5 Copywriting Hacks for the Non-Copywriter

When you start a new business, copywriting is most likely the last thing on your mind.

Instead, you work on your website, packaging and logo. You’re worried about the look of your brand but ignore the message you’re sending out to potential customers.

But at some point when the rose-colored glasses of starting your new business turn a pale gray… you realize you have to get people to buy your stuff.

Suddenly you’re faced with the bigger challenge of explaining to your prospects why they should be buying from you. And then getting them to do it.

Instead of slamming your MacBook shut, closing down your business dreams and turning your car into a taxi… use these five simple copywriting hacks to crank up those PayPal sale notifications. Even if you’ve never written a line of copy before.

What Is Copywriting and Why Do You Need It?

Copywriting is about using words to get your reader to take some action. This action could be buying your book, signing up for your email list or even clicking a link.

Effective copy becomes a 24/7 sales machine for your company. It never needs a raise or a vacation and keeps bringing in sales day after day.

Sounds great, right?

But since the average American is exposed to 4,000–10,000 ads a day, you need to stand out in front of all the advertising noise… Writing effective copy can do that for you.

What if You Don’t Know a Thing About Writing?

Don’t worry. Even if you despised writing in high school (like I did), but you love to talk (as I do), you can write copy that sells.

Ever heard a 5-year-old in Target convincing her mom to buy her the newest toy? That is serious selling at its best.

You use similar strategies when you convince your spouse to go see the movie you want.

By using these tips in your marketing, your sales will start soaring.

Let’s hit the tips!

Copy Tip #1: Focus on the Emotional Benefits

You’re so excited about your product that whenever you craft an ad or an email you start vomiting out all the details about your product.

But these details are not what make a customer pull out their credit card.

Humans are wired to feel good. We buy based on emotions and later rationalize what we purchased.

You first decide to buy a new shirt because it will make you look good or lean. Later you convince yourself you needed that new shirt for a presentation at work or for the company party.

Let’s say you sell a weight loss product.

If your copy focuses on eating three servings of vegetables a day, getting 50 minutes of exercise and saying goodbye to sugar… it won’t sell very well.

But if your copy focuses on how your average customer lost 10 pounds in two weeks…

… and your reader will easily slip back into the skinny jeans in the back of their closet…

… now you’re digging into an emotional benefit that will make your customer take action.

Copy Tip #2: Leverage the Power of “You”

People love to find out more about what makes them tick… online quizzes like “What Game of Thrones character are you?” show we want to know more about ourselves.

But when sitting down to write, it’s easy to jump into “we” language and forget all about the reader.

By replacing “we” with “you,” the reader sees themselves using your product or service and makes a connection.

This strategy takes the focus of your copy off of your product or service and puts the focus on the reader.

No one likes to read “braggy” copy, but we love to find a product or service that can help solve our problems.

“We/they” language sounds like this:

“Most people struggle to fall asleep at night. They toss and turn until dawn and wake up all kinds of tired.”

“You” language sounds like this:

“Do you struggle with falling asleep at night? You toss and turn until dawn and wake up all kinds of tired.”

See the difference?

By replacing “we/they” with “you,” your copy makes the reader say, “Hey, that’s me! I need that.”

Copy Tip #3: Use Easy Words

Writing copy that sells doesn’t mean you need to have a thesaurus sitting by your computer.

In fact, you already know all the words you need to know… Cue a virtual happy dance.

The average American reads at a seventh- or eighth-grade level, so aim for a fifth-grade reading level in your copy.

Your goal is to be clear with your message. Not to show off how smart you are.

If your customer has to expend too much mental energy trying to figure out what you’re saying, they will click away without finishing your message.

You can check the reading level by using the Hemingway app.

Copy and paste your copy into the app and it will highlight what sentences are hard to read and the grade level of your writing.

Use the HemingwayApp to simplify your copy

For example, the passage below clocks in at Grade 7… It sounds clunky and hard to read:

Did you know you could create a virtual 24/7 sales machine for your online company by focusing on improving the copy on your website, on emails and in your ads? Powerful copy gets readers to stay on your site longer, and therefore you’ll make more sales… Plus, it never needs a raise or a vacation, and keeps bringing in sales day after day.

While these next sentences hit a Grade 3… easier on the eyes and mind:

Effective copy becomes a 24/7 sales machine for your company.

It never needs a raise or a vacation, and keeps bringing in sales day after day.

Also, if placing your fingers on your keyboard snaps you into robot-speak… start by reading your writing out loud.

If you wouldn’t use any of your words when chatting over a double espresso… replace them.

If you still struggle with what to say, pull out a voice recorder on your phone and start talking.

Then transcribe what you said and… bam… you’ll have better copy.

Copy Tip #4: Know Your Customer

We’re more likely to buy from people we know, like and trust.

This is why companies spend so much money hiring celebrities to endorse their products.

(Did someone say Kardashians?)

By understanding your customer, you can craft your copy to speak in your customer’s language… what he truly wants and desires… which in turns builds the likability of your product.

Mailchimp does this well. Their copy speaks to the small-business owner who wants to grow their email list but doesn’t want to invest in expensive software.

Their tagline is “It’s easy to get started. And it’s free. Two things everyone loves.”

Easy and free… count me in.

Once a customer uses the product and loves it… moving on to a paid subscription is an easy sell.

By using your customer’s language in your copy… it empowers them to feel like the purchase is a relationship with a friend.

No pushy sales gimmicks needed.

Copy Tip #5: Tell Them What to Do

You probably have spent half your teenage years saying, “Don’t tell me what to do.”

You’ll be happy to know that in copywriting it’s OK to put on your bossy pants and tell your customer what they need to do right now.

The process of telling your prospect what you want them to do is called a “call to action,” or CTA.

And no sales copy should be without one.

But make sure you are telling your prospect only one thing to do at a time.

When you start piling on the CTAs… asking someone to sign up for your email list, like your Facebook page and buy your product… it leads to confusion.

A confused customer won’t pick one of the actions… Instead, they won’t do any at all.

So only give your customer the primary action you want them to take right now and scratch the rest.

Hit the Copy Easy Button

Start adding these five techniques into the words you write and watch your sales and engagement take off.

Remember, no one jumps into copywriting as an expert, but over time you can learn to improve your writing skills.

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Heather Christian is a copywriter and digital marketing strategist. She helps businesses get more visitors to their websites using social media and conversion copywriting to convert those visitors into sales. Heather lives in San Diego with her husband, daughter, two dogs and a cat (that thinks she’s a dog).

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