8 Essential Copywriting Skills to Launch a Lucrative Career
Can you talk your friends into trying new restaurants, your kids into eating vegetables, or your boss into giving you the lead on a plum project?
Have you ever persuaded someone to take action either for or against something?
If any of those scenarios are true for you, you likely already possess the key to being a successful copywriter: the ability to persuade!
And, if you want to earn a great living using that ability, below are eight ways to tap into it and refine it to build a successful copywriting career.
But before we get to those eight ways, let’s review …
What Is Copywriting, and Why Are Copywriters in Such Demand?
You may be wondering: What does a copywriter do? How many types of copywriting are there? And what, exactly, is copy?
To answer that last question first … Copy is the words you see on ads, blog posts, sales letters, emails, and so much more that persuades people to make a purchase, click a link, follow a company on social media, sign up for their newsletter or blog, call for more information, donate to a cause, watch a video, download a sample, and more. Content is longer, for example, case studies and e-books.
All businesses need trained copywriters to create all the engaging copy and content they need to attract new prospects, convert them into buyers, and keep them as happy customers.
The principles of persuasive writing are at the heart of every piece of content or copy you see. And because winning copy and content are the engine that drives a company’s growth and success, businesses are happy to pay top dollar for it. Without persuasive copy, they simply can’t sell their product or service well.
The Copywriting Skills You Need to Be Successful
Below we highlight the essential copywriting skills you need to start getting paid to write.
1. Write Like You Speak
Imagine you’re sitting at your favorite restaurant chatting with your best friend. They just told you about a problem they’re having, and as luck would have it, you’re familiar with this problem and have the perfect solution for them. As you explain your solution, you keep it focused on them and how you can help them. You’re not using big words or complicated sentences. You’re not using jargon or cliches. You’re speaking from your heart.
That is exactly what your writing should do.
Readers shouldn’t have to go through pages and pages of dense text. They should forget they’re reading, because your writing sounds just like someone is talking to them.
Writing in a conversational tone is one of the first copywriting skills you should master, because it’s much easier for your reader to follow and engage with it, and to take action.
And one of the best ways to train yourself to write conversationally is to read your work out loud. Anywhere you stumble indicates that the “flow” is off … or if you find yourself running out of breath, your sentences are probably too long.
It might take a bit of practice, but once you’ve got the hang of it, your writing will be stronger, easier to read, and even easier to write!
2. Write to One Person You Care About
Successful copy hooks the reader and gets them to take action. As we mention above, write your copy as though you’re writing to someone you want to help and whose problem or issue you understand completely. This is one of the essential skills for copywriting that will help your work stand out from the competition.
For example, an email copywriter trying to persuade someone to purchase an exercise program might start like this:
"I heard you want to get fit. I know it can be tough to kick-start the right habits.
"But … do you have just 10 minutes a day?
"Most of us want to get healthy and be physically fit, but we all suffer from lack of motivation from time to time when it comes to our physical health.
"You’re certainly not alone in that regard.
"One thing that’s helped me stay motivated and active is [exercise program]."
The email starts by connecting with the reader in a way that makes them feel understood and part of a community, so they’re less alone.
Then it jumps right into a solution to the common problem of not staying motivated in a workout routine.
The next part of the email might go something like this:
"According to the experts, most people give up on their exercise routines after just a few days, but I’ve learned from [Exercise and Motivational Expert] that doing this one simple exercise first thing in the morning makes all the difference.
"It’s so easy and takes less than 10 minutes a day!"
The final paragraph is your call to action, where you link to the video or sales page for the product or service.
"If you’re like me and find it hard to get and stay motivated, find out how this simple daily exercise can positively change your life … and the way you think about exercise.
"With [exercise program], I find that I’m more committed to achieving my fitness goals because the program’s simple steps help me stay on track … every day. And I think [exercise program] can help you, too."
By the end, you’ve connected with the reader in a way that makes them feel heard, shared research on the topic, and hinted that there’s a simple solution to their problem so they feel they can be successful. Now they want to learn more.
3. Show Empathy and Curiosity
Emotional intelligence is a soft skill essential for successful copywriters … because good copywriting is all about your reader.
Knowing and understanding what your reader needs and what their struggles are, and being curious about what motivates them, helps you connect with them on an emotional level.
By using the power of empathy to connect with your audience, you prime them for your sales pitch and increase the likelihood they’ll follow your call to action at the end.
4. Know How to Research (and Simplify!)
Developing excellent research skills is essential to helping you become an effective copywriter. It gives you a better understanding of the industry’s opportunities and challenges and enables you to understand customers’ needs, pain points, and motivations.
Every company should have detailed research available on their product or service and why it works, but you can also delve into the topic yourself and learn as much as you can about why this particular product or service helps solve customers’ problems.
You don’t have to be an expert yourself on the topic; a great copywriter will do their best to understand what the subject matter experts have to say and put it into simple, everyday language that readers can understand.
For example, iPhone and Mac users don’t need to understand complex code to know that Apple ensures that its electronics are among the safest from hacking in the world. You just need to let them know that Apple has some of the best built-in safety protocols to protect its customers.
5. Follow a Structure
Part of AWAI’s teaching methodology is giving our writers simple formulas for more complex concepts. This one, which we call AWAI’s The 4 P’s, is the structure for every successful sales argument. You should use it for everything you write.
It goes like this:
- Make a Promise to your reader. Identify a fear or desire … something that keeps readers awake at night or that they daydream about while driving to work. Then, tell them what you’re going to do for them. What benefits do you have that will eliminate their fears or fulfill their desires?
- Paint a Picture for your reader. Show your reader what it’s like to enjoy the benefits of your product or service. You’ll cement the promise you made when showing your reader how you can improve their life.
- Provide Proof to your reader. Provide proof that your product or service does what it promises by sharing names of people or companies who’ve had success with it or testimonials from people who’ve used it. You can also share success stories or case studies of what worked for previous clients, and provide actual numbers like how much money they’ll save with your product over the competition’s or statistics about why your method works better.
- Push your reader to take action. The final step in this structure is to guarantee your reader will get the same results as others by taking the desired action. Remember, direct-response writing is about getting the reader to take a specific — and measurable — action.
6. The Power of One
The best copy and content focuses on one single idea. This is the underlying principle of AWAI’s The Power of One.
This approach helps readers in several ways …
For example, you stay singularly focused on the product or service you’re writing about and its benefits.
It’s also much less confusing to readers, because as AWAI founder Mark Ford has said, “One good idea, clearly presented, enables you to create a more compelling story and captivate your audience with a single, desirable benefit.”
And in the end, your call to action will focus on asking your reader to do the one thing you want them to do, making it simple for them to follow your guidance.
7. Meet Your Reader Where They Are
Before you even begin writing, it’s important to understand where your reader is in terms of knowledge about your product and/or the company selling it, their views on the subject matter … the concerns, beliefs, and hopes they have around the subject matter … and even bigger influences like what’s happening in the world and if that’s having any impact on them.
That’s where you want to meet them.
The less they know about the product and/or company selling it, the more you have to educate and build trust. The more they know … especially if they’re already a customer … the less time you need to spend on building that initial credibility and the quicker you can get to the sale.
If you believe they may have specific concerns … for instance, they have joint pain and have tried other supplements with no relief, so they’re skeptical … you want to prove how your supplement is different from the others.
And as far as the bigger influences, that comes down to being mindful of how things like current events could be causing hope or worry for your reader.
This is where soft skills like empathy and curiosity come into play. These skills help you understand where your audience is, their challenges, and what they need from you to make the desired changes in their lives or try something new.
8. Take the Business of Helping Your Prospect Seriously
Being a copywriter requires many skills, but something you should keep top of mind is that your audience is reading your copy for a reason. You’ve appealed to their desires, pain points, or needs.
Now you have their attention. And to a certain degree, you have their trust. Don’t let them down by offering flimsy solutions to their problems!
If you’ve followed our structure, you’ve made a promise to them, you’ve painted a picture of what their life can be like, and you’ve provided proof that your product or service will help them. Now you’re giving them the means to take action.
As you can see, you probably already possess some of the essential skills needed to be a successful copywriter. From persuading someone to try something new to researching a topic that interests you, copywriting skills come from a variety of places.
Copywriting can not only be a lucrative career choice but give you flexibility and freedom. To develop your copywriting skills and get started on your copywriting career, The AWAI Method™ is an excellent place to start.
The AWAI Method™ for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter
The AWAI Method™ combines the most up-to-date strategies, insights, and teaching methods with the tried-and-true copywriting fundamentals so you can take on ANY project — not just sales letters. Learn More »