If you want to get into copywriting and make good money out of it, make sure to read this post all the way until the end.
What is copywriting?
When I first started my career in copywriting, I had no idea what copywriting is. I thought it has to deal with intellectual property like patterns and trademarks. I thought the word was ‘copy-r-i-g-h-t”, which means that you have the exclusive right to distribute or sell somebody else’s work, be it a book, an image, some music or something else.
In reality, as I learned, copywriting is totally different from copyrighting. Copywriting is a skill that will transform your financial life forever. It is a skill that very few people in the world understand and process. It is a special skill that, once you master it, will never let you worry about money again. You will have the power to generate income on demand, or to launch or grow any business that you desire.
Copywriting is the ability to use the written word to persuade someone to take an action.
The action could be anything like getting someone to respond to a message that you wrote; purchase a product that you’re selling or promoting; click on or view a landing page you want them to read, or simply to subscribe to your email list or newsletter.
At first, I didn’t quite understand the power of it. So when I started working for my first couple of clients on quick copywriting projects, my job included sending out direct mail letters to offer products, services and programs to people. These were people I had never met, and I was offering them a product that would help them solve a problem. I would send out hundreds of such letters, and a percentage of them would actually send back the letter with a reply or an order form. I was stunned! These were the people I had never even spoken to in person, and yet they were buying something from me! Hence, from that point onwards, I was hooked. I realized how powerful copywriting can be.
Fast-forwarding the story to today, I have come up with a new definition of copywriting.
Copywriting is closing in print.
That’s right. It is the ability to persuade, influence and engage. It’s not about writing; it’s about closing. If it were just about writing, it would have been something anybody who’s fluent in English (or any other) language could do. Even all the professors or English lecturers who write tons of notes for their students everyday could be proficient at copywriting, if it were just about being able to write. Thus we establish that copywriting has a lot to do with closing, and very little to do with writing.
Did you know that copywriters are among some of the highest paid people in the world today? Yet most people don’t even know that this profession exists.
Every single letter that you get in the mail, every television program that you watch, every email newsletter that you receive, every single website that you visit is created out of a message that was prepared and written by a copywriter. Every time you spend your money, it’s because a copywriter came up with a concept, wrote the message and persuaded you to buy something around you.
From scripts of the movies that you watch to any donation letter you receive, every single thing in your life is a copy. Copy is everywhere. It is a multi-trillion dollar industry! And yet many people don’t even know that this profession exists. Everyone goes to school and they say they want to be an accountant, lawyer, doctor or engineer.
Let’s say there’s a company that sells a product online. They have a landing page to make their offer, and they are able to make sales worth $100,000 a year through that page. Suppose this page is converting at 1%, which means for every 100 visitors on that page, 1 person buys their product. Now suppose that you are a copywriter. You look at that page and make some tweaks. You change the headline, the offer, the guarantee, or maybe the call-to-action. Now, instead of converting that 1%, this page starts converting at 2%. What does this mean?
This means that you, as a copywriter, just doubled the revenue for this company from $100k to $200k, without adding an extra dollar for marketing. Did the company spend any more money than they were before? No. Did they need to increase the amount of traffic on their page? No. Did you add any new features to their product that cost them more? No. All you did was just changing few words to tweak how the offer or message was being communicated in the marketplace. That is the power of copywriting!
How do you become a copywriter?
Now that you have an idea on how much income you can generate copywriting, you might want to know how to become a good and professional copywriter. Successful copywriters are able to make a comfortable 6-figure income, working from home or anywhere they are. They get to have a flexible working schedule, choose their clients, and work remotely from anywhere in the world (as long as they have a stable internet connection). It doesn’t even necessarily require them to have a specialized degree or a lot of capital to start off with.
All you need to become a professional at copywriting is someone who knows about this field, and is willing to transfer their skill to you. In other words, you need a mentor.
Even though this article is not intended to be professional advice, if you keep reading until the end, it would suffice for you to begin a side career as a part-time or freelance copywriter, with a couple of clients or projects to work on and make some extra bucks. Once you get started like that, you can take it from there, and the growth potential would be limitless!
Following are 5 tips for those who want to pursue copywriting.
Desire is much more important than your degree
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of learning how to write copy. When I first learned about copywriting, I was a bit unsure whether I should get into this. I didn’t have a journalism degree, so I wondered if I could actually do this. But what I realized is, when it comes to copywriting, a lot of the things that we learn in school, even in journalism, don’t apply here. The proper academic writing is very different from copywriting. Academic writing is designed to educate, and can be dull or dry. Copywriting is a form of writing that is designed to sell, to convert a prospect into a customer. It’s very much a street-smart kind of a skill.
Once you get started as a copywriter, your clients wouldn’t care what degree you have. They will only be concerned with whether or not you can bring results for them.
Master short form copy first
There are so many different types of copywriting. It could be about writing a very long landing page or crafting the script for a long webinar, versus preparing a quick direct mail piece or an auto-responder sequence. It takes years to learn and improve your craft.
Hence, it is best to learn how to write a short form copy first. Learn how to write a marketing email, a social media post or a Google ad, before moving on to lengthy website or landing page content. The key is to learn how people respond by crafting basic and short headlines or posts. This is good for building confidence, rather than moving to 10-20 pages on your very first project, which could be quite intimidating.
Spend 80% of your time on research and 20% on writing
One of the mistakes beginners make in copywriting is that they get overexcited. They can’t wait to grab their pen or laptop and start writing. That’s not what you want to do. You want to spend majority of your time researching about your prospect. Get to know what the frustrations, pain points and goals of your targeted customers are. Find out where they want to get.
Once you know a lot about your prospects, it will be much easier for you to craft a message that speaks directly to them or something they resonate with. If you do your research right, your copy will come out a lot more effective.
Write the way you talk
When it comes to copy, it is about communicating with your customers, prospects or readers. So you want to write in a very simple language. Sometimes you need to use one-sentence paragraphs, which is academic writing is not very proper. Sometimes when I write, I even use a one-word paragraph and then I’ll start the next paragraph.
This is very unconventional, but when it comes to copy, it works. It works because it’s easy to read. You want to write the way you talk. You want your prospect, when they read your message, to be able to almost hear you talking to them.
Academic writings are often written to make the writer sound smart, but they’re always easily understandable by the audience. You don’t want to do that when you write a copy. Simply write the way you talk. Also when you’re writing, think of writing to one person versus writing to a group of people. So instead of using a lot of ‘we’ or a lot of ‘our’, use a lot of ‘you’ to make it sound like a one-on-one communication.
Build your own swipe files
As a beginner, when you don’t have a lot of experience, you can leverage on studying other people’s work. Look at other people’s emails, landing pages, letters and marketing messages. When you study other people’s work, you start picking up patterns.
When you need to write something, the last thing you want to do is turn on a computer and stare at a blank screen, trying to come up with stuff to write. That’s not what professionals do. Professional copywriters have an archive of swipe files to refer to. So be smart building up your swipe file.
There are many aspects to copywriting. Some specific kinds of copy are very high in demand these days, and you will learn about those as you start working with clients.