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What does a copywriter do?

What Does a Copywriter Do? (Infographic)

This post was originally published in July 2015 and completely updated in August 2020.

Copywriting is a dynamic, valuable trade. Without copywriting, the web itself wouldn’t exist.

Despite its importance, many people still don’t know what copywriting is or what a copywriter does on the daily, typing away behind their computer. 👩‍💻

The answer is a lot more complex, yet less confusing than you might think.

So, what does a copywriter do, exactly? ✍ Follow along as we demystify this job description, infographic-style. Consider this a guide to copywriting for beginners.

What does a copywriter do, exactly? Follow along as this job description is demystified, infographic-style, now on the Write Blog ✍ Click To Tweet

what does a copywriter do?

First Things, First: What IS Copywriting?

(Hint: It’s NOT the same thing as “copyrighting.”)

Somebody has to write all of those web pages, blogs, articles, social media posts, emails, and more into existence. The brunt of it falls to copywriters.

However, modern copywriting is a far cry from the original ad copywriting of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Instead of ads, catchy jingles, and slogans, think blogs. Think helpful, educational, informational, or entertaining content. Instead of print ads or TV, think digital. Think the internet.

📝 Copywriting: Instead of ads, catchy jingles, and slogans, think blogs. Think helpful, educational, informational, or entertaining content. Instead of print ads or TV, think digital. 👩‍💻 Think the internet. Click To Tweet

Every day:

Every minute:

  • 188,000,000 emails are sent
  • 55,140 Instagram posts are uploaded
  • 511,200 tweets are published

Copywriters have a hand in all of it!

Need a copywriter? Get awesome content for your brand and don’t worry about lifting a finger to hire a writer. See our rates and offerings in the Content Shop. Over 20,000 successfully completed projects to date.     

Copywriting vs. Content Writing

Copywriters create copy AND content for clients.

Is there a difference? Yes.

  • Copywriting is the art of writing copy.
    • Copy refers to any piece of text written to move the reader to some sort of action.
    • You’ll find copy on landing pages, sales pages, and product pages. You’ll also see it in use via calls-to-action – snippets of text calling the reader to act – which can show up in blogs and social media posts/ads.
  • Content writing is the art of writing content.
    • Content refers to any piece of text written to inform, educate, guide, or entertain the reader.
    • Content usually is NOT sales-oriented. Instead, its purpose is to provide value to readers, which builds trust and loyalty over time.

Who Needs a Copywriter?

  • Businesses and organizations
  • Entrepreneurs and personal brands
  • Anyone who needs engaging, impactful, targeted, results-driven copy or content written for their online platform

What Does a Copywriter Do?

Copywriters aim to INFORM, ENGAGE, IMPACT, or PERSUADE target audiences with WRITTEN COPY and/or CONTENT.

  • Writing to move people to step into a business’s marketing life cycle.
  • Writing to position a business or organization as an authority in their field or industry, using that business’s voice and tone.
  • Writing to cultivate loyalty and trust among targeted readers.

The Copywriter Job Description

What does a copywriter do? When it comes to content and copy, a little bit of everything:

  • Content writing – Writing content that informs, educates, or inspires.
  • Copywriting – Writing copy that moves the reader to action.
  • Researching – Vetting topics, keywords, and sources to use in the content or copy. Learning and adopting the correct, client-approved tone and writing style.
  • Editing & proofreading – Tweaking and refining grammar, style, and punctuation for readability, accuracy, and to match the brand voice.
  • Managing content projects – Ideating content, pitching topics, writing, editing, revising, and working with other content creators (content strategists, editors, graphic designers, content managers, etc.) to get pieces publish-ready.
What does a copywriter do? 🤔 When it comes to content and copy, a little of everything: Content writing, copywriting, researching, editing & proofreading, & managing content projects. Click To Tweet

The Copywriter: A Jack-of-All-Trades

Most copywriters have the knowledge and expertise to write at least a handful of these types of copy and content:

  • SEO blogs
  • Professional articles
  • Web pages and landing pages
  • Ebooks
  • Tweets
  • Facebook and Instagram posts
  • Native ads on social media
  • Email marketing
  • White papers
  • Product descriptions
  • Case studies and product reviews
  • Press releases

In-House or Freelance Copywriting?

When a copywriter works in-house, they work for one specific company and create copy/content FOR that company. More often than not, they work in an office.

A freelance copywriter works on their own steam or for an agency. They may serve many different clients across various industries. Most freelancers work remotely.

The 7 Essential Skills Every Copywriter Needs

Cultivate these skills and learn how to become a better copywriter. They’re the foundation of what every copywriter does.

1. Content Creation Fundamentals – Creating compulsively readable online content in various formats for multiple platforms, like blogs and social media

2. Writing Craft & Creativity – Changing up word choice, tone, and POV to engage different audiences

3. SEO – Optimizing copy and content to get indexed in search with SEO best-practices

Get the SEO content writer skills cheat sheet!

4. Conversions – Understanding how certain words and phrases come together to create ultra-persuasive messages that inspire people to act

5. Communication – Knowing how to communicate ideas effectively – and understanding how to make complex topics easy to grasp

6. Online Research & Sourcing – Finding the best sources to use in a client’s content to support claims, including compelling stats and data, and knowing how to link and cite correctly

7. Editing & Proofreading – Cutting the fluff to get to the meat of the message, and knowing the correct style and grammar to use in every writing situation

7 skills every copywriter needs: 1️⃣ Content creation fundamentals 2️⃣ Writing craft & creativity 3️⃣ SEO 4️⃣ Conversions 5️⃣ Communication 6️⃣ Online research & sourcing 7️⃣ Editing & proofreading Click To Tweet

How to Break into Copywriting: 5 Tips to Nab Your First Gig or Client

What can you do to break into copywriting? Buckle down and…

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice your writing craft. Read all you can, write whenever you can.

2. Prove Yourself

Create a portfolio of writing projects and samples you’ve completed. (No projects to your name yet? Imagine your ideal client/assignment, and write for them.)

3. Take Unpaid Writing Projects for Experience

Take on unpaid work in your free time. Help out family and friends with your skills, then add those projects to your portfolio.

4. Use the Right Resources and Keywords

Search for jobs on Google, Indeed.com, LinkedIn, and other job sites. Use keywords like “content writing,” “copywriter,” “content marketing writer,” and “freelance writer.”

5. Never Stop Learning

Keep improving your writing skills. Take online copywriting courses, read mountains of books, and follow content writers you want to emulate.

What Do Copywriters Do? We Write the Internet.

Pretty awesome, right? 🔥

Get awesome content for your brand website right here in our Content Shop. Sign up as a new client today and give us a test run. Over 20,000 successfully completed projects to date.

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.

Custom Writing Service

What to Expect from a Custom Writing Service

If you’re like most marketers, you’ve probably considered hiring a custom writing service at one point or another.

But if you’re like most marketers that are new to delegating their online writing, there’s another side to that: you’re also probably not sure what to expect from working with a custom writing service.

We’re here to shine a light on the topic!

If you’ve ever wondered what a custom writing service is and what you can expect when you hire one, this post is for you. Read on to learn more.

Custom Writing Service, copywriting service, content writing service

Let’s Define a Custom Writing Service

A custom writing service is any company, individual, or firm that writes custom web content for customers.

Seem simple? It is, but it’s also very varied.

A custom writing service can write anything from blog content to print books, depending on what the customer wants and needs. Custom writing services are run by expert copywriters, marketers, and SEOs, and are designed to help busy marketers get the custom content they require, without the hassle of stressing over producing it in-house.

Check out a short list of what we do, from our pricing page (over 40 products in our Content Shop!):

express writers pricing

To see a full list of what our copywriters can handle, check out my guide: How Copywriting Works.

5 Standard Expectations to Have with a Quality-Oriented Custom Writing Service

If you choose to hire a custom writing service, you’ll be in for a unique experience. Because custom writing services are highly individualized by definition, the service you receive from the company or individual you hire won’t necessarily be comparable to anyone else’s experience.

The custom writing service is there to define, understand, and exceed your unique needs – that’s the whole point!

You can, however, count on a few standard protocols and methods from any custom writing service you hire. These are as follows:

1. A custom writing service will take time to consult with you about your needs

To serve you effectively, a custom writing service needs to understand what you hope to get out of the partnership.

For example, are you looking to populate a new site with content? Do you want to improve your leads and enjoy more conversions? Are you publishing an ebook and looking for someone to help you write or organize the copy? Maybe you’re looking to start a blog, but you don’t have time to manage it.

Whatever your needs may be, the first thing any reputable custom writing service will do is seek to understand them. This information is critical for the writing company because it allows them to do the following things:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of your company
  • Develop a plan to meet and exceed your goals
  • Craft custom content that caters to your corporate aspirations
  • Adjust existing content to support your business’s trajectory

When you first hire a custom writing service, you’ll want to be prepared to be as open as possible about your goals. This will help the company better serve you.

2. A great custom writing service will evaluate your current content

They won’t just throw a quote at you – a good writing service will actually evaluate where you stand and go from there.

If you’ve already got content on your site or blog, or if you’ve provided a layout for a bigger project, like an ebook, the custom writing service will evaluate it and reach out with suggestions, questions, or observations.

This helps the writing team you select get an idea of how long you want your content to be, which topics you’d like covered, what voice you’re looking for, and what goals you’d like the content to achieve.

For best results, be sure to maintain an open line of communication with the custom writing service. Remember: great writing flows easier when both of you communicate freely about the direction of the project. More tips on that in our guide on outsourcing your writing.

3. They will develop a content plan

Depending on the goals you set out earlier in the process, the custom writing service will now help you develop a content plan designed to meet the objective. For example, if your primary goal was to increase your social media following, the custom writing service may design a social content plan that includes several posts each week on all of your platforms. This plan would likely include a mix of curated, original, visual, and textual content to intrigue and inspire your readers.

This is a point at which you can expect to work very closely with the company. Does the plan adhere to what you had in mind? Is there anything you need clarification on? Do you want more detail about why a particular keyword is being targeted or why the use of infographics, for example, is so smart? All you have to do is ask! Any custom writing service worth its keyboards will be happy to help shine a light on these things for you.

4. Your custom writing service will optimize content for SEO

If you’re publishing web-based content for the purpose of marketing or lead generation, you can expect your custom writing service to optimize it for search engines and readers. Remember, your readers come first, but SEO is vital too.

Today, 81% of consumers research online before they decide to buy a product, and having content that is optimized for SEO is one of the best ways to ensure that your content appears when and where readers need it.

If you’re not familiar with SEO, a good custom writing service can help you understand it more deeply. Essentially, SEO is the process of optimizing content for search engine visibility and a positive user experience. This often entails methods like keyword inclusion and meta content optimization, to name just a couple.

The fact that so many custom writing services now optimize for SEO is one thing consumers love. Because today’s most visible content has all been optimized for SEO, hiring a quality custom writing service can help you remove the middleman and get professional, expert-level, properly optimized content from a single source.

5. They will publish content for you, upon request

If you’re looking to be as hands-off as possible with your content, it’s easy to find a custom writing service that will handle everything from the topic mining to the distribution for you. This is particularly the case when it comes to web content like social media posts and blogs. Dozens of custom writing services handle all of the publishing and distribution for their clients, and this is one simple thing that many marketers love about hiring a custom writing service.

Expect to pay more for this – if it’s done right, you’ll get a meta description, writing, and post optimization along with publishing.

5 Reasons Hiring a Custom Writing Service Is a (Very) Smart Idea

I mean, we are a custom writing service, but we above everyone else know how and why our clients benefit from our content. 😉

There are tremendous time savings and ROI benefits to hiring an outside writing service.

Now that you know what custom writing services do, let’s talk about why hiring one is such a good idea. Don’t be the marketer that underestimates the importance of custom content.

As it stands right now, 90% of shoppers find the presence of custom content helpful, and 61% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a company that delivers custom content. With that in mind, it’s clear that creating custom content is not just important, but critical, for any business that wants to build success in the world of online marketing.

If you’re still in doubt that hiring a custom writing service is a smart move, consider the following points:

1. A custom writing service will make you more competitive

Today, more than 86% of B2B marketers and upwards of 77% of B2C marketers take advantage of content marketing, and while many of them have in-house content creation teams, many hire their content creation out to custom content companies. If you’ve not yet jumped on the custom content bandwagon, the chances that you’re missing out on traffic are high.

Today, consumers don’t just want custom content – they expect it. And if you’re the only company in your industry that’s not giving it to them, you’re missing out on business. By hiring a custom writing service, you can populate your site and social profiles with high-quality, original content that caters to your individual consumers and helps to boost your conversion rates across the board.

2. A great writing service will diversify your content voice

Maybe you’ve been creating content in-house for quite some time now. And maybe it’s been going well. Perhaps you’ve noticed a drop-off in reads and shares, though, and you’re wondering why. Even if you have an established reader base, keeping your content fresh is difficult, and even the most loyal customers will begin to drift off if your content becomes stale or uninspired. Because of this, it’s essential to keep things fresh and do whatever it takes to ensure quality content at all times.

Hiring a custom writing service is a great way to do this. Because a good custom writing service has a team of skilled writers rather than just one or two individuals, you get the benefit of many people putting their heads together to create unique topics and write inspired content for your company. This benefits your readers just as much as it does your brand, and can go a long way toward improving your content’s performance on all of your distribution channels.

3. An excellent custom writing service will help you stay on track

If you’re running a business or trying to get a company off the ground, you’re busy, and it can be tough to hold yourself accountable to create a few blogs or social posts each week. Unfortunately, letting these things fall by the wayside doesn’t do anything but hurt your company in the long run. Today, custom content is more important than it’s ever been before, and if you neglect its creation because you’re trying to build a functional website or fix bugs in the system, you’re going to see a drastic drop-off in your visitors and readers.

When you hire a custom writing service, though, these problems cease to exist. While running a company is still hard, having the professional help of a custom writing service can make it much, much easier.

Because a custom writing service can take over your content creation efforts and free you up to focus on things like building your product, it’s the perfect tool for busy founders who need a break. When you hire a custom writing service, nothing has to suffer for everything to come into place down the line. Instead, you get the benefit of a successful company and quality content to reflect it.

4. Learn best practices from your up-to-date writing team

If you’re a little out of touch on best practices in content marketing, a good custom writing service can help bring you up to speed. Because the writers at a custom writing company write marketing and promotional copy for a living, they’re highly knowledgeable about the current best practices and industry standards.

While it may seem tempting to throw these things to the wind under the assumption that they don’t matter, best practices are more important today than they’ve ever been before, and finding a team that understands them and knows how to adhere to them is critical.

5. A custom writing service can offer technical know-how, as well

While good writing skills are essential, technical expertise is, as well, and a custom writing service can pick up on all of the picky aspects of SEO that you don’t understand (or simply don’t care to understand). By doing things like optimizing your meta content, adding alt. text to your images, and ensuring that your targeted keywords are utilized properly throughout your content, a custom writing service can deliver quality content that’s as functional for search engines as it is for people.

A Good Custom Writing Service: Your Secret Weapon for Success

A skilled, reputable, professional custom writing service is exactly what you need to build a successful online presence and ensure that you’re providing the content your customers and would-be customers need from your company.

While it’s tempting to think you can go it all on your own, a custom writing service can take the burden of content creation and distribution off of your shoulders and help you build a solid online company with a reputation for authority, leadership, and intelligence across the board.

taxbreak cta

how copywriting works

How Copywriting Works: A 101 to the Writing that Fuels the Web

Most copywriters know exactly what this conversation feels like:

“What do you do?”

“I’m an SEO copywriter!”

“Oh…great! So, what do you do?”

When you say you’re a writer, most people assume you’re an aspiring Hemingway, tapping away at your typewriter in pursuit of the next great American novel.

Unless someone has experience in the digital marketing, content marketing, or online world, few people know what a copywriter does. (Not a copyright-er. I have another post on that.)

That said, though, everyone is familiar with the work of copywriters, whether they know it or not. In a world as marketing-dense as ours, copywriters essentially make the digital web spin. They write the scripts for television commercials, radio ads, mail and email marketing materials, and articles that help people find answers to problems and learn new things.

In other words, copywriters are everywhere!

As such, it’s never been more critical than it is right now to understand how copywriting works, and what a massive role it plays in our modern world.

guide to copywriting

What Copywriters Are (and What We Aren’t)

First things first: not all copywriters are clones of Don Draper.

don draper

Although romantic to imagine, that was way back when. Today, it’s 2017. There’s much less drama, smoking, and drinking in the office in this industry than what you see in the Mad Men series. 😉

That said, however, copywriters today fulfill a vast selection of positions.

Here are just a few of the things that define what copywriters are:

1. Copywriters Write Copy for Various Industries and Specialties

Depending on a copywriter’s unique job description, he or she might create marketing copy for a website or work one-on-one with an SEO company to write their website or create their Facebook posts. In other cases, copywriters write physical text material, like books, pamphlets, and educational sheets. No matter what industry they work in, copywriters work with words daily.

2. Copywriters Work with Other Teams to Create Marketing Copy

In most cases, copywriters work with other specialists, like SEOs and sales teams, to create well-rounded marketing copy that fulfills a broad series of goals.

3. Copywriters Wear Many Hats

A great copywriter is also a part-time marketer, editor, and publisher. While copywriters typically work with teams of editors, these skills are indispensable, and the best copywriters must know how to evaluate their content for quality and figure out what will and will not work for a client.

What today’s copywriters are NOT:

1. Novelists. While copywriters do sometimes create text copy, they’re not developing books that sell as novels. Those are typically ghostwriters or other forms of writers. Instead, copywriters may create ebooks, articles, or white papers.

2. Machines. Good copywriters pay a lot of attention to each piece they create. They don’t just churn out work in a one-size-fits-all manner. Instead, they collaborate closely with teams and managers to build customized material for each client.

3. Outbound Marketers. The wheelhouse of copywriters is to create material that makes people want to connect with a company. They don’t typically push themselves or their content on other people. Instead, they work hard to create content that delights readers and makes them want to interact with a brand.

The following graphic applies very much. 😉

what copywriters are

What’s Under the Hood at a Copywriting Agency: What Express Writers Does

Here at Express Writers, we know a thing or two about copywriters. Not only do we hire them – we are them! Before I founded my company, I worked as a copywriter on various freelancing platforms. I landed hundreds of gigs and dozens of clients, and within three months of self-teaching as an online copywriter, I went on to start my agency. (Check out my full story here.)

Today, my agency has a full-service Content Shop with over 40 products:

content shop express writers

And our content agency staffs a team of more than 50 copywriters, strategists, and editors, handpicked by moi (more on our standards here), who specialize in writing, creating, and publishing the following types of content:

  • Blogs and blogging packages
  • Web pages, landing pages
  • Product descriptions
  • Infographics
  • Meta copy
  • Interviews (with our writers, strategists, project managers)
  • Research
  • In-line and developmental editing
  • Keyword strategy
  • Content planning/editorial calendars
  • Expert copywriting in all areas, including Financial, Technical, Creative, Legal, Medical, & more
  • Press Releases
  • Ebooks
  • Slides (PowerPoint or PDF)
  • Ad Copy
  • Slogans/Taglines
  • Scripts
  • Sales Pages
  • Whitepapers
  • Email content
  • Social media posts and custom imagery
  • Social media plans, profile creation

Here’s an example of what we create in a year, per our year-end report for 2016:

content creation report

ALL this content is created by our handpicked copywriters, strategists, and editors, who specialize in different industries, content types, and services.

This gives you a pretty good idea of exactly how diverse copy offerings can get!

What Qualifications do Good Copywriters Have?

The field of copywriters is a very diverse one. While some copywriters attended school for degrees in English or Journalism, others have spent their pre-copywriting lives working as attorneys, cooks, or dog mushers! Copywriters come in all shapes and sizes, and this unique assortment of backgrounds allows copywriters to bring their experiences into the field, creating more diverse and interesting copy.

As it stands today, there is no one-size-fits-all educational program for copywriters. Instead, a copywriter that’s going to succeed in the industry just needs to possess a few key traits. These are as follows:

1. Creativity

First off, copywriters need to be creative. While many people assume creativity is only necessary for people writing novels and short stories, and not people writing marketing copy, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Since copywriters write for such a diverse selection of clients, they need to be agile enough to think on their feet. Storytelling is central to great copywriting, and the best experts out there know how to access their creativity to weave compelling, unique copy that will engage an audience and help a brand meet its goals.

2. Strong Writing Skills

While copywriters don’t need a college degree to excel in the field, they do need strong writing skills. While it’s true that copywriters write about everything from firearm safety to SEO, the center of all that work is writing, and it’s essential that those skills are rock-solid. Copywriters need to be comfortable with the written word and know how to bend and command it to do what they want.

3. An Ability to Work with Others

While many copywriters work remotely, they are not lone wolves. Instead, copywriters work with teams of SEOs, advertisers, designers, and sales professionals. As such, the successful copywriter has strong teamwork skills and knows how to work collaboratively with other people to create a comprehensive product.

4. Strong Research Skills

One of the questions I frequently get as a copywriter is “what do you do if you don’t know the industry?”

Although some copywriters specialize in certain sectors, such as the financial or medical industry, many copywriters write on all topics for their clients. Because of this, it’s critical to have strong research skills. For example, if a customer asks you to write about choosing an engine lubricant for your sports car, and you’re not an expert on sports cars or their engines, you need to know how to use the web to find quality information that can help you write the article.

Here’s a post one of our full-time writers wrote on how to write for even the most boring-est of industries.

5. An Ability to Take Criticism

If you didn’t receive any formal training as a copywriter (and even if you did), criticism is a central part of the job. You can’t always “nail it,” and great copywriters expect to get the occasional negative feedback from editors and clients. In these cases, excellent copywriters take the feedback and learn from it, while people that won’t make it in the industry crumble beneath it.

6. A Hunger for Knowledge

Copywriting intersects with other industries, like SEO and digital marketing, and copywriters who will rise to the top of their industry are continually seeking to learn about these things. In addition to strengthening your writing, these simple tricks will also allow a copywriter to stay on the bleeding edge of his or her industry.

7. A Willingness to Learn

Copywriters who aren’t familiar with the industry before they start need only to want to learn it. Things like social media, proper blog formatting, and good SEO practices can all be learned, and dominating them is what sets one copywriter apart from the next.

Check out the book I wrote on how to create online copy, if you’re hungry for an educational read on copywriting!

How Much Do Copywriters Make?

The answer to this question varies depending on how much a copywriter works, who he or she works for, whether they’re employed by a company or by themselves, and where the copywriter is.

According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for copywriters is $55,000 annually.

That said, though, it’s not uncommon for copywriters to earn far more – as in five figures per project when they work for large corporations or run a successful self-employed business. Joanna Wiebe, famous conversion copywriter, doesn’t work for less than $60,000 per project.

As the world of digital marketing changes, copywriters who also learn relevant and in-demand skills, like video script copywriting and some graphic design, can supplement their offerings, provide more value for their clients, and make more money. Copywriters can also boost their worth by creating a longstanding history of quality content for a variety of customers. When companies see that a copywriter has successfully increased conversions, helped companies draw new customers, or overhauled a company’s online presence, that copywriter becomes more in-demand in the industry.

Public speaking (especially at TEDx stages) can also significantly boost a copywriter’s rep and net them far higher-earning projects and prospects.

How to Find Copywriting Jobs

If you’re a copywriter looking for work, your options are virtually limitless. You can work for almost any major company, on your own, or with a dedicated content creation agency, like Express Writers! Here are just a few places to start looking for work:

  • Express Writers. We’re almost always hiring! Send in a resume as a writer and an editor. You must have at least 2 years of writing or editing experience for either open position area.
  • The ProBlogger Job Board. The premier copywriting work resource, the ProBlogger Job Board features thousands of writing jobs refreshed daily. It’s a wonderful filter for high-quality writing jobs. This job board features many major, well-known accounts, such as Canva and Thrive Market. Targeted directly at copywriters. The brainchild of one of the best copywriters out there, Darren Rowse, this is a job board made by writers for writers.
  • Private Companies. Content marketing is growing at an astonishing rate and, as such, virtually everyone needs copywriters for their businesses. As such, you’ll find that many private companies need copywriters to help them develop their online material. If there’s a company you admire, look at their job board to see if they’re hiring copywriters. If they’re not, you can always reach out and pitch your services according to best pitch practices.
  • Local Companies. Local companies in your area may need copywriting services to grow their online presence. Keep your eyes peeled for companies in your area in need of copywriting services and offer your expertise when you find them!

How to Hire Copywriters

We put a guide together on how to work with your copywriter! Check it out here.

One of the tips our Content Development Specialist, Tara, had to share is a great key of working with writers.

tara quote outsourcing

Our content creation agency works hard to staff the very best copywriters on the web. What’s more, we offer some benefits that individual freelancers don’t, namely the ability to take on far more content and the assurance that your content will always get finished, even if a freelancer falls ill or has a family emergency. As if that weren’t enough, we also staff a selection of industry-specific copywriters so that you can find a professional financial, marketing, or medical copywriter for all your online needs.

5 Things That Make Online Copywriting Great

Now that you know a little bit about how copywriting works at the foundational level – who copywriters are, what they do, how to be one, and how to find one – let’s talk about what separates the wheat from the chaff regarding the actual writing that goes into copywriting.

If you’ve ever read a batch of college essays, you know that not all writing is created equal and that ten different people writing about the same topic can create a series of ten very different results. With this in mind, how do you tell what’s great copywriting and what falls short?

The answer is simple: great copywriting possesses the following things:

1. Detail

Copywriting is nothing without extensive detail. Today’s readers are more discerning than ever, and they’re not easily placated by fluffy, low-hanging content that doesn’t do much to appease their needs or help them find solutions to their problems. As such, great copywriting digs deep.

Here’s an example: if two copywriters had an assignment to write about coal mining in America, the sub-par copywriter would give a definition of coal mining, talk about where and how people do it, and then be done. A great copywriter, on the other hand, will do some research, provide in-depth statistics about how coal mining has grown and changed over the year, discuss the challenges facing modern coal miners, and provide a realistic outlook for the future of coal miners.

The more detailed online copy is, the more useful it is for your readers. This, in turn, helps you create material that ranks well and allows you to stand out as an authority in your industry.

2. Quality

No copy ever rose to the top of the web for being riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes. Today, quality is more essential than ever in online copywriting. In fact, Google itself even made this explicitly clear back in 2015, when they released their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.  Their “Characteristics of High-Quality Pages” section stated explicitly that pages that were to rank as high-quality must possess “a satisfying amount of high-quality main content.”

SQEV Screenshot

Today, it’s easy to create low-quality content that doesn’t take user experience, SEO, or flow into account, and writers who do that are a dime a dozen. To truly stand out, though, copywriting needs to be high-quality, free of spelling and grammar mistakes, and tailored specifically to a company’s unique audience. When all these things are in place, content can not only do its job of educating and entertaining audience, but it can also claim and maintain a prominent spot on the web.

3. A Focus on SEO

 Neil Patel has said that SEO and content go together like peanut butter and jelly, and he’s right! Without content, search engine optimization (or SEO) can’t function, and without SEO, content would just drift around the web, homeless and hungry for an audience and a place.

If you’re not familiar with search engine optimization, it’s the process of using a series of tools, tricks, and approaches (such as keyword researchmeta content optimization, and proper formatting for blog content) to optimize content so that search engines can “read,” categorize and deliver it.

To succeed in today’s digital world, online content needs to marry SEO best practices with quality writing. This means including relevant keyword phrases naturally throughout the material, utilizing strong internal and external links, keeping sentences short and the reading level low enough to appeal to various audiences, and using headers and subheaders to break up text and make it accessible for readers on all devices – from mobile phones to desktop computers.

If copywriting doesn’t focus on SEO, it’s simply not worth investing in!

4. The Right Voice

While a brand like Poo-Pourri can get away with writing in a lippy, off-the-cuff fashion, the ACLU can’t. The difference is the culture of these two organizations. While Poo-Pourri, a “spray before you go” toilet product, is sassy to its core, the ACLU is a serious legal organization where people expect to find professional, informative information. As such, the voice for these two platforms is very different, and great copywriting takes this into account.

Today, a large part of what makes copy successful is its voice. Even if content is well-written and compelling, it won’t perform well unless it’s speaking directly to a platform’s audience and readers. As such, great copywriters must know how to adapt and adjust their voices depending on publication and platform.

5. A Willingness to Play the Long Game

There’s a distinct difference between outbound marketing and inbound marketing. Outbound marketing goes out, from the organization it begins with, to capture and engage customers. Think purchased email lists, unsolicited phone calls, and door-to-door sales.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, seeks to provide material that’s good enough to bring customers in. Think blogging, social media, and video marketing.

While copywriting can be used for outbound marketing (copywriters create most of the material you find in your mailbox), most copywriting jobs today are in the inbound marketing sphere. And this is for a good reason. Today, content is much more effective when it doesn’t shove readers. For evidence of this, all you need to do is look at the rise in ad-blocking software (which Seth Godin wrote about back in 2015) and the fact that the majority of direct mail is never opened.

Today, people want content that builds relationships, rather than trying to jump right into their pockets. As such, the most successful copywriting currently on the web is the stuff that builds trust, explains difficult concepts, offers solutions, and doesn’t try to sell anything at all. While it may be tough for companies to understand why they would invest in a copywriter who won’t try to sell things to their clients, the truth is that, in 2017, the best sales pitch is no sales pitch at all.

Great Digital Copywriting: The Stuff That Makes the Web Go Around!

Today, the web runs on great copywriting. It’s everywhere you look!

From the banner ads that pop up as you cruise a website to the social media posts that make you laugh and the blogs you turn to when you need to learn how to change a bike chain or navigate your newly updated Instagram feed, copywriting is what makes it all work.

To find out more about the ins and outs of online copywriting, check in with us at Express Writers and follow The Write Blog. As one of the premier copywriting agencies on the web, we know a thing or two about hiring writers, connecting writers with companies, and keeping you up to date on all the great news, happenings, and events in the world of online copy!

cta expert content

robots won't replace the writer

Why Robots Won’t Replace The Writer Anytime Soon, and How to Create Content that Will be Read

In recent years, there’s been some concern that robots will eventually replace human writers.

Automated systems have successfully replaced people in thousands of factory assembly jobs, surgical positions, security posts, and farming positions. Why not writing, as well?

While there’s no doubt that writing has been, and will continue to be, aided by technological advancement, I say it’s unlikely that robots will ever fully replace the human copywriter.

Why?

Robots can’t process a human level of creativity, thinking, and subsequently, writing.

While robots, algorithms, and automated systems may have methods in place to “crawl” and interpret data, they will never understand the distinctly human joy of curling up in front of the fireplace with a cup of tea and a great book.

Think about these scenarios for a moment:

  • Robots will never know how exciting Tolkien’s world can be, or how a great novel or short story can transport you to another time, place, and headspace.
  • Robots will never know what it means to read a Content Marketing Institute article that punches you in the gut, that you feel compelled to share so everyone can learn what you just learned (content marketing nerds unite).
  • Robots can’t ever wipe away their own tears at the last lines of Shakespeare’s dying Romeo, or Mufasa’s passing in the Lion King.

For these reasons, human copywriters will not be replaced anytime soon.

While robots might be capable of incredible things, only we understand how deeply human the act of writing is, and how much heart it takes to produce material that other people want to read.

robot vs. writer

Why Robots Won’t Replace the Writer: The Raw Power of Human, Conversational Content

You know what else robots are lacking that humans have down pat? The power of conversation. Sure – robots can be programmed to talk, answer questions, and tell jokes, but they’ll never be the conversational natives that humans have always been.

This gives us a serious edge when it comes to copywriting.

If you’ve been working in the digital marketing space for a while, it’s likely that you can think of a few examples of funny, conversational, relatable content you’ve read and enjoyed that features a distinctly human touch.

Here are a few of the brands that come to mind for me when I think of conversational content:

1. Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club is almost always on the top of these lists because the brand has done such an incredible job of making itself approachable, funny, and relatable. There’s no doubt these guys have real, hard-working humans behind their digital content. While there are dozens of examples of how the company does this, check out this screenshot of the “How it Works” portion of their website for a great demonstration:

Dollar Shave Club Screenshot

2. Poo~Pourri

What I love about Poo~Pourri is their genius level of creativity in every bit of copy and marketing material.

Their theme? Creative humor. They win at it.

poopourri

If that’s not fun, relatable and conversational, I don’t know what is. We all can give a little belly laugh in the name of joining a “potty” community ready to spritz the bowl and “trap-a-crap” (a product name, not kidding you).

Show me a content scraper, algorithm, or robot that can evoke that humorous level of creativity.

3. Headspace

Headspace built a meditation app that provides access to fast, accessible meditations for situations ranging from anxiety to anger to general wellbeing. While meditation often feels like a lofty and unapproachable practice, Headspace hits the ball out of the park when it comes to making the pursuit user-friendly and approachable.

HeadSpace Screenshot

One of my favorite examples of their conversational their content is their “How the Headspace App Works Video.”  Watch it and then tell me you’re still feeling intimidated about developing a meditative practice:

5 Reasons We Have to Learn Conversational Writing

While the brands above are all killing it at conversational writing, the people behind this content didn’t just come in off the streets and start excelling at it. While it’s true that people are conversational natives, writing marketing copy (and everything listed above is marketing copy) that connects with readers requires a set of learned skills.

Most of us are familiar with marketing messages that feel cold, pushy, overly sales-y, or cheap. This material makes us recoil and click “delete” as fast as we can. While a human may have written it, it doesn’t do anything to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

With this in mind, we have to learn conversational writing. Here’s why:

1. School didn’t teach us

If you’re like most people, you remember being told you were too wordy, informal, or grammatically incorrect in your school papers. While this may have made sense when we were learning APA or MLA formatting or constructing a senior thesis in college, it doesn’t hold up in the real world.

Sometimes, approachable marketing writing bends grammar rules. Sometimes it’s less formal than a college essay, and sometimes it pushes the envelope – but that’s okay! In fact, that’s necessary.

While school taught us to abide by hundred-year-old grammar rules, it didn’t teach us how to be approachable and conversational in the material we write.

2. Conversational writing takes relies on the audience

What your audience might find approachable and what my audience might find approachable may well be two separate things. While some aspects of conversational writing carry across all industries and target personas, there’s no doubt that being compelling in marketing copy requires you to know your target audience intimately. If you don’t, you can’t expect to speak directly to them.

3. It takes time to get good at this

While there’s a fine line between being professional and robotic, there’s also a fine line between being conversational and downright rude or unprofessional. Conversational writing, like all things, requires a delicate hand and a certain level of skill. You don’t develop this overnight, and it’s important to give yourself time and space to hone the craft and develop your unique style.

4. Old habits die hard

For some people, breaking out of the box of academic writing and learning to be more conversational and approachable is a severe uphill battle. It’s tough to un-do old teaching, and writing in a conversational and friendly way can feel counterintuitive, at first. This is one of the biggest reasons we must learn to write like this, rather than just expecting it to sprout up overnight.

5. Great writing shouldn’t sound like writing

Take a moment to wrap your mind around this one.

Elmore Leonard once said:

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

The best sales pitch shouldn’t feel like a sales pitch, and the best marketing writing shouldn’t sound like writing – it should sound like a casual conversation between friends.

10 Impressive Ways to Write More Conversational Content

So, now you know why we must learn to write conversationally. Now, let’s talk about how.

Here are ten smart tips you can put into action right now:

1. Stop trying to be everything to everyone

Imagine this: you’re sitting down at your computer to write your weekly email newsletter. You want it to be exciting, compelling, and valuable for your audience. The tough thing is, though, your email list contains every internet user on the globe – about 3,424,971,237 people.

That’s an impossible task, right? Right. There’s absolutely no way you can appeal to all those people, and you’d be wasting your time trying.

The first step in creating more conversational content is to hone your audience. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, you want to be a very specific something to a very particular set of people.

When you sit down to write your copy, you should be able to pick one individual that’s representative of your target audience and write to that person and only that person. This will make your writing infinitely more approachable and unique.

2. Don’t try to sound casual

Any time you try to show off, things take an immediate turn for the worst. This is as true in sports (ever tried to look cool on a ski hill, only to face plant in front of the large group you were trying to impress?) as it is everywhere else in life. Don’t try to sound casual, or cool, or funny in your writing. Your readers will know immediately that you’re trying to impress them, and you’ll lose interest. Remember: the best writing doesn’t sound like writing. Keep it natural for best results.

3. Talk to people, not at them

Think about how much easier it is to stay engaged with a conversation than a lecture. Now, bring this into your online writing. When you write to people rather than at them, you create room for a two-way exchange, which is much more valuable than a soliloquy.

4. Be yourself

When you read Dollar Shave Club’s web copy, it doesn’t feel like they’re trying to be something they’re not. Instead, you get the distinct idea that the company has a host of funny, cool, witty people on their team – people you’d probably like to get to know. The easiest way to be approachable and conversational in your content is to be yourself. When you’re not trying to fit yourself into someone else’s mold, your voice shines through, and you immediately come off as more authentic.

5. Ask your readers questions

To show your readers you care what they think, ask them questions. Simple things, like their feedback on a recent site redesign or input on a blog post topic are excellent access points and can make you a more accessible brand straight away.

6. Cut the fat

Today, the human attention span is limited. To be precise, it lasts about eight seconds. This doesn’t mean you have to compress all your writing into micro-sized packages, but it does mean you need to slash anything that’s not obviously contributing value. Flabby content doesn’t reflect well on your company, nor does it grab your readers. Trim the fat for more engaging writing.

7. Feel free to bend or break grammar rules

While you want to keep your writing readable (that’s the whole point, after all), it’s okay to break grammar rules here and there. Many of them are antiquated and ill-suited to conversational writing, anyway. For best results, keep it reasonable – use broken sentences here and there, start sentences with “and” or “but” occasionally, and break up your paragraph structure for more impact. While your English teacher of yesteryear might not appreciate the approach, your readers will.

8. Write to a close friend

Lifestyle coach and fitness nut Tim Ferriss is famous for saying he had an awful time writing his books when he was trying to write a book. As soon as he sat down and wrote like he was writing an advice email to a close friend, after a glass of wine, however, his writing changed entirely. Maybe this is why he’s become a multi-time NYT bestseller!

9. Evaluate your process regularly

Like all things associated with writing, creative and conversational copywriting requires regular check-ins. For best results, check in with your results on a regular basis. Are people still responding? If they’re not, consider altering your approach. Being flexible will keep you relatable now and in the future.

10. Keep it simple

Conversational writing is a skill rather than a science. When you keep it simple and avoid the temptation to make it hard and complicated, you’ll automatically increase your chances of success.

To Get People to Read – Write to Be Read! 

There you have it: humans are the irreplaceable ingredient in conversational copywriting.

Today, audiences want material with a human touch, and it’s conversational, highly-readable content that gets shared and talked about today.

We’ve all heard the saying, “if you want to be interesting, be interested.”

The same goes for writing – “If you want to be read, you have to write to be read!”

If you’re looking for professional copywriters that can nail the art of conversational copywriting, look no further than Express Writers. Contact us today!

writing great copy

The Secret of Writing Great Copy: Finding Your Vein of Gold

Sometimes, copywriting feels like gold mining.

To find even a few ounces of gold, you must move mountains of earth.

The same thing goes for writing!

When you sit down at your computer to write (whether it be a blog, page, copy), you tap out thousands of words–only to go back and sift through them all.

You move some here, delete some hundred there, separating and refining them in search of that one valuable nugget, that one shiny sentence that makes the entire process exhilarating, rewarding, and worth it.

 Not everyone has the time, patience, or skill to give the writing process the attention it deserves, however – just like not everyone has what it takes to strike it rich as a gold miner.

Because writing well is a craft that takes so much attention and dedication, that only those who are willing to develop those things will earn rewards. The writers who are prepared to move the mountains of earth to find the richest vein, or put their heart into their writing until it turns to pure gold, are the ones who will ultimately succeed.

secret of writing great copy

The Secret of Writing Great Copy & Finding Your Vein of Gold

There’s no shortcut to success, and this is as true with copywriting as it is with gold mining.

Keep reading: I’m going to talk about how to find your “vein of gold” in online copywriting, and why truly great writing is the only type of writing worth doing this year.

To be Great, You’ve Got to be Tough

There’s a thin line between being excellent and being “good enough.

The great (and awful) thing about the web is that most content creators fall into the latter category.

Hey, that was me, when I just started out in 2011-2012.

I’ve since deleted a boatload of blogs from those days. I wasn’t tough on myself. I didn’t analyze every content piece, stressing over every sentence, perfecting every single H2. I wrote, edited, threw together a graphic, called it a content piece, scheduled it, got it “out.”

Those days are long gone. And I’m so glad.

The content creators that just want to be good enough, which truly means “get content out,” are like miners who refuse to invest in the right equipment, or won’t put in the long, hard hours in the sun.

While this can be terrible for readers, who must slog through tons of mediocre content to reach the great material they deserve, it’s good news for content creators who are willing to go the extra mile. When nearly everything else is sub-par, standing out gets a bit easier.

Remember: if striking gold were easy, everyone would be doing it.

The reason so many people push out low-quality content is that that is infinitely simpler than writing thousands of words, sitting back, and then filtering it all down to that one sentence, that one thought that matters.

At the end of the day, being great means being tough – in your edits of your writing, in your dedication to the craft, in your expectations of yourself, and in your commitment to blowing everything else out of the water. Sure, it’s harder than the alternative, but it’s the only approach that honors how crowded the web already is, and how important it is to add only quality material in the coming years.

How else are you going to strike that vein that offers rewards beyond your wildest dreams?

The Secret of Writing Great Copy: Being Willing to Walk Away from Your Work

It sounds almost crazy, doesn’t it?

“Write 5,000 words and then scrap 2,500 of them.”

That seems like an exercise in futility. It seems like a Sisyphean task.

Remember the gold miner, though? Remember how gold miners often have to move thousands of tons of earth to find a few ounces of gold? If you take mining for its surface value, it seems insane. Until, however, you realize that a few ounces of gold can be worth hundreds of thousands – even millions – of dollars.

Then things start to make sense.

In writing, as in gold mining, there’s no shortcut to success. You’ve got to bow your head to the work and be willing to do some of it in vain. While being great might be true that you’ll slash many of your hard-fought words from each piece you write, think of those words as the tons of earth you have to move to get to the good stuff.

There’s no way around it, and you’re not going to find the material that glitters unless you’re willing to dig. While it can be tempting to think that everything you’ve written is gold, this is just hubris, and it won’t do anything to help you hone your skill.

The Secret of Writing Great Copy: Narrowing Down to Your Best

The gold of your writing is hiding beneath the dirt, and to access it you need to be able to recognize the work involved and commit to it.

While it can be discouraging to write and re-write, the goal is to refine your content until you find the one sentence that matters, the one paragraph that gets your reader in the gut.

Once you find it, start there.

It’s your standard now for the entire piece.

Your lamppost, your guideline.

Make sure everything that follows is just as shiny and inspiring.

Cut everything else out. Trim the fat.

Remove everything that doesn’t bring something new to the table. If it’s just noise, you don’t have a right to publish it, and your readers shouldn’t be forced to wade through it.

An Example of Trimming the Fat

Content Block A

It’s critical to look at everything that is nothing better than “wordy,” and cut, cut, cut that out. Your content must shine. It must be polished, to stand out in a sea of online content that keeps rising every day. Discover in your copy what’s poor, what’s not as good as the rest. Cut out everything that doesn’t matter. Trim the fat.

Content Block B

Cut out everything that doesn’t matter. Trim the fat.

See what I did there?

I narrowed everything down in Content A to my two last sentences. That was the heart of my paragraph. The gold. All the other words, which took a while to compose and write, were trashed.

(Also, ironic, eh? I trimmed down to “Trim the fat.” :-P)

How much more impactful is that copy?

Far more.

And with the attention span of today’s reader less than a goldfish, it takes carefully chosen words to fully impact your audience.

Don’t assume that every word you’ve written deserves to be published. That’s like the gold miner saying the dirt covering the gold deserves to stay where it is. With thinking like this, he’d reason himself right out of a job.

Be analytical and real in your approach to your copy. Don’t hold back on pruning to discover your best roots and content health.

Your Job as a Content Creator Comes with Responsibility: Use it Wisely

Today, our job as content creators isn’t simply to push out written material – it’s to create targeted, from-the-heart content that resonates with our readers, that provides something different, and that comes from a place of passion and true belief.

To get to this place, you’ve got to be tough–on yourself.

Develop an eye for excess, and understand that creating your best work often means walking away from much of it.

Remember the gold miner.

At the end of the day, his brow is bent to the earth. He’s sweaty and bronzed from the sun, back turned to the mountains of soil he’s moved to uncover the tiny spot upon which he now focuses. He’s shaking his sifting pan rhythmically back and forth, running water through it like a baptism.

You can call him crazy if you’d like, but that small spot contains riches untold, and he knows exactly what he’s doing.

When you bring this kind of attention, diligence, and commitment to striking gold in your online writing, there’s no way you can go wrong. You’re on your way to great copy, every single time you publish.

Nuggets From The Secret of Writing Great Copy: Finding Your Vein of Gold

Save this slide to your desktop and open it every time you need a reminder of how to find your vein of gold. 😉

 

Need content help? Talk to our team.

E05 Write Podcast Website Cover Featured Image

The Write Podcast, Episode 5: Conversion Copywriting Tactics with Joanna Wiebe

What does “conversion copywriter” mean? What is the target aim of all good copywriting? How does SEO fit in, if at all, to conversion-oriented copy? Joanna answers these key questions and more in my episode today for The Write Podcast. I was thrilled to capture a slot of her time and get an interview in–I’ve been a fan of Joanna’s for a long time! An expert copywriter and founder of Copyhackers, she’s optimized web and email copy for brands like Wistia, Buffer, Crazy Egg, Neil Patel, Shopify, just to name a few. She’s been invited to teach conversion copywriting on the stages of Mozcon, Heroconf, CXL Live, CTA Conf, SydStart, Problogger, and many more.

Joanna’s really cool, down-to-earth, and fascinatingly intelligent: I bet, no holds, you’ll learn something you didn’t know about online copy. Enjoy listening!

conversion copywriting joanna wiebe the write podcast

In Episode 5 of The Write Podcast, Joanna Wiebe discusses:

  • How she (and her boss) came up with the term conversion copywriter 
  • What copywriting is: writing that moves people to action
  • Her background in copywriting: she learned writing in school, was 100% self-taught in copywriting
  • How being self-taught usually means you’re learning from experts who put their ideas online
  • The hugely growing need for online copywriting wasn’t something she dreamed of when she started
  • What the 3 major parts to conversion copywriting are
  • How she got an 8% lift for Crazy Egg by tailoring home page copy
  • How she doesn’t really care about “SEO” in conversion-oriented copy, but the keywords usually come in naturally
  • Copy tips for businesses/brands just starting out with creating online copy

If you like what you hear, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show and it’s ranking in iTunes immensely. I appreciate it! Enjoy the show!

Transcript of Episode 5: Conversion Copywriting Tactics with Joanna Wiebe

Julia: I’m here with Joanna Wiebe, the founder of Copy Hackers, and a conversion copywriter. She’s been the speaker at Copyblogger’s Authority Intensive event, MozCon, Inbound, ProBlogger and many more.

Joanna, it’s so great to have you here today, as you know I’m a big fan of yours.

Joanna: Thank you, that’s very nice of you to say. Actually for MozCon, I was invited to speak, but I was going to Paris instead, so I had to make that choice. So I haven’t been on the MozCon stage yet, but soon.

Julia: Well Paris sounds like more fun. [LAUGH]

Joanna: Don’t tell the Moz people that! [LAUGH] No, it was one of those things where you can’t really say, well I’m gonna cancel my Paris trip.

Julia: Right.

Joanna: But it was very nice to be invited to that, yeah.

Julia: So do you think you’ll do one down the road?

Joanna: I think so, yeah. There’s no reason not to, so yeah.

Julia: Awesome.

Joanna: Yeah.

Julia: To get started, how did you come up with the term conversion copywriting, and what exactly does it mean?

Joanna: I have a background in copywriting, way back to creative copywriting is where I started as an agency copywriter, which wasn’t called copywriter because it wasn’t to the direct response part of the agency, but rather just the creative side of the agency.

Which doesn’t mean that other people who work in agencies don’t have the title copywriter, but I got to choose what I wanted. And my boss and I, when we were sitting there going over like, what title should I have? [LAUGH] And he was like, what about copywriter? And I was like, gross, that sounds awful!

Julia: [LAUGH]

Joanna: And then so we landed on conversion copywriter, and we both thought this was fantastic, and for me, years down the road that initial decision kind of shaped a lot for me.

When we talk about copywriting, we’re talking about so many things. 

There are different ways to approach that, and so when we look through the history of copywriting, and yes there is a long one, way back at the beginning it was kind of what we’re talking about now with conversion copywriting, writing something that was designed fully to move people to act. [clickToTweet tweet=”If you’re copywriting, you are writing something that is meant to move people to action [email protected]” quote=”If you’re quote on quote copywriting, you are writing something that is meant to move somebody to action, so copywriting if it’s there to move people to action, let’s do that immediately, whatever that action is.”]

Then there was this period in there, when award shows started happening for agencies, and you’d find people looking at copywriting more as a creative exercise, like how do we get a brand story out there? Not that, that’s so far moved from conversion copywriting because telling a story can help to convert people, but there was a really big focus on coming up with concepts, and with concepts that means like to creative concepts.

So to turn something into a billboard, or a commercial, or a campaign that isn’t designed to move people to act, it’s designed for other reasons, there maybe a lot of them. But conversion copywriting is there to take the best of direct response copywriting, that old school kind of stuff, and the best of what we know about human decision-making, the best of user experience styles, like we know about designing experiences, and moving people to act using an interface, or just the experience itself.

All those pieces come together to create what we call conversion copywriting, again where the goal is to get people to act.

Julia: So to get where I’m at in writing, I just basically taught myself all the skills I needed to know to learn how to write online content, and I left nursing school to do that.

Joanna: Yeah.

Julia: So as far as your background, and how you got into writing, was it like self-teaching, or did you go through school?

Joanna: Well for writing itself, it was in school. So I did an undergraduate degree in English. With creative writing as a big part of that, and then I did my masters in communications and technology, which was less about writing and more about communicating online.

So I would say for copywriting, I am 100% self-taught. And the self-taught part, it’s hard to say that when people are learning so much online today because one of the differences between reading everything Copyblogger has got, and going to school where you’ll learn everything Copyblogger’s just said; self-taught, it feels like, but you’re still learning from smart, smart people, we’re not living in bubbles, but I agree.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘When I started copywriting, I didn’t even know what copywriting was.’ @copyhackers @writepodcast ” quote=”When I look back, I didn’t study Gene Schwartz when I started copywriting, I didn’t even know what was copywriting. I didn’t know, and I think many of us don’t know what it is that we’re actually doing.”]

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘You can make your life so much better by teaching yourself: go read the right books.’ @copyhackers” quote=”And the history that’s there, and all the things you could be learning to make your job, and your life then so much better if you just go read the right books, and do all that stuff to help you as you’re essentially teaching yourself.”]

Julia: I love that explanation. It’s so true that you’re teaching yourself, but you’re still learning from someone else.

Joanna: Yeah, right? And that’s really the quote unquote the future, not that I dare to imagine that I have any clue what the future holds, [LAUGH] but it does feel like all, or so much of what’s traditionally done is moving to a more user-driven online at least, or mobile, or just not in a bricks and mortar location, whether that’s a school, or a store, or whatever.

It’s all moving, right? And so the idea of being self-taught, I think it’s more and more people of course are just gonna say I was self-taught, but that’s because you were taught by all of the people who are putting their great ideas online.

Julia: That’s true. That’s true, and also on that, I saw that you taught a web writing course back in, was it 2008?

Joanna: Yeah, you did your research!

Julia: I saw that on LinkedIn, and I was actually approached several years ago by someone who was like, why don’t you teach this in our local college? Because there is so little known about how to write for the web.

So I saw that and I was like, oh, wow! Joanna has done this. [LAUGH]

Joanna: [LAUGH] Yeah it is cool, and there are so many opportunities. There’s a copywriter who is now teaching I believe it’s a masters level course. I think it is, I might be wrong. On copywriting at the University of Iowa, which is of course a school that’s very well known for it’s writing, with the people who it turns out that are writers, and so for them to be offering a copywriting course now too. I’ve been lucky to do like little guest sessions there, where I get to go in and tell people what it’s like to be a copywriter in real life, and so it’s cool that they’re doing that. So when I taught there, that was like in the extension or not the faculty of extension, whatever it is, the group that’s like you don’t have to be approved, you don’t want to be an accepted student, you can just drop in and take the course through it. So it wasn’t a program from the university, at the time it was still a college, and now it’s an accredited university. It wasn’t like trying to do anything with copywriting, but it was the same kind of situation you’re talking about, where they’re like, I actually had taken a web writing course because I had to.

I was working at Intuit, and they have requirements for what you’re supposed to be doing to improve your knowledge, and train in your area, and so that was one of the things where my boss at the time was like, well just take that, and I was like, okay fine, whatever. It’s a Saturday, I’ll go in and have coffee and see what’s up.

And while taking it, then afterward I was encouraged to go and just teach it the next time. So it’s the same kind of situation you’re talking about, but yeah there’s lots of opportunities to learn, and to teach.

Julia: Yes, and it seems like there’s a growing need for that, like that will just happen more and more.

Joanna: You’d never think when I was sitting there, I would never think sitting at the agency ten years ago, and not knowing what a copywriter really was, even though that was my job. I would never have thought, oh! there is a big demand for this, or there are a lot of people who need this.

But today especially, I don’t know if it’s because of everything online and content marketing, inbound marketing and everything, I can only assume that’s what’s driving so much of the demand for copywriters, but there is a huge demand. And so it’s always telling to me how many people are interested in learning, how many do sign up for courses, or sign up to learn more from us by subscribing to our stuff, there’s just a lot of interest.

Julia: Wow! Yeah.

So I also wanted to go into just the actual conversion copywriting you’ve done, and maybe some of your success stories with the clients, or just a couple of examples of conversion copywriting.

Joanna: So conversion copywriting for me, it follows a pretty straightforward process, there are three parts to it. Phase one is research and discovery, and that’s the biggest phase. Phase two is actually writing, which includes wire-framing, and then going over and editing your work, to add in all the stuff that’s going to make it great, take out all the stuff that isn’t doing any work, that’s phase two.

And then phase three is the split testing side of it, so it doesn’t mean you always have to split test in order to be writing conversion copy, that’s not critical. But it is, thankfully with technology, there are ways that we can really measure things that previously copywriters had a very hard time measuring, where you couldn’t point to just how much you’ve done for a business even though you’re the online sales person.

You’re the one that connects to customers, and brings in more leads and more customers, it’s all on your words largely, but traditionally it’s been difficult to measure the impact. So that’s where I do say, as phase three of writing conversion copy, do your absolute best to measure how it worked, so a split testing tool could do that.

Now a little while back we did the home page test for Crazy Egg, the heat mapping software, click tracking software, that was cool. The whole objective was to keep the layout as similar as possible, excluding things if need be, but not rearranging elements necessarily, and really just rewrite the copy, so we did that.

A couple things there. When you’re writing copy online, when you’re writing any copy, you are directly impacting whether people will or will not sign up, or buy, or share, or whatever it may be, and so we have to be careful when you’re writing that copy of the things that you’re doing.

So we were careful going into this Crazy Egg test, just like we’d be careful in anything. Any assumptions that we were making, like one particular assumption we had was, they had a Johnson’s box, the traditional Johnson’s box on the Crazy Egg home page.

For everybody who doesn’t know what a Johnson’s box is, people talk about call-out boxes today as Johnson’s boxes, but those are not Johnson’s boxes.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘A Johnson’s box comes from the old school salesletter printed on paper.’ @copyhackers #quote” quote=”A Johnson’s box comes from the old school sales letter that was printed on paper, where when you open up the letter and unfold it, there at the top above the first fold is a box that has a border around it, and it really summarizes in a nutshell what you’re about to find inside.”]

It may say the offer, or it may just point you to some things that get you interested in reading the entire, what could be a twenty-page letter that you’ve got in your hands, sometimes less, sometimes more, but it could be a very long letter, so that Johnson’s box was doing a lot of work on that sales letter.

So Crazy Egg had a Johnson box of a sort. It was kind of like navigation, but it was doing what a Johnson’s box tries to do, which is trying to get you to get excited about what’s in store for you if you read this. I didn’t see it working. When we did click tracking on the Crazy Egg home page, we didn’t see people really engaging with it, but we couldn’t be sure.

So before we did any copywriting tests at all, we just did an exclusion test. So exclusion tests you just take out an element, and see what the impact is. So we did an exclusion test on that Johnson box, so a new variation of the page that’s exactly the same except the Johnson box is gone, to see if it was critical to keep that when we moved forward.

It turned out it wasn’t. There was no real lift or drop, nothing significant, so we felt comfortable pulling it out, so we did. And then when we went through and we did our next variation, where we were actually optimizing the copy, we had several recipes that we came up with. A recipe being each new variation that you’ve got to be split test.

So we did three different versions of that home page, where we were really just shortening the copy in each one. So the Crazy Egg home page at the time was super long, and it was also very optimized. That long page had been tested by a group that I used to actually work for, I wasn’t involved in that test when it happened though, Conversion Rate Experts. They’re fantastic, and they had this really optimized version that I was supposed to be improving on, which was intimidating to say the least, but theirs was really long, and so we did three different versions where each one was shorter. And we just rewrote the copy using language that we had found in surveys and online, like message-mining that we would do to see how people really talk about in this case Crazy Egg, or just solutions that are part of a conversion optimization strategy.

So we went and we looked for messages online, and in survey results, we interviewed some Crazy Egg users, just going out there is a core part of conversion copywriting. It’s going out finding your message, rather than sitting there and staring at the page and hoping to come up with it, which is where most of us, [LAUGH] generally start out, right? Which is tragic.

Julia: Right, right.

Joanna: Right? So we did that, and we pulled in a few different messages, we did some more exclusion testing to get down to those shorter versions, and in the end we got a lift. Now this lift was not incredible, it’s not like, oh wow! We doubled their revenue! We got an 8% lift.

Julia: That’s still good.

Joanna: That’s still good though, right? It is still an improvement. We condensed well, now they’ve got a very short page that they’ve tested and it works for them, so that’s great. But that 8% lift is still a great lift, and it does speak to the fact that when you revise your copy, and when you test it, you can see if it worked or not.

It also speaks to the value of having a process in place and not looking internally for those messages, but actually looking externally and finding your messages in the words of your prospects and customers. So that’s one example of a page that we did.

Julia: It’s really interesting to see how you worked that out. Back when I was hired as the writer, maybe four years ago, I’d been mostly hired as a SEO writer, so that’s kind of how I started out. So do you use any optimization, or do you not even look at keywords?

Joanna: I have found that if you’re writing using the words of your customers and prospects, then you’re generally using keywords.

Julia: That makes sense.

Joanna: Yeah, right? Although we do take into consideration any particular keyword phrases that have to appear in let’s say an H1.

Julia: Right.

Joanna: Just because we don’t want to have a problem with the internal, or [LAUGH] contracted SEO, we wanna get along well. So, we’ll consider it, but for example right now we’re doing a test on verticalresponse.com, on their home page, we actually just launched it. And in that, their keyword phrase that they had in their H1, that they still have in their control variation at least, the control. It was just a keyword phrase, it was I think email and social media marketing, that was their headline.

Now a copywriter [LAUGH] Comes in and says like, what? That’s not a headline, that’s not even close to a headline!

Julia: [LAUGH]

Joanna: So we have to then have the discussion with the team that get’s them onboard with the fact that, we’re gonna test something that may not, probably will not read like the current headline does.

So we may not get that keyword phrase in there, but if our new page outperforms the control, then we will from that point on do another test afterward that tries to get that keyword phrase in there. But the first things first, we have to get people to choose you. So when they land on your site, you have to make a choice, do you want to get more people to your site? Or do you wanna get more of those people to convert on your site? You bring us then if you wanna get more people to convert on your site, and that doesn’t mean we’ll sacrifice SEO, we’re not trying to hurt your page, [LAUGH] and have you not rank as well, absolutely we’re not, but that’s not gonna be our first thought.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘We have to lead with the language that comes from our prospects and customers.’ @copyhackers #quote” quote=”And so if they’re cool with that, if they’re not cool with that, we can’t move forward because we have to lead with the language that comes from our prospects and customers.”]

Not the language that comes from some internal department, or some contracted agency that has their own agenda, and not necessarily the user’s agenda first and foremost, or even the business bottom line first and foremost.

So we have to have that hard conversation, it’s really that hard because we do have a plan, right? If the page loses, then it’s gone and you don’t worry about it competing with, about having to figure out a new way to squeeze that keyword phrase into a certain place, because you’re control one, so you get to keep it.

If our new variation beats the control, then we have a system, right? Then we’ll put together another variation of the page that has that keyword phrase in the headline, or wherever it is that you think it needs to be that it wasn’t. Test that, and if that still does least as well as the one that we produced does, then we can go with that one that’s both CRO and SEO-friendly.

Julia: It’s interesting too, to me to see that SEO mindset has changed so much. So I think people are starting to realize they have to speak the language of their customers, like you said.

Joanna: Exactly. It’s not just working the way as well, right? [LAUGH]

Julia: [LAUGH]

Joanna: I think we’ve all heard the horror stories of somebody who put SEO first, and then Google changed their algorithm, and now they’re not only not ranking, but they’re penalized dramatically.

Julia: Yeah.

Joanna: So they’re not in their former spot even, but it’s even worse than that. So I think Google is always gonna reward you for putting the user first, that’s their whole job, is to get people to the right places. So if you’re using your visitors language, we would always vet first on using your visitor’s language rather than trying to optimize for other kind of, not to negate what SEOs do, because I have really good SEO friends, but we don’t wanna do some of the trickier things that have been done traditionally by SEOs, which I know are really not happening anymore.

Julia: Yes, that’s really good. I think a lot of them have died out.

Joanna: Yeah.

Julia: So just to wrap this up Joanna, what would be some, let’s say startup tips, or just initial things? Let’s say a business owner is just starting out creating their website content, what would be just some good strategies for them to think about as they start creating it?

Joanna: Yeah, if you’re starting that’s a great place to be.

I would say throw out all of your ideas about what copy should sound like, about how your page should look, and start by going out and just eavesdropping on your prospects, and that’s like the best way to put it, I think. Is going out, not stalking them because that always sounds very, very bad, [LAUGH] but if you can just listen in on their conversations, listen in to the ways that they talk to the things that they’re thinking about, you’ll be further ahead than if you hired most copywriters actually.

Because once you get out there and start listening, you’re bringing in all that information that any good copywriter would wanna bring in anyway, and you’re doing it yourself, and you care about your own business, and all of that good stuff. So, that’s where I would say to start, and there are really easy ways to eavesdrop.

Like if you’re somebody who’s comfortable talking to people, which I know a lot of people are not that comfortable with. So if you are though, you can obviously set up good interviews with any existing customers you may have. If you don’t have any, then you can set up interviews with people who look like, or are very similar to the types of people you want to build the business for.

So if you want to help nursing students with a nursing course let’s say, or a course on how to move from nursing into the best form of nursing possible, I don’t know what it is. But whatever it is, if you’re building a solution for a certain group of people, if you’re building it for nursing students, well the most natural thing to do would be to try to talk to those nursing students. So reach out to some. Go into the faculty of nursing, and sit there as student nurses go by, and ask if you could please set up a time to buy them coffee and just pick their brains. This isn’t complicated, it doesn’t have to be crazier than that. Now if you’re not comfortable doing that, or let’s say you’re not in a position where you can just go walk into a space where you know your audience is, and ask them things, there’s other possible things you can do online to find your messages too, where are those nursing students talking? What are they doing to express their concerns?

And that could be, we talk about, because we learn from Jay Abraham, who teaches us and it’s brilliant, to go on Amazon, and look up a product or a book that’s closely related to the thing that you’re selling.

If you’re selling a service, go on any of those service review sites. All you’re really doing is going to look for reviews that people have left of products, or services that they’ve purchased that are similar in some way to the thing that you’re trying to sell.

So that you can find their objections, what they were hoping to get out of something, which means the pain that they’re really trying to solve, what they had most desired, and all these big ideas, these ultimate benefits they were looking for, and the outcomes they wanted. They say this stuff in natural language in the reviews. Tweets are harder, I wouldn’t recommend you go through tweets, and look for what they’re saying there because people have to shorten their language so much. But in places like reviews again, or comments on blog posts, or on YouTube videos, or wherever it might be where you can find how people are really speaking about what they really want, then that’s the best place to go to find your message. Pull all of that information in, and then start organizing it in a persuasive way on the page, and that can be as simple as taking that information, and writing a letter to your prospect. So have that nursing student in mind, have your solution for him or her in mind, and write a letter to him, say it’s a male nursing student, write a letter to him that is trying to get him to sign up for the thing that you’re selling, or buy the thing that you’re selling.

But these are really basic, easy things that a lot of people skip over, but that can be the big difference between actually writing a high converting page, or just writing a ho-hum page that nobody can really connect with.

Julia: I love it! Thank you so much for sharing your insights, and joining me today Joanna.

Joanna: Thanks a lot for having me, Julia.

[MUSIC] For more online content tips and strategies, visit expresswriters.com/write-blog. [MUSIC]

Julia: Joanna is a fantastic expert to follow to learn copywriting hacks, tips and strategies. Follow her on Twitter @copyhackers.

Also if you’re a marketing owl, go join our weekly Twitter chat. It happens every Tuesday at 10 AM Central Standard Time. Join us with the #ContentWritingChat. We feature weekly guest experts, and we talk about all things content creation and marketing.

Also, my book is coming out this March, it’s called So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing. And in this book I share everything I’ve learned in order to create a career around, and succeed in online content writing. So keep an eye out for it on Amazon.

Thanks for joining today’s Write Podcast! For more episodes go to expresswriters.com/write-podcast.

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A Guide To Writing & Optimizing Great SEO Content (Gifographic)

How can an infographic get better? Add moving parts. Our fantastic design team created and designed this first gifographic from Express Writers. In it, we’re showing you the major tricks of the trade when it comes to writing and optimizing great SEO content. Tell us how you liked our first gifographic, and for a limited time, we’re taking gifographic orders! Full transcript below.

seo content gifographic

 Transcript

A Guide To Writing & Optimizing Great SEO Content (Gifographic)

Here’s Why Creating Great SEO Content Is So Crucial To Your Marketing

  • Web traffic drives content marketing. The largest portion of content marketing success, 63%, is derived from website traffic. A big reason why you should focus on having correctly SEO optimized content on your site.
  • 2/3 of B2B Marketers say content fuels their marketing. And if your content is well-written, answers questions, and is optimized for your buyers to find it, buyers are willing to finish 57% of your buying process without even talking to a sales rep.
  • Google loves it! Google has said that quality content is key to rankings.
  • Google Panda is the gatekeeper. The Google panda update has been launched primarily to ensure only high quality content ranks the best. This Panda algorithm looks into factors specifically that include how expertly the content is written, the quality of the source and author, if it is original and not duplicate, authoritative, complete, well-researched, and not-over populated with ads.
  • Optimized blogs are powerful. 8 out of 10 Internet users are reading blogs and social media, which accounts for a whole 23% of time spent on the Internet.

3 Major Types of SEO Content & Tips on Correctly Optimizing Them

Content is the fuel for what you publish on the web. Here are a few of the most common web content types:

  • Web pages. Web pages are one of the most commonly optimized forms of SEO content. Boost your web page ranking through the inclusion of related, well-researched keywords, well written title tags, meta descriptions, awesome headers, and high quality writing. Never skimp on the quality of the writing if you want the best results from your web pages.
  • Blogs. There are approximately 152,000,000 blogs on the web and with that kind of competition it’s obvious that optimizing your blog for SEO is an important way to get it to stand out. Include high quality citations (links) that reference any statistics you include and shoot for 2,000 words of high quality, well-researched SEO content per blog or more.
  • Product Descriptions. When it comes to writing product descriptions, you want people to be able to locate them online quickly and easily. Don’t skimp on copy here either. Include keywords in your product descriptions and write descriptive headlines and meta content for each one.
  • Social Media. Did you know that social media can be optimized, too? Except with social media, you optimize your content so that it can be located and shared by people rather than search engines. So don’t write around your keywords; write your social content around your audience. 

3 Rules of Thumb in SEO Writing

1. Keyword Amount: Stay under a 3% keyword density in your content (web pages, blogs, etc.) Using them naturally is your #1 rule. Headers, subheaders, and throughout the copy are key areas to use them.

How to Calculate:

Keyword Density = (How many times you used the keyword / Total words in the text) x 100

Example: (20 / 800) x 100 = 2.5%

2. Don’t count your keywords. We mean it! Think of your audience, the quality of your content, how well you’re researching the content, and if the copy addresses every question the topic could raise. This is far more important than counting keyword density every time. Simply optimize naturally with keywords.

3. Find original sources when you’re stating a claim, and citate (link to it). See our sources at the bottom of this infographic? Those are our citations. You’ll want to actually hyperlink inside your blogs or other content where you’re making a statement or claim that you’ve read online. Make sure you use the original source when you hyperlink.

3 SEO Tools for the Web Content Creator

  • SEMrush is a powerful keyword tool that allows users to optimize their sites for SEO, create intuitive pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and conduct social media and video advertising research. When it comes to using SEMrush to find keywords for your ad campaign, you’ll want to look into niche-specific long-tail keywords that apply specifically to your industry. While it’s all well and good to target a high-volume search keyword, it’s also harder to rank for these keywords, which means you may be better off focusing on a less competitive, more specific keyword phrase that allows you to rank strongly from the get-go.
  • Wordtracker is another keyword research tool that allows users to search multiple sources for effective keywords. This tool can help you find keywords that nobody is competing on and will be an essential tool for SEO success.
  • BuzzSumo is an effective tool for finding the key influencers that can help you promote your content and get it noticed by a wide audience base. It can also help you find trending content topics and take inspiration for audience related content. Although it’s not specifically SEO, developing great topic ideas and feeding off of industry leaders is every bit as important as SEO optimization.

10 Key Factors of Great SEO Content

1. Write great headers! Aside from your body content, the most important piece of content for SEO is your header. A header tells people what the piece is about, grabs reader attention and gives a general overview of the topic. To make your header as interesting as possible, include your keyword and focus on writing a header that asks a question or addresses your readers’ fears. Create headers that are irresistible and make your readers want to click; include the keyword naturally.

2. Stay away from “stuffing.” Keyword stuffing is a dangerous practice that will get you in trouble with the search engines, decreasing your site’s rank and making it harder for users to find you. Plus, it just looks spammy. So when writing your content, shoot to use keywords naturally. They should be in your header (if it’s possible to include them while still feeling organic) and they should appear a few times throughout the body content. You want your keyword density under 3% for everything you write.

3. Optimize your keywords for many channels. Keywords are important for your website, but they’re also important for social media and email. To optimize for multi-channel visibility in places like blogs, web pages and social media sites, be consistent with your keyword phrases across all the platforms you use.

4. Write good meta content. That little bit called your meta description might be more important than you realize. Think of them as your organic PPC copy; what users will see if your content ranks high enough. 2-3 sentence is all you need there, and be sure to include your main keyword. Treat your title tags like a 4-8-word advertisement for best results.

5. Be unique. All of the content you create should be unique, so you’ll want to strike a balance between curated content and original content. This is one of the best ways to optimize your site for SEO.

6. Include citations. Find and mention industry leaders throughout your content to back up your content. Google cares about your sources and to rank well you’ll want to link to industry leaders. Moz’s MozBar can help you make sure you’re using good sites; the DA (Domain Authority) score should ideally be 50 or more. However, the DA metric isn’t set in stone, so use it with judgment. Additionally, in web content you’ll want to link strategically throughout your own text back to the most important pages of your site.

7. Have high word counts. Did you know that word count can play an important part of SEO ranking? To provide the most value for your audience and rank as well as possible in SERPs, write long-form content between 1,500-2,000 words. Seek to address every question that could be raised on your topic.

8. Make sure all of your content is well- Sounds simple, but it’s crucial. Content that is filled with typos, misspellings, poor-quality links, or too many keywords will harm your SEO ranking and drive readers away. Proofread everything (or hire a proofreader).

9. Earn great links. In addition to using good links in your content, you’ll want to earn high-quality links from the outside as well. The best way to do this is to create and publish useful content that includes your keyword terms and draws social shares. Over time, the links will come.

10. Post often and consistently: Content is the #1 ranking factor for SEO and when you post often, your content gets shared more, viewed more, linked to more and helps you earn better rankings. For best results, post to your various channels several times a week and never let a blog sit unattended for long.  

Sources:

Content Marketing Institute: http://buff.ly/1OoJd4Z

Kapost: http://buff.ly/1OoJzIW

Executive Board: http://buff.ly/1OoJHbu

Brafton: http://buff.ly/1LQ5Co6

Google Webmaster Central: http://buff.ly/1PmBzXs

SalesForce: http://buff.ly/1LQ5W68

Search Engine Watch: http://buff.ly/1WzDB7f

WordStream: http://buff.ly/1WzEIUc

Search Engine Land: http://buff.ly/1WzGe8V

WPVirtuoso: http://buff.ly/1MCf3ok

 

The Power of Copywriting & Content Marketing Today (Case Study)

Understanding how powerful copywriting, and in a bigger picture, all of content marketing is doesn’t require you to look any further than the sheer amount of content that is produced on a daily basis.

Content marketing has long been considered a mainstay of digital marketing and marketers.

Considered a cornerstone of the industry, content marketing allows businesses to attract and keep a customer base.

And a fundamental part of content marketing is copywriting.

It’s like the ham to the eggs.

Think about it: if your content marketing is a good blog, than your ham to that egg is the written blog. Design, SEO optimization with your plugins, correct categorization, etc. all tie in.

Let’s think back to the overall picture. Now as most marketers can tell you, saying something without showing what it looks like in cold, hard facts is simply spouting hot air.

The statistics of the matter bear out our original hypothesis: content marketing makes a major impact in the world today.

Content Marketing by the Numbers

There has been a constant reminder by content marketers that content is king, but only until you realize the statistics that exist behind the statement do you realize how powerful a king content really is.

On average per minute—

  • Nearly 2.5 million pieces of content are shared by users on Facebook
  • Instagram has 220,000 new photos posted to its servers
  • YouTube gets over 72 hours of new video uploaded
  • Twitter is used around 300,000 times
  • Over 200 million emails are sent
  • Over $80,000 worth of sales is generated by Amazon

And that is only PER MINUTE.

Every sixty seconds for the whole day this kind of change happens.

And it’s appreciating these massive movements of data that make us realize exactly how powerful social media is to the production and distribution of content.

How Has Copywriting & Content Marketing Contributed to These Numbers?

It is estimated, according to Content Marketing Institute, that nine out of every ten businesses today utilize content marketing in tandem with their sales force to generate awareness and increase their profits.

And you know what the foundation of content marketing is?

Good copywriting.

Based on what we understand about the interplay between marketing and sales it’s not a stretch to see why these companies have adopted digital content marketing as an aid to raising their sales. The expenditure in advertising compared to the return on investment makes it a no-brainer to use content marketing.

copywriting content marketing

Case Study: Express Writers (We Call Ourselves a Content Agency, Right?)

Hey – if we sell blogging and content, we better be good at it, right?

Yes. But you’d be surprised how many writing agencies don’t care about maintaining their blog.

Here at Express Writers, we’ve truly utilized content marketing to a degree of success. We adopted the idea in an effort to increase lead generation and sales through a targeted strategy incorporating guest blogging and SEO to a massive extent.

The results we got were far better than many of the competitors in our very industry – we outrank 95% of them – and proves the potency of content marketing in the framework of a modern developing company.

I would recommend any business that wants to see significant growth over time to consider content marketing as the vehicle to achieve that goal. You could say we’re among the 89% of companies that use content marketing and testify to its effectiveness.

The development of our content marketing plan is:

Four 2000-word pieces per week for our own blog, along with 4-6 more pieces per week for major guest blogs including such high-authority sites as Search Engine Journal, Site Pro News, SEM Rush and Content Marketing Institute.

We also have over 80 site pages, 50 of which are our main service pages (one for each of our writing services) and are about 500 words or more each.

I could tell you all day long how well our content does, how great our team does at compiling it, how we research the topics and develop the concepts, but here’s some cold hard stats for you to digest.

We average 500-700 visitors in organic traffic daily, from Google keywords.

We have 165 keywords indexed in SEO, 100 of which are in the top ten positions (screenshot from SEMRush):

express writers content rankings

Also from SEMRush, a screenshot of some of our keyword positions as of June 2015:

express writers rankings

Many of our individual blogs are doing very well in search.

For example, this blog written in 2013, “Website Copywriting for Dummies”, ranks #4 in organic search (screenshots via SEMRush):

express writers rankings

When we take into account the amount of growth our own company has seen over a single year, it’s not impossible to imagine how much content moves per day and how it can affect a company’s exposure and generate leads based off its content marketing strategy.

It’s a testament to the kinds of things that we can expect from content marketing in the coming years.

Now that we’ve disclosed how much content marketing has helped us, let’s delve into…

The Cost of Content Marketing

As an industry, content marketing is responsible for a massive amount of expenditure.

In 2013, brand management site Brafton estimated that the total expenditure for new content creation for the year would reach about $118.4 billion. That’s billion, with a B.

Although based on the amount of new content is produced daily and factoring in a cost like this into it, you can see why content creation itself can cost very little but the sheer volume of its production can add up to so much.

Mashable approximates that as much as twenty seven million pieces of content are shared on social media per day. That’s a LOT of outreach for something that could cost you a couple bucks to make.

Why Content Marketing Has Such An Impact

With twenty seven million shares a day you’re probably starting to see how content can influence consumers to such a level that a message can go viral. As much as 58% of consumers trust editorial content, according to Nielsen.

If you could tap into at least half the people that make up your core audience and have them share your content it can go a long way towards making your brand or company a household name.

Taking this into account, your aim should be to build your base of dedicated users and play the numbers game to get your content out there. Social Media B2B states that as much as 61% of US marketers utilize social media to increase the amount of leads they get. Using it correctly is as important as using it at all.

Stephen Fairley writes that companies that blog 15 or more times a month see as much as five times as much traffic as those that don’t. It’s the perfect strategy for getting the word out.

3 Success Stories of Content Marketing

We know that content marketing has the power to reach out to the masses and raise awareness. We know that it guarantees sales increases after an extended content campaign. All of these things have been told to us time and time again, but short of doing it ourselves, how do we know that content marketing works? We can’t just take the word of the people who are trying to sell it to us. If you need proof of how well content marketing has managed to work for some companies, here’s a few of the more successful content marketing successes and how it’s managed to enhance their business.

1. Influence & Co.Influence & Co. utilize knowledge-based tactics in order to help companies achieve their branding objectives. It has managed to place itself as the largest provider of thought leadership content that is shareable and relatable. This stemmed from an aim to empower companies and thought leaders to control the message they send to the masses, something fresh and new in the field of public relations. The company growth is palpable, expanding rapidly from a two-person operation to employing as much as seventy five people on its payroll.

2. NewsCred – Content marketers should at least heard of NewsCred, even if you haven’t had anything to do with them expressly. They are one of the most influential up and coming content production companies, employing over two hundred people currently. What started off as a news wire service has shifted gears and gone into full content marketing giant mode. They offer content strategy solutions to companies based on their level of service, including access to images from Getty and premium articles to help their clients along. Their analytical system also allows for them to aid their clients in suggesting content creation and distribution options in line with the company’s target demographic.

3. Express Writers – Yes, at Express Writers, we’re a great success story of content marketing. Our Content Shop receives about 700 visits a day, and we supply content writing, planning, and strategizing services for clients like Bank of America, PayPal, Shopify, GAP, just to name a few. On average, we’re writing close to 500 pages a week; our team of 60+ includes trained copywriters, marketing writers, PR writers, content strategists, social media managers, copyeditors, and our content managers and client account managers. Think you need great content? We can provide! Talk to one of our Content Specialists.

Exponential Growth

What these case studies of content production companies have in common is the demonstration that content is a juggernaut, unstoppable and uncontainable. As companies around the world switch over to digital content, it only promotes the growth of the industry many times over. It’s a self-fueling process as fresh content is what forces companies to update their content in order to stay relevant in the eyes of the search engines and the users they cater to.

The Battle Between Content Marketing and Old Media Style

Once upon a time, not so long ago, marketing was focused on fitting ads into media in order to encourage users to click.

While there is no shortage of these sites on the Internet, the truth of the matter is that they are slowly being phased out in favor of the new kid on the block, content marketing.

Old media depends upon a different type of revenue stream and their metrics for success vary vastly from content publishers. Some of the bigger content publishers around can do a number on the heads of old media.

The crux of the matter here is that content production and marketing leverages something that slips through traditional marketing media’s fingertips – that of human loyalty.

Content marketing is based on the idea that good content will attract and keep an audience because that audience starts trusting the brand and makes decisions based on that brand’s suggestions.

Old media never considered the idea of owning customer loyalty, rather “borrowing” it through an extended media campaign, meaning they would have to reinvent the wheel every time they had a new product to get the word out on.

The onus, therefore, in this case is on the publishers that promote this content rather than the brands themselves to monitor branded messages and keep the positive message going.

There have been situations where marketers have been less-than-stellar with their management of brands and possible negative fallout. The Atlantic is a good example of this poor brand management and a good example for companies where the faults of content marketing can lie.

The Future Looks Bright

Content marketing, and the bottom line of copywriting, has come to mean a lot to businesses.

It gives smaller businesses the ability to compete (and in some cases surpass) much larger brands by giving them an equal platform where their content is judged on its relevancy, not how much money has gone into its production.

Visual content has managed to boost the visibility of many sites, with The B2B marketing Mentor stating that images and photos make up the most effective way of optimizing social media posts to raise levels of interaction. This only underlines the fact that content marketing is a great way to raise levels of engagement with an audience and grow a company’s capital in the new currency of the Internet, user loyalty.

Over time the demand for content that is relevant and important to different demographics will rise.

More and more brands are noticing how well content marketing is helping their business grow.

Economic giants such as Burger King and Coke have already dipped their toes into the water of the content marketing ocean and have found great returns on their investment.

Although it may take some time before such massive brands come to embrace content marketing as a viable method of their marketing strategy, they will continually add content that keeps them in the game although not at the top of it.

Content marketing is the true leveler, a meritocracy where your content determines how well you do as a company.

Check out our Content Shop and start shopping for your online content today!