No one wants to be bad at their job, and most of us actually want to be better than we currently are. When you work in a creative field like copywriting, you have to balance the art and the skill. There’s a lot of technical knowledge that goes into copywriting: grammar and familiarity with the topic are the two most important factors.
While you might have a solid understanding of the basics, it’s never a bad idea to brush up on the finer points. Copywriting is more than just technical knowledge, after all. You need to know how to:
- Develop a strategy
- Use language to your advantage
- Write for your audience
How to Develop a Strategy
Developing a strategy for your piece takes time and concentration. If it’s a short piece, you might not spend that much time thinking about it how to accomplish your goal, you’re limited, so it’s your first priority.
If you’re writing a longer piece, you might get sidetracked while you’re writing. This is why it’s so important that you define your strategy, you know what the purpose of the piece is, and exactly how you’re going to accomplish it.
You can write a short outline (this is especially useful for long-form pieces) or you can jot some notes down on paper or in your preferred word processor. Whatever you decide your strategy is (making a joke every two paragraphs to keep readers entertained, informing readers of a new statistic every paragraph to educate, etc.) make sure you stick to it.
How to Use Language To Your Advantage
We just finished discussing the importance of a strategy, of making sure each paragraph has a purpose. This applies to your language, on the word level, too.
Language is a mighty tool to be wielded, and when you don’t have a firm grasp on it, you end up looking incompetent, which is the last thing you want.
Never use a word when you’re unsure of its meaning. Look it up! On the subject of looking words up, if you find yourself being repetitive, then it’s time to take out the thesaurus (or go to a thesaurus website) and look up synonyms to give your writing variety.
While you should be adding in synonyms, you should be taking out cliches and trite expressions. When you rely on expressions that everyone has heard a million times, your writing stagnates and actually drives readers away. Choose your words carefully, and avoid cliches unless it’s absolutely necessary or appropriate to use one.
Each word has power and will impact the reader’s perception of your content. You want to be absolutely certain you’re using that power to your advantage.
How to Write for Your Audience
Of all our tips, this is the most important: write for your audience. You cannot overestimate the power of putting yourself in the shoes of your reader, and then crafting content that educates them or entertains them from their perspective. It’s extremely important that you ask yourself the following questions:
What does the reader need from this article?
How can I make the reading experience enjoyable for my audience?
How can I make my writing stick in the reader’s mind?
If you ask yourself these questions and you know the answers before you write the article, then you’re on the right track. Once you’re finished with the article, re-read it, and ask yourself the questions again, focusing on if you addressed each of the ideas. If you can clearly answer them, then you’ve accomplished your goal!
When you’re writing for your audience, remember that context is key. Without it, you’re fishing in an empty pond – you’re writing something, hoping to get bites (or clicks) but no one’s actually reading your content. If you’re writing an article for new mothers but putting a political spin on it, because you are currently interested in politics, then you’re putting yourself above your audience. That’s not your job. Your job is to provide quality content that’s enjoyable and serves a purpose.
The first step to providing quality content is making sure your information is accurate. Do your research and only include information from trustworthy sources.
The second step is to write using language that’s to your advantage, which we already covered. Here’s the secret: language that’s to your advantage is also, inherently, to your reader’s advantage. It’s in your interest to write clear content that keeps your audience reading. So, make sure you avoid cliches and pay attention to your grammar.
The third step is to format your writing for the web. This means using plenty of headers and short paragraphs.
To improve your copywriting skills, you should first check and make sure that you’ve covered the basics. Then, move on to working on improving your use of language and crafting content that will stick in the minds of readers for a long time to come. Writing excellent copy is a fulfilling experience, and the more you write, the more you’ll improve!