Make Your Blog Posts Ridiculously Effective: What Is Copywriting?

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Why do you write blog posts?

What’s the point of your email newsletter?

We, as marketers, business owners, and hobbyists all hope to achieve something out of our writing efforts. Whether we’re designing landing pages or drafting a physical letter to send out asking for charity donations, there’s some kind of desired result.

Copywriting is the way to get that result.

What Is Copywriting, Anyway?

In it’s simplest form, copywriting is any writing that is designed to inspire some kind of action, usually a sale. The text itself is called “copy” – thus the term copywriting.

When you mention copywriting, most people immediately assume you mean copyRIGHT, the legal protection of intellectual property, but that’s something else entirely. We’re talking about actually writing something, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be sales copy.

There are lots of situations where you might write copy without trying to sell a product or service.

Need an example?

Here’s a big one:

Online dating profiles.

They’re copy – usually poorly written, ineffective copy, if my own online dating experience is any judge, but copy nonetheless.

Those profiles are written in order to attract potential dates: the desired action is an email conversation which leads to a physical meeting with an attractive person. There’s no sale involved (ideally…apparently that’s not always the case in Vegas) but it’s still copywriting by definition.

Late night infomercials are a form of copywriting, too.

blank notebook indicating writingBut they’re not WRITTEN, you say?

Well, somebody had to write a script before those people got in front of a camera and started sawing through drywall and spilling milk and smashing tomatoes.

Once you recognize what copywriting really is, you’ll start to see it everywhere, and not just in advertisements and junk mail.

The summary on the back of a novel is actually called cover copy.

The descriptions of food on a restaurant menu are a form of copy.

The little blurb on the shampoo bottle about the lusciousness of avocado oil is copy.

The course descriptions for this semester’s community college schedule…also copy.

Get the point?

So Why Do You Need to Know This?

Okay, let’s assume you’ve got a blog.

For the sake of this example, let’s also assume that you’re not selling anything on it. All you want is to share your posts with like-minded people.

What’s the point of all the time and effort to learn copywriting skills if you don’t want to get anything from your readers?

Here’s the thing:

You do want something.

You want people to read your blog.

And if you learn how to do some basic copywriting, you’ll reach more readers, communicate your message more effectively, and have more impact with the people that want the kind of information you’re sharing.

Copywriting and blogging are a power couple. Individually, they’re both awesome, but when you combine the two, it’s an unstoppable force.

Imagine what your blog could accomplish if millions of readers just got it.

Maybe you want to introduce your brand to the world.

Or maybe you want to change the world.

Whatever you want – and of course you want something or you wouldn’t be reading this right now – developing a little bit of copywriting skill is one of the most effective ways to get it.
writing, blogging, copywriting, and multi-tasking

Okay, So How Do You Do It?

You’re not going to become a great copywriter after reading one article and writing one blog post.

If the information could be downloaded directly to your brain Matrix style, I’d be selling that technology – but since that doesn’t exist yet, you’re just going to have to do things the old fashioned way…

Practice.

There are 50 copywriting techniques listed below that will make you a better blogger, but don’t worry: you’re not going to use all 50 every time you write something.

As you learn and your style develops, you’ll find that you rely on some methods more heavily than others. Some will require more study and practice, while others will come naturally.

Just keep working at it. You’re going to be great.

50 Copywriting Techniques You Can Start Using Today

  1. Lead with emotion.
    All people – you and me included – make emotionally based decisions. That’s why we’ll pass on a deal that doesn’t “feel” right, and the reason that SPCA commercials can sometimes make grown men cry. When you know this, it’s obvious why most sales arguments don’t work. They’re too logical! Make an emotional appeal to pride, vanity, altruism, fear, hope…whatever it is, make sure it makes sense within your message, and then:

  2. Back up emotional decisions with logical justifications.
    Once you’ve made a compelling emotional argument, NOW bring in the logic. This is what makes people – again, including us – feel confident with those emotional decisions. Keep the emotions strong throughout, but after you’ve accomplished the right feeling in your copy, bring in the benefits and guarantees that justify the decision your reader has already made.
    copywriting emotions that totally work
  3. Be a little vulnerable.
    One of the best things about blogging is also one of the most effective attributes of good copywriting: it’s human. If you’re writing from your own perspective, reveal a little bit of your own challenges and weaknesses, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to come off as whiney or pathetic, but admitting that you’re not perfect reminds readers that they’re talking to another person, not just a computer screen.

  4. Appeal to curiosity.
    In the copywriting world, curiosity is treated like an emotion. Curiosity is what makes those awful clickbait titles work so well, but it’s also an effective way to keep people moving through your blog posts – keep mentioning something that you’re going to reveal later, sort of like a soap opera cliffhanger, and your readers will hang onto every word. It can also be the core emotion of your copy. A message like “What would happen if you tried this?” works well for some audiences and products.

  5. Collect well-written pieces for inspiration.
    This is called a Swipe File. Direct response copywriters, the people who write those sales letters that clutter up your mailbox, intentionally attract junk mail and collect the best examples for future reference. When it comes time to write a letter selling a magazine subscription, they go through their file to see how other writers did it successfully and use that for inspiration. You can do the same thing with blog posts! Bookmark posts you find especially well done, and when you need to write something similar, read over other examples first to get in the right mindset.

  6. Master the conversational tone.
    having a conversation like actual human beingsWriters of all kinds struggle with tone at first. It seems like it would be easy to write like you talk, but it’s not that simple. See, people don’t talk like people talk. Wait, that’s confusing, let’s try again…have you ever read an actual transcript of normal speech? Directly transcribed into writing, people sound like idiots – you see this a lot in politics, because newspapers know this and publish word-for-word accounts of campaign speeches. Once they’re in writing, they sound ridiculous. We use lots of extra words, repeat things, structure sentences strangely, all kinds of things that don’t work so well in writing. If you want to nail the conversational tone, use things like bold text, italics, and underlines to stress words, and read lots of fictional dialogue to get a sense of how to convey a common vernacular without being too common.

  7. There’s no substitute for passion!
    In conversation, you can always tell when someone is passionate about their subject, can’t you? Their eyes light up, they lean forwards, and their gestures become bigger and more animated. You can do the same thing in your copy by using words that convey intensity – it’s not just cool, it’s exhilarating, phenomenal, and life-changing! Be judicious with your use of exclamation points, but know when to use them to add umph to your phrases.

  8. Figure out what makes you unique.
    In the marketing world, this is called your USP, your unique selling proposition. What can you do better than anyone else? Are you more entertaining? Do you solve some problem that your competitors gloss over? There’s something that you do better than anyone, so figure it out and tell people about it!

  9. Use power words.
    Word choice is everything when you aren’t sitting face-to-face with your audience. They can’t see you leaning forwards or grinning with giddy happiness, so make sure you use easily understandable words that convey some kind of emotion. You might not use a word like “trepidation,” but you could definitely use the word “dread” to get a skin-deep emotional reaction. Readers also respond to words like: imagine, immediately, hurry, fast, easy, free, and delicious.

  10. Add urgency to your titles.
    Post titles should serve multiple purposes: they tell readers what you’re writing about, but should also encourage them to read it now. Compare “How To Start Copywriting” with “50 Insanely Effective Copywriting Techniques You Can Use Today” – which one would you read? Use words that convey a sense of immediacy like: urgent, now, today, within 24 hours, and immediately.

  11. Make your section headings kick ass.
    While you’re drafting ideas for your title, don’t throw out the losers. Can you adapt any of those title rejects to be awesome section headers? When someone finds your blog and starts skimming a post, they’re going to see those section headers…and if they’re interesting, informative, and appealing, your skimmers will quickly become readers.

  12. Use teasers to keep people reading.
    While we’re on the subject of skimmers, let’s consider that long posts (like this one) are more prone to skimming. Sprinkle teasers throughout the copy to keep people looking for your next point, and you’ll have more people staying on your website longer.

  13. Set the tone for your relationship.
    Since you’re writing like a person, not like a textbook, you’re laying the foundation for a two-way relationship with your readers. They feel like they can interact with you, and it’s worth their time and effort to invest the energy into communication. That’s a beautiful thing that most businesses and bloggers never quite reach, so cherish it!

  14. Prepare for skimmers – headline structure.
    Some people are serial skimmers. They never read a complete post because it doesn’t seem like it’s worth their time. Even those people, though, will become loyal readers if you take care of them: write meaningful section headlines, and structure them so that a person could read only the headers and get a pretty good idea of the content of your post. If your headlines are good, and your content is great, you’ll convert even the most difficult skimmers.

  15. Structure posts so that they’re easier to read.
    Reading on a computer screen can be annoying. Reading on a phone is even more annoying, and at least half of your traffic is likely to be mobile. You can make it easier on your readers by breaking up paragraphs into short lines and phrases, and using lots of white space and banner images to separate chunks of text.

  16. Use images to draw readers in and emphasize a point.
    While you’re breaking up your text with spaces and pictures, make sure your images make sense in the context of the post. Stock photos are fine, but if you can find, take, or make pictures that highlight what you’re saying in the body of your blog post, you’ll communicate more clearly AND you’ll catch the attention of skimmers, encouraging them to read more completely to get the correct context for the images.

  17. Use pictures to make you more human.
    Blogging is an informal medium, so don’t get too hung up on professional quality photos. If it’s appropriate, post a picture of yourself occasionally! Let people see the people behind the computer screen in a fun, realistic way, and you’ll be one step closer to having loyal followers instead of occasional readers.

    professional blogger Kitty Lusby in her natural habitat, showing ways to make blogging more human
    Maybe not THIS informal, but you get the picture.
  18. Get good at Googling.
    Believe it or not, there’s more to Google than just keywords. You can use it to search other sites, find only academic sources, locate articles by specific authors, or look for exact phrases. Using Google to its full potential makes research much easier.

  19. Find the deeper benefit. Keep asking “Why?”
    Everybody who’s ever studied sales and marketing knows that you’re supposed to talk about benefits, not features, but what if you could do better? Benefit-focused marketing messages are okay. They’re just not the best way to reach people. Find the deeper benefit, the real reason your audience wants something, by putting yourself in their shoes and asking “Why does this matter?” For example – a weight loss product will result in a slim, sexy body. Why does that matter? Perhaps it’s because that slim, sexy body is going to attract an ideal date, or maybe the appeal is that confidence in one’s physical appearance leads to more self worth and better results in one’s professional life. Keep asking “why” until you get to the core of the benefit, and THAT’S what you sell.

  20. Do extensive research on your demographic, then talk to them.
    Who are you writing for? Who reads your blog? Who do you want to read your blog? You can’t communicate with people if you don’t know who they are, so figure it out. “Everybody” is not your audience – there is literally not a single product, service, or idea in the entire world that appeals to everybody, so get that out of your mind right now. Instead of writing to a nameless, faceless majority, you should imagine with every post that you’re talking to a single human being who is sitting right in front of you. You’ll be amazed at how much your writing improves!

  21. Don’t think about yourself.
    Once you’ve done all of that demographic research, don’t waste it by staying stuck in your own perspective. Develop the skill of seeing things from your readers’ point of view. It’s worth the effort.

  22. Use “you” a lot.
    While you’re practicing your empathy skills, make sure you let your readership know that you’re thinking of them. Use “you” a lot, and stay in that perspective as much as possible. It will connect better with the person you’re talking to, and keep him or her invested in what you’re saying.

  23. Use opinion polls for interaction and ammunition.
    Whether it’s your own poll or data taken from somewhere else on the net, getting data and comments directly from your readers is a good thing. When you see people interacting, conversing,  arguing, and offering their personal opinions, pay attention! They are literally telling you what kind of information they want to consume and exactly what they think about it!

  24. Paint a picture – let your readers imagine themselves in a better situation.
    In literature, one of the most common amateur mistakes is telling instead of showing. The same is true for copy. Instead of saying “you’re going to make enough money to live comfortably for the rest of your life,” paint the pictureImagine that tomorrow morning, you wake up to the sound of seagulls and ocean waves. There’s already freshly brewed coffee, warm and buttery croissants, and a platter of sweet, chilled fruit laid out for you on the breakfast table by the bay windows. This is your third island vacation this year, and it’s only May! and since money is no longer a concern, you decide that you’re going to extend your stay another week. That’s a much better way to talk about wealth, isn’t it?

  25. Make promises – but be prepared to keep them.
    In copywriting, one of the central ideas is the big promise. It’s the thing your reader is going to get if they take the action you’re encouraging them to take. Don’t be afraid to offer your blog traffic the chance to meet the woman of their dreams, get into the best shape of their lives, organize their house so well they’ll never misplace their car keys again, or live the lifestyle they’ve always dreamed of…but make sure you can back it up with real results.

  26. Tell stories.
    I regularly speak at meetings, networking events, and conferences around Las Vegas and across the country. When I first started teaching new bloggers how to succeed, I used to try to pack as much information as I could into the short amount of time I had at the podium; I wanted them to get as much value as possible out of my 25 minutes. Then, at one event, I was followed by a gentleman who was admittedly less experienced with professional blogging, but had a much greater effect on the audience. He taught only one point, but he used stories and examples to make that one point poignant and memorable. After I saw the listeners’ reactions, I knew that I had been doing things wrong. Since then, I always tell stories, and my blog posts and my speaking engagements are far more successful and effective because of it.
    public speaking is a common fear, and photography of speakers results in strange facial expressions
  27. Give people a special category.
    This technique puts you and your readers into the category of “people like us,” which is inherently better than everyone else. This appeals to a sense of pride and vanity, and also helps to strengthen the feeling that you and your readers have something in common.

  28. Give people a challenge to live up to.
    Especially once you’ve identified your readers as being part of a special, elite category, you can then challenge them to live up to certain expectations. For example: if you’re a group of self-starting entrepreneurs who are willing to do what it takes to succeed, you can then challenge readers to prove it by investing in their futures by purchasing your product, following your blog, or sharing on social media.

  29. Dial up the charisma.
    Since blogging gives you the chance to write like a human, use that to your advantage and let your charismatic charm shine through! At its core, charisma is all about the ability to inspire, and you can do that in a blog post, can’t you? If that’s not enough, try adding audio and video that lets your passion show. Your readers will turn into loyal followers with just a few charismatic posts.

  30. Include bonus facts.
    Pack your copy full of useful nuggets of information – did you know that there are more than 1.5 billion blogs on the internet, and 40% of them are hosted in WordPress? A new blog is created every half second! When you share interesting, useful, and amusing information like this, readers begin to feel a sense of obligation to you. You’ve given them something they’ll remember and use, so they’re more likely to answer your call to action.

  31. Build social proof and trust with testimonials.
    I attend several monthly Meetup groups that teach blogging and web design skills, and regularly contribute and speak. In addition to that, I offer extra help to attendees when I have the time and knowledge to contribute. Often, when the general discussion turns to a topic that I’ve helped somebody with, the attendees speak up publicly and say something like “Kitty helped me do that on my blog, and now I get more traffic!” Those testimonials are the most powerful marketing tool in my arsenal, and you can have that same power on your blog by including real testimonials from satisfied clients.

  32. Get experts to lend you their credibility.
    Maybe you’re not a big name in your industry, and that’s okay. Quote people who are, invite guests posts from experts, and feature content from other bloggers or businesses that have more credibility than you. As an added bonus, those people will likely send more traffic your way, since they’re building their reputation by being quoted and complimented on your blog. Win-win!

  33. Charts and graphs also add credibility instantly.
    Even if you don’t have a third party involved, you can display your data in professional-looking graphs, charts, diagrams, and infographics. The fact that you compiled the data and went through the trouble of displaying it professionally gives you an extra boost of credibility, even if nobody has ever heard of you before.

  34. Make things easier than they need to be.
    In Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, there’s a story about an experiment on a college campus: there was a health clinic offered to students at the college, and the organizers tested two brochures to see which would be more effective. The only difference between the two was that in addition to telling students which building to go to, one also included a map. Now, the students all knew where the building was, but the brochure with the map brought in significantly more participants…even though none of them actually needed or used it. Moral of the story? The easier your instructions feel, the more people will follow them.

  35. Be direct when you make an offer or request.
    When it comes to stating the price of a product, asking for social media shares, or encouraging people to sign up for a newsletter, don’t try to indirectly encourage people to take action or justify the reasons why you’re requesting it. Just say what you mean.

  36. Talk about value more than you talk about price.
    Keep reminding people why they want to read your blog, buy your book, or come to your seminar. When it comes time to ask for the sale, you’re going to be absolutely direct…but that works because you’ve already proven the value throughout the rest of your post.

  37. Make an offer they can’t refuse.
    Take your value propositions a step further by proving that your readers would be crazy to pass up this opportunity. Combine extra offers, bonuses, discounts, guarantees, and incredible results to make your offer irresistible.

  38. Offer fringe benefits.
    You’ve already explained how following your blog is going to make your readers’ life better, so what do you do now? Sweeten the deal – show your readers that in addition to that main benefit, they’re also going to get access to giveaways and contests, receive exclusive invitations to special events, and have the opportunity to network with other successful people. They’ve already made their decision and signed up for your mailing list, but you’ve just proven that it was a smart decision.

  39. Pull the Shamwow. But wait! There’s more!
    Like the fringe benefits listed above, the Shamwow is a way to sweeten the deal…but you do it before they’ve made up their mind. Basically, you’re bribing people and throwing in extra free stuff to increase the value of your offer. It works – if it didn’t, infomercials wouldn’t do it so much.

  40. Offer a report.
    Free reports are brilliant. They give the reader something they want – useful information – and they give you a chance to make more of an impression on people who could become loyal fans. You could write up that information in another blog post…or you could write a report, give it away in exchange for signing up for your mailing list, and make your readers feel even more appreciated and special.

  41. Ask for a result.
    ask for what you want, girl with a computerIf you want something, don’t forget to ask for it! Most people are afraid to ask for what they want. Don’t be. You’ve been building a relationship with your readership, so you’re in a good position to ask for something in return. Just don’t overdo it. Nobody wants to read junk mail for fun, and begging is never attractive.

  42. Improve your calls to action.
    Restate those next-level benefits, emphasize the value, and stay true to your big promise. The call to action is a big factor in your success, so make sure you nail it. Don’t just write something and hope for the best.

  43. Use false closes to get better results.
    Look, people aren’t stupid. They know when you’re trying to sell them something, and they’re going to have their sales resistance up as soon as they get the sense that your blog post was written to part them from their money. A false close is a copywriting technique that reduces that sales resistance – you seem like you’re going for the big close, but then you launch right back into the big picture and tell them more about how great their life is going to be when they make this purchase. When you write your real close, it will be more effective.

  44. Cut your first paragraph.
    Get to the point. After you write your blog post, go back and cut out the first paragraph. Seriously. Get rid of it completely. Most of us take too long to get to the good part, and 99% of the time, the first part of your blog post is completely superfluous. Just get rid of it and read your blog post again. If you need to add a word here or there to make things work, do it, but don’t write a new first paragraph. Trust me. It’s scary, but it works.

  45. Nail your first and last sentence.
    So here’s the thing: people don’t read intros. Once you’ve cut your first paragraph (seriously, just do it) you’re next step is making sure that your first sentence is intriguing, powerful, and basically fantastic. It’s the first thing people will see, and it’s how they’re going to decide whether or not to read your post. Similarly, the last sentence is your final impression, so make it a good one.

  46. Edit out loud.
    Here’s a copywriting secret that is going to revolutionize your tone: pull up your blog post on your phone, walk around your house at a quick pace, and read your post out loud. If there are any areas where you have to take a breath to finish a sentence, you’re too wordy and it needs to change. Even if you don’t walk around (which you should!) you should edit every single post out loud. You’ll find typos, errors in tone or grammar will be obvious, and you’ll be much more likely to end up with that all-important conversational feel.

  47. Cut out idea clutter, get to the point.
    In my conversations, I tend to go off on tangents. Be careful not to do that in your blog posts. Keep to the central idea, and if you find any sections that don’t quite fit with the overall point, cut them out and write a new blog post. Yay for new content!

  48. Avoid cliches like the plague.
    Cliches and colloquialisms are forgettable. They make no impact. Do you want to write tepid, boring posts that nobody will remember? NO! Then cut out cliches.

  49. Use as few words as possible to make your point. Be concise.
    Flowery language was great in high school when you needed to write a 5 page paper about a 1 page subject, but that’s not how things work in real life. Never say “at this point in time” when you can say “now.”

  50. Use a P.S.
    A postscript works for a few reasons – if someone read your whole post, the P.S. sweetens the deal. If they’ve skimmed and your P.S. is compelling, they’re more likely to go back and read the post. Read your junk mail for inspiration: most sales letters use them since they’re so darned effective.

It’s probably unwise to try to pack all 50 of these into every post…but you should at least start working on a few at a time.

Don’t worry if it doesn’t come naturally.

You’re allowed to take some time to learn, you know.

But imagine how many followers your blog would have if you did master all 50 of these techniques and get a sense of when to use them. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to effortlessly write compelling, effective blog posts?

Better get practicing, then.

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