Copywriting for Creatives: Write Professional, Persuasive Copy for Your Creative Business | Ruth Clowes | Skillshare

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Copywriting for Creatives: Write Professional, Persuasive Copy for Your Creative Business

teacher avatar Ruth Clowes, Professional Copywriter

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (1h)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:19
    • 2. Class and Project Overview

      3:03
    • 3. Telling Your Brand Story

      6:52
    • 4. Shh... The Secret to Selling

      6:57
    • 5. Quickie: Engage the Senses

      2:42
    • 6. Writing Product Descriptions

      6:53
    • 7. #1 Copywriting Formula

      6:25
    • 8. Easy Hacks for Clear Copy

      6:49
    • 9. Quickie: SEO Copywriting

      2:16
    • 10. Writing for Social Media

      6:47
    • 11. 3 Common Mistakes

      5:50
    • 12. Next Steps

      3:13
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About This Class

Calling all creative entrepreneurs. Are you looking for simple techniques to improve your copywriting, so you have more time to spend doing what you love?

This is the class for you!

The copywriting skills you’ll learn in this class will help you attract new customers and make more sales, while remaining true to your brand and avoiding cheesy sales techniques.

This is my most comprehensive beginners’ copywriting course yet on Skillshare – and it’s especially for creative entrepreneurs like you.

You’ll learn:

  • How to tell your brand story in a way that’s engaging and concise
  • The secret to selling – without the sleaze
  • Appealing to all five senses - why it's important and how to do it
  • Ways to describe your work accurately and authentically in product descriptions
  • How to speed up your copywriting using a versatile formula used by professionals
  • Powerful hacks for keeping your copy clear and concise
  • SEO copywriting basics
  • Key principles for writing social media posts
  • Common mistakes – and how to avoid them

Real-life examples, step-by-step walkthroughs and free online tools and resources will help you put your new skills into action.

Is this class right for you?

  • I write my own marketing copy for my creative business
  • I have a good grasp of English and some basic marketing knowledge
  • I’m looking for simple, powerful copywriting techniques I can start using straight away

Yes? Great! The skills you’ll learn in this class will take your copywriting to the next level and free up more of your precious time to spend on the creative side of your business.

No sound needed! Give your headphones a break and enjoy accurate captions and fully visual walkthroughs.

TOOLS AND RESOURCES

Here are the various free online tools and resources I recommend in the different lessons. Do you have your own recommendation? Share it in the Discussions section.

Creative Copy in Action Cheat Sheet (to help you with your class project)

Telling Your Brand Story – Active-v-passive voice article
Shh... the Secret to Selling Target reader guide
Writing Product Descriptions – Seduce your reader blog
AIDA Copywriting Formula Headline Analyzer
Easy Hacks for Clear Copy Hemingway
SEO Copywriting – Yoast's SEO blog
Writing for Social Media Social media post guide
Common Mistakes Readability Test Tool

Connect with me: Website |  Twitter |  LinkedIn | Facebook

Theme music by The Clarendons

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ruth Clowes

Professional Copywriter

Teacher

Your website text, online bios, social media posts and emails define you. They are what make people notice you, connect with you and buy from you… or not.

Learn to communicate more clearly, dynamically and persuasively with classes that focus on straightforward, practical techniques that get great results – fast.

Each session is full of real-life examples and hands-on exercises to help you practice as you learn.

See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hello, my name's Ruth. Welcome to my class on copywriting for creative businesses. This is my most comprehensive beginners copywriting course yet on Skillshare and it's aimed especially at creative entrepreneurs. I'm drawing on decades of professional copywriting experience to show you how to write an engaging, persuasive copy for your creative business. From telling your brand story, to crafting product descriptions, to writing SEO friendly web copy and social media posts. The copywriting skills you'll learn in this class will help you attract new customers and make more sales while remaining true to your brand and avoiding cheesy sales techniques. This is the perfect class for you if you're a creative entrepreneur and you want to develop your copywriting skills, maybe you're an artist, illustrator, designer or maker and you want to learn some simple, straightforward techniques to improve your copywriting. Maybe you're a digital artist, photographer or animator and you're looking for advice, templates, and tips to help you connect to potential customers and make more sales. Well, you're in the right place. I'm a professional copywriter, I'm a member of Pro Copywriters, and I've trained with the Chartered Institute of Marketing in Google. I use the tried and tested techniques I'll teach you every single day myself, both in my full-time job as a creative copywriter and for my varied freelance clients, many of whom are creatives. I'm especially excited to be teaching this class because I know from my own experience that many creative entrepreneurs find writing copy for that business difficult and time-consuming. In this class, I'm going to teach you 24 simple and powerful steps, take a deep dive into 12 helpful real-world examples, and share nine quality resources that will help you create varied, engaging copy more quickly with less stress and without feeling like a cheesy salesperson, leaving you more time and energy to do what you love. This is a beginners copywriting class. You should have a good grasp of English and some basic marketing knowledge, but you don't need to know technical language terms. What you're about to learn will take your copywriting to the next level and free up more of your precious time to spend on the creative side of your business. Let's go. 2. Class and Project Overview: Before we get started, I'm going to quickly talk you through how the lessons in this class are organized and also introduce you to the class project. We'll kick off with some advice on telling your brand story; how to get across who you are and what you do in a way that's engaging and concise. In the next lesson, I'll share with you the secret of selling without the sleaze. I promise you this works. If you ever feel like a sleazy salesperson when you're trying to write marketing copy, you can wave goodbye to that feeling right now. Following on from that, we'll focus in on the specifics of writing product descriptions that are accurate and authentic. Then I'll share with you a tried-and-tested versatile copywriting template that you can use for everything, from product descriptions and landing pages to social media posts. We'll follow that up with three powerful hacks for keeping your copy clear and concise, something that's so important in this age of limited attention spans. The next class will cover writing social media posts, and even if social isn't a major channel for you, don't skip that lesson because you'll learn techniques that will be useful elsewhere too. Finally, I'll share some common mistakes I see people make when writing copy for their creative businesses and how you can avoid them, and that's not all. There are two copy quickies in the mix. Two short and sweet lessons focusing on two very different copywriting skills, engaging the senses and search engine optimization. Throughout, we'll explore real-world examples of brands using each of the techniques we'll learn, and you'll get to know my client, Amy. Amy is a professional illustrator and calligrapher. I'll show you exactly how to put your new skills into action with step-by-step tutorials, featuring copy I've written for her business. That's where your class project comes in. I'd like you to pick a few pieces of existing copy to use as a starting point. Maybe some text from your website, a product description, and a social media post, for example. It should be representative of the kind of content you write regularly and would like to improve. In the course of the class, you'll use the various tips, techniques, and tools we'll explore to improve your copy. You can work on it as you go along. You'll be amazed at how much it improves with each lesson. Using existing copy like this is a great starting point because you'll be able to see firsthand, the difference each of the techniques you'll learn can make. To help you with your project, there's a PDF cheat sheet that you can download from the class description. It lists all the techniques we'll cover in the class, so you can follow along during the lessons and use it as a checklist for future writing. Also in the class description are links to the different free online tools and resources I'll introduce you to throughout the class. If you've picked out a few pieces of copy to work on and you've got the cheat sheet at hand, we're ready to go. In our first lesson, we'll look at telling your brand story. How to find your unique voice and get across who you are and what you do in a way that's engaging and concise. Let's get started. 3. Telling Your Brand Story: In this lesson, we'll explore telling your brand story, how to find your unique voice, and describe who you are and what you do in a clear and engaging way. This lesson will be particularly useful for when you're writing your profiles with social media or online shops or the about page of your website. That's exactly what I'm helping my illustrator client, Amy to do. I'll be explaining a lot of the copywriting techniques using Amy's business copy as an example, as well as sharing examples of best practices from other creatives. As a creative, you want your copy to reflect your creativity and unique personality, but that's easier said than done. How often do you read back something you've written and think it sounds stilted and formal. The reason might be that you're overusing the third person. Take a look at these sentences inspired by Amy's current about page. The sentences on the left are written in the third person. They talk about Amy from the point of view of an outside observer. Not only just writing in this way, you make your copy feel awkward and formal, but it stops you creating a direct relationship with your reader. That's so important when it comes to building trust and empathy and making sales. Compare them with the sentences on the right. They're written in the first person. They speak directly from Amy to her reader, then warmer and feel more direct and personal. Now, look at this lovely bio of Alice Negri on the Beehive Illustration website. It feels very personal and heartfelt. Imagine the difference if each eye was replaced with Alice or she, it would have nowhere near the same impact. In fact, if you take the time to explore the illustrator's bios on this website, you'll find that some of them use the third person and some use the first person. It's the first person bios that are the most effective, direct, and appealing every time. As a general rule, use I when you're writing about yourself, just like you do when you're talking about yourself. Here's Amy's mission statement or bio. I'm going to adjust it so it's in the first person. Now, let's build on that first person principle to describe who you are and what you do in a way that expresses your unique voice and personality. It's the words you use as much as the message itself that defines your own unique tone of voice and makes your writing either blend into the background or stand out from the crowd. Let's look at how word choice can alter the tone of Amy simple one sentence mission statement. Right now it's straightforward and accurate, but it's also just a little bit dull and not very memorable. It doesn't set her apart. Well, this is a bit more dramatic. There's a real energy behind this version and that's because of the words we've used. Epic, explosive, stellar, they give a real sense of drama. This version is a lot more memorable. This version is also a beat, but it has a gentler, more feminine feel to it. That's mainly because of the word sparkle and pretty. Isn't it amazing the huge difference that can be made with just simple word changes. There's a simplicity and directness to this mission statement that matches the rebellious description. The visual picture of stamping out a work of art is also really memorable. There's something refreshing about someone in a profession that is often seen as wishy-washy and girly, presenting themselves in this slightly aggressive way. This is a very gentle version that uses words drawn from nature and therapy. It's the words nature, nurturing, soothe, and soul that jump out at you here. Now you've seen how word choice can dramatically alter a simple mission statement. It's time for you to have a go. I'm a, who creates, for, and I'm on a mission to, start with this simple template and begin to fill in the blanks. Begin with a very simple description of what you do then play about with the different words and styles to see how you can present yourself, your work, or your business in different ways. I'd love to see your mission statement. Even if you don't have time to complete the class project today, please have a go at writing your mission statement and share it with me and the other students in the comment section. Here's one more tip for telling your brand story in a way that's direct and impactful, use the active voice. The active voice describes a sentence where the subject does the action stated by the verb. It follows a clear subject verb object format. That simplicity makes it easy to read. Here's an example. The subject, the artist is doing the action painting and the object, the mural is at the end of the sentence. With the passive voice, the object moves to the start of the sentence and is acted upon by the verb. Sometimes the original subject, the doer, is missing entirely. As you can see from this example, sentences written in the passive voice tend to sound more indirect in personal and bureaucratic. Nevertheless, the passive voice is surprisingly prevalent on websites and social media, even among creatives who usually want to sound anything other than bureaucratic. On the left are a few examples of passive copy of [inaudible] by catalog. On the right there are more active alternatives. You can see straight away that the active version comes across as more natural and straightforward. On the other hand, the passive examples are more long-winded. Writing more complex sentences using the passive voice can also become really confusing for the reader. You don't need to avoid the passive voice altogether, writing the occasional sentence in the passive voice is a good way of breaking or prolonged piece of copy, for example. But it's a handy general rule to stick to the active voice whenever you can. On average, aim to make 80-90 percent of your sentences active. If you're struggling to get your head around the difference between the passive and the active voice, this article by Alice at Grammarly will help you. It explains things really clearly and gives lots of useful detail and examples. There's a link to this article in the class description. There's another free online tool, I'll share with you in a few lessons time, that among other things, will help you identify the passive voice quickly and easily. The most important takeaway from this lesson is that the best way to get across who you are and what you do is to experiment with word choices until you find your unique voice. By using the first person and the active voice, you can make sure your profiles, bios, and about pages are snappy, direct, and engaging. Before we move on, have a go at creating your own mission statement using the template we looked at earlier. You could also take a look at your existing profiles and see if they can be improved by tricking your word choices, switching to the first person, or swapping from the passive to the active voice. In the next lesson, I'll share with you the secrets of selling without the sleaze. I promise you this works. If you ever feel like a sleazy, cheesy, chat salesperson, when you're trying to write marketing copy, you can wave goodbye to that feeling right now. 4. Shh... The Secret to Selling: Do you feel comfortable writing promotional copy fieldwork? Perhaps you feel awkward begging yourself up or you're worried you'll come across as arrogant or like a pushy salesperson. A lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners feel this way, especially creatives. The secret to getting past that discomfort and writing engaging persuasive copy is to take your focus away from yourself and onto your reader, in other words, your potential customer. Once you take your reader as your starting point rather than yourself, once you make it all about them and not about you, any discomfort will evaporate. In this lesson, I'm going to show you three simple principles that will help you identify your reader, connect with them, and sell to them without the slays. It's impossible to write clearly and effectively if you too are unclear about who you're writing for and what the purpose of your writing is. So for each piece of copy that you write, ask yourself, who is reading this, why are they reading it, what's their goal, and how can I help them get what they want? You might find it helpful to visualize an actual person who will be reading your copy. So if you're writing web copy aimed at potential customers, you can imagine your typical target customer when you're writing. This is a technique I use and I find it a great way to keep my copy personal and relevant. My client, Amy runs an Etsy shop called Letters by Amy where she sells her work. Here's the first sentence of her shop description. Amy has already identified her readers as existing and potential customers of her shop, and the majority of them are there buy buy cards and gifts for their friends and family. She can help her customers get what they want by selling a range of appealing unique cards and gifts. This opening gambit needs to condense that offering into a short and snappy sentence without any irrelevant information. It's looking pretty good in general, but there's just one thing that doesn't feel quite right considering the target reader Amy has identified. That's this reference to brush lettering supplies. Amy does sell brushes and inks at her Etsy shop, but it's a very small part of her business. Most of her sales come from people buying gifts for others. That's her main target reader, and that's who she should be addressing in this opening sentence. Let's adjust this copy slightly so it's totally focused on the reader. That might seem like a really obvious error to you, but it's amazing how often people include irrelevant information just like this in their copy. That's why it's so important that you answer the three questions of who, why, and how to focus your copy on what's relevant. If you need a little help identifying your target reader, there's a link in the description to this guide by Fabrik Brands, which is a great place to start. It outlines different approaches with examples from successful brands. Check it out. When you talk to someone, face to face is a two-way thing. You focus on the other person as much as or more than yourself. You ask them questions and you give them time to respond and get their opinion on things. Replicating this conversational approach in writing is challenging because the person you're conversing with isn't with you. They're in another place and time so they can't join the conversation directly. As a result, writing, especially marketing copy, can come across as one-sided from a reader's point of view is the conversational equivalent of being on the receiving end of a long monologue that's delivered without any eye contact or opportunity to respond. But there are a few techniques you can use that can get that conversational tone into your writing and make your reader feel more involved, more as if you're talking to them directly. Asking questions is a technique I use a lot in my writing. It gets people's attention and it encourages them to think about how what you're saying relates to them, just like it does in conversation. As a writer, asking questions encourages you to think about your reader as you write, and make sure your copy is focused on them and their needs. Here's the next part of Amy's Etsy shop description. There's nothing wrong with this copy, but it does feel a little dry and distant. The first sentence is phrased as an order to do something, and the second sentence is just a statement of fact. Neither of them explicitly connects with the reader. Let's see what happens when we keep them just the same but tweak the wording a little so that the sentences are phrased as questions. Now we're taking the reader as our starting point. We know that most people reading, the shop buyer, will be looking for a gift, and we're addressing those gift seekers directly and specifically. Most people reading that first question will sign and then answer yes. It sets a positive tone for what follows, and it means that the reader is more likely to answer a second yes to the next question. Notice how as with a lot of the techniques you'll learn in this class, the content of what you're writing is only slightly changed, but that small change has had a big result. Something else has changed in the before and after examples, and it's all about you, the word you that is. In this version, we've used you to create a natural conversational tone and make the reader feel part of what's being said. That's what I mean when I say lose the ego. It's all about focusing on the person you're communicating with, putting yourself in their shoes, asking them questions, and involving them in what you're saying exactly as you would if you were talking to them. Here's the final bit of Amy's Etsy shop description. Notice how she started both sentences with I and how the copy is focused on her activities and her processes. Let's switch things around so that the focus of the copy is the reader, not the writer. This feels much more engaging and relevant. Although the word count is a little longer, it also feels more direct. That's because as a reader, I don't have to turn each activity around to figure out what it means for me. It's already written from my viewpoint. He's a real-life example from Not on the High Street's website that showcases the techniques we've just learned. The copy is very reader-focused, the words you or your appear three times and we only once. Look at the way it uses questions to engage the reader. The most important takeaway from this lesson is that reader focus is the foundation of all good copywriting. Yes, it will stop you feeling like a cheesy salesperson. But more than that, it will lead to better customer engagement, more sales, and greater brand loyalty. We're going to dig deeper into forming a connection with your reader in later lessons. In the meantime, take a look at your existing marketing copy and see if any of it could benefit from greater reader focus using the techniques you've just learned. Next up is the first of our two copy quickies. This one is all about engaging the senses. 5. Quickie: Engage the Senses: When we talk with someone, we don't just use words to communicate. Our tonal voice, facial expressions and gestures also play a part. In fact around 80 percent of communication is nonverbal. When we write all of that nonverbal supporting material is stripped out and the words that are left behind can seem a bit flat and dry. That's one of the reasons why you can find someone eloquent and interesting in person, but then read something they've written and find it very dull. One way to make our writing more conversational and authentic is to make it more sensory. Let's explore the five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. As we look at each example inspired by Amy's print, think about how you might draw on your reader's senses to describe what you create. I do appreciate that some of these are going to be easier for some businesses than others. For example, incorporating smell into your writing should come easily if you create toiletries or scented candles, but it's going to be less straightforward if you're an illustrator like Amy. Don't worry if you find some of these difficult. Just have a go and be a bit playful and experimental with it. In this copy, we're emphasizing the visual elements of the print, we're doing this in two ways. Firstly, by using the words you can see and they look like, and most certainly by using the visual nouns, opacity and tone. Sound is more challenging. After all, the print itself is silent, but here are a couple of ways we can appeal to auditory readers in our product copy. Isn't this more vibrant than if we just said, I like minimalist prints and your friend will like this gift. The sense of touch is a great one to evoke when you're creating anything with a luxurious element. Even though we're just talking about paper here, we've made it sound really looks and inviting, and although our print doesn't actually smell of anything much, bringing the sense of smell into things here reinforces the point we're making. Finally, here we're connecting the print to an activity that involves taste, another subtle way to bring an extra sense into our reader's experience of our copy. For an extra slice of inspiration, take a look at this description of body parts on Grace Cole's website. Unctuous, rich, luxurious, moreish, thick, smooth. The description really hammers home the luxury elements of the product with lots of sensory language. Take another look at your own copy. Would it benefit from some more sensory input? In the next lesson, we'll be looking at the specifics of writing product descriptions. 6. Writing Product Descriptions: In this lesson, we'll explore some principles for describing your work in a way that's accurate and authentic, and that's going to persuade potential customers to buy. Like many creatives, Amy often feels uncomfortable describing her work in product descriptions and elsewhere. She's afraid of sounding too salesy or inauthentic. Because her art is very visual, she sometimes struggles with what to put in her product descriptions because she feels like her work speaks for itself. In the last lesson, you saw Amy's latest digital prints which she's going to sell in her Etsy shop. We're going to work through a short and simple product description for this print using three powerful copywriting techniques that will help Amy describe her work and sell it. Linking features to benefits is one of the most powerful copywriting techniques in existence. A feature is a fact about a product or service while a benefit explains what's in it for the customer. Benefits sell your product or service because they connect with your readers desires and emotions. But you also need features to help customers justify the purchase. Starting with a feature then explaining the benefits of that feature is a foolproof way to appeal to the head and the heart of your reader. Features are generally easy to identify and describe. Benefits need a bit more work, which is why a lot of people miss them, but they're so important, especially when you're selling art, jewelry, or craft items. Because people usually buy these with their hearts rather than their heads. When I'm writing about a product, I like to start by listing the features, the basic dry facts about whatever it is. Then I imagine I'm talking to a potential customer, and talking about those facts and they're asking me the question, so what, in response to them. My answer to that question, so what then gives me the benefit. I'll use Amy's new print as an example. Here's a feature, the actual words that are on the print. Well, so what? What's the benefit to the customer of having a print with those words in particular? Well, it's a source of encouragement, it's something you can have in your home to remind you to be brave everyday. Let's not forget Amy's key target audience, which we know from our earlier lesson is people buying gifts for others. This print would make a really thoughtful gift for a shy friend, [inaudible]. Now let's pick another key feature. The fact that the quote is printed using archival links onto high-quality paper. Well, the name of that paper certainly sounds fancy, but what does it actually mean? Not much, in fact, to someone who isn't an artist themselves. But I've done my research and I found a lot of benefits to both the ink and the paper that may have been obvious to Amy. But as a layman, I had no idea what those fancy words all meant. That's really important. You might feel a bit silly asking, so what about features of your own creations when the answer seems obvious. But those benefits might not be obvious to your audience. Instead of hoping they'll work out for themselves, you need to do the work for them. Notice also how I'm addressing the reader, the potential customer, as you or even during this working out phase. This is such a good habit to get into. It's just another handy way to keep your focus on the reader and keep seeing things from their viewpoint. Another way of drawing out both the features and benefits of a product is to overcome potential objections. Once again, the trick is to put yourself in your reader's shoes. But this time you need to ask yourself why a potential customer might decide not to buy your product or service. There are two phrases I find helpful when I'm doing this. I'm interested but and that's okay because, so Amy's potential buyer might say, "I'm interested, but I hate all the plastic packaging most gifts come wrapped in." To which we can reply, "That's okay because it's packaged in an eco-friendly protective sleeve with no unnecessary packaging." Instead of leaving it there, we can go back in and ask so what in response to that feature, to draw out the benefits. Having a conversation with your own imaginary reader like this is a really effective way to draw out potential objections and overcome them in your copy to prompt the reader to buy. There's something else going on here too. By choosing to mention environmental awareness and the care we take on packaging our work, we're also appealing to our readers values. When a reader who shares these values reads this copy, they are more likely to trust us and feel a connection. That doesn't just mean they're more likely to buy something, it's great for ongoing brand loyalty too. Let's tidy up these features and benefits and condense them into a short product description for Amy's print. Here's another real-world example courtesy of Amanda Westbury, a ceramicist who sells her creations on Folksy. Notice how Amanda is giving suggestions for how her pendant might be worn or used. The way she's explained why the code is the length it is and how she explains the reasons for the different colors. All these techniques help the reader understand the product and imagine owning it. The next tip takes seconds to explain and demonstrate, but it's so powerful and surprise it has to do with reader focus again. Look again at our product description. Notice how I've referred to your print onto occasions in the text. Talking to a prospective customer as if they already own the product is an age old sales technique. The reason it's so popular is that it works. When you give ownership of the product to your reader, it sounds like a done deal. You've assumed that they're going to buy and that confidence rubs off on them. Referring to your print or whatever it is like I have here is probably the most direct way of doing this. Another more subtle method is to ask your reader to imagine interacting with the product. For example, we might say, "You'll feel inspired every morning when you see this print or imagine your friend's face when they unwrap this thoughtful gift." In this lesson, you've learned how linking features to benefits, handling objections, and giving your reader ownership of your product can help you write a description that's both authentic and accurate. Before you move on, take a look at a product description of your own. Ask the question so what to identify if there are any benefits you can add in for your reader and experiment with ownership to engage their emotions. Make sure you check out this brilliant article by Henneke over at Enchanting Marketing. It's all about features and benefits and how to use them to connect with your reader. There's a link to it in the class description. In the next lesson, I'll share with you a tried and tested versatile copywriting formula that you can use for anything from product descriptions, to learning pages, to social media posts. 7. #1 Copywriting Formula: Following a tried and tested formula when you're writing marketing copy is a really good way to make sure you stay focused and don't forget anything important. The formula I recommend most often to my clients and students is AIDA. That's because it's really simple to follow and it's very versatile. You can adapt it to work for product descriptions, landing pages, social media posts, ads, pretty much any marketing copy. AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, action; four stages that lead you through grabbing your reader's attention, then getting them interested to making them want what you're offering, and finally, persuading them to take action. These four stages are often illustrated using a funnel like this. That's because you inevitably lose readers at different stages. So you might grab the attention of 100 people, but they drop off at each stage, and perhaps only five of them end up taking the action at the end. Let's work through the AIDA formula together using a promotional flyer as our example. Amy is going to use this to promote her brush lettering workshop. You can see I've already sketched out how we're going to apply the AIDA model to the flyer. We're going to use the headline and the subheading to grab the reader's attention. You might also hear this stage referred to as the hook because it's what hooks the reader in. In this first paragraph, we'll create interest in the workshop. We'll turn that interest into desire in the second paragraph, and then in the final paragraph, we'll explain the action we want the reader to take and encourage them to take it. This stage is often referred to as a call to action or CTA. From a copywriting point of view, grabbing a reader's attention and hooking them in is most often done using a headline or a title. In this case, the heading and subheading at the top of the flyer are what's going to do it. In the case of a webpage or a blog post, it's the title. In a social media post, it's the first line. The principle is always the same. You need to get your reader's attention at the start of your copy and encourage them to keep reading. In the case of our flyer, I'm going to keep this big headline at the top very short and simple just as it is now so that we can use that nice big text. People are going to notice it as they're browsing through a pile of flyers or looking at a notice board. Anyone who's remotely interested in attending a hand-lettering workshop is going to have their attention grabbed by those words. Now we can use this subtitle to keep their attention and make sure they pick up the flyer and keep reading. When it comes to grabbing attention with your copy, a great place to start is by focusing on one of your product's or service's unique selling points or USPs. In the case of Amy's workshop, a big selling point is that the teacher is a professional illustrator. Let's start with that basic information. Now I'm going to show you a handy little tool for improving headlines. It's called Headline Analyzer, and there's a link to it in the class description. It's a free service that analyzes your headlines and gives you tips for improving them. I find it useful not just for traditional headlines and blog titles, but any short snippets of copy I'm writing where I'm looking to grab the attention of potential customers just like with this flyer. Let's see what Headline Analyzer thinks about our subheading. You can see that it's suggesting we include some words that are either uncommon or emotional or what it calls power words. It's also suggesting that we rephrase the headline as a question which is something we covered in an earlier lesson. The sentiment, well, it would be good if that was positive so that we can get people in a positive mood to make a purchase. Let's take that feedback on board and rewrite our sub-heading with the same information but rephrasing it as a question and adding more emotional and positive words like want, beautiful, and professional. What do you think? I think this version is much more attention-grabbing and engaging, and the Headline Analyzer tool agrees. Try it for yourself. There is a bit of trial and error needed in it. It's not perfect, but it's a handy resource to have in your back pocket. Now it's time to build interest in the workshop. For that, I'm going back to those USPs. I want to mention that the workshop is casual and friendly because I think that will give people the confidence to book it. I also want folks to know it's hands-on and practical as opposed to being about the theory of hand lettering so they know what to expect. I want to introduce Amy as the host buy name, again to make her seem friendly and approachable and also to reiterate that she's a professional illustrator. We've got across a lot of important information in that short paragraph, and hopefully, our reader is now interested in the workshop. Next, for the desire stage, to push them over the edge into really wanting to book on to the workshop, I'm going to zoom in on the final and most persuasive selling point, that's the fact that during this workshop, attendees will create a work of art of their own using the brush lettering techniques they'll learn. So I'm going to tell them that. Can you guess what I'm going to do next? That's right. I'm going to use the technique we learned in the last lesson and link a benefit to that feature by offering suggestions to the reader about how they might use their new artwork. Put yourself in the shoes of someone interested in this workshop and reading this sentence, I bet you're imagining proudly hanging your beautiful new artwork in your home or watching a close friend unwrap their lovingly handmade gift. We've injected some emotion into things and that's what will take our reader from being interested in the workshop to unequivocally wanting to book it. Now it's time to let them know what action they need to take to book on to the workshop. Whatever it is you're writing, make this action as simple as possible. Don't confuse your reader by including any more information than needed. The only tiny extra word I'm going to pop in here is the word securely, just as a note of reassurance. Here is our finished flyer created using the AIDA formula. The most important takeaway from this lesson is that following a copywriting formula is a foolproof shortcut to writing effective copy. That's why formulas like AIDA are used by professional copywriters. They've been proven to work. Before you move on, see if you can apply the AIDA formula to your own copy. Remember, you can adapt it for pretty much any marketing copy. Try it on a product description, or your next social media post. In the next lesson, you will learn three powerful hacks for keeping your copy clear and concise, something that's so important in this age of limited attention spans. 8. Easy Hacks for Clear Copy: Clarity and directness are so important in marketing copy especially when that copy appears online. Your message needs to be clear and you need to get to the point quickly if you're going to keep reader's attention and persuade them to take action. In this lesson we'll cover three very straightforward but surprisingly powerful hacks for keeping your copy clear and concise. Long rambling sentences of over around 20 words are a feature of bad writing. They're confusing and they're difficult to read, especially online where readers tend to scroll and skim through text rather than reading each word. Splitting your sentences can dramatically improve your copy. To spot long sentences in your copy, you can use the word count feature on your computer. You can look for connecting words like and, but, so, and because, and you can keep an eye out for long lists which use lots of commas. When you've found a long sentence you want to split, do it by adding full stops at natural points between ideas, those connecting words; and, but, so, and because often act as useful pointers. While you're splitting your sentences, you can look for opportunities to split your paragraphs too, because generally copy it is easier to read if it consists of lots of shorter paragraphs rather than a few long ones. Let's work through an example. Here is the intro to a blog post Amy is writing about brush lettering. The first sentence is fine, but the second one is a mammoth, over 80 words long. It's got all the hallmarks of a rambling over long sentence. Lots of those connecting words and lots of commas. Let's split this sentence into shorter ones. I'm going to start by adding full stops and natural points between ideas. These are easy to spot because they're usually flagged up by those connecting words or by commas. Now I just need to re-frame the sentences so they make sense and follow on nicely from each other. Especially if this text will appear online, I'm going to split not just the sentences but the paragraphs to make it easier on the eye as well as easier to read. Simple straightforward changes that have made this piece of copy clearer and more inviting already. If you take any one thing away from this class, let it be to always write with your reader in mind. It's a theme you'll find cropping up time and time again in my classes and it's the best advice I can give you to make your writing clear and relevant. This golden rule also applies to the individual words you use in your copy. Keep your language simple. Every career or industry or hobby has its own insider language or jargon, specialist language that people working or operating within that field use and understand. If you're writing for people within that specialist group, it's appropriate to use that specialist language, but don't make the mistake of using industry jargon when you're writing for a more general audience. That's the mistake Amy has made in her blog post intro. Do you know what a shuji is? We'll, it's some Japanese calligraphy, but I bet not many of Amy's target readers who are beginners at brush lettering would know that. Let's swap that word for one they will recognize. If you're writing about something you know very well and you're not sure if a word or phrase is jargon or not, the best way to find out is to ask someone outside that industry. I'm sure if Amy had asked any non-professional if they knew what shuji was, they would've told that they didn't. Just jargon words you need to eliminate from your writing. Language tip number 2 is don't use complicated words when there's a simple alternative. You might think that using a fancy-sounding word makes you seem like a better writer, but in fact the opposite is true. Let's swap these complex words in Amy's copy for simpler ones. Disparate becomes different, onerous becomes difficult, and shepherd becomes guide. What is an adverb? Why have I got any for them? Well, put simply, an adverb modifies a verb or an adjective. Does that tell you how someone did something? I've highlighted the adverbs in these sentences. Adverbs aren't always bad news, sometimes they give vital information but they are overused. If you struggle to keep your copy concise, trashing a few adverbs is probably going to improve it. There are a few different types of adverbs, but the type that is most important to check and consider deleting it is easily identified because they almost always end in the letters ly, just like the ones in these sentences. I've highlighted all of the ly adverbs in Amy's text. Have a look at them and remember what I said about adverbs modifying the word after it to tell you how something was done. Let's go through them and see if they really need to be there. First, we have the word readily before available. Is that adding anything to the meaning of the copy? I don't think so. Let's delete it. The same goes for extremely in front of complex. It's not bringing anything new to the party and the copy is clearer and snappier without it. Now we have this phrase, very useful. This is a good example of where we can strengthen the verb, in this case useful, and in doing so make the adverb that comes before it unnecessary. What's a stronger word for useful? How about invaluable? With that nice strong verb in place, we can get rid of the adverb without losing any meaning. Getting rid of those adverbs was easy and it's made this copy feel much more direct and professional. You'll find another example of these techniques in action link during the class description. It's this blog post by Alex of Red Lemon Club. Short sentences, simple language, and few adverbs. Alex gets that message across crystal clear. Incidentally I thought you might like this blog post because of the content to it. It's all about using a short meditation to enhance the creative process. Something we might all find useful from time to time. If you're looking for a free online tool to help you implement the tips we've covered in this lesson, I can highly recommend Hemingway. Copy and paste your writing into Hemingway and it will highlight long and difficult to read sentences, give you alternatives to complicated words and flag up adverbs. That's not all, it helps you with a number of other elements of writing, some of which you will be very familiar from earlier lessons, like identifying the passive voice, for example. I can't recommend Hemingway highly enough. It's my number one resource for anyone wanting to make their writing clearer and more concise, and it's free. The most important takeaway from this lesson is that by shortening your sentences, simplifying your language, and binning a few adverbs, you can quickly and easily take a piece of copy from almost unreadable to clear, concise, and engaging. Before you move on, have a look at your own copy and see if it can benefit from any of the techniques we've explored in this lesson. The next lesson is the second of our copy quickies, and it's all about writing to optimize your pages, posts, and products in search engines. 9. Quickie: SEO Copywriting: SEO stands for search engine optimization. Simply put, it means creating content that will rank highly in searches. It's not just about getting your website to rank highly on Google searches, SEO is relevant wherever people search. So if you sell products on Etsy, for example, you can use SEO techniques to help those products rank highly when someone searches for that kind of thing on Etsy. SEO is often overlooked by small business owners. I think that's partly because there are a lot of companies charging a lot of money for SEO services, and they make it sound like something very technical and mysterious. SEO also has a reputation as being slightly dodgy and even immoral, which is largely undeserved. There's absolutely nothing wrong with, for example, describing your products in an accurate and detailed way so that they show up on the searches of people who are looking for that sort of product. SEO is something that deserves a little of your attention, and for two very good reasons. Where your website, product, or service ranks in search results has a huge impact on sales, and the second reason is because there are simple steps you can take yourself for free to optimize your content for search engines that won't take much extra time and will help your content rank higher. Now, SEO copywriting is just one part of SEO, and it's a huge subject in its own right, so we don't have time to go in-depth in this copy quickie. But the most important thing for you to know, and it's good news, is that the best way to write in a way that will rank highly in searches is to write clear, concise, useful, reader-focused content. That's right. It's all the things I've been bleating on about throughout this class, which means that if you follow the techniques you've learned today, you'll be well on your way to creating optimized high-ranking content, because good copywriting is also good SEO copywriting. If you've yet to dip your toe into the waters of SEO, I can highly recommend Yoast SEO blog for getting started. They've got a series of beginner's guides that demystify SEO and break it down into easy-to-follow tips. There's a link to this page in the class description. The next lesson is about writing for social media, and it's packed with tips and tricks to improve your social bios and posts. 10. Writing for Social Media: In this lesson, I'll touch on a few fundamental principles that apply to writing for all social media platforms. In many ways, writing for social is similar to writing for any other channel for your creative business. You need to be clear on your audience, your brand voice, and your objective. But on social media, these things are even more vital, and that's because of the way people consume your social content, compared to other marketing channels, like your website, emails, or direct mail. Most of us access social media on our phones, and we fly through our feeds, half distracted, not even registering a lot of what's on there. When you write for social, you're writing for these casual scrollers and skimmers, not highly engaged readers. You've got to stand out on a crowded feed, and any uncertainty on your part will result in a less than punchy post, only your target will skim right past. If there's one principle that's central to great copywriting, and I think you know what I'm going to say next, it's to always write with your reader in mind. This is even more important when you're writing for social because you are writing for that barely engaged audience. Unless your followers already care deeply about your work, they're not going to stop scrolling to read a post about it. What will stop them in their tracks is a post that's about them and that addresses their problems, their needs, and their desires. One simple way you can make sure your copy is staying well and truly focused on your reader is by addressing them directly. Forrester is a company that helps B2C brands, including creative businesses, provide better customer service. It's a pretty dry subject. But scroll through their feed and you can see that they are crystal-clear on who their target audience is and what those people need. One way they get their target audience's attention is by addressing them directly in their posts, IT and business leaders, sales ops leaders, B2C marketers. If you work in one of those roles, you're going to stop scrolling when you see it on your feed. If the post goes on to address a problem or need you have, like understanding customer behaviors, there's a good chance you're going to engage with it. Here's a draft social post, Amy has written where she's promoting her hand-lettering workshops. Let's switch around the first part. So we're addressing the target audience directly. That's much more likely to catch their attention. Writing on social media tends to be more casual than any other business communication. That's mainly because people use social media to connect with friends, socialize, catch up on the news, and for a whole host of other non-work-related things. So more informal, less businesslike tone is expected and appropriate. Another reason is that space is at a premium on social media. You have to get your message across quickly if it's going to be effective. Using abbreviations and breaking a few grammar rules, are useful and acceptable ways to achieve that. Do the thing you need to keep in mind when choosing how casual to go on social is your brand tone of voice. Your brand voice should be consistent and recognizable across all your marketing channels. Achieving that is about choosing the right language to reflect your brand. Look at this tweet by Forrester. If that brand voice had been more formal, they could have avoided the contraction don't, and instead, use the more formal do not. Or for a more casual brand voice, they could have chosen more informal synonyms in place of advanced and emerging. There's no right or wrong here. It's just about reflecting your brand effectively and being consistent. If we go back to Amy's post, to fit in with the channel and Amy's own voice, more authentically, it would be good to make the language a little more casual. I'm going to do that by adding a few contractions and replacing these words with some more colloquial synonyms. For your social media copywriting to be successful, you need to have clear objectives in mind. When it comes to your social media activity, generally, you probably have a number of objectives or targets around engagement levels, click-throughs, and conversions. Assuming that overall strategy is clear, the next thing to make sure you have is one simple defined objective for each post. Your objective will probably be linked to a call to action, a CTA, but not necessarily. Sometimes the objective of a post is just to make followers aware of something, or remind them of a key message. But usually, you want them to do something, like click through to a landing page, buy a product, or engage with the post by liking or commenting. Here's the important thing, a post should only ever have one call to action. Remember those skimmers and scrollers. Remember the limited time and space you have to get your message across. Unless you're absolutely clear what one action you want your reader to take after reading your posts, your message will come across as confused, and will probably be ignored. This is such a simple thing. It takes seconds to decide your post's objective and craft a simple CTA, and yet so many people get it wrong. Don't be one of them. Look at Forrester's feed again. Register now. Download now. Learn more. It may well be that there are additional CTAs once I click through here, which are going to encourage me further down Forrester's marketing funnel, but the CTA attached to each post is singular and straightforward. Amy can learn something here too. She's confusing her reader with too many options. She needs to focus on one CTA, which in this case should be getting people to book onto a workshop, and she needs to give them one clear instruction of how to do it. The most important takeaway from this lesson is that, while writing copy for social has a lot in common with writing of the marketing copy, people consume it differently. Because people skim and scroll on social, you need to build solid foundations for social media success by knowing your audience, using more casual language, and sticking to one simple CTA per post. I want to show you a super handy tool from Sprout Social. Firstly, there's a guide that tells you the optimum length for all the major social media platforms. Secondly, there's the tool itself where you can paste your post and get feedback on its length and number of hashtags. There's a link to this guiding tool in the class description. If you're interested in learning more about copywriting for social media, take a look at my social media copywriting masterclass right here on Skillshare. It's full of tips and tricks for writing your profiles, bios, and posts with advice tailored to each of the main platforms. Before you move on, take a close look at your last few social media posts, and see if they can be improved using the principles we've explored in this lesson. In the next lesson, I'll share some common mistakes I see people make when writing copy for their creative businesses, and how you can avoid them. 11. 3 Common Mistakes: Welcome back, and thank you for the time you've taken out of your day to watch this class so far. I feel very privileged to have joined you at this point on your copy-writing journey, and I hope you're finding this class useful. We've only got a couple of lessons left, but there are some admissible tips and techniques yet to come, so please do stay with me until the end. In this lesson, I'll share some common mistakes I see people make when writing for their creative businesses and how you can avoid them. Nobody wants to come across as rude or abrupt or current, and that's one of the reasons why we so often clog up and slow down our copy by adding footsie polite words and phrases that don't need to be there instead of getting straight to the point. In fact, the politest thing we can do from our reader's point of view is get our message across as succinctly as possible rather than wasting their time, that's rude. Write confidently and don't be afraid to give direct instructions. Let's look at a few examples. I'm sure you recognize a few of these from official letters you've received or from old fashioned Web pages. Isn't it better when people get to the point and say exactly what they mean? Just as using jargon words where everyday ones will do doesn't make you look clever. Neither does using more words than you need. It just makes your writing footsie, long-winded, and tedious to read. If you need a hand making your writing straightforward and easy to read, try the readability test tool by WebFX. There are lots of different readability and decision steps to look at, but quite simply, if you aim for this little bar on the test results to turn green, you'll end up with clear, simple text that most adult readers will understand. Most of us have a tendency to frame information negatively in our minds. It's human nature. It days all the way back to when we were living in caves and avoiding a saber-tooth tiger on the way to the river was a more important consideration than enjoying the lovely swim when we go there. Naturally, this tendency to frame things negatively carries over into our copy-writing. However, research has shown that framing products and services in a positive way increases conversions by as much as 50 percent. Being more positive in your copy makes good business sense. Here are some examples of what I mean by positive and negative framing. In the examples on the left, we're talking about avoiding negative things. Meanwhile, on the right, we're saying the same things, but we've reframed the information so that we're focusing on the positive. We're telling the customer about the positive thing that will happen rather than the bad thing they'll avoid. A parcel not getting broken in the post means exactly the same as it arriving in perfect condition, but the positive framing creates a much more positive image in the reader's mind. Do you think that the positively framed alternatives are also a little more direct? I do. As an extra bonus, I find it easy to link features to benefits when I also make an effort to keep my copy positive. To spot negative framing in your copy, look out for negative words like no, not, won't, doesn't, and never, and negative qualities or consequences. In this case, we've got long, broken, and tarnish. Once you're looking out for negative framing, it's pretty easy to spot. Then it's just a case of turning it around so that you're focusing on the opposite positive quality or consequence. It's time to get rebellious. Many of us learned to write in a very correct formal style at school or college. It's a way of writing that suits academic work, but it can come across as stilted and stuffy in other contexts, especially online ones. A lot of rules around writing are important because they aid clarity and make sure that you get your message across effectively, but certain rules are outdated and breaking them can actually make your writing clearer as well as more characterful. One example of a grammar rule it's okay to break is to never start a sentence with but, or because, or and. You should absolutely break this rule because shorter sentences are easier to read. They add energy to your writing, and they often add clarity too. Here's an example of that in action on Etsy's homepage. I'll read this out loud. Your privacy is the highest priority of our dedicated team, and if you ever need assistance, we're always ready to step in for support. To the reader it's clear that each of these two sentences represents a separate, equally important idea. If we got rid of the word and to please the grammar patents like this, the reader would assume that the second sentence was building on the idea presented in the first, which it isn't, so that would be confusing. Merging the sentences like this is also grammatically correct, but that's no good either. Not only is a single sentence so long that it's difficult to read. The importance of that second statement has been lost by tagging it on to the end of the previous one. There are a few of the grammar rules it's okay to break occasionally. Not using broken sentences is one, and making all your paragraphs between three and five sentences long is another. I don't even know who started that one, but it's surprisingly prevalent. But there's one rule you must never break. The number one rule in copy-writing is always right with your reader in mind. But you already knew that, right? In this lesson, you've learned three of the big mistakes creatives make when they're writing copy for their businesses. Long-winded copy, using negative framing, and following outdated writing rules. Before you move on, take a look at your own copy and see if you can make any improvements using the tips from this lesson. Most importantly, remember that great copy-writing isn't about following a set of rules. It's about getting your message across to your reader as concisely and persuasively as possible. In the next lesson, we'll recap what we've learned and talk about our class project. I've also got one final brilliant free resource for you, so don't even think about skipping it. 12. Next Steps: Thank you for joining me for this class on copywriting for creative businesses, and congratulations on finishing the class. In the last 60 minutes, you've learned a total of 24 practical actionable steps you can put to work straight away to improve your copy and make it more concise, persuasive, attention-grabbing and engaging. You've explored 12 helpful real-world examples from brands and creative entrepreneurs who are totally acing it when it comes to marketing copy, and divided nine quality writing resources to your toolkit for a bit of extra help when you need it. I think you should congratulate yourself on an hour well-spent. You now know how to tell your brand story by getting across who you are, what you do in a way that's engaging and concise. You've learned the secret of selling without the sleeves and the specifics of writing accurate and authentic product descriptions. I've shared with you a tried and tested versatile copywriting template, either that you can use for everything from product descriptions and landing pages to social media posts. You've learned powerful hacks for keeping your copy clear and snappy, and some golden rules for writing web pages and social media posts. You've learned how to avoid some of the most common mistakes I see people make when writing creative copy for their businesses. I promised you one extra copywriting resource, didn't I? Well, here it is. I remember dictionary.com in its early days and my goodness, it's come a long way. This is now one resource I'd advise anyone who ever write anything to bookmark. Yes, it's a dictionary, but you can also find out about words that are trending. There are quizzes to improve your writing, and they're very soup dictionaries, including ones for slang, emojis, and words relating to gender and sexuality. Meanwhile, over on thesaurus.com, there are more useful free resources. One thing I really like here is the opportunity to try out synonyms of a word in a sentence. It's a handy way to identify more interesting synonyms for common words without having to go back and forth to your texts to try them out. There's a link to dictionary.com in the class description. Now, have you started your class project yet? Maybe you've been editing your text as we've gone along. If no, now is the time to start. Pickup a few pieces of existing copy to use as a starting point, maybe some text from your website, a product description and a social media post, for example. Download the creative copy in action cheat sheets, there's a link in the class description. Use the cheat sheet to help you improve your copy and when you're done, share the most impressive example as a project. I'd love to see how you've used the techniques we've explored during this class. If you're unsure what image to use for your project, this is a writing task after all, I've uploaded three royalty-free stock images to the project description for you to choose from. If you get stuck or if you have any questions, let me know. I'd love to hear your feedback about this class and I'd love to hear about the positive feedback you get about your improved copy. Thank you again for joining this class. Enjoy the rest of your day.