3 hints for the new copywriter

A few copywriting tricks were recently brought to my attention. Thought I might share them.

They were small things, really. But then, copywriting usually happens in small increments: a headline here, a subject line there, the ubiquitous and obligatory CTA. None of these little pieces of copy should be more than 7 or 8 words. Ten at the most. And yet they are among the most endlessly scrutinized pieces of writing.

Of course, there are great reasons for this. Businesses will pay a skilled copywriter top dollar for his or her copywriting skills. I’ve personally been tasked time and again with boiling a 4 or 5 page creative brief into a single line. That’s what copywriters do. That’s what sets us apart from content writers or PR agents.

The real irony is that a good copywriter can make several times more money than a content writer for several times fewer words.

Why should this be?

Think about it. To write fluffy, keyword-rich web content, one has practically unlimited space in which to write. But to pare down a 500-word message into a single line takes finesse, skill and the item every copywriter’s resume has at the top: A “strong command over the English language.” (A phrase of which I grow tired.)

These skills are especially important when writing Calls to Action (CTA). Without a strong CTA, copy is directionless. Employers know this. Copywriters know this too. The ability to write a strong CTA can make or break a copywriter.

Enough rambling (I’m in content-writer mode.) Let’s get to some copywriting tricks. Back when I only wrote music (a song a day, most of them garbage) I took these tricks for granted. I could write this way effortlessly and should have recognized my talent for what it was. Lawd knows I’d be much less broke today if I’d gotten into copywriting — and out of music — sooner.

My point is this:

Trick 1: Copy can be musical

And it should be. A line of copy must stick in the reader’s head. Try rapping your headline. Try clapping along to your CTA. It should work. The words should flow. Your consonants and pauses should create a familiar pattern. Something that rolls into the brain, whether your readers are saying your copy out loud or not.

Trick 2: A little alliteration is alright

A piece of copy I recently wrote discussed “quiet conversation and custom cocktails.” Doesn’t that sound good? I think so. But that’s moot. What matters is that my client thought it sounded good. Alliteration, like rhyme, can get out of hand pretty quick. Unless you’re writing for children, I would avoid overuse of this. But a few matching hard consonants can really make your message stick.

Trick 3: Rhyming — even subtle rhyming — can hypnotize your audience

 

Hypnotize may be too strong. But you could say that a subtle-rhyming CTA, will make your copy A-OK! Actually, that’s terrible. Don’t use that. In a webinar I recently heard, writer Andy Maslen uses Gillette’s slogan as an example of this:

“Gillette, the best a man can get.”

He’s right in using this as a great example. Of course “man” and “can” rhyme, but the slogan is full of soft rhymes too: “Gillette”, “best” and “get” all have a short (eh). It’s not a hard or obvious rhyme. I never even noticed it until Maslen pointed it out. Yet that slogan has stuck with me since before I even needed to shave.

These are just a few tricks that were brought to my attention. I’ve been using them, but never really thought of. Hopefully a new copywriter will find this post interesting. And if not, then perhaps an old copywriter will shake his head at all the keywords I’ve jammed in here. And then he may even use these tricks in a CTA to produce a thousand conversions. Who knows?

CTA: Comment below and make yourself heard!

Heh.

Till then,

The Nerdy Daddy,

Professional copywriter

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