Have you thought about improving your copywriting skills?
You probably should. Why?
I hear this lament from writers all the time: “How can I make a good living when fees for articles and blog posts keep dropping?”
My response: “If your copywriting skills are identical to thousands of other writers—many of whom willingly work for peanuts—why do clients have to pay more?”
The answer is….they don’t, and they won’t.
Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for cheap clients.
Master essential copywriting skills
To boost your writing income, you need to offer something different than the next writer. You need to find a way to stand out. (It’s true for a professional in any field looking for a way to move up and earn more.)
You need the kind of copywriting skills that will help a client build an audience, generate revenue, and keep people engaged.
Do you need an advanced degree in psychology or human behavior to know how to write copy that gets results? No.
You just need to master four principles of copywriting to stand out. And when you do, these copywriting skills will accelerate your income.
Here’s what you need to know:
Think like a marketer
After 23 years as a commercial writer, I’ve met thousands of talented writers. But many are missing out on well-paying writing gigs.
Why? Remarkably few freelancers think like marketers. But in my experience, all great copywriting springs from having a marketing mindset.
If you can think like a marketer and refine your copywriting skills, doors to far more lucrative marketing-writing jobs start opening.
4 Principles of effective copywriting
So, what makes for good marketing writing? It starts with grasping and internalizing these four foundational sales and marketing principles:
1. Know the audience
Always know who your target audience is for any project. Make sure you understand their key “pain points.” And write about those pain points with the words or communication style that will most likely to get through to them. “Who’s the audience?” is the first question you need to ask when starting any project.
2. Highlight benefits and features
Before you start writing for a client, find out what the benefits and features are for their product or service for the target audience. If ABC Firm is marketing their products to XYZ Company, what features and benefits matter most?
The answer is pretty simple—it’s whatever XYZ cares about most (i.e., profitability, competitive advantage, industry reputation, etc.). Present the benefits first to provide solutions to all the pain points. Then describe ABC and the features of their products and services.
3. Create a unique selling proposition
The USP is the core message that differentiates your client from the competition. Figure out what the company you’re writing about does better than anyone else.
If that’s hard to narrow down, look at whatever is not being highlighted by the competition, even if they provide similar products or services. Find a way to help your client stand out and showcase that advantage in all the marketing materials you write.
4. Beware of the curse of knowledge
We’ve all seen it. Websites wildly unclear about what the company does. Totally indecipherable instruction manuals. Brochures that spawn more questions than answers. Emails that have you scratching your head as to their meaning.
In every case, the company is assuming that readers/visitors know far more than they actually do.
So, when creating any marketing piece, make sure you can answer “yes” to this question:
If I knew absolutely nothing about this subject (very possible), was in the middle of doing something else when it crossed my path (highly likely), and had a short attention span (a given), would I “get it” quickly?
If you can’t answer this question with a definitive “yes,” rework the copy until you can.
More ways to write effective marketing copy
Focus on the four principles of copywriting, and you’ll already be ahead of a lot of other writers. But don’t stop there. Learning other skills and strategies can help, too. Great copywriters:
- Know that how you structure a piece—“build a case” for something—is just as important as the words you use.
- Can easily identify the benefits of a product/service, and convey those benefits in language their audience understands and will respond to.
- Are comfortable working on brochures, ads, direct mail, web writing, landing pages, “content” (case studies, white papers, etc.) and much more.
Writers who know how to write effective copy get paid significantly more than general “freelance writers,” because they know all the above. Not just how to write articles or blog posts.
Learn these copywriting skills and you’ll boost your value to those high-budget clients for whom a superior, predictable outcome virtually always trumps the money. Translation: they’re willing to pay handsomely to get effective marketing pieces.
Have questions about copywriting fundamentals? Let’s discuss on my Facebook page.
Peter Bowerman is a 23-year veteran commercial freelance writer and author of the Well-Fed Writer series. His new course, Well-Fed Craft: The Fast Track to Marketing-Writing Mastery (Carol’s link) reopens today for a limited time.