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7 tips for being a successful copywriter

Marketers, executives, senior managers; we're all copywriters.

Anyone who works for a business, charity or public service organisation has copywriting as part of their remit. After all, copywriting is the process of:

"Delivering words that Inform, Inspire or Persuade readers to Act, Behave or Think differently"

(Definition by me, no doubt partly stolen from other definitions out there).

That takes in everything from product launch ad campaigns, to internal emails asking a colleague to read your report summary.

So, a successful copywriter is what we all aspire to be. A writer whose work has a measurable impact, whose words lead to tangible results.

Here are 7 key factors that contribute to that success.

1. Get to know your client thoroughly

Unless you own your business, you'll be writing on behalf of an internal or external client. That means someone who's using your services to attain their goals.

If you're a member of staff and you've worked there for some time, you'll have a sound knowledge of your organisation. But if you're new to the role, freelance, or writing for an agency, you need to do the work. Get to know your client(s) inside out.

Start by researching the industry. Who are the major players, and where does your client's organisation fit in?

Next, review all relevant content produced by your client, including website pages, reports, documents, brochures, press, video and social channels. Go one step further and interview stakeholders, to get a view of the organisation from those working at the coal face.

Look at competitors' content too. You'll get vital insights from seeing how others approach the same challenges you face as a copywriter.

2. Get to know your prospective reader

You need to understand as much as possible about your target reader. Look for research and data, customer demographics, personas, or any other form of audience insight. Read it all.

Talk to prospects and customers. If that's not possible, check out the conversations they have on bulletin boards, social media or wherever they hang out online.

You're looking for what motivates your target reader.

What problems do they face that's relevant to your proposition? What are their hopes and aspirations?

Successful copywriters have a firm grasp of the psychology of persuasion. Read about the key elements of human behaviour and decision making. Here are some excellent books to get you started:

3. Develop your craft

You’re a creative craftsperson. Take pride in your work and develop your artisanship.

If you want to develop your skills and knowledge, nothing beats training. We are confident ours are the best copywriting courses in the UK.

Digital media changes constantly. Successful copywriters keep up to date with best practice for:

  • Websites and landing pages
  • Email communications
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Pay Per Click search advertising
  • Social media
  • Blogging and online articles
  • Digital advertising

4. Read a lot

Read the trade press in the industry you're writing for, as well as the broader marketing industry.

Keep track of books, articles, blog posts, and anything else relevant. Sign up to email newsletters and follow social accounts.

Develop a daily reading habit. You'll get ideas and inspiration from the good work others are doing, and learn what to avoid from the bad.

5. Be flexible

Working with clients and stakeholders entails striking a delicate balance.

You need to have the assurance and confidence to stand up for what you think is right. But also the tact to know when to agree to the demands of key stakeholders.

Likewise, be flexible about the demands you place on yourself. Push yourself to do your best work, but know when the extra time you're spending is not making any improvements.

6. Practise copywriting

As Ann Handley says in her book Everybody Writes: "Writing well is part habit, part knowledge of some fundamental rules, and part giving a damn."

Develop the habit and the commitment by writing regularly.

Write every day. If you don't have any writing work, then write a private journal, or a public blog about your hobby or passion.

A sure way to improve your writing is to do it regularly. Keep those creativity muscles in shape!

7. Track results

Don't forget that definition of copywriting: "Delivering words that Inform, Inspire or Persuade readers to Act, Behave or Think differently."

Successful copywriters monitor the measurable impact of their efforts, always looking for tangible results.

Learn to track all necessary data and analytics to help you optimise your copy for better outcomes.

What next?

You might be at the start of your copywriting journey, or a veteran of several decades. But there's always something new to learn in an industry changing at this pace.

And remember to have fun! Enthusiasm builds confidence and infects everyone you work with.

Don’t forget to talk to us about your development needs. We'll be happy to help you find what's right for you. We look forward to hearing from you.

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