raymond Duke’s NOT-YET-FINISHED guide to Copywriting
IMPORTANT: THIS GUIDE IS A WIP!
Why publish an incomplete guide?
Primarily, because I want to get your feedback as I write.
As you’re reading this guide, use the comment section (at the bottom) to let me know about anything you find unclear, confusing, or misleading.
By doing so, you’ll help me improve the guide for everyone else visiting this page.
Of course, you can use the comment section for saying thanks.
And if you really think this guide is useful, a share is appreciated.
Thanks for understanding.
About This Guide
This guide is MY take on copywriting.
It is — NOT — the ultimate guide to writing copy.
Such a book, guide, or course doesn’t exist.
The idea that you can learn everything about a topic from one source is like saying you can learn everything about astrophysics from one book.
My guide starts with the basics, so if you’re new — you’re in the right place.
If you’re experienced, I also got your back.
In addition to getting a refresher on the basics, I’m also covering some of the advanced strategies I rarely see used by other copywriters.
Some of the things you’ll learn in this guide:
Intro to copywriting
Basic copywriting do’s and don’ts
Your first ad
Writing long form sales copy
Advanced copywriting techniques
One final note, before the first section — this guide doesn’t cover how to get clients.
For getting clients, I’ve created a guide to freelancing.
What is Copywriting?
Whenever people ask me what I do, here’s my go-to definition:
I write the words used in advertising.
That usually does the trick and if they’ve seen the show Mad Men, they make the connection.
Basically, copywriter is a salesperson.
But instead of going door to door or cold calling, I use my keyboard.
Another way to think about copywriting is that it’s persuasive writing designed to direct a response, such as a sale of a product, registration for an event, or donation to a charity.
When you think about it this way, copywriting is everywhere; billboards, emails, apps, websites, and anywhere else you see writing intended to make you DO (or think) something, that’s copy.
There are a lot of different types and styles of copywriting.
To keep things simple, I consider most copywriting falling into these two categories:
Think of catchy slogans, billboards, and 99% of Super Bowl commercials.
Branding copy isn’t measured as critically as direct response and, it’s more about spreading brand awareness, or building customer loyalty, than generating a sale.
DIRECT RESPONSE COPY
This is sales-focused writing designed to make a reader take action — immediately — after reading.
Direct response, done right, is measured (i.e., if 100 people read the copy and 2 people purchased, the copy had a 2% conversion rate).
WHICH IS BETTER — BRANDING OR DIRECT RESPONSE?
Depends who you ask…
Personally, the type of writing I prefer and have the most experience with is direct response.
That being said, branding isn’t useless.
Often times, branding is necessary to build a relationship with your reader.
An example of branding is, if you haven’t figured out already, this guide.
Overall, I consider an 80/20 (direct response/branding) balance ideal; it’s a ratio that allows you to focus on a sale, without being overly aggressive and ruining the relationship with your readers.
Rather than continuing to define copy, or explain its history, I’m going to keep things moving.
If you’d like to read more about copywriting, here are some recommended resources:
to be added
LEARNING THE LINGO
From this point on in the guide, I’m going to use copywriting-specific words, phrases, and abbreviations you may not know.
So you don’t feel clueless, here’s you go:
Video Sales Letter (VSL)
Copywriting Do’s and Don’ts
97% of the time, the do’s and don’ts below will lead you in the right direction.
The remaining 3%?
That’s up to you and whatever project you’re working on.
Unlike physics, copywriting isn’t a hard science.
You may find that tweaking some of the rules below works in your favor.
There’s a lot to cover, so I’ll get right to it:
DON’T — Bore your reader.
DO — Put your reader first.
DON’T — Complicate your message.
DO — Keep things simple.
DON’T — Leave claims unsupported.
DO — Back up your claims with proof.
DON’T — Assume you know what works.
DO — Test multiple ideas and use data.
DON’T — Blindly follow the herd.
DO — Use what’s working as a base to improve upon.
DON’T — Write like an English major.
DO — Keep your writing conversational.
DON’T — Think copywriting is ONLY about words.
DO — Apply your persuasion skills to design, layout, and overall strategy.
DON’T — Force the sale.
DO — Get your reader to decide on their own.
DON’T — Lie, cheat, or try to trick your reader.
DO — Treat your reader with respect.
Those were the main ones off the top of my head.
Keep an eye on this page, because I’m definitely adding more over time.
Writing your first ad (in 20 minutes)
After investing thousands of dollars, and years of time, into writing copy, the single-most valuable thing I’ve done to learn was actually write an ad.
So I want to help you do just that, in as little time as possible.
Whenever I write an ad, these are the 3 things I consider:
Where the ad is shown (ad placement)
What the ad will say (the actual ad)
Where the ad leads to (ad destination)
Notice that writing an ad isn’t just about the ad itself; it’s about where the reader is coming from, or where the ad is shown — and where they’re going.
The intention with your ad is to make someone transition to accepting your call to action (CTA) as effortlessly, and as seamlessly, as possible.
Some of the types of thoughts you want to invoke in your reader:
“I was just thinking about that!”
“Wow, this sounds perfect for me!”
“I’ve been hearing a lot about this lately… now I’m curious”
It may seem daunting to get someone to STOP what they’re doing and pay attention to your ad, but it’s definitely possible.
Where the ad is shown.
The intended action you want the reader to take.
THE ACTUAL AD
Must seamlessly transition someone from whatever they were doing.
Writing Long Form Copy
Advanced STRATEGIES & TRENDS
Losing Money on the Frontend
Copywriting For Influencers