tone of voice

Tone of Voice & POV: How to Use Both Correctly for a Stronger, More Consistent Brand Presence

How are you perceived online? It all begins and ends with your point of view and tone of voice. 💡 ✍️

Unfortunately, some of the most common mistakes I see in content writing have to do with both of them.

From clients we work with, to students in the classes I teach, to writers I talk to — there’s always a conversation I observe that bears a misunderstanding of these two fundamental writing concepts.

The problem is, misunderstanding can lead to major gaffes in communication. (Can you say disappointed, annoyed customers?)

These are tricky concepts if you don’t know the rules and logic behind them. Luckily, learning about tone of voice and point of view isn’t too hard. Plus, the massive results you’ll earn are worth it: a more consistent brand presence that will draw your customers to you, consistently, time and time again. 🔥

Let’s get into it.

tone of voice and pov blog

Your Guide to Point of View and Tone of Voice: Table of Contents

What Are Tone of Voice and Point of View?

1. Tone of Voice

2. Point of View

  • First-Person POV
  • Second-Person POV
  • Third-Person POV

How to Use Tone of Voice and POV Correctly for a Better Brand Presence

1. Choose Your Tone of Voice from the Four Dimensions, Then Refine

2. Don’t Go Too Far with Tone of Voice

3. Choose Your Words Wisely

Your Tone of Voice and Point of View Define Your Brand

How do you want to be perceived online? Funny, serious, formal, smart, helpful? Make yourself stand out by identifying the right tone of voice and POV. 🎭Let @JuliaEMcCoy explain how the two are different and how to use them correctly. Click To Tweet

What Are Tone of Voice and Point of View?

First up, let’s clearly define the meaning of point of view and tone of voice in writing.

1. Tone of Voice

Tone of voice in communication determines how the writer comes across to the reader. What emotion(s) come through? How do they feel about the audience?

Tone of voice directly affects communication no matter where or how you’re talking.

In speech, the literal tone and pitch of your voice convey how you feel about what you’re saying and who you’re saying it to.

Likewise, your writing tone of voice has a direct impact on how your audience interprets your meaning and intentions. In writing, however, the key is word choice. The words you use, and the way you phrase them, define your textual tone.

Look at these tone of voice examples for an imaginary editing service. They convey the same message, but each has a different tone:

  • Sympathetic tone: Writing is hard. If you need help refining your prose, we’re here for you.
  • Witty tone: Writer’s block is as much fun as sitting in gridlock traffic for an hour. We get it. We can help you get unstuck.
  • Direct, straightforward tone: We’ll refine your writing, correct your grammar, and make your work shine.
  • Angry/combative tone: How the *$&!! did you get into this line of work with so little talent?! You obviously can’t write, so what CAN you do?

(That last example isn’t copy so much as harsh commentary, but it’s a good taste of how your tone of voice can change drastically by adding in a few all-caps and extra punctuation. This is a prime negative tone of voice example.)

A good synonym for tone of voice is writing style.

Remember! Tone of voice shows how you, the writer, comes across to the reader. Using the right words and the right sentence construction can deliver the emotion you need to connect to your audience. 💡 Click To Tweet

Need guidance on best SEO content writing style and practices? Check out The Expert SEO Content Writer Course.

2. Point of View

Point of view (POV) is perhaps more confusing for some people than tone of voice. Let’s clear the air.

Point of view refers to the narrator of a piece of content and their particular perspective. This is the person who’s telling the story, relaying the information, or reporting the events. Everything is told from this person’s point of view.

However, sometimes the narrator is not the writer, and vice-versa. The writer may assume the POV of someone else, essentially stepping into their shoes and writing from their perspective. This can be a different person, character, or entity (such as a brand or organization).

Whether you’re writing as yourself or writing as someone else, you’ll use different types of POV:

Image: Grammarly

First-Person POV

This type of POV is the most personal. With first-person, you’re writing directly from your own experience (or directly from your chosen narrator’s experience) using words like “I,” “me,” and “mine.”

Example: I know writing is hard. For me, I had to read and write every day before I became any good.

First-person POV also can be plural, i.e., one person speaking on behalf of many. In this instance, you’ll use words like “we,” “us,” and “our.”

Example: We know writing is hard. For us, the key was to read and write every day to improve our skills.

The 1st-person point of view is one you’ll see most often in personal stories, where people are describing their experiences. You’ll also find it in modern fiction writing.

Ann Handley uses first-person writing to great effect in her blog posts:

Second-Person POV

Writing in second-person means you’re talking directly to the reader, using words like “you,” “your,” and “yours.”

Example: You can learn to write well. It just takes a bit of practice. Soon the skill will be yours to command.

Sometimes, first and second-person POV can intermix – you can write both personally and directly.

Example: I know how difficult writing can be. You don’t need to be intimidated, though. You’ve got this!

This is the most common type of point of view you’ll find in online content writing. See this example from Brian Dean of Backlinko for inspiration:

Third-Person POV

Finally, third-person POV means you’re writing from an outside perspective.

You’re not talking directly or personally, but rather describing what others see, do, or think, like you’re watching them from afar and reporting all you see. You’ll use words like “he,” “she,” “them,” “it,” and “they.”

Example: The team didn’t know how to write well, so they enlisted a good editor for her guidance and feedback.

This POV is most often used in formal or professional articles and reports. This article from Reuters is a great example of a 3rd person POV:

POV tips: 🙋‍♀️ 1st-person - 'I, We, Us, Our' 👉 2nd-person - 'You, Your, Yours' 👉👩‍🦰👨‍🦰🐈 3rd-person - 'They, He, She, It, Them.' How is POV different from tone of voice? @JuliaEMcCoy clears up the confusion. Click To Tweet

How to Use Tone of Voice and POV Correctly for a Better Brand Presence

Tone of voice and point of view are essential to understand for better content. More importantly, choosing ONE tone of voice and ONE point of view to use consistently across your content will equal a more defined, recognizable brand presence online.

So, how can you do it? Here are some tips:

1. Choose Your Tone of Voice from the Four Dimensions, Then Refine

If you haven’t decided how you want to relate to your audience in your content, now is the time.

How do you want to sound in your communications? What feels right for your brand, product, service, image, etc.?

A helpful tool you might use to refine your tone of voice is the Nielsen Norman Group’s Four Dimensions of Tone of Voice. This is what they say about it:

“We decided to design a manageable web-specific tool that content strategists could use to create simple tone profiles for a company’s online presence. Our goal was to identify several tone-of-voice dimensions that could be used to describe the tone of voice of any website.”

These are the four dimensions:

  • Formal vs. casual
  • Funny vs. serious
  • Respectful vs. irreverent
  • Enthusiastic vs. matter-of-fact

Each dimension is represented by two extremes (e.g. formal at one end, casual at the other). You could choose a tone that’s one of the extremes, or decide to fall somewhere between the two.

Additionally, using a mix of dimensions is a good way to further refine your tone. For example, your brand tone of voice could be funny, casual, squarely in-between respectful and irreverent, and matter-of-fact.

Once you define each of your dimensions, you can then choose more specific words that further describe your brand voice. For instance:

  • Funny: Playful, punny
  • Casual: Chatty and friendly
  • Respectful/irreverent: Witty, kind
  • Matter-of-fact: Direct, outspoken

Once you’ve refined your tone of voice this far, it’s easy to choose a corresponding point of view to use in your content.

  • First-person: The least formal; relatable, subjective; storytelling emphasis
  • Second-person: The most direct; helpful, guiding
  • Third-person: The most formal; professional, knowledgeable, objective
Pro tip ❗ You can refine your tone of voice by following @NNgroup's 4 Dimensions of Tone of Voice: funny vs. casual, funny vs. serious, respectful vs. irreverent, and enthusiastic vs. matter-of-fact. Click To Tweet

2. Don’t Go Too Far with Tone of Voice

What happens when tone goes wrong?

You’ll make your readers feel the exact opposite of what you want.

This is easy to do when you go too far with tone of voice.

  • For example, maybe you decide you don’t want to be merely funny – you want to be HILARIOUS. So, you use exclamation points like they’re the only option, you constantly make ham-handed jokes, and you attempt to be light-hearted no matter what.
  • Or, maybe you want to sound professional and intelligent. You take care to always be serious, only use 3rd-person POV, pull from a rigorous vocabulary, and create a rule where your sentences must always be at least five words long.

Do you see how, in both scenarios, you’re going too far with each tone of voice?

In the first case, you won’t come off as a comedic genius or even funny – instead, you’ll sound unhinged, wacky, and uncaring.

In the second case, you won’t impress anyone. You’ll drive people away from your brand with your cold aloofness and condescending style.

When implementing your tone of voice, balance is a necessity.

  • Don’t rigidly stick to your chosen tone of voice when it doesn’t make sense. There are times to be serious and times to be more formal, even if your overarching voice is casual and funny.
  • Be human in your communication with your audience. Use common sense.
  • Don’t get set in your ways. Formal doesn’t necessarily equate with wordy. Informal doesn’t mean you must only be brief.

Image: Mike Atherton via SlideShare

3. Choose Your Words Wisely

As we said, tone of voice and point of view in your written content is all about word choice and punctuation.

Keep your point of view consistent. Don’t insert “I” and “me” into a blog where you’re using third-person POV. Similarly, don’t refer to people as “they” when you’re writing in second-person, and so on.

Use the vocabulary that matches up with your chosen tone of voice. The tone of voice you’ve defined comes with its own vocabulary. For example, if you’re a brand like MailChimp, your voice is simple, straightforward, and warm. See how their word choices reflect this?

If “love” and “heart” don’t make you feel warm and fuzzy, I don’t know what will.

Remember the definition of tone of voice. Your tone of voice determines how you come across to customers. Always, always think about how you might sound to them when putting together your content and copy.

With the correct POV (first-, second-, or third-person) to use with your defined tone of voice, you can easily make you or your brand's presence recognizable online. 🧿📣 Click To Tweet

Your Tone of Voice and Point of View Define Your Brand

Who you are online (or who you want to be) is demonstrated through your point of view and tone of voice. The perspective you speak from and the emotions you stir up in others will define your personality and presence.

Understand what each of these writing concepts will mean to your brand, then define them. Finally, keep them consistent across channels to build better relationships with customers.

home office optimization

Your Guide to Home Office Optimization: 10 Tips and Tricks from a Work-at-Home Content Manager

This is a guest post from our content manager, Korilynn.

Facts: An efficient workspace is more than just moving some papers and keeping your desk tidy.

In my role as a Content Manager for Express Writers, I juggle multiple tasks, manage a busy team of writers and editors, and entertain a three-year-old who is at home with me every day too.

There’s no way I could pull off my daily to-do list without implementing a few home office optimization techniques.

I am an organizational freak of sorts. Papers have a place, my desk cannot have a speck of dust, or it will annoy me until I whip out the Pledge and remove it.

I also have a checklist for just about anything and everything.

By staying so organized, I’m more efficient and productive at work, and I still get to enjoy the number one benefit of working from home: flexibility.

When you’re not glued to your computer working tirelessly to meet deadlines that are around the corner, life is so much easier. You don’t have to be OCD organized either. In my blog, I’m sharing my best tips with you so you can learn how to implement some home office optimization to maximize your productivity — and have more successful, much-needed “you” time.

home office optimization

10 Home Office Optimization Tricks to Implement for Maximum Efficiency

Home office optimization starts with your desk.

Your home desk setup is critical because this is your productivity hub. Once you sit down here, you are in “work” mode. Even if you don’t have a dedicated office, you can optimize using my tips for the best productivity setup regardless of where you are in the home.

I bought a large executive home office desk to fit my three monitors, but also have room for writing notes, paperwork off to the side, and everything else I need. I even have hidden sliders off to the side that I can pull out for those days my desk space isn’t enough (or if I need to place my Pumpkin Spice Latte somewhere safe).

Aside from buying a desk, you need to know how to design an office that focuses on how you work best. What works for me might not work for another, but you can use my home office ideas as a jumping-off point for your workspace. To get started, consider these essentials for your perfect home office, and see what works for your style and budget.

Working at home is great. But sometimes, juggling those career and family-related tasks can get you crazy. 😱 Stay productive with these 10 home office optimization tips from our content manager, Korilynn! 🤹 Click To Tweet

Tip #1: Get a Great Computer (My PC, aka The Blue Beast)

My PC was custom-built, because most ready-to-buy PCs do not meet my needs, plus I wanted the ability to run three monitors without my computer ever having an issue. It is quite a monster – almost as tall as my desk. However, it runs quietly, and all three of my monitors works flawlessly on it.

It has a bright blue light effect, which glows and at night looks like a big blue orb in my office; hence the name. I don’t dare lift it after we installed it either – takes two people to lift and move it.

I currently run:

  • Intel Core i7 Extreme
  • 32GB of RAM
  • Windows 10 64-Bit
  • Corsair Hydro Series Liquid Cooling
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080Ti

There’s plenty more in there making the Blue Beast run, but those are the primary components.

Do you have to go as crazy with your system? No, but I recommend more than one monitor. With three, I can lay out my work without having to manage multiple windows or tabs in Chrome, and I have seen a drastic improvement going from a single monitor to three.

Before I had three monitors, I had two. I initially swapped to two monitors after reading a study that adding a second monitory could increase productivity by 20 to 30 percent. While skeptical at first, once I added the second monitor, I was hooked – and I dare say my productivity spiked higher than 30 percent.

Tip #2: Try a Mechanical Keyboard: The Only Real Way to Type

When it comes to keyboards, I love mechanical ones. Not only are they easy to work on, but the sound is quite soothing. They have so many cute options today – including ones that mimic typewriters. I love to buy those, as I am obsessed with typewriters and their sound.

Even better, mechanical keyboards last way longer than rubber keyboards. If a key stops working, buy a new switch, replace, and off you go. Most keyboards come with a few extra switches too.

I recently swapped to the Cherry MX Silent from Corsair because my old mechanicals was too loud for early morning work sessions – didn’t want to wake everyone in the house as I crazily typed away.

Source: Corsair

With mechanicals, you almost feel as though you are working harder when your keyboard is clicking away like crazy. Sure, it annoys everyone around, but it gets you in the zone — so don’t mind anyone who tells you otherwise. Just show them your checklist when everything is marked “done.”  ✅ 😉

Tip #3: Consider a Treadmill Desk for a Change of Pace (Literally)

It is hard to sit at your desk all day, and it isn’t healthy either. Harvard Medical School mentions sitting for too many hours can increase your risk of diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and even deep-vein thrombosis.

I use a treadmill desk about once every other day.  Don’t buy an actual treadmill desk. What I did was purchase a regular treadmill (so I can enjoy all the great features) and created a makeshift board across it that holds my laptop when I want to get in some steps while typing. Not only does it keep me healthy but makes sure I annihilate anyone I’m competing in Fitbit challenges for that week too.

The research is out on whether treadmill desks increase productivity, but it is still a functional home office optimization tip to consider. Just be prepared – it takes time to get used to walking and typing at the same time.

Tip #4: Clean Your Workspace – Clutter Is the Enemy

You don’t have to be a clean freak to notice that clutter on your desk creates a stressful working environment. One home office optimization tip you can’t skip is decluttering your workspace. Try to reduce the clutter by putting pens in a single pen holder, keeping your notes and paperwork in neat piles, and removing anything unnecessary to your work from your desk. Organize your drawers, so everything you need is within reach, but not taking up real estate on your desk surface.

Quick home office optimization tips from our content manager: get a great computer that allows you to work flawlessly (and open +20 tabs), try using a mechanical keyboard, and make sure your desk is clean! Read more in this post. Click To Tweet

Tip #5: Have Ready-to-Go Saved Work Tabs on Chrome

As a Content Manager, on an average day, I need three Chrome windows open and a total of 22 tabs. Finding and opening each of those tabs manually each day is a waste of time, and this is by far one of the easiest ways to optimize your home office.

I created pre-set tab categories by monitor, in the order I want them to open on my Chrome window, and all I need to do is open with one click in the browser each morning – taking a task that usually was 5 minutes of searching down to under 60 seconds.

Tip #6: Create a To-Do List and Track Projects in Asana (or Similar)

I’m a big to-do list junkie, and it is a home office optimization task you cannot skip if you want to get things done. I use a standard paper planner for regular to-do’s around the house in one color, and another for work-related tasks.

For bigger jobs and projects, I use Asana to organize it all. I also put all of my daily tasks in Asana – there’s so many, I’d forget without a daily checklist.

Asana has a great feature that allows a task to auto-repeat every set number of days/hours after you hit the checkmark.

So, for daily tasks, I have it repeat every 24 hours. When I hit the checkmark, it automatically reappears on tomorrow’s to-do list.

Tip #7: Use Focus Timers to Encourage Breaks and Maximize Productivity

Sitting at your desk for hours on end, focusing on a single project, makes you think you’re productive, but in reality, you’re wasting more time than necessary, which brings me to the next must on your home office optimization to-do list.

Your brain isn’t designed to focus for hours. Instead, you need small breaks every 15-20 minutes to refresh. After three 15 to 20-minute sessions, you should take one longer break to recharge.

The Pomodoro Technique, which is what this practice is named as, was created in the 1980s. The Pomodoro Technique works differently from how I like to break up my work but is a great place to start if you’ve never done a focus timer. In this technique, you do a 25-minute session, then break for 5 minutes. After you do four 25-minute sessions, you take a 15 to 20-minute break.

You can use an ordinary kitchen timer, but I have installed an app on my PC known as Focus10. You can customize how many work sessions you do, the time limit for each, and even the break amounts.

If you are a PC user, you can find Focus10 in the Microsoft Store under apps or search “Focus10” and the app will appear.

Microsoft Store has a few other timer choices, but after trying a few, Focus10 is my favorite. It is incredibly user-friendly, free, and simplified. Others were cumbersome and way too busy. I just wanted a timer that I can program and move on.

Use your time wisely by listing down your to-dos on a planner or programs like Asana for easier tracking. Use focus timers too to encourage breaks and maximize your productivity. ⏲️ Know more home optimizations tips here! Click To Tweet

Tip #8: Utilize Gmail’s Built-In Email Organization Tools

Gmail is not user-friendly. They have so many features, but they make it impossible to find them at times. Only by accident did I stumble across labels and color-coding inside my Gmail. Who knows how long this little gem was there!

Mess around with your labels and filters, so that you have emails automatically deposit into specific categories. You can even have them skip the inbox and go into the category folder.

You can organize your desk, and you can follow every home office optimization idea I give you, but one you also should include is your inbox. When you’re done for the day, that bad boy should be empty. Every email pushed into its place, and if you want to go crazy, add color-coding.

Main categories have one color, subcategories another. That way when it shows in my inbox, thanks to the nifty labeling rules I’ve set, it automatically has a color, and I know what is important and what can wait until after coffee hour.

Tip #9: Start the Day with a Brain Dump

I cannot focus on work if I have thoughts running through my head. I often tell people to picture a hamster on his wheel running around like mad because that is my brain daily.

To tame the hamster and at least get him to take a nap while I work, I do a morning brain dump. While this might not specifically organize your office, having a mind ready to work is critical. With all the home office optimization in the world, when your brain is somewhere else, you’re not productive.

I sit down before I log in for the day, take out my journal and write. What do I write? Literally everything.

I will run on about how the kids have soccer that day, or how I really want to repaint my kitchen. Anything that is running through my brain, making that hamster wheel turn, gets written down, off my chest, and then my mind feels free and ready to tackle the day.

Tip #10: Consider Your Existing Home Office Design Layout – and How to Improve It

Your home office should be comfortable and operational for flawless home office optimization.

A good-sized desk is a great start, and if you have a dedicated space in your home for an office, even better. When I first started working from home, my office was in my living room. So, I’ve been there too.

Regardless of where, or how much space you have, you can make your workspace more efficient and comfortable by moving things around and creating “stations” for your work.

My current office, for example, seconds as my craft room. However, all crafts and work are separate. One side of my office is my dedicated craft area, with its own desk and all craft supplies stored neatly on shelves.

The other side of my office is the “work” area. Here you have my desk, my chair, printer station, and filing cabinets. When I’m on this side of my office, I’m in work mode. When I’m on the craft side, I’m in relaxation mode.

Organize your home office to what works for you. If you have a dedicated office without a craft room, then you can space things out more.

Just make sure you get plenty of natural light. The more exposure you have to natural sunlight, the better you will feel (health-wise), but also, the more productive you will be each day, according to Cornell University.

Now You Have the Home Office Optimization Tips You Need to Improve Your Game

Whether you are a freelancer working from home, a virtual assistant, or a content manager thriving on PSLs, the more optimization you do for your home office environment, the more productive you’ll be each day.

Getting your job done is rewarding, but getting it done quickly and efficiently even more so. After all, would you rather have the afternoon to get outside for fresh air, or stay stuck at your desk because you fell behind?

Now that I’ve armed you with what works for me, the next step is for you to go out and find what works best for you.

CTA home office optimization

technical content writer

How to Become a Technical Content Writer: A Real-Life Guide from a Tech Content Writer

This is a guest post from one of our technical writers, Megan A.

Many writers I know hear “technical writing” and instantly recoil, as though the words were some sort of scaly monster that had slithered into their ears. 🐍

Others believe technical writing to be the death of a writer’s soul. After all, there can’t be any room for artistic creativity in a realm so coldly logical, can there?

Well, not exactly.

While it’s true that technical writing is mostly analytical – and typically not your first choice to read on a long flight, there is a branch of technical writing that is engaging, creative, and increasingly high demand:

Technical content writing.

So, what is technical content writing? How is it different from technical writing? Why is it so important in today’s workplace, and why should more creative people consider going into it?

Let’s get into it.

Need technical content writing? See our rates.

a real life guide from a technical content writer

How to Become a Technical Content Writer: A Real-Life Guide (What’s Ahead)

What is Technical Writing?

What is Technical Content Writing?

Why Employers Want Technical Content Writers

4 Perks of Being a Technical Content Writer

Discussing Technical Writing Career Paths

How to Become a Technical Content Writer: Your 3-Step Checklist

What is Technical Writing?

Wikipedia defines technical writing as the process of communicating information between two or more parties through any medium which best gets the point across.

wikipedia tech writer

Some of those said mediums are:

  • Technical reports
  • User manuals
  • Instructions
  • Documentation
  • Policy procedures

The list goes on and on, but they all share a singular purpose: to transfer knowledge in such a way that enables the recipient to complete a particular task.

Learn the difference between technical writing, technical content writing, and why employers are seeking tech content writers 🔥 More in this real-life guide by our tech writer Megan. Click To Tweet

What is Technical Content Writing?

Let me answer that question with another question: What is content writing?

Content writing is all the customer-facing media that drives interest for a particular product, business, or website. In today’s digital world, the majority of content is designed for the web.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Social media
  • News writing
  • Ghostwriting
  • SEO composition

Technical content writing is effectively all of that but specifically for the tech world.

Technical writing and technical content writing can be seen as two sides of the same coin. Whereas technical writing shares knowledge in a user-friendly manner, technical content writing generally shares knowledge in a customer-friendly way.

Why Employers Want Technical Content Writers

As more and more jobs become automated, a lot of us have growing anxiety that our profession might be the next for robots to replace. However, content writing will still rely on humans for a while, and technical content writing is one of the fastest-growing jobs in the market.

In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics from the United States Department of Labor predicts that between now and 2026, technical writing employment will experience a growth of 11%. That’s 5% higher than the average growth for all occupations and 6% greater than the employment growth for media and communication specialists.

technical writer graph

The reason for this is because technical products – new technologies, software, and services based on the web – are being developed at a rapid pace. With those new products comes the need for people savvy in communication to explain the ins and outs of it as well as creatives who can get more people interested.

Need technical content created for your blog or site? See our tech writing prices in our Content Shop.

What's the difference between technical writing and technical content writing? Technical writing shares knowledge in a user-friendly manner. Technical content writing shares knowledge too -- but in a customer-friendly way. Click To Tweet

4 Perks of Being a Technical Content Writer

If job security and high demand aren’t enough for you, here are a few of the other appeals to being a technical content writer.

1. Work Never Gets Stale

Have you ever worked a job that was the same day in and day out? I certainly have. It was mind-numbing.

However, with technical content writing, there’s always something new to learn and it changes every day. As long as new technologies, methods, and ethics surrounding those technologies come into being or fade out of use, there will forever be something to learn and write about.

This is especially true if you go into technical content writing with little to no experience in the technology industry, as the less internal jargon you know, the more you have to research.

2. You Don’t Need Experience in Tech to be a Technical Content Writer

Study.com found that few technical writing jobs require applicants to have a degree in anything technical.

tech education

None of these degrees have a direct relation to working with technology. I would also argue that you don’t need a degree to become a writer, but we’ll get to that later.

Most of what you do as a technical content writer is take the complex and simplify it for the rest of us. For example, you could be asked to write a journalistic blog discussing recent cyberattacks on universities, or create a lesson for developers on how to code an interactive map in their app.

None of that requires you to be a programmer or IT technician (though many people in such roles do go into technical writing). All it needs is for you to be adaptable, able to learn, and know how to effectively communicate with others.

As long as you’re curious, a fast learner, a good researcher, and have a history of writing strong content, you can break into technical content writing.

3. You Won’t Lose Your Passion to Work

When I was attending university for a degree in writing, I found that my passion for creative writing had died. Where once I wrote stories because I wanted to, I was now selling stories for a grade. It didn’t matter if I liked what I was writing – as long as it got me an A, it was good.

In short, it can be emotionally draining to manipulate something that used to be part of your soul into a sellable product. That’s not to say some authors can’t do it (looking at you Stephen King), but generally, work is still work no matter what you’re doing.

Fortunately, technical content writing does not rely so heavily on how creatively the author crafts a narrative as much as it values whether or not the author can produce something that serves a purpose. There is still an emphasis on creativity in technical content writing, but it’s primarily on how well the author can maximize reader engagement and make the subject matter comprehensible to the general public.

As such, you can have something you do for work and something you do for yourself at the end of the day. Striking a balance between those two is more important than many people realize.

4. The Best Money You Can Make as a Writer

The average content writer in the United States makes $17.50 an hour.

technical writer salary

Meanwhile, according to Josh Fetcher, technical writers can earn anywhere between $50,000 to $200,000 annually. The amount a technical writer makes is based on a few factors, such as:

  • The speed at which you put out work
  • The quality of your work – or the quality that is expected from you
  • How strongly the company you’re employed with trusts your ability to work on larger projects

And of course, if you’re working freelance, the demand for your technical writing will determine how much you earn on average. It could be more than the estimations listed above or less.

The amount you make as a technical writer also depends on how much you are willing to learn about the tech industry. A writer who doesn’t know the first thing about coding will not be able to accept assignments from a client that wants them to write about the pros and cons between Angular and JavaScript, for example. It literally pays to have a curious mind.

Accepting the title of a technical writer or technical content writer may not be as sexy as saying you’re a journalist, reviewer, or that you’re working on your upcoming bestseller, but for some (myself included), it can be the difference between living with your parents or paying off your student loans.

For our tech writer, Megan, there are more technical content writer perks besides job security: work never gets stale, no tech experience required, you can be creative, and good money. 🙌 Click To Tweet

Discussing Technical Writing Career Paths

Like how doctors have many different specializations to go into, technical writers are not limited to a single discipline for their career. Within technical writing is a handful of career groups which then can be broken into sub-groups.

tech writer careers

Some of those groups are:

  • Content Production: This includes content writing, developing, and editing. A technical content writer may also be asked to produce scripts for video or podcasts, blogs, news articles, or marketing copy.
  • Communication: Technical communications is a broad field with many subsets, but the overarching objective of a technical communicator is to convey information through various means. A technical communicator may be asked to write instructions, publish articles in scientific journals, present new technology at a conference, and so on.
  • Information production: This is similar to technical communication in that you would be expected to help others understand a complex concept, but the tasks that would be given to you are more specialized. For instance, as an information developer, you’d be tasked more with software development and the systems on which your software is built. As an information designer, you’d more likely be asked to create graphics that visualize data in an effective way that’s easy to understand.

These branches are good to reference as you look to begin your career in technical writing, but your choices are not limited to the ones listed above. If you decide to create your own business or freelance career out of technical writing, you can create any number of paths you want for yourself.

How to Become a Technical Content Writer: 3-Step Checklist

Technical content writing has many avenues you can approach it from. The strongest skills you will have as a technical content writer is your willingness to learn, your adaptability, and your ability to produce strong written content. The following are some good tips for success when starting your career in technical content writing:

1. Become an Industry “Expert”

Merriam-Webster’s definition of “expert” is about what you might expect.

expert

However, the term “expert” has been experiencing a shift in meaning as of late due to how frequently it’s used in the professional world. Now it mostly just means that you aren’t completely naive on the subject you’re supposedly an “expert” on. In general, you should have a firm enough grasp on the technical matter you’re writing about that you can add your own perspective instead of regurgitating what you learn about it.

If you want to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. As in, if you want to write about technical information, you have to know how to work with said information.

That doesn’t mean you have to be a surgeon to write about surgical robots. Similarly, you don’t have to build your own security software to discuss new developments within the cybersecurity sector.

The term “expert” has been experiencing a shift in meaning as of late due to how frequently it’s used in the professional world. Now it mostly just means that you aren’t completely naive on the subject you’re supposedly an “expert” on. In general, you should have a firm enough grasp on the technical matter you’re writing about that you can add your own perspective instead of regurgitating what you learn about it.

In my case, I figured that in order to effectively write about software, I needed to at least know the fundamentals of coding.

To do this, I used Codecademy, and continue to use it to this day. Through them, I learned the basics of HTML and developed a calculator using Python. I wouldn’t say I’m an “expert coder” because of that, but I am at least familiar with the processes involved with producing software. This allows me to have a better understanding of what goes into software and web development, thus enabling me to produce higher quality technical content.

Otherwise, strong research skills will be your greatest asset. If you don’t know what something in your assignment is, look it up. After looking it up, read similar pieces from other authors to get a fuller understanding of what that thing is and how to address it. Then, when writing your technical piece, think of what you would add to what you’ve just learned to make it better.

This ensures that not only are you providing your readers with facts, but you’re also giving them unique takes that can benefit their lives.

2. Learn Your Audience

One of the reasons I got into technical writing was because I am surrounded by people who work with technology.

My proximity to these sorts of folk helps me understand the minds of people in the tech industry, the types of problems they work with, and what solutions many of them look for.

In other words, I’m intimately familiar with my audience.

There are other, less direct ways to learn about your audience in the technical world, however. You can start by:

  • Reading the comments: Remember how I mentioned that research is your greatest asset? Well, when you research other technical content online, look for any comments that may be attached to it. If there are comments, make note of what people are saying and how they’re feeling about the subject at hand. Be as empathetic as possible when taking their comments into account, as these people will likely be the same who will read your work.
  • Finding case studies: Here is an example from JumpCloud of how you can find case studies on a company website:

Go to the reviews and testimonials section of any website that aims to deliver a service or product to tech professionals and look through any case studies they have. Case studies are designed to help a company build a customer persona, but they can also help you identify the common issues your audience might have and what they would like to hear.

  • Following tech blogs: By following tech blogs, you’ll keep up to date on new developments and what people are thinking about them. Sign up for their emails and stay on their list.

Josh Fetcher also recommends conducting interviews with industry professionals. He says “technical writing often requires interviews,” so the sooner you get comfortable with them, the better.

3. Build a Portfolio

I’m sure many have caught on to this, but a degree that isn’t STEM-related is virtually meaningless today. Employers mostly want to see that you have experience, but experience is in short supply. That’s why you have to create your own.

Find a technical topic that interests you. This can be software development, hardware development, scientific research, etc. Read everything you can on your chosen subject. Then, create your own piece of technical content that focuses in on it. Save your work on something that’s easily shareable – in my case, it was a WordPress blog – so that you can direct potential clients or employers to it when you need to.

How can you become a technical content writer? 3 steps: become an industry expert -- understand the topic and have strong research skills, know your audience, & build your portfolio. Read more in this guide by our tech writer, Megan! Click To Tweet

Finding Balance as a Tech Content Writer

I found my technical content writing career after spending half a year writing blogs on health and wellness. Reading medical journals was actually something that interested me. When I learned the work I was doing was similar to technical content writing, I starting looking into that field.

I can thank Express Writers for allowing me to practice technical content writing at a highly professional level.

Technical content writing was a bit out of my comfort zone, tried it out, and found that it wasn’t as daunting or dull as it sounded.

If anything, technical content writing has helped me feel more fulfilled in my work. It has allowed me to exercise both the left and right side of my brain while keeping the type of writing I consider to be part of my soul intact.

Looking for technical content writing for your site or blog? See our tech writing prices in our Content Shop.

cta technical content writer

freelance writing online

How I Got Started Freelance Writing Online: A Day in the Life of a Content Writer

Freelance writing online—a part-time gig to fill your spare time, a common misconception that many have.

Sure, writing online can be a fun hobby for some; however, for others, it’s a passion that fuels a fire that some simply don’t understand. Content writing is oftentimes a thankless job—in some cases, you work hours on end researching and toiling over a keyboard creating an outstanding piece of content that doesn’t even garner you a byline. So why bother doing it?

Here’s my answer: because it’s my passion.

I’ve been a writer my entire life—I kid you not. Before I could even write, I was telling wild stories that my family would write for me so I could have a copy to show off to my friends, family, and maybe my own children someday. That passion turned into a love of reading and a love of creation, one that spurred my love of education. An odd combination, sure, but it all comes together, I promise!

I knew college was my dream in elementary school, but when the time came, choosing what road I was going to take and what I was going to do with the rest of my life…

Talk about an impossible task!

freelance writing online

Freelance Writing Online: From Dream to Present & Future

What started as a love of education and wanting to educate other’s, quickly fizzled out as soon as the job market told me that becoming an educator wasn’t ideal. Teachers were getting laid off left and right, so why bother wasting my time and tuition money in a dead-end dream?

Okay, so it was time to choose a fallback option. I loved to read and create, so English was an obvious choice, but what kind of job could I get as an English major… Besides teaching English? Enter in Dr. Terri Fredrick, and there began my journey in professional and technical writing. This was a professor who encouraged us to look at every option available, including freelance writing online.

She taught us every lesson in the book:

  • How to spot scams
  • How to research clients
  • How to cold-pitch ideas
  • To not count yourself short

However, the lesson that stuck with me the most was to do what you love.

Upon graduating in 2013, this English major with her background in professional and technical writing knew that she wanted to write, but oddly enough, there weren’t all that many positions open for in-office writers. So, despite my family’s objections, I headed online, hit up ProBlogger.com, and landed my first writing position for a journalistic style website.

freelance writing online workspace

How do writers land a work-from-home online job? And what does their day-to-day writing from home look like? Cassie Boss, Express Writers' expert writer, shares her story and tips. Click To Tweet

Interested in working from home and writing? We’re always interviewing for additional writers. Send in your resume or samples here!

Freelance Writing Online: Part-Time Gig or Full-Time Job?

The overall job outlook for writers and authors is projected to grow 8% between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and with traditional publishing declining due to the uprising of online publication, the demand for online freelance writers is expected to grow.

The overall job outlook for writers and authors is projected to grow 8% between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The overall job outlook for writers and authors is projected to grow 8% between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still not sure if freelance online writing is for you? Read our expert writer's advice! Click To Tweet

What does that mean for anyone looking to start freelance writing online? Is this a position for part-timers looking to fill in some downtime? Alternatively, are there real possibilities to go full-time and make a living?

It all comes down to your intentions and personal preferences. For those looking to make a hobby of it, there are plenty of opportunities, both paid and unpaid; however, for those looking to make a career of it, I have some advice:

Prepare to get dirty and fight for your position.

Becoming a full-time freelance content writer takes a lot of time, patience, dedication, and yes, maybe a few tears along the way. Just like any other dream, you must be willing to work for it.

When I first started my journey into freelance writing online, I figured my degree would be enough to land me quality work, but just like with any other position, I had to prove that I could tough it out.

This meant researching and writing on topics that I didn’t love, working long hours and when I finally had the opportunity to take on freelance editing, it meant working overnight shifts, effectively putting my social life on hold.

Peace, Coffee, Love mug

What made it even harder, personally, was the fact that my circle didn’t believe that freelance writing was a “real job,” simply because I worked from home. To most, a “real job” consists of putting on business casual clothing, driving into the office and working 9-5. A “real job” wasn’t working in your home office at varying times researching and writing on topics varying from healthy keto recipes to Kim Kardashian’s latest relationship dramas.

Online freelance writer with her dog beside her napping

While it wasn’t a traditional reality, it was my reality, and I loved it. Not only was I writing, but I was continuing my love of education because I had to continuously research topics for client pieces, and I knew I would be educating others once they read the content I was creating.

I was living my dream…. I am living my dream.

Becoming a Full-Time Online Freelance Writer

I could go on to tell you that to become a full-time freelance writer online you must create a website, pitch your ideas and network, but I’m not going to. There are enough blogs and how-to articles out there that do just that.

That said, here are my tips on how to become a full-time online content writer.

1. Put Yourself Out There

By putting yourself out there, I mean get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If I’ve learned anything in my 6+ years of freelance writing online, it’s to be prepared to get out of your comfort zone. Since I was trained in literature during my school years, never did I imagine I would end up writing about digital marketing, celebrity entertainment, or health and wellness.

As a freelance writer, you can choose your niche; however, if you are just starting off, you need to prove your skills just as you would in any “real” job. This means researching and writing on topics you aren’t that familiar with and providing top-quality content that delivers results. Don’t be afraid of writing outside your comfort zone because it could be the difference between going full-time and struggling to land work.

2. Build Your Network

Okay, so I said I wasn’t going to go there… however, I’m going there. Building your online network matters more than you know. Writing is a creative art, even if it is technical in nature. You are creating something from nothing, and you need to have a network of people surrounding you to endorse your skills and help guide you on current trends. Think of it this way; your network works a lot like an artist’s online portfolio or a business’s testimonials page.

Having a strong network of people to endorse your work is one of the best ways to prove to future clients that you are capable of completing given tasks. Better yet, this network can also work to give you feedback to help shape your future work. Having a networking profile, such as a LinkedIn profile, is beneficial on so many different levels because it helps you continue learning from industry experts, all while allowing you to showcase your talents to prospective clients—all of which are vital steps in your journey to freelance writing online.

3. Your Client is Your Customer, Treat Them as Such

Another essential lesson I’ve learned through my years of online freelance work is always to treat each client as if they are the only one you have. Whether you found a steady job with a content creation agency or are choosing individual assignments on your own, each client needs to be treated as if they are your only focus.

Freelance writing online is a service that you are providing, and just like any other service, you are being hired to fulfill a customer’s needs. Treat your clients with the respect they deserve and always give them your best work. If you don’t feel like as if you can do their assignment justice, do the right thing, and tell them so. The absolute last thing you should be doing is handing in [email protected]$$ed work. That’s not going to get you the reputation you want. So, remember, the client is your customer, treat them as if they are the only one you have, and give them the quality work they deserve.

4. Let Go of Stigmas

If I’m being honest, this is probably one of the biggest struggles I had to overcome as a freelance content writer. Between disapproving loved ones, the stigma of being “lazy,” not having a “real job” and dealing with the instability of the job market, there were many times when I felt that freelance writing online simply wasn’t a viable position.

Here’s the lesson—I let outside influences tell me that it wasn’t viable, when, in fact, online content creation is a booming industry. With over 1.6 billion websites online, businesses are turning to online freelance writers to create expert-level writing that will attract new readers that will eventually lead to new customers.

That said, let go of all stigmas! The more you tell yourself you can’t, the more real that negativity becomes.

LET IT GO!

If you're serious about freelance online writing, here are Cassie's top 4 tips: be prepared to get out of your comfort zone, build your network, treat clients with respect, and let go of stigmas. 💓 Click To Tweet

Get Serious About Freelance Writing Online

Sure, while many individuals turn to freelance writing online as a source of extra income or even just as a hobby, there are many out there that want to make this more than that and turn it into a full-time career.

To do that, you must get serious and buckle down. There are dozens of different ways to go about finding a freelance writing job, but until you let go of those stigmas I mentioned earlier and start treating this as the passion you claim it to be, you won’t see much in the way of results.

Get Serious. Put Yourself Out There. Live Your Passion and Create Something Amazing!

awesome cta

how to improve your writing skills

How to Improve and Transform Your Writing Skills and Create Powerful, Zero-Fluff Content

What separates good writing from great writing?

You’ve got the fundamentals down and then some. Your grammar is flawless. Your flow is impeccable. Your source formatting is perfect.

Those are all fantastic qualities – but they aren’t all you need to produce outstanding content.

For that, you need something more, or, in some cases, something less.

The key to creating top-notch content your clients and readers will love is to lose the fluff. Replace your empty phrases with power words. Cut out the filler, and make room for more actionable, insightful language.

Trust me, it works. Power words and stronger language tap into our emotions. Harvard research has proven that emotions are a bigger driving factor in our decisions than logical calculations.

A style of writing like this doesn’t just come to us.

It takes research, practice, and dedication. Today we’ll discuss steps on how to improve your writing skills and transform your content.

6 Steps on How to Improve Your Writing Skills

1.    Understand the Basics of Good Writing and Why They Matter

2.    Take a Closer Look at Your Language

3.    Cut and Cull Filler, Fluff, and Fallback Words

4.    Use These Exercises to Build Better Habits

5.    Proofread with Power Words in Mind

6.    Final Checks: See How Your Work Measures Up

steps on how to improve your writing skills

The key to creating top-notch content your clients and readers will love is to lose the fluff. Learn transformative #writing skills in this post by @JuliaEMcCoy 📝 Click To Tweet

Starting Out: Make Sure You Have the Fundamentals Down

I did mention that good grammar, flow, and citing practices are fundamental to good writing. So before you set out to empower your content with stronger words, make sure you’ve got all the basics taken care of.

This isn’t to say you won’t ever make a typo or fail to link to a source properly – everyone does it. Yet, we need a solid base to work off of.

Think of the blog you’re creating like a house you’re building. Even if you paint and clean the exterior, it won’t cover up for using old materials. Consider it like a piece of music. You can have the best mastering toolkit out there – but a poor mix can only be polished so much.

If you’re wondering how to improve your writing skills and grammar, I recommend a tool like Grammarly. It’s a free add-on for Chrome that’s helped millions of people improve their grammar, and even find better word choices.

I also wrote a book for online content writing beginners back in 2016, the book I wished I’d had when I started out, called So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing. Check it out on Amazon.

For sourcing your work correctly and getting better flow, there’s nothing better than analyzing the experts. I love Jon Morrow from SmartBlogger, and Henneke at Enchanting Marketing. Stay original, but draw inspiration from the content you want to emulate.

Now onto the main part of our guide – how can you take a piece with perfect grammar and great fundamentals and make it even better?

If you’re wondering how to improve your writing skills and grammar, I recommend a tool like Grammarly. - @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Examine Your Vocabulary and Pick Power Words

Great writing isn’t just about saying something – it’s how you say it that is important. Take the following example – examine the difference between the first and second image.

Images from OptinMonster

Those power words trigger something in our psychology. Think about how bad it would feel to miss out on something – or how good it would feel to get a freebie.

Power words can activate positive or negative responses. In either case, they drive some type of reaction. They can take the same message and magnify it, enriching the copy and facilitating a better connection with the reader.

I get this question all the time. How do you know what constitutes a power word? Admittedly, some subjectivity is in play. If you want to get a quick start on empowering your vernacular, check out this resource from my agency containing 120 amazing power words – plus 10 calls-to-action you can use for more results.

The importance of writing skills for content creators doesn’t just mean the ability to crank out thousands of words per day or follow client instructions. It means being able to go above and beyond with language that commands reactions.

Here are some tips for choosing power words:

  • Be Unique and Ultra-Specific: The more your words stand out, the better. If you can choose a word that describes what you’re talking about in more detail, do it. Remember, being as specific and precise as possible strengthens the overall message of your writing.
  • Express Urgency and Describe Degrees: As shown in our last example, power words can reinforce the time-sensitivity of a message. You should also look to reinforce the degrees of what you’re talking about. If something is better than good, or worse than bad, pick a word that expresses it.
  • Always Stay Relevant and Useful: Remember, we aren’t beefing up our vocabulary just for the sake of it. Don’t use elaborate words just to be using them. Make sure your choices reflect the content you’re writing and the mood you’re trying to create. Otherwise, you’re being wordy for the sake of it, which could count as fluff – but more on that later.

 

Image from Pinterest

'Choosing power words tips: Be unique, specific, express urgency, and stay relevant' - @JuliaEMcCoy on improving writing skills Click To Tweet

Mood is another thing to keep in mind. There are different power words to use depending on what emotion or vibe you’re trying to cultivate.

Creating a step-by-step guide? Give your readers amazing advice to help them command results and see incredible changes.

You can do this for the entire spectrum of emotions and human urges. Fear, excitement, lust, bravery, and more.

Even with a general idea of power words, you may be curious about how to work them in. The good news is you don’t need to extend your word counts that much. In some cases, you can make room by eliminating weak language.

Learn to Spot Fluff, Then Cut and Cull it Out of Your Writing

Fluff, filler, and fallback words can befall even the best writers out there. We all do it – sometimes it’s just too tempting to get wordy even if the situation doesn’t necessarily call for it.

Again, there is some subjectivity in play when determining exactly what counts as fluff. However, your quest to transform your writing requires you to make this determination and change your approach accordingly.

Fluff could be thought of as “the extra words” which don’t add much to the sentence – if anything. Could the same point be made, as strong (or even stronger) without a word? Then that word is fluff.

Image from Pinterest

Cutting the fluff is key for making room for your power words. It’s also great for keeping your reader interested, making each piece feel unique, and strengthening the message you’re trying to convey. Here’s a quick set of steps to help you find filler and eliminate it – or better yet, avoid falling back on it to begin with.

  • Start with an Outline: Concise writing, by default, will have less filler. If you’re worried your piece will get fluffy, start with an outline. It will help you stay on track and cover the important points without drifting too far out of focus.
  • Don’t Get Too Descriptive: Just because you’re being concise doesn’t mean you have to be too detailed unless the subject calls for it. Fluff isn’t just extra words that add no value – it can also be extra details that aren’t necessarily appropriate in the piece you’re writing.
  • Remove Redundancy: The key to impactful writing with crisp, powerful language is value. Your words should compel, and say a lot with a little. Because of this, there’s no need to use different words to say the same thing over again. You can explain the same thing in multiple ways if doing so strengthens the message, but less is more in most cases.

The process of removing fluff usually comes into play during editing. However, there’s a better way to eliminate fluff – do it as you write.

Of course, this is easier said than done. The best way to train yourself to write powerful content with zero fluff is the same way you train yourself to do anything else – with the right exercises.

Image from one of my favorite marketers ever, Henneke at Enchanting Marketing

Once you get the right techniques and use exercises that can build good habits, it becomes much easier to get inspired toward creating impactful content.

'Steps to detect fluff: create an outline, avoid getting too descriptive, and avoid redundancy - @JuliaEMcCoy on improving writing skills Click To Tweet

Use These 3 Exercises to Improve Writing Skills

When you’re trying to put power words into your writing, you’ll find old habits are hard to break. If you’ve relied on tame terminology and fluff for a while, you’ll also take a while to transform your writing.

The best way to improve your technical, promotional, and creative writing skills is to try these helpful exercises.

1. Find Your Fluff Fallbacks and Cut, Cut, Cut

This writing exercise begins in the editing phase. When you’re learning how to spot fluff, you’ll start by plucking out those unnecessary elements from your writing. Maybe you have a thing for adverbs, or you’re a person who loves their prepositions.

Whatever your fallbacks are, they will usually fall into a few specific categories. Once you find these, challenge yourself to write without them. If you find it too hard to avoid them completely, set a goal such as having no more than 5 cases in the piece you’re working on.

2. The Reverse Word Count Trick

Copywriters are familiar with the concept of minimum word counts.

But what about maximum word counts?

Yes, you may know me as the “long-form queen,” but even I have a maximum. 🙅

When you’re writing a sentence, read it back afterward and ask yourself: Could I use fewer words to get my point across? This is the “reverse word count” trick.

You don’t always have to splice every modifier or adjective out for the sake of brevity. However, learning to say more with less can help you avoid filler words and ensure you aren’t adding words in just to reach a total.

When you’re writing a sentence, read it back afterward and ask yourself: Could I use fewer words to get my point across? This is the 'reverse word count' trick. - @JuliaEMcCoy on strong #writing Click To Tweet

3. Broaden Your Vocabulary: Use Powerful (But Simple) Language

When we talk about putting power words into our work, complexity immediately comes to mind. But since we’re using them to make a connection with the reader, it is often better if they are simple. Try replacing your generic words with powerful alternatives – but only if you know their meaning. To widen and broaden your vocabulary, use Thesaurus.com. I use it constantly when looking up a more powerful synonym.

Image from Jar of Quotes

Mr. Grishman’s quote also has an extended version, where he tells us to go sparingly on the second category.

This applies especially to industries full of terms that qualify as “jargon.” Don’t write in phrases you have to think too deeply to understand, or you’ll turn off your online readers. If you have to search and contemplate for the meaning of the word, your reader may have to do the same thing. If they are required to keep a dictionary tab open just to get through your piece, they won’t even bother.

Power Writing Requires Power Proofreading

I want to close out by letting you in on a secret about proofreading your work – it’s easier if you use power words.

Why is this?

There’s a secret that seasoned writers and editors know about when it comes to checking your copy. If you read it out loud, you’re less likely to skim over errors. How do power words factor in?

Imagine you’re reading your work aloud in front of a crowd of eager listeners. Is the pressure on yet? Good. The best way to feel confident is to bring a presentation that makes you confident.

Ask yourself – would you feel better reading a generic script full of weasel words? Of course not. You want to have something powerful that attracts attention and keeps your readers hanging on your every word.

When you’re reading your copy back, don’t just make sure it flows well. Ask yourself if there’s any way you could change out words, eliminate some or add others in to strengthen what you’re saying.

When you’re reading your copy back, don’t just make sure it flows well. Ask yourself if there’s any way you could change out words, eliminate some or add others in to strengthen what you’re saying. More on great #writing ✍️ Click To Tweet

This may not always come into play. However, when you’re doing your proofreading and editing, you’re more likely to find spots to put power words.

'Looking where to put power words? You can do this through proofreading and editing. - @JuliaEMcCoy on improving writing skills Click To Tweet

Compare Your Work to See Where You Stand

Putting power words in the right places is the best way to change your writing from good to great. However, how can you know whether your writing is really more impactful than it used to be?

The key lies in comparing it. When we talk about comparing our writing, we’re usually told to compare it to our favorite writers. We did list that tip earlier, but it isn’t the only type of comparison you should be making.

You can also compare your improved writing to your old writing. It’s a great way to see how much stronger your words sound, and how much of a difference power words really make.

When you’re learning how to improve your writing skills, taking a look back at your older work may even make you twinge a bit. That’s a good thing, though. You’re seeing how far you’ve come and how much progress you’ve made.

Transforming your work with power words requires an understanding of the importance of wording choices. It also means practicing with the right exercises, and even carrying it over into your editing.

Powerful writing with less fluff means more value for your clients and your readers – it’s a win-win.

copywriting advice

57 Timeless Pieces of Copywriting Advice: Secrets to Improve Your Writing Skills

The history of marketing dates back to the early century as ancient art.

Barkers were hired in the Babylonian seaports by merchants to announce the arrival of spices, wine and fabrics.

In Greece, Greeks hung “Lost” posters in an effort to find and reunite with jewelry, children, or even slaves.

In Pompeii, billboards were extensively painted as signs that were used to announce carnivals, plays, and races.

These early realms of marketing drew on tactics, tools and strategies that you still use today, as a marketer to promote your products and services or brand.

You might be asking, “But Julia, why does this matter?”

Tell me why we need to know about advertising history

Source: GIPHY

Besides being fascinated with all the stories that you never imagined could’ve happened years ago, knowing history can affect how you work today — especially in copywriting.

You’ll even get to know what type of content has moved societies, and why some content trends remained effective until today.

Marketing history can help you learn:

  • How you shouldn’t organize a campaign
  • How you can comprehend and guide the constant human psychology
  • Forgotten fundamentals of marketing
  • Unusual copywriter strategies that work
  • How to save time and money by testing the right decisions
  • New publicity insights that you never imagined could be possible
  • Straightforward strategic thoughts of verified advertising directors

Lastly, knowing about the history of marketing and good copywriting can introduce you to a few of the best copywriting experts of all time. Wouldn’t it be nice to know timeless copywriting advice from the classics?

Today’s post is dedicated to your ongoing inspiration as a writer. As a writer, I know more than anyone it can be hard to get the muse to strike. Browsing through a few quotes from some of the greats in our industry can help re-ignite that love of writing inside your soul. Let’s dive in!

timeless pieces of copywriting advice

Top 57 Timeless Pieces of Copywriting Advice: Secrets to Improve Your Writing Skills

Here are the best 57 copywriters of all time and their best ideas. Although some are passed away and others alive, their ideas are timeless and very inspirational.

While you will be familiar with some names, others will be totally new to you. However, what matters is how you can apply their timeless advice and ideas into your copywriting career today.

Note that these experts have been sourced from various disciplines because our most memorable advice as copywriters can sometimes come from other unrelated fields.

The advice or quotes do not just govern our writing, but also relationships with ourselves and others.

We gain the insight to not just sell products and services, but also use the power we have to transform people’s lives.

Here are the best 57 copywriting experts of all time and their best ideas to give you insights into writing to engage and succeed. Learn and enjoy!

1. “Be vivid. Tell a story. Don’t be bland.” – Seth Godin

This copywriting tip is absolutely timeless because of how much it inspires us all (as online creators) to be original. That’s about as foundational as you can get with writing advice.

Giving your own insights, unique thoughts, additional expertise, and new perspectives on something will give you that edge you need to stand out in today’s sea of content.

Seth Godin’s timeless advice is all about writing copy without fluff, which in his words he calls “weasel words.” They do not add any value or flesh to your story, but makes it bland and dull.

Be vivid. Tell a story. Don’t be bland. @ThisIsSethsBlog Be inspired by Seth and 56 other #copywriters Click To Tweet

2. “Swap places with your readers.” – Ann Handley

According to Ann, in her book “Everybody Writes,” you need to swap places with your readers to get a feeling of what goes through their minds while reading your copy.

Is your point clearly brought out throughout your copy?

Is your tone honest?

Have you been hooked into the content despite it being of no interest to you?

Did you enjoy reading it?

If you answer yes to all the above questions, then your copy is ready for the reader, otherwise, revise it.

Create a lasting impression in your readers’ minds by writing interesting, factual and memorable content.

Swap places with your readers. - @annhandley This & 56 other bits of wisdom from top #copywriters in our blog Click To Tweet

3. “Where a web page is the terrain, the copywriter’s the tour guide, instructor, concierge, maître d’, and of course, sales clerk. If the copy can’t seal the deal, it must offer something compelling to start some sort of relationship.” – Barry Feldman

Write compelling content that is good enough to lock in your prospects. Even if they don’t buy now, they can buy in the future.

Feldman recommends writing engaging content that converts: here are the copywriting strategies that work to retain your prospects.

4. “Copywriting with passion, creating a shared, emotional experience of desire, delight, excitement, and awe, is the primary challenge all copywriters face.” – Aaron Orendorff

Just like any other profession, it takes passion for you to succeed in your field.

Passionate copywriting can help you create exciting, delightful and compelling copy that will leave your readers wanting more.

5. “Begin your bullets with dynamic action words, and keep them brief and punchy.” – Casey Demchak

Add powerful bullets in your copy, beginning them using action words while keeping them sharp and short.

Bullets are always a must in our Write Blog posts to make every long-form content easier to read.

Source: Express Writers

6. “Decide the effect you want to produce in your reader.” – Robert Collier

Whether you are a direct mail or self-help copywriter, Robert Collier is a name that should ring a bell. He was prominent in the copywriting field and lived between 1885 and 1950.

Collier is best known for his book, “The Secret of the Ages,” that he published in 1926 and sold over 300,000 copies in his lifetime. He’s a legend in faith, abundance, visualization, desire, and of course, copywriting.

Collier’s books sold for millions of dollars. He shared and explained the direct-mail letters he wrote and why they were successful in his book ‘The Robert Collier Letter Book.

How did he manage to write many successful sales letters?

He explained the secret to his success as a copywriter: you must first decide on the effect you want your copy to have on your audience even before you can start writing.

What kind of feeling or emotion do you want to trigger in your audience? Could it be flattery, envy or pride? Any of these trigger words should get you started in selecting the right effect you want on your reader upon reading your copy.

With the chosen effect or emotion in mind, write to invoke that specific feeling. Start out with intensive research to kick-off your writing for a pre-determined emotion in your audience.

7. “Show your product in use.” – Victor Schwab

Schwab kicked-off his career as a secretary and lived from 1898 to 1980. He worked for Maxwell Sackheim at Rathrauff & Ryan’s.

He successfully improved Sackheim’s copy and that saw him get promoted to a copywriter position. That’s how he became “the greatest mail-order copywriter of all time.”

Schwab was a deep researcher and used coded coupon ads to track his outcomes. He evaluated his copy appeals, calls to action, headlines, copy length and split runs.

He created comics for Dale Carnegie, Sherwin Cody (Classic English Courses) and Charles Atlas, a bodybuilder, as a content marketer.

Source: Do You Make These Mistakes in English?: The Story of Sherwin Cody’s Famous Language School PDF

He explained through his book “How to Write a Good Advertisement” that you should put your product in action for it to be successful.

Schwab explained that it has been proven that, your product can get more attention when you showcase it in your advertisement while in use. For instance, accomplishing or doing something using the product for your audience. According to W.S. Townsend, “that makes it live and breathe and serves right in front of the eyes of the prospect.”

Similarly, incorporating videos on your landing pages can improve your conversion rates, which can double your landing page conversions.

8. “In writing, rhythm is defined by punctuation and the stress patterns of words in a sentence. Long sentences sound smoother, while short sentences make your content snappier.” – Henneke Duistermaat

Keep your sentences concise for readability and ease of understanding.

Use rhyming words to create compelling content.

Duistermaat explains how you can make your words swing and swirl in your copy.

9. “Open like a Reader’s Digest article.” – John Caples

Agencies like Ruthrauff & Ryan’s that clearly “understood” advertising had it easy during the Great Depression.

Seen as a hard-sell mail-order shop, before the Depression, with templates similar to tabloids, the agency was perceived to warn people of sensitive issues, just like a soap ad warns of bad body odor.

However, the most successful copy headline ever was written in the shop’s humble premises.

Working for this agency, John Caples mastered the art of crafting mail-order copies based on perfected results.

His ability to get to the point in no time brought him to write a great headline for a music company “They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano, But When I Started to Play!-“

The success of the headline saw Caples dominate the advertising industry for almost five decades. He wrote the copywriting book ‘“Tested Advertising Methods” and has an industry award named after him.

Caples says Reader’s Digest is specific, telegraphic and packed with facts and a few adjectives to arouse curiosity in your readership.

Similarly, open your blog posts with short (even one-word) sentences and use the right quotes. 

10. “Tap into one overwhelming desire.” – Eugene Schwartz

Schwartz lived between 1927 and 1995. He was not just a successful direct-mail copywriter who addressed businesses and individuals with killer headlines like “Give Me 15 Minutes and I’ll Give You a Super-Power Memory,” but wrote various legendary books like Breakthrough Advertising.

Going for at least $95 on Amazon, the graduate-level book offers insights into direct-response copywriting. He covers how to write irresistible landing page copy, writing exercises that can improve your copy and how you can get what you want by giving people what they want, among other great ideas.

Schwartz was pushing for writing a copy that meets a single main desire, despite its complexity. He said, “Tap into one overwhelming desire in the hearts of many people actively seeking to meet it at the very moment.”

No matter how important a copywriter you are, getting this critical step wrong would render your copy useless.

Getting it right could get the world ticking and dancing to your tunes.

11. “When we talk about something negative, it doesn’t have to be dramatic, but there should be some cost of turning your offer down. What’s yours?” – Amy Harrison

Studies show that we respond better to positive people and positive messages. Therefore, it’s better to write in an optimistic tone for your content to convert.

12. “Make the advertiser the character.”  Maxwell Sackheim

Maxwell Sackheim wrote one of the most powerful headlines in history for a patented English mail-order course dubbed “Do You Make These Mistakes in English?”

This magnetic headline saw the ad run for about four decades, a period many businesses can’t even last.

However, his effective strategy of making the advertiser a “character” was less known.

Your advertising letters should come from the words used by your customers.

A good example is his disarming letter ‘The Gloucester Fisherman” that was written for his client Frank E. Davis. The client showcases his weaknesses in his inability to write, but only took part in what he does best: fishing.

Source: Good Morning Gloucester

He is honest in the letter about his ugly side. He wants to make a living and hopes for customers who can buy his catch.

13. “Develop a Unique Selling Proposition.” – Rosser Reeves

Rosser Reeves began his career as a reporter in Virginia and lived between 1910 and 1984, and later relocated to New York City.

He was another great marketer during the Great Depression and joined Bates agency in 1940.

Reeves had an eye for the finest things like food and drinks, in addition to being well-read and well-traveled. He believed that the goal of advertising is to sell and he did just that.

He successfully ran several campaigns ranging from marketing Colgate toothpaste to Viceroy Cigarettes. However, his most famous ad was for Anacin. It promised customers to relieve them from depression, pain and even tension, in an amazing way.

Source: Medium

His aim was for customers to recognize a particular, unique brand proposition. He was following the footsteps of Claude Hopkins and John E. Kennedy by mimicking the no-nonsense approach to “advertising must sell” taken by the duo.

Reeves focused on identifying a product’s unique benefit, feature or meaning and repeatedly putting emphasis on it in an advert as a way of selling a unique proposition to prospects.

For this reason, Rosser Reeves is known as the “Prince of the Hard Sell.”

The unique selling point (USP) has gone through so much alteration and revision since its invention by Reeves.

Today, your USP doesn’t have to be unique as long as it’s persona-driven or founded on a metaphor.

When you restate your USP and when you repeat words are two totally different things.

Keep that in mind.

14. “Copywriting is way more than putting words onto a screen. … [the] context and situation that influence the copy is called user experience.” – Neil Patel

User experience is more important than ever. Your audience wants a great experience using your product, reading your copy, etc.

Write interesting content with your audience in mind to ensure they have a great time reading your copy or merely browsing through your website. You’ll need these 5 essential content marketing skills from Patel as a copywriter to give your audience a great experience.

15. “Find the inherent drama in your product.” – Leo Burnett

Leo Burnett was named one of the 20th century’s 20 most influential business leaders by Time Magazine in 1998. His career began then, and he lived from 1891 to 1971, atop being the only advertising executive named by the magazine.

Burnett built one of the largest ad agencies worldwide during the Great Depression.

He believed that every product has a story or drama behind it.

How do you find this?

You need to dig deep into your subject with honor and love while being obedient to your hunches as you work really hard.

Burnett used representations of American values in the form of mythical creatures to tell great stories. Some of these characters include the Marlboro Man and Jolly the Green Giant.

Source: Pinterest

A good example of this concept today is well represented in Volkswagen’s advertising story “Once More – The Story of VIN 903847.”

16. “When you don’t give your customers enough information, the right information, or put it where it needs to be on the page, you run the risk of giving them the impression that you care more about the sale than them.” – Jen Havice

Your customer should come first and so are their needs.

Provide them with informational content that answers all their queries and meets their needs.

Havice explains how you can create persuasive yet informational content to increase and retain your readership.

17. “Wrestling with a 2,000-word essay is not unlike birthing a calf. A life is at stake here. Your job is to make sure it survives.” – Demian Farnworth

When writing long content, ensure consistency throughout with regards to creating a compelling copy that will interest your readers and keep them engaged all the way from the start to the end.

18. “Value is best communicated when it’s designed to be believed, not just described.” – Bernadette Jiwa

Create valuable content your readers can believe.

19. “When your customers feel that you’re talking to them on a deep emotional level and understand their hopes, fears, and desires better than the competition, you’re gonna get the sale.” – Adam Kreitmann

Get to know your audience–their fears, hopes and desires on a deeper level and communicate that in your copy.

Relate with your audience emotionally and watch your content attract more prospects, and ultimately sales.

20. “Write to one person, not a million.” – Fairfax M. Cone

Fairfax M. Cone lived between 1903 and 1977, only to begin his career in 1929 at Lord & Thomas that was based in San Francisco. He became a manager at the company in 1939 before relocating to New York City a couple of years later as the vice president.

He took over the company’s largest account, the Lucky Strike cigarettes account, before launching his own agency “Foote, Cone & Belding,” in partnership with Albert Lasker.

Cone advocated for honesty and clarity in place of clever and cute copy. He explained that real people with real issues only wanted honest and clear solutions, not clever and cute ones.

These people want INSTANT answers.

He explained that good advertising is written for a specific person, and when aimed at millions, doesn’t work.

Your goal should be to discover your ideal readership or audience. Get to know your reader’s profession. Is she a farmer, a marketer like you, or simply a teacher? Where is she located?

Discover who your ideal reader is. Once you know her location, interests, profession, etc., write to her and her alone.

21. “Brevity is the soul of wit.” – Shakespeare 

Use concise and brief sentences to create your copy.

Keeping your sentences short makes your point easy to read while maintaining the flavor of your copy.

22. “Your prospects need a reason behind your product based on three factors: why your product is the best, why your prospects should believe you and why they need to buy the product right now.” – Brian Clark

Your prospects could be wondering why they have to buy your product when they are better off with what your competition offers. After all, they know your competition better and your products don’t seem to have any difference.

This is where you come in to differentiate your product from your competition. Find a winning difference between your copy and that of your rivals. As discussed earlier, you need a deeper understanding of your unique selling proposition (USP) to set your product apart from the rest.

23. “Your customers don’t care about you, your products, or your services. They care about themselves.” – Joe Pulizzi

Your customer comes first and so are their interests and needs. Get to know them and what they want and give them just that because they only care about themselves.

Write to them based on what you know about them.

24. “The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.”– Mark Twain

Your draft is simply your ideas put on paper.

Use it to create a well-organized, clear, intelligent and compelling story to share with your readers

25. “Transubstantiate your product into something else.” – Bill Jayme

One of the world’s best direct-mail copywriters in today’s magazine industry was Bill Jayme (lived from 1926 to 2001).

Jayme considered himself a star in “junk mail”.

He launched his career at Time magazine with a great unorthodox “Cool Friday” letter in which he addressed his audience as “Dear Reader,” before he spoke a little off-topic and delved into his main point.

Before becoming his own boss, Jayme also worked for CBS and McCann-Erikson.

Jayme wrote subscription letters for various publishers in the 60s, 70s and 80s, including Esquire, Smithsonian and Businessweek.

Some publishers even offered him up to $40,000 for each letter he wrote.

He had his way of making friendships with his readers by being fascinating and respectful of their intelligence.

He had a way of getting into the minds of his editors, publishers and even readers based purely on intuition, his gut feeling.

Magazines like Mother Jones, Bon Appetit, Worth, Cooking Light, New York, Smithsonian, and Food & Wine owe their existence to Jayme, a true testament that his approach worked.

He capitalized his motivation and creativity to produce magical copies or letter: transubstantiation is all about transforming a service or product into something ‘magical.’

For instance, when selling a course on mastering PCs, he didn’t focus on the features of these devices, but on the end result, the greater benefit that his readers actually cared about.

He focused on success.

This is how he began his letter:

“You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it. If you’re planning to succeed in business over the coming decade, you’ve now got just two choices left. You can come to terms with the computer. Or you can marry the boss’s daughter.”

In this letter, instead of selling the various parts or features of a personal computer, he sells the ultimate benefit of using a PC, a new experience. It is only by mastering computing basics that users can get a taste of that life.

26. “Everybody in the world divides his mail into two piles.” – Gary Halbert

Gary Halbert (lived between 1939 and 2007) is a direct response marketing legend who came into the limelight after his 381-word human psychology marvel letter was published.

He is known as “The King of Copy” and “Prince of Print.”

He created a business at the back of the letter, which was later bought by Ancestery.com.

Several legendary ads he successfully published followed in later years. You can find his marketing letters on an online print newsletter called Gary Halbert Letter.

Gary shared several lessons on direct response culture, amongst them is how you can sort junk mail.

According to Halbert, we all divide our mails into two piles, the first being A-Pile and the second B-Pile. The first pile comprises of letters that are either personal or appear to be so. Everything else falls under the B-Pile: catalogs, bills, brochures, envelopes with sales messages printed on them, printed announcements, etc.

When you create direct mail promotions, ensure that your letter falls under the A-Pile. The reason is that we open all our A-Pile mail and only some of our B-Pile mail.

With the internet age, not just readers are a click away, but also your competitors. The only time you have to grab their attention is four seconds.

So, do whatever you can just so your audience can notice you.

Get attention and keep it at just that.

27. “Free is the most powerful word in the copywriter’s vocabulary. Everybody wants to get something for free.” – Robert W. Bly

Use free yet powerful words to captivate your audience such as guarantee, easy, quick and free.

The Copywriter’s Handbook shows you how to use the right language to successfully communicate to your audience.

28. “Do not worship at the altar of creativity.” – David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy (lived from 1911 to 1999) is another legendary in advertising, the father of copywriting. He was called “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry” by Time magazine in 1962.

He is the author of two great books “Confessions of an Advertising Man” and “Ogilvy on Advertising.”

I highly recommend you to read these books.

Ogilvy’s sophisticated look in suspenders, polished manners, and a British accent created an aura of casual elegance in the headlines and content of ads he created.

His brevity and elegance are seen in many of his pieces, including the “Guinness Guide to Oysters,” “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt,” “How to Create Advertising That Sells,” and “At 60 Miles An Hour” for Rolls-Royce.

Source: Swipe.co

Create advertisements that are interesting enough for readers to take their time and read and even go ahead to make purchases, not having them see your creativity in every piece you craft.

He became famous for his direct-response speech to advertisers in India, recorded on video. He said that we all know the kind of ad that works and their equivalent dollar values.

He then advises copywriters and marketers not to worship at the creativity altar.

What did Ogilvy mean by creativity?

You can sell your product successfully through “advertising that sells” without focusing your attention on the product itself.

Ogilvy emphasizes that you repeat your winners. You can increase your readership by making a maximum of five repetitions in your copy.

Clearly, when he mentioned “creativity,” he meant that as long as your ad is generating some revenue, there’s no need to make alterations to it based on your creativity or just for the sake of change.

If your ad still generates revenue 6 weeks down the line, consider keeping it running. Even if it’s 12 months, keep it running. Twenty years, just keep it running.

Unless your new principles are repeatedly backed up based on results, stick to your fixed principles.

Ogilvy isn’t against innovation. He just wants that you start a trend rather than follow it.

He says you can save yourself from general advertising’s manifold lunacy by worshiping at a direct response alter rather than a creativity altar.

Don’t forget your job is to sell.

29. “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway

Be as honest as possible with your audience in your copy. Communicate with them heart to heart.

30. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

This quote by Da Vinci is very inspirational.

It is meant to influence your writing style to a form that resonates well with the reader.

Your writing style should be readable, concise or short and very simple in the reader’s eyes. Your readers will better understand your copy when you keep it simple.

31. “You can have everything you want in life if you will help enough people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

One of the most successful salesmen the world ever witnessed was Zig. Moreover, he was an honest businessman and an enthusiastic teacher.

He is proof that ethics and business can co-exist. Zig simply means that your success as a copywriter is not dependent on a particular product, article or even person.

Your success is totally hinged on the number of readerships you can attract with your writing. The more people you can help with your writing to reach their goals and get what they want, the more success you can attain.

32. “The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time.” – Thomas Jefferson

You don’t have to look at copywriting as an expense. When you save a penny, it is just that or even a cent lost.

When you invest in your writing to become a good copywriter, you’re not spending on an unnecessary cost, but a lifetime investment.

33. “We have become so accustomed to hearing everyone claim that his product is the best in the world, or the cheapest, that we take all such statements with a grain of salt.” – Robert Collier

Your audience can smell hype from a distance. Don’t just claim to be the best copywriter with the cheapest services, but prove your worth.

Your readers don’t need the hyped salt, keep it low.

34. “Copy is a direct conversation with the consumer.” – Shirley Polykoff

Before founding her multi-million-dollar advertising agency, Shirley worked for Foote, Cone & Belding.

She became one of the advertisers through her “Does she… or doesn’t she?” promotion of Clairol. The campaign saw the company’s customer bases rise from 7% to about 50% of the female American population, increasing sales from $25 million to about $200 million.

When you write ad copy, you’re simply conversing with your prospects. Therefore, your language and style should be simple and similar to that of your audience for them to relate to your product or service.

35. “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything.”- David Ogilvy

Talk to your prospects and give them enough reason why they should buy from you. They are more intelligent than you think.

Use more than just one or two words to convince them to choose your brand.

If possible, tell them a story. We all like nice stories that we can identify with.

36. “Poor copy cannot overcome faults or gaps in dealer distribution; it cannot even cash in on the finest dealer setups. But good copy can, and does, surmount many dealer difficulties, making them secondary, and selling in spite of them.” – Victor Schwab

Writing a good copy is key in winning your prospect’s heart and money. Once you win them, any difficulty or fault regarding your product or service becomes less important.

Writing good ad copy sells not just your product or service, but also the person or company responsible for making the product.

37. “Let us prove to the world that good taste, good art, and good writing can be good selling.” – William Bernbach

You don’t have to use questionable language and shocking techniques to draw prospects to your brand. It takes just good writing with good taste and some creativity to sell your product or service.

Write well to attract a larger audience.

38. “Make it simple. Make it memorable.Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.” –  Leo Burnett

Write simple and attractive content to lure your readership.

Readers find great content fun to read and easy to remember. Isn’t that just what you want?

39. “You must make the product interesting, not just make the ad different. And that’s what too many of the copywriters in the U.S. today don’t yet understand.” – Rosser Reeves

Research, research, and research.

Discover what’s unique about your product or service. why should your prospects get excited about it?

Write just that. Do not exaggerate your product by advertising what your product can’t even achieve.

Be honest. Make your product just as interesting as your copy, and watch your sales grow instantly.

40. “The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.” – William Bernbach

Be honest with your prospects. We all love honesty.

41. “Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.” – Howard Gossage

Create interesting content for your readership. Make your ad as interesting as possible.

42. “Make your advertising too valuable to throw away.” – Sonia Simone

As the co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger, Sonia Simone emphasizes the importance of writing for value. Your copy should be so important that no one can afford to throw it away.

43. “A copywriter should have an understanding of people, an insight into them, a sympathy toward them.”  – George Gribbin

You need to understand your audience, your target market. Know their needs and create a product to help meet that need.

When you focus on understanding your audience well first, you can write copy specifically made for them that meets their needs.

44. “Believe me; nothing works as well on the web as deadlines.” – Clayton Makepeace

As one of the highest-paid copywriters in the market, Clayton Makepeace recommends using urgency to motivate your audience.

Create a deadline for your promotion and have it in the call-to-action.

45. “Every product has a unique personality and it is your job to find it.” – Joe Sugarman

Find your product’s unique personality and use it to create your unique selling proposition.

Differentiate your product from your competition and sell its unique personality.

Always write unique content. Your readers will appreciate that.

46. “On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.” – David Ogilvy

It goes without saying the essence of your headlines. Your readers will decide to read your copy — or not — based on your headlines.

Create killer headlines to attract more readership.

47. “Wake up and realize it’s not 1964 anymore. You can’t rehash that old stuff. Don’t use scandalous blog headlines on your business website if you want conversions. Talk and write like a real person.” – Peep Laja

Be realistic in your writing and create great headlines for your copy. Don’t forget to test your content titles the right way.

48. “If you can just support the emotions that they’re feeling, and you can do it with integrity—you really do have the solution—then you don’t really ever have to sell hard, or even push to sell.” – Ray Edwards

Understand your audience’s needs and emotions. Use integrity to give them the support they need.

Write copy aligned to your reader’s needs and emotions. Speak their language and use their voice in your copy.

49. “I believe writing copy for Mr. Spock is a recipe for success. If something is logical it is, by nature, persuasive.” – Art Anthony

Write a logical copy to convince your readership.

Check out these copywriting tips for Mr. Spock by Art Anthony to take your writing skills a notch higher.

50. “When you are looking directly to your swipe file for inspiration, don’t look for phrases to copy, or formulas to fill-in-the-blanks. Think about the psychology behind the copy.” – Casey Meehan

You can write great content from an existing copy. But don’t copy phrases from the original-inspirational copy.

Understand the psychology behind it and work from there.

51. “Nobody has the time or patience to read linear content. Instead of writing long indigestible blocks of text, make your content skimmable.” – Tania Cheema

Write skimmable content with 1 to 3 lines in each paragraph.

Write copy with short paragraphs to enable your readers to skim through your content easily and judge whether it’s something they want to read or not.

52. “If the average person needs a dictionary to translate your copy, you’ve lost multiple sales already.” – Martina Mercer

Write your copy in a simple style using simple words.

Your audience can easily read and understand your content when it’s written in simple language.

Don’t use jargon or complex words.

Mercer offers these great 7 copywriting tips to help you write easy to read and understand copy for reduced bounce rates and increased sales.

53. “Use words – all words – with an eye, ear, and nose for the odor of skunk. If you’re not sure how a reader will interpret or respond to a word … if it’s possibly confusing, ambiguous, or offensive … that’s your signal to look for a different way of saying it.” – Will Newman

Avoid ambiguous words in your copy.

Use simple, easy to understand words. You don’t want to confuse and offend your readers.

54. “The often overlooked subhead is really a stealthy and lethal ninja writing weapon just sitting there quietly waiting to be put to good use.” – Gary Korisko

Incorporate sub-headlines in your copy. You can use this guide to write killer subheads in your copy.

55. “The best marketing – and the best copy – is not about duping the reader into believing something, but about amplifying their need, alleviating their fear and exciting them to action.” – Joel Klettke

Know the needs and fears of your audience and showcase them in your copy.

According to Joel, persuading your audience to read or buy your product isn’t enough.

Call them to take action at the end of your copy.

56. “Curiosity will open up your mind, and therefore, the world; an inquisitive mind is easily one of the writer’s greatest strengths.” – Julia McCoy

Yes, a quote from yours truly!

So You Think You Can Write?” is my bestseller on Amazon, launched this April 2016; and I’ve heard from others that it offers timeless copywriting advice. This quote is from page 173—and this sentence simply sums up what I learned along the way, as a self-taught writer.

When you are curious, you get to learn and discover new things that you can share with your audience. Your readers are always hungry for new information. Your own curiosity will see you quench their thirst and feed them with the information they want to read through discovery.

so you think you can write book by julia mccoy

57. “Your job as a writer means placing enough information in front of your audience that they can see your point, rather than be utterly swayed to it. It’s critical to know your audience well so that you don’t over- or under-persuade.” – James Chartrand

Know your audience to write for them without over or under doing it.

Advertising Today as It Was in History

In 1477, the first printed English ad that offered a prayer book for sale was in the form of a 3-by-5 inch handball.

This was followed by the world’s most sustainable ad campaign in ancient years: “Colonizing America.”

In “Soap, Sex and Cigarettes,” the author, Julian Sivulka, states that all marketing campaigns are aimed at luring settlers and investors to the new world, with a promise of free land.

Advertising today has the same persuasive power it had over 300 years ago.

However, it wasn’t until the mid-1800s when advertising differentiated. It evolved and various positions emerged to help meet the demand for the services in the market:

  • Researcher
  • Copywriter
  • Account executive
  • Commercial illustrator
  • Advertising Agent

It was the copywriter who carried the day and dominates the field today.

Sivulka commented on the Roaring Twenties ads saying, “It was obvious that the most prominent member of the advertising team was the copywriter because illustrations and photography are almost interchangeable.”

In the 21st century, this notion remains true for all content marketing agencies. Of course, professional copywriters nowadays are equipped with modern copywriting skills such as writing content that is SEO and social media ready.

We hope these pieces of copywriting advice has inspired you to develop new content marketing ideas that can attract your target audience to engage and help you reach those conversions you’ve been aiming for.

Just a note: Don’t hesitate to delegate copywriting tasks when things have become too overwhelming for you. Check out our Content Shop to find the right service for you.

writing clear sentences

6 Super Simple Tips for Writing Clear Sentences

In content, there’s not much worse than bad writing.

Bad writing can turn a great idea into muddled gibberish.

Bad writing can make you sound silly or unintelligent – even if you’re a smart cookie.

Bad writing is easy to spot but notoriously difficult to fix if you don’t know what you’re doing.

As it turns out, writing clear sentences is both an art and a science.

When you get it right, your content sings.

On the flip side, when you get it wrong, you end up complicating simple ideas. You lead your readers down confusing paths and lose your overall impact.

What’s a writer to do?

Learn how to write clear sentences. Learn how to cut the fat from your writing to improve clarity, but keep your unique voice intact. Today, we’re sharing our best tips to help you do it. Ready to tighten up your writing?

Clear writing is key to effective copy that speaks to your readers in your #contentmarketing. @JuliaEMcCoy shares 6 simple tips to writing clearer sentences that you can implement right away. Click To Tweet

guide on writing clear sentences

Your Guide to Writing Clear Sentences: Our 6 Top Tips

1. Beware Meaningless Filler Words

If you’re not paying attention, meaningless filler words can sneak into your writing. Like so:

If you’re not paying attention, there are meaningless filler words that can sneak into your writing.

These bloat your sentences with useless gunk. The most common perpetrators include the phrases you see in bold above, plus their variations:

“It” or “there” + “be” verbs:

  • There are
  • There is
  • There were
  • It is
  • It was

Relative clauses:

  • That
  • Which
  • Who

Generally, most sentences can live without “it” or “there” + a “be” verb (is, are, was, were) followed by a noun and a relative clause (that, which, who). These types of phrases are called expletive constructions.

In other words, they have no meaning. They don’t help your sentences. Get rid of them!

Another example:

It was my favorite time of year because of that crisp weather and falling leaves.

Slash those filler words, and you get a sentence that’s much more concise and to the point:

My favorite time of year has crisp weather and falling leaves.

Once you’re cognizant of filler words, you’ll start catching yourself using them. Pretty soon, your reflex will be to nix them altogether. You’ll be writing clear sentences unconsciously rather than cluttering them up.

2. Self-Edit & Bring in an Outside Editor

The best ways to catch and eliminate those filler words from point #1? Self-edit AND bring in an outside editor to check your work.

Why both?

Because ruthless, constant editing is one of the best methods to clarify and simplify your writing. Multiple editing passes help distill your thoughts and ideas down to their clearest forms.

This is also a top tip from one of my copywriting heroes, Henneke Duistermaat.

In my interview with her for The Write Podcast, she mentions paying attention to the corrections your editor makes. Listen to their feedback! That way, you’ll learn as you move forward and avoid committing those errors again.

You’ll be writing clearer sentences in no time.

henneke duistermaat on improving your copywriting skills

Tune into this episode for more writing tips from Henneke!

3. Write Shorter to Write Clearer

Do your sentences tend to go on… and on… and on?

To write clear sentences, write shorter. Slash your sentences in half. Insert periods instead of commas.

write shorter sentences

Take this example from a fashion blog:

I’ve been wearing a lot of old favorites and remixing closet classics this season, but if there’s one thing I can’t resist buying every autumn it’s a cozy knit!

It’s unnecessarily long. The main idea gets lost along the way (she can’t resist a cozy knit). If we shorten this up, we can make it clearer and more impactful.

For instance, we can start by splitting the sentence in two. All we have to do is look for the comma and add a period, instead:

I’ve been wearing a lot of old favorites and remixing closet classics this season. But, if there’s one thing I can’t resist buying every autumn, it’s a cozy knit!

Better. Now we can omit filler words and cut this down even more:

I’ve been wearing lots of old favorites and remixing closet classics this season. But, every autumn, I can’t resist buying a cozy knit!

The shorter sentences help us follow this train of thought better. The whole thing is clearer and less meandering, so we get to the point quicker. (This helps hold your readers’ interest!)

Shorter sentences help readers follow your train of thought better. This and more #copywriting tips in this new blog post by @JuliaEMcCoy. Click To Tweet

Speaking of the main point, that’s another great tip to remember:

4. Don’t Bury the Lede (The Main Subject of Your Sentences)

In journalism-speak, the “lede” is the main subject of your writing. (Copy editors and journalists started spelling it “lede” to help distinguish it from the “lead” in typesetting.)

don't bury the lede

When you “bury the lede,” you unintentionally hide the main point of your writing.

Not good. Why?

Because clear sentences begin with the main subject.

This is a good example of burying the lede from The MLA Style Center:

example of burying the lede

“Known for her unmatched skills as a hostess – after all, she had been a debutante who became a socialite whose husband sat on the boards of half a dozen of the city’s most prestigious cultural organizations – Mary felt right at home discussing her plan for the summer fund-raising luncheon with the museum director.”

The subject of this uber-long sentence is Mary. Where is Mary? We can’t find her in the sentence until 209 characters have gone by.

She’s buried.

Another good example of burying the lede in a sentence: using the passive voice.

For instance:

Her plan for the summer fundraising luncheon was discussed by Mary and the museum director.

Passive voice buries the subject of the sentence at the end. We have no idea who is discussing the plan for summer fundraising until the very last words.

Instead, we should put the subject at the beginning:

Mary and the museum director discussed her plan for the summer fundraising luncheon.

That way, our readers won’t have to play detective to figure out who (or what) we’re talking about. This is a major key to writing clear sentences.

5. Avoid Redundancies to Improve Sentence Clarity

Redundancy can be a clear sentence killer.

It happens when you add different words with the same meaning to a sentence, or repeat words or phrases unnecessarily.

redundancy example

The above example of redundancy is obvious. However, it can be subtle, too:

  • We’re planning to meet at 12 o’clock midnight.
  • Don’t revert back to your old ways.
  • She will briefly summarize the report.

All of the above sentences are short, but they can be clarified by removing the redundancies.

  • We’re planning to meet at midnight. (12 o’clock and midnight both refer to 12:00 a.m.)
  • Don’t revert to your old ways. (“Revert” means to return or go back to a previous state.)
  • She will summarize the report. (A summary is brief by definition.)

This chart from the Speak Good English group on Facebook is a great resource to help you avoid common redundancies:

helpful chart on avoiding redundancies in content writing

Do your readers have to play detective to figure out who (or what) you’re talking about? @JuliaEMcCoy shares #copywriting tips for clearer, crisper writing in this new blog post. Click To Tweet

6. Use Writing Tools to Hone Your Craft

Final tip: Don’t forget to use all the writing tools at your disposal. There are plenty of great ones out there that can help you craft clearer sentences.

  • I regularly recommend Hemingway Editor because it focuses on simplifying your writing, Hemingway-style.

the hemingway app

  • To check out the readability score of your writing, plug it into Readable.io. It tells you what education level a person needs to be able to understand your work. The lower the grade level score, the easier it is to read.

the readable app on a tablet

  • Adding the Grammarly plug-in to your word processor or browser is a good way to catch usage errors while you self-edit.

grammarly for self-editing

Writing Clear Sentences: It’s in the Bag

The key to writing clear sentences is recognizing when your grammar gets sloppy. It’s knowing what filler words look like and how passive voice sounds.

The best way to learn all of these concepts is to edit, edit, edit.

Self-edit all your writing. Then, hand your writing over to a trusted editor. Listen carefully to their feedback and add it to your writing toolbox.

If you’re still struggling, enlist high-quality editing and grammar tools. They’ll help whittle down your writing further.

Don’t worry: You CAN and WILL improve. It just takes practice! ✍️

grammatical errors

5 Top Grammatical Errors to Avoid At All Costs in Your Marketing

In the grammar world, there are mistakes, and then there are MISTAKES.

You know what I’m talking about:

The little errors are evidence you’re human…

… While the BIG errors will cost you time, money, customers, etc., if they appear in your marketing.

Usually, we can let the small ones slide. It would actually lead to more wasted time if we gave them our attention.

Meanwhile, the Big Ones can hurt us, so avoiding them IS worth our time.

This is exemplified in the 10% vs. 10x rule (which I discussed with CoSchedule’s CEO in an episode of The Write Podcast).

  • The stuff that’s worth your precious resources is going to 10x your business growth.
  • The remainder may or may not help you grow. These types of actions offer 10% growth, at best. Instead of leaping to the next level, you’ll inch your way there along the 10% path.

Framing your marketing this way will help you decide where to invest your time.

Take, for example, a small error like a typo in an email sent to your subscribers.

Will it matter in the long-run? Do you need to rush to fix it and send out an apology?

michael-scott-no

Not so fast!

As Grammar-Nazi-snobbish as I am, it’s probably not hurting your sales that you accidentally spelled content “contant” in paragraph two. Although good gosh, it rubs me so wrong to see that in typing.

But what about the big, glaring errors? What if you have a major typo on your hands? Those could erode your reputation as a credible source of information. I still remember the day Joe Pulizzi called me out about a stat we published in an infographic. The number was off by a million. 🙁 Now that was a typo, and to be called out by Pulizzi was so crazy for me! I quickly acknowledged it, and my team and I fixed the statistic and republished same-day.

So, the ones that could really put a dent in your rep are the ones we want to talk about today. The “10x” mistakes. Read today’s blog to stay accurate, free of errors, and continue to establish yourself as a trustworthy authority online.

Let's talk about 10x typos - the ones you never want to make online (versus the ones no one cares about). @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

grammatical errors

5 Easily-Missed Grammar and Spelling Errors That Hurt Your Content Marketing (And What to Do About Them)

These errors are easy to miss if you don’t know the grammar rules that govern them.

However, once you have the rules down, you’re not likely to make these mistakes ever again.

1. Misusing “There’s” and “Here’s”

Here’s a question not many people ask themselves while writing:

“Are my subjects and verbs in agreement?”

hmm

The answer can make a big difference to the clarity of your sentences.

Subject-verb disagreement looks like this:

  • Here’s lots of tricks to make your life better.”
    • The subject of the sentence, “lots of tricks,” is plural (there is more than one trick).
    • The problem? The verb, “here’s” (a contraction of “here is”), doesn’t match up. It’s singular.
    • Instead, we need the plural form of the verb so everything matches up, i.e., “Here are lots of tricks to make your life better.”

For an example of subject-verb agreement (what we want), let’s return to the first sentence in this section:

  • Here’s a question not many people ask themselves while writing.”
    • Subject of the sentence: “a question” (singular – it’s one question)
    • Verb: “Here’s” (singular – “here is”)

Expletive Constructions

If the above is too confusing to remember, it’s actually better to avoid these kinds of sentences in your writing.

That’s because phrases like “here is,” “there is,” “here are,” and “there are” are all examples of expletive constructions.

According to Grammar Revolution, “In the world of grammar, expletives aren’t swear words. They are words that serve a function but don’t have any meaning.”

For instance, the word “there” is unnecessary in the expletive construction “there is”:

grammar-revolution_there-is

You can often write sentences without using expletive constructions – they won’t lose their meaning. (Screenshot via Grammar Revolution)

Why it matters: If your subjects and verbs don’t agree, or if you use too many expletive constructions, your writing will be less clear.

Your sentences will sound ungainly and a little strange, even if the person reading it isn’t aware of the grammar rule you broke.

Avoid expletive constructions in your online content. No, they're not swear words: they're words without a meaning. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

2. Using the Wrong Word in the Right Place

Consider these sentences:

  • “Content marketing is better for building trust then traditional marketing.”
  • “I don’t want to loose my favorite pen.”
  • “The affect the movie had on me was incredible.”
  • “Their at the bookstore looking at science fiction.”

Clearly, the writer has the right intentions. If you read these out loud, they sound correct.

The problem: They used the wrong words in the right places.

This is a common error. The English language has a long list of words that sound exactly the same, but have different meanings/functions in a sentence. They’re called homophones:

  • Then/than
  • Here/hear
  • Loose/lose
  • Affect/effect
  • They’re/their/there
  • Your/you’re

A. Then vs. Than

The sentence: “Content marketing is better for building trust then traditional marketing.”

Why it’s wrong:

  • “Then” connotes a period in time.

What to use, instead:

  • “Than” is used for comparing two things, like content marketing and traditional marketing in the sentence above.

The Grammar Police on Twitter had to explain this to Nike, sadly:

B. Loose vs. Lose

The sentence: “I don’t want to loose my favorite pen.”

Why it’s wrong:

  • “Loose” means the opposite of tight. (Memory trick: The two o’s make the word look long and loose.)

What to use, instead:

  • “Lose” means to misplace something, be deprived of something, or to fail at a contest or game. (To spell “lose,” you lose an o.)

C. Affect vs. Effect

The sentence: “The affect the movie had on me was incredible.”

Why it’s wrong:

  • “Affect” is a verb used to describe a change that’s happening (usually, not always).

What to use, instead:

  • “Effect” is usually a noun that describes the result of the change. (Remember, to talk about “the effect” of something, you need two e’s, as in “the e” Also: The movie can affect you as you’re watching it, but the effect it has on you happens later.)

confusing-words-affect-effect

Image via Writing Explain

D. Their vs. They’re vs. There

The sentence: “Their at the bookstore looking at science fiction.”

Why it’s wrong:

  • “Their” is a possessive pronoun meant to show belonging to a group of two or more people.

What to use, instead:

  • “They’re” is a contraction of the phrase “they are.” To determine when you need it, sound it out in place of whatever “their/they’re/there” you’re considering.

Additionally:

  • “There” refers to a place or moment in time.

Why it matters: When you use the wrong words in your sentences or mix up homophones, you look like you don’t know what you’re doing on a very basic level. If you can’t even write a simple sentence correctly, what could that say about your work in general – especially if your work involves writing for a living?

Avoid using the wrong word in the right place. This online #content common error could present you (the author) as sloppy. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

3. Misuse of Apostrophes (Mixing Up Plurals and Possessives)

What’s wrong with the following picture?

oldnavy_letsgo

Image via Gawker

“Lets” is not a word.

What’s missing here is the apostrophe. Without it, we can’t form the contraction for “let us” – “let’s.”

What other times should you use apostrophes?

  • When you’re noting belonging or possession, i.e., “Dan’s car,” “The kids’ lunch,” or “Sally’s horse”.
  • When you’re using a contraction, i.e., “You shouldn’t do that,” “I don’t care,” or “Let’s see what we can do.”
  • Don’t add apostrophes everywhere like you’re Oprah (“You get an apostrophe! You get an apostrophe!”).

sports-bar

Is the owner of this bar named “Sport”?

Image via HubSpot

Why it matters: Inconsistencies in punctuation look unprofessional. They also make your content writing look rushed, like you couldn’t be bothered to stop long enough to put your apostrophes in the right places.

Don't misuse apostrophes in your online content. They make you look rushed and unprofessional. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

4. Blatant, BAD Misspellings

Did you know that the human brain can read words that begin and end with the correct letters, even if the middle is jumbled up?

live-science-jumbled-letters

Despite this fact, there’s no excuse for really obvious spelling errors.

None.

A photo of the White House taken with an

(Especially if you’re a presidential candidate. *facepalm*)

Image via Impact

Every single word processor out there has spellcheck. Why aren’t you using it??

Why it matters: Point blank: Blatant, glaring spelling errors that jump off the page make you (and your team) look lazy.

Don't make blatant spelling errors in your online #content. The typos that jump off the page make you (and your team) look lazy. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

5. Using “In Regards To”

This one, unfortunately, is a common phrase you’ll hear too many smart people repeat.

Lots of people say it/write it when they want to introduce a new topic without yanking the rug from under their audience’s feet.

Often, you’ll see “in regards to” used to help smooth the way.

First of all, it’s incorrect. The proper way to put it is “in regard to.” It means “in reference to.”

Second of all, “regards” are your best wishes, greetings, or compliments to someone else. In the olden-days of letter-writing, you would put “with regards to ___” or “give my regards to ___” at the end of a note when you wanted to send your love or affection to someone other than the recipient.

regards-dictionary

Third of all, “in regard to” doesn’t mean much. It’s just a wordier way of saying “concerning,” “regarding,” or “about.”

Stuffing your content with clunky phrases like this weighs it down, making it harder to read.

Instead of quibbling over whether there’s an s at the end of “regard,” try to omit this phrase from your writing. Look for a more concise alternative, instead.

Why it matters: “In regards to” is not only clunky and incorrect, it’s also overly formal. Sprinkling this phrase liberally in your writing is a quick way to sound pompous and silly while alienating your audience.

Click To Tweet

Wrangle Your Spelling/Grammar and Keep Your Content Marketing Rep Intact

As marketers, it’s our job to be the best communicators to connect with our audiences.

If you commit any of the above grammar goof-ups, your reputation, authority, and marketing ROI will be on the line.

Don’t let one mistake topple what you’ve built. Be vigilant about good grammar and spelling to make your communication as clear and effective as possible.

It should build your authority, not tear it down.

 

 

content creator

How the Right Content Creator Can Completely Redefine Your Brand

Thinking about hiring a content creator for your business?

Just do it.

You’ve probably heard that line a few thousand times before.

The magic of Nike’s signature call-to-action wasn’t built by accident.

The content creators, writers and marketers behind the campaign crafted a line that would make the brand feel more inclusive.

It speaks to everyone, not just athletes, by urging them to follow their aspirations.

Plus, it’s catchy as heck.

Would you want the same thing for your brand?

A lot of your success and reach online comes down to finding the right content creator.

This is a necessary step when it comes to building your brand.

91% of B2B marketers agree.

B2B Using CM

Adding an expert content creator and writer to your creative team will save you time, money and shape your brand’s identity.

So what are you waiting for?

Just do it.

Let’s talk more about the role of a content creator in business, why a content creator benefits you, and a brief history behind today’s modern content creator.content creator blog

What is a Content Creator?

You may already be familiar of the job of content writing and content creation without ever having come across the terms.

Unlike some of it’s comrades that disguise themselves in tricky acronyms – LBO, BT, BI, SQL, GN – content writing and creation is exactly what it sounds like. (By the way, at least one of those acronyms doesn’t exist, see if you can find it!)

Content writers create content to garner interest in your brand. Blogs, web pages, ad copy, social media posts, ebooks, how-to guides, videos, this very paragraph you’re reading – it’s all the work of highly skilled content creators.

The main difference between anyone simply making a WordPress site, creating a post and jotting down their feelings and a content writer is the hidden technicality of this type of writing.

As you read this blog you’re coming across keywords, links and other techniques that content writers weave in to the content to optimize it for the web.

Can you tell?

I hope not. Content creators are ninjas of the written word. They adhere to the rules of SEO by sneaking them in without interrupting the natural flow of the content.

No matter what, the ever-changing algorithms of optimizing online content will always fall behind the number one rule. The one rule to rule them all: creating high-quality content.

Why You Need a Content Creator

Unless you plan on heading up your company by day and transforming into a content writing ninja by night, the best solution is to hire an expert content writer.

Fulfilling a detailed content strategy shouldn’t be another box to check on your daily to-do list.

Gaining the full benefits of content writing requires 100% attention. You want someone passionate about growing your brand who can bring fresh eyes and follow through on your content strategy.

Not convinced? Let us show you why you need to hire a content creator:

1. It’s Cost Effective

How often do you come across ways to both grow your business and save money?

Outsourcing content creation to a freelance writer or agency will save you the time and cost of training them. In fact, the highest percentage of outsourced content marketing is content creation.

Content creators charge a multitude of prices, so the best strategy before hiring is to know what you want and how much you’re willing to pay. Remember that quality is key to successful online content.

You may be able to get a cheap deal on Fiverr, but quality content isn’t something you bargain for.

We break down our pricing into three quality levels to cover a range of content needs.

2. It Will Save You Time

Content writing is more complex than churning out a few blogs when you feel like it. It takes time to produce high quality content because it’s more than just writing.

This type of content creation is a mix of research, editing, proofreading and formatting to craft high-ranking and high-traffic content relevant to your brand.

It’s okay that you don’t have time to memorize the latest SEO trends for 2018. This responsibility will be taken on by your content writer.

3. Fresh Content Will Keep Your Brand Relevant

Bringing in a content writer to be the voice of your brand will give your audience a whole new perspective.

Content creators are like students taking a course on what your company is. They will learn the ins and outs of your brand identity and turn it into a conversational piece to relay to your clientele.

Consistent content will also keep your online presence up to date. Posting fresh content across all platforms will help you rank higher in search engines.

Are you convinced yet?

Before you hire a content creator it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want. Set your goals so that you can communicate them:

  • How do you want to sell your brand?
  • What type of content do you need?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you want someone in-house or outsourced?

Answering these questions will point you in the right direction.

How Did We Get Here? The History of Content Creators

Content writing wasn’t born out of thin air.

It comes from a long ancestry of using messages to communicate.

Finding a connection between a blog centered on Apple’s new iPhone robot and Egyptian hieroglyphics may seem like a stretch, but just hear me out.

From the prehistoric era to today, writing has been one of the top modes of disseminating information.

Perhaps we’ve traded out wooden tablets for Android tablets since then, but at its core, the goals of writing have always remained.

Where Today’s Content Writing Originated: Going Back to Mesopotamian Cuneiform in 8,000 B.C.

The essence of all writing is described as a “system of graphic marks representing the units of a specific language.”

The first recorded writing system was the Mesopotamian cuneiform, which evolved into four phases from 8000 to 1500 BC:

  • Clay tokens: stood for symbols of a code to categorize and track the amount of items you had. Clay was formed into geometric shapes to mirror the goods they were representing.
  • Pictographs: signs and impressions that represented numbers and specific items. These symbols replaced physical tokens.
  • Logographs: or symbols that represented phonetic sounds. For the first time, writing was no longer tied to counting or tracking objects. People wrote names and titles.
  • The Alphabet: signs that stood for one particular sound that the voice made. This made room for combining multiple signs to represent a whole new word. From the first alphabet came many more renditions, each originating from a particular region.

With each new written form of communication, came the intrigue in spreading that information to a wider audience.

By the time 1450 rolled around, Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press brought forth a revolution. There was an enormous demand for sharing and preserving ideas in print.

In the 1970s, the first renditions of the internet were introduced and the written word was launched into cyberspace.

We’ve been disseminating information from pixels on a screen ever since.

Today: The Shift for Content Creators and Businesses

The power of words is undeniable.

From Shakespeare to hashtags, it’s all about condensing down your identity into a series of signs and symbols.

You can persuade, influence, communicate and create an impact without ever making a sound.

Imagine the impact you can make writing to the four billion people using the internet worldwide?

Well, that made your ears perk up.

The demand for creative content has always been a major part of business strategy. Whether it’s print ads, press releases or commercials, companies have found ways to speak directly to their audience.

Then came Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

With over 3 billion active users, social media has become the language of the people. It didn’t take long for companies to realize that they needed to jump on board to become a part of the conversation.

But it’s more than just showing up.

Having a Facebook account or generic landing page is not enough to sell your brand. The audience on the web today researches services and products they want to support. They buy from brands they want to be associated with.

Customers are looking for a full fledged relationship with your brand, not a one night stand.

To build that relationship, you need to speak to their needs. The best way to do that is through carefully crafted content.

Content writers can turn generic blogs into love letters.

It’s not a skill to be overlooked. Content writing was named one of the top freelancing skills for 2018, with the median salary of over $40,000 a year.

Creating Great Content: It’s More than a Blog

Even if you spend only a few minutes scrolling through articles, chances are that you soak in some of the information.

With the unique ability to speak directly to their targeted audience, content writers are able to recognize what is important to the reader.

The impact of their words reaches far beyond the time you spend actually reading or viewing their content, even if you don’t recognize it.

Remember, we’re ninjas.

The best content creators find what’s at the core of the product they are selling, and emphasize that. Dos Equis was never associated with the most interesting anything until their manly mascot came around.

Putting creativity at the forefront of your content strategy is a way to reach consumers without overselling your brand.

One content creator, Nanette Burstein, and her team turned the negative connotation of “like a girl” on it’s head in the Always marketing campaign. The #LikeAGirl movement urged girls and women of all ages to aspire to reach bigger goals and celebrated their accomplishments. The content Nanette created associated Always with female empowerment while also selling more feminine products.

Metro Trains had a very simple message for passengers: don’t mess around on trains. Instead of posting signage and warnings, their creative team designed a video depicting “Dumb Ways to Die” with a catchy jingle and cute characters to match. The result? Over 165 million views on YouTube and counting.

I think they got their message across.

Content creation does not have to be directly associated with the products you’re selling. It’s about creating content that’s appealing to your target audience while also sharing your message.

Creating valuable content transcends your products. At the end of the day, you’re building a relationship between your audience and your brand.

Content Creators that Care: Building My Team to Support a Growing Industry

Though my brand, Express Writers, absolutely does offer high-quality content services, I also grow it as a means of supporting a community interested in online content.

Have you read our ultimate guide on What is a Content Strategist, yet?  Check it out here! You can read it online or download and save for later.

Beyond the products we sell, we offer resources to businesses, freelancers and anyone wanting to learn about content marketing.

I started the Write Blog, Write Podcast and #ContentWritingChat as a way to continue the conversation about what’s important in the writing world to everyone, not just our customers.

I’ve even built an online content marketing and strategy course to help everyone learn the skills to be successful in the content realm.

You, too, can become a member of the content creator ninja society.

There’s no need to keep these skills secret. Content creation is not about competition. The purpose of writing has and always will be to share and preserve valuable content.

Maybe your creative content team will come up with the next gem worthy to have a seat next to Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke,” or Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?”

The possibilities are endless when it comes to building content around your brand.

So don’t take Volkswagen’s “Think Small” advice, no matter how well it worked for them.

It’s your content.

Think big.

pasop formula

How to Sell Your Products & Services Online With Targeted Copy Using the PASOP Formula

Ever wanted to set up a sales email sequence or campaign, but had no idea where to start with the copy?

Well, I have some good news.

Copywriting formulas exist for these exact scenarios.

In other words, you don’t have to start from square one or reinvent the wheel.

Think of copywriting formulas as blueprints. They give you the plans to build an incredibly persuasive argument for customer action. You just need to fill in the blanks and personalize the blueprint so your resulting email campaign or sequence is targeted and personal for your audience.

As you know, when your writing is both of these things (targeted and personal), you’ll be more successful in your endeavors – meaning you’ll get more opens, more clicks, more sign-ups, more conversions, or more sales.

That’s why I’m here today to talk about a really great formula/blueprint that gets serious results, especially for email copywriting and drip campaigns.

This particularly compelling copywriting blueprint is the PASOP formula:

Problem, Agitation, Solution, Outcome, Problem.

Let’s talk more about it, and how to use it in your sales-focused copy. Ready?

what is the pasop formula

What Is the PASOP Formula? A Nitty-Gritty Definition

With any copywriting formula, you use the provided blueprint to structure your argument. (The goal of any type of copywriting is to spur the reader to action, so every sentence you write contributes to your argument in some way.)

With PASOP, the argument is structured like this:

  • Problem
  • Agitation
  • Solution
  • Outcome
  • Problem

pasop formula graphic

Let’s talk about how each element ties together and leads to customer action – whether that means a purchase, a sign-up, or simply clicking a link to a landing page.

1. Problem

With this formula, your argument begins with presenting a problem the reader has.

You can state the problem simply, or you can go into more detail.

2. Agitation

After you state the problem, it’s time to stir the pot. This is the “agitation” part.

How do you do it?

You swim around in the problem. You get into the reader’s head and tell them how they must be feeling about it. You empathize.

Ultimately, you want to make them nod along and think, “Yes, this is how I feel. This is my problem.”

Or, in internet-speak, you make them think, “THIS.”

It just means you emphasize the pain the problem causes. You dig in a little. You make the problem twinge for the reader. You make them wince.

The point of agitation is to suddenly make the reader’s problem much more immediate and urgent. They don’t want the pain, and they don’t just want a solution. They need it.

3. Solution

After agitation, it’s time to give your reader some relief. It’s time to show them there’s a way out, a way to make the pain end.

This is your unique solution to the problem, something only you can provide.

This part should make your reader go, “Ahhhhh. Sweet relief.” (Or something similar if they’re not the dramatic type.)

Note: PAS is a much more common formula than PASOP. The former is the original, the latter is a variation.

Here’s a PAS example on its own, in action, via Copywrite Matters:

4. Outcome

What are the eventual outcomes for the reader if they use your solution? Tell them to sweeten the deal.

Including the “Outcome” part goes a step beyond PAS. In many cases, this is just extra proof that the solution is awesome and works.

For example, a testimonial is a great way to show a positive outcome in action. You can also use data that proves the solution works.

5. Problem

Here’s where things get interesting. After you show your solution and the possible outcomes for the reader, you loop back to another problem.

This problem may or may not be related to the first one you presented at the outset of your argument. It just should be relevant to your reader.

And then, you stop there. You leave that final problem lingering in the reader’s mind – a literal cliffhanger, which sets them up to anticipate your next email/message, where you’ll repeat PASOP and give them a solution.

This is the main reason PASOP works so well for email sequences and drip campaigns. It naturally meshes with the delayed messaging format. It keeps your audience wanting more, because you leave a question dangling that begs an answer.

Your readers should look like this when you get to the second “P” in PASOP and dangle that cliffhanger:

When & Where to Use the PASOP Formula in Your Copywriting

PASOP is persuasive, all right.

But where should you use it in your copy to nab more customer action – more sales, more conversions?

Turns out, there are places where this formula naturally works very, very well.

1. Email Drip Sequences and Campaigns Set Up as Auto-Responders

Above all, PASOP is perfectly suited for email drip campaigns.

Many marketers and writers approach drip campaigns and sequences with shudders, but implementing the PASOP formula for these tasks can make them ridiculously easy to write.

An email drip sequence begins when someone opts into a lead magnet (i.e. by entering their email address/information into a form on a landing page) or performing some other action that warrants a response from you (making a purchase, abandoning a shopping cart, visiting a page more than once, signing up for your newsletter, etc.).

Once they do this, a pre-written sequence is triggered and hits their inbox. One email is sent at a time over a set period of days.

Here’s an example of one of my sequences in ConvertKit.

convertkit sequence

This sequence is triggered to invite people to my masterclass and allow them to get to know me, after they sign up for my free lead magnet on content strategy skillsets.

Each email is written strategically so it pulls the user/customer/reader further into the fold. If your end goal is to get the reader to make a purchase, the sequence of emails sent over a span of days helps warm them up to get them closer to that action.

When you use PASOP in these sequences, you’ll nail that persuasive tone and potentially inspire more action from your readers.

Done right, email drip campaigns can sell products completely hands-off!

Here’s how PASOP usually breaks down in an email sequence:

Email 1

  • P – Present a problem (problem #1) relevant to your readers.
  • A – Agitate the reader so they feel some emotion about the problem. Make the problem sting a little.
  • S – Present the solution to problem #1 (which is not necessarily what you’re selling).
  • O – Show a positive outcome from using the solution. Provide data or testimony that proves its worth.
  • P – Bring up another problem (we’ll call it “problem #2”), one you leave open-ended. This is the cliffhanger dangling at the end of email 1 that builds anticipation for email 2, where you’ll provide the solution to problem #2.

Email 2

  • P – Begin by presenting problem #2 from the end of the last email.
  • A – Agitate the problem and stir the pot.
  • S – Present the solution to problem #2.
  • O – What are positive outcomes of that solution?
  • P – Bring up another problem at the end of email 2 – we’ll call it problem #3. Leave it unanswered, and maybe hint that the solution is coming in email 3.

Email 3

  • P – Present problem #3 to the reader.
  • A – Agitate the problem. Make the reader feel emotions about it.
  • S – Present your solution, which is what you have been building up to this whole time. This is where you link to a sales page or landing page and really sell it.

As you can see, each consecutive cliffhanger builds up anticipation for email 3, which provides the final solution. This not only helps you sell more, it helps you get more opens for your next emails in the sequence.

Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers is a noted promoter of this method, especially for emails. In fact, in this Inc. interview, she described it as her favorite copywriting formula:

2. Blogs and Landing Pages

While it’s perfect for email sequences, PASOP could also be employed as a blog or landing page outline with equally great results… especially if your content needs to have a strong call-to-action.

If you do use it in this fashion, divide your blog or landing page topic into three “acts” or related problems. Use PASOP to lead the reader through the story, one problem at a time.

The formula will keep them reading through your entire post. Then, when they reach that final solution at the very end, they will be fully warmed-up to respond to your CTA.

3. Promotional Tweets

How about tweeting with PASOP in mind if you’re doing a little promoting?

The great thing about using the formula here is it ensures you’re providing value right off the bat. You’re not making the reader jump through hoops – you’re stating the problem and giving them a solution and outcomes immediately.

This helps hook readers and keeps them interested in what you’re saying as you lead them through an entire sequence of tweets. Ultimately, these could culminate with a call-to-action and a link to whatever you’re promoting (your final “solution”).

4. Webinars and Presentations

Want to keep people hanging on your every word during your next presentation or webinar?

Yep – Just say “PASOP.”

Present a problem with major relevance for your audience, evoke emotions by stirring the pot, entice them to stay in their seats by providing immediate value + a solution, then rinse and repeat.

Just remember to keep your ending problems in each PASOP sequence open-ended for a short amount of time to build suspense, then close that open loop.

PASOP Examples in Action: Awesome, Persuasive Emails, Conversion-Friendly Landing Pages, and More

This formula can get a bit confusing if you only talk about it. Let’s look at it in action to see how it works.

1. CoSchedule – One-and-Done Riff on PASOP

Here’s a riff on the PASOP formula in an email from CoSchedule. They send this one after you sign up for their free Headline Analyzer:

As you can see, it doesn’t quite follow the formula to a tee, but it uses the basic structure to great effect – and in very few words!

If you find CoSchedule through their popular Headline Analyzer tool, they use this email to introduce you to their blog. Smart stuff.

2. Copy School – A Landing Page Take on the Formula

Here’s another example of PASOP in action on the landing page for Copy School by Copy Hackers.

It starts out by identifying a problem you, the reader, probably have. Then they push on that problem and make it hurt just a little (that “voice in your head” telling you you’ll fail):

Next, they present the solution and outcomes: signing up for Copy School plus what you’ll get out of it.

No more “guesswork,” better performance, and a “clear understanding of what makes a message succeed or fail” – those are the outcomes, as well as “functional mastery over email and web copywriting”:

There’s no additional problem presented, here, because PASO is convincing enough on its own.

This example is an excellent demonstration of how to use the formula in a way that suits your needs – meaning, you don’t have to follow it to the letter. You can make it your own, leave out parts, and play with it.

Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable enough with your copywriting yet to do that, you can absolutely follow PASOP as a rigid outline and still get great results. That’s the beauty of using a formula!

3. The Sales Funnel Architect – Nailing the Cliffhanger

Here’s an example of the final “Problem” portion of PASOP (that last “P” in the acronym) from The Sales Funnel Architect:

The email ends with a problem (not fully understanding the sales funnel can lead to gigantic mistakes in your marketing campaigns), and it doesn’t provide additional information. The problem is just laid out there…

And that’s it. You have to wait for the next email to get the solution (in this case, the additional information you need to fully understand sales funnels).

Compelling, right?

That’s the point.

Be More Persuasive and Sell More with PASOP

You don’t need to come up with inventive, ground-breaking copy every time you want to sell something.

If all writers tried to do that, our brains would be mush. No one has that much creativity.

Instead, rely on what already works, on what’s tried-and-tested. A copywriting formula provides a structure to follow, giving you legs to stand on.

All you have to do is fill in the blanks.

Then – boom. Persuasive copy. More clicks. More conversions. More sales.

Sound good?

Of course it does. However, you might not be totally confident in your copywriting skills. (Or maybe you’re not a copywriter at all!)

If that’s you, Express Writers can step in. Let us write compelling email sequences for you, ones that work. Check out our email copy packages, and let’s do this.