How To Start Copywriting
Hello and Happy New Year to everyone.
I was just having a twitter browse when I saw a question from Andrew on Twitter.
I have a little while to kill, so I figured I’d post a more extensive answer than Twitter allows for.
So, where do you start when you want to learn copywriting?
Firstly, do not worry about going and getting any formal qualifications in it. You don’t need them, I haven’t got any, they don’t matter.
Secondly, be prepared to do two things:
- Read a lot about copywriting.
- Write a lot of copy.
Those are really the two major things you need to do.
(Time Out: If you’re enjoying this article, then you should probably sign up to my mailing list, where I give out ideas and business tricks that I don’t share publicly. Click here, fill out your details and get yourself on the list! You won’t leave this page.
Now Back To The Regular Programming Schedule…)
That’s pretty vague advice though, so I’ll go into a bit more detail.
How I Got Started With Writing Copy
I took a $10 course provided by Robert Koch of 30DaystoX.com . He only ran it a single time (so far as I know), and it was pretty basic information about working as a freelance writer, but to be honest it was the best money I ever spent.
I followed the template he suggested, and I literally made the money for the course back in about twenty minutes. I then made a lot more.
His blog has some great recommendations.
The basics of the course were pretty straightforward:
- Sign up for Freelance websites.
- Write a template proposal for writing jobs, and then customise it to each job.
- Get jobs that are simple 500 word articles.
- Eventually move on to other stuff as you get better.
Really, that’s all I did, and you can make thousands doing just that.
Most of your learning is going to come from the fourth part on the list. There’s no substitute for just writing copy and articles and getting better at it. You’ll learn how to deal with clients, how to give them what they want, and importantly (when you’re working on freelance sites) how you can do it as quickly and efficiently as possible so you can work on your own business ideas in the afternoon (or whatever.)
So the basics are there: Get in and write some stuff.
If you work on freelancer websites like Upwork, Elance and Fiverr, you’ll be writing a lot of boring reviews. That’s where you’ll get really good at writing copy.
It’s easy to write a sales pitch for a Ferrari, but it’s harder to write a review for a shower cap or a new calculator.
If you don’t want to freelance, or if you’re waiting to get your first customers, you can always start in the meantime.
Twitter buddy of mine Ed runs a site where he reviews books he’s reading. (No longer active.)
Sam H commented here recently. He’s just started a Mundane Product Reviews site to practice copy. (No longer active.)
It’s easy to do something like that because we’re all using products all the time.
If you’re learning copywriting, you have to read beyond what you’re reading.
What I mean by that is that an article might have useful or useless information, but that doesn’t really effect how good the copy is.
For instance, a terrible piece of copy can try and sell a brilliant product, or a great piece of copy can sell a scam.
So, if you ever read an article or letter and it grips you, put it in a word document or something. This is what copywriters call a “Swipe file.”
Go over it and find what made you like this over something else.
- Is it the structure?
- Is it the wording?
- Was it the intro?
- Call to Action?
Whatever it is that grabbed you, make a note of it and break it down so you can use it yourself.
For more stuff, there’s a couple of goldmines you’ll want to look at:
Gary Halbert’s Newsletter is the best resource to start with.
You can buy his book, “The Boron Letters” from Amazon. But it’s available to read on that site. Gary Halbert is a legendary copywriter, and The Boron Letters describe in detail basically everything you need to know about writing copy to start with.
Where To Find Good Copy
There are two resources I use daily for this.
It has loads of sales pitches and you can browse for stuff that catches you.
For more in-depth stuff, you should try CopyHour.
Which brings me onto my next point.
The Super-Secret Way To Get PHENOMENAL At Copywriting Quickly
If you read some websites about writing copy, you’ll have come across the idea of “handwriting.”
This means writing out by hand an advert in full with pen and paper.
Some claim it works by osmosis – you absorb the style into your own writing.
Other claim it works simply by drilling and repeating effective pitches into your head.
I don’t know how it works, and I was pretty dubious, but it works.
Copyhour is great because they send an email every day with some vetted world-class copy. In it you have adverts that have made tens of millions of dollars to copy out by hand and add to your own bag of tricks. So, check that out.
If you don’t want to spend any money, you can find the ads and used Swiped.co. For what it’s worth, I find Copyhour worth the money because I don’t have to worry about finding any good ads. It’s simply there to read when I wake up in the morning.
One Final Recommendation
This was supposed to be quick-fire, so I’ll leave it at that.
Something important to think about is that when you’re a writer, you’re paid for the value of the words. If you learn copywriting, then you aren’t just a copywriter. You’re a salesman, presenter, author, businessman, and a whole load of other things.
You aren’t getting paid to write words. You are providing licensed information for your clients to use.
That’s a mouthful and a brainful of a topic, so I’ll come back to it in another post.
But in short, there are loads of ways to make money from writing that you’ve probably never thought of. Bob Bly’s Book is a great resource on this.
In short, what you want to do to get started with copywriting is this:
- Start ASAP. Write reviews, write how-to’s, write sales copy.
- Get some customers and easy jobs.
- Read loads of information from websites, books and especially successful copy.
- If you’ve got time, write out ads by hand and really deconstruct them.
- Apply all the things you learn and build your own templates for stuff.
- Get better and take more complex jobs and build your own projects.
I think that sums up everything!