Our world is changing, and content marketing is changing with it. The good news is that becoming a copywriter nowadays doesn't require any formal qualifications. With increased Internet accessibility, copywriting is now open to people from all walks of life, ethnic backgrounds, levels of education etc. Sounds too good, right?
Well, the catch lies in the recent rise of interest and competition. Producing good copy requires a fresh understanding and up-to-date skills.
So, what does one need to develop killer copywriter skills and profit from copywriting?
Here are our top seven tips:
Polished Language Skills
I probably sound like a master of the obvious, but trust me, this is not just a lazy addition. After all, a writer's language is their currency.
Gone are the days when mastery of grammar, spelling and punctuation were enough for good writing gigs. As important as these areas are, they will only get you through the front door. Today's reader demands higher quality, creativity and originality. Being “decent” will only get you in the category of “standard”, where you won't find many clients. Customers seek crafty wordsmiths with advanced skills, like creating grabbing openers, compelling conclusions, great transitions and simplifying complex topics.
An exceptional vocabulary is vital, with a wide variety of words is necessary to address different audiences and match the client's style and tone requirements.
Remember, you are specifically hired to combine words in the most fluent, nuanced, articulate and inspiring way. Failure to deliver that will only result in disappointed clients and endless edits or re-writes, making it feel more like an odious task rather than a dream job.
Becoming an exceptional word slinger takes practise, persistence and a love for language. Excellent copy is born by adding some creativity from time to time, but you need to know the grammar rules to break them!
Be like Sherlock!
As important as specialisation in a specific niche is, new copywriters rarely get to cover topics they fully understand or relish. Typically, you will be asked to write on subjects as diverse as pet care and digital banking! Excellent research skills are necessary to get a firm grasp on the product/service you are writing about and create convincing copy. The Internet is awash with information, but knowing where and how to look will speed up the process.
Discovering your client's product features, benefits, unique selling points, and common pain points is vital for selling it effectively. Awake your inner Sherlock and let your insatiable, fearless curiosity drive the process! That might involve reading intricate documents, referencing latest news articles and fact-checking the information against reputed sources – all while sticking to a deadline!
Copywriting has existed for centuries, and many subjects have been covered numerous times throughout the years. Although you might find yourself writing on well-worn or less stirring topics, this doesn't mean it should read like the back of a cereal box!
Clients today are looking for creaive copywriters, who can turn any subject into compelling content. Avoid hackneyed cliches and be resourceful with your choice of words. Use imagination to approach topics from a different angle, one that people will actually want to read about.
Copywriters must realise their part within the broader marketing sector, to create more strategically focused content. Hence, terms like 'user experience', 'SEO expertise', 'psychology of money' and 'audience’s perspective' play a key role in becoming a T-shaped marketer.
Understanding what makes people tick, their needs, the type of language they respond to is how you can sell them the benefits of the product you are writing about. Making copy SEO-optimised by using keywords also enhances its visibility and helps reach Google’s top results. Remember, the point is to have an impact on the reader as part of a campaign. When your copy fits in its digital and cognitive context, it will improve the reception of your work and propel the client back to you!
An eye for detail facilitates the proofreading and editing process, so you can send copy to the client as error-free as possible. Luckily, you don't need to be a grammar tyrant - that's what spell-checkers are for! But prepare yourself for brutal editing and continuous feedback from editors, clients and peers. Not every piece will be a masterpiece and adjustments, edits or re-writes are a given. Instead of getting discouraged, use this experience to learn and thicken your skin!
Predictably Clickable Headlines
Personally, I decide whether or not I will read a piece right after I read the title and my brain has categorised this phrase as ‘catchy’ or ‘uninteresting’. I might miss out on a good piece, but if the title hasn't enticed me enough, that instinctively lowers my expectations of the content ahead.
According to Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 people read the headline, but only 2 out of 10 read the rest. David Ogilvy, known as 'The Father Of Advertising', believed that a weak headline was a 90% waste of the marketing budget.
Creating powerful headlines is an art which takes research, practise and analysis of your particular readership. Captivating headlines are unique, creative, platform customised and provide a concise overview of the content.
Running the business
Being a freelance copywriter means actually running your business. You need to undertake the not-so-glamorous tasks of planning your workload regarding deadlines, issuing invoices, doing taxes, searching for new clients and paying your Internet bills so that you can keep working!
Success requires a vast arsenal of copywriter skills such as being a fast learner, committed researcher, thorough editor and agile chameleon, able to switch from one client's branding voice to another. Some you can cultivate over time, but others you need from the get-go.
As Anik Singal writes for Lurn: “The written word draws people in. It opens up their imagination. It brings out emotion. It makes it possible for the consumer to relate to the salesperson. And that’s what it’s all about —relating.”