3 Crucial Copywriting Tips to Stand Out in a Crowded Field

Editor

If I had a copywriting tips guide to follow when I landed my first job, it would have saved me a lot of suffering.

(Mum, dad . . . please look away now.) I’m afraid to say it, but my expensive university education and a degree in English didn’t prepare me to write words that sell.

When I finished school in 2001, I was lucky enough to land a copywriting job at a huge media company. And to be perfectly honest, I thought I’d find the job pretty straightforward.

But it wasn’t. Making the transition from writing academic papers to crafting commercial copy was really hard.

The truth: I used to be quite a horrible copywriter. And I don’t mind admitting it now.

I had to learn to write differently. I studied pro writers, copywriting tips, and the best ad copy. I tested and evaluated copywriting strategies to see what worked and what didn’t. I learned how to write words that sell.

Now, I’m keen on helping others make a living writing. These three copywriting tips will help you create better content.

Table of Contents 

3 Copywriting Tips to Craft Words That Sell

illustration of man with large pencil - copywriting tips

How did I go from writing about Shakespeare, the Victorian era, and Medieval literature to writing copy for well-known UK brands like Sky, Three, and Vodafone? I had plenty of bang-my-head-against-the-wall days trying to figure it out.

Fortunately, copywriting is a skill you can learn. And you don’t have to do it the hard way, like I did. These copywriting tips will help you.

Copywriting Tip #1: Use Conversational Language

Once upon a time, I read Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

Now, if it’s writing advice you’re after, then this book is worth its weight in gold. Who better to turn to, than the king of the page-turners? (See what I did there?!)

I’ve always remembered King’s advice on vocabulary.

Many experts tell aspiring writers to “stick to what you know.” But King takes this a step further. He stresses the need to use the actual words we’d normally express in our everyday lives.

In other words, write what you know in the way that you speak. Or to say this another way, use a conversational style to write copy. Take a look at the best marketing campaigns today, and you’ll see lots of punchy, conversational language used to build brand awareness and generate sales.

I found King’s advice refreshing and comforting. Forced, stilted copywriting doesn’t work. But that’s what happened when I tried to apply all the formal rules of academic writing at my new job. This type of conformity doesn’t suit copywriting in the business world. Quite simply, conformity doesn’t always deliver results.

Essentially, the most powerful words aren’t the ones that get readers to reach for a dictionary. They’re the ones that are persuasive, impactful, and influential. That’s copywriting. Impressionable, expressive copy only comes through having the freedom to be yourself, take some chances, and be willing to make mistakes.


Though our current Freelance Writers Den bootcamp—all about improving your copywriting—is almost over, when you join the Den, you’ll get access to that course, as well as hundreds of hours of other trainings we’ve created over the years. Get on the waitlist today! 

 
article writing template
 


Copywriting Tip #2: Make a Good First Impression

Perhaps the earliest lesson I learned about copywriting in the business world is how the appearance of words plays a huge part in how effective they are.

Consider typography, for instance. Fonts are essentially clothes for your words. If you were heading out for an important meeting or a nerve-wracking first date, you’d consider what you were wearing.

After all, first impressions are important.

The same goes for your words, no matter what they need to achieve. You can review and improve your copywriting by asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • Does your work look text-heavy and intimidating, featuring long paragraphs and heady words?
  • Do you space out your sentences and allow for a fast, pleasurable read?
  • Do you vary the pace of your writing, mixing up longer and shorter sentences?
  • Do you use headings (and subheadings) in a way that keeps your readers reading?

Information overload is all around us. Serve up just about any piece of content these days, and people will be looking for a reason to bail out and do something else. You know your words have to work hard. Give them the chance to succeed and use copywriting strategies like shorter sentences, headings and subheads, bullet points, and questions to stimulate thought and engagement.

Copywriting Tip #3: Know Your Target Audience

The most successful businesses use copywriting to manipulate us in one way or another.

From well-positioned sweets at the grocery store check-out to the timely coupon in the mail, we may not even notice what they’re doing half the time.

While we’re all different, the human brain is actually pretty predictable. This really highlights the importance of copywriting.

No matter what objective your words are trying to achieve, understand your target audience. Get to know what makes them tick. What do they like? What sort of language do they use? Take the time to really understand your client and their audience, and your copywriting can make a big impact.

Master these copywriting tips, and you’ll scoop up more client work. The world of copywriting has changed quite a bit since the days of direct response, long-form sales letters and there’s a greater demand than ever before. Take some time to learn this new landscape, and you’ll reap the rewards.

Need help improving your copywriting skills? Let’s discuss in the comments.


Matt Press has been a copywriter for major UK brands including Sky, Three, and Vodafone. He’s on a mission to help small businesses with their marketing strategies.

Save

Save

48 Comments

  1. Renee Richard

    I have had a multitude of careers and led an amazing life, it is now time to write. Thanks for your encouragement.

    Reply
  2. Tricia Peck

    Well thought out, easy read. I didn’t want to read this right now but felt I needed to. It was short and to the point and held my attention. The tips were relevant and easily understood so that they will be easier to put into practice.

    Reply
  3. Sarah

    Oh gosh, this comes at the right moment. I did a BA in journalism and then a MA in a PR/Marketing related topic. I always thought that I was a good or at least not bad writer (due to compliments from my teachers). Fast-forward, now working as a communication intern for a charity (1st job I ever had), I find that my writing skills are not quite up to par. Compared to my boss, I feel like my writing lacks maturity and fluency. I recently bought quite a few books about copywriting and writing in general. But, I would like to have advices from an expert as I really want to become a copywriter and plan on trying to do an internship in this field when I finish the one I’m currently doing. Carole (or any other writer around), you’re an amazing writer, how did you become that good? What tips would you give to a newbie who wants to improve? How did you manage to become so skilled?

    By the way, my first language is not actually English but French. However, I did my BA and MA in England and have been living in this country for a while.

    Thank you so much for this post!

    Reply
    • Carol Tice

      Oh, nobody wants to learn to write the way I did, which was filing 3-4 stories a week for 12 years as a staff writer. 😉

      As far as the business writing side, I learned totally on the job. I listen, ask a lot of questions, study successful pieces, and keep improving. I also had my own business here to practice copywriting on, and learn from my mistakes.

    • Sarah H

      Thanks for answering! Practice makes it perfect, I guess, right? And also studying how professionals do it.

    • Matt

      Hey Sarah, If French is your first language, then you’re not going to have any problems at all in becoming a successful copywriter. Very impressive. In a way, copywriting isn’t about being a great writer. Yeah, you need to be able to spell and have a decent grasp of grammar, but it’s more about adaptability.

      Research skills are a must. As is a degree of flexibility, as no two businesses (or projects) are the same. Start out at the bottom, learn on the job, measure your results and understand the value of what you’re doing.

      More than happy to help you (or anyone) on your journey. Feel free to mail me through my website any time.

    • Sarah H

      Thanks for answering! Yes, research is definitely important. I’m seeing that sometimes some of the mistakes I made could have been avoided if I had asked more questions or done better research. It’s a Learning process I suppose.

    • Firth McQuilliam

      As you can see from my babbling elsewhere in this thread, Sarah, I’m a newcomer myself to big-league copywriting! I know how you feel. Or at least as much as anyone can ever understand the feelings of another person. I, too, want maturity and power in my writing. ^^;

      As a native speaker of the wacky and wonderful English language and a top-rated writer at … well, a major content broker with a reputation for strictness over proper punctuation and other technical aspects, I’ve encountered hundreds of writers wanting to know the secret to success.

      *I’m* no Wonderful Wizard of Writing Well, but the obvious and inevitable secret to writing fluidly and idiomatically in the English language is to read, read, and then read some more. The innumerable oddities of the language of Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson and Stephen King require repeated exposure to sink into your soul. ^_^

      Mind you, you should read widely. Trending topics at major news websites, outstanding industry websites about writing for profit like Carol Tice’s own portal to power, and light fiction on heroines who battle dragons all count!

      If you’re planning on writing mostly for Commonwealth clients, then focus on British English. If you’re aiming at the huge United States market, then focus on American English and use your continuing daily exposure to British English to keep up on the differences between the two.

      Truth to tell, you’re probably better off focusing on mastering idiomatic American English because it’s so popular with global clients such as travel magazines, corporate websites and so forth. Am I right about that, Ms. Carol Tice? You’re the expert! :^)

      (BTW, it’s “advice” and not “advices.” Also, it’s “Carol” and not “Carole.” Yes, yes, I know, but editors and clients care about details like that. Spelling people’s names right wins friends and influences people, and Google is your friend!)

    • Carol Tice

      I was doing my best to let ‘advices’ go, but that is actually one of the top ‘tells’ I see that someone is a non-native English speaker, in guest-post pitches I get! Have a post planned on all of those…

    • Sarah H

      I would love to read a post about this topic. It would be very helpful.

    • Sarah H

      Thank you for your for replying to my post and giving me some advice. I did notice afterward that I had spelled Carol’s name wrong. But, you’re absolutly right, editors and clients do care about détails like that. Thanks.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Related Posts

A Look Inside Den 2x Success Stories

The Freelance Writers Den is the online community where freelance writers learn how to grow their income -- fast. Inside the community, there are two levels: The Freelance Writers Den is for freelancers who are just getting started, learning the basics, and giving...