Copywriting is a skill-driven profession. As much as writing is creative…copywriting differs. With copy, you’re writing stories that turn readers into customers. These stories follow the tried-and-true copywriting formulas that worked decades ago.
And still work today.
Yet, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to becoming a top-performing copywriter. If you want to be able to charge high rates for your copy, you need to:
- Write for the RIGHT person
- Know copywriting formulas like the back of your hand
- Remove your opinion from the copy
- Be a master communicator
- Have your turnaround time down (and be okay with telling clients no!)
These skills will turn a new or novice copywriter into an expert who can command great clients and higher rates.
Here’s how you can master them.
#1: Copywriters know how to do or read customer avatar research to find the exact information they need
If you’re writing a *single* word of copy before knowing who the person reading it will be…you’re doing it wrong.
Copywriting has to start with a thorough understanding of your customer avatar. A customer avatar is the ideal buyer of the product. They’re the person who’s struggling with a challenge that the product will solve for them. If you write copy before knowing who this person is, it’s like throwing spaghetti at a greased-up wall.
Not only will your noodles slide mockingly down to the floor, but you’ll also be left wondering why you considered this a good idea in the first place.
Here’s what we use to do customer avatar research: The Customer Avatar Worksheet. This worksheet will tell you exactly who your buyer is and why they want to buy the product. It’ll answer questions like:
- What’s the Before State your customer is experiencing? (Consider these their challenges and pain points)
- What’s the After State your copy will point them towards? (Their goals and values tell you what they *want* to be experiencing)
Skillset: Copywriters need to know how to do their own customer avatar research or look at customer avatar research and find the important information that leads to high-converting copy.
#2: Copywriters are masters at following copywriting formulas
Writing copy shouldn’t involve tapping into your creativity. If you ask David Ogilvy, that’s the exact opposite skill he looks for from his copywriters.
“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”
The best copywriting comes less from your creative mind and more from:
- The challenges and pain points of your customer avatar as described by them (Before State)
- The goals and values of your customer avatar as described by them (After State)
- Proven copywriting formulas
As a copywriter, you’re the vehicle that shows your customer avatar their desires can be reality if they take action by clicking that pretty call-to-action button. You don’t have to worry about designing the car you take them in. Your only job is to be a great driver.
To do that, you’ll follow the tried and true copywriting formulas that marketers have been using for years. Here are a few of our favorites:
Pain: Talk about the pain point they’re experiencing
Agitation: Remind them why this pain point is such an unenjoyable experience (be specific!)
Discredit: Discredit the other solutions they’ve tried that have failed them
Solution: Give them the solution as your product
Attention: Grab their attention with a headline that calls out their pain point
Interest: Draw them in with an interesting hook they relate to
Desire: Describe the After State they desire from solving their problem
Action: Tell them what action to take to achieve that After State
Picture: Paint the picture of the future they want (After State)
Promise: Tell them you know how to make this a reality for them
Prove: Show social proof, results, testimonials that you’re the real deal
Push: Motivate them to decide to achieve that After State now (use urgency)
Skillset: The best copywriters are the ones who act as a vehicle, bringing the customer avatar’s description of their Before and After State into proven copywriting formulas.
#3: Copywriters easily remove their opinion from the copy
Ahh, the sweet temptation of thinking you know everything. For people who aren’t copywriters for a living, this can just be annoying for the people they interact with (we all know that one person). For copywriters, the problem isn’t that you’ll be annoying. It’s that you won’t write high-converting copy.
High-converting copy doesn’t care about your opinion. Your opinion is null because it’s not the opinion of the customer avatar. Remember in the last section when we talked about being the vehicle between the customer avatar’s Before State and After State?
As the vehicle, it’s not your job to tell people how they should be feeling or what they should be thinking. It’s your job to take what they’re feeling and thinking and put it into those proven copywriting formulas.
If you can copy and paste their words directly into those formulas…you’re a grandmaster copywriter.
Here are 3 big no-no’s when it comes to writing copy that will tell you that you’re adding YOUR opinion, not the customer avatars:
- You’re filling in Before State challenges and pain points or After State goals and values based on what you think the customer avatar wants…not based on what they’ve said they wanted (through customer avatar research).
- You’re adding adjectives and filler words for the sake of writing more words, not because they add to the story your copy is telling
- You’re guessing what solutions somebody has already tried instead of using the solutions your customer avatar research shows they’ve tried
Skillset: Copywriters have to remove their opinion from their writing. It’s not your job to tell readers what you think…it’s your job to show them you know what THEY’RE experiencing and that’s why this product is such a great solution for their problem.
#4: Copywriters take ownership of communication with their employer and clients
Imagine we told you we needed you to make us a blue logo. Right after we tell you this, we walk away. An hour later, we come back and look at the logo you made for us. The first thing we say is, “That’s the wrong color blue.”
What would be your reaction?
- Get annoyed that we didn’t specify the HTML color code
- Realize that you should have asked us what color blue we wanted
As a copywriter, your job is people telling you to create something based on their vision of a homepage, landing page, sales page, caption, video sales letter, etc. Often, the person telling you their vision for the project doesn’t tell you everything they want. This means that when you deliver it, you’re stuck with a logo that’s the wrong color blue.
For a logo, this is an easy fix. For a 1,000+ landing page—it’s going to cost time (and money).
Here are a few copy and paste messages you can send to clients to make sure you know exactly what they’re looking for before you spend hours writing copy:
- “Could you send me 2-3 examples of [deliverable] that you’d love your [deliverable] to look like?”
- “Do you mind if I send you the first 200-300 words to approve before I write the entire [deliverable]?”
- “What copy has your brand created that you’re most proud of and would most like our copy to align with?”
Skillset: Copywriters have to take ownership of their conversations with their employer or clients. It’s up to you to ask about the nitty-gritty details to make sure you’re delivering their vision the first time around.
#5: Copywriters know the realistic timeframes of how long each deliverable will take them to turnaround
The temptation to tell your employer or client that you can turn around a deliverable in 24 hours will always be there. No matter how busy your schedule is, the thought of, “Can I pull that off?” will always pop into your mind.
Especially as a freelance copywriter, you’ll feel the pressure of needing to turn around work as quickly as possible to be valued by your clients. Even full-time copywriters working with one employer can feel like they’re not doing a good job if they’re not working “fast enough.”
The problem is that fast work doesn’t lead to great work.
If a client wants you to turn around a sales page in 24-hours….
- Is that really going to be a high-converting page?
- Will it be a “meh” performing sales page?
- Are you going to have to message them and tell them it’ll be late?
The people-pleaser in copywriters wants to say yes to every project and deliver it impressively quickly. But great copywriters know this is a trap. This ‘Yes!’ mentality leads to poor work and missed deadlines, and those are two things you don’t want to be known for.
Here’s what you need to do to avoid this trap:
- Figure out your absolute minimum realistic turnaround time for specific deliverables (Ex. 1-week turnaround for a 2,000 word Sales Page).
- Remind yourself that not working “fast” doesn’t mean you’re a bad copywriter…it means you value your output and will only deliver high-quality work.
- Communicate with your clients why you can’t meet a fast turnaround time and that it’ll be worth it to them to extend their deadline to something more realistic (because they’ll get a higher-converting deliverable!)
Skillset: Get extraordinarily familiar with how long tasks take you and realistic turnaround times so you can always deliver great work on time.
Mastering These Copywriting Skills
If you’re not a master of these copywriting skills yet, quit stressing. Mastery takes time. If it didn’t, copywriters would be a dime a dozen and you wouldn’t be able to turn this into a lucrative career that can fulfill your writing passion and lifestyle goals.
The good news is that you’ll become better at each of these skills every single day you work as a copywriter. Each day you’ll have to:
- Look at customer avatar research and figure out what information you need for the deliverable
- Use copywriting formulas as your writing template
- Turn off your opinion and look at customer avatar research when writing
- Communicate about projects with employers and clients
- Tell clients how long a deliverable will take to finish
So each day, you’ll become better and better at each of these 5 skills until you hit those 10,000 hours and become a true copywriting master.
One day at a time.