Author and journalist Mary Heaton Vorse said it best…
“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”
And when I first started writing copy for my business, I took a few copywriting courses and read some books on persuasive writing.
While they did help, it was only after I met my husband, Murray, a master copywriter, that things really took off (read this fun story about how Murray used his copywriting skills to court me)…
And “learning how to write killer copy” became a major focus (and I spent and still spend A LOT of time with my butt in the chair 🙂
Because what I’ve learned over the years is that the words on your sales pages, emails and website have the power to make or break your business.
And that writing copy isn’t something you can master with just a few courses and books… you have to work at it every single day.
That’s why I’m sharing THE 6 tips that have greatly moved the needle for my business… so you can start — or continue — honing your copywriting craft AND see gains in your business too.
Copy vs Content
Now before we dive into writing copy that sells, there’s a critical distinction you need to understand:
Writing copy is different from writing content (spoiler alert, it’s a lot harder).
You use content to educate, entertain or inform (like this blog post), while you use copy to influence, impact and persuade.
And it’s so much harder to persuade than it is to simply inform.
That’s why It usually takes me at least twice as long to write marketing copy as it does to write the content for a training because this is a deep skillset that takes time and practice to develop.
So don’t put any pressure on yourself to master writing copy in just a few weeks.
It’s just not possible because copywriting is a lifetime pursuit… but you can improve day after day, month after month, year after year.
Start Marketing at a Deeper Level
If you only take away one thing from this post, make it this: To write copy that sells, you need to discard the traditional definition of marketing and go much deeper.
Marketing at a deeper level is the process of helping someone create the mindset, beliefs and conditions to make a change in their life that they want but can’t attain on their own.
It’s the necessary first step to influence and impact.
And to do that, you have to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. You have to understand WHY and HOW people buy.
And once you get this, you’ll have more power than you realize. As long as you NEVER lose focus on the buyer.
When I use words like power and influence, I’m not talking about evil, manipulative juju.
Instead, I’m talking about supporting people to make a choice that aligns with their deepest aspirations and desires.
Because as Ray Edwards said: “Marketing isn’t something you do to people, it’s something you do FOR them.”
And if every business focused on the buyer and what they need — instead of focusing on their product — sales would increase across the board.
Which leads me to the #1 mistake people make when writing copy…
Whatever their subject, topic, niche or message, people ASSUME visitors will naturally see the value and want to work with them.
Because they’re in love with their work and fascinated by their topic, they assume that everyone else will be as well.
Your perception IS your reality.
For example — Let’s say my Mission is to help the world by giving poor children ukuleles to wear on their feet (OBVIOUSLY a vital cause 🙂 But the shocking and sad fact is that a cause this important isn’t going to sell itself.
No matter your message for the world, you need to understand that NOBODY will instantly “get it” and take the right action if you haven’t phrased it in words they can understand.
And if you want to keep people on your web pages for longer than a few seconds and move them to take action, you need to ditch the type of uppity writing you learned in school and follow these 6 pro copywriting tips that’ll improve your online style.
6 Pro Tips to Write Copy That Sells
Tip #1: Use fewer, smaller and simpler words.
Avoid the temptation to use an obscure word when a simpler one will do. Obscure words will distract your readers, and the MORE complex the idea, the more important it is to find a simple way to convey it.
In fact, many copywriters will tell you that the best-performing copy is always written with a 5th-grade vocabulary. So keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to pull out one of your fancy 10 cent words. You can use an online tool like Hemingway Editor to quickly check the readability level of your writing.
Tip #2: Beware of adjectives.
Adjectives poison your message and will set off your visitors’ hype detectors faster than a HUGE SALE with the LOWEST PRICES EVER.
Use a stronger noun if it means you can leave out an adjective. A crisis is always better than a severe problem.
Tip #3: Use “power words.”
Words like — Urgent, Elite, Ingenious, Powerful, Jumpstart, Quickly, Limited, Discover, Engage — inspire excitement, enthusiasm and action.
No one reads a good power word without having their heart beat a little faster or their mind explode with old memories. Or at least some tiny part of their system taking note.
Take the word “busted.” You don’t read or hear that word without having a visceral reaction to it. Everyone’s been busted doing something embarrassing at some point and felt humiliated. Whoa! There’s another one. Humiliated.
So when you write headlines or email subject lines, always try to include a power word where possible.
Tip #4: Limit your sentences and paragraphs to one simple point.
And keep those paragraphs short. And in email, definitely limit your paragraphs to just one sentence. Many times I even write sentences that consist of a single word.
One-word sentences help because your audience simply doesn’t have the time to read big chunks of text anymore.
And mixing up the density of your writing keeps it attractive to the eye.
So try combining short one-sentence paragraphs with longer sentences.
Make it easy to scan through and keep your readers’ eyes moving down the page.
Point by point.
This gives them the sense that they’re making progress. It keeps them engaged and understanding what you’re talking about… and it sets them up to WIN.
And writing like this oftentimes isn’t grammatically correct, but if it gets the point across — then who cares?
Everything you learned in school about proper grammar and writing will NOT help you sell your products…
And often, the best web copy is not grammatically correct.
There, I said it 🙂
Tip #5: Be conversational, be yourself and tell stories.
People want to hear from a real person with a real personality. If you’re dry or dull, no one will pay attention to you. If you’re too general or too formal, we’re not going to connect with your humanity.
Many people tend to lose their personality when talking about their business. They feel like they have to be credible or professional, so they stop being themselves…
And because they sound like everyone else, they’re lost in the noise of almost 2 billion websites.
I show my personality and share stories in just about every email, blog post and video. That’s why we get such huge engagement right here on our blog and comments like the above coming pouring in.
Tip #6. Finally, end everything you write with a strong, compelling Call to Action.
ALWAYS, without fail, let people know exactly WHAT to do next or how to take action.
This is the most overlooked part of writing for the web.
Don’t assume that your reader will just figure out what to do next when they get to the end of your email or the end of your page.
Direct them to the next action.
It can be as simple as a link that says:
Or something as specific as:
“LEAVE YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS FOR INSTANT ACCESS TO THIS SPECIAL REPORT”
There you have it… 6 pro tips to up your copy game!
Practice just these 6 tips alone, and you’ll notice immediate boosts in engagement, interest and excitement from your prospects.
You’ll see more survey responses, email opens, longer website visits, and ultimately more signups and more sales for your products.
So commit to honing your copywriting craft right now and make it happen!
Remember, don’t get discouraged, because writing copy is a lifetime pursuit… make one small gain at a time.
What’s a copywriting practice that’s gotten you real business results? Let me know in a comment below… I’d love to read your tip and maybe add it to my own copy arsenal 🙂