#24 - Simple ways to INSTANTLY improve your copywriting skills
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How can you improve your copywriting skills? And what are some ways that you can improve them where
you see immediate payoff? That's what I'm going to get into today. Guys, I'm Christine I'm a freelance copywriter and I teach other freelance copywriters how to use LinkedIn to land high paying clients and build their full time freelance business so that they don't have to work their nine to five or working for a terrible boss. Anyway, let's go let's get into how we can improve your copywriting skills. Step one is always start with the end in mind, do your research first. So in copywriting, there is no such thing as writer's block. There's no such thing as staring at a blank screen. It just doesn't need to happen. Because copywriting is a formulaic form of writing. It's not poetry, it's not fiction. You're not searching for inspiration. It is starting with a problem with a goal and doing research on it and formulating either a post or an email or anything like that. So a lot of people talk about copywriting formulas, right? I don't write a ton of ads or very direct response type copywriting, so I never bothered so much with the formula, but the heart of every formula is mostly going to be just starting with the customers problem. You have to know your audience so you can understand what their problem is and what they're trying to solve. My writing process, it usually begins just by like copying and pasting ideas onto a Google Doc and letting my ideas formulate that way. And the reason I copy and paste is because I'm plagiarizing, it's actually words that I'll never wind up even using. Of course, you have to write your own original work. But if I have an outline, and I copy and paste a bunch of stuff, I'm just not staring at a blank screen, which makes things so much easier. And when you have a bunch of ideas already on paper, the writing part becomes so much more easy, and your ideas become organized. So every piece of writing I do, it starts with an outline, and that starts with research. So that's number one. Start your writing process with research. A lot of people jump right into the writing process. I know when I was a beginner I definitely did this. I just wanted to start writing and doing research and taking a step back and doing preparation. I was like too anxious for that. So pause and do your research, create an outline, first, copy and paste some ideas, get a really, really rough draft a scrap document, get some notes going and that's going to help your writing become so much more organized and your writing process will become so much easier. So that brings me to step number two, we're talking about problems right knowing what problem you're trying to solve and why you're writing the piece to begin with. Well, that requires you to know your audience. So you should never agree to write copy unless the client gives you a target persona. That is the number one most important piece of information you need to find out from your client is who is the audience for this product? Who is the audience for this specific email, the more thoroughly you understand a target persona, which basically means the person you're writing to, your writing is going to be a lot more effective. It's going to be very targeted. So never start writing until you write with a person in mind a person that you are speaking to, and that will make your writing way more effective.
Now, step number three is to write how you speak. So regardless of your niche, if you are writing for the Internet, you're going to need to write in a very understandable way and you're actually going to have to write a seventh or eighth grade level. When it comes to copywriting and content. Writing simple is always better. You want to avoid using big words and or maybe trying to sound sophisticated and impress people with big words. There's this saying in sales and marketing if you confuse you lose, so remember that writing is especially you know copywriting and content writing it's meant to persuade and gain trust. It's not meant to position you higher and not to impress. It's to gent Like genuinely be able to communicate and connect with them. And most marketers are really focused right now on becoming an authority in their industry. And while that's a worthwhile cause, it's definitely the huge driver behind content marketing. Don't let being an authority confuse you into thinking that you need to write in a complicated way or that you need to sound really smart. That is not the goal. Being an authority just means that you can prove that you have a lot of information, a lot of knowledge on a topic, and that you can communicate it really succinctly and clearly and it's really hard to wrap your mind around that idea because we're so used to I guess professors being authorities and I know for me as an English major, writing very academic style papers and reading very dense pieces of work very complicated where you're, you know, I'm having to look up every third word and can barely understand this academic solid writing that is not how we write for the internet. That is not how we persuade. So in general, people relate to people who speak like they do. So if you want to connect with an audience, you have to simplify your language, but you also have to try to adopt the language and tones you can write the way these people speak. So finding creative ways to eavesdrop on your target audience and really learn the way that they speak whether that's going to forums going on Facebook like find ways that you can digitally eavesdrop and see what words do they use, and what is their tone? Do they use a lot of exclamation points in certain punctuation? Do they use certain slang? Do they use certain abbreviations when you can study the target persona or the person that you are writing to your audience? This in depth understanding really allows you to connect with them through your writing and your writing will improve and be super effective. Number four, is to be as succinct as possible. Now, there's this saying in fiction writing, and I used to take fiction writing courses. This was during the time period when I was in sales and miserable and hating my life and I knew I wanted to be a writer. So I was trying to do as many like writing related things outside of work that I could and I took a fiction writing class I took actually two of them. In New York City. It was so much fun. I we had a writing group. But there was a quote that the instructor would always say, which is Kill your darlings and
it's funny because I thought Stephen King said this that was his phrase, but evidently it was William Faulkner. So I don't know who this quote can be really attributed to. But just remember, Kill your darlings. That means that you can be or you should be really ruthless when you edit. And I know we can get attached to our words and our writing and say, Oh, I just love that sentence or I love that joke. I love that little tagline but you got to be ruthless. You got to cut out as much as possible. Because with copywriting you want your writing to be succinct. Sentences tend to be choppier. It's a matter of getting the point across and as little time as possible. Because what we're writing and what we're trying to do is grab the attention and obviously you know, we're dealing with short attention spans as it is so in digital copywriting or digital advertising marketing, we call it stop the scroll right like it's there's so much going on online. We're being bombarded so you need to get your message across, especially the first sentence or the headline, whatever the attention grabber is needs to be very written very simply, and it needs to be written very succinctly. And that brings me right to tip number five, which is using active voice instead of passive voice now I'm going to save you the grammar lecture. I hate grammar I'm not the best if it was not for these AI tools like Grammarly if it were not for Google where I could constantly look up grammar rules, I would be screwed as a writer I just suck at grammar. I actually was on track my freshman year of college to do this five year publishing program. I would graduate with a master's in publishing in five years and they start everyone off with a like grammar course and we were reading grammar out of a book it was called like grammar girl. And I see other writers talking about this book. If you are the type of person that can read a book on commas and stuff. Reach out to me because maybe I'll interview you because that is so the opposite of me. You could probably share some really interesting insights on that. It's just my absolute nightmare, which is I guess weird as a writer, but it just is what it is. Other side note when I was an ESL instructor which ESL stands for English as a second language I used to teach adults my primary primarily from Asia but I had some Latin people that is mostly Japanese and Korean people. So I was teaching them English as a second language. I don't speak anything but English and to be an ESL instructor. That's all you need to know like English like if English is your first language, you can teach ESL, you don't need to know your students language. And it was so funny when it came down to me teaching these grammar lessons. I was horrible. And my students like even the ones that really had a hard time speaking English. They knew the grammar rules so much better than me. It was so embarrassing, but in general, that's kind of how it works with the English language is that you can be really proficient in reading and writing and the grammar rules you take them for granted you completely forget how you even learned grammar rules because they become second nature. So anyway, I'm getting off topic. I just want to exemplify that. Using active voice versus passive voice is really important. And this isn't some lengthy grammar lesson. What this really means is that you're using a lot of ing words instead of Edie root meaning like you're not writing any past tense words. So let me give you an example. This is a pass a passive voice sentence. Because of the weather I'm forced to stay inside, right like that word forced has the E d at the end. So that's passive. Now this is the active voice. The weather is forcing me to stay inside so right instead of forced with an ED I'm saying forcing
me to stay inside alright guys, imagine me teaching this stuff is just straight embarrassing, but what I'm really concerned with here and the reason I bring this up is that it's a readability thing. It just is more complex. It takes the brain a little bit more calories to process. Passive voice and we really want this writing to be very sustained, succinct and action oriented and very easy to read. And that is achieved through writing in the passive voice. So to remember that just remember that we always want to say ing words running, swimming. Cooking by the way, just take advantage of software and AI tools like Grammarly because they will automatically point out anytime you write in past tense and you have the ability to correct the sentence. So yay, thank God for robots. Okay, number six is to get feedback. Now one of the most common questions I get is like hey, how do I learn copywriting? How do I get into this? This is specifically for copywriters who are just starting out they always ask that and I always say like, Hey, I never learned copywriting I genuinely just wrote a blog post and I created my own little portfolio that was filled with three blog posts. Most people might not know how to write copy necessarily, but we pretty much all now know how to write a high school level essay and to me, blogs and articles are just like high school essays. They have a title, an introduction, a middle and a conclusion. You just have to really learn SEO to make it a blog post right we all know this basic form of writing already. So definitely start there but did I read any books on copywriting before I created that portfolio and started pitching clients? No, I did not. I didn't. I would say my advantage was that I had sales experience and I understood a basic understanding of marketing I understood what lead generation was I understood how a company makes revenue at understood how sales and marketing departments work together because I was a sales rep right so that's probably why I didn't need to read anything about copywriting to understand what the goal was. But the Getting back to the feedback portion. So the reason why it's a waste of time to try to sit there and practice copywriting is that copywriting requires a lot of trial and error. A lot of feedback it requires rewrites are requires approval, and from a marketing perspective and the people who are hiring you it requires a B testing, meaning that one subject line on email can totally bomb and you need to take that information and switch up the subject line. It's it's trial and error for everyone. So getting it right on the first try is kind of a waste of time. It's really not like this endeavor that's even possible. You definitely need rewrites and feedback and criticism. So that's why guys in terms of like, Hey, make sure you're getting feedback on your writing. My advice, just take action and start pitching clients. As soon as you possibly can create your own writing samples. Like I said, blogs are the easiest and start pitching on the clients because the sooner you can get feedback on your writing, the sooner you can start to improve. And that's really the only way to improve. Other than doing your research on that target audience that you're writing for. The best writing could potentially not look like great writing but if it connects with the audience, it has achieved its goal. So it's even critical to get feedback from somebody that is in your industry who can critique your work beyond just hey, here's a correction of your grammar. Like for me if a SAS writer or a technology writer gave me a blog who's to edit I wouldn't know I would have so much insight beyond like hey, just, you know, hear you know, check check this grammar thing like a make this shorter. No, I can say hey, in this industry, you know, you want to make sure that you really explain this you want to make sure this you want to make sure that so whoever's giving you feedback needs to have knowledge of your industry too. So the only person that can do that guys is clients. Okay, so that is my little wrap up
on how to really improve your writing your copywriting skills and these are very easy to implement and you can start seeing results really quickly. You want to definitely start with research. You want to start by knowing your audience. You want to write in a conversational tone, make sure that you are writing the way you speak or your audience speaks. You want to chop chop, edit, be savage, be very ruthless when you edit Kill your darlings. be succinct. You want to write in the active voice instead of passive voice that really helps with readability and keeps you know the tone of the article moving very quickly. It's very accessible. And then finally, get feedback from your clients. And if you want to learn how to land clients, go to pay copier comm and download my LinkedIn guide. It's a LinkedIn guide for freelancer. It's how you can get on this free platform and start cold pitching clients. You might have heard of cold email or letters of introduction, loi, it's just a matter of proactively reaching out to clients and introducing yourself. My opinion is that LinkedIn is the best platform to be doing this on but you have to understand how to use it as a freelancer because there's so many different ways and reasons and industries and professionals. They're all using LinkedIn a certain way. But I use LinkedIn to transition out of my nine to five to full time freelance even though I had no writing experience. So go to pay copywriter.com. It's under the free download section. It's my LinkedIn guide.