How To Write Copy That People Want To Read
Hey there! This is part of my documentation for how I spent a month helping Raposa Technologies launch! I used this time to do a lot of research, learn a bunch of new skills, and focus on code and copywriting the whole time. If you want to know what I did, how I did it, and who Raposa Technologies is, click here!
During the past week, I was struggling to write content. I enjoy writing, have been involved in sales for almost a decade, and marketing isn’t new. So why wasn’t I producing good content? To find out why I dove into researching what makes good copy and ended up finding a real fascination for it. It is both an art and a science, and understanding it significantly impacted my writing.
What Makes it “Good?”
You know good content when you see it. You get hooked; you read the whole thing even though you only planned on skimming for details. You learn something without needing to reread sections. Maybe it effortlessly sells you on its product. But how are some people able to capture our attention so well, while others make it hard even to finish the first paragraph?
1. Understand Your Audience
You can know everything about the topic, but if you don’t know who you are writing to, you will miss the point. Know what kind of person will be reading your content, and you can appeal to them specifically.
Say you’re advertising baby shampoo. You’re going to want to appeal to millennials and new parents. Relate to them or help them imagine using your product or service. What would a new parent want to hear about baby shampoo? Sure it comes in 3 different colors, but that doesn’t matter to this demographic. Instead, talk about how safe it is and clinical testing. Know who they are; make connections to make sales.
2. Be Clear and Specific
Know what you are trying to convey! This may sound silly, but it is one of the most challenging aspects of copywriting. You are trying to convey your message to the reader without it getting misinterpreted. Use simplified language and be as specific as possible! Rather than saying that “most people prefer this brand” say “in a clinical trial, 88% of participants preferred this brand.” Now they know what “most” really means.
3. Be Concise and Casual
You want your reader to engage with your content. To do this, keep words and sentences short and your message brief. We live in a 10-second world. The less time you need to hold someone’s attention, the better. Speaking in a conversational tone will also make the reader more comfortable and likely to continue reading. If you have a more professional audience, adjust the tone as needed. Just remember, you are writing to impress them with the product, not on your abilities as a writer.
4. Paint a picture
Telling someone something is far less effective than showing someone something. And how can you show someone something through writing? With examples. Paint a picture in someone’s mind. This is the best way to get your point across because it creates a stronger connection in the brain to retain information.
For example, I read about a writer’s account on using casual language. The writer described a street sign that you may see while driving through construction zones. The sign says “maintain present lane” rather than just “stay in your lane” or ‘No passing,” etc. I still remember that article because it gave me something to visualize. Pictures stick better than words, so paint as many as you can!
5. Let It Flow
It almost goes without saying, but it’s too important not to: make it make sense. Your writing should flow easily to the reader. It should have a beginning, transitions, and an end without any need to jump around. Keeping everything in a logical order is only half of it.
It’s important to keep only a couple of main points, or at least if you have multiple, make them brief and simple. If you have too many ideas on one page, it becomes overwhelming and hard to understand and retain.
As you write, combining multiple styles and voices into your content will create depth; this makes it easier for the reader to stay hooked. Here are a couple of writing styles I have used in my content.
This is probably the most natural style, but if you’ve ever taken an English or writing class, you’ll quickly realize it goes against everything you’ve ever learned. Just write like you’re having a casual conversation with your friend! Maybe you just discovered a really cool recipe that your baker friend would love to try. Talk to them, explain what you’ve learned in a friendly, casual tone.
Stories make things easier to remember. This style has a main character and a basic plot. Remember to use the tips above and don’t make it a feature-length film. Even though it has an opening and a little conflict before the resolution, it’s still brief. Add in some dialogue and maybe a little drama, and who wouldn’t want to read it? (This is a trick question because we have a specific audience, remember? We aren’t Google.)
This is informative but can be boring. It gives the facts without any stories or narratives; no pazzazz for that matter. I wouldn’t recommend writing in this form often except when you really want to be clear about a specific point. For example, if you’ve got a conversational piece about baking cupcakes, it might be a good idea to add some plain text to make sure the instructions are obvious.
Remember when I mentioned that pictures stick in your mind better than words? Well, this type of copy is all about that. Imaginative copy usually begins with phrases like, you guessed it, “Imagine,” or “picture this,” or maybe “close your eyes and think of….” These posts try to make an idea or product more tangible- a very effective marketing technique when done well.
Personal struggles with copy
I had a misunderstanding of copywriting when I first started. If you look at any of my earlier work, you’d see they lack focus. I thought I knew what copywriting was, so I just dove right in. I learned my mistakes while editing what I had written. I had multiple pieces that I spent 8–9 hours on that I completely redid because after reading them, I still didn’t understand the point of them. I didn’t have any examples to drive it home, and it was mostly unclear plain-text which, in the end, didn’t offer me anything to hang on to.
I wrote multiple articles based on cognitive functions, fallacies, and biases while learning about copy. I knew the information, but until I figured out my audience and style, they were very lackluster. I started by creating templates to draw off of, which you can see here. After that, I researched writing style and purchased a couple of books to help me in the future; The Elements of Style and The Copywriter’s Handbook.
Finding My Style
I like to write. I always have since I was a little girl. When I first began a few weeks ago, my love of writing disappeared. All of a sudden, I loathed the process and procrastinated whenever possible. I didn’t like any of the content I was producing because I thought copy had to be professional and concise. I was told that if it didn’t have any value, don’t include it. I took this advice to heart and removed everything I thought wasn’t direct and factual (i.e. the pazzazz). Once I started learning about style and understanding how to write again, the natural love came back.
Make It Great
Copywriting creates opportunity. Not only does good copy show your skill as a writer, but it conveys marketing skills, sales skills, and creativity.
Just like any content creator you see on YouTube, Tiktok, or any other media platform; having your own style or niche makes you stand out. You can either stand out by being different, or you can be the best at whatever you do. Make yourself different and specify your style to the audience you want to hold, and you might just do both.