If you are starting your own online business, I have to admit... Choosing what to focus on can seem overwhelming.
Where should you focus your attention? SEO? Social Media? Email Marketing? Improving your funnel?
Yes, these are all super important aspects of owning an online business.
But amidst all this fun, new, shiny-tech-stuff, there is something that often gets forgotten - something that gets glossed over time and time again.
And that one thing?
Great fucking copy.
No matter if you are a blogger, a YouTuber, a podcaster, or anything in between, quality copy should be the cornerstone of your content.
Why is this?
Because we are currently living in an age of content-saturation. Every day there are 4 million blog posts published and 95 million new posts on instagram. Hell, every minute there are 300 HOURS of new videos published on YouTube.
Content is everywhere. We are drowning in it.
So to truly make it, you have to cut through.
To truly succeed, you have to make an impact that is felt.
And that is done with quality copy.
Thought of the Day
"Copy is timeless. Copy is utterly human. The words we hear/read affect the way we think/react. Instagram will come and go, but quality copy will live eternally (or at least until the robots take over)"
Copy is defined as a ‘text within a publication or composition’.
I like to simplify the definition of copy even more.
To me, copy is words that are written to sell something.
Whether you are selling a smart phone, an eBook, an affiliate link on a blog post, a car or ANYTHING in between - copy is the words written to persuade the reader to become a buyer.
Not everyone will agree with this definition, but I find it to be a good rule of thumb.
Copy exists to connect a customer to a product.
But not all copy is created equal. There is good copy, and there is shit copy.
If you want to become a world class copywriter, it won't happen overnight. Some of the world's highest paid writers are copywriters, and most of them have taken years to perfect their craft.
But don't worry, getting you to improve your copy won't take years, in fact all you need to do is read this blog post!
And to make things even simpler, I've made a quick cheat sheet. With the help of this post and the cheat sheet, you'll be able to improve your copy in a matter of minutes.
These are Ditch Your Desk's 7 Rules for Next Level Copy.
This^ is the formula for good copy. Add in these 7 steps , and you'll be writing next level copy in no time.
‘But Aaron, I’m a blogger! I don’t sell any REAL products, I just do affiliate marketing! I don't need to learn good copy’
Then in this case you have to understand that your ENTIRE BUSINESS needs to be built upon good copy. Your business strategy is to accumulate traffic and to convince that traffic to purchase a product (aka - affiliate links!). Literally your entire game is copy - and if you didn't realize that then you definitely need to improve it.
So let's do that right now.
This rule could literally be rules 1-7 in itself and is without a doubt the single most important aspect of writing good copy.
Here's the deal.
You need to understand that you are just one person, and while you might be in the same niche as your audience - it doesn't mean that you naturally going to be able to write for them.
It takes conscious effort to get into the shoes of your audience. Every blog post I write, every SEO Title I craft, every landing page headline I conjure up all starts the same way - with me asking 'what does my audience want from this particular product?'.
This question is the alpha and omega of writing good copy.
You need to understand that everyone is different. Everyone has their unique perspective and experience! Couple that together with their own unique fears, joys, dreams and desires, and things can get super complicated!
That's why it's freaking crucial for you to constantly remind yourself to put yourself into your audiences shoes.
Let's dive a bit deeper...
Sometimes we work in niches that we know and understand. I own a handful of travel websites that cater to backpackers and budget travelers. I was a backpacker for years (hell - I still am!) - figuring out the copy for those sites is a simpler process.
Sometimes we work in niches that are beyond us. A few years ago I bought a website in the female health niche. Umm, I'm a dude - figuring out the copy for that site was a nightmare!
BUT, no matter the product, and no matter whether you know or use that product or can relate to the audience, always remember this (one of my favorite quotes of all time)...
That is some powerful shit. I adore this quote because it perfectly embodies the psychology of why we buy things.
Having this bit of knowledge was a game changer for me. I became less concerned with trying to figure out how to figure out what my customers wanted from the product. Instead I learned to focus on what they wanted to improve in their own lives.
That's what good products do.
And that's exactly where the best copy comes from.
In a nutshell the ultimate goal of copy is to provide clarity.
Whatever your product is, you want to be able to be able to describe it in the simplest, most effective manner possible.
Simple. Clean. Direct. Clear.
This means a few things...
Believe me, as someone who has an advanced grasp of the English vernacular, I can completely empathize with the desire... nay... your relentless yearning to articulate your words in the grandest and most sophisticated fashion possible...
I can't do it anymore, I almost threw up while writing that.
Yes, in my day to day life, I enjoy throwing out large words. You might too!
But listen to me and listen to me good - keep your impressive vocabulary away from your copy. That is a direct order.
Remember, good copy is about clarity. And short words provide clarity. Short words get the job done. Never use a long word where a short word could suffice. Let's look at an ad from Apple.
This Mac ad could say something more complex. Imagine if it said...
Ugh. Laissez-fuck that bourgeoisie crap. Copy is written for the common man.
In this Apple ad 'More' wins in the battle, and simplicity always wins in the battle for good copy.
Here's a good way to help remember to keep your copy short and clear. It's called the 4 A's.
Avoid Adjectives and Adverbs.
Not always! But often. Simplicity is key. Copy is about clarity.
In essence - avoid walls of text like the plague!
This is something that is NOT given enough attention - especially in the blogging world.
If copy is about clarity, then you need to think outside of just your words, and think about how you are presenting your words.
Let me ask you, what would you rather read?
Nobody chooses the first one.
This is simple. No walls of text. Give your words space to breathe and your reader the space to read.
Ultimately copy is about selling shit, and we are selling shit to human beings, and human beings are emotional creatures.
There's no way around it. We are not rational creatures. We are emotional creatures. We feel and experience sensations, and those sensations are what drives our decision-making.
Which is why the best copy, is copy that speaks directly to our feelz-spots.
But remember, do not inspire emotion at the risk of sacrificing simplicity. The real magic is when the two come together to make an emotional/simple-copy-baby.
Remember how we talked about getting into the shoes of your audience? Well you're never going to want to stop doing that, because right now is a great time to slip into their shoes.
Using emotional words is important, but using the RIGHT emotional words is a whole other universe.
For instance, look at the copy on the About page for the world famous NYC Club House of Yes.
While possibly a bit too wordy, the copy is very good because it conveys a message that resonates with their audience.
'Connection', 'creativity', 'inspire', 'heal', 'energy'... these are all HIGH emotion words that probably speak to the core of their niche.
But not all clubs are the same! Let's look at fabric - one of London's top clubs.
Again, while a bit wordy, there's some good damn copy there!
As opposed to House of Yes, fabric focuses less on what their audience identifies as, and more on the product they offer and the effects it will have on them.
fabric is pitching the experience of their product - that it has 'vibrating floors', 'bass frequencies and transducers' (whatever the hell that is) and ending on a STRONG note claiming if you go there you will 'feel the music.... into your skeleton through your feet.'
DAMN! That's some electric copy. It speaks to their bass of people (see what I did there?) and uses emotional language that will resonate with them.
Emotions are what define and drive us, and great copy knows how to influence those emotions.
When writing, this is one of my go-to resources. Check it out here. I use it nearly every day, it's amazing.
This isn't a 'Marsha, Marsha, Marsha' type thing (Brady Bunch reference for those of you unaware), but what this is is probably the simplest rule on the list.
Simply put - use the word 'you' as often as possible.
This is one of the most basic (yet overlooked!) rule of copy writing. The use of the word 'you' makes the reader feel like the copy was written specifically for them. The use of this word enables the copy to come alive and for the reader to feel like they are experiencing the product.
It doesn't matter if it's copy for WordPress software...
Or for women's sex toys...
The product doesn't matter. Use the word 'you'. It's stupid powerful.
We live in a world of oversaturated content and basically anyone can sniff out when the copy is trying too hard.
You know the words and the phrases.
"It's the most incredible X ever!"
"Once in a lifetime opportunity!"
"A cutting edge product"
"X is fantastic!"
"Low risk and high reward"
The same bullshit you hear over and over again.
Good copy is subtle.
Good copy doesn't brag.
Good copy is like Fonzie...
Cool. Cool as a cucumber.
Don't underestimate the intelligence of your audience. Good copy makes you come to it. Don't underestimate the intelligence of your audience. Over-salesy copy is a swift death.
Want to know a little secret?
Sincerity and positivity sell.
And while this rule could technically be coupled with Rule #6, I prefer for it to exist as its own rule.
As I've mentioned many times, we live in a world where we are over literally drowning in content. There is so much noise that it almost feels like the entire infrastructure is going to inevitably collapse.
So, how do you cut through that noise?
By being genuine and positive as fuck.
The more honest, raw, vulnerable and optimistic you are - the more likely people are going to empathize with you and connect with you.
Look at Gary Vee's instagram feed.
Look at Sam Adams' website.
Dove does it.
It should be noted that this sort of positivity and sincerity has been somewhat of a recent phenomenon - but a great one!
If you look at the way current culture is gravitating - it's toward genuine content creators who are promoting positivity.
And this is consistent across the board!
A great example is the current state of rap. I love rap, but in the past its most popular artists would have a tendency to write about violence and invincibility.
But now things have changed, as arguably the three biggest rappers in the game (Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Drake) have all taken a more vulnerable approach to their music, and are clearly more interested in promoting a more positive, genuine message.
What does this mean for you?
We are lucky to be building businesses in a time where real, raw, genuine words are appreciated. Use it to your advantage. Allow your copy to be a raw reflection of yourself/your product, and promote whatever you are promoting with relentless optimism.
This isn't an original rule - I've seen tons of other 'copy rules' lists have the same thing.
But that's because it's super important. Don't publish crap.
The way to avoid crap content?
Write. Then revise and revise and revise and revise and then take a nap and then revise and revise again.
Revisions are what transforms bad copy to great copy.
Take your time. Craft your words. Provide clarity.
Seriously. Don't publish crap.
Let's admit it - we aren't all expert copywriters (God knows I'm not!)
But if you implement my '7 Steps to Next Level Copy' I can confidently say that your copy will improve ten fold. Good copy is not something to sweep under the rug. Take a few days to consciously improve your copy. Your ROI will be immeasurable.
Thanks for reading, and remember...
Be one with the hustle.
*Disclosure - Some of the links on this site are affiliate links. This means if the product is right for you and you purchase it, we get a small commission - at no extra cost to you! Your support keeps us caffeinated so we can pump out more content*
City dweller. Dumpling crusher. Obsessed with marketing and optimization - Aaron Radcliffe is Co-Founder of Ditch Your Desk.