10 copywriting tips – from experts to experts
Writing fantastic copy isn’t just a skill. It’s an art. We’ve been asking around to find the best copywriting tips from expert writers. Find out how they get started with each piece of writing, what they focus on, and how they craft their content to achieve a goal.
If you write for a website or a blog, there are loads of things you need to take into account when you’re writing. You’re thinking about your audience, your platform, and your goals. You’re also trying to choose the right words and put them in the right order to keep your readers engaged. And then on top of that, you have SEO to wrangle with. Balancing it all is no easy feat!
Note: we’ve added numbers to the tips shown below. However, the list is not ranked, and #10 is just as good as #1!
1. Ask yourself ‘what problem is this copy solving?’
Shared by @katetoon
“Humans first. Google second. Take a big deep breath and ask yourself ‘what problem is this copy solving?’ Then write the most useful, informative, entertaining page, product or post you can.
Clear sub headers.
Conversational and warm.
I could go on. Copy is my jam!!!”
Putting users first means thinking about their needs. And when people visit your page, chances are they’re probably trying to solve a problem. By thinking about the needs of your audience and how you can help them, you can create a strong foundation for effective, engaging content. And besides your users’ search intent, there’s always readability to consider! We’ll forgive you for squeezing five tips into one, Kate, but only because they’re all great suggestions! ;)
Want to hear more suggestions by Kate? We’ve recorded a podcast with her in which she discusses how to create quality copy. So if you’re interested, make sure to give our podcast with Kate Toon on great SEO copywriting a listen!
2. It’s about how what you’re selling transforms someone’s life
Shared by @itsjulekim
“If we consider the quote from Judith Charles that a copywriter is just a salesperson behind a typewriter, and then the fact that purchases are emotional decisions, then here’s my tip: Paint a clear picture of the future state, and target your writing to elicit strong emotions. It’s never really about the features, it’s about how what you’re selling transforms someone’s life. Classic example: Apple iPod didn’t talk on and on about how many gb it had, it simply stated, “1,000 songs in your pocket.””
This is some really advanced copywriting advice, we love it! Even experienced copywriters can make the mistake of writing abstract, over-technical product descriptions, and using marketing lingo that really doesn’t mean much to their audience. Understanding search intent is about more than just knowing ‘people search for cars’, for instance. It’s about knowing why people search for cars: to reach opportunities, to have fun, or to look after their family, for instance. And knowing that can help you make content that really resonates with your audience. Great tip, Jule!
3. Use short sentences
Shared by Yoast’s former CEO Marieke van de Rakt
“Reading from a screen is hard. The topic you’re writing about might be difficult. That doesn’t mean your text should be difficult though. Sometimes you cannot avoid those hard and difficult words, but you can always shorten your sentences. That really helps your readers grasp the meaning of your text.”
We can’t argue with Marieke on this one. When you write long, meandering sentences, your readers have to work harder to make sense of it. They might just give up and look for their information elsewhere if you make it too difficult for them. So keep your sentences short and to the point. Your users will appreciate it.
4. Use words that create a clear picture in users’ minds
Shared by @shrutisonasharma
“#1 tip: If users can’t imagine what you’re saying, they won’t buy your product. Use words that create a clear picture in users’ minds instead being vague. (Always remember; people buy what they want not what they need)”
Descriptive language can be powerful and persuasive. This is especially important if your use of images is limited. Using the right words can really bring your text to life — helping your readers to visualize what you’re talking about, but also helping them to visualize themselves as a part of that picture, too! This top tip from Shruti Sona will definitely give you an advantage when it comes to writing great product descriptions.
5. Mind map your topic
Shared by strategic content specialist Edwin Toonen
“My number one copywriting tip has to do with what happens before the writing itself starts. It has to do with getting your mind in the right place to write great stuff. I use mind maps to structure a topic and to uncover connections between different parts of the topic. This makes the thoughts I have in my mind come alive on screen — and after that, in my writing. After structuring everything, I export it and import it into my text editor, which gives me a proper structure to start from. My go-to mind mapping tool is MindNode.”
When it comes to more writing about complex topics, it can be a challenge to put the puzzle pieces together. Thankfully, Edwin’s tip about using mind maps to explore a topic is a great way to make sense of it all. Mind maps can really help you to clear your thoughts, visualize connections between ideas, and organize your information. But not only that! With mind maps, you could see your topic in a completely new light and come up with new ideas, too. Definitely give this one a try if you’re not using mind maps already.
6. Don’t hesitate to start
Shared by Michael Wangard
“Dont hesitate to start – just write down what you want to say, what is on your tongue, write it down in words that you would use to tell a friend. Feel the magic when writing – it is all in you, just let it out”
Some writers like to make a really thorough plan before they start writing. There are lots of benefits to planning your content, but it doesn’t always help you to start getting those words out when you’re staring at a blank page. But we think Michael’s right — it can really help you to start by writing out whatever thoughts you have, as if you were telling a friend. It doesn’t matter if what you write isn’t perfect the first time, you can always edit it once you have some good pieces to work with.
7. ‘Write only when you have something to say’ doesn’t work
From a blog post by Ann Handley
“The problem with that approach is that you will find excuses to not write.
It’s an out. An alibi. You will decide that whatever you have a mind to say isn’t very insightful after all, no one will miss you anyway, and you might as well sit on the couch inhaling Bridgerton.”
Ann makes a great point (which she elaborates further in her blog post) — you can’t just sit around waiting for ideas to come to you! Even if you have a lot to say at first, eventually those easy topics are going to dry up. You’ll need a different solution if you want to keep writing regularly. Ann recommends that you actively look for ideas to write about, and keep yourself to a schedule — even when you’re not sure what to write about. We think that’s excellent advice; practice makes perfect, after all!
8. Start with a problem or statement that your audience recognizes
Shared by Nils van der Knaap
“Start with a problem or statement that your audience recognizes and agrees with. It makes them feel understood. If your readers don’t like the headline and intro, they will not continue to read the rest of your content.”
Many writers focus on the main substance of their content, but Nils is wise to remember how important the headline and intro are, too! Your headline (which is probably your title, and your SEO title in the search results too) is the first thing users will see — and possibly the only thing they’ll see of your content, if they decide not to click-through. It’s important to write a headline that will catch users’ attention and let them know what your content has to offer. By starting with a relatable situation or statement, you will already start to convince those users that your content has the information they want. However, don’t go so far that you’re writing clickbait headlines!
9. Don’t think only about Google, but also about people
Shared by @valentinaturchetti
“Don’t think only about Google, but also about people. It means do an amazing keywords research AND write for the web correctly – I mean – pay attention to grammar, punctuation and so on. I sometimes find some SEO articles, written with SEO & Web Copywriting criteria, but they’re not readable, with no sense for the user.”
We actually like to emphasize that thinking about people should come first! It can be tempting to write with Google rankings in mind, especially when your keyword research is awesome and you can’t wait to get started. But if people can’t understand your message, what’s the point of making that content in the first place? Put your users first and give them content they can read easily, every time.
10. Good copywriting is like good driving—you shouldn’t notice it
From a blog post by Amy Harrison
“Good copywriting is like good driving—you shouldn’t notice it. … Good copywriting should make a customer think about the outcome, about what happens after the sale, what’s possible, what the transformation is, and not about the writing.”
Last but not least, this excellent advice from Amy Harrison’s blog is absolutely spot-on. When your writing draws attention to itself, it takes attention away from the message underlying the words. And that’s not what you want. Make your writing effortless to read, so your reader can sit back, enjoy the ride and really connect with what you’re talking about. Check out Amy’s blog (Marieke’s a big fan of this one) for more great copywriting tips like this.
The #1 Yoast copywriting tip: make it readable!
Whew, those were some great copywriting tips! You might notice a point that comes back again and again: putting users first. One of the most important things you can do for your users is making your content readable. And when it comes to readability, the Yoast SEO plugins are every copywriter’s best friend. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, our plugins can help you easily check the readability of your content, and you’ll get advice to make improvements too. Find out more about our readability checks and how they’re put together — or get the Yoast SEO plugin and try it out for yourself!
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1 Response to 10 copywriting tips – from experts to experts
Loved this post Hallebeek. I actually agree with you that putting the audience first and how to solve their problem is the most important thing. It was great seeing this point being mentioned the first in the post. As a content writer, I always put my audience in mind to try to provide information in my posts that will help to solve their problem. I am just getting started in using mind maps and I hope I will get there and be a pro as well