Tips on Getting Started in Copywriting
Don’t Juggle Before You Can Catch
You know you want to be a copywriter. Maybe you are a creative person? A marketing genius? Or have just watched Mad Men and got carried away with yourself? Whichever — you need to prepare! Don’t assume you can just start writing mind blowing copy without learning the basics. How to do that? READ READ READ!
I recommend the following:
o Bob Bly ‘The Copywriter’s Handbook’ An oldie but a goodie
o Steve Slaunthwaite ‘How to Start & Run a Copywriting Business’ Great for people starting up on their own.
o Jon Wuebben ‘Content Rich’ Invaluable guide to the world of SEO and website copywriting.
Apart from these excellent books you should be studying as many advertisements as you can. Buy or borrow magazines and examine the adverts to see the different layouts, different approaches and objectives. For headlines that nail it check out all the old VW adverts on-line. GENIUS!
After Your Third Latte
So you have your first copywriting job – or maybe you’re creating a freebie for a local business. What next? Make sure you don’t immediately start trying to come up with award winning headlines. Take your time to research the target market, the objectives for the advert, the USP of the product, how it differs from the competition and of course everything you can about the company and the product or service.
PEOPLE READ WHAT FIRST?
Yes exactly. The headline. Probably the most important part of your advert. There are many different ways of producing a headline. I recommend Bly’s book and Slaunthwaite’s book for a comprehensive list but for a start many copywriters use the following methods: asking a question, making an announcement, making a statement, giving a warning, using the word ‘discover’ or ‘introducing’, stating a problem or saying it’s the first/best/cheapest/number one. If you’re using an image then keep it relevant to the headline and the advert.
Clever and edgy is fine if you can get away with it but don’t TRY to be funny or controversial for the sake of it. There is a big difference between someone laughing at your advert and remembering what it was for and well, someone just laughing.
Most importantly, keep it simple, keep it relevant and keep writing different headlines until your hand hurts.
What Makes a Good Body?
So you’ve got your headline what next? Well the body copy. This can range in length from one word to 200 words and beyond depending on the kind of product you’re selling and what detail your client wants you to go into. Main thing to remember here again is keep it simple! Why use words with four syllables when one will do fine! Unless you’re describing a technical aspect then keep the language user friendly; so your dog would understand it.
Short snappy paragraphs work best and use bulletpoints to increase readability. Remember CAPS and bold for emphasis, but don’t OVER do IT.
To slogan or not to slogan
This part is easy. If you can’t think of a really strong slogan, don’t use one! There’s nothing worse than a weak slogan and it can diminish all the great work you’ve done with the rest of your advert. So if ‘If I was a dog I would eat Chumpies’ is the best you can offer. Leave it blank!