1. Copywriting

Common Mistakes of The Rookie Copywriter

Alright, alright.

I’ve seen enough valiant attempts by newbie copywriters to make me both proud and cringe in (not-so) secret. 🙂

You see, it’s not always pretty when you’re still learning the ropes. It’s totally normal.

In fact, it’s often STILL not pretty when you get the hang of it.

In other words: there’s work involved. (Yikes, the ‘W’ word, I know..)

Work, insights, trial and error, checklists, mentorships… and some more work for good measure.

It’s a never-ending process but it DOES get easier.

You never hear this, but... copywriting is like music! All you need is to hit the right notes, the right rhythm.. and people 'get it' instinctively.
You never hear this, but… copywriting is like music! All you need is to hit the right notes, the right rhythm.. and people ‘get it’ instinctively.

And to make it a little easier for some of you, I thought I’d list a few of the more tragic and easy to avoid mistakes. So here we go!

  • The wordy headlines. Yep, you know these. 50+ word headlines sprayed across the above-the-fold are and that’s supposed to be the eye-catcher. You’ve seen a few of these in print perhaps and think to yourself that’s how it’s done. The difference is, those seasoned print advertising cats really know what they’re doing, and you don’t always get to just copy it wholesale. So just stick to 20 words or less, and communicate one major idea only inside it, and you’ll be fine.
  • The confusing close. New copywriters often don’t seem to know how to close. How to take the copy to its logical end, pull the offer together and just put the final pressure-cooker on to squeeze out the sale. What often happens instead is a rush to the order button, a ‘one last feature’ mention, or perhaps ‘the backtrack’ where the writer suddenly starts to get shy about the offer. At this point, the prospect should have ONE thing on their mind: the offer, what it includes, what difference it makes to me, do I get more in exchange than my dollar amount investment, and so on. There are many techniques to a powerful close, but begin by REALLY thinking through the offer and present it in the most appealing ways.
  • The bullets with no punch. Just because you can dress a sentence into a bullet, doesn’t make it structurally or effect-wise so. Bullets that give off no energy is a surefire mark of a rookie writer. Don’t be offended, but it really is a dead giveaway. Bullets should be punchy, curiosity-generating, easy to read, eagerness- generating, full of power words… in other words, bullets can almost do ALL of your sales if you do it right. Some of the best sales pieces in history relied on bullets exclusively to deliver the PUNCH. I’ve written half a book on this topic alone, which I will release either as a standalone book or as part of a larger package. So watch this space if your bullets don’t penetrate the surface, yet…
  • The ho-hum call to action. Even if you get the close right, the call-to-action is the final acid test of your copy. Will it be heraldic (“yes I sign up” instead of “sign up now”), direct, powerful, visible, irresistible, in large font, replicated with a text link… and so on. Or is it just an afterthought you decide doesn’t deserve much thought since the rest was done so well. Let me tell you something: my recent conversion tests consistently show that CTAs in many cases OUTRANK the headline in terms of final mile effectiveness. A.k.a. the sales. It’s a mind-blowing finding when you think about it, and I guarantee you we will be seeing innovation in this area this year and beyond.
  • The flow that has no flow. Getting the FLOW of a sales letter (or sales video script, email sequence, whatever) is one of those things that really take patience to get it right. Which is not a lot of internet marketers have in abundance, let’s be honest. Which is why you’ll stand on your peers’ shoulders if you learn to do this! I mean it: getting the flow right means the difference between someone following your pitch right to the end… or dropping out at the first sign of distraction. Double digit sales conversion difference, I guarantee you. I’ve seen this and tested this so many times most people won’t even think about this.


So what can you do about it?

How can you fix these mistakes and many more left unsaid?

I already gave you some pointers that you just need to put into practice. So go back, take notes and make some bold mistakes. 🙂

But I understand, most people need more than one fleeting exposure to a technique before they can implement it with confidence and full effect.

And that’s why I’m FINALLY coming out with copywriting training programs.

Very, VERY soon.

And these won’t be wishy-washy ‘thought pieces’ either.

My newsletter readers have made it abundantly clear to me that they most appreciate the direct, hard-hitting, show-me-how copywriting tips with case studies attached. With practical persuasion psychology as a close second.

So keep your eyes open, you’re about to get on board to high stakes online sales. Practice what you can and be ready to jump when the time comes! 

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Comments to: Common Mistakes of The Rookie Copywriter
  • December 6, 2014

    Interesting Juho as always. What’s the best CTA line that you have seen around? Oh. And Happy Independence Day 🙂

  • December 6, 2014

    Thanks for dropping by, Passe, and that’s a very tough question! 🙂 The best CTA depends a little on the case, sometimes it’s a low-barrier “CONTINUE”, sometimes it’s “Read More & Reserve Your Seat”.. other times just “Buy Now”. There’s so much to say on this topic… I may well get back to this within a new product next year.

    Happy Independence Day to you too!

  • […] Common Mistakes of Rookie Copywriters – from yours truly. Just what it says. Take it to heart, will you? […]

  • February 23, 2015

    Make some bold mistakes!
    That might be my favorite line in any blog ever! I am not sure what made me go to this particular post, as I am not a copy writer, but found your lighthearted and easy to follow style of writing interesting. I generally entrust everything about my online presence to my marketing company, but some easy reading always pays off too.

  • January 21, 2016

    Crafting the “right” CTA is something that I used to struggle from back in the days and still is a problem to me to date. Anyhow, great post Sir! Thank you.

  • January 22, 2016

    You’re welcome Jill, and thanks for stopping by! CTA copy is definitely one topic that will never get old… much to explore and test.

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