Practice Assignment: Write an 83-Word Email About a Coffee Maker …

Businessman using mobile phone with laptop computer and coffee cup on table

Writing every day is the secret to getting better. But inevitably, the next question is: What do I write?

Today, I’ve outlined a practice assignment, so you get hands-on experience writing for the Web.

Follow these instructions and you’ll get a sense of what it feels like to be given a brief to write copy for a real client.

Do this practice project, and you could end up with a solid piece for your portfolio — something that shows a prospective client what you can do.

Are you game?

Here’s How It Works …

First, keep reading.

I’m going to brief you on an online copywriting assignment, just like a real client would.

Then I’m going to give you some tips on how to write the copy.

Follow these instructions, and you’ll have a solid new piece you can put in your portfolio!

And it’s a great opportunity to get a sense of what it feels like to be given a brief to write copy for a real client.

Use this practice assignment to learn good strategies, hone your skills, and build your confidence.

Okay, let’s get started.

Here’s Your Brief …

Your job is to write promotional copy for the Smarta Coffee Maker. It’s a Bluetooth-enabled coffee maker (I’d like one of those!).

This copy is going to appear in an email.

There’ll be a headline of 8 words or less that appears at the top of the body of the email itself.

Then a photo of the Smarta Coffee Maker on a kitchen counter, then up to 75 words of text, followed by a button for readers to click if they want to learn more.

You probably get emails like this yourself … selling clothes, vacations, books, household items, and so on.

To be clear …

Headline of up to 8 words

[photo of Smarta Coffee Maker]

Up to 75 words of body text

[The More Info button]

Don’t worry about the photo or the More Info button. And don’t worry about the email subject line.

Your task is just to write 8 words for the headline and 75 words of compelling body text.

Basic Product Info

Your client will always give you some briefing information like this, whatever you’re going to be writing.

The product name is: Smarta Coffee Maker. (I made the name up. It’s not a real product!)

Target Audience: Homeowners who care about making good coffee at home, and like electronics too … because the Smarta Coffee Maker can be controlled from your phone via Bluetooth.

Product: This is a regular-looking drip brewer. It doesn’t look much different from any other quality drip brewer.

Features:

  • Brew your Smarta Coffee remotely from anywhere using the Smarta app available for any iOS or Android device.
  • Set alarms via app to wake you up to freshly brewed coffee.
  • Choose between bean-to-cup or filtered coffee.
  • Select desired strength, pre-heating time, and between 4-12 number of cups.
  • Connect to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant-enabled devices or other smart home devices.

What’s unique: This brewer isn’t unique, but it is at the leading edge. There are a few other Bluetooth-enabled coffee makers out there, but not many.

Price: This is a $250 purchase. More than most regular drip coffee makers, but perhaps less than one might expect.

(Pro tip: Don’t mention the price in your copy. The price will be revealed on the website, after readers have clicked through from your email copy.)

How to Research and Prepare

Copy and print out the briefing information above.

Then go to Amazon and look at the features and descriptions of other Bluetooth-enabled coffee makers …

Take notes. Get a feel for the products and the buyers.

In other words, do your homework!

This is how it goes with real clients. They give you a briefing, then you do your own research too, digging deeper and immersing yourself in the product or service.

Pro Tips for Making Your Copy Better

Once you’ve done all that research, you might think it’s time to start writing.

Not so fast!

That’s just Step One.

Step Two is to immerse yourself in the lives of your buyers.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself in the home of someone who might be interested in buying a Smarta Coffee Maker.

Will this be their first purchase of this kind or product? What’s motivating them? Why now?

Are they motivated mostly by the idea of brewing great coffee? Or the actual convenience of being able to control the brewer from their phone? Or is it more about loving the latest tech-enabled gadgets?

Not sure how to answer those questions?

Here’s a special pro tip for you …

Go back to those Amazon listings. Now, instead of reading the product descriptions, read the buyer reviews!

THAT’S where you get to know how it feels to be in your prospects’ shoes.

Totally immerse yourself in those reviews and opinions. Get a feel for the language buyers use when talking about these products.

Do that and THEN you’ll be ready to start writing.

Remember … nobody truly NEEDS a Smarta Coffee Maker. We’ve all managed to survive without a Bluetooth coffee maker in our kitchens! But a lot of people might WANT one.

Why? Why do we want them?

Answer that question and you’ll be well on your way to writing some great copy.

Three More Important Tips

First …

I’ve been a professional copywriter for 40 years now.

But still, after all those years, my first draft is NEVER my best draft.

So, keep writing new drafts until it’s the best you can do.

Second …

Almost every purchase we make is driven more by our hearts than our brains. We buy stuff to satisfy our emotions. We buy stuff to make ourselves feel good.

So … don’t focus just on the tech features … give thought to the emotional triggers too.

Third …

You’re not trying to close the sale with this copy. There’s no buy button.

Your task is to make the reader want to click through to a sales page on the company website.

The purpose of the email copy is to make people interested enough to want to learn more.

Make them click that More Info button!

Remember, the real value in doing this assignment lies in the practice, and in having a piece of writing for your portfolio.

Final tip: If you belong to a private online copywriter’s group, you could post your copy and ask for feedback.

Now, it’s time to dive in …

Practice your writing every day, and you will improve. Guaranteed.

Do you have any questions about getting started? Let us know in the comments below.

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Published: September 1, 2019

11 Responses to “Practice Assignment: Write an 83-Word Email About a Coffee Maker…”

  1. What Really Makes a Great Cup of Coffee?

    What if making a truly great cup of coffee as much to do with the coffee maker than with the coffee itself?
    With the new Smarta Coffee Maker, it's easy to choose desired strength and either filtered coffee or bean-to-cup, for 4-12 cups.
    With the Smarta phone app, you can brew remotely from anywhere via Bluetooth. Even wake up every day to already freshly-brewed coffee.
    Truly great coffee has never been more attainable!

    StarbladeSeptember 1, 2019 at 2:59 am

  2. I really enjoyed this assignment.

    Wendy Jane BouchouxSeptember 1, 2019 at 2:14 pm

  3. This assignment is great for those who are just starting out and are unsure of what to expect. It is a wonderful way to 'wet those fingers' :). I appreciate the assignment and can't wait to dig into more in order to build a decent portfolio and confidence. Thanks!

    Alicia OgunmiloroSeptember 2, 2019 at 12:10 pm

  4. When is the deadline? How do I submit my assignment?

    Patricia BSeptember 2, 2019 at 6:19 pm

  5. Hi, everyone! Hope Labor Day was what you anticipated. I completed Nick Usborne's
    83-Word Email About a Coffee Maker. On Friday, 8/30/19, I made several attempts to email my copy to Nick Usborne, at the email address indicated. I was Most Upset when my copy didn't go thru, for some unknown reason. Everyone who read it
    (family members) said it was "good." I felt "crushed" after the work I'd done was not to be seen and rated by Nick Usborne et al, not to mention missing a a chance to win $250.

    WeezieBSeptember 3, 2019 at 4:17 pm

  6. I submitted mine on the afternoon of Aug 31, but I didn't get an acknowledgement that you got it. I'm checking to make sure that you did. Thanks!

    Paulette

    PauletteSeptember 3, 2019 at 8:29 pm

  7. Paulette here again. Still waiting for an answer to my comment above. Thanks.

    PauletteSeptember 4, 2019 at 8:28 pm

  8. So who won Smarta challenge?

    Why not post 3 best?

    wojozSeptember 8, 2019 at 10:32 am

  9. Patricia I sent mine in on august 30th and the link did tell me that my copy was sent, but that is the only verification I received. If i read the initial email right, i think they will announce the winners in an article in "The Writers life"

    samantha bSeptember 8, 2019 at 1:11 pm

  10. that comment was actually for Paulette, not Patricia. My bad.

    samantha bSeptember 8, 2019 at 1:12 pm


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