7 Reasons Why Copywriters Must Be Shameless

Content Creation, Copywriting
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Colourful copywriting tips

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Writing well is hard, and being a good copywriter presents its own set of challenges. Writers must take several elements into consideration when creating content, from tone of voice to grammar and formatting, and professional copywriters face the added challenge of turning on a dime. As a copywriter, you might write a topical blog post one day and evergreen website content the next, and you must be able to switch from one style to the other with ease.

How? By being brazen, impudent and audacious. That’s one of the best copywriting tips around. Here are seven reasons why copywriters must be shameless in order to be effective:

1. Copywriters must always sell.

From products and services to personas and ideas, successful copywriters are always selling. The real trick, and the hallmark of a truly great copywriter, is writing in such a way that the reader won’t even know they are being sold to. No matter the writer’s style and voice, or the style and voice they must match for the client, a smart copywriter must write informative and persuasive copy every time using every writing tool in their arsenal.

2. Copywriters must use every language tool in the box.

Language is a writer’s arsenal. A great copywriter will learn the rules of grammar, punctuation, spelling and style, then use those rules to good effect, even if it means breaking them. Copywriting forces the writer to be flexible with language in order to find the right tone of voice for the intended audience and choose the right wording according to how subtle or blunt the message needs to be. The written word demands that the writer make up for the missing element of body language, and copywriters must be constantly on the ball to make sure that happens.

3. Copywriters must always be one step ahead.

Content is a constantly changing game; what was hot just last month could no longer be topical. Readers are fickle; they might decide to love listicals one day and reject them outright the next. Industries change, products evolve, and search engines change their minds about what they like. To be an effective copywriter and create relevant content, you must always be on the top of the game and stay informed on the latest news and trends that affect your niche market and profession as a whole.

4. Copywriters must write unfailingly clickable headlines.

You can write a brilliant piece, but what good will it do if nobody clicks to read it? Readers are constantly inundated with content on a daily basis, and a good headline often means the difference between your piece being read or passed over. This applies across the board, but is especially true of social and marketing content. Not sure your headlines are up to par? You’re not alone, but fortunately there are resources and guidelines that can help. If you think you need to brush up on your headline-writing skills, check out this post.

5. Copywriters must always be connecting ideas.

Nobody wants to read about the same old thing all the time, and most copywriters don’t want to write that kind of content anyway. The most effective copywriters are the ones who can consistently make fresh connections between ideas. That effort or ability can pay off in the way of engaging content that elicits emotion in readers and urges them to take action. As a copywriter, your brain must constantly be working to connect A and B in ways that haven’t been done before.

6. Copywriters must constantly outshine the competition.

Whether they are trying to beat out other copywriters and sign a new client or help that client to surpass their own competitors, copywriters play a competitive game.  Marketing, sales and advertising (the areas most copywriters work in) is always cut-throat, and you’re only as good as the readers think you are.

Don’t get me wrong—most copywriters I know are very helpful and willing to collaborate with one another. But in order to be a successful copywriter your content must consistently please the audience at large, and more importantly so should what you’re selling.

7. Copywriters must be willing to break the rules.

Remember when we talked about rules earlier? I mentioned breaking them then, and I’ll elaborate now. From grammar and sentence structure to taboo words and phrases, a talented copywriter must be willing to throw everything out the window and take a chance on a game changer.

  • Does the industry traditionally prefer long, prosaic text? Dazzle them with quick bursts of insight.
  • Are your readers used to being emotionally comfortable? Jostle them with a topic that makes them question their actions or opinions.
  • Nobody wants to mention the competition? Do it.

Naturally, you will want to make sure you’re not stepping on the most important toes, but if you are willing to step outside of the accepted boundaries in your writing, you might find readers have a pleasant emotional reaction, or at least one that incites them to take a positive action, like sharing.

Need help breaking out of a rut and being a more shameless copywriter? If you have access to analytics, take a good look at your readers’ preferences and behavior and let those factors guide you in creating new content. Take a gander at what the popular writers are doing. Don’t copy them. Never copy them. But look closely and you’ll probably notice some way in which they’ve taken the rules and thrown them out the window.

Karri Stover enjoys helping small business owners and entrepreneurs establish a competitive online presence through the use of valuable content and smart marketing strategies.
Comments (7)
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Jul 1st, 2014 - 9:31 pm
Very inspiring. Was having major writer's block. You do have a typo, unless I'm unfamiliar with a new turn of phrase: Not sure your headlines are up to par? You’re not along, but fortunately there are resources and guidelines that can help.
Helen Nesterenko
Jul 7th, 2014 - 1:26 pm
Sarah, just fixed that, thank you :)
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Kristine M Smith
Jul 1st, 2014 - 6:37 pm
Hi, Karri,

Great post! I can check all those boxes, so I guess I can claim shameless! These days I get (at least) a "kill fee" in advance equal to four hours of work (and then I present the work after four hours to give the clients the chance to call a halt if they're not loving what I'm doing for them) and I have included a "scope creep" stipulation in the work agreement so clients understand exactly what we've agreed to so that if they want more they know they have to pay for the additional work.

I know this isn't germane to your post, but thought I'd offer it to other copywriters out there who aren't worrying (yet) about protecting themselves. At some point, if you don't protect yourself, you'll wish you had!

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Jun 27th, 2014 - 9:59 am
The greatest challenge for professional freelance copywriters is shifting between tone, tenor and voices nearly every day. As you rightly put it, the tone and tenor used for a city guide is far too different when you are dealing with global finances or geo political conflicts. In a city guide, you are hardly adding any opinion and the task is to describe the city and what a visitor can look forward to. But, the next day, if you are dealing with predicting oil prices in the wake of the Iraq crisis, that needs more research and the writing will be expected to be opinionated. Sadly, most clients that any writing is the same and are often willing to pay for work of a higher order.

The ability to identify good clients and stick with them is another huge attribute to a successful writing business.

Thank you for bringing out these useful points.
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Ben "BJ" Hampson
Jun 26th, 2014 - 6:43 pm
8) Copywriters should always triple check their own work

E.g See point 4), line 5. Should be alone not along.

We're all held to a higher standards than anyone else, and never is this more obvious than when we're writing our own blogs. All it takes is a little typo and a silly autocorrect, and you've lost the trust of a potential new client. Or embarrassed yourself. One of the two.

I've done it myself countless times; a thought for a blog pops into your head, your brain is working faster than you can type, and before you know if you've written a cracking blog post; You finish it, and read over it again for mistakes; Then maybe you check it a second time.

But, because you've written it yourself, you know exactly what you've written and what you want to say, and without realising it, you may skip over occasional things you'd never normally miss. It's tough to proofread your own work.

A great blog post though, really nicely written and hitting the nail on the head. :)
Jun 26th, 2014 - 3:35 pm
Nice article, Karri! I always say copywriters are slow-burning business developers and it looks like you and I are on the same page about that.
Karri Stover
Jun 26th, 2014 - 5:26 pm

Thank you for the kind words. That is so true about copywriters. We're definitely in agreement.