Copywriting Tips to Keep Up With the Best of Them

For most people, writing is a fairly binary skill: They feel that they either have a way with words, or they don’t. Grammar either clicks, or it doesn’t. Unfortunately, this can lead to scenarios in which people feel they “aren’t writers” and therefore make the decision to not even try to improve – and that’s far from ideal!

Regardless of your current skill level, there are always places you can improve. Plus, having decent copywriting skills, even if they aren’t perfect, can help you from having to hire a writer for every small change and headline adjustment you want to make to your marketing campaigns, without having to take a huge hit on conversions because you chose a DIY route.

Here are just a few things to keep in mind that can help you improve just about any kind of copy:

Less is more: One of the things many of us naturally do when writing is get caught up in being overly descriptive. While it’s important to tell your stories and make your pitches in a descriptive way, most people use way too many words.

Think about how you can say things more concisely, and recognize that in copywriting every single word has a purpose; if it doesn’t seem like a word or phrase really makes your offer more enticing to your customer or has a very clear purpose in being there, throw it out.

Lower your writing level: You always want to sound professional when you write, but this doesn’t mean writing in big, complicated words as many might assume. In fact, making your words easy to consume and gloss over is preferable to making people stop too often in your sales copy to digest everything they’re seeing.

There are many different ways of scoring the complexity or reading level of sentences, but in general keep sentences at a maximum of 10-15 words and don’t use too many words you didn’t know in high school.

Demand action: Never write passive copy. If you have a button that could say “Create Account” or “Get me started!”, go with the latter.

The idea here is to get the reader to imagine themselves as the voice of what you’re writing, which makes it easier for them to take action.

Remember, the more your reader can identify with your copy and see how it can help them take beneficial action quicker, the more effective it’s going to be. For this reason, you also should talk about “you” and “your” a lot in your copy rather than “people”, “they”, or “folks.”

And there you have it, tips that took you just a few minutes to take in, but you’ll now have with you forever. Just make sure you put them to use!

The Art of the Guest Post

Left and right, entrepreneurs and businesses are using blogs to help build their businesses. From transparency blogs, which follow a journey, to straight up authority resources, people still like to read, and content marketers who can give them something nice to look at and valuable to read will have no problem expanding their reach with a blog.

While there are a number of ways to start gaining initial traction and readership, few are more effective – provided you’re willing to put in the time – than a genuine guest post.

Guest posting doesn’t have the SEO and backlink umph that it used to, but it certainly is still highly effective as a means of leveraging an already established audience or readership to help grow your own.

Unfortunately, the way that many people go about guest posting is, well, just plain awful. They reach out with cold emails, beg, plead, or send half-baked ideas to editors and bloggers that have way too much on their minds to entertain the thought of babysitting someone who isn’t willing to put in the effort. Let’s learn how to overcome that.

Guest posting is about leverage

Leverage is a two-way street, and when you’re guest posting, you have to understand that you need to be able to offer another blog owner enough value that they are willing to give you their readership. Essentially, they’re risking their audience and credibility by letting someone else pen something for them, so they need to be convinced it’s worth their while.

This generally comes down to two factors:

Can you write as well and generate as good of a post as their readership is used to, and is your own audience, who you will be promoting your guest post to, large enough to help garner the blog owner some new owners.

The first is qualitative, and something that some people will just be naturally better at, and to develop with practice will take lots of time and study. The second is much more easily measurable and readily apparent: if you pitch a blog post to someone who gets 10,000 daily readers, and your social media followings are hovering in the 100-200 range, they probably aren’t going to see how putting the time in to partner with you is worthwhile for them, as there isn’t a large potential to gain new readers.

Instead, work on a stepping ladder type approach, in which you work with those who are just a small notch or two above you. If you get an average of 20 shares or so on each of your posts when you write it, look for blogs in the 50-100 per post range, this is a level of engagement that is above your own and is growing, but it’s not excessive and doesn’t indicate someone who is going to ignore you completely.

As you progress with this technique, you will be able to reach out to larger and larger bloggers each time, and before long you yourself just might be one of the big guys.

3 Ways To Make Readers Stop And Pay Attention To Your Writing

Even in a world where live-streaming video and podcasting are gaining popularity amongst knowledge consumers at a breakneck pace, there’s still immense power in the written word. Not only is reading still the preferred medium for consumption by many, but it can also be essential in cases where streaming connections aren’t practical or when consumers want to engage deeper with their content.

Let’s face it, you are reading this right now. That has to count for something, right? Right?!

Despite its importance, many people still have lackluster writing skills, or at least don’t ever bother into the intricacies that professional writers sweat over their perfection of day in and day out.

Today, we’re going to go over three ways you can make your writing more effective by increasing reader comprehension.

Be a factbacker.

One of the things that becomes quickly apparent when you start reading through successful blogs and publications is that research efforts are never an afterthought. When writing pieces which largely consist of your own opinion or which are based primarily on your own experiences, it’s easy to just ramble and say what you want to say without too much of a basis.

One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to get used to infusing your writing with links to other sources that can back up what you want to say. If your goal is to say something completely new or put an unwritten spin on a topic (which is awesome, by the way!), then try and source some of the articles that got you thinking or that could help lead readers to your own conclusions. This push for credibility can really help the effectiveness of your messages.

Invent words.

What the hell is a fact-backer? I don’t know, I made it up! One of the greatest things Shakespeare and others like him did for the English language is add words to it. In fact, you’d be surprised at how many of the most common, normal-sounding words we use today were invented in the last few hundred years by a handful of creative minds.

Doing this not only makes people stop and really think about what they’re reading – you probably stop and try to figure out new words immediately when reading – but it also creates a mental association with your writing by forcing more engagement.

Get smart with formatting.

Finally, get spacey with it. Time spent reading a webpage increases with the general readability of that page, and a major contributing factor to this in the online space is how well your text is spaced out and formatted.

Unlike writing a formal article, let alone a research paper, writing for blogs and casual online properties should never exceed a couple of lines per paragraph. In fact, unlike in other forms of writing, it is perfectly acceptable for each sentence to be its own paragraph.

Beyond these three, it’s practice, practice, practice to get as good as you can at bringing concision and persuasiveness into your written words – good luck!

4 Of The Best Entrepreneurial Blogs You Can Start Reading Right Now

One of the best ways to learn anything in the internet marketing world is to get out there and take action. There is absolutely no substitute for finding out what works for your exact business model and personality than by experimenting and tweaking what you focus on based upon your results.

Having said that, the second best way to learn has to be from other companies and individuals who have been through the phase you’re at already, and have been kind enough to package their own lessons into easily consumed content for you.

Often, this comes in the form of a blog, where you can regularly get updated on whatever the topic that person or company has expertise in. For entrepreneurs, here are 4 that are especially awesome and go out of their way to deliver constant value to readers.

1. The Groove Blog

Honestly, this is one of the best transparency blogs around for entrepreneurs. Run by Groove CEO Alex Turnbull, the blog follows this customer support startup every step of the way as they journey to $500k per month in recurring revenue.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of insights to be learned from a company well on their way to hitting those ambitious numbers. The nice thing is that they share a lot of things that didn’t work as well, and provide the data to back up anything they say or recommend.

2. The Daily Egg

Crazy Egg is a product all about data, so it’s not surprising that the research that goes into posts on the Daily Egg (CE’s blog) are packed with awesome research. Plus, they have a great track record of securing some awesome guest posters, which help to flesh out the blog as an authority on a wider range of subjects.

As if all of that weren’t enough, the blog is one of Neil Patel’s projects. If you don’t know Neil, he’s one of the most prolific writers and content marketers around, and just about everything he touches is gold.

3. Swift Branding

A new player on the scene, Swift Branding is run by George Karboulonis over in Greece, and it’s got a good thing going for it right now. The blog does a great job of committing to providing as any useful resources, freebies, and guides for IM’ers as possible.

While some of the content is more general or entry level, there are some real gems as well, and George seems to have a knack for getting people to share their interesting stories with him in the form of revealing case studies.

4. Copyblogger

Finally, Copyblogger. Copyblogger has been around for a long time, and even has a now-rebranded media branch you can find at rainmaker.fm

While CB’s original focus was, no surprises here, copywriting, the team have really branched out over the last few years and broadened their topic reach without any falloff in quality.

How Internet Marketers Can Hit A Grand Slam With Guest Posting

Recently, content marketing has been all the rage. It isn’t that it’s only now that content marketing is starting to be effective, but more so that larger, more traditional media and advertising powerhouses are finally starting to take the trend seriously.

Content marketing, for several years now, has been the true language of the blogging community, and the businesses who were smart enough to narrow in on and take advantage of these networks.

Content marketing itself rests on one of the founding principles that most of you reading this will understand: providing value before asking for it.

Content marketing also has major crossover with “relationship marketing,” which is what we’re going to get into today. Specifically, those who have worked with content marketing have also found value in maintaining a blog or similar platform to regularly share content with and grow their audiences through.

Guest blogging is the act of posting on someone else’s blog, largely in the hopes of getting some attention and exposure for your own web property.

The problem, however, lies in how to reframe that goal in a way that it becomes mutually beneficial.

If it’s your first time trying to land a guest blogging gig, you need to understand that these relationships are all about leverage: What can you offer someone else? What are you getting in return? In order for your offer to write a piece for another blog (even if it’s really good) to be tempting, you need to make sure you frame it in the right way.

Here are a few steps you can take to massively boost your chances of successfully integrating guest blogging into your content marketing strategy.

Identify blogs in your weight class or just above it. Look for blogs in your market than have similar audiences and are getting some social engagement and shares on their posts, but who are not yet massive.

Make contact in a helpful way. Do not just blurt out that you want a guest post and try and pitch cold via email. Instead, leave insight comments over a few days and interact with the blog owner on twitter or another social platform. Share their content to show you like it.

Make a careful pitch by asking permission via one of these platforms to reach out via email. Once you have the greenlight, send an email with your idea, and highlight why it would be well-received by their audience and what you will do to help share the piece and grow their blog.

Write something truly amazing. If you get the honor of having a guest post pitch accepted, do it justice and get invited back by really creating something special. Whatever time you put into researching and creating your own posts, double it. Go above and beyond and make an infographic or embedded slideshare to help out that kind of thing.

Promote like your life depends on it in order to get the blog you’re working with the biggest return possible and show that partnering up with you was worthwhile.

Simple, yep. Easy? Well, you’ll be putting in some work, but it’s nearly always worth your time.

Trimming the Fat – Copy Tips for Saying More With Less

Copywriting doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. From the billions of dollars in sales each day that hinge on a well-formatted sales letter, to a polished TV commercial script, to the catchy jingle or slogan you just can’t get out of your head, effective professional, persuasive writing, “copywriting,” does a lot for us as marketers.

It’s unfortunate then that copy is often neglected as a luxury expense or an unnecessary cog in many marketers’ or business owners’ sales funnels.

The reason, inevitably, is cost. Good copywriters know that their words will have a direct effect on your conversion rates, and thus the money you make, and leverage that knowledge for a nice payday. It then goes to follow that many marketers begin crafting their own copy.

To be honest, even if you don’t have the polish and practice of a professional, someone who is a good writer in general can learn to produce decent copy to keep them growing and selling until they can afford a dedicated copywriter. The key word there, however, is “learn.”

Amateur copy is almost always identifiable by a lack of brevity; people often write too much and get too wordy, losing their vital, important, life-changing points amongst superfluous, unnecessary adjectives and ineffective anecdotes. See what I did there? That sentence could have been a lot shorter! Today, we’ll take a look at how you can catch yourself and self-edit copy to stay effective and to the point.

1) Cut out very. The concept of “cutting out very” is probably referenced in proper copywriting books somewhere, but here’s my take on it. The tendency in sales writing is to be, well, selly. The way to do this however is with proper punctuation and, more importantly, by getting inside your audience’s head and telling them what they want to hear. Unfortunately, amateur writers usually use “filler” words. The word ‘very’ is one prominent example, because it is a false enhancer that is rarely needed.

Don’t say “It’s very good,” say “it’s the best.” Another example is the use of very before the word ‘unique’, which is redundant. Something is either unique or it isn’t, it’s not “very unique.”

2) Boil it down to exactly what someone needs to know. One of the biggest things you can do to make your copywriting effective is to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re writing to. This gets you out of salesman mode and helps you think about what someone with the problem you’re offering a solution for actually wants to hear.

Sometimes, doing this can help us see that what we’re put down is over the top, too selly or spammy, or even just flat out unhelpful!

3) Proofread 80 times. And I’m not just talking about any usual proofread. Sure, you’re going to be checking your spelling and grammar and making sure everything lines up, but a copywriting proofread should see you putting on another hat as well, the “could this possibly sound any better?!” hat. Read each sentence and look for words that could be dropped, phrases that could be made more appropriate for your customers, etc.

Of course, just like every facet of IM, there’s always more to learn on the copywriting front, but this should get you headed in the right direction until you can hire a personal Don Draper of your own.

Copywriting Toolbox: The ‘Foot in the Door’ Technique

Most marketers are serious do-it-yourselfers. They’re learning constantly about all kinds of different facets of marketing and trying to put what they learn into practice all with just one pair of hands.

Most internet marketing guides will tell you to begin outsourcing and managing as early as possible, to help grow your business at the fastest rate possible, but this kind of management role isn’t always feasible if you aren’t entering into your entrepreneurship journey with some startup capital.

Oftentimes, you’ll have to make something work all on your own, and copywriting is no different. There’s a reason that there’s an entire industry dedicated to having someone else write your web copy, sales letters, email series, and more – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do a bang-up job yourself with a little bit of know-how. Today, we’re going to go over the “foot in the door” copywriting technique; it’s a classic copywriting move that can help you to increase responsiveness by easing into your propositions (purchases, sign ups, referrals, or whatever constitutes a successful conversion for your business).

The foot in the door principle is based upon the fact that people are naturally resistant to taking large steps out of the blue. This is, for example, why telephone salespeople have to work through such a large volume of number registries to keep sales at an acceptable level. That said, this resistance tends to lessen when the ‘ask’ becomes less and less of a hassle or monetary obligation for someone. Obviously, you would be more likely to try a new type of shampoo if it cost $5 per bottle than if it were $15.

Those studying (anecdotally) copywriting psychology posited that perhaps these smaller actions could be used to build trust, and thus, over time, increase the chances that someone would agree to a larger ask. As luck would have it, for you, they were right.

The first time I learned of the technique, it was written something like this: If someone came to your door and asked you to put a large political yard sign out endorsing a certain candidate, you would likely be resistant (even if it came from a party you identified with). But let’s say, instead, campaigners ask you to take just an “I support [candidate name]!” button.

You’ll never wear it, but the ask is small and you agree; there doesn’t seem to be any harm in doing so. Let’s say that a week or two later, the same people come by and this time they are asking about the yard sign.

You may have said no before, but you already agreed with them once, and the button spurred you into doing a bit of research on the candidate, and now maybe you’re more open to a public endorsement. Without a doubt, the second strategy will end up with more lawn signs in more yards.

No matter what your business is, you can use this same technique. In your own business, think of how you can get someone to agree to something small before you ask them for something big. In sales letters, you’ll notice that copywriters often pose questions with seemingly obvious answers.

“Do you want to cure your acne this week?”

“Do you agree that acne creates an unattractive, juvenile appearance?”

The purpose of these questions is to bait readers into mentally agreeing and nodding along; if they’ve already agreed with you on one thing, they’re more likely to agree with you on the next thing as well. In your own businesses, think about how you can use this technique to ‘soften’ any ask you have – you might just be surprised at how dramatically conversion rates change when correctly implementing it.

7 Ways to Boost eBook Sales

If you have an eBook then essentially you have a license to print money. As a digital product, this is something that you can sell millions of times in a single day in theory. It has no overheads, no delivery costs and you can set the price however you choose.

Of course this isn’t quite how the story goes for everyone who starts selling eBooks though. eBook sales are very much dependent on your skill, timing and understanding of sales. To help get more sales then, consider the seven following tips:

1 Sell in More Places

Want to get more sales? Then sell in more places! Putting your eBook on Kindle is free and will mean thousands more people can instantly find and buy your book – people who otherwise probably wouldn’t have.

2 Find Affiliates

Whether you choose to use a service like Clickbank or to set up cookies yourself, using affiliates can give you an army of marketers happy to help you sell your product and reach a wider audience.

3 Hire a Writer

You may already have hired a writer for your eBook which is great. Now though, it’s time to bring them back and get them to write your landing page! Professional sales copy makes all the difference.

4 Run a PPC Campaign

If you have a specific niche and a great landing page then any money you spend on PPC should result in clear ROI and is a great way to expand your audience.

5 Improve the Cover

It could be that the cover of your eBook is what’s putting off potential buyers. Head over to a site like 99Designs and spend a little to spruce up your image!

6 Change the Price

Lowering the price will likely increase sales while hurting your profits. Increasing the price can have the opposite effect. Make sure you play around with this number until you find your perfect sweet spot. You don’t know unless you try!

7 Give Away a Free Taster

Giving away a free taster of an eBook is often one of the very best things you can do to drive sales. If you have a mailing list then try sending them a PDF of the first chapter. People love getting things for free and if the title is inviting then they’re bound to open it. Then, if they like what they see, they’ll be hooked and liable to make a purchase!