How to get into copywriting

How to get into copywriting
Have you tried to learn copywriting by reading blog posts?

And does it seem hard to apply the tips? As if your knowledge is a little disjointed?

Teaching yourself copywriting can feel like a difficult task.

But it doesn’t need to be so hard, if you apply a solid system. A good learning system stretches beyond writing techniques. You also need to understand the structure of good copy, how to streamline your writing process, and learn to evaluate your own writing.

In this article, I reveal the 5-step system I used to teach myself copywriting. This system works whether you want to become a copywriter or if you’re a coach or entrepreneur wanting to write better copy for your own business.

Want to know more?

What is copywriting?

Blog writing is different from copywriting. In a blog post, your purpose is to educate a reader and encourage him to implement your advice. This is how you build your authority as a blogger, and how readers come to trust you.

Step #1. Learn to listen

Do you need to turn yourself into an elegant wordsmith?

A few poetic techniques won’t hurt your sales copy. Apple’s copywriters for instance, know how to use rhythm and rhyme to create persuasive copy.

But good copywriting starts with listening to your clients and stealing their words.

Yes, that’s it. Stealing.

When you understand what potential clients are struggling with, when you hear them talking about their fears and dreams, when you appreciate how you can solve their problems, then you’re halfway to writing good copy.

How to learn to listen (and steal):

One way to listen is to mine reviews, forum questions and blog comments for copywriting input. Joanne Wiebe, copywriter extraordinaire, explains here how she finds compelling sales messages in Amazon reviews.

My favorite way to understand (potential) clients is to talk to them directly. You often learn more from a few in-depth conversations than from a big survey. When you have an opportunity to talk, ask clients these questions:

  • Why did (or would) they hire you?
  • Why did (or do) they hesitate to hire you?
  • What did (or do) they expect to achieve when they hired you?
  • And how did you deliver on their expectations?
  • What was their experience with your service like?
  • What specifically was most valuable?
  • How has your service had an impact on their business or their life?

Pay attention to the fears and problems clients mention, and notice their aims, dreams, and unfulfilled desires. Make a note of the phrases they use so your copy reflects what they’re thinking in their words, so they feel understood.

Step #2. Understand the basic copywriting rules

What is good copy?

When is copy persuasive and when does it fail to persuade?

By listening to clients and stealing their words, you learn, for instance, which features and which benefits appeal to them.

But to turn your client’s words into persuasive copy, you need to understand the copywriting rules, too.

The rules help you create the right balance of features and benefits. The rules show you how good copy provides both substance (specific features) and emotional appeal (benefits).

The basic copywriting rules include:

  • Match features with benefits
  • Be specific to boost credibility
  • Use proof (such as testimonials) to get people to believe you
  • Overcome objections
  • Nudge people to take action
  • Be bossy in your call to action

The rules guide you, and help you evaluate your own writing.

Further reading on copywriting techniques:

Useful books:
Tested Advertising Methods, by John Caples
The Adweek Copywriting Handbook, by Joseph Sugarman
Ca$hvertising, by Drew Eric Whitman
How to Write Sales Letters That Sell, by Drayton Bird

Step #3. Study the masters

Want to know how to structure your copy?

Studying the masters will help you understand how all copywriting elements fit together.

For instance, when you study a sales page pay attention to:

  • What is the purpose of this page? What action should the reader take? Is that action clear?
  • What arguments are provided for taking that action?
  • How are features and benefits communicated?
  • How does the page build credibility and trust? Why do you believe the content?
  • How is the information arranged? Is the most important information communicated first? And the least important information last?

When you study the copy from experienced writers, you learn to detect the patterns of persuasive writing, and it becomes easier to structure your own copy.

Further reading on master copywriters:

Step #4. Streamline your copywriting process

If you want to write persuasive copy fast, then a proven process is a must.

Without a process, copywriting can become a mess.

First, collect all your persuasive arguments—list features and benefits, potential objections (and how to counter them), and proof that can help you establish your credibility. You collect this material by listening to (potential) customers (see step #1).

Secondly, arrange all your persuasive arguments in a logical order—the most important arguments come first. Once you’ve created order, writing a first draft becomes relatively straightforward.

Thirdly, revise and edit your copy to cut flabby phrases and make your sentences smooth, and, if required, optimize your copy for search engines.

A smooth copywriting process not only helps you write faster, it also helps ensure your copy is complete and persuasive.

Further reading on the copywriting process:

Step #5. Practice and evaluate

This is probably the trickiest part of learning to write copy by yourself.

The quickest way to learn copywriting is to work with someone who can tell you what you’re doing wrong.

But if you can’t hire a coach, then you can learn how to evaluate your own writing. This is where your swipe file comes in handy because you can compare your own writing with the copywriting examples you admire.

But what do you look for?

Focus on one specific aspect of your writing at a time. For instance, underline all your features and benefits, and compare them with the features and benefits in your swipe file examples. Or, only review how credibility is established.

Practice becomes easier when you focus on one aspect at a time.

Further reading

How to learn copywriting

The 5-step system, as outlined above, helped me go from an unknown marketer at a struggling company to a $250/hr copywriter, and then onwards to teaching sell-out copywriting courses.

And I sell these courses with only a few simple sales emails. No complicated sales funnel or sleazy tricks required. Just sound copywriting.

To write copy for your own business, you don’t need to turn yourself into a super sales expert. You don’t need to become a copywriting pro.

Have you always dreamed of working for yourself? Would you like to earn money from freelance copywriting? Many people feel that they cannot follow the career path they want because they do not have the correct experience. However, the only way to enter your chosen field, and build that experience, is to get started.

“If everyone waited to become an expert before starting, no one would become an expert” (CEO and author Richie Norton)

Becoming a freelance writer without experience is possible. However, you will need a few key skills to get started, including a great grasp of spelling and grammar, and an ability to construct interesting, engaging pieces of work. You don’t need formal or professional experience, but it does help if you have some personal experience of writing.

What skills are essential for a freelance copywriter?

How to get into copywriting

As we have already mentioned, great spelling and grammar skills are absolutely essential for a freelance copywriter. If you deliver work to your clients that contains mistakes and errors, they are unlikely to return for more. Freelance copywriters also need a good grasp of time. You will have to structure your own research and writing times in order to meet your clients’ deadlines, so great time management is crucial.

It also helps if you have some experience of writing. This needn’t be formal, professional experience. Do you write a blog on a regular basis? Have you written content for a friend’s business, or for a volunteer project? Share links to your work and showcase your skills. If you do not have links to share right now, why not set up a blog and start demonstrating your writing abilities? Pick a topic close to your heart, be creative, and start publishing examples of the work you could do for your clients.

Is a degree or previous experience necessary?

Every client is different, and every writing gig differs. Some clients may be fixed on hiring writers with a specific degree or qualification, while others may want to see examples of your work in a similar field before they will hire you.

Many freelance copywriters have studied English language, literature or journalism. Others get into the role through marketing and business degrees. Politics and law also lend themselves to the writing trade. However, absolutely any degree or other qualification can assist you with copywriting. If you studied sport, music, art or history, look for writing gigs that can make use of your specialist knowledge.

If you do not have a formal education, you can still become a first-class copywriter. The lack of a degree should be no barrier. Many clients are more interested in finding somebody with a flair for writing, an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter, and a strong portfolio of writing examples.

Becoming a freelance copywriter with no experience

If you are interested in finding work as a freelance copywriter, we have put together some helpful tips which should show you how to become a freelance copywriter without experience.

Join a freelance writing agency

How to get into copywritingA digital copywriting agency like Copify is a great place to start your freelancing journey. You can sign up online today, and the joining process is simple and quick. You will need to provide a sample of writing for assessment, and once approved you can start taking orders immediately.

Agencies are great for new writers because they allow you to build that experience and grow your reputation as a writer. You also have access to support services, and you are guaranteed payment for your work. New freelancers often find that invoicing clients and chasing unpaid bills is one of the most stressful and time-consuming parts of their business. An agency takes that stress away – and ensures you get a fair price for your work.

Reach out to potential clients

You can also approach the clients you would like to write for, and offer them your work. Pitching work to publications and companies can be scary at first, but with a little practice and perseverance, it will soon become second nature to you. Work you complete independently from an agency is great for building your portfolio, as long as the client gives permission for it to be used. The more comprehensive and relevant your work examples become, the more likely you are to secure work through pitches.

Network with other writers

How to get into copywritingAs well as reaching out to clients, take the time to find other freelance writers in the online space. Following key influencers on social media is a great idea.

Try following content marketing guru Ann Harding and author Paul Jarvis, plus suggested contacts linked to these accounts, to get you started.

Copywriting professionals are usually happy to answer questions and share advice with industry newcomers, and they often link to writing opportunities that pay freelancers. You could also link with writers who cover topics you are interested in and read and share their work. Don’t be afraid to ask for tips.

Establish a niche for yourself

Getting into freelance copywriting without experience is a lot easier when you draw on your existing skills. Do you enjoy playing video games? There is always demand for gaming reviews. Are you great at gardening? Horticulture blogs and businesses will love your expertise.

Here is an example of a writer who is using her personal knowledge of the fitness industry to make her copywriting business work. You may not have formal writing experience, but you do possess a unique blend of knowledge and skills that could be extremely valuable to the right client.

Building your freelance writing business

Once you have established yourself within the freelance copywriting field, you can start to look for bigger, more profitable jobs and aim to secure long-term clients. It can take a little time and perseverance before you break away from small-time writing jobs and start making a good living, but the more you put yourself out there, the more chance of being spotted by the right client.

Over time, you will start to build a writing portfolio – and you may well collect reviews and recommendations from your client. The more work you get, the more your reputation will grow. Before you know it, you will be an experienced freelance copywriter!

5 facts about copywriting you need to know when starting out

How to get into copywriting

Feb 24 · 4 min read

How to get into copywriting

The answer to what copywriting i s isn’t complicated! Copywriting is written text that is used for the purpose of making a sale. It usually includes a product or service and a call to action. The goal of copywriting is to get the reader to purchase the product or service you’re advertising. Copywriting is advertising with words! If you’re writing for the purpose of asking someone to buy something, you’re copywriting!

So now that we’ve learned what copywriting is, it’s time to talk about the different types. In short, there is email copy, social media copy (different descriptions for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), website copy, video copy, SEO copy, etc. The possibilities are literally endless, but these are the most common types. The type of copy will depend on what your company is and what platforms you use to advertise. Just remember, you’ll need to adapt your copywriting depending on the form. My copy is usually longer or shorter, depending on the form. Some will require organic sentences, while others want short, precise phrasing in as few words as possible.

It can be easy to confuse content writing with copywriting. For example, blogs can contain SEO links and sales copy. However, writing a blog is content writing, not copywriting. Copywriting is the purest form of asking for a sale. When I was blogging for a marketing company, it was considered copywriting as I was linking sources, product phrases, and page links to promote the client further. This was a bit borderline as the blog was written for the purpose of promoting the product or company. However, topics fell more into the category of lifestyle at times. I would argue that this was mostly content writing but still a great introduction to copywriting! No worries if you’re confused! There is a lot of overlap.

Back when content/copywriting was a side hustle, I was applying for copywriting jobs relentlessly. When one recruiter asked about my portfolio, she stated that most people have ten or more years of copywriting experience under their belt already. I’ve been a writer since I was very young, and I’ve worked hard on my craft. I even have a master’s degree! So, this was incredibly disheartening to hear. My word of advice is to build up your writing services on social media. Offer to write a blog or piece of copy for a friend or company for free. The simplest of things can contribute to your portfolio! The more contacts and content, the better!

Lastly and most importantly, if you’re looking to get your SEO/copywriting certificate with the hope of boosting your resume, don’t do this! Through my own research, I’ve discovered that most copywriters don’t have a certificate. Experience and portfolio speak volumes, so there’s no need to cash in on courses that may not help you in the long run. The knowledge is in-depth and will give you skills. But I would steer clear of this for now as there are tons of free blogs, vlogs, and other sources of information that will be just as helpful to you!

There are other facts to consider about copywriting as a career, but these are the points I find most prevalent, especially since I’ve experienced them myself. Apart from waiting to invest in an expensive certificate, I would also say to be careful about freelancing. I’ll probably write a separate article on full-time freelancing, but for right now, I would advise against it. Keep your full-time job while copywriting on the side. Offer to write pieces for companies for very little money. Don’t be scared to do it for free. All the while, keep pursuing full-time copywriting positions. It may take a while, but it will happen. Most importantly, just because something is competitive doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Fancy becoming a copywriter? Well this post will help you decide if it’s for you and how to get into copywriting without any experience…

Copywriting is the art of being able to sell people an idea. It’s ultimately a writing style that aims to persuade people to take an action.

This action can take many forms. It doesn’t have to be the obvious purchase of a product or service. An action could be in the form of signing up to a monthly newsletter or sharing a brand’s post on social media. All of these actions require persuasive copywriting to in order convince the user to make that conversion.

But is copywriting the same as content writing? We’ve actually covered this topic in a killer article which you can view here. But essentially copywriters aim to convince and persuade, and content writers aim to inform, educate and add value. A good way to understand the difference is by the length and language of the copy. Copywriting is usually very short and sharp. It also tends to include Call To Actions such as ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Sign Up’ to really help convert where possible.

Can content writing and copywriting be found together? Yes of course, they tend to go hand in hand! And therefore, it’s great to start your copywriting journey by doing as much writing as you can.

Copywriting isn’t something you can necessarily get a degree in, but it’s a skill you can learn over time. Below we have listed a few tips to help you get started!

Tip 1. Start a blog

What better way to start learning the ropes of copy/content writing then by writing about something you love! Starting your own blog is a great way to showcase your voice and writing skills. Whether this be on product reviews or a hobby you regularly do, a lot of people find it easier to start writing about a topic that interests them. This practice can really hone down your skills before you progress to any form of professional work for clients.

Tip 2. Volunteer your services

Seeking volunteer work from charities or small marketing businesses is a great way to put your newfound skills to the test. Securing experience in a professional environment will inevitably help you broaden your skill set. You may be asked to write for a range of different areas such as press releases, product descriptions and social media posts. The added pressure of your writing being published to the world will ensure your spelling and grammar is nothing short of faultless (a benchmark skill every copywriter needs to nail in order to succeed – especially in the marketing industry!).

Tip 3. Build a portfolio

Now surely a portfolio is just the same as speaking about your experience, right? Well what can a portfolio do that simply communicating your experience cannot? Show a potential future employer what you are capable of. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is to create an online portfolio that can really showcase your best work. To set your job application aside from the rest, you can create a portfolio illustrating any blog posts you are particularly proud of as well as any published volunteer/freelance work you’ve done! Always remember to update your online portfolio throughout your career, highlighting any progression where necessary.

In summary, anyone can become a copywriter – that’s right, anyone! It takes hard work, commitment and a hell of a lot of passion but it’s a skill of which may marketeers go on the journey to learn. Be sure to take advantage of the above tips to help get you get started on your own copywriting journey. You can also look out for any of the ample free short courses you can find online!

How to get into copywriting

Looking for a new side hustle that engages your creative side? Freelance writing can be a great choice, where you’ll have complete control over your hours and the projects you choose to take on, and you can do it all from the comfort of your home office (or couch). Being successful as a freelancer takes more than just writing skills, though. We’ll go over some of the key details you need to know if you’re interested in becoming a freelance editor or writer.

What is a Freelancer?

You’ve probably heard the term thrown around a bunch, but what does it actually mean to be a freelancer ? First and foremost, a freelancer is someone who works for themselves. Unlike some writers and editors who work on salary and have to do whatever projects they’re assigned to, as a freelance copywriter, you’ll be able to choose what work you take on. While you may still end up working with agencies or doing contract work, a freelancer is ultimately self-employed and has to deal with all of the benefits and challenges that come with that. Freelancers have more control over their work, but they also have more responsibility when it comes to running their business, like choosing whether to incorporate or register .

Types of Freelance Writing

Freelance copywriters can do a variety of different kinds of work, depending on where your skills lie and what you’re interested in. It’s a good idea to figure out what type of writing you’re interested in doing so that you can develop a specific target audience and create an efficient marketing strategy .

Article Writing

Writing articles as a freelancer is a great way to get started in the industry. You can seek out publications that you want to write for and pitch an idea to them, write an article and submit it, or you may be asked by a client to submit an article on a specific topic.

Blogging

Did you know that you can actually make money by running a successful blog? If you have a particular passion that you want to write about, creating your own blog is the perfect way to show off your writing skills as well as build a portfolio with which you can apply for other freelance writing jobs.

Website Copy

When clients hire a freelancer to write the copy for their business website, they’re looking for someone who is able to convey emotion in order to convince viewers to make a purchase. You’ll also probably need to become familiar with SEO (search engine optimization) to drive web traffic to your client’s website.

Social Media

Writing for social media is a lot different than many other forms of freelance writing, due to character limitations and the way we interact with social media. Effective social media marketing needs to get to the point quickly, but without the customer feeling like they’re just being sold to.

Editing

Many who start out with a plan to write may find themselves considering freelance editor services as well. If you’re the type of person who always notices spelling mistakes in publications, editing is a great way to make money off of skills you already have naturally.

Technical Writing

Some fields, like engineering or finance, may use a lot of technical terms that the average person wouldn’t understand. The job of a technical writer is to translate those complex concepts into language that anyone can understand while staying true to the original content.

Ghostwriting

Often when you see a memoir penned by a celebrity or even a column written by someone whose job isn’t writing, they are actually using a ghostwriter. Freelancer ghostwriters need to be able to get into the tone of the person they’re writing for and be willing to accept that they can’t take credit for the work they do.

How Much Do Freelance Editors and Writers Make?

The rate you charge as a freelancer will depend on a variety of factors. How long have you been writing or editing professionally? As you build up your client base and become more confident in your skills and the monetary value of your service, you might find yourself working with higher-paying clients who can afford to pay you more than when you first started out. According to ZipRecruiter , the average hourly rate for a freelance writer is around $30, and the average annual salary is around $63,000.

How to Become a Freelance Copywriter or Editor

If you want to start your career as a freelance copywriter, but you’ve never written professionally, you might want to take an online course to get you started. Next, get as much practice as you can and build up your online portfolio. Once you have a decent number of articles under your belt, start pitching to the kind of publications you want to work with. Getting clients can be difficult at first, so make sure you reach out to everyone in your network – past employers, friends, peers – even if you don’t think they need writing services.

How to Hire Freelancer Writers or Editors

Whether you want to start your new career as a freelance writer or you need to hire one, a great place to start is an online platform that connects writers with clients and agencies. You’ll be able to browse the writer’s specialties and skills so you can choose the perfect freelancer to work with on your next project.

What does it take to write copy that works? Photograph: Frank Baron for the Guardian

What does it take to write copy that works? Photograph: Frank Baron for the Guardian

There are only so many ways you can describe the word ‘white’. So imagine how tough it would be to write the copy to describe dozens of bathroom suites. What can you do for inspiration?

It’s a situation Kit Sadgrove, chief executive of the Institute of Copywriting, faced as he worked through the night on a project for a large DIY chain. In a previous copywriting Q&A, Kit shared some great tips for beating writer’s block – including how to identify the easy bits to write and creating headlines and descriptions to develop ideas if you get stuck.

But if all this fails, Kit suggests, erm, a night cap. Unconventional career advice it may be, but it helped Kit meet his deadline.

It’s not all bathrooms and writer’s block though. There are glamorous assignments and accolades to be had too.

At the recent National Newspapers of Ireland Press Ad of the Year Awards, agency Ogilvy & Mather took the copywriting award for a campaign promoting an exhibition of painter Gabriel Metsu’s work. Guest judge Julian Borra commended the copywriting, saying: “In a world where writing doesn’t even feature, the copy managed to make me think about the human narrative behind the paintings”.

Whether you want to create “human narratives” or bathroom suite-selling catalogues, we’re bringing together a panel of copywriting professionals to take your questions and help you discover if you’ve got what it takes to land a role at a top agency and scoop industry awards.

Join us 5 April, 1pm to 4pm, when our panel will be offering their industry insight and advice in a live Q&A.

Martin Calladine is head of copy at Story Worldwide, a digital content marketing agency. Martin has worked in design agencies for more than a decade, writing for print and digital and running branding projects for blue chip organisations and the public sector.

Laurence Blume runs his own copywriting website and writes a leading blog on the industry.

Sally Ormond is a freelance copywriter who was previously employed in the banking and charity sector. Sally began her own freelance copywriting business in 2007 and now writes for companies around the world. You can read her blog here.

Ben Locker is the owner of a copywriting agency specialising in business-to-business and fashion copywriting. He is also co-author of the satirical Swinesend: Britain’s Greatest Public School.

James Ollerenshaw is the managing director of Curzon PR, a marketing communications agency specialising in luxury brands. Curzon PR provides copywriting as a key part of its services to clients. James began his career as an advertising copywriter.

Geoff Pattison is head of web copy specialists The Writing Agency.

Tom Albrighton is founder and director of ABC Copywriting.

Justin Moore has worked on a wide range of accounts at creative advertising agency BBH. In May this year he scooped a prestigious Cannes Lions gold medal for his Johnnie Walker campaign, The Man Who Walked Around The World, which featured Robert Carlyle.

Anelia Varela’s 13-year career as a writer started in advertising at Ogilvy & Mather in South Africa, veered towards branding and design in London, and she now works for The Writer, a writing and brand language consultancy, where she’s a creative director.

Louise Willder is copywriter at Penguin Books. Louise writes jacket copy for a variety of books, ranging from classics to history titles. As well as writing blurbs, Louise also works on marketing copy.

Andy Bolter is creative director and co-owner of communications agency Pepper.

I’ve frequently discussed the virtues of adding some copywriting to your freelance-writing mix. But, many writers ask, how do I get started as a copywriter? Most copywriters break in by writing for a small, local business in their town.

The good news: Small businesses that need marketing help are everywhere.

Here are 10 ways to find your first business writing assignments:

1) Friends and family. Tell everyone you know you’re available to write for businesses. Let them know the types of copywriting work that interest you, whether it’s brochures, white papers, direct mail sales letters, or Web content.

2) Businesses you patronize. As you go about your daily life, you interact with many small businesses. You see a chiropractor, shop at a local organic grocer, or take your kids to a gym. These are all natural places for you to connect with business owners. Your secret weapon—you already know and like the business! You could also do a barter deal for writing work since you’re already a customer.

3) Your local downtown. Walk the business district of your neighborhood or visit the local chamber of commerce and pick up all their current brochures or fliers. Call or stop in at the ones that have weak marketing materials, introduce yourself as a copywriter, and ask if they’d like help creating more powerful messages.

4) Your local business park. Companies in industrial parks tend to be medium-sized or bigger, and in fairly low-glamour businesses — meaning they’re prime copywriting targets. They need to get out the word, as they don’t have a shop on Main Street customers can see. Also, they tend to get hit up less, so the competition isn’t as stiff. Before you knock on doors and introduce yourself, drive through once and write down all the company names. Go home and look at their Web sites (or discover they don’t have one), so you have something to talk about when you come back and try to meet the business owners.

5) Business networking events. Wherever large groups of business owners gather in your town—the local Chamber luncheon, weekly networking group, LinkedIn meetup, or whatever—you want to be there.

6) Social media. Work your networks and online forums and let them know you’re open for copywriting work. Find prospect companies and follow them — strike up a conversation, study their Web site, maybe provide some useful marketing-article links, then make your pitch. Use your blog to discuss your quest for copywriting work. Try InMail on LinkedIn — LI reports it has an impressive 30 percent response rate.

7) In niche industries you know. This is an easy way to identify prospects, particularly if you’re looking for work blogging or writing other online content. If you have an area of expertise, look at the Web sites of all the local businesses in that niche. Then call the companies with the worst Web sites and mention the most glaring omission in their marketing plan — might they need a blog, a white paper, case studies?

8. Through content-site profiles. While I don’t recommend trying to earn by bidding on projects on content sites such as Elance or Guru.com, it can be worthwhile to leave a profile on these heavily-trafficked sites. Small businesses looking for writers do scan these sites, and may find you and approach you off the site and hire you. I recently went on an interview to ghost a CEO’s book, and the company found me through an old Guru profile I’d forgotten all about!

9) At print publications. Magazines’ article assignments are often the tip of an iceberg at a publisher. There may be opportunities to write advertorial articles for the magazine’s advertisers, or to create special advertising sections. They may put on conferences that need marketing materials, or have a “custom publishing” arm that helps companies create training courses or books that commemorate company milestones.

10) By creating a sample. If you’re really stuck for a first client, create a marketing piece about your copywriting services. You can then use this as a mailer to send to prospects. Having a sample in front of them should help you sign up that first client. Personally, when I broke into copywriting in 2005, I used a variant of #2. I called on companies I had written about in my staff-writing job at a business journal to let them know I was leaving the paper. (Many folks do this when they leave a company to freelance, by turning around and freelancing for their former employer.) One of them asked me to ghost his blog and write advertorial articles for the company’s Web site. I made several thousand dollars over a few months’ time, and I was on my way.

If you’ve done copywriting, how did you first break in? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

How to get into copywriting

This post originally appeared on the WM Freelance Writer’s Connection.

First, a definition of conversational copywriting.

To me, it means writing in the same way you would speak persuasively to a friend over the kitchen table.

Imagine you’re trying to persuade a friend to go hiking with you at the weekend. You’re in conversation, but you’re trying to be persuasive as well.

Because it’s within the context of a real dialog between two people, your language is natural and conversational. Emotional at times.

Your argument in favor of hiking isn’t carefully structured in the way a professional copywriter might put it together. No clever tips or tricks are used. No killer closing is deployed to “close the deal”.

Most important of all, unless you’re one of those really, really annoying friends, this will be a real conversation. You won’t just speak “at” your friend until you beat him into submission. You’ll ask questions. You’ll pause and allow him to say his piece too. There’ll be some back and forth.

You can do much the same in the world of online commerce

There are two sets of tools you can use when you choose to write more conversationally.

The first set is technological. It used to be that advertising and marketing went one way only. Companies broadcast their promotional messages through TV commercials, radio spots, print ads and so on.

Today we have the web, social media and mobile apps. This means communications can be two-way. For example, a business can choose to reply to comments on its Facebook page.

When a company does that – when it replies, whatever the channel – it is entering into conversation.

In this way technology is actually forcing companies to accept that the days of one-way, broadcast communications are behind us.

Ready or not, marketing today is about conversations with your prospects and customers.

The second set of tools is all about how you write.

Conversational copywriting should look and sound different from traditional, one-way, in-your-face copywriting.

It should feel less structured and be more natural. It should fit into a conversation over the kitchen table.

Here’s a quick before and after example.

Old-school copywriting to pitch a family resort:

The Oka Beach Family Resort’s all inclusive family vacations give you a top family vacation with your kids and time to reconnect as a couple, too.

Ouch… I don’t think real people ever talk in sentences that long. So let’s rewrite it in a more natural, over-the-table way:

A family vacation should be fun for everyone, right? That’s why we created a resort experience that’s all about the kids… AND all about mom and dad too.

Not a big deal. Just shortening the sentences, adding a question and simplifying the message. Suddenly the language feels a whole lot more natural.

Get the language right, and use conversational platforms like social media… and a business really can enter into genuine conversations with its prospects and customers.

Get it right, without faking it.

Watch some late-night TV and you’ll see a few commercials where the “talent” is talking to camera and pretending he’s your friend. Except, of course, he isn’t. He’s pretending to be having a conversation with you, but he isn’t.

Or read through some direct mail.

You’ll doubtless find some breathless writing all about how, “If you’re like me…” Add in some other cunning tips and tricks to make the reader feel she’s in the company of a friend and you get a some good “fake conversational copywriting”.

But none of it is real. Before the days of the web it was easier to pass fake conversational copy as being the real thing. But in today’s world of social media we know what real conversations with companies actually feel like.

Suddenly the fake, old-school, overly-copywritten approach to being “conversational” feels out of place and a little sad.

Bottom line… Conversational copywriting is about being real. It’s writing in a way that is less about “writing at” an audience – and is more authentic, as if you were talking with that friend across the table.

NOTE: I have an entire course devoted to the craft of Conversational Copywriting. (This link takes you to my separate Conversational Copywriting website.)

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3 thoughts on “How to get into Conversational Copywriting, without faking it.”

I wish you had a Like button on your comment page like Facebook has. I would definitely press your comment like button for this article! 🙂

It’s about time!! I have felt this way about copy thats out there right now. I want this profession BUT I hate copy that goes on for multi – pages of sell and convince repeated 10 times by the time your done. I myself buy if I’m interested but only read about 1 pg before they just repeat from a different angle. I basically click down to the bottom to see if price is reasonble, then buy or don’t accordingly. I buy a great deal online but never read all 10-15 pgs. I already clicked cause I’m interested for some reason. I am about to enroll in both your passive income website and this site as my writing passion is about to come out of the closet… lol.
Carol

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