Copywriting Uncovered: Your Complete Guide (2023)

This guide uncovers everything you need to know about copywriting to convert customers. Pro tips - original examples.

COPYWRITING

Shane Curry

7/20/202317 min read

copywriter working on a laptop, coloured bubbles exiting the screen, representing creativity
copywriter working on a laptop, coloured bubbles exiting the screen, representing creativity

Copywriting is everywhere - it’s harder to escape than Alcatraz. You’re bombarded by it every day.

  • Social media ads

  • Sales emails

  • Billboards

  • Websites

But even though it’s everywhere, heaps of confusion surrounds the art of copywriting. Many clients ask me about the difference between copywriting and content writing.

Some writers use the terms interchangeably - they’re different, though.

In short, copywriting is marketing copy that persuades readers to take action, while content writing is more informative and educational - like this blog article.

But there’s more to copywriting than meets the eye. Knowing about it can help you drive your audience to action.

So let’s jump into this copywriting guide and learn about high-converting copy.

Example of difference between copywriting and content writing
Example of difference between copywriting and content writing

You can read about copywriting vs. content writing to learn more.

What Does a Copywriter Do?

A copywriter does more than type words on a page. The end product is persuasive copy for websites, email campaigns, adverts, and other marketing materials.

But heaps of invisible work goes into the best copywriting.

These 5 steps lead to the final piece.

  1. Research

  2. Ideation

  3. Organisation

  4. Writing

  5. Editing

Research

Copywriters spend the most time in the research stage - they should, at least. We must learn about the business, its products, and how they can help potential customers.

And copywriters need to research the audience - thoughts, fears, and desires. The best ones learn the language the audience uses to express themselves.

Speak with the people who talk to customers directly when possible. Of course, you can’t always do this for various reasons.

And you often won’t have access to information from customer surveys or customer interviews. So what can you do?

Go where your target audience talks.

  • Amazon

  • Capterra (SaaS)

  • Trustpilot

  • Reddit

  • Social media

Read the reviews for products in your niche. Find out what people don’t like about them and the language they use to describe that.

Ideation

Armed with the research, copywriters need to form ideas for the copy. That includes the wording, the layout, and the position of the calls to action.

This stage is about brainstorming and getting creative. Be open to ideas and scribble notes on anything that pops up.

Organisation

Unorganised ideas are no good to you - chaos. Order your brainstorming notes and create a concise outline of the main points.

Refining the ideas should help you hone the copy. And it makes the writing process much easier - for me, anyway.

Writing

For the best results, only now can you start writing. The headline is the prime place to start, setting you up for the rest of the copy.

Let’s say you’re writing about pushcarts for a golf wholesaler. You research competitors and find reviews like this:

Your headline could be the following:

Copywriters might create 10 variations of this headline to find the best one. But each one should address a customer pain point and a solution.

Expand on that in the body copy like this:

You get the idea. Always address customer pain points and offer solutions.

Editing

The editing stage is crucial for writing good copy. Never publish a first draft and expect the best results.

The copy must be tight before you send it into the wild. Every word needs to earn its place. And if it doesn’t, get the editorial axe out and cut it.

Keep cutting and rearranging words until you’re happy with the final product.

How to Become a Copywriter

Technically, copywriters don’t need any formal qualifications to start. But many people take copywriting courses to jam a foot in the door.

I came to copywriting from writing fiction. And I have degrees in journalism and creative writing, which helps.

Here are 11 skills you need to become a good copywriter:

  • Listening

  • Interviewing

  • Storytelling

  • Writing

  • Editing

  • Researching

  • Grammar and spelling

  • Structural formatting

  • Persuasion

  • Marketing

  • SEO strategy

Writing good copy takes time and practice. You won’t learn it overnight, but it’s an incredible skill - even if you’re running a business.

As a business owner, copywriting can help you with marketing and growing your business. But sometimes you’re too busy running the company - that’s when using copywriting services makes sense.

Why is Copywriting Important for Your Business?

Imagine walking into a shop and speaking with the salesperson. But they won’t look you in the eyes and talk in a monotone, using the wrong words to describe the product.

Bet you don’t connect with them, find them interesting, or trust them. So you’re not buying from them.

Copy is your digital salesperson.

Quality copy is vital for converting customers online. It connects with readers, engages them, and drives them to action.

Effective copywriting does the following:

  • Delivers on-brand messaging to build connection and recognition

  • Engages people and guides them through the customer journey

  • Builds trust in your business and removes barriers to buying

  • Inspires action and gets people to buy, subscribe, etc.

Pulling that off isn’t easy. But the best copywriters get the job done.

Types of Copywriting

Copywriting has many forms. It comes in handy for various situations - like a Swiss Army Knife.

Knowing some of the most popular types helps when learning. Here are 7 to get started.

Website Copywriting

Copy on the static pages of a website is an example of website copywriting. These pages generally include the following:

  • Home

  • Services

  • About

  • Contact

Writing website copy informs people about your business. It outlines your services for people visiting your site.

Like any type of copywriting, it aims to connect with your audience, keep them engaged, and persuade them to act. The final action differs depending on your business.

For a plumber, the goal is to convince visitors to get a free quote or call the business.

An eCommerce business wants people to buy from its website.

Whatever the goal, website copywriting needs to do its job.

Email Copywriting

Email is still one of the best channels for digital marketing. The average ROI for email is $36 per $1 spent - higher than any other channel.

That makes email copywriting vital for businesses to get right. Convincing people to open your emails is the first step.

So copywriters need to write killer subject lines. Make people think twice before consigning your emails to the bin.

But getting people to open emails is only the first hurdle. Holding their interest is the next one.

So write valuable copy, keeping it clear and concise.

Okay, everything is going well so far. It’s time to hit them with a supercharged call to action - get readers to commit.

But don’t ask too much from people. They’re quick to banish emails into the digital abyss.

Email copywriting is a delicate business - but well worth learning.

Statista has projected email marketing revenue to grow to US$ 17.9 billion in 2027.

The graph below shows a steady revenue increase until then.

graph showing projected email marketing revenue until 2027
graph showing projected email marketing revenue until 2027

Read the secrets to writing enticing emails to delve deeper into email copywriting.

Social Media Copywriting

The power of social media for marketing is undeniable. So it’s advisable to hone your social media copywriting - or get someone to write for you, cough!

The copy needs to hook your audience in seconds. It’s hard to stop the doom scrolling, but not impossible.

Here are 7 tips for conquering social media copywriting.

  1. Write snappy headlines to grab attention.

  2. Keep it short. Nobody wants to read an essay.

  3. Think about formatting. Even avid readers run away from walls of text.

  4. Use powerful language - active voice and powerful verbs.

  5. Write how you speak. Keep it conversational, folks.

  6. Help people and offer value.

  7. Guide your customer with a solid call to action. Make the next step clear.

Read more about Social Media Copywriting for busy business owners.

Brand Copywriting

Have you ever connected with a brand and seen it as a positive force in society? Good chance brand copywriting played a part in that.

This type of copywriting focuses on triggering emotional responses in readers. Some people will always use Apple products, no matter what.

Apple does an incredible job of pinpointing what customers want. And then, it shows how they align with that in a tone and language customers relate to.

That’s the power of brand copywriting.

SEO Copywriting

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is about ranking your website pages on search engines like Google. The ultimate aim is to rank number one on SERPs (search engine result pages).

SEO is the best way to attract organic traffic to your website. It involves choosing keywords related to your industry and creating valuable content around those keywords.

According to HubSpot marketing statistics, 71% of marketers use strategic keywords as their chief strategy for SEO.

SEO copywriting is crucial for ranking keywords on your website. But it’s more than “stuffing” keywords into the text on pages.

Your website copy must be valuable to readers to rank highly in SERPs. And it needs to target the right keywords and the search intent of readers.

Here are 7 tips for SEO copywriting.

  1. Use keywords strategically - include in your title and throughout the copy while avoiding keyword stuffing.

  2. Grab attention with killer headlines - entice people to visit the page.

  3. Ensure the copy is well-written and informative - make it helpful for people.

  4. Make pages more engaging with images and videos - good for people and SEO.

  5. Link internally to important pages - it guides people through your site and helps SEO.

  6. Optimise your content - make it easy for people to read.

  7. Use a specific and clear call to action - tell people what you want them to do.

As you’ve likely guessed, writing for people is essential for SEO copywriting. Be strategic with placing keywords, but ensure the copy gives readers value overall.

Technical Copywriting

Some writers specialise in copywriting for technical industries. These include engineering, software, finance, and biotechnology.

Technical copywriters create marketing materials for such industries. They can write sales copy on websites, product guides, presentations, brochures, case studies, operations manuals, etc.

To excel at technical copywriting, you need in-depth knowledge of the field.

Many technical copywriters choose a niche like engineering and only write on that subject.

These writers need to explain complex technical concepts in simple terms. No easy feat, so they must know what they’re talking about - no fakers in technical copywriting.

Public Relations Copywriting

Every corporation has a public relations (PR) department. The PR team manages how people see the company, and it fosters a positive public image.

PR copywriting promotes the company, informs people, and influences public feeling.

So PR copywriting needs to persuade people and mould a positive image for the company.

Journalists and members of the media are targets for much of PR copywriting. It must convince them to spread the company’s message.

13 Keys Elements to Effective Copywriting

Copywriting must be effective to do its job - drive action. Effective copywriting has these elements:

  1. Gripping headline

  2. Correct grammar

  3. Conversational tone

  4. Short sentences (mostly)

  5. Everyday language

  6. Clear messaging

  7. Active voice

  8. Customer-specific

  9. Benefit focused

  10. Skimmable formatting

  11. Social proof

  12. Storytelling

  13. Strong CTA

Gripping Headline

You need to grab attention in a sea of digital content. The headline is your neon sign displaying what’s on offer.

It should tell people what the copy is about. And it needs to convince them it’s worth reading.

Take this hypothetical headline:

Chances are you’ll click on this headline because it’s odd and tugs at your curiosity. Although crucial, the headline is just the start of good copywriting.

Only 20% of people read beyond the headline. So you need to follow up with an engaging subheading and captivating copy.

And the copy should always be relevant to the heading - no clickbait!

Correct Grammar

Using correct grammar is essential for effective copywriting. It shows your professionalism - but correct grammar goes further than that.

SurveyMonkey research on grammar found copy with grammatical errors means:

  • Women are 81% less likely to buy the product.

  • Men are 77% less likely to buy it.

  • Millennials are 85% less likely to buy.

Using correct grammar can boost your bottom line. Don’t let sloppy grammar cost you money.

Conversational Tone

Write copy as if you’re speaking with a friend about a product. Readers connect with text written in a conversational tone - it’s familiar.

You want to appear natural and engaging. Trying to look smart is the last thing you should do - people in the corporate world often get sucked into this style (no offence).

But that can confuse your readers and create a barrier between them and you.

Light and informal don't have to mean unprofessional.

Short Sentences (Mostly)

I write (mostly) because not every sentence should be short. Force someone to read a page of short sentences, and they’ll want to pluck their eyes out with a butter knife.

So I’d advise this:

Don’t write long sentences when a shorter one will do.

Sometimes you need to write long sentences - to explain a complex concept, for instance. It’s unavoidable and gives your writing some rhythm anyway.

But clarity should always be the central focus.

Everyday Language

Use words people know so they can connect with your message. You might think using big words makes you look smart, but making your copy hard to read is the opposite.

People don’t care if you can use big words. They prefer knowing how your products can solve their problems.

Tell them in simple terms.

Clear Messaging

This one is related to the previous two. The best copywriting is clear - it avoids confusing readers at all costs.

People won’t buy from you if your messaging is unclear. They won’t know what you do and how it benefits them.

Active Voice

Your writing is powerful when you use active voice. But using passive voice weakens your copy.

Passive voice - our product is vouched for by over 1000 customers.

Active voice - over 1000 customers vouch for our product.

The second example sounds much better. And you’ll notice it puts the customers first in this instance.

The best copywriting always puts the customer first.

Customer-Specific

Avoid writing generic copy targeted at everyone. Write to a specific customer and show them how they benefit from the product.

Let’s take a golf glove manufacturer as an example.

Generic copy:

Customer-specific copy:

The second example is better because it speaks directly to the customer.

Benefit Focused

Your copy should show readers how they benefit from your products. Highlight the benefits more than the features.

A golf equipment company will focus on how smooth a golf club is to swing instead of the technical design of the shaft. Yes, I love golf.

Sell people on the experience of using your product.

Don’t boast about the cool features you designed.

Skimmable Formatting

I love reading, but I’ll click away in one second flat if I see a solid wall of text. And most others will do the same.

If you want people to leave your website, greet them with blocks of text.

Because it’s near impossible to skim a wall of copy. And people scan content when they’re reading online.

That's why I use:

  • number lists

  • bullet points

  • bold font

It helps people when they’re skimming the text. Make it easy for them to scan your website copy.

Social Proof

Using social proof in your copy builds trust in your products. Here’s how vital it is: 98% of people read online reviews for local businesses.

We trust other people’s opinions when it comes to buying products. If they have a good experience, why wouldn’t we?

People trust reviews more than marketing copy. It’s people like them offering information on a product, after all.

But including social proof in your copy transfers that trust to you.

It’s a key element in effective copywriting.

Storytelling

Storytelling in copywriting is all the rage these days - storytelling advice is everywhere. And for good reason.

An intriguing story does the following:

  • Engages and entertains readers

  • Makes copy easier to remember

  • Helps people understand your point

  • Increases the chances of someone passing information on

But storytelling is a tightrope walk. Get it right - you’re a hero. Get it wrong - you’re falling flat.

Ensure the story is relevant, or readers will struggle to grasp the point.

No bueno.

Strong CTA

The purpose of copywriting is to drive people to action. A weak CTA (call to action) can destroy your previous good work.

A strong CTA compels people to buy, subscribe, get a quote, etc.

Whatever action you want them to take, the CTA should get them over the final hurdle.

5 Popular Copywriting Frameworks

Copywriters often use frameworks to help them create high-converting copy. Here are 5 popular copywriting frameworks I like to use.

  1. AIDA - Attention | Interest | Desire | Action

  2. PAS - Problem | Agitate | Solution

  3. BAB - Before | After | Bridge

  4. FAB - Features | Advantages| Benefits

  5. Four Cs - Clear | Concise | Compelling | Credible

1. AIDA

Attention - grab the reader’s attention straight away.

Interest - stir interest with a bold statement, appealing info, etc.

Desire - tap into their desire (the outcome they want most).

Action - get them to act with a supercharged call to action.

I used AIDA for the intro to this article. Let’s break it down.

Grab attention:

Tap desire:

example of a customer review about golf pushcarts
example of a customer review about golf pushcarts
example of a copywriting headline about golf pushcarts
example of a copywriting headline about golf pushcarts
example of copywriting body text about golf pushcarts
example of copywriting body text about golf pushcarts
an example of a gripping copywriting headline
an example of a gripping copywriting headline
an example of generic copywriting
an example of generic copywriting
an example of customer-specific copywriting
an example of customer-specific copywriting
AIDA framework copywriting example to grab attention
AIDA framework copywriting example to grab attention

Stir interest:

AIDA framework copywriting example to stir interest
AIDA framework copywriting example to stir interest
AIDA framework copywriting example to tap desire
AIDA framework copywriting example to tap desire

Urge action:

AIDA framework copywriting example to urge action
AIDA framework copywriting example to urge action

2. PAS

Problem - meet readers at their biggest problem.

Agitate - pull the thread of the problem, showing where it leads.

Solution - position your product as the best solution.

The PAS framework is powerful for writing copy that converts. You identify the reader’s problem, show them what happens if they don’t address it, and then swoop in with the solution.

Problem:

pas copywriting framework example of identifying the problem
pas copywriting framework example of identifying the problem

Agitate:

pas copywriting framework example of agitating the problem
pas copywriting framework example of agitating the problem

Solution:

pas copywriting framework example of the solution
pas copywriting framework example of the solution

3. BAB

Before - highlight the reader’s current problem.

After - invite them to imagine a world without it.

Bridge - show them how to get there.

The BAB framework works well for visualising a problem and a solution. Companies in the fitness industry often use it.

No doubt you’ve seen the before and after picture with supplement X as the bridge. But you can use the BAB framework for any industry.

Before:

After:

bab copywriting framework example of before
bab copywriting framework example of before
bab copywriting framework example of after
bab copywriting framework example of after

Bridge:

bab copywriting framework example of the bridge
bab copywriting framework example of the bridge

4. FAB

Features - describe what your service can do.

Advantages - explain why it helps.

Benefits - show how the reader wins.

This framework is a good example of the serial position effect. Where you place information affects a reader’s recall.

Psychologists studied list recall in participants, finding:

  • They had a higher recall for words at the beginning of the list.

  • Recall dipped for words in the middle.

  • They had a higher recall for words at the end of the list.

The same is true for copy on a web page or an email. We have primacy and recency bias, remembering the beginning and end.

So leading with the features and closing with benefits makes the FAB framework super effective.

Features:

fab copywriting framework example of the features
fab copywriting framework example of the features

Advantages:

fab copywriting framework example of the advantages
fab copywriting framework example of the advantages

Benefits:

fab copywriting framework example of the benefits
fab copywriting framework example of the benefits

5. Four Cs

Clear - avoid confusing readers (strive for clarity).

Concise - keep it short without losing meaning.

Compelling - seize interest, entice readers onward.

Credible - make accurate claims without exaggerating.

The Four Cs is less of a framework and more of a guide. But it’s worth including.

Clear:

All copywriting should be clear to avoid misunderstandings. Editing for clarity is your friend here.

4 tips for identifying unclear copy:

  1. Read your work aloud

  2. Record yourself and listen back

  3. Listen to a friend reading it

  4. Get their feedback on clarity

These four steps help you weed up any confusing words and phrases.

Concise:

The best copy is short yet meaningful. Edit ruthlessly and trim unnecessary words.

You can start with filler words. Here are 11 to start.

  1. Very

  2. Just

  3. Like

  4. Well

  5. That

  6. Actually

  7. Pretty

  8. Probably

  9. Basically

  10. Literally

  11. Rather

Compelling:

Boring a reader is the last thing you want to do. They won’t act if they don’t reach the call to action.

Grab their interest and invite them to continue reading. Be conversational. Speak to them. Highlight benefits. Use formatting. Tell a story.

Credible:

Tell readers what your product can do. Be accurate. Don’t exaggerate.

Hit them with social proof throughout the copy. That gives your writing credibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly does a copywriter do?

A copywriter writes copy for websites, emails, social media, and other marketing channels. Their writing should persuade readers to take action - buy, subscribe, etc.

Copywriters create slogans, headlines, and copy that converts. They do this through:

  • Research

  • Ideation

  • Organisation

  • Writing

  • Editing

Is copywriting a good side hustle?

Yes, copywriting is a good side hustle. You don’t need any technical qualifications to start copywriting.

And it doesn’t cost much to begin copywriting as a side hustle. The overheads are low, and beginners can make money with little experience.

You might pay for a copywriting course, writing software, and a good laptop. But you only need the latter - with a good internet connection.

Copywriters can work from anywhere in the world. And that makes it a great side hustle.

How do beginners get copywriting work?

This simple trick helps you get copywriting work as a beginner. Create a sample relevant to the prospect’s needs.

Say they want new content for the homepage of their website.

  1. Check their homepage

  2. Think about improvements

  3. Show how you make it better

Securing copywriting work is hard for beginners. Many potential clients want to see your portfolio - beginners won’t have one.

But using this simple trick helps beginners get copywriting work - it helped me as a rookie copywriter.

Is copywriting an easy skill?

Copywriting isn’t an easy skill. But you can learn it with time, effort, and practice.

You must learn different skills to become a good copywriter. And you need to combine these skills to create persuasive copy.

Learning these 5 skills makes copywriting easier.

  1. Researching

  2. Listening

  3. Interviewing

  4. Writing

  5. Editing

Do copywriters need to know graphic design?

Copywriters should know basic graphic design. It helps you to wireframe copy.

Wireframing copy is arranging it in a visual way to help conversions. You write the copy and put it into the wireframe of a website - show clients where it goes on the page.

That makes it easier for clients to understand what you’re doing. And it makes it easier for the design team to create (or adjust) the page.

So basic graphic design knowledge is helpful for copywriters. The below image from Jackson Yew shows how copywriters can benefit from knowing basic design concepts.

example of benefit of knowing design for copywriters
example of benefit of knowing design for copywriters

What is a copywriter’s salary?

The average base copywriter's salary is AU$ 71,500, while a senior copywriter can make AU$ 120,500. But freelance copywriters make varying amounts, depending on experience.

Some ways copywriters charge:

  • Per word

  • Per hour

  • Per page

  • Per project

A top copywriter might charge $1 per word, while a beginner can charge 5 cents. Experienced copywriters can charge $200 per hour, while beginners might charge $25.

Copywriters who run a business can charge even more. Often, they become copywriting consultants and may charge up to $500 an hour.

Is copywriting in demand?

Yes, copywriting is in demand. Companies communicate with their audiences mainly through copywriting.

They need copywriting for their websites, social media accounts, email campaigns, and other marketing materials. That means copywriters are in high demand.

Some copywriters worry about demand falling because of AI tools like ChatGPT. These programs can write passable copy - but it needs heavy editing.

Copywriting is more than typing words on a page, though. It takes problem-solving and critical thinking AI tools don’t have - yet.

So copywriting (and copywriters) are in high demand.

Conclusion

Examples of copywriting surround us every day. It’s crucial for making sales online.

If copywriting doesn’t drive action, it fails at its job. You must persuade readers to buy, subscribe, or request a quote.

If your business copy struggles to convert, the tips in this article will help. You can rewrite your copy with this knowledge.

We know business owners are always busy. So if our services can help, please reach out.

What is Copywriting?

Copywriting is the art of persuasion through the written word.

And I mean it when I write art. Because convincing someone to act through text is an art form.

Driving action should be the end product of copywriting. But first, you need to connect with your readers and captivate them on the journey.

You can connect with your audience by meeting them at their pain points. Offer solutions to their problems to captivate them before overcoming any objections.

Ultimately, you want your copywriting to drive action.

  • Buy a product

  • Request a free quote

  • Subscribe to a newsletter

Good copy shows what problems you solve and why you’re the best solution. And it persuades people to choose you over your competitors.

Difference Between Copywriting and Content Writing

Many people ask about the difference between copywriting and content writing. It’s one of the most common questions clients ask me.

Confusion swirls around these terms because some people use them interchangeably. Although similar, copywriting and content writing have vital differences.

Content writing is indirect, less sales-driven. You can use it to educate your audience and raise brand awareness.

The content works indirectly - inform readers about your industry, business, etc.

Examples of content writing:

  • Blog articles

  • eBooks

  • Case studies

Copywriting is direct, more sales-driven. The best copywriting drives action, so you use it to convert readers into customers.

The writing works directly - buy a product, subscribe to a newsletter, etc.

Examples of copywriting:

  • Landing pages

  • Sales letters

  • Press releases