I am a massive copyblogger fan. Only thing I have trouble with is the ‘story’ approach. On the web, when I’m looking to buy something, if I don’t get a product or service definition, the benefits and the price within 15 seconds of checking the home page, I’m off to look for someone who isn’t wasting my time. I also hate long copy, and usually avoid taking on that sort of job. I know my personal preferences should not come into the equation, but I’ve been doing this for international clients for a long time, and feel I have earned the right to be awkward!
There are just 3 simple principles to writing good copy. "Copy" in this instance means anything written by you or your company which is meant to attract customers to your business. The same 3 principles apply whether you are trying to increase donations to your non-profit, trying to convince people you are the best doctor in town, or working hard to sell someone your product.
Scripted has writers bidding on client writing projects, either by pitching themselves as writers or pitching ideas based on a client request. You choose the flat rate for the project and Scripted adds on a nominal fee. There are not editors to review your writing. Instead, it goes directly to the client for feedback. For this reason, it’s important that you’re able to proofread your own assignments well.
Traditional marketers have long used content to disseminate information about a brand and build a brand's reputation. Taking advantage of technological advances in transportation and communication, business owners started to apply content marketing techniques in the late 19th century. They also attempted to build connections with their customers. For example:
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Sell a good night’s sleep, not the mattress”? Think about all of the mattress commercials and advertisements you’ve seen before. Do they lead with coil count or insulation padding details? Nah. They sell you on how comfortable the mattress is, how well you’ll sleep on it, and how much more productive and enjoyable your days will be when you are well-rested. They want you to positively frame their product, envision yourself using it, and negate any potential concerns you may have.
We all have opinions on what types of content go viral: a soundless social video, a data-backed explainer, a perfectly timed newsjack. But no matter the format, it ultimately comes down to emotion. Does the story make you feel enraged, inspired, understood? With everything you create you have to ask: If this scrolled by on my newsfeed, would I care? If the answer is no, it’s not worth it. Your online content habits are your own best judge.
Great advice, Henneke. I agree that it’s best to avoid using any unnecessary adjectives. When I’m writing about a mediocre topic, I’m often tempted to add a bit more emotive vocabulary to make things sound ‘interesting’. However, as you say, what’s really important in copywriting is knowing what readers want, and making sure they understand how they will benefit from whatever you’re writing about.
While you can sign up for content writing classes or go to college for writing, this isn’t a requirement. Many clients simply want to work with reliable content writers who can meet deadlines, accept revisions willingly, and create good content. With that said, education and experience in writing helps prove to clients you’re capable, professional, and serious.
Read Joe Pulizzi's excellent book Epic Content Marketing. I started reading it after I wrote this post and it confirmed and expanded what I already knew about content marketing, with much more detail than I could ever go into here. Something Pulizzi emphasizes which I originally left out was the importance of focusing on producing mobile-friendly content, since smartphones are becoming the dominant way in which most of our customers access content. Also read Michael Hyatt's Platform, mentioned above. Frequent websites like those of Content Marketing Institute, Ragan, Copyblogger, Michael Hyatt, and Gary Vaynerchuk and sign up for their email newsletters. It won't take you long to become not just familiar with content marketing, but an expert.
The proxy for content marketing in the following charts is "Attract", since content marketing is the top-of-the-funnel activity that attracts people to your business. "Convert" and "Close" refer to middle-of-the-funnel and bottom-of-the-funnel marketing activities, like email marketing, nurturing, sales enablement, marketing ops, conversion rate optimization, etc.