A few years ago, just being “decent” was all it took to get the best writing gigs.
However, times have certainly changed.
Today’s reader (and Google) demand better quality, more authoritative content, and creativity.
Clients want crafty wordsmiths who can take any topic and spin it into stunning content.
To get the jobs, you can no longer pigeonhole yourself into the category of “standard.”
Instead, you need to be an excellent word slinger with an endless arsenal of skills. Some of these skills can wait, while others need to be cultivated now if you want to succeed.
So, What 6 Skills Do You Need To Stay Competitive?
1. Refined Writing Skills
To be a great copywriter, you need to write well.
This isn’t as simple as it sounds either. You need to master grammar, English, punctuation, spelling, adjectives, and have a vast vocabulary to pull from when you write.
Now, here’s the surprising part: you do not have to be a naturally polished writer. Nope.
Instead, you can learn to write well — it just takes a little time out of each day.
By breaking down your writing skills into mini skills, you can quickly learn the art of word slinging pain-free.
Essential Skills To Pick Up
- Learn what goes into a great Enchanting Marketing’s Henneke suggests adding feelings, focusing on the reader, being specific, and keeping it concise for starters.
- Exploit transitional words and phrases, like these at The Writing Center.
- Be conversational. Just picture you are talking to a friend or family member — and don’t talk like a robot.
- Use sentences that flow together naturally. Writer’s Digest has some good suggestions on what we mean by the dreaded “F” word of writing.
2. A Sense Of Adventure And Curiosity
A copywriter is one that is always curious.
You don’t accept an answer, you dive into that answer and pick it apart. You tinker with the facts, explore different ways to go about examining a topic, and you are always ready to learn more.
The task of researching a topic almost makes you giddy.
Even if it is a subject you’re unfamiliar with, you’re curious and ready to absorb everything there is to know about it.
This copywriter skill is something that tends to come naturally, but before you think you’re not curious enough, consider just asking yourself questions.
Anytime you have a topic or assignment, start asking the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
You can trick yourself into being curious by answering those six essentials.
3. Stellar Research Skills
A copywriter must have a plethora of resources at their disposal. While a vast majority of your research will come from the web, you should also be willing to dabble in print (i.e. magazines, reference books, novels, etc.).
If you’re assigned a topic, you should know exactly where to go and dive into the resources for answers.
No, you don’t need a photographic memory here. You just need the ability to find answers.
Being internet-savvy is a start. Know how to search for things on Google properly, what keywords to strike, and how to get the most out of your results. Search Engine Land suggests always refining your search after the initial one is complete so that you can narrow down the results even more.
Most importantly, you need authoritative sites. With more blogs and websites popping up on the Internet, you cannot cite your sources from just anyone. You need to ensure the company or individual you reference knows what they are talking about, has sound research, and they are an authority in the industry.
We suggest downloading and installing the Moz toolbar. It’s free, and it lets you examine the domain authority (DA) of a website.
What’s a good DA to use for your references?
According to SEO Pressor, a DA of 40 to 50 is average, while a score of 50 to 60 is good, and anything over 60 is excellent. Naturally, the closer to 100 you get, the more authoritative the website/resource will be.
4. The Ability To Create Something New, Even If It’s Old
Copywriter skills are always changing based on the demands of search engines and internet users, but there is one skill that will never change: a copywriter’s need to create something new.
One of the biggest challenges writers have today is coming up with something new. It most likely has been done, tried, and rehashed 500 times on the web already, and trying to break out and do something unexpected can create some serious writer’s block.
You may find yourself stuck when the assignment is a topic you’re unfamiliar with or when you’re stuck with a boring industry.
For example, how do you make oil changes fun and exciting? It’s not like consumers out there are dying to read about their engine’s oil, and most don’t even know what type of oil is in their car. So, how are you going to write something new, fun, and engaging when half your audience doesn’t care?
Tapa Ngum at Lifehack came up with a great post on how to generate more ideas, and it can be applied to copywriting with ease.
How To Come Up With Stellar Ideas
- Pick the topic/area you are writing about (or pinpoint the niche you have been assigned). Narrow it down to something specific. For example, you were assigned automobile maintenance. That’s too broad. Narrow it down to a particular topic within maintenance.
- Expose yourself and explore those in the industry doing well on the same topic. That means examining other blogs and sites that are trending with the same subject (we suggest looking into BuzzSumo for that).
- Read what they are writing and understand what makes them so successful. Is it their style? Do they include photos? See what features stand out in their writing.
- Start brainstorming yourself. Use these major influencers as your inspiration and start writing as many ideas as possible. We’re talking a list of 10 to 50 ideas.
- Walk away. Come back a few minutes (or hours later) and pick the ideas that stand out the most. Once you cut the fat, you’ll be left with a list of excellent starting points.
5. An Understanding Of User Experience
The best copywriters are not concerned with the topic and SEO; they care about the user’s experience. Neil Patel at Content Marketing Institute says this is one of the most critical copywriting skills to refine.
In fact, he even says a copywriter doesn’t need to worry themselves with SEO, CRO or UXD.
According to Patel, writers should focus on the user. They can do this by:
- Using keywords that focus on the user’s needs, not the search engine.
- Create headlines based on what the user is looking for.
- Tailor the content to the needs and reading capacity of the reader.
6. Writing With Empathy
To write something that sells, you need to touch a reader on an emotional level.
You explore their feelings of happiness, sadness, failure, fears, and beliefs.
By using the power of empathy, you prime the reader for your sales pitch, and may increase the likelihood they will follow your call-to-action at the end.
According to Peter Noel Murry, Ph.D. at Psychology Today, empathy can enhance the effectiveness of copy by three fold.
How To Create Empathy, Even If You’re Not An Empathetic Person
- Think about objections the reader would raise.
- Consider an important motivation for your reader.
- Think of the benefits and advantages a user
- Look at the competition and see why they’ve lost the trust of their
- Explore different ways to present your approach, and think about what your target reader would prefer (i.e. sales-like, storytelling, ).
Being able to predict and read the minds of your readers are critical copywriter skills. It requires you to separate yourself from your thoughts, preconceived notions, and even desires. You must focus on the needs of your reader only — even if you don’t agree with them.
Start Polishing Your Copywriter Skills
Now that you know the essential skills, take the time to refine them.
It takes time to perfect your copywriter skills, and you should never consider yourself done even when you’ve reached the top.
The best copywriters are always innovating and looking for ways to improve. By doing the same, you can become an accomplished writer.
Express Writers is constantly motivating our writers to be the best they can be. Our copywriters have the essential skills and personal talents to create beautiful copy. See for yourself by ordering up something for your site through our Content Shop.