Writing copy can make you feel — as Kurt Vonnegut once said, “like an armless, legless, man with a crayon in his mouth.”
Even if you’re passionate about what you do, the keyboard has a magical ability to zap your mojo. The brilliant ideas rattling in your head morph into limp, lifeless copy once they hit the page. You’re left with a blog or sales page that reads either like a late-night infomercial, or a dull corporate memo.
As a copywriter, I see (and have experienced) this problem over and over. After years struggling with this myself, I found a few tricks that helped me write copy for multiple million-dollar launches.
Below are three steps that will help you through the copywriting process. Whether you’re writing a sales page or a Facebook post, you can follow these steps to capture attention, keep your audience glued to your every word, and feel inspired to buy from you.
Step 1: The copy mindset
“The key to writing great copy… is empathy.”
Psychologists have found that stress destroys creativity while a positive mindset enhances it.
Before writing copy, put yourself in a positive state of mind. This makes it easier to be creative, plus has a special side-benefit.
To understand this side-benefit, think about speakers like Tony Robbins. He has so much enthusiasm for what he does, it’s contagious.
You want your copy to have a similar impact, because if you can transfer the excitement you feel about your product onto your readers, sales pour in.
Now your enthusiasm can seep through your copy without you even trying. Because whatever mood you’re in can impact the tone of your copy (think of a time you sent an angry-sounding email because you were in a bad mood and you’ll know what I’m talking about).
If you want to fill your copy with infectious enthusiasm, then put yourself in a good state of mind when you write.
Here are three steps to get you into the writing mindset:
1) Fill up on coffee (as James Altucher says: “No coffee, no creativity”.)
2) Put on music (upbeat classical does it for me)
3) Glance over your customer avatar. Connecting with your audience and their desires will help you tap into your empathy. From there, it’ll be easier to spill positive emotion onto the page while staying laser-focused on what’s important to your reader.
When my writing comes out stifled or over-the-top, I’ll step back and go through those steps. The copy flows easier and whatever still needs work I can fix in steps 2 and 3.
Step #2: The key to compelling writing
A simple, yet overlooked technique for writing engaging copy is using specifics.
If you want someone to read your email or buy your product, be as specific as possible about what’s in it for them. When sharing stories or explaining the features of your product, use descriptive language and paint a picture in your reader’s mind to keep them captivated.
For example, imagine you sell a weight-loss product and you want to hook people’s attention.
A generic claim like “Lose weight fast” will fall on deaf ears. Your audience has heard this dull claim a million times before.
An easy way to pump this up is to be specific about how that weight loss will look. For instance, one of the top weight loss products on Clickbank used this promise to hook readers early in their sales video:
“Little-known extreme diet system that literally forces your body to melt away 1-2 pounds of stubborn body fat everyday for the first 7 days. And ¾ to 1 full pound of body fat every day in the two weeks that follow.”
Be specific about the benefit your reader will get and it’ll make your claim both more believable and more enticing.
A second area where you can enhance your copy with specifics is when you tell your story about who you are or how you struggled.
I’ve had clients shy away from this at first this because they want to present themselves in a positive light. However, sharing how you’ve struggled is how you connect with readers. It shows character and they see you as someone who understands their pain.
For example, here’s how James Altucher opened his bestselling book, Choose Yourself:
“I was going to die. The market had crashed. The internet had crashed. Nobody would return my calls. I had no friends.”
Not only does this connect with the reader’s own feelings of hopeless, an opening like that makes the book hard to put down!
Whether you’re making a promise or telling a story, specific details will help keep your reader engaged and wanting more.
Step #3: Cut the fat
After getting your ideas down you’ll have decent copy to work with. However, it’ll be bloated with words and phrases that will bore your audience. This isn’t your fault, it’s how first drafts go.
To make sure you don’t lose your reader with sleep-inducing copy, comb through what you wrote while asking yourself: “Does this add to my story?” Delete any word, phrase, paragraph or tangent that doesn’t drive your point forward.
With this mindset, you’ll realize words you’ve used for years do nothing but slow your copy.
For example, there are two kinds of words you can eliminate from your copy right away: weasel words and fluff.
Weasel words undermine the point you’re making and your credibility. If you’re not certain about what you’re saying, why should anyone listen?
Here are examples of weasel words you can pluck from your copy nine times out of 10:
Aside from weasel words, you can also delete fluff words. These are words that take up space without adding value. Below are a handful of fluff words you can chop from your copy to make it tighter:
Any adverb (Words ending in “ly”)
That last one may come as a shock to you. But using adverbs is like pulling your punches. Replace them with stronger verbs and your copy will hit your reader harder.
Here’s how Stephen King explains it:
You could say “He closed the door firmly.” But this could have more impact with a more powerful verb, such as: “He slammed the door.”
“He ate his food quickly” can become “He devoured his food.”
While you’re eliminating weasel words, fluff, and adverbs, keep an eye out for dull verbs. Exchange them for verbs that tell a more interesting story (for example, “he left the bar” into the more vivid “he staggered from the bar,” paints a more vivid picture than “he left the bar.”).
With a little creativity you can breath new life into your copy fast.
Recap: 3 steps to spice up your copy
1) Put yourself into a positive state when you write.
2) Be specific and use descriptive language when telling stories or promising a benefit.
3) Pluck out “weasel words,” fluff and trade out dull verbs for exciting ones that tell a more captivating story.
For more on how you can take your copy to the next level check out: 8 Pro Tips for Maximum Opt-Ins. This free report shows you the specific techniques industry giants such as Tim Ferris, Mindvalley, Dave Asprey and more use in their opt-in copy to help grow their massive lists.
You can download the report free here.