Copywriting for many starting out can seem oddly counterintuitive. In the beginning, it may even feel like all of the things that helped you excel as a writer in other fields, somehow aren’t helpful at all. Between the research and the changes in style, there is a lot to learn.
The Power of Outlining
Success in any given field requires a plan. As interesting as it would be to watch a football game where players improvise each play, the team that does this will always be trounced over by the team who is organized and prepared ahead of time. Copywriting is no different. When working on your next project, you should make an outline for yourself before typing out anything else.
A great place to start, if you don’t know how to outline is to research your topic. By being specific about your information (which we will go into more detail later), you can sift through and organize the important stuff, and use it to build your outline piece by piece. From here, you can fill in your outline to write some awesome copy.
Keep It Straightforward, Conversational, and Current
Style is important for any beginning copywriter. The majority of copywriters, being largely individuals with a background in English and writing, like to let their writing get whisked away into something that shows off their skill with the written word. But in this instance, channeling your inner John Milton can really be to your detriment. It’s safe to say that Paradise Lost is not a prime example of readable or accessible language. If you read something out loud, and it doesn’t sound like something you would actually say to a friend, try making it simpler.
A large part of making your copy more straightforward is keeping it conversational, or casual even. You are inviting people to keep reading, to stay interested, or click the next page. By keeping your copy friendly, you will evoke a more positive response from you readers.
But also, when writing, it is important to keep your copy and any information within it recent. This also goes hand-in-hand with your research—you have to ensure that whatever information you have is up-to-date. Nothing can damage your credibility to a reader faster than a fact, statistic, or reference that isn’t timely, especially on the Internet where the most up to date information is readily available.
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Specificity Is Key
Making your copy broad doesn’t help anyone because people are looking for specific information on the topic at hand. If you are writing about marketing in aviation (we have several blogs on that topic, actually), make sure the information you are giving is specific to the aviation industry, and isn’t broadly applicable to any industry or situation.
Here is the thing about research: in the era we live in where almost half of the 8 million human beings on earth have access to the Internet, you can find specific information about whatever it is you are writing on. So, there is absolutely no excuse for poorly researched copy, and a big part of this is target marketing. As a copywriter, you’ve got to think about the audience you are writing to. A thorough target market analysis works as a great guide for not just the tone of your work, but the information, anecdotes, and language you share. For example, if I was writing copy for a dependable lighter company whose target market is older families, I wouldn’t write, “Get lit.” It’s a colloquialism not native to that group of people, and wouldn’t work well to market to that audience.
A Call to Action
Your entire work, whether it be a website, brochure, or script, should call your reader to action. What can take your good copy to great could be as simple as putting action into your text. What do you want your target market to do after reading your copy? Well, make sure you let them know! Check out our store! Book today! Come visit us! These are calls to action that inform the reader of what it is you want them to do, and help the reader feel more included and active in whatever transaction you are hoping for, not only as a copywriter, but also as a marketer.
Copywriting can be an adjustment for writers just starting to venture into it. But if you take the time to adjust your style and properly research, so that your copy is targeted to your market, you’ll be on your way towards success and writing great copy!
If you're having writers block and need some help, check out this blog to get the ball rolling!
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).