5 Simple Secrets to Great Copywriting You Should Know

5 Simple Secrets to Copywriting Glory

by | Apr 29, 2013 | Copywriting

It’s a question fledgling copywriters everywhere want to know:

What separates good copywriting from great copywriting?

How do you start making your skills and talents speak for themselves, so your work is more in-demand and highly-valued? (And, equally as important, worth more $$$? )

These simple secrets hold the answer. To reach the highest echelon of copywriting, take them in stride.

secrets to copywriting

You know the basics of writing good copy, but something might be missing. If you're craving to improve your writing skills to create a top-notch copy, check out @JuliaEMcCoy's 5 #copywriting secrets ✍️✍️ Click To Tweet

5 Simple Secrets to Write Amazing Copy Every Time

If you can master these secrets, you’re well on your way to greatness.

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1. Make It Personal

Above all, the greatest, most effective copywriting is personal to the target reader.

Whether that means a 65-year-old grandmother, an investment banker, or a college student, your writing needs to hit them where it matters. It should speak to their wishes, fears, pain points, and needs.

No two readers are alike. Treat their problems and desires as important, unique, and vital, and you’ll not only grab their attention – you’ll strum their heartstrings.

Tips to Make Your Copywriting Personal

  • Get to know your target persona as if they’re your best friend. Understand their personality, demographics, and preferences on a deep level. (Interviews, surveys, and social listening come in handy, here.)
  • Imagine them as a real person sitting in front of you. What do they look like? How might they talk about their problems, interests, and dreams?
  • Speak directly to them in the copy:
    • Ask them questions.
    • Repeat their realities/problems back to them so they feel heard.
    • Empathize with them.
  • Address them using the pronoun “you” (e.g. “Do you wish you had more free time?”)
'...the greatest, most effective copywriting is personal to the target reader. Whether that means a 65-year-old grandmother, an investment banker, or a college student, your writing needs to hit them where it matters.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

2. Surprise, Delight, or Entice Your Reader

Besides making your copy personal, clinch grabbing your readers’ attention by adding a pinch of surprise, delight, or enticement to your copy.

Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers is especially good at doing this. Look at this blog post she wrote called “Here’s why it’s so hard to write convincing copy”:

In the introduction, she starts out by saying something we’re not expecting:

That element of surprise (her against-the-grain opinion about online readers) hooks us and makes us commit to reading more. We want to know why she’ll never forgive Jakob Nielsen (of the Nielsen Norman Group).

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Another example from another great copywriter, Henneke Duistermaat of Enchanting Marketing, is this blog post on banishing perfectionism:

In the post, Henneke takes a moment to describe why imperfection is actually perfect. She uses a metaphor about stained glass in a church to do it, and transports us in the process:

For just a moment, you’re caught up in imagining that stained glass, and you understand Henneke’s meaning much more deeply. How delightful!

As you can see, there is more than one way to inject an unexpected element of surprise, delight, or wonder into your copy. No matter how you do it, it’s an effective trick that snags and holds your reader’s attention – and keeps them coming back for more.

'Besides making your copy personal, clinch grabbing your readers’ attention by adding a pinch of surprise, delight, or enticement to your copy.' @JuliaEMcCoy on her 5 simple secrets in great #copywriting Click To Tweet

3. Write Subheadings Like You Mean It

Writing great copy is more than wordplay.

In blog/article writing, particularly, it’s also about helping your reader achieve an understanding of your topic as seamlessly as possible.

While you’re writing, think of ways to make the text easier to understand. What can you do to ease comprehension?

One major way is to focus on writing informative subheadings for each section of your copy. At a minimum, they should summarize what each section is about. If you want to go further (and you should), try to add these other elements:

  • Describe how the reader will benefit from reading the subsection. This subheading from a Smartblogger post shows how it’s done (the promised benefit: read the editing tips and you’ll transform your next blog post):

  • Use intriguing words to incite curiosity. Scour your vocabulary and consult a thesaurus to use interesting verbs and adjectives to spice things up. Look at this example (from the same Smartblogger post as above):

  • Tell a story with your subheadings (connect them to each other). Let’s look at another post by Joanna Wiebe for a good example. In this post on time management, she uses the subheadings to both describe each section of the article as well as tell a story (structured like she’s talking it out with herself). I’ve compiled them so you can see the whole picture:

Good stuff, right? Try this technique in your own copy and see how much more compelling it becomes.

'While you’re writing, think of ways to make the text easier to understand. What can you do to ease comprehension? One major way is to focus on writing informative subheadings for each section of your copy.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

4. Write with SEO in Mind

The best copywriters use keywords in their copy without breaking the flow or making the tone sound unnaturally stilted. Keyword-optimized copy is worth its weight in coffee (because I love coffee), so this ability is major for copywriting greatness.

The thing is, great copywriters never need to count keywords. They have a natural feel for where to use them, how to use them, and when to use variations, synonyms, and related terms.

If you’re still learning, though, there are ways to make your SEO copywriting better.

  • Don’t be afraid to play with grammar in keywords. Keywords that sound awkward WILL make your copy sound equally awkward (“dentists San Diego” et. al, I’m looking at you). Insert prepositions, pronouns, etc., as needed to smooth them out. Your SEO won’t suffer for it.
  • Use variations – Google won’t know the difference. For example, “San Diego dentists” sounds WAY better than “dentists San Diego”.
  • Reword until it sounds right. Some keywords are tricky, period. If one isn’t playing nice with your sentence, take some time to reword, rearrange, and tinker with it until it sounds smooth and supple when you read it out loud.
'Don’t be afraid to play with grammar in keywords. Keywords that sound awkward WILL make your copy sound equally awkward (“dentists San Diego” et. al, I’m looking at you). Insert prepositions, pronouns, etc., as needed...' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

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5. Use Power Words Where It Matters

Every great copywriter needs a stash of power words in their back pocket. Power words make your readers react, respond, and feel a rainbow of emotions.

(Need examples? This post by Jon Morrow is the original guide to power words.)

Think of them like little bombs inside sentences. Wherever you use them, the impact will be explosive.

Here’s the thing about power words, though: If you overuse them, they lose their power.

That’s why the best copywriters use them judiciously. They know exactly where to use power words to best advantage:

  • Headlines – Your title/H1/headline is one of the most, if not THE most, important place to use power words. This one line of text does a lot of heavy lifting, so make it work hard!
  • Introductions – You need to capture your reader’s attention if they make it past your headline. The introduction is the perfect place to use your powers of description to make an impact.
  • Subheadings – Once again, good subheadings are essential to a good piece of content. Using power words in them helps lead your reader down the page.
  • Calls-to-action – Neck and neck with headlines, calls-to-action are essential spots to use power words. The stronger your wording in CTAs, the more irresistible they become.

To truly show off the zing and pizzazz of power words (nudge-nudge, wink-wink), let’s see what they can do to overhaul a boring headline:

10 Copywriting Tips for Beginners

becomes >>>

10 Genius Copywriting Tips to Transform You from Novice to Master

Which article would you rather read?

'Every great copywriter needs a stash of power words in their back pocket. Power words make your readers react, respond, and feel a rainbow of emotions.' @JuliaEMcCoy on her #copywriting secrets Click To Tweet

The #1 Secret to Great Copywriting?

Great copywriting is not mastered overnight. It takes work, practice, and most importantly, lots and lots of writing.

Keep writing, keep improving.

The more you write, the better you’ll get. It’s that simple.

Soak up as much knowledge as you can, write like heck, and soon you’ll be able to count yourself among the greats. ✨

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