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What Counts as Copywriting Experience?

In our agency, we have had lots of clients whose work we have admired and who have become friends. It’s always nice to discover how a friendly competition can become a mutually beneficial collaboration. That’s what happened with Kelly Choi Media. We were introduced to Kelly through a mutual friend who had worked with both of us on previous projects. We worked with Kelly on a series of webinars about digital marketing strategy. We thought she did a great job and had a bright future. Then, Kelly introduced us to her business partner, Michael Hyatt, who created a separate company, Michael Hyatt Marketing, to provide strategic counsel to business and brand owners who want to be seen in the right way by their customers. Michael had previously worked with HubSpot on their inbound marketing strategy, and he and Kelly were applying those tactics to help growing companies attract, engage, and delight customers.

One task we were asked to complete was to write a one-page description of Kelly’s background in copywriting. When we finished, she loved it so much she asked us to revise it and use it as a reference page for her LinkedIn profile. When we finished that project, she mentioned to us that she had applied for a job as a copywriter at a small agency that her sister worked at, and she asked if we would be her reference.

We love working with clients who appreciate our attention to detail and who are grateful for our help. Kelly and Michael are both fantastic people and they are good friends, as well. We would recommend them to anyone who is looking for help with their copywriting needs.

The Elements of a Good Copywriter

If you are going to be a copywriter, you need to understand what makes up a good copy. There are many different kinds of copy, each with its own purpose. Your job, as a copywriter, is to help your clients communicate effectively with their audiences. That means you will be using a combination of different writing methods – depending on the nature of the content and the target audience – to craft compelling messages.

To create compelling messages (or advertisements, brochures, email campaigns, etc.), you need to understand the different methods of persuasion and apply them to your writing. The basic elements of a good copy are:

  • Hook
  • Voice
  • Character
  • Structure
  • Reinforcement
  • Persuasive Technique
  • Closing

Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements.

1. Hook

Every piece of writing, whether it’s an ad or a sales letter or a website copy, needs to have a hook. What is a hook? Think of a good joke. You know the kind of joke that keeps getting repeated even though you think it’s funny the first time you heard it? That’s a hook. It’s what grabs the reader and keeps them interested in what you’re saying.

In a sales letter, the hook is the promise of getting something valuable for free or at a discounted rate. That’s what will keep your reader interested in what you have to say. It’s the same with a marketing email, where you are pitching a product or service and trying to convince the reader to buy it. If you can’t keep your reader interested in what you’re offering – or, at least, what you think is valuable – they are likely to click away and not be convinced to stay by your words alone.

The key is to apply this interest to your writing. Never, ever put yourself in a position where you are trying to force an agenda on your readers. They should feel like they are making their own decisions. That’s why it’s important to establish a strong voice and character throughout your copy.

2. Voice

This is more than just writing in the right language or using the right words. It’s about giving your writing a tone and a style that is distinct from others. When you write in a manner that is unique and interesting, you will inevitably make the reader think of you and your unique voice when they are finished. It is a subtle form of advertising that is effective more often than not. In general, a little humor, a little self-deprecation, and a good dose of a particular voice can go a long way. A lot of copywriters think they need to model themselves after famous writers. That’s great if you’re seeking inspiration, but you should always keep your voice and your own personal touches when applying these methods.

3. Character

This element is all about the writer’s personality. The better you are at applying your personality to your writing, the more effective you will be. Never be afraid to show some quirks and odd habits. Readers find these things interesting. They may even find them endearing. If your personality is the same as your writing, the reader will easily recognize the disconnect. When you show your character through your writing, you are demonstrating your individuality and unique perspective. You are showing them you are a human being, not just some cold, hard robot writing what an organization wants.

The key is to be yourself. There is no character trait that is more important for a writer than being able to write accurately and without fault. You have to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the reader and know how you would react in the situation at hand. The easier this is, the smoother your transition into an intelligent decision-maker. The more effort you put into character development, the more you will pay off. Your writing will become stronger, and the entire process will seem more natural.

4. Structure

This one may seem quite obvious, but you would be surprised how often writers fail to apply this basic tenet of good writing. You need a good structure in every piece of writing you produce. Even in something as basic as an email, you should have a clear idea of what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Beginnings and endings matter. They should always tie back to the central idea of the piece or the email campaign. Make sure you are consistent within your structures and that everything ties together nicely. This will make your writing much easier to follow and allow you to apply advanced writing techniques.

5. Reinforcement

This one might be the most important of all. Every piece of writing, whether it’s an email pitch, a blog post, or a Facebook status update, needs to have a clear message designed to convince the reader one way or the other. The better you are at applying logic and using facts to back up your argument, the more effective you will be. Never hesitate to appeal to common sense or to pull on established relationships to make your point. Familiarize yourself with the different types of logic and rhetoric and learn how to use them to your advantage.

6. Persuasive Technique

Persuasive writing is simply good writing that is meant to convince the reader or listener to agree with or accept your point of view. When used well, it can be an extremely effective form of advertising and marketing. There are six basic techniques used in persuasive writing:

  • Argument
  • Evidence
  • Comparison
  • Counterargument
  • Status
  • Logical Fallacy
  • Personal Opinion

The elements of a good argument are:

  • Identification
  • Logical Fallacy
  • Status
  • Evidence

Let’s take a quick look at each of these.

7. Identification

This is the first and most important of the elements of a good argument. Your reader, or listener, needs to know who you are and what your credentials are. First and foremost, you must ensure that they understand who you are and what your identity is in relation to this particular subject matter. When your audience doesn’t know who you are, how can they trust what you say?

The key to this element of a good argument is to make sure that your readers know exactly who you are and where you stand on the issue at hand. The second element of good argumentation is logical fallacy. When you write an argument, you are giving your readers an idea of your perspective. You’re representing yourself as an expert in this area. Bear in mind: you’re arguing for or against the position you’re taking.