OK, I admit it. I’m no copywriter. I can come up with a great strategy and visualise your business idea, but when it comes to words – they scare me all too often.
Before, I had always fallen into a default, academic approach, formal and impersonal. I have had the pleasure of working with some great copy writers over the years.
Most recently, I have had the pleasure of working with Cate Butler Ross – a copy and communications coach for entrepreneurs, in transforming my website copy, finding my voice and helping me be more relaxed in how and what I wrote.
As part of my Power of Series, Cate writes about her secrets for writing copy that really converts:
1. Always have a headline (and a CTA)
Spending hours crafting your copy but forgetting to write a headline is a bit like preparing a three-course deluxe meal for a dinner party but forgetting to invite your guests. Every piece of copy needs a powerful headline. It’s what captures your dream customers' attention and invites them in to listen. While you’re at it, make sure you also have a Call To Action. A big, bold CTA they just can’t miss.
2. Keep it conversational
You want your copy to be a more polished version of how you actually speak. The problem is, that formal “I’m writing” language can be a hard habit to break. So to help you get that conversational feel, read everything you write out loud - if it doesn’t trip off your tongue easily, or doesn’t sound like you, it’s time to start over.
3. Step into their shoes
All your reader cares about when they read your copy is, “What’s in it for me?" Which is why the words ‘You’ and ‘Your’ are the two most important words you can write. If you’re using the words “I”, “we” and “our’ a lot, chances are your reader will have long since switched off.
4. Murder your darlings
Think you’re finished? Nope. Now you’ve got try to halve the word count. Flabby copy hides your message and it’s a rare first draft that can’t be cut. If you really want your words to pop keep your copy lean. And that little anecdote/ joke/ pun that you’ve re-written all your copy around just so you can keep it in? Kill it. Your copy will thank you.
5. Stop tweaking and share it
Make it as good as you can get it, then stop stressing and just share it. Shared is always better than perfect.
You can download Cate’s free Cheat Sheet and Checklist to Copy that Converts at www.catebutlerross.com.
Working with Cate taught me a great deal.
This is what I learned, how I have got over my fear of writing (mostly) and how I now approach it:
Understand who you’re speaking to.
When you set about writing something for your audience, try thinking of someone very specific. By having a key persona, ideal customer or a particular client in mind, you will be able to write directly for them – understanding their views, needs and what’s useful for them.
Know why your clients come to you.
Out of all the competition, what makes your clients come back to you again and again? And for new clients – how are you going to appeal to them that they want to join your tribe? Go back to your purpose – why does your business exist for your client? How do you help your customers? Think beyond practical and function – think deeper, emotionally and higher purpose – write to that.
Imagine you’re in conversation with a client.
What problems are they facing? What would they ask you, need to know or what to learn about? Think about why they need or want you and talk to them in a way that they can empathise with. This will give you ideas about what sort of things to include in your copy or topics to cover in your content.
Be bold but be yourself. Find your own voice and be natural.
It’s too easy to resume the academic or formal approach when writing. Remember – business is real people buying from real people, formalities are not relevant for most these days. Be natural, relax and find your own voice and rhythm that your clients will respond to and resonate with. Don’t be afraid to be conversational as you write and mix it up. Use combinations of short and long sentences to add rhythm. And don’t be afraid to start a sentence with a conjunction (and, but…) it may not be grammatically correct, but it keeps the copy flowing at a nice pace, fresh and stop your sentences falling off a cliff...
Be a keen editor - Cut out the crap.
Keep it simple, short and sweet. We can often hide behind words, fluffing out content and talking needlessly around a topic – the result: waffle, switch-off, non-confidence. If you fear you’re being overly clever in your copy, ask, ‘Does this make sense? Could this be misunderstood or read in the wrong way?’ If the answer is maybe: cut it out or rewrite your point. And don’t forget to SPELL CHECK. Twice.