Writing on paper

How to Think Like a Copywriter

“I’m not a writer, though. How do I write for my business?”

It’s the most common phrase I hear when talking to small business owners and bloggers (more specifically photographers) about writing. While there is a craft to copywriting, every business owner can think like a copywriter.

Tip jar

Tip #1: Think about your ideal customer. It’s where every copywriter starts.

  • What do you want them to know?
  • How does your business help them?
  • If they were standing in front of you right now, what would you say?

Now, write it down. Word for word. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling right now; just write down everything you would say to your ideal customer.

That is the beginning of your messaging.

Then, take a minute and think about where that messaging belongs. Is it a blog post? Is it the homepage of your website? Is it a social media post?

Next, think about your ideal customer again and answer the question…what do you want him or her to think, feel, or do after they come across your messaging?

That is how you develop your call-to-action or CTA as we marketers like to call it. CTA’s go at the bottom of blog posts, the end of emails, on social media ads, or even on a regular social post.

Tip #2: You don’t have to be a writer to write.

Some of you are shaking your head because you don’t believe me.

If that’s the case, try this strategy instead.

Get your business partner, sister, or one of your kids to play your ideal customer. And simply have a conversation YOU RECORD. Tell your roleplay partner all about your company. Talk to them about the upcoming sale you are running, or the special post you are going to promote.

Then, listen to the recording and jot down the most important things you said.

Often when I work with people on projects, they come to me and say, “I don’t know how to say it right. Can you help me?”

I always start by asking, “What do you want it to say or communicate?”

And I write down EXACTLY what they tell me.

Most of the time, I get looks along the lines of “How did you do that?”

So, record it. Play it back and use all the words you said out loud and put them on paper, in a doc, on your social, and don’t overthink it!

Tip #3: Don’t be verbose. Copywriters are succinct humans.

Seriously though. We have the attention span of gnats most of the time. If you have a lot to say on a blog post, watch for the following things:

  • Font size (hint: make it bigger)
  • REALLY LONG PARAGRAPHS (Why is that in caps? Because people don’t read all your words when you write in huge chunks)
  • Write it down and walk away. Editing is easier when you have some distance.
  • Edit! Professionals don’t misspell or misuse words. Not sure? Use a tool like Grammarly or get cozy with The Grammar Girl (But remember, Grammarly isn’t always right.)

Tip #4: Just hit publish!

Your first blog post or first stab at social media will never be perfect. But that’s no reason NOT to publish. Marketing and writing for your own business when aren’t a marketer or writer is very much a learn as you go process.

Some day, you’ll be able to outsource those tasks. But for now, you’ll learn that part of the business.

It builds character. (That’s what I tell my kids when they don’t want to do something.)

Bonus Tip: Watch for passive voice.

Active Voice Example: I mailed the payment.

Passive Voice Example: The payment was mailed by me.

All passive sentences have a form of the verb “to be” in them such as was, were, or is. However, (just to make it harder) not ALL sentences with those words are passive.

Why does it matter? In most cases, we want action. Active Voice = Action.

How do you know? Most of the time if you can answer “Can I add ‘by so-and-so’ at the end,” it’s most likely passive.

Happy Writing!

~ Stacey Bishop, perpetual writer of words

P.S. Practice your writing skills before you worry about SEO

Need more help with passive and active voice? Check out this podcast by The Grammar Girl.