YES, YOU CAN WRITE COPY THAT ATTRACTS YOUR IDEAL CLIENT AND REFLECTS YOUR PERSONALITY. HOW?
Apply some of the tips and tricks that Jess Drury, CEO & copywriter at Heartlines Copywriting Studio, shares during this in-depth copywriting for coaches masterclass.
Jess spills the beans on everything that has to do with crafting stellar copy so you can turn your words into sales.
You’ll learn how to use archetypes when writing copy, how to breathe life into your words by mastering story plots, how to edit your first draft and turn it into a masterpiece and how to escape the blinking cursor syndrome (yes, we’ve all been there) and so much more.
Block out some time and grab a pen and paper - and maybe a cup of tea or a glass of wine - and get ready. Because you’ll get the inside scoop on how to write copy that converts and sells. All, so you can uplevel your writing and grow your coaching business.
Now, without further ado, let’s welcome Jess.
...why knowing your archetypes when writing copy is key to connect with your ideal clients on a deeper level.
...the reasons why headline formulas backfire and what to do instead.
...how to answer the question “what’s unique about you” or “why should I work with you” (your unique selling proposition).
...the techniques pros apply to avoid cliches in writing.
...what a brand essence statement is including examples, and why every coach (yes, you!) should have one.
...tips on how to write an about me page.
...the importance of storytelling and the three key story plots you should use to draw your audience in.
...if you should write long copy vs short copy to get the result you’re after.
...how to write a sales page.
...ninja hacks on how to edit your copy fast.
...how to overcome writer’s block and get out of the funk when creativity runs low.
...the simple steps you can follow to write better copy—instantly.
- COPYWRITING FOR COACHES TUTORIAL WITH JESS DRURY -
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how to write compelling copy, could you please share a little bit about yourself?
Sure. My name is Jess Drury, and I live with my family in Ontario, Canada. Before becoming a copywriter, I started out with degrees in history, psychology and education. After that, I taught high school English for a number of years until I decided to become a mum.
I quit teaching, stayed home with my kids, but after a few years of nothing but ABC songs and nursery rhymes, I felt like I had to do something else.
I knew that I didn’t have the personality to do multi-level marketing (MLM) parties every week. It just sounded exhausting and horrible. I also knew that I’m not crafty; I was never gonna be the person that has the cake decorating or the knitting business.
SO I LOOKED AT MY SKILLSET AND THOUGHT WHAT IS THE ONE THING THAT YOU’VE ALWAYS DONE REALLY WELL AND REALLY LOVED? AND THAT WAS WRITING - AND SO I STARTED WITH THAT.
I signed up for a creative writing course at the University of Toronto because I didn’t know what to do apart from just going back to university.
The professor was a copywriter, and he explained what that was. Up until then, I didn’t even know this job existed until he said that this is how he actually made most of his money - and not as a university professor.
And that just became this deep dive for me.
I started taking course after course from the American Writers and Artists Institute, and then I found a bunch of professional copywriters online. I took their courses, and one day I just opened up shop and offered my services on a one-page website.
And that’s how I become a copywriter.
You mentioned that you studied psychology. Do you use some of the principles you learnt back then when writing copy now?
Yes, because psychology has a lot to do with the brand archetypes that I use.
There are 12 brand archetypes based on Jungian psychology. And when I first got into copywriting, it was more of the old school direct mail style copywriting.
Then I got into this whole creative copywriting and brand copywriting thing, and that’s where I fell in love.
It led me down the branding wormhole, and I realised people were using archetypes to create brands, and I could use archetypes to create a brand voice.
It felt like a very natural extension from psychology into writing. I could just see how they merged.
What are brand archetypes exactly? And how do you apply them in copywriting?
Brand archetypes are universally recognised patterns of behaviour. They’re intrinsic; they’re unconscious.
We don’t think when we see something “oh that’s this archetype”. But we recognise the rebel in James Dean, and we recognise the caregiver in Mother Teresa. Those are archetypical images and people.
When you apply archetypes to your brand, it’s a way to call in all the people who resonate with those archetypes. And it’s a way to be true to yourself and to create a very flexible foundation.
As individual human beings, not brands, we do have access to all 12 archetypes; and you access them in different situations and with different people.
We’re favouring one or maybe three more than the others, but certainly, all of those archetypes exist within us.
When it comes to branding your business, I always choose the top three. You don’t want to be one-dimensional.
But at the same time, if you looked at your business and went, well, sometimes it’s this, and sometimes it’s that, and maybe it’s seven or eight of the 12; that starts to get confusing, and it starts to be inconsistent.
SO BY CHOOSING THE TOP THREE ARCHETYPES, WE MAKE SURE THAT WE AREN'T ONE-DIMENSIONAL, BUT WE’RE ALSO GIVING OUR BRAND CONSISTENCY.
My favourite example when it comes to explaining archetypes in marketing is Coca-Cola.
They’re the innocent archetype, and they’ve taken that innocent archetype and managed to make it work for decades in their promotions.
We used to have the Coca-Cola polar bears. They were sharing their Coke with all the other animals, including the penguins somewhere in the Arctic, and it was all about connection, right?
The main thing about the innocence archetype is connection and connection stories.
When we look at Coca-Cola commercials and especially at the more recent one about how there can be so much cyber-bullying, you can see that they’ve taken that innocent archetype, and they’ve made it work for every decade.
That commercial was about a guy standing in this room with all the wires and the boards, and he accidentally spilled a bottle of Coke into one device.
Suddenly, everybody gets these messages of love and light, and they’re connecting with each other, and they’re looking up from their phones, and they’re feeling good.
This ad is a brilliant example of how archetypes work in storytelling and marketing.
AN ARCHETYPE ISN’T LIMITING; IT’S A FOUNDATION FROM WHICH YOU ALWAYS APPROACH AND PEOPLE RECOGNISE YOU AS THAT.
If Coca-Cola was to come out with a rebel campaign, nobody would resonate with that because that isn’t what we recognise as being Coca-Cola.
And you do the same thing with your own brand; you become recognisable in your niche in a way that feels authentic and unique to you by expressing your own voice rather than sounding like everyone else.
But more on that later...
So how does using swipe files, filling in headline formulas or completing templates fit into the “express your own voice” equation?
I believe those formulas and templates are shortcuts. When you have no idea where to begin, we do easy things like following “proven” formulas.
“If you fill in the blank, then this headline will work for you”, is what they tell you on the sales page. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.
Perhaps you just wasted all of your time filling in templates to find out that it doesn’t sound like you, and you want to rewrite it two months later. Maybe it doesn’t feel right or maybe you’re not getting the same response that the other person did who sold you the secret formula.
Or it simply comes back to the fact that they’re in the marketing sphere and you’re in the coaching sphere, and it doesn’t translate.
THAT’S WHY IT’S BETTER TO UNDERSTAND THE WHY AND THE HOW BEHIND THE WRITING SO THAT YOU CAN MAKE IT YOUR OWN.
Think about this: When a prospect sees a particular formulated piece of content for the first time, they might love it as it sounds incredible and new and fresh. But the more people use those templates or swipe files and just copy and paste them, the more used and heard-it-before and boring it sounds.
What stays with the prospect is that this coach over here sounds exactly like that coach over there. And that’s what you don’t want.
You don’t want to fit in; you want to stand out.
Talking about standing out, how do you help coaches find and communicate their unique selling proposition?
Understanding what’s unique about you and your business - or your unique selling proposition (USP) - is a must-have when writing copy. That’s why every copywriter on the block will ask you that question.
What’s interesting though, is that most business owners stumble upon that...
In the beginning, I even stumbled upon it. I didn’t know what’s unique about me. I mean, I’m a copywriter. And then you drill further down and say, well, I only write for websites.
Spoiler alert: There are a lot of copywriters out there writing for websites. There’s nothing special or unique about that. So, the most common answer is “I don’t know what’s unique about me”.
Suddenly my clients feel insecure about everything. They know that they should have figured it out, but they don’t. And they say “I don’t know, figure it out yourself”, and they move on to the next point.
Sometimes there is something distinct about your business that nobody else can claim. But those businesses are very few and far between.
So for most of us, the thing that is special about your business is you.
NOBODY’S GOING TO DELIVER WHAT YOU’RE DELIVERING EXACTLY THE WAY YOU DO WITH YOUR EXPERIENCE AND YOUR HISTORY AND YOUR PERSONALITY.
You’re most likely not the only one offering a certain coaching package. Maybe there are 100s of other life coaches or health coaches out there offering the same kind of coaching program with the same kind of results, but nobody’s going to do it the way that you do.
And that’s where understanding your archetypes, your personality and also your values sets you apart and allows people to choose you for more profound reasons. Because they can see the common ground in personality or they can see the common ground in values.
They aren’t choosing you because you happen to have exactly the package they’re looking for. They aren’t choosing you because you’re the cheapest. They’re choosing you because of who you are. And then they don’t mind paying more.
For example, if integrity is number one on your value list, then you need to show people that this value is important to you. You need to talk about integrity and what that means for you so that for everybody else for whom integrity is a priority, they can go “yes, I want to work with that person because we’re on the same page here”.
Before I write anything for my clients, I always do a brand archetyping and a core brand values assessment where we come up with the top five brand values. Then, I merge the archetypes and values, and I make sure that they’re very explicitly stated in the copy.
Those things are essential to communicate to clients and that’s why I’ll show you how to craft a brand essence statement.
Before we dive into that, I was wondering where the client fits in because the archetypes and values are all about you (and not the client)?
There’s a balance or a sweet spot that you have to find between talking about yourself and talking about your clients.
FOR ME, YOU’LL ALWAYS WANT TO BE ALIGNED ON YOUR VALUES, AND THEREFORE YOU CAN’T GO WRONG TALKING ABOUT THEM - HOW DO THOSE VALUES SHOW UP FOR YOUR CLIENTS, HOW DO THEY FUEL THEIR PAIN POINTS AND DREAMS?
Also, your clients have to be very clear about what you do and how you can help them. To craft this message, you need to know your ideal client first.
On a side note, I hate the advice - and it’s extremely prevalent in the coaching world - that your ideal client is you five years ago.
When I started out, I hired a business coach. And she said to me your ideal client is you five years ago. Well, me five years ago, I was a stay-at-home mum. Stay-at-home mums don’t need copywriters. How is that my ideal client?
My ideal client is somebody with a business. Five years ago, I didn’t have one. And she argued with me about how my ideal client was a former version of myself, and I thought, no, it doesn’t work that way for me.
And even later, once I learned copywriting, and put up shop as a copywriter, I’ve never needed to hire a copywriter.
LONG STORY SHORT, I THINK THAT THERE HAS TO BE AN ALIGNMENT BETWEEN YOU AND THEM. THERE HAS TO BE COMMON GROUND. AND FOR ME, THE VALUES ALWAYS DO THAT WORK.
I explore this more in my book called “The Power of Personality for Your Small Business”. You can find it on all the Amazon stores around the world.
Now, let’s have a look at the brand essence statement...
What’s a brand essence statement all about? Why do we need it and how can we create one?
A brand essence statement or brand statement or brand positioning statement, different people will call it different things, is a very concise statement that tells you who you are, what you do and what you stand for.
So it has got your beliefs wrapped into what you do and who you serve and how you serve them.
For me, it’s a foundational piece that you can use on your website, in your emails and in your other marketing content.
Whenever I have a new client, even if they haven’t hired me to write a brand statement, I always start there. And then I look at the themes that are coming up, the things that feel important, and I pull from that to write the sales page, or I draw from that to make the tagline or whatever it is that I’m writing.
It gives you a lot of clarity, and it gives you that beginning place where you can start from and build on it so that you don’t need to write everything brand new every time.
BECAUSE IF YOU HAVE A COMPELLING ENOUGH REASON FOR THEM TO CHOOSE YOU, IT WON’T MATTER WHAT THE PRICE IS.
I created an imaginary business to show you my process. Here are the deets:
Live it, Dream it, Life Coaching - owned by Dr Jane Doe
Ideal Client profile:
The ideal clients for this business are women in their 30s who are dissatisfied with their life, and they want more. More connection in relationships, more fulfilment at work, more freedom to choose what their life looks like.
These women feel trapped in the status quo, and they want courage or permission to break out of it without blowing up their life. They like their life to be more fulfilling without living in a yurt.
Note: Most coaching businesses will have caregiver or visionary as their top three archetypes. Those are the two main archetypes for coaches.
Elements of a brand statement
Who you are, what you do and who you do it for.
What you believe or what you stand for.
What you’re not, what you stand against, who you don’t serve or what you don’t do.
A quick tip here: The “who you are, what you do and who you do it for” should be the first sentence of your homepage, just for SEO (search engine optimisation) purposes. But it’s also the first sentence in our brand statement.
And the last part, the “what you’re not and so on”, gives an extra layer of clarity, and it allows people to self-select if you aren’t what they’re looking for. And you want them to self-select as early as possible so that you won’t waste time sitting in discovery calls with people who aren’t the right fit.
Example: Crappy First Draft & Explanation
Live it, Dream it, Life Coaching is the vision of Dr Jane Doe, who has dedicated her life to helping women step into their personal power.
We believe dissatisfaction can be a catalyst to design the life you’re dreaming of—deeper connections in your relationships, more fulfilment and alignment at work.
Living your best life is about saying F-it to the status quo so you can speak your truth and reclaim the power to shape your destiny.
Let’s dissect it:
The visionary archetype is coming through with the words “the vision”, “step into your personal power” (that’s the transformation), “catalyst” and “the life you’re dreaming of” (what you envision for your life).
We can see the caregiver archetype coming in with “deeper connections in your relationships”.
And we see the rebel archetype talking about “dissatisfaction”, “saying F-it to the status quo”, “speaking your truth” and “reclaiming your power”. That’s all rebel.
By the way, as a rebel brand, the odd swear word is going to be on-brand. It gives you the idea that she’s a tell it like it is, a straight shooter. All typical for the rebel archetype.
When you write your first draft, do you intentionally choose words that work for the archetypes?
A lot of the words are coming from what my client told me in the creative briefing - that’s a form that all of my clients fill out that tells me all about them, their business and their clients.
They’re telling me that their clients want connections in relationships. They’re telling me they want more fulfilment at work. They’re telling me that they feel trapped in the status quo.
So I’m taking those ideas, and they become the bones of what I’m working on.
For example, I talk about “deeper connections in your relationships” - exactly what they told me. “Saying F-it to the status quo”, I reworded what they told me. And I talk about the “dissatisfaction” that their clients feel.
IT ALL BEGINS WITH THE WORDS THAT MY CLIENTS USE TO DESCRIBE THE PEOPLE THAT THEY SERVE.
For sure, I tweak them sometimes and change them around. I’m not necessarily taking my client’s input word for word and just plunking it on the page. But the creative brief is where the ideas start for me.
What’s so crappy about this draft? And, what would a final draft look like?
I’ve got two things here that are the kiss of death to every copy:
VAGUENESS + CLICHES
Let’s talk about vagueness: helping women. Well, does it apply to all women universally around the world? What kind of women? Helping them do what?
Or deeper connections in your relationships. What does that mean? Which relationships exactly? And what does that look like?
Or more fulfilment and alignment at work. Again, what does that mean? What does that look like? What does it feel like to be more fulfilled? Or what does it feel like to be aligned at work?
Now over to cliches: step into their personal power; this is one of my favourite coaching cliches. Design the life you’re dreaming of, living your best life, speaking your truth—all cliches. Reclaim the power to shape your destiny. That feels kind of cliche. I don’t know if it’s a saying or if it’s just cheesy, but wow.
Whenever we start to talk about our industry, our business, our values, we sound very cliched.
Cliches naturally flow; they’re overused, which means they’re top of mind when you’re trying to write things. I use cliches, too, when I write my first draft.
IT’S IMPORTANT NOT TO STOP THAT CREATIVE FLOW OF GETTING IDEAS ON THE PAGE. YOU DON’T WANT TO OVERTHINK EVERY SENTENCE WHILE YOU’RE TRYING TO GET YOUR IDEAS OUT.
So let the words flow, and whenever you hit a cliche, circle it and keep writing. This way, you can come back and fix it later.
The questions that I love to use when I’m trying to unpack a cliche like “stepping into their personal power” is as follows:
What does that look like for these clients, I mean, the client’s clients? Does that look like confidently walking into the boardroom to present? Does that look like being able to say no to the people in their life who are sucking their time and energy?
It could look a lot of different ways and sometimes you have to ask that question several times to get to a place that is specific and true for your clients.
If you aren’t 100% sure which specific example to pick as your client has different roles - for example, she’s an executive but also a mum, spouse, committee member, etc. - go with the part that you’re helping her with as a coach.
Ask yourself: Are you helping her with her whole life? Or are you helping her just with her position at work? Or are you helping her with her personal relationships, with her significant other, with her kids, with her parents?
Your answer to that question defines which specific scenario you use in your copy.
BONUS: HOW TO REWRITE VAGUE COPY
“Helping women step into their personal power” was a vague statement that was in our original crappy first draft.
To get my creative juices flowing, I ask myself questions such as which women? Helping them how? And, what does it look like to step into your personal power?
For this imaginary business, I decided that it’s going to support career women as they transition to soulful purpose-driven positions they love.
It’s definitely a little bit clearer now. If those words sound still vague to you, you could always refine them more and continue to drill down.
For our purposes, we’re going to say that this is a more specific statement than helping women step into their personal power.
We know that “helping” means supporting through a transition. And we know that we’re targeting career women. Their position also implies that they don’t want to become entrepreneurs. They like the 9-5 world; they just wish things were different.
There’s still room for further clarification and more specificity, but I think we’re on the right track.
Example: Final Draft & Explanation
After editing vague words and taking cliches out and doing some other tweaks, I ended up with this final draft:
Live it, Dream it, Life Coaching is the vision of Dr Jane Doe, who’s devoted her life to supporting career women as they transition into soulful purpose-driven positions.
We believe dissatisfaction can be a clue and a catalyst to find work that’s more aligned with your values and talents.
We believe you can cultivate positive relationships with all your colleagues. Yes, even that guy.
And we believe you don’t need to ditch the boardroom to find fulfilment because giving yourself permission to say F-it to the status quo doesn’t have to mean destroying everything you’ve built and starting over from scratch.
All it takes is a little courage and creativity.
Let’s have a closer look at the changes I made:
We got a lot more specific about who we’re working with and how we’re helping them in this version.
We still have the visionary showing up. The “vision”, the “transition”, right? Visionary is all about transformation or here the “transition into soulful, purpose-driven positions”. The fact that “you don’t need to ditch the boardroom to find fulfilment”. That sounds very visionary to me because a lot of people feel like that’s the only way, and “all it takes is a little courage and creativity”. That’s all visionary as well.
The caregiver, we have words like “devoted”, “supporting”, “aligned with your values and talents” and “positive relationships”. All very nurturing vocabulary and language that shows we’re the caregiver archetype.
And the rebel is still in here with the “dissatisfaction that can be a clue and a catalyst”. I liked the whole “giving yourself permission to say F-it to the status quo”. That felt really rebel, and I qualified it by saying it “doesn’t have to mean destroying everything you’ve built” because that’s not what our client wants to do with their life.
As you can see, not everything changed from the first draft to the second. I made a lot of changes, but I also kept a few ideas and just played with it.
Is the brand statement a stand-alone piece or can you repurpose it for other things like emails, sales pages or social media posts?
You can and should repurpose it, for sure. Because in my opinion, a brand essence statement is a foundation piece.
Going back to the example statement, I love the sentence “you don’t need to ditch the boardroom to find fulfilment”, and I think I’d turn that into a headline for my sales page.
Or we talk about how “dissatisfaction can be a clue and a catalyst”. So on my sales page, I’d talk about what that dissatisfaction looks and feels like in more detail at work.
And then we talk more about that “you don’t need to ditch the boardroom” - this is what we can do, and what it looks like to have work that feels aligned, that feels purposeful and fulfilling. And I think that would be how I would structure my sales page.
And for the about page, I could use the idea that Dr Jane Doe has “devoted her life to supporting career women as they transition into different positions”. So maybe that was something that she did for herself. And I could talk a little bit about her journey to build trust that she understands them.
But maybe it wasn’t her journey... Maybe it was a best friend that she watched going through a transition into a more purposeful, fulfilling position at work. She could talk about all the challenges her friend was going through and how that created empathy and awareness of what her clients are going through right now.
As you can see, there are a lot of ways how you can reuse snippets in other content pieces such as emails, sales or about me pages, social media posts and even in your coaching welcome packet.
When it comes to writing about pages, is there a magic structure you recommend? And, is it okay to update your story occasionally?
They say that the about page is the most visited page on your website. And especially when we talk about coaching, you want to know who you’re working with.
If you don’t feel like you have a good vibe with that person, if you don’t feel understood by that person, then you’re going to look for another coach.
That’s why you need to nail your message on this page and structure it in a way that it resonates with your ideal client.
Having said that. there’s no rule that says people must put this or that on an about page.
IF THERE WAS ONE GUIDING PRINCIPLE, I’D WOULD SAY IT’S THAT YOU NEED TO TALK ABOUT YOU, YOUR STORY, AND YOU ALSO NEED TO TALK ABOUT YOUR CLIENT’S STORY AND HOW THAT WORKS TOGETHER.
Some coaches start by talking about themselves, and then the client and then we or us together and other people start off talking about the client and then themselves and then how we both fit together.
YOU + ME + US TOGETHER
Those three elements, however you do it, whether you use a timeline, whether you’re stacking paragraphs, whether you’ve got some fancy visual way of creating that story, that “you and me and us together” always needs to be there.
When it comes to changing your story, well, I’ve had many iterations of my about page over the years and I think as we evolve as entrepreneurs, it’s completely natural for our about page to evolve as well.
When I first started out, my about page was basically a resume because I came from the world of work where you had a resume and a cover letter.
So when somebody asks you about you, you’re like here’s my resume. And then I realised that about pages on the internet were a little bit different.
The first story that I told was the transition from stay-at-home mum to copywriter and how I had felt dissatisfied with five years of ABC songs and nursery rhymes and sesame street clips. I just felt like my brain was shrinking, and I needed to do something more creative and stimulating for me.
I talked about how I am not good at MLM, and that I’m the “queen of Pinterest fail” I think was a phrase that I used. And that was my first about me page. And it was true. It was absolutely true.
In the next version of my about page, I was talking about the dissatisfaction that I felt when I was teaching. I happened to teach at a school where it was a very toxic work environment and how that got me down and how writing became almost an exercise in healing those wounds for me.
I described how writing for other women who found their voice, who were powerful and who were creating things in the world, was so inspiring for me.
My current version focuses more on how it helped me find my voice that I didn’t realise was gone until I started writing for other women in their businesses online.
I realised how much of a voice I didn’t have in my personal life and how this business became a catalyst for so many changes for me personally.
Every time you tell your story, you find a little bit more courage to be a little bit more vulnerable. We’re able to peel back the next layer, and it just takes time.
It’s taken years to get to the current version that it’s at. I’m sure in a couple of years it’ll look nothing like what it does right now. And that’s totally fine.
How can you tell better stories and connect deeper with your audience?
There’s a lot of brain science that supports that we process information in storytelling format in a way that we don’t process anything else.
Because it creates that emotional connection, which we all know is essential if you want somebody to buy from you.
Every decision to buy is emotional first. And the way to get people emotionally connected is to tell a story. So I think storytelling is essential to copywriting.
I think we need to throw out just about everything we learned about storytelling in grammar school, grade school or elementary.
Your storytelling doesn’t have to be linear like when you were a little kid - it began here, and then this happened, and this happened, and this is what happened at the end.
That isn’t the only format for storytelling, thankfully. And that’s not the format that your website needs to take.
You can tell a story in a single sentence.
The key story plots you need to know about
There are three plots, again backed by psychology, that we connect into:
The challenge plot is your hero story. It’s every superhero movie that you’ve ever watched. If you’re familiar with Joseph Campbell’s hero story framework, that is the challenge plot.
This is how it goes: I had this plan or this idea, and then there was this obstacle, this obstacle, this obstacle, this obstacle. But I overcame them all and sometimes I had help along the way, and later I achieved the goal or outcome I was looking for.
The connection plot is all about bridging gaps between people or between ideas. That bridge could be really anything - like, for example, in the movie “Invictus”.
It’s about bridging race or ethnicity or gender, or there’s something that is dividing you and someone else. And it’s about creating the bridge for that. That’s what the connection plot is all about.
The creativity plot is all about finding that creative spark that initiates the transformational story.
If you’re familiar with MacGyver, either the 80s version or the current version, every MacGyver episode is following a creativity plot.
It’s about taking these objects that don’t seem to work together and creating something new that solves a problem or gets you out of a problem.
Some archetypes lend themselves to certain plots better than others.
So the hero archetype does well with the challenge plot. The caregiver does well with a connection plot. And the visionary does well with the creativity plot. So does the artist.
However, the plot you eventually choose should always depend on your story rather than on your archetypes or on the business niche that you’re in.
Writing a story in one sentence made me think about whether it’s better to write short-form or long-form copy... What’s your take on that?
When it comes to emails and things like that, it doesn’t matter honestly.
If you look at Seth Godin, he puts out a blog every single day. His emails and posts are almost always very short. He has the ability to be concise and profound in a way that is unique to him, and I have never been able to replicate his style.
If you look at some of the other marketers that I love, they write long blog posts and long emails. I’ll mark them in my inbox as I know that it’s going to be good, but I also know that I need to set aside a couple of minutes to read through it.
THEY DO BOTH WORK. AND I THINK YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE MARRIED TO ONE.
I started writing very long blog posts. Every blog post was reasonably lengthy, and then I almost had to give myself permission to write short ones.
I felt if I was done in a couple of paragraphs that I had to keep going. No, you don’t. You made your point. Move on. Everybody can go and enjoy their day now.
You don’t have to keep writing.
If you’ve done long-form stuff in the past, don’t be afraid to go short. If you’ve done short pieces, you can explore long-form ones and explore how that feels.
When it comes to things like blog posts and emails, the length can be very flexible.
Not for sales page though...
The three factors that determine how long a sales page should be
When it comes to sales pages, a different set of rules apply. In fact, there are three factors that determine length:
The more expensive the coaching package is that you’re trying to sell the more convincing you’re gonna have to do.
If you’re selling a one-day intensive for $597, and then, on the other hand, you’ve got this 12-months $10,000-thing, guess which one you’re going to have to write more for to convince people to even come on the call? You’re going to have to write more for the more expensive item.
If you’re selling something like a mug that I can see, and I can hold, and I can feel, and I’ll use it every day with my coffee, then you don’t have to sell me very hard on the mug. I can see it. I can see for myself that I’ll use it.
If you’re selling something like more fulfilment, more peace, greater joy - all of them are arguably a heck of a lot more important than a mug - but because they’re intangible as I can’t see peace, I can’t feel peace, I can’t taste it, I can’t hear it, then you have to convince me that you’re going to be able to help me find that and what that looks like in my life.
WARMTH OF AUDIENCE
A warm audience encompasses people that have already interacted with your brand, they’re already on your email list, they’ve worked with you in the past. Those are all warm audiences, and that’s why there’s less convincing required to sell something to people who already know you well.
If you craft an ad for Facebook or Instagram that targets a cold audience (someone who has never heard from you before), you have to write more as you need to be a lot more convincing.
Not sure about the length? Keep the rule of seven in mind...
In marketing, there’s this “rule of seven”, which states that prospects need to interact with your brand at least seven times before they’ll be willing to buy.
I’d say that’s very individual. Some people take a lot more than seven. Some people jump right in. And I think it depends a little bit on what you’re selling too - whether or not that person feels comfortable diving in faster than that.
WHENEVER YOU SELL TO A COLD AUDIENCE, WHENEVER YOU EXPECT EYEBALLS ON THE PAGE WHO HAVE NEVER SEEN ANY OF YOUR COACHING PROGRAMS BEFORE, THEN YOU WRITE LONGER, MORE CONVINCING COPY.
What does your writing and editing process looks like?
I always write my first draft with enough time that I can walk away from it for 24 hours before I come back to do any kind of editing.
When you’re super familiar with your content because you’ve been slaving over it for a couple of hours, your brain will try to fill in what you want to put on the page because you already know what you want to say. And that may or may not have come across on the page.
But if you give it 24 hours, and then come back to it with fresh eyes, you’ll be able to pick up on places where you weren’t clear.
But first things first: Preparation matters
As mentioned earlier on, all of my clients need to fill in a creative brief. It’s 45 questions long, and it’s the place where all of my ideas begin.
Okay, you got me... There’s a little bit of cyber-stalking involved, too. I’ll go through their current website, and I’ll read everything; I’ll read their blog posts, I’ll follow them on social media and I’ll read through what they’re posting there.
I’ve had people who completed the creative brief in an hour, and I’ve had other people message me, and they’re like, I’m on hour four, when does it end? As a business owner, you need to know the answers to these questions.
I worked with a lot of people who are just starting out, and going through this brief gives them the clarity they didn’t even know they needed.
But I’ve also had people who’ve been in business for years, take that brief and go wow because they came up with some great nuggets of information.
WHAT'S MAYBE UNIQUE ABOUT MY APPROACH IS THAT BEFORE I WRITE ANY COPY FOR A CLIENT, I TRANSCRIBE ALL THE ANSWERS BY HAND IN A FRESH NOTEBOOK.
There’s something that happens when the replies go from reading to actually writing them, and my brain makes these connections.
When I see something important, I’ll draw a big star on the page, or I’ll start to craft phrases in my head based on something that they’ve written. And so my margins are filled with little bits of copy. That’s how I start.
By the time I finished transcribing the brief, I’ve got stars on the things that are important, little bits of copy that are playing in my head. And that’s the place where I begin.
I don’t start writing the first draft immediately until I feel super compelled. I transcribe the brief, and then the next day I’ll come back, and I’ll just look through the pieces that I noted as important, and that’s when I start mapping out ideas.
Sometimes the first day is all about getting a bunch of random ideas down on paper that don’t necessarily seem to fit together.
After 24 hours, I’ll go through my notes and write the first draft, and then wait for another 24 hours and come back to see if it’s still as brilliant as I thought before.
And then the editing process starts. I’ll go, well, this is my first draft and refine it a bit.
Then I’ll leave it for a bit and come back, and sometimes I’ll look at it, and I’ll ask myself if the archetypes are really showing up? Is the visionary there, is the rebel coming in, where’s the caregiver shining through? Or have I forgotten one? And if I have forgotten one, how can I add it into what I’ve already got?
Then I’ll do another editing round where I’m looking at my cliches. How else can I say this? How can I be more specific? Because as we know, specific is always better. And I’ll go through, and I’ll just look for that.
I have different kinds of filters that I use when I look at cliches, words and phrases or the archetypes. Am I being vague or cliched anywhere? Is there anything where I am not being specific enough? Am I telling a story? Am I telling the right story in the right way? And I’ll look only at the storytelling pieces.
When you edit, focus on one thing at a time.
Useful resources to edit your copy like a pro and infuse it with fresh ideas
Every industry has its own jargon. We get down on lawyers and doctors for all the jargon that they use, but really every industry has its own jargon.
Even as a copywriter, I’ll throw out marketing terms and forget that my client may not know what those mean yet.
We talked about the USP earlier, and when we talk about funnels, people are like, I don’t know what that means.
THE BEST TIP I CAN GIVE YOU IS TO SIT DOWN AND ASK YOURSELF WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE IN MY BUSINESS? OR FOR MY CLIENTS? AND KEEP DRILLING DOWN AND DRILLING DOWN UNTIL YOU MADE IT VERY SPECIFIC.
When I’m writing copy, and I need different words, I run to the Thesaurus all the time.
And there’s another one called the Idioms Dictionary where you can put in a phrase or a word.
For example, you could put in the word heart and it’ll tell you all of the popular phrases that have to do with heart. And then you can take those phrases and turn them on their head or swap out a word or two so that it feels fresh.
Another one is RhymeZone. But thankfully, it does more than rhyming because we don’t want copy that rhymes. That feels like nursery school.
RhymeZone is a neat little helper, and you can use the drop down and links to explore and find words that are alliterative or sound similar and so on.
You can also look up syllables. And you can run a Shakespearean search which I used to name my own business.
Here's a quick tip on how to make any copy more powerful...
The most persuasive word in your entire vocabulary is “because” and psychology has shown us that this little word is magical as we automatically believe whatever comes after the word “because”.
The reason for this is that our brains are lazy as we don’t want to search through all of our memories and our experiences or things we’ve read to disprove every time we come across that word and whatever comes after it.
So we automatically believe anything that comes after the word “because” which makes it very effective for influencing people. And the more relevant your reasons, the better.
However, it doesn’t have to be.
They did a study where they had photocopiers in a standard work office environment, and they tried to have somebody cut in line to use the photocopier - which can be the equivalent of taking your life in your hands in some places.
The person would try to cut in line and say, well, “can I photocopy before you?” And the answer was always no. If you just ask “can I go first?” the answer is no.
Then they decided we’ll give the people a reason. So they asked “can I go first because I’m really crunched for this deadline?” And lo and behold they almost always were able to go first.
The only thing they changed was adding the word because and a valid reason after it.
So they got curious, and they thought, well, what if it’s not a real reason... And so they had people say “can I go first because I need to?” Which is not a good reason, right?
And people would still let them go first. And that’s where they realised that this word “because” is the key factor.
ADDING "BECAUSE" INTO PLACES IN YOUR COPY WHERE YOU WANT TO CONVINCE SOMEONE OF SOMETHING, WHERE IT’S A CRUCIAL POINT THAT YOU WANT TO MAKE, SPRINKLE IN THIS FANTASTIC WORD.
Ask for input!
If you want to make your editing process easier, create a checklist for yourself; I don’t have one as it’s pretty instinctual for me at this point.
You could list things like look at cliches, look for vague words, check the archetypes, look at this, look at that and go through and just look at one thing each time.
Even though I edit my copy step by step, it doesn’t take me a whole day; I don’t do one thing and then come back the next day and do another thing.
I just go through the copy look through one lens, fix it, then I look for the next thing, fix it. And I’ll do maybe three or four rounds before I get to a point where I’m ready for input from the client.
I KNOW THAT NOT EVERY COPYWRITER WORKS THIS WAY, BUT I SEE IT AS A VERY COLLABORATIVE PROCESS. I NEED OUTSIDE FEEDBACK TO TELL ME WHAT FEELS RIGHT AND WHAT DOESN’T. AND SO DO YOU. ASK YOUR CLIENTS OR YOUR PEERS FOR FEEDBACK. GET EYEBALLS ON THE PAGE AND REFINE IT BEFORE YOU HIT PUBLISH.
Most of the time it’s only the tiniest little tweak that the client wants because they’re usually pretty blown away.
Other times they’ll come back to me, and they’re like this section feels a bit off, and we’ll go back and forth and explore what isn’t right about it.
I highly recommend doing the same with your copy even if it sounds scary.
Whatever the feedback might be, always keep in mind that it’s up to you to take the suggestions on or ignore them all together.
If somebody can’t invest in a copywriter yet, would you say that copywriting is a learnable skill?
Oh, for sure.
Before I become a copywriter, I didn’t even know that copywriting existed. This wasn’t a skill set that I had. So yes, you can learn it.
EVEN WHEN I WRITE FOR MYSELF, I ALWAYS WRITE EVERYTHING OUT USING A PEN AND PAPER, AND THAT’S MY FIRST DRAFT.
Then, I start transferring my draft to let’s say my social media planning app, and I’ll change things up while typing. So it gets edited as it goes in there.
This way, I always have at least one draft.
The same applies when I need to write 25 emails. I write them on paper, and then I put it on the screen, so that’s always at least one draft that I edit before hitting send.
If you don’t like to write on paper, that’s fine. You can do it in a writing app.
I love the Bear app. It’s very paired down. No distractions. It’s a great app for me to jot down my ideas. And I do almost all of my social media posts in this great app.
Keep it simple and pick any app that you love that does the job for you. You don’t have to spend money on a fancy app.
When you take your copy from the app and move it over to the spot where it’ll be published, don’t copy and paste your words and be done. Read through it and check where you can add emphasis or change something up.
How can you overcome writer’s block quickly?
I cannot look at a blank page with a blinking cursor and come up with anything. It’s like all creativity leaks out of my brain; I just stare at it as everybody else does.
If you find it hard to write, whether it’s with a pen and paper or whether it’s on the computer, do a voice memo of yourself and talk it out. Then transcribe it yourself or outsource it. Take out the good nuggets or clean the memo up.
I’m a big believer of putting inspiration in and always making sure that you have lots to pull from so that your creativity never feels like it has deserted you.
So whether that’s reading a lot of poetry or fiction, or going to watch people dance or sing, or going to an art gallery.
Whatever that is for you, always put the inspiration in so that when you have to sit down and talk about something, you have these ideas and experiences that you can pull from. And it doesn’t need to cost a lot of money.
FEEDING THAT INSPIRATION WELL IS ESSENTIAL IN WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING. BECAUSE YOU HAVE STORIES TO TELL WHEN YOU’RE TALKING WITH CLIENTS, AND YOU HAVE THINGS TO TALK ABOUT IN YOUR MARKETING AND FOR SOCIAL MEDIA. EVEN MUNDANE THINGS CAN WORK IF YOU KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN.
For example, we went grocery shopping once in the small town where my parents live, and we were going through the bread section. My son lives solely on bread; I swear if we had no bread in this house, he would starve.
They had a display of doughnuts, but they didn’t call them doughnuts. They called them “glazed yeast rings” which doesn’t sound yummy at all...
So I took a picture of the sign, and that became a social media post because I understand that you want to be creative when you’re naming things, but nothing is appealing about a glazed yeast ring. It was just a glazed doughnut.
And so even something as mundane as grocery shopping can be an inspiration if you’re in the mindset to look for things.
Any final tip on how to write better copy?
I want to encourage you to play with the words. Because copywriting is never done. You should never put a piece of copy out there and forget about it. You always need to go back and tweak it and experiment with different headlines and other things.
Do some A/B testing, which is marketing jargon for changing out one thing in your copy. You could adjust the headline and leave everything else and see if you attract more people.
Or change out your call to action at the bottom where you ask them to do something and test if that gets more people clicking. It’s this big playground of words.
KEEP EXPERIMENTING AND DON’T FREAK OUT IF IT’S NOT WORKING IMMEDIATELY. MOST OFTEN IT’S NOT A THROW-OUT-EVERYTHING SITUATION. WALK AWAY FROM IT FOR A BIT, COME BACK AND EDIT IT.
And if you can, get feedback on your words from other entrepreneurs. Studies have shown that it’s better to ask for input from fellow entrepreneurs than from your ideal clients.
Your ideal clients don’t always know what they want or how to express it or what’s best for them. Whereas fellow entrepreneurs know just enough about business, and they don’t even have to be in your industry. They don’t have to be other coaches.
Fellow entrepreneurs read through it and might say “this didn’t resonate with me here” or “I wish you talked more about these pain points over there”.
The feedback that you receive from them is more valuable than the client who’s just asking themselves “am I going to buy this?”. All the entrepreneurs come at it with a different lens.
Give it a try! I’m sure it’ll make a big difference in your writing.
Now over to you, which tip do you want to implement first to move your copy from okay to outstanding? Please share it in the comments over here.