it good?
Writing copy - or copywriting - is a distinct skill in and of itself. It's not just about capturing your audience, but also speaking to them on a deeper level: speaking to their imaginations, making them feel something.
Great copy isn’t necessarily flashy, it is all about establishing trust, authority and building relationships.
David Ogilvy said "a good advertisement sells the product without drawing attention to itself". That is good copywriting.
Why is copywriting so hard?
Copywriting is powerful, but it can be intimidating for people who don't do it daily. As with any new skill, it can be daunting and overwhelming.
Copywriting is not inherently one of the easiest skills to learn - which is why a lot of copywriters give up too soon. With advancements in software to assist writers - originally to assist with marketing in the advertising industry - it is now possible for marketers to write sales copy for just about anything! Whether that be for a blog post, a website home page, an email newsletter or any type of advertising really.
How do you become a copywriter?
Copywriting is an art, a unique talent that not everyone possesses. If you are serious about learning copywriting, then you need to write, write & write again!
And read! Copywriters must also have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and voracious reading habits.
Yes, you can buy software - and the ones I've tested are great for marketing copy especially - but it is just one part of the overall formula. Copywriting apps are very powerful tools to assist you in your copywriting quest, but ultimately it will come down to what you can do with them that makes or breaks your copy.
What's the point of writing copy?
It helps establish your brand identity, it can be used to drive traffic to your website and it will position your company as a leader in its field - but what, aside from being interesting and compelling, does good copy achieve?
Good copy is persuasive. It makes people want to take the action you are encouraging them to - things like reading an article, watching a video, or purchasing / signing up for something!
Find an angle that works.
Who you are selling to will determine direction you choose to write from. A food blog will not have same audience as a business blog. If you're writing to industry insiders, you want to use terms that convey your authority on the topic.
Your customers need to know that you have knowledge of the subject at hand, and they also need evidence that your product or service can live up to the claims that you are making about it. Your customers need to be able to trust you and have confidence in what you care saying.
This is not a ‘how-to’ guide for copywriting, it's about learning what your audience will respond to the best.
How do you write a really good copy?
Most people have the idea that a good copywriter is born with some kind of magical gift, and that could be true to an extent. The writer who has been hired for the job will have honed their craft to meet the demands of their client(s) in order to maintain work. But not all writers are good copywriters - even if they think so!
How to become a good copywriter?
It's not something you can learn overnight, and there's no clear path to becoming one. Sure, there are some schools that will offer courses and an online certification of some kind - but without experience or practice, what do those really mean in the end? Nothing.
Just like any other skill, writing good copy takes practice and experience. The more you write for your blog - the better, the more you learn about what works and what doesn't. As a copywriter, I’ve always been told to ‘write what you know’ and that couldn't be more true! If you can't speak about your subject in depth - how are you going to sell it?
If you don't have a thorough knowledge of the product or service that you are writing about, you certainly need to do in-depth research of the facts and then you may be able to produce effective copy feeding these facts into AI copywriting software such as Jarvis.ai.
Here are my 13 Top Tip for great copy:
1. Be specific (like David Ogilvy)
David Ogilvy's 1958 headline on a new Rolls-Royce is one of the best copywriting examples of all time.
'"At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock""
It paints a picture, strikes a chord with sensory detail with the reader, and leaves them with a feeling of luxurious reassurance.
I personally love this headline, and that's why I have used it over and over again as the basis for many of my own headlines over the years.
2. Use simple words and sentences (with the Bar Stool Test)
The Bar Stool Test helps you cut back on jargon. Use words that people use to describe their problems in a simple, conversational tone, so that people are more likely to understand what you are saying.
Ask yourself: Would you say this sentence to a friend sitting in a bar? If the answer is no, rewrite the sentence in a simpler form. It's also a way to avoid using long words that make writing harder and less easy to understand.
3. Make friends with simplicity and structure.
Speak directly and try to write mostly simple sentences. You can start complicated, with a bold statement or obscure hook, as long as you end up simply.
Without structure and order, copy can go off in lots of different directions. It can be hard to follow or will fail to resonate with your readers. With a well-ordered structure, you keep your reader focused on your message.
4. Be funny.
When sales copy is amusing and even makes people chuckle, it's more memorable. Meaning your message is spread faster and farther.
It's not always easy to write funny copy. You don’t want to insult or offend anyone, but you can play on stereotypes or target niche groups with jokes that will appeal to them.
It also depends on what tone your website or blog is. If it’s a serious news site, then you don't want to use humorous copy. However, if your blog or website has a funny or playful feel to it, then humor will be more suitable and effective for the tone of your website or blog.
This can also work with satire or mocking - but this should be used with caution. Make sure your message is clear and people don't take offense to it.
5. Be honest.
British advertising tycoon David Ogilvy once said "Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating” - that is the skill of writing good copy!
Your copy should reflect what you're trying to sell. It is a very hard thing to do, but it makes writing much more effective and interesting for your readers. You have to show the audience that you know what you are doing when it comes to making their lives easier or better. This creates trust with the reader and helps build a relationship between you and your customer.
Like David Ogilvy said - write the truth for it to be effective. This doesn't mean that you can't embellish or add hyperbole (exaggeration) if needed - but don't exaggerate too much!
6. Play on emotions.
Emotions are the backbone of all good writing. They should be there in your descriptions and stories, whether you're working on a project for work or something personal that you really care about.
When you can evoke an emotional response in your customer, you create a strong connection that is hard to break. Emotions are powerful drivers of behavior.
If you want people to feel positive emotions, make them happy and proud of themselves by encouraging them to make progress toward their goals. If you can persuade or influence someone with a sad emotion (sorrow or sympathy) you can often persuade them much more easily (just look at the association between a sympathy card and buying flowers).
People are intelligent. But they are emotional first. Always be aware of how you make your readers feel when writing for your business. The stronger the emotion, the easier it is to control people's behavior. And that’s the secret to effective persuasion.
7. Use hooks.
Irresistible copy hooks you into reading more. It makes a great first impression.
Hook on to what your customers are already interested in and mention it in your headlines or stories.
People love being the center of attention, so knowing what is interesting to them will help you persuade them that they want what you're selling.
Try not to use too many hooks in your copy though - it's like using too many ingredients in a meal - if you rely on them all the time then they lose their effectiveness. Have one central hook and one secondary hook, unless there are very different audiences for each area of your website or blog then you could have two primary hooks.
If you've got a hook in there already, then it's easier to add another one that is similar as well. But if you're just starting out and don't have any hooks to start with, focusing on getting just one or two will help tremendously when writing your copy.
7. Make each word earn its keep.
People are sick of reading fluff. They want to be entertained, yes - and you'll obviously sell more if your copy is an enjoyable experience - but you can't just throw in any old thing that's amusing or entertaining without there being a purpose to it.
There needs to be a reason for sharing this information with the reader. Make sure they will get back more than they put in. If your story is too tangential or wastes their time, they will get bored and leave - never to return. So be direct and choose your words carefully.
8. Include an agenda.
It's good practice to have a step-by-step approach when writing your sales copy (or any copy for that matter). Make it easy for the reader to understand why your product is good for them.
Describe how you're going to help them, and follow that through with a story or example using characters at their level of expertise. This will make them feel like there's an understanding between them and you. If they sense that you are on their side, your credibility increases and they are more likely to buy from you.
This is called an agenda because it gives a sense of direction and helps the reader know where you're going. Without one, your copy will seem unstructured and the reader will lose interest in what's coming next.
9. Use questions to encourage curiosity.
Questions give the reader a sense of control over the information. They make them feel like they have something to look forward to, and because it requires action on their part (answering the questions) it creates a reason for reading on. If you're writing for a list or newsletter then this works very well to encourage engagement.
But remember - adding a question mark doesn't always mean you've created a question. Ask yourself what the main topic of the paragraph is before deciding whether or not to add one.
Try writing your questions like titles for potentially interesting articles, causing people to wonder where you're going with it and encouraging them to read on in order to find out more. This works very well if you're looking to increase the number of page views on your blog.
10. Leverage language.
Using the same language as your prospective customers will strengthen your bond with them.
For example, if your product is for pet owners, use words like "fur-babies" and "furry friends". This will make readers who have pets feel more connected to you (and more inclined to trust and buy from you).
Try not to overuse this technique though, only use it when the context truly warrants it, otherwise you risk alienating your non-pet owning readers.
Also, be wary of using language that is very specific to an area/group (such as a niche market). If a person doesn't know the lingo then they're less likely to trust you and might not understand what you're saying.
Know exactly who you're talking to, so that your words match their level of expertise.
Use positive language to make your reader feel good about their experience with you, and the benefits of purchasing your product/service.
It's extremely important in sales copy to maintain the reader's attention. If they're not engaged with your content then they probably won't buy from you.
11. Stop when you need to.
How do you know when to stop writing? You stop when you've said all that needs to be said. Good copy stops at a great point. It leaves the reader wanting more, but also satisfied with what they just read.
12. Proofread your copy.
If you write a clever headline, follow it up with compelling copy, but your spelling sucks, it can cripple chances of converting a reader. Don't abbreviate words without good reason or sprinkle emojis or gaspers!
Have someone proofread your writing or run it through a free online grammar check, and make sure everything is spelled correctly.
13. Revise and rewrite.
It's common for a first draft to be edited four or five times before publishing. You can certainly speed up this process with solutions that help writers re-phrase sentences to say things in a more direct and easy-to-understand way.
Are there different types of copy?
Yes! There are as many types of copy as there are advertising channels to produce it for.
Each type requires a slightly different approach - so what works on one platform doesn't necessarily work on another. Mostly, you will probably stick to one approach or another even if there's some overlap between approaches. You may also mix and match paragraphs from different approaches depending on what makes sense in terms of developing the narrative.
6 Styles of communication most copywriters use
1. Conversational copy
Conversational copy tries to identify with the reader by writing as if there is a conversation between the copywriter and the prospect. The language would be no different than a salesman sitting down for lunch with a customer.
In this style of copy, you don't have to be a polished copywriter to create effective conversational copy.
Often the sheer passion for what you're trying to promote breathes off the page.
An easy way to write conversational copy would be to record a conversation - whether that is with an actual person, or just yourself describing the product or service as if you were talking to a friend - about the topic and then transcribe it and edit it into the format you need.
2. Storytelling copy
People who've suffered challenges have pain points that can be tapped into and if you can relate to these pain points, you can communicate on a human level. You might find a storytelling technique gets the best results, perhaps in an email series, a landing page, or a short video. Your story doesn't have to be dramatic; it just has to be interesting to your target audience.
To write a storytelling copy, first think about your ideal customer and what challenges they're facing. Then work out ways you can help them get past those challenges - and how you can do it in an interesting way!
Creative stories are like real world analogies. If you are trying to explain something difficult, having a story about someone else going through a similar situation can really help your prospect understand the benefits of what you're offering. What makes this copy interesting is how relatable it is to your reader.
3. Frank copy
Some copy will explain the warts of your product before introducing fantastic features and benefits. When you are honest and transparent about product's weaknesses, the reader trusts you. When the reader trusts you, they will be considerably more likely to believe you when you point out the good qualities of the product.
It's very important to be honest about what you say about your product, especially about warts. When a customer is comfortable with the negative aspects of your product, they are much more likely to forgive the warts when you present the positives.
Frank copy is gritty and truthful copy that still manages to interest readers with good narrative structure. Whether you start off with a negative or a positive aspect of your story, make confident claim backed up by facts supporting it. Let the proof speak for itself.
4. Question and answer copy
Prompt the reader to ask questions while reading - for example, in the form of a buyer's guide. The key here is to identify with your prospect– their concerns, desires and opinions – whatever you do, avoid sounding like a salesperson! Instead make them feel that this article will help them figure out how to solve the problem themselves.
To write Q&A copy, first think about what questions your target audience may have for a product or service in terms of how it could potentially help them. Then, proceed to answer those questions and explain why they're relevant to that prospect at this point in time. This kind of copy can be super helpful because it helps them make the decision for themselves.
6. Long copy
The fundamental premise behind long copy is “The more you tell, the more you sell.” Ads that are long on facts and benefits will convert well. If you need to punch a certain fact or idea, bullet points can help ensure your most important details stand out in long copy.
You can use a drip campaign to spread the delivery of long copy over a period of weeks through an email autoresponder on social media with scheduling apps. In this way, you're turning long copy into short, easily-digestible snippets. Remember that you don't have to present all of the facts up front. Long copy is fabulous for content marketing.
6. Plain copy
The most basic approach to write copy is to introduce the product without gimmick or style. There's no story, no conversation, no ‘sizzle” and no superlative claims. It's not going to win any literary awards, but if you've studied how to write a good sentence, you'll be able to get the job done.
Copywriting is different from prose. The purpose of this copy is not to entertain or inform the reader but rather prompt a response that you want them to have, like buying your product.
Plain copy can still be relevant, well-written and accurate. It can even include facts about how your product works and why it does what it does – especially if this is complex information that may not be fully understood by your audience.
And there you have it - my top tips for how to write great copy in 2021.
Jarvis BossMode is for marketers and copywriters who want to write words that get results more easily than ever.
The new Jarvis BossMode refers to the improved version of Jarvis which is designed for significantly increased ease of use along with superior control. Jarvis can now learn from user input to provide increasingly improved outputs over time.
This new feature allows Jarvis users to increase their copy output substantially in even less time, and that is what makes the new version of Jarvis the best copywriting app out there by far.
Alongside Jarvis I use apps to check grammar, spelling, and plagiarism. Interested in discovering the tools that I recommend for copywriters and bloggers? Download my Essential Bloggers Toolbox for 2021.