For people new to copywriting, there’s little worse than staring at a blank page.
Where do you start? What do you write?
Those questions are the death of many copywriting careers because people never learn how to overcome those problems. However, most new writers just need a bit of structure to get started.
Want to learn how to write a poem? Look at the structure for a Haiku.
Want to learn how to write fiction? Look at the structure of a flash fiction story.
While many people think of structure and constraints as limiting, it actually helps us be creative because it gives us direction. It would be like if I gave a child a soccer ball and told them to go play soccer without knowing any of the rules.
They’d run all over the place!
But as you start giving them some structure and guidance, they learn how to stay within the lines, how to pass to their teammates, and how to get the ball into the net.
They learn how to get creative within the overall structure.
And copywriting is no different.
Once you know this structure and are comfortable with it, you’ll start seeing opportunities to get creative and break these rules a little bit.
So, use these five steps to get you started on your journey to becoming a copywriter and then branch out a little bit once you’ve mastered these steps.
Step #1: Introduction
Purpose: Convince to engage.
Every good piece of writing starts with a strong introduction.
Take the opening line of George Orwell’s famous novella Animal Farm, for example:
“Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the pop-holes.”
With this opening, Orwell sets readers up to understand there will be consequences to these actions, which makes you want to continue on to see what those consequences will be.
While this example is fiction, your goal is the same in copywriting: hook the reader and leave them wanting more.
The primary difference is that customers are wondering, “What’s in it for me?” as soon as they hit your copy. They want to know what they’re going to get if they decide to invest their time in your sales page, video sales letter, or webinar.
Will it be worth it for them?
Thus, you need to engage them immediately to pique their interest.
Take these two examples:
- "Hi, my name is Anik Singal, and I’m so glad that you’ve come to this page today. I’m an award-winning fitness coach and I’d love to talk with you today."
- "Are you looking to lose 20 pounds? I just lost 100! Today, I’ll share with you how I did it."
Now, which one of those are you going to be more likely to click into and engage with?
Step #2: Story
Purpose: Build a relationship, connection, and trust.
A lot of new copywriters get the story step wrong.
They approach story as a way to create emotion, align values, or build credibility.
While people may be impressed with the awards you’ve won or the degrees you’ve earned, they aren’t going to buy from you because of any of that.
No, they’ll buy from you because they feel they have a relationship or connection with you. So, the purpose of the story step is to tell a story that makes your audience feel like, ‘Hey, if they can do it, I can too!”
And a good way to think about this is by looking at it from the lens of Batman and Robin.
Most new copywriters want to position themselves as Batman and say, “Hey, look at me! Look how great I am!.” However, positioning yourself in that way creates a disconnect in perception if you’re selling a product because people want the product to be what’s going to save them, not you.
(Note: If you’re a consultant, it’s a bit different. As a consultant, you should position yourself as Batman because you’re selling yourself, not a product.)
For example, let’s go back to the weight loss example.
Instead of saying, “Hey, look at me! I’ve won two bodybuilding championships and have a Ph.D. in Exercise Science. Buy from me!”
You would instead want to position yourself as the person who discovered a system that got you to where you are.
You would say,
“I was down. I was out. I was 100 pounds overweight, but I was fortunate enough to meet ‘X’ bodybuilder that introduced me to an easy 5-step system to help me get control and lose weight.”
Now the system is the focus of the copy rather than you.
(RELATED: How To Become A Copywriter In 10 Easy Steps)
Step #3: Content
Purpose: Build value and credibility.
Twenty years ago, the content stage didn’t exist.
If you ask more old-school people in sales today, they’ll tell you that you’ll ruin your close rate with content.
But trust me, the consumer mindset has shifted, and people want to see proof that you’re credible and capable of providing value before purchasing from you.
So, the content stage is all about building credibility.
But when you’re building value through content, you can’t give away everything you know if you want someone to purchase your product at the end.
So, you give them the ‘what’ but not the ‘how’.
In that Batman and Robin example I talked about earlier, I told you that you need to position yourself as Robin and the product as Batman, and that was probably some valuable content for you.
It helped you think about sales and copy in a different way.
However, I didn’t tell you exactly how to do it.
To learn more about how to position your product, you’d have to sign up for Copywriting Academy.
Step #4: Transition
Purpose: Answer the why.
When I say you need to answer the ‘why’, all I mean is that you need to answer the question your audience has in their minds, “Why do you need the money?”
And it doesn’t have to be some special reason.
Your reason can be as simple as, “Hey, this is how I make my living. That’s why I’m charging for my product.”
If you were hiring a contractor to build you a house, you would never wonder why they’re charging you for them to build your house. Obviously, they have to pay for the materials and then put in the labor to get the house built.
So, that answer is enough for most people because they get that you have to earn a living and feed yourself.
This stage is all about removing that tension.
The elephant is in the room because everyone knows there’s a pitch coming and that you want to make a sale, so it’s your job to remove that tension before you even get to the pitch.
However, the mistake many people make here is that their energy drops. They’re excited the entire time up until this point because they’re teaching and giving value, but they get shy once the topic of money comes up.
Instead, your energy should go up here.
If you had the cure for cancer and your neighbor had cancer, would you be shy about getting that product out to them?
No, you’d be banging down their door!
If you have confidence in your product's ability to change lives, it should be the same.
Step #5: Pitch
Purpose: Confirm the sale.
If you did the first four steps properly, you already have the sale.
In the pitch, you’re confirming it.
The thing is that people inherently want to feel like they’re taking advantage of you.
Think about it.
If your neighbor, Joe, had an antique store that you drove past every single day you’d likely think to yourself every once in a while, “That looks interesting. I should take a look.”
But you never do.
Now, imagine that Joe’s store is going out of business and is having a 50% sale. Are you going to check it out? For sure!
So, the pitch step is all about positioning your offer in a way that makes people feel like they’re taking advantage of you. If they’re giving you $100, they should feel like they’re getting way more value than that $100.
That’s how you confirm a sale.
Using This Step-By-Step Copywriting Formula
This formula makes selling simple.
While the words you use do matter a lot, no words you put together will work as well if you don’t have this 5-step copywriting formula.
So, get this formula down and then start focusing more on the words you use in your copy.
Now, go out and put this system to the test.
(Note: Want even MORE info about how to use copywriting to grow your business? Grab your spot in this FREE course to learn about the tools and strategies you (and your business) have been missing out on.)