You clicked, didn’t you? Okay nosey parker, now you’re here, these are the 10 things I’ve picked up over 20 + years in the copywriting game that you really should read:
1) Don’t forget who you are
Whether you sell pizza, scented candles, or dog walking services, you’re a publisher first, a pizzaiolo, candle stick maker, and dog walker second.
And your publication better be a swell read because Google doesn’t care how many toppings you have, how lovely your candles smell, or how many times you’ve watched Cesar Millan.
Busy measuring dwell time and bounce rate, all Google cares about is how long the people they send to your publication spend reading what you have to say.
2) Don’t blame the design
A small business owner believes 3 things:
1) They know their business better than anyone
2) They know their customers better than anyone
3) And they’re better writers than their competitors
All they need is a red hot designer. So they hire a red hot designer. The finished site looks red hot. But nothing happens. Tumbleweed.
The red hot designer is fired. A new red hot designer takes their place. And after a costly rebrand, still nothing happens.
Save yourself a painful lesson: white hot words sell stuff, not red hot design.
3) Don’t just hope for scannability
When I started out copywriting in a design agency under the dreaming spires of Oxford, the guiding assumption was – still is – that people scan online.
Your customers will read every line if every line actually solves their problem imparts a winning idea or tells a gripping story.
Instead of hoping for scannability, aim for readability.
4) Don’t blog to your customers
When was the last time you bought something from a company – and signed up to their blog? Okay, quite often. But how many times did you actually read the blog? Leave a comment? Share it on social media? Link to it?
So why are you blogging to your customers?
The only people who have the means and the appetite to read, comment, share, and link to your blog are other experts in your niche. Blog to them and your blog will finally take off.
5) Don’t be shy
Your About Us/Me page should tell people why you are here. How you came up with your game-changing product or service. And the personal and financial challenges you overcame to get it out there.
Of course, you might have got lucky. Your story might be really, really, really boring. But if it isn’t, don’t think your customers don’t want to read your blockbuster brand story. They do.
And if it’s a good one, they’ll share it too. Just imagine: a viral About Us/Me page…
6) Don’t believe writing is an art
Whether you write websites, screenplays or Broadway musicals, your success is intimately tied to how successfully you’ve mastered the rules.
Sure, once you know why things work, you can bend those rules a touch, so long as they serve your art (and business objectives).
But if you don’t know the difference between features and benefits, or you want to pen a five hour epic where the hero dies and the two-headed alien blows up the world with a gleeful chuckle, unless you’re William Randolph Hearst…
7) Don’t do what you’re expected to do
In your industry, you have to say what people expect you to say. You have to stand for what they stand for. You have to talk like they talk. And then you don’t.
Your copy can make people think. It can change hearts and minds. It can rally people to a cause. It can be wildly entertaining or laugh-out-loud funny or make people weep buckets.
And when it does, your content will be much more memorable. Which is the highest compliment there is.
8) Don’t talk over each other
I’ve worked in companies where I wrote the website, the boss wrote the blog (over the weekend), and the talented SEO genius took good care of all the social media malarkey.
Sadly, this isn’t uncommon. So decide who is the best writer, or hire one. Agree a single content strategy and set targets, then go and talk about selling more stuff.
9) Don’t sell yourself short
Long-form content is in. By long-form, I mean 10,000 word + articles and blog posts bristling with outbound links, quotes, references, and every type of media going.
These so-called Power Pages get their power though not just from keyword density or built in virality and linkability. Their power comes from that sense of awe you feel when you find the most complete solution to your problem ever.
All you have to do is choose which one of your customers’ problems you want to solve, and start writing awesomely long content.
10) Don’t fluff your lines
You clicked on a link that read: ‘Don’t read this’. Was it a trick? Not really. I would have probably clicked on that link too. But if you – or I – found nothing worth reading at the end of it, we would be entitled to feel had.
So hopefully this exercise in lesson sharing has been worth your while. And if you want to hire a copywriter who believes these kind of things, just holler.