When you’re first learning to write copy, trying to craft the perfect line feels like pulling teeth. You wrangle and struggle and moan and groan and wonder how long until you’ll get better at this. So, today, we’re giving away the big secret: the key to improving as a copywriter.
First, the most important thing to remember when you’re learning is that it’s supposed to be hard. You’re learning a brand new career! Slicing into people’s skulls does not come easily to brain surgeons when they’re first learning, building houses does not come easily to contractors when they’re first learning, and copywriting will not come easily to you when you’re first learning. Not only is that okay, that’s how it’s supposed to be.
That said, though, you know that eventually you’ll get better. And you want to get better faster. You want the secret to success. Ready for it?
Improve Your Copywriting Skills by Writing More Copy
The only way to improve your copywriting is to write copy. And to write a lot of it. And to incorporate the feedback you get.
I know: That sounds very simplistic and you’re rolling your eyes at me, but bear with me for just a moment while I explain.
Here’s the thing: it can be very scary to get work. Not just to go out and prospect for it, but even to get it actually assigned to you. You have to be willing to put yourself out there and, in essence, put yourself to the test. And very few people are willing to do that often and/or consistently.
But improvement comes with practice and practice comes with pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. At some point or another, everyone worries that they’re not good enough; it’s just a fact of life. But when you let that fear keep you from doing the things you need to do to succeed, that fear becomes your life.
You don’t gain confidence before you take action. You gain confidence by taking the action.
And the truth is that you’re not going to ever experience a major “failure” in copywriting. There’s work that a client isn’t happy with. There are clients that don’t renew your contract. There’s even losing a job. But none of that is complete failure. They might be setbacks, but they’re not failure.
The “Perfect” Copy Varies
One of the traps that copywriters fall into is seeing something that is wildly clever or funny and thinking, “That’s the best copy! How will I ever write lines like that?”
But here’s the trap: not every brand requires funny or clever copy. In fact, the majority of brand voices aren’t clever or funny.
Your goal is to write in the brand voice of the specific company or organization. And, on top of that, your goal is to answer the creative brief. There are many projects that won’t require clever copy.
Think: connecting a parent with the right hospital for treatment of their child’s illness. Or getting a grad student to apply to a specific college. Or connecting a family with the best moving company for their cross-country move. While some of these could have a clever concept, it will depend on the goal, the brief, and your client.
Improve Your Copy by Getting (and Giving) Feedback
But it’s also not just about writing. You can write and write and write and write…and it can all be mediocre if you’re not revising it based on feedback you get.
Not all feedback will be good feedback—sometimes clients want to add in things that just don’t work. But the feedback you do get from people worth listening to like your boss/creative director and astute marketing and product managers, that’s the gold right there. Learning to incorporate feedback is the key to honing your writing.
If you don’t have clients yet, that’s the power of having a community of like-minded copywriters who can give you honest, but respectful, feedback on your work. Unlike our families—who certainly mean well—trained copywriters understand features vs. benefits and can tell you if your copy isn’t leading with the benefit. Or if your CTA is unclear.
But don’t just receive feedback; give feedback. Giving other people feedback on their work helps you analyze copy in ways that help make concepts stick. When you actually start to write out feedback, versus think it in your head, you start to solidify your learning and apply that learning to your own work.
Bonus: Analyze Copy in the Wild
The other way you can improve your copy is to apply your critical eye to the world around you. As students in our Comprehensive Copywriting Academy can attest, I’m constantly encouraging them to read the ads they see around them and analyze how they’re written. Is the benefit to consumer clear? Is the call to action clear? Are they writing in a way their target audience will understand? You’ll learn a lot from both good ads and bad.
If you’ve ever heard so-called experts tell you to hand copy ads, you’ll notice this tactic is much different. Sure, you can hand copy ads if that helps you understand what the ad is saying. But you need to take this exercise a step further and actually analyze the copy.
Then, you can even take a stab at rewriting the copy! If the copy isn’t connecting with the target audience (or, at least what you can presume about the target audience), how would you rewrite it so it does?
The key to improving is to get yourself out there in the world of copy. Write more of it. Polish more of it. And read more of it. Do it all consistently and you’ll get better faster than you even expected.
Watch: More Tips for Improving Your Copywriting
On episode 78 of the Build Your Copywriting Business podcast, Nicki and Kate are offering up additional tips for becoming a stronger copywriter.
Your turn! What habits are you going to undertake to keep improving your copywriting? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on April 27, 2023
Each day, you should copy the words from 3 of your favorite Ads. By copying the words, you get an understanding of how the writer cobbled them together. This “writing practice” has allowed me to duplicate sentence structure and tone in my own writing. You are very right! Just like anything else, writing requires practice.
Nicki Krawczyk says
This is a good idea and I’ll add one quick step before it: Copywriters should also do a careful analysis to make sure that it’s actually an effective ad. (Does it make the benefit clear? Does it write to its target audience? Is the brand voice clear? and so on…) Sometimes the ones we react to as funny or interesting don’t actually achieve their true goals!
But you’re very right: It’s important to learn from people who are already writing great ads.
Thanks for commenting!