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Tips for 18 Odd Copywriting Jobs

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Geeky writer holding a huge pencil.

Big writing tips.

Need help on a business copywriting assignment that’s off the beaten track? Find all sorts of helpful tips and links below!

1. AdWords Ads

A very exacting type of web writing, with a limit of 25 characters for the headline and 35 characters apiece for lines 1 and 2.  Here are a couple standout articles about how to write effective AdWords ads:

2. Bios

It is extremely difficult to write corporate bios for a website without sounding mind-numbingly formulaic and packing them with corporate speak. Lately there’s been a trend toward less formal bios, which helps a great deal in keeping them fresh and engaging.  A good bio conveys key background information clearly and compactly. A great bio connects the person’s background with the needs of the reader. A few tips:

  • Write in a style appropriate for your audience.  Bios for a mortuary tend to be more serious than those for a circus.  Where does your brand fall on the scale of seriousness to silliness?
  • Keep bio sets properly balanced. The purchasing manager’s bio shouldn’t be 50 words longer than the CEO’s. If one bio is funny and the next reads like grim death, the reader will become confused about your brand.
  • Keep corporate bios short. Unless credentials are monumentally important in your line of business, you’ll only turn off readers with excessive chest thumping.

3. Blog Post Titles

A blog post without a great title is like a balloon without air. It’s the title that peaks reader curiosity and attracts search engine interest. Much has been written on the topic.  Here are a few articles to get you started:

4. Brochures

Downloadable brochures are an important component of many Internet marketing strategies. Copywriting and design are closely intertwined on brochure projects, and there really isn’t any formula to shortcut the hard work of capturing the essence of the topic at hand and turning it into a compelling statement of value.  From a content perspective, the biggest trap is trying to say too much in one brochure. In our short attention span world, sticking to one thing at time makes the most sense most often. Common types of brochures include:

  • Individual products – Usually heavy on specifications
  • Product groups – Provides an overview; should be heavy on benefits
  • Capabilities – Important to tie capabilities to customer needs
  • Positioning – Explains what your firm does, how it does it, and why anyone should care

5. Calls to Action

It doesn’t get any more important than writing effective calls to action, whether for a website, landing page, email blast – you name it. One thing I’ve learned: Thinking you can compose the perfect CTA based on theory, instinct or experience is a fool’s game. The only way to achieve perfection is to TEST.  Here are examples to get your creative call to action juices flowing:

6. Case Studies

They can be as short as a paragraph or as long as a white paper. Case studies are particularly valuable when a firm’s products, services or benefits are complex. For example, you’d read a lengthy case study about how a $500,000 piece of equipment resulted in a 3% increase in operational efficiency. On the other hand, you’d pass on a five-page case study about ABC Corporation’s new coffee machine. Writing resources for case studies:

7. Display Ads

Less is more. Copywriters tend to expand the content to the size of the ad, but white space and brevity sell. Here are some growths you can hack off of your ad to make it more noticeable and persuasive:

  • Your logo. If your brand isn’t widely known, why waste space showing it? The only reason to do so would be if your campaign’s goal were brand awareness.
  • Your company name. See above.
  • Phone number. Do you really think anybody is going to call rather than click?
  • Multiple benefits. If people notice or remember one thing about your ad, it’s a victory. The idea that people will digest two or three benefits defies the laws of Internet behavior. Stick to your key benefit, and if you have more than one, A/B split test them.

8. Facebook Fan Page Posts

For brands that leverage the engagement and conversion power of Facebook, effective writing is a necessity.  I’m still learning this new art form, and here are some things I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Ask meaningful questions. Facebook is about engagement. There’s a real art to asking questions people want to answer.  I draft them up in bunches, pick the best ones, and tweak them. It takes time.
  • Emphasize non-business topics. I get more engagement when I talk about bacon than when I discuss Internet marketing. Your brand has to be really popular before people will want to talk about it, but everybody likes to chew the fat.
  • Use recurring themes. Having a weekly “Ask the Expert” exchange is a popular technique. Our Facebook fan page features an “Internet Marketing Question of the Day” (that often has nothing to do with marketing).
  • Quantity and quality. “Out of sight, out of mind” applies to Facebook in spades. Visibility comes from comments and Likes, so it’s imperative to provide your community with ample opportunity to engage.
  • Don’t over polish. As with most social media platforms, putting too fine a point on your composition frequently backfires. Incomplete thoughts, informal style, occasional typos, and a little emotion are A-OK on Facebook.

9. Instructions

Writing instructions is a technical writing discipline, but it often crops up in the marketing world for things such as rules/disclaimers for contests and promotions, shipping and payment instructions, and return/exchange policies. Stylistically, instructional writing differs greatly from other common business forms. Here are helpful resources:

10. Landing Pages

Landing pages aren’t really “odd” copywriting jobs, but since many firms fail to utilize them on paid search and email campaigns, I’m going to touch on them. A landing page has one purpose: conversion. For that reason, writers must be in top form, creatively using proven persuasive writing techniques. Resources:

11. Meta Descriptions

Screen grab of a search engine results page showing meta descriptions.

Click to see larger version.

Although they no longer carry weight for SEO, meta descriptions are crucial for conversion: if you want people to click on your link, a persuasive meta description can make all the difference.  Composing effective meta descriptions requires a delicate balance of persuasion and information.  I start by thinking, if I were searching for this on Google, what kind of description would make me want to click through on this link? Resources:

12. Newsletters

Company newsletters are quite popular for keeping employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders connected with management and each other. From the agency standpoint, they require a great deal of editing, organizing, and careful writing. With a newsletter, it’s really important to understand the audience and write in the proper tone. If, for example, a newsletter adopts too much of a boardroom tone, rank and file employees may be put off. On the other hand, projecting a devil-may-care attitude will spook investors and key managers.  Resources:

13. Press Release Boiler

Creating “About” boilerplate is very exacting, much like writing bios. An additional complication with press release copy is that it needs to incorporate SEO techniques along with a concise and persuasive snapshot of the firm’s capabilities and value proposition.  Learn more:

14. Proposals

Sales proposals are the most important offline content we tackle at Straight North: What could be more important than persuading a prospect to sign on the dotted line?  All by itself, a sales proposal may not win the business for you – but a bad one can cause you to lose it.  Structure, formatting and content strategy vary, depending primarily on the product or service’s complexity and cost.

12 writing tips for sales proposals:

  1. Lead with a brief, clear statement of purpose: define the products/services, scope, and value proposition.
  2. If the proposal is lengthy, add an executive summary.
  3. Close with a call to action: give the customer a way to say yes on the proposal itself.
  4. Clearly state pricing.
  5. Clearly state terms and conditions.
  6. Provide additional detail on products/services in an appendix rather than overly expand the main body of the proposal.
  7. Focus on benefits. Paint a picture of how the prospect’s life will improve when they say yes.
  8. That said, don’t sell too hard in a proposal; e.g., any and all benefit statements must be solidly backed by facts. At its core, a proposal is informational.
  9. Include credibility statements: associations, awards, testimonials, links to published articles, etc. These items can be presented graphically to heighten impact (see below).

10. Include design elements: photos, charts, etc. Images focus attention on key points.
11. Avoid jargon.
12. Use typography best practices: bullets, numbered lists, bold text to highlight key points, short paragraphs and readable fonts.

15. Taglines

For me, taglines are the most difficult form of business writing there is. Crafting an effective tagline takes a high level of imagination and strategic thinking, along with a thorough understanding of the firm’s industry, business, customers and key differentiators.  Whew – no wonder taglines are so expensive. Resources:

16. Testimonials

Writing or editing testimonials can be tricky business. To help you gather ideas, I pulled some great posts loaded with examples and excellent tips. Here they are:

17. Tweets

Communicating 140 characters at a time presents many challenges. Obviously, business tweets must be succinct – but they must also include SEO best practices. I’ve written quite a bit on this topic:

And Twitter writing tips from other sources:

18. Twitter Bios

Your Twitter bio is extremely important for engaging tweeps and search engines.  Since Twitter limits your bio to 160 characters, you have to think through your messaging very carefully.  A solid Twitter bio conveys personality and key facts expressed in strategic keywords. Keywords are crucial because the bio is your most search engine-visible Twitter content.

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13 Responses to Tips for 18 Odd Copywriting Jobs

  1. Brad, this post is gold!! Sharing it all over the place, thanks for posting it!!

    • Hi Barb, Glad you find it useful. As usual, I learned quite a bit myself just by doing the research. Lots to know!

  2. This is an excellent share of valuable resources Brad! Copywriting is never easy without proper guides, techniques and information. You have given us very comprehensive and helpful tips for copywriting. I took down long notes from this one.

  3. John, You are so right, and I’m truly grateful this post is helpful to you. It took quite a while to put together, and it was surprising how little good information was out there on some of these topics. If readers know of any other good sources, it would be great if they add them here in comments.

  4. Brad, this is amazing! Particularly #8. You are the first person to say that you polish your Facebook questions, etc. Everyone just says, “be active and engaging!” but imply that it takes no effort, really, to start up a conversation topic with a hundred replies.

    I appreciate how you dissect it. Thanks!

    • Hi Delena, THanks for the encouragement & ongoing support! Glad you noticed: asking questions is truly an art form – one that I am still learning. People who are really successful at social media have developed great conversational skills.

  5. A veritable goldmine for copywriters, Brad — and definitely one to bookmark. There’s simply too much to absorb in one sitting. Thanks for doing all the research for us!

    Love the new site!

    • Hi Jeanne, Thanks for the feedback: I’ve been using it myself! Thanks for reading, commenting, and contributing to this blog, too. Much appreciated.

  6. Brad, this is great information. Looking forward to reading more!

  7. Definitely bookmarking this one — you’ve compiled a TON of resources here! I especially liked the idea of writing AdSense or taglines. Doing that right can make companies a lot of money, so I’m sure they pay well for the right writer!

    Thanks for writing this: first-time visitor to your site, but I like what I see!

  8. Brad thanks for writing this great post. A friend sent me a link to this saying its packed with really useful links and i have to agree. Very comprehensive and again thank you very much.

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