One Big Secret to Success as a Web Copywriter

My friend and fellow copywriter Joshua Boswell is fond of saying, "Big doors swing on small hinges." And he's right. It's often little things — simple truths, small discoveries — that lead to the biggest breakthroughs in your career.

I know I've had my fair share of big breakthroughs from simple truths.

Today I'd like to share with you one of those simple truths I learned — one that I think can make a big difference in your web copywriting career.

It's actually an old sales secret — though even if you're writing SEO copy or articles like this one that aren't necessarily written just to make a sale, you can use it for better results.

This simple truth is called "WIIFM?" (Often pronounced "whiff-m".)

What's WIIFM?

WIIFM? is an acronym for:

  • What's
  • In
  • It
  • For
  • Me?

That's the question that's always going through your reader's subconscious mind — whenever they start to read anything you write — whether it's for the Web, for offline use, in a book, wherever.

It's simple human psychology that we are motivated by selfish drives. We do things, read things, buy things, and pay attention to things when we think they will benefit us in some way.

So, from the flip side, if you want someone to do something, read something, buy something, or pay attention to something — the best way to do that is to make it clear that there's something in it for them. And then continue to reinforce that throughout the entire process of them doing, reading, buying, or paying attention.

By making the answer to WIIFM? clear, you're giving someone a reason to do what you want them to do — including reading your web copy.

Here's How To Apply WIIFM? In Your Web Copywriting

Every bit of web copy you write should have a clear benefit to the reader.

Getting a bit self-reflective here, let's look at how I'm doing it in this article — the one you're reading right now.

The benefit of this article is that you'll have more success as a web copywriter. Or, on a more fundamental level, you'll make more money and advance in your career.

I answered WIIFM? in the headline by specifically promising a secret to being successful as a web copywriter — that got you reading. Within the first few sentences, I reinforced the benefit by telling you simple truths you learn can lead to big career breakthroughs — this builds on the promise, and increases your interest. And then, after telling you the secret, I told you why it'll make you a more effective communicator — this proves why this secret can actually provide the benefit I promise.

And now, I'm giving you specific examples of how to apply it — so you can actually start to experience the benefits.

You can do the same thing in your web copy.

While you're thinking about what you want to say, think about the benefit of what you're saying. What positive impact will it have on your reader's life? It's this positive impact that is the real answer to WIIFM?

Borrowing from John Caples' Tested Advertising Methods, the appeal of what you're writing should be a variation on one of these time-tested topics:

  • Make more money
  • Save money
  • Retirement security
  • Better health now
  • Health care security
  • Security in old age
  • Advance in profession or trade
  • Prestige and popularity
  • Enjoyment
  • Easier chores
  • Gain more leisure
  • Comfort
  • Reduce fat
  • Freedom from worry
  • Become part of the "in" group
  • Get a bargain
  • Outshine your neighbors

Once you have your core benefit — your answer to WIIFM? for your target prospects — you include it throughout your entire piece of copy as you write.

  • Write a headline that flags down readers by promising the core benefit.
  • Write a lead that reinforces why reading your copy will deliver the core benefit.
  • Prove in your copy why readers will receive the core benefit.
  • Conclude by showing readers what action to take to get the core benefit.

All the time you're writing about your subject, you should be referring back to that core benefit — and how reading your copy or responding to your offer will deliver the core benefit they're looking for.

And like I said — it doesn't matter if you're writing SEO articles, landing pages, emails, autoresponders — it doesn't matter what type of web copy you're writing.

Keeping WIIFM? in mind as you write your copy will make you more effective at getting readers' attention, building their interest in what you have to say, getting them on your side and ready to follow your directions, and spurring them to take action based on what you've written. And when you can do that, you're sure to have more success as a web copywriter.

Then, once you have this simple secret down …

How To Use WIIFM? In All The Web Copy You Write

While knowing WIIFM? by itself will make you an effective communicator and writer, it's how you apply and customize it to different situations that will turn you into a web copywriting powerhouse.

When you learn how to write SEO copy and add WIIFM? on top of it, your SEO will attract visitors and support the sale.

When you combine WIIFM? with autoresponders and email copywriting, you'll write emails that get more people hooked into your message and buying products.

When you use WIIFM? throughout a website, visitors arrive, start reading, and begin to feel like, "This is the place for me," which leads to higher engagement and better sales.

Learn to write with WIIFM? always in mind — then learn the simple ways to adapt your copy to specific situations like SEO, email, and more — and you'll be clear-cutting your path to success as a web copywriter.

[Ed. Note: The newly-updated Copywriting 2.0: Your Complete Guide to Writing Web Copy that Converts program gives you all the web copy skills and strategies you need to get booked solid as a working web copywriter, a two-part teleconference on writing more powerful web copy, six bonus webinars including four dissecting specific web copy assignments, and 16 new videos designed to give you all the little fee-boosting skills that will dazzle clients. Check it out now and save $100 if you order by tomorrow!]

This article, One Big Secret to Success as a Web Copywriter, was originally published by Wealthy Web Writer.

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Published: September 29, 2010

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