There are the 10 things that EVERY highly-skilled, highly-paid copywriter does for every single piece of copy they write.
Ever wonder how much of copywriting is actually writing? The answer might surprise you…
The truth is, crafting messaging is only a tiny part of copywriting.
Because in order to be a successful copywriter you FIRST need to know how to do customer analysis and market research…
You need to understand strategy & positioning… you must conceptualize a killer hook and craft an irresistible offer…
And ALL this needs to happen before a single word gets written. And this is why copywriters NEVER charge per word because writing is literally only a tiny fraction of what they do.
That 6-word headline could have taken hours, maybe even days or weeks to craft based on the steps I’m sharing in today’s article.
So – copywriters – if you want to know the high-level skills you need in order to charge more for your work and get clients literally knocking on your door every single week…
And business owners – if you want to know what to look for when hiring copywriters so you can find the RIGHT person for your business and get copy that actually converts…
You’ll want to pay attention because this post is for you. This is my complete 10-step copywriting tutorial and (surprise, surprise) it’s not ALL about writing…
And because I know you guys LOVE examples and actionable advice, in each and every step on this list I’ll share an example, pro tip, or formula that you can use to help you really understand each concept.
Hey guys! What’s up, it’s Alex.
If you’re excited for this complete copywriting tutorial leave me a comment below to let me know.
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Today I’m going to reveal the 10 CRAZY IMPORTANT things you must do for ANY copy you write.
These 10 steps are the marketing basics that copywriting is crafted around. So all of these steps apply no matter WHAT you’re writing – a sales page, email, Facebook ad, or landing page.
Now, I want you to pay special attention to #6, because it’s arguably the hardest part of copywriting yet the most important step to really nail in ANY piece of copy that you write.
So let’s do this.
Step #1 Get To Know Your Customer Avatar
First thing’s first, before you can sit down to write a single word. You need to get crystal clear on who you’re selling to… and what their pains, desires, and fears are.
That’s right, I’m talking about your customer avatar here. You need to write your copy as if you’re speaking to ONE specific person…
And the more specific you can be in describing the real-life emotions this person experiences, the better.
So go out there and research your little booty off so that you can fully understand everything about them.
The best way to do this? Hit up Reddit forums and FB groups… read Amazon reviews, and dig into research tools like Answer The Public. THIS is how you learn exactly what your ideal customer wants to know.
For example, I recently looked up “dream recall” on Reddit and look at all of these awesome threads that popped up. You can see the actual questions that people are asking about this topic, so say you’re writing for a client that teaches people how to recall their dreams… yes, it’s a thing. This forum would give you great ideas on how to speak directly to your Avatar.
Now, don’t underestimate the power of this… truly understanding your customer avatar is a step that will set you MILES ahead of your competitors. If you need help with this, you can grab my Customer Avatar Worksheet here that will help you get crystal clear on this.
Okay now moving on to #2
Step #2 Uncover Your USP
The USP – or Unique Selling Proposition – is what makes your brand or product stand apart from the competition that’s out there fighting for the same spot in your customer’s heart, mind, and wallet.
In other words, why should they choose you? Are you cheaper, better, faster, quicker, higher quality, or more sustainable? Your USP should be super short, clear, and concise. You should be able to effectively communicate WHO you are, WHAT you do, and HOW you can help… all in just a few short sentences.
Here’s a great example from Mast Chocolate.
“Made the right way. We start with ethically sourced cacao from Tanzania’s groundbreaking organization Kokoa Kamili, paying farmers far beyond even fair trade premiums. Our chocolate is certified organic, kosher and made from bean to bar, in-house.”
PRO TIP: This is not the place to get fancy with rhymes or rhythms, or cute and clever statements unless they WORK. Never sacrifice clarity for cuteness. Cute doesn’t sell.
So here’s my go-to plug-and-play formula for an effective USP…
I help [audience] with [problem] achieve [benefit] through [unique solution].
Step #3 Empathize With Their Pain
Yep. It’s a fact…
The human being is a weird, complex, little creature that is innately hardwired to avoid pain, at ALL costs, before ever seeking pleasure.
And this is why it’s so important for you to not only identify your avatar’s pain points but to empathize with them in your copy.
Now, of course, you don’t want to do this in a sleazy, cringey, douche-baggy kind-of-way. Your customer should never feel attacked or shamed, what they should feel is SEEN, HEARD, and UNDERSTOOD.
This is where you lean in with empathy and understanding… you need to let them know that you hear them because you’ve been there.
For example, on my sales page for the Copy Posse Launch Files, I talk about the dreaded copywriter catch-22 – how you can’t get hired without a portfolio and you can’t build your portfolio without getting hired!
It’s a common and relatable problem that I’ve seen time and time again in my decade-long journey in this world of copywriting.
Empathizing with pain isn’t about putting salt in the wound – it’s about identifying the discomfort, distress, or frustrations your audience has in a real and relatable way.
Step #4 Offer A Solution
Only after you’ve created trust and rapport in your copy through EMPATHY do you pivot to the solution you have to help them overcome their problem.
Whether it be a product or a service, remember your solution needs to be BELIEVABLE. Simply having a great offer is not enough to get a conversion – your audience needs to believe it can help them.
PRO TIP: Remember: Your audience is always looking for reasons to NOT buy from you. It’s human nature to be skeptical. So rather than using hype and hyperbole to try and convince them to buy your product – share stories, address their objections, and write copy in a conversational tone. Include as much evidence and demonstration as possible in your copy to add credibility and allay your prospects’ doubts.
Like my friend Emily Lark does here in her Back To Life – Healthy Back System product. She shares her own journey with Back Pain and what helped her overcome it before she presented the offer.
Step #5 Identify Benefits (Not Only Features)
So you just presented what you’re selling… but now you need to identify why on earth someone would buy it.
You should, of course, include the features of your product in your copy – anything the product has or is…
But no one is going to buy your product on the features alone… which is why it’s super important to include those juicy bennies.
The benefits are the BIG PROMISE behind your offer – it should paint a clear picture of what your prospect’s life could look like after purchasing your product…
Here’s another example from the Copy Posse Launch Files. At the bottom of the page (right above the order menu) you can see a few of the benefits on top. And the features listed below…
Think of it this way… features speak to the logical reasoning of a person’s buying decision… whereas benefits speak to the emotional reasoning behind a person’s buying decision…And you need to include BOTH in order to create an irresistible offer.
Now, this is a part of the process where a lot of people can get hung up… often mistaking features as benefits, and as a result, they don’t include actual bennies on their sales page – which means they’re missing a huge conversion opportunity.
So I created a feature-to-benefits converter cheatsheet to really help nail this concept.
Alright now onto the most IMPORTANT part of copywriting…
Step #6 Craft A Killer Hook
As marketers and copywriters, we’re in the business of attention and retention. So the highest goal in ANY marketing campaign is to capture and KEEP your audience’s attention.
How? With a killer hook. A hook is an attention-grabbing idea, concept, or statement that piques the readers’ (or listeners’) curiosity and makes them want to learn more…
So, arguably, conceptualizing hooks and crafting show-stopping headlines is something all great copywriters should learn how to do ASAP.
It’s the highest-paid skill a copywriter can master, in my opinion.
PRO TIP: Scroll through content sites like BuzzFeed, Bored Panda, and Cosmopolitan for MAD hook and headline inspiration… And head on over to my Instagram to take part in my next edition of “Make This Headline Even Hotter”. The comments section on these posts is FIRE and a great way to start practicing your headlines and hooks.
Step #7 Use User-Generated Content
Sometimes the best copywriting doesn’t come from copywriters but from CUSTOMERS!
Social proof is a game-changer in marketing and makes our jobs as copywriters A LOT easier. In fact, 72% of people say that positive testimonials and reviews increase their trust in a business, and a whopping 88% of people say that reviews directly influence their purchasing decisions.
This is exactly why it’s suuuuuper important to feature testimonials in your copy. In my opinion, the best kind are the 100% candid, organic and relatable user-generated posts, videos and reviews that people leave online.
It all comes down to the core fact that people trust other people, but we don’t always trust the brand itself… well, at least not at first.
We all EXPECT a brand to self-promote and talk about how great and superior they are,
but when someone else promotes them, we’re all ears. And we’re usually more likely to buy.
Here are some examples of user-generated content from my 5-Day Write & Ignite Challenge!
It was all submitted organically through Instagram and is the best social proof a business could get.
PRO TIP: Encourage customers to share their experience on their social channels and use third-party review tools like Boast.io to easily collect and display testimonials on your website in real-time! Then use these reviews to identify common objections, benefits, and desires that you can use to improve your copy.
Okay now number 8 on the list.
Step #8 Give Them A Reason To Act NOW
Another funny little quirk about us humans is that if we can do something later and get the exact same result or benefit as doing it right now, we will wait. We are inherent procrastinators so if you want someone to act NOW, you gotta give them a good reason to do it.
Using scarcity in your marketing and copywriting is a powerful motivator when done well.
Scarcity refers to the idea of making products or services limited in some way. This can be done in the form of price scarcity (so a limited-time discount), quantity scarcity (a limited amount left), premium scarcity (exclusive bonuses and gifts added for a limited-time)… or offer scarcity (the cart is closing).
You likely see scarcity every single day, and a lot of the time it’ll be that final push you need to purchase something you’ve been on the fence about.
Like when you find a great hotel online and they always let you know how many rooms were left – which creates some serious FOMO in your mind.
Only 1 room left?! What! I better book it now!
PRO TIP: Just because scarcity can get your prospect to buy now instead of later… That doesn’t mean it’s okay to lie, be hypey, or misleading. That’s a sure-fire way to lose the trust of your customers and completely tarnish the reputation of your business… so only include scarcity when it’s legit.
If scarcity doesn’t apply in a particular marketing campaign, create a sense of urgency by sharing the benefits your customer won’t want to wait for! Because the other great thing about humans is we love immediate gratification. So convince them why it’s better to act fast and overcome any lingering doubts by making the purchase process seem easy, safe, and risk-free.
Step #9 Have A Clear & Concise Call-To-Action
Confusion is the biggest conversion killer so your call-to-action, or CTA, needs to pack a serious punch. It must only take a second for the prospect to understand what to do next.
Your CTA is the second most important part of your copy, after the headline! According to Unbounce, more than 90% of visitors who read your headline also read your CTA copy.
So your CTA should be clear and straight to the point, not imply or beat around the bush. For instance — “Book my free spot now” or “Click to get instant access” or “Click Here To Enroll Now”.
The most important rule of copywriting is to have only ONE CLEAR AND CONCISE call to action. You should only be asking your prospect to do one thing – and that’s to click, sign up or buy. Not share, comment, watch, like, signup, AND buy.
PRO TIP: Make your CTA personal using the first person. ContentVerve saw a 90% increase in click-through rate by using first-person phrasing: “Start My Free Trial Now” as opposed to “Start Your Free Trial Now”.
Step #10 Keep It Simple
The final and most important thing to remember when writing ANYTHING is to keep it simple. In copywriting, less is more. You want every sentence to be strategic and necessary to the customer’s buying journey. So as you’re crafting your copy, be critical of any fluff or filler. Look for any unnecessary ideas, verbose sentences, or long lists of adjectives that don’t add any power or punch.
Most people read at the 7th-8th grade level, so you want to make sure your copy is simple and easy to read, yet effective. Remember that just because YOU understand everything, doesn’t mean that your customer avatar will…
I like to use Hemingway Editor (hemingwayapp.com) to double-check the readability of my copy. You also want to go through to double, triple, and quadruple check your work for grammatical errors, run-on sentences, or large chunks of text.
PRO TIP: Read your copy out loud and from your mobile phone!
Remember the majority of online readers are consuming content on their mobile devices, so you want to make sure your copy is easy to read on all platforms.
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What Step is your fave? Comment below and let me know,
Until next time, I’m Alex. Ciao for now!