Copywriting is the art of selling products and services through the written word. It is also one of the most important skills a freelancer can develop to expand her opportunities. Take a look around and you will see copy is everywhere, especially online. Despite its shiny, electronic veneer, the Internet is largely a medium that conveys thoughts and ideas through words and, with the rise of ecommerce, the need for skilled copywriters has never been greater. Unfortunately, getting started in copywriting can be intimidating. It doesn’t have to be. Consider this post your copywriting crash course. It won’t make you a master copywriter, but it should make the task more approachable.
Get to Know “AIDA”
Copywriting is about selling and selling is a process. A long time ago, marketers looked at what it took to transform prospects into buyers and came up with the AIDA formula. The formula remains a basic component of successful copywriting today, and no freelancer should be without this weapon in her arsenal. Briefly, the AIDA selling process goes like this:
- Attention – Use whatever means necessary to capture the prospect’s attention.
- Interest – Present your prospective client with information that piques their interest.
- Desire – Use the prospective client’s interest to make them desire what you are selling.
- Action – Tell your prospective client what to do about that desire.
You should always have it in the back of your mind as you write.
Talk about the Prospect’s Pain
The most successful sales people do not sell products, they sell solutions to problems. In order to convince someone they have a problem that needs to be solved, you need to talk about their “pain.” This can be literal pain, like the throbbing of a headache, or mere inconvenience, like the hassle of filing taxes. In either case, pain is a great motivator. That is terrific, because if there is one thing a salesperson wants, it is s a prospect that is ready to act.
Sell the Benefits, Not the Features
People do not care how many watts of power a stereo can deliver or how fast a computer’s processor runs. They are much more interested in enjoying the stereo’s crisp, rich sound and the computer’s lightning-fast responsiveness. In other words, they care about a product’s benefits. It’s okay to talk about a product’s features, but always relate them to ways in which the product will make the buyer’s life better.
Tell Them What to Do
All successful copywriting includes a “call to action.” This is really nothing more than telling a reader what to do next. For example, you might be selling a book filled with life-changing wisdom. Your copy will probably end by suggesting the reader check an online book store, or order it directly from your website in order to receive exclusive bonus content. The call to action is crucial. You cannot leave a prospect guessing what to do next, because he will do nothing.
Is there more to writing great copy? Of course. Eventually, you can explore online resources and read the greats like John Carlton, Robert Bly and Claude Hopkins. But for today, take what you have learned in this post and just get started.
Matthew R is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.