Marketing Copy for Writers
Marketing is a huge part of being a writer, and it often takes up a lot of time and brainpower. I wanted to share a few tips and tricks for copywriting to help speed up, simplify, and improve the process.
There’s a fantastic video on LinkedIn Learning called “Learn to Write Marketing Copy” (Lurie, 2020) that discusses in great detail how to write marketing copy, and I highly recommend checking it out when you have time. But, if you’re short on time, I’m going to summarize it for you here.
First off, what is marketing copywriting?
Copywriting is the content you’re come up with (either for yourself, your business, or another company) that goes on marketing material. For authors, this can include social media posts, newsletters, blogs, or handouts/takeaways (at say conferences or signings). The main focus on copywriting is the call to action—getting someone to check out your books, look at your pitch, read more…etc. Copywriting can be organized into three areas of focus:
- The collateral – what type of material is being created (long form, short form, etc).
- The medium – where it will be seen or posted (online or print material).
- The style – what you want to come across in your messages (funny, informative, educational, etc.
We’ll look at this in more detail, but first, we’ve got to get ourselves ready. I would argue this step is the most important one for being successful at copywriting, and for any form of writing, this is ALWAYS my number one tip – preparation!
How do I get prepared to write?
I utilize the following tips with any writing form I am about to do. They’re simple, help you remain focused, and, for me, become a writing ritual to get in the mode to be creative.
- Reduce distractions by letting others know you’re busy, listen to music or ambient sounds, and making sure your writing space is clear of physical distractions…like the old to-do list looming over you.
- Set a timer for writing sprints and ensure you take breaks (to avoid burn out). We’ll talk more about writing sprints and free writing below. Turn off emails and messaging.
- Make sure your calendar is up to date and your writing time (even for something like this…marketing) is scheduled.
**All of the above can be utilized during any writing session, not just copywriting**
Let’s start writing copy:
Now you’re ready to start writing, but you have no idea what to write or where to start! This is where those sprints I mentioned above come in. Take five minutes to write down anything you can about what you plan to write…even if you have NOTHING. For instance, below is an example of what I might write during a 5-minute planning sprint for this blog:
All of this is informal and ideas off the top of my head. The idea is to write freely and not worry about grammar or going into detail, just basic topics. You might use this for planning a newsletter or blog, or just quickly jot notes of what you plan to include in a social post during the week.
Pro Tip: I use this strategy when planning out the scene I am about to write so I know where it’s going…it’s my version of Plantsing (plotting + pantsing).
So NOW you can start your first draft. The video recommends starting in the middle if you’re stuck, which I like, as sometimes the introduction is daunting (as with books or scripts as well). There will be time to edit and revise later, so don’t fixate on typos or grammar. The following tips are recommended by Lurie for all copywriting, regardless of style or brand (Lurie, 2020):
- Address the reader using “you”, making it personal.
- Aim to connect, not rank.
- Avoid sarcasm and subtlety.
- Explain why and make sure there is an answer to the question “so what.”
- Be direct.
As you may have noticed, I’ve utilized these tips in this blog myself. The editing comes next, and if your like me and could spend hours stressing over a simple comma, utilize free services like Grammarly or Hemmingway to assist.
But how do I draw readers in?
Headlines for copywriting can make or break bringing in a potential new reader. If the headline doesn’t draw them in, they won’t continue reading and they surely won’t buy whatever you’re selling. Good headlines will draw in readers, it is the first thing they commit to, and it needs to be concise and clear, so test out a few until you get it right. This is the same for subject lines for newsletters. Try splitting your subscribers into two groups and test out which headline got the most opens/clicks.
Writing for online or print material:
You may be writing copy for print materials (brochures, postcards, handouts) or writing online (website, social media, blogs). Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. While print marketing material provides a great take-home for the reader and allows them to remember you even after the interaction, it can’t be edited or changed after it’s been printed. Online material, through websites or social media, is editable and testable, but due to the size constraint of many platforms, it can lack immediate context. With shorter online texts, like social media, often the image becomes your headline and draws in readers. However, if you draw someone in through a fantastic image but if the information doesn’t provide great copy, they just might scroll on by.
**I will be talking about creating great images for social media in a later post, so make sure you follow this blog so you don’t miss out**
Good copy is especially important with something like Instagram where you can’t link directly to your sites in the text/post, so readers must take an additional step of looking your book/content up. They need a strong reason WHY they would go to those lengths, and your copywriting, when done right, will do just that. Here are a few steps to ensure you pull in a reader (for print or online):
- Be concise and clear – get to the point, don’t skirt around what you want to share with the reader AND how it will benefit them.
- Have a call to action – give the reader a next step they’ll WANT to take.
- Send them somewhere – in the example of Instagram or with print material, you will want to give readers a specific location to find more information. A website, phone number, address…etc. When possible, use links. Make it easy!
Well, if you’re like me, all of the information above may feel like a lot, but as I alluded to earlier, being organized is key. For this type of writing, you’ll want to create a schedule (and, I suppose, with any writing you should do this). Create a calendar to include when this type of material needs to be done by, say for a conference or an upcoming book release, to ensure it’s ready.
I recommend the 80/20 rule when it comes to creating copywriting. Though this is easy to relate to social media (say you post once a day, have 5 informal “80%” posts, and 2 formal “20%” posts), it can apply to things like blogs or newsletters where you don’t want ALL the content to be pushing the sales side of your work.
This is how the 80/20 rule works:
80% of the content will not be focused on sales. This could be your daily life, your co-author (aka my dog #MotoFace), recommendations for books or movies…etc. Remember when I mentioned style as one of the important keys to consider when creating copy? Well, this is where it can come into play. Maybe one post is educational about how to write (wink wink), or informative that you’re working on something new. Maybe you want to share some humorous story that will help the reader understand who you are as a person. Regardless, make sure it feels like YOU and that you’ve included the tips mentioned above.
The other 20% is where you actually selling your content, with that specific call to action. This is where you post your new releases, your book covers, your “Get it now because it’s on sale” posts. Though 80% might feel like a lot of content without technically selling your stuff, remember, you can still include a call to action within these posts. For example, if I share a post teasing at a new project I’m working on, I can absolutely include a line that says “If you love YA SciFi and don’t want to wait, you should check out [my book]…” and those who answer “I love YA SciFi” may check out the book.
As with all writing, copywriting takes time to learn and master. I am not an expert, but the LinkedIn video referenced in this blog will give you even more than I have. I encourage you to check it out and give copywriting a try.
Let me know in the comments what your goals are in learning copywriting, and how you might use it to help promote your own writing endeavors.
Lurie, I. (2020, November 25). Learn to Write Marketing Copy. Retrieved from LinkedIn Learning: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/learning-to-write-marketing-copy/becoming-a-great-copywriter?u=2109516