20 Ways to Stand Out As a Professional Web Copywriter in 2020
“What’s the most difficult challenge you’ve ever faced, and how did you handle it?”
“Describe a time in your life that has shaped who you are as a person.”
My 17-year-old son had to answer these questions and others like them when writing essays for college entrance applications and scholarships. He was on track to graduate as one of the top students in his high school class, yet these essay questions stressed him out.
He was facing the reality that grades alone weren’t enough to get him into the schools he wanted to attend. Just listing his extra-curricular activities and community involvement wasn’t enough, either.
“How can you make yourself stand out and be memorable?” I asked him as I explained why these questions were part of the application process.
The schools and scholarship committees wanted to know him. They were looking for reasons to choose him over equally qualified applicants.
Sounds a lot like marketing, doesn’t it?
As web copywriters marketing our services, it’s our prospects and clients who need to know us … who are looking for reasons to choose us over our competition.
To that end, here are 20 ways you can stand out and make yourself memorable as a web copywriter:
1. Specialize by type of client or industry you work with. Perhaps it’s professional services for other businesses, like accounting firms and attorneys. Maybe you work exclusively within the health or beauty industry. If you have a specialty client niche, say so and stand out to those types of clients.
2. Specialize by type of copywriting project you do. Maybe you’re an expert or you have specialized training in writing email campaigns. Perhaps your niche is sales pages, or videos, or social media. If so, say so … and you’ll stand out to clients who need help with that type of project.
3. Specialize by type of target market you write to. For example, do you have a special affinity for runners? Sports moms? Pet owners? If you really “get” runners, you might be the copywriter of choice for businesses selling running shoes or other running gear, as well as others who serve that same target market, like gyms, trainers, chiropractors, etc.
4. Become officially certified. Have you earned any of the AWAI Verified™ Badges? Certifications like these prove you’ve mastered the skills needed to successfully write the copy marketers need. This is definitely a way to stand out from the masses, who don’t have anything to prove themselves.
5. Showcase your expertise on social media. Not by selling, but by posting content of value. Build relationships and a reputation for being a subject matter expert.
6. Showcase your expertise by giving presentations. Holding in-person workshops is a fantastic strategy to showcase your expertise and generate local leads. Online presentations, including videos and webinars, also let prospects get to know you and make you stand out.
7. Follow up with a phone call. You will certainly stand out if you have a real, live conversation with a prospect. Notice I said “follow up,” not “cold call.” This is a call you would make after someone has expressed interest. You could follow up to see if they had any questions or to clarify how you can help.
8. Follow up with a card in the mail. A physical “thank you” card or “nice to meet you” card in the mail can solidify your position as someone who cares. And these days, the physical mailbox is WAY less crowded than an email inbox, so you’ll easily stand out there.
9. Follow up with video. If it’s short enough, you can send a video by text. For longer follow-up videos, use email or private message through a social media platform. Seeing you and hearing your voice on video is much more personal than words on a screen can ever be.
10. Ask for testimonials AND USE THEM. Publish them on your website, as social media posts, even in emails. People trust what a third party says about you more than they trust what you say about yourself. So, stand out by letting them know what others say about you.
11. Gather reviews AND USE THEM. Take a screenshot of a review someone has left you, and then put that on your website with a link to the original review. Do the same and publish to social media or include in an email. This third-party validation is powerful in building your credibility and making you stand out.
12. Maximize email marketing. Build your email list and then email that list regularly. This is especially important if email copywriting is one of the services you offer. Let what you do for yourself show what you can do for them.
13. Be authentic. Be you, not the persona you think a writer should be. For example, if you don’t like hanging out or writing in coffee shops, don’t portray yourself as someone who does just because you or others think that’s what “real” writers do. You are unique. Showcase your authentic, real uniqueness, and you’ll not only stand out, but you’ll also attract your own unique tribe of followers, referral partners, and clients.
14. Show your personality. People like to know they’re working with real people. Let your personality show through in your word choice, the examples you use, and in the professional photos you publish of yourself.
15. Include a professional headshot in your email signature. Don’t hide behind your keyboard; stand out by letting the person on the other side of the screen see what you look like. That picture helps them feel like they know you a little better. It helps you stand out.
16. Be a stickler for spelling … especially your prospects’ and clients’ names. Nothing shouts disrespect louder than misspelling someone’s name. And, like it or not, professional writers ARE held to a higher standard when it comes to spelling and word use.
17. Be an exemplary example of great writing … always. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone who I know is a professional writer publishing content with misspellings and grammatical errors. Stand out by not being that writer.
18. Write a book. Whether it’s an ebook or a self-published book you print and hand out as a lead magnet, writing your own book is a sure-fire way to stand out. In general, you should aim for 10,000 to 20,000 words. To put that in perspective, this article is just over 1,000 words. You’re a writer! You can write 10-20 related articles and put them together as a book.
19. Write articles that are published with your byline. Ever since I was first starting out, I’ve used published articles with my byline as writing samples when asked for them. It’s a huge credibility boost and a way to stand out from the crowd.
20. Create video content and publish on a YouTube channel. A writer with a YouTube channel, especially if it’s YOU featured on camera in the videos, is sure to stand out. And since YouTube as a search engine is second only to Google (which owns it), it’s a powerful place to publish content, if you want to be found in search.
There you have it. Twenty ways to stand out as a web copywriter in 2020. These 20 are by no means all-inclusive.
But, I do hope this list has given you a place to start, and it will prompt you to come up with some ideas of your own about how to set yourself apart from the competition. If you’d care to share your thoughts and ideas, I’d love to see them in the comments below.
And, my son? He stood out and was accepted into five of the seven universities he applied to, including his top choice. He is now happily attending UC Santa Barbara.