Updated: July 7, 2021
An Inside Look Into The Process and Lessons That Turned Me Into A Better More Successful Copywriter, Ego Aside
Initially, copywriting seems straight-forward and relatively easy to most people until they sit down in front of that blank screen in the knowledge that a deadline is looming.
As copywriters, it’s our job to make sure our copy works for the client and the reader. It has to be engaging while at the same time appealing to search engines.
Every writer has his or her own process – unique yet common because it works. I jot down some notes, write up a quick online and start plugging away. Each article or e-book (and I’ve written many for clients) gets three passes from me.
My Copywriting Process May Not Be For Everyone, But It Works For Me
1. I write the entire article or ebook for the reader. My cherished content consumer looking for some easy-to-digest informative infotainment. Educational without the hassle and tips, tricks and lists that can be effortlessly absorbed with content that’s easily actionable. I write first with the reader in mind, and I ask myself the following questions:
- Is the article engaging?
- Would I sit down and take the time to read it?
- Is the actionable content easily identifiable?
- Does it make me (as a reader) feel included or excluded – does it sound too preachy and are there too many industry-specific words and niche jargon that make comprehension difficult? No one wants to feel talked down to as they’re learning.
- Does the article flow?
- Is it obvious that I was paid to write this article or does it come across as passionate where I have a genuine interest (I usually do, after all)?
- Would I share this article with friends or on social media, or save it for later reference?
2. Next, I read through my article again, and I rewrite it with the client in mind. When I’m writing for ServerWise this is easy because the client is also the reader, which is why I love making content for this site. When the client is not ServerWise I have to ask myself additional questions:
- Does the content represent the client’s brand properly?
- Did I integrate the client’s preferred keywords and SEO into the article in a way that is both organic and conversational?
- Can I check off every requirement the client had for this article?
3. The final step in my copywriting process is a last read through and edit, but this time I’m thinking only about SEO, targeted keywords (short and long-tailed), syndication potential and so on.
- Did I keep the concentration of SEO keywords to 1% and no more than 2%?
- Did the content pass Copyscape with 100%? Not every writer who plagiarizes actually intends to copy the hard work of another writer. We read a lot, and we write even more and sometimes completely different writers will say the same thing in the same way because it’s how we speak, and we know that Google wants friendly conversational tones in our articles. If I’m working for a client other than ServerWise I also include a copy of the Copyscape report.
- Do I have an interesting enough angle or hook in this article for potential syndication by Google News or Bing News? As writers, we’re always chasing that, but it’s not often necessary and is rarely the central point to a good piece of content.
That’s my process. Now it’s not for everyone, and it probably takes me a bit longer to complete a long-form article than it would other writers, but it works for me. A writer’s process is always unique, and what works for me may not work for you. That said, I have identified the long-established and inarguable format to help speed up the writing of your next project. I use a generalized outline for every article I produce.
My Most Valuable Tips To Anyone First Starting Out In Copywriting
I stumbled into content creation because I had a personal blog when I was a teenager. I posted articles that interested me, and I wrote up my opinions or analysis of various things going on in the world that I cared about at the time. Needless to say, I wrote about video games, photography, human rights and anything else that grabbed my interest for more than ten minutes. I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed it even more when someone read what I wrote and commented on it. It was my first experience in what I would come to learn is known as engagement.
It didn’t take me long to discover that a good writer with a firm understanding of search engine optimization could make a living doing what I was previously doing for free (I was young, what can I say).
Here are my seven tips for becoming a better copywriter:
1. People Watch
It sounds basic, but it makes a difference. Sitting around and paying attention to people as they go about their lives helped me develop into a stronger writer.
Experiencing people going to and from allows you to observe them when they’re deep in thought or distracted, and you know what happens then? A face of honesty. How they really feel takes over every facial expression and small gesture. I sat, and I watched, paying special attention to how different people reacted to specific stimuli. People watching made me a much better writer.
2. Force Yourself To Get Involved
Find a mentor. Get a coach. Subscribe to every good YouTube channel on writing you can find. A good writer will write every day (I believe Stephen King once said that) whether there’s something to say or not. If you struggle to maintain motivation (as I did at times) you need to surround yourself with other writers. Talk shop. Share ideas. Read a fellow up-and-coming author’s manuscript. Sign up for workshops and any writing contest you can find – whether you win or not is far from relevant. Practice will improve your skill set.
3. Know Your Place
I know I could have used a different phrase to convey my point, but a well-known business leader once wrote this, and it stuck with me. Don’t try to be all things to all people at once. Choose your specialty. Determine your expertise and stick to it until you’re successful. I wanted to write, but I’ve never had any desire to write the next great American novel. Nor did I want to become a graphic book author or write long epic poems (does anyone still do that?).
I had a strong interest in all things digital marketing because of my aforementioned personal blog (I even made a little money on it through Google AdSense at the time). And I watched some instructional videos and read as much content as I could. Eventually I discovered that writing stellar content for search engines is far more complicated and complex than I had anticipated. I also learned that companies are willing to pay handsomely for high quality relevant content written to catapult their website higher on search results.
4. Know Your Worth & Work Twice As Hard To Prove It
These days anyone with a laptop and a Fiverr account can proclaim his or herself a copywriter. Of course, a self-made proclamation doesn’t equal reality.
Take Fiverr for example – you can find a person willing to write a 2,000-word article who claims total SEO knowledge and domination. And it’ll only cost you $25. What you’ll receive for that $25 is rarely worth even $7 because you upload that piece of sh..content to your WordPress blog and in two months discover that your rankings plummeted. And why? Because Google punished you for using less than conversational and quality writing.
Yes, Google knows if you hired a cheap writer who doesn’t have a lot of experience writing in English. Do you think Microsoft would even consider only paying $25 for a 2,000-word piece of content? Companies know that a good strong writer with beneficial knowledge of SEO and SEM who can write an entertaining and impactful article is going to cost at least $200.
My general rule is to be realistic with yourself. How long does it take me to research the keywords, rankings, background and write and rewrite and test an article? The average for me now (because I’ve improved with experienced) is 4 hours. If I only charge $40 for that article I’m saying my time, hard work and experience is only worth $10 an hour.
I know I’m worth more than that! Work hard and make yourself worth what you actually want to get paid. I assure you there are clients out there who know you get what you pay for, and they want results – they’ll pay you for those results.
5. Analyze All Writing
Pay attention to how your favorite writers actually write. Analyze every author you enjoy not from the perspective of a reader but from the mindset of a hungry writer. Notice their content choices, how they start paragraphs, use grammar to make points to the reader and how their content generally flows.
6. Focus On One Task Only And Do it Well
We all like to think we’re exceptional multitaskers capable of doing any myriad of things simultaneously with total precision. I hate to say it, but it’s not true.
Don’t waste your time making my mistake – don’t let ego get in your way. Writing is difficult and requires absolute concentration and focus. Shut down all distractions. Turn your phone to silent. Close all social media accounts. Set a timer for three hours, and you’ll be shocked how quickly time moves when you’re writing with complete focus.
7. Be The Content Architect
Every piece of content whether an informative article or novel must have a structure. A foundation that begins it all along with the framing that keeps it going and builds to the very top when hopefully your reader is satisfied.
Sit down and make sure you understand the architecture and design of your own content before you start tapping it out. If your content was a building what would be on each floor, and what awaits for your reader when he or she finally gets to that penthouse roof deck at the top?
Years of experience writing content for individuals, businesses of all sizes and now mostly ServerWise has taught me a thing or two. Sometimes they were enjoyable lessons that I still cherish but oftentimes they were lessons I had to learn to get out of my own way. I leave you with one last piece of advice – get out of your own way. You can do this.
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