ContentSeven tips to sharpen your writing skills and copywriting technique

Seven tips to sharpen your writing skills and copywriting technique

Zac Johnson shows you seven ways to improve your writing and copywriting skills.

30-second summary:

  • A great way to practice your headlines is to find a subject, article idea, or ad online, and write headlines for it, and try to write a better headline than the one that’s already there.
  • Don’t let style overcome content – we all need to infuse a little personality into our copy, but don’t let it become so over-styled that your audience loses interest.
  • Take one of your finished pieces and rewrite it for a different audience. If it was written for young adults, rewrite it for retirees, if it was for Americans try and make it more British or Australian.
  • It’s important to realize that site visitors and customers appreciate CTAs as well, as many of them are looking for information and a solution to a problem.
  • Until you’re super tuned-in to your own voice, read your work aloud whenever you finish a piece. This will help you spot areas that don’t flow and areas that don’t feel conversational.
  • When writing content for another website or blog, having expert content featured within your article is a win-win-win-win for yourself, the featured expert, your audience and the site you are writing the content to.
  • Stats are great to include with your content (along with visuals), as it breaks apart the reading process and gives the reader an opportunity to truly absorb such information.

Like all skills, writing and copywriting comes naturally to some, but it can also be learned. You don’t need to go to university or take expensive online courses (though of course those can help!) but you do need to dedicate some time and hard work if you are going to write the seemingly effortless pages of content you admire.

Here are seven tips that will help you develop your writing and copywriting skills fast.

Exercise 1: Headlines that scream for attention

Headlines are incredibly important – if you don’t appeal to what your readers want to see, they’re not going to click on the link. That goes for blog articles and ad copy, you’ve got to get your headlines down.

According to Digital Doughnut only two in 10 people will go on to read the copy after reading the headline so that headline better be good and promise what they want.

A great way to practice your headlines is to find a subject, article idea, or ad online, and write headlines for it, and try to write a better headline than the one that’s already there.

Another way to practice your headlines is to find an ad that’s targeting a product to you, and imagine the headline if it were aimed at a different audience, and write that.

Exercise 2: Practice being direct

Don’t let style overcome content – we all need to infuse a little personality into our copy, but don’t let it become so over-styled that your audience loses interest.

When you write a piece, practice minimizing adjectives and shortening sentences. Also, keep an eye on your clichés and on-trend phrases – when you come across them, ask yourself if they’re really helping you get your point across and connecting with your audience or just bulking your word count.

Exercise 3: Write for different audiences

This exercise is similar to the first. Take one of your finished pieces and rewrite it for a different audience. If it was written for young adults, rewrite it for retirees, if it was for Americans try and make it more British or Australian.

This will help you learn the nuances that different clients require and pay attention to the needs of the reader.

For more help, this is a great article on the subject, while also providing examples of each as well.

Exercise 4: Practice your CTAs

If you’re going to be a copywriter in any form you need to know how to insert subtle but effective call to actions. This is especially true if you are writing for authority websites or blogs that already have a product or service to offer.

It’s also important to realize that site visitors and customers appreciate CTAs as well, as many of them are looking for information and a solution to a problem. Another good idea is to simply tell you audience what to do, such as taking action in real life, to click on a button, or to send an email.

Whatever it is, if you want someone to do something (and if you’re writing copy that is exactly what you want them to do) you better be persuasive without being disingenuous, so practice writing CTAs.

Exercise 5: Read aloud

Until you’re super tuned-in to your own voice, read your work aloud whenever you finish a piece. This will help you spot areas that don’t flow and areas that don’t feel conversational.

If you’re not writing something conversational, try to put on the voice or accent you want it to sound like and find areas that don’t keep up the level of formality you’re looking for.

Exercise 6: Interview industry experts

When trying to create amazing content and value for your audience and site visitors, it’s always important to explore your options with interviews and integrating content from other experts within your industry or niche.

This is also a great opportunity for you to ask questions to an expert that your audience might not have direct access to.

This method works well for a number of reasons such as:

  • Bringing a familiar face and name to your content
  • Branding your site as an authority source experts find value in
  • Enticing your audience and experts to further share your content

When writing content for another website or blog, having expert content featured within your article is a win-win-win-win for yourself, the featured expert, your audience and the site you are writing the content to.

Exercise 7: Perfecting the art of finding great references

At it’s face value, writing is nothing special. Anyone can sit down and start writing content. What is of value is how well the article reads, the value it provides to an audience and it’s validity.

For all of these elements to work together, they must be backed up and authenticated. This is often accomplished with the addition of some trustworthy stats and references made throughout the article.

This is usually done by linking to outside references on sites like MSN, Forbes, Inc or any other well known brands.

However, as this BusinessInsider article tells us, not all media and news outlets are looked at in the same way–so make sure your references and sources align with your audience as well.

Stats are also great to include with your content (along with visuals), as it breaks apart the reading process and gives the reader an opportunity to truly absorb such information.

Writing skills and copywriting technique to make you a better writer

If you do these exercises regularly you’ll soon see your copywriting improve. Remember that the best way to get better is to practice regularly, so grab one of these exercises whenever you have some extra time.

If you’re not yet working with clients, find someone you trust to give you honest feedback and ask them to help you a couple of times a week.

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