As a copywriter, you’ve chosen a path with steady and predictable growth, and you have skills that are in high demand. Sharpening those skills will help you stand out from the competition and grow your business, whether copywriting is your side hustle or main gig. Here are 5 tips on how to become a better copywriter so you can excel in a promising career field and land more of the clients you want.
1. Keep Reading
Becoming a better copywriter is synonymous with being an avid reader. First of all, reading is a critical part of the job. Copywriters need to research, read, and absorb new information quickly, so reading is one of the key skills to practice.
You should read broadly, and not just within your specialty. Reading exposes you to a wide variety of writing styles and to new ideas that can turn into inspiration. You can pick up improved grammar through reading, too — as long as you’re choosing quality material.
Take it from one of the world’s most well-known and prolific writers, Stephen King. In On Writing, he says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” You can do worse than follow advice from a master of the craft in learning how to become a better copywriter.
As a bonus, reading comes in handy when you hit The Wall (traditionally called “writer’s block”). Rather than hammer at your keyboard in frustration, take a break and read the news, a trending article, or simply escape into a good novel. You’re not writing, but you’re still immersed in words. Reading may also be the cure for your writer’s block.
Read in Your Niche
You should also read the types of content you plan to write and the industry you write for. For instance, if you’re writing for the healthcare industry, subscribe to healthcare newsletters, follow healthcare blogs, and check out what industry thought leaders are discussing on social media.
Reading about the top trends in your specialization will make you more knowledgeable when you sit down to write. You’ll be able to speak to the field, both in your word choice and overall understanding. That will help you convey credibility as a writer and, in turn, build confidence in your readers. And when you’re comfortable with the subject matter, you can spend more energy on the quality of the writing.
2. Study (and Bookmark) Good Content
As a copywriter, you’ll want to hone your own unique style and voice, but first, you need to know what appeals to you and why. One of the best ways to become a better copywriter is to study what successful copywriters are doing and use that as a model for your own writing.
Always be on the lookout for content that surprises or delights you. This could happen while you’re reading, checking your email, or driving by a catchy billboard. Content is everywhere all the time, so you can always be learning if you’re paying attention. Note: You should also study content that’s failed and then never do that yourself.
When you find a strong piece of content, keep a copy of it in a folder or bookmark it if possible. Over time, you’ll build your own personal reference library to keep on hand as you write. Aim to study and collect a wide variety of content since you never know what projects you might get hired to write. Becoming a better copywriter requires agile abilities.
3. Understand Your Client and Their Brand
To stand out as a copywriter, you need to know how to meet your client’s needs. That’s as fundamental as it gets. You can read every book in the library and write like Tolstoy, but if you fail to meet your client’s needs, you won’t be successful.
Nothing will frustrate a client more than working with a copywriter who fails to produce content that’s on-brand. Remember, it’s about them, not you.
This will take some nimble skills on your part, especially when you need to shift between different clients. Each client has different needs and preferences, down to the specific keywords they prefer and the unique tone and style of their brand. Familiarize yourself with their style guide and preferences, and commit to following them. A copywriter who can consistently capture the client’s unique brand voice will stay in high demand.
The same goes for shaping your content to the target audience’s needs
4. Write for the Target Audience
You’ll become a better copywriter for your clients if you understand the target audience for the content and their specific pain points, goals, and needs. The best copywriters prioritize the audience throughout the writing process.
Let’s be meta for a moment and take this piece of content. Its target audience is people who have decided to become copywriters and now want to improve. It wouldn’t make sense to offer tips for how to break into the field since that would fail to meet the needs of the target audience.
When you’re writing for clients, research your target audience and their buyer persona. Your writing needs to reach the right people, so take the time to learn about them. Identify the verticals for the piece, which means the specific intended audiences who are more likely to be interested in the content and the product. Think about what they want, what questions they have, and what problems keep them up at night. When you write, speak to that — and speak to them.
5. Know the End Goal
Don’t wait until the piece is written to identify the purpose of the content.
A common piece of writing advice is to save the introduction for last. In other words, know where you’re going to end up before you decide where to begin. You should also apply this “thinking backward” technique to copywriting. All of your choices are shaped by what your client wants their target audience to do by the end of the piece. The CTA (call to action) should be the driver of your choices. If the CTA feels forced or disjointed, you’ll fumble at the most important moment.
In a broader sense, your content is part of the marketing funnel that leads potential buyers from awareness to (hopefully) a purchase. Your copy should motivate the audience to continue along that path. A high-quality, well-researched, and smartly written piece of content builds trust with the audience and makes them more likely to take the next action.
Bonus tip for how to become a better copywriter: “Be in love with yr life”
This last tip comes from Jack Kerouac’s “essential” rules for modern writing. It’s a reminder that when you love what you’re doing, it’s easier to commit to improvement. If you want to know how to become a better copywriter, do so because you’re passionate about writing as a career path, and the skills will develop with time.
Copywriting is an attractive career path with opportunities for flexibility, work-life balance, and steady income. It’s also relatively easy to break into, which attracts many job seekers. Some copywriters are great, some are good, and some are still developing the right skills for the job.
Wherever you are at the moment, you will discover how to become a better copywriter if you keep practicing and fine-tuning your craft. That will help you rise to the top of the field and delight your clients.
Olivia Burgess has published blogs, journal articles, a book chapter, and, long ago, poetry and fiction. She earned her Ph.D. in English and spent a decade teaching writing and literature in higher education before pursuing new adventures in freelance copywriting. She spends her time with three Australian shepherds and two sun conure parrots in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
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