Want to be the greatest, most in-demand, kick-ass freelance copywriter ever? It’s not about the basics, like knowing how your spellcheck works or being a grammar god. You do need those, but being really good at the basics only gets you to “competent.”
Not great. Not kick-ass. Just competent.
So what’ll take you to the next level? What’s going to make you fantastic? What tricks help you hook your readers, get clients clamoring, and bring you the success you want?
Here are ten tips to steal from top kick-ass writers — so you can give them a swift kick and be a contender.
1. Readers don’t care about writing mechanics
Some of the most in-demand writers aren’t all that good at the kind of “good writing” your Grade 5 English teacher liked.
Many of the most successful copywriters don’t have degrees. They break all the rules. And no one notices. Readers just don’t care.
No, you don’t want to turn in copy full of typos. But you need to write in a way that readers care about.
Readers care about being touched on an emotional level. A few words resonate, they read a little more and then they’re hooked. They’re in the grip of the story, the persuasive content and the message that’s reaching them.
No emotion? No readers. It’s that simple.
2. Readers want to be interested
You might think your job is delivering information. But it’s not. Your job is to get people to read the next word.
Your job is to get the reader interested — and that means you need to be interesting.
Writing is more than words. It’s a performance. Think of public speakers. The best ones don’t just talk; they get up and walk around. They wave their hands. They make jokes. They get excited in the right places and pause at the perfect moment.
Give your writing some life, and give readers a good show.
3. Readers want to feel they’re great
People don’t care about you if you only care about yourself. Not many people are impressed by claims of greatness these days. Boasting about how great you are (or how great your client’s product is) won’t work.
Help readers and customers feel like they’re great. If they feel you genuinely like them, then they’ll feel better about you. And they’ll start coming back for more.
4. Readers like personality
When readers notice someone fun, interesting or engaging, they pay more attention. They want to be entertained.
The best characters in TV and movies show how it works. They use strongly-drawn personalities to reach audiences and get them paying attention.
Don’t believe me? Picture your two most memorable high school teachers. Think about everything you know about them.
Now picture the two main characters from X-Files.
5. Readers like secrets
Be confident about bonding with readers and customers. Don’t be afraid to show the real you, with all your quirks, flaws and passion. That spark of life makes you more real. No one wants to deal with a façade.
Mention the little details that make a big difference. Give someone a ‘secret.’ Sometimes just hinting at an interesting confession, or admitting that you have to have a blast of Eric Clapton with your morning coffee, does the trick. Your readers will feel trusted and important — and that’s a good thing.
Just beware — there is such a thing as too much intimate information. Giving a few personal details doesn’t mean you don’t have boundaries.
6. Clients like a great business experience
Being a kick-ass writer means you need to know how to get and keep customers. You need to be smart about marketing, prompt with replies, friendly with your service, and ready to give the best customer experience ever.
That’s what clients want — a great experience. Frankly, you’ll rarely hear a customer say, “Great use of alliteration in the third paragraph. Oh, and love your ellipses!”
7. Readers like confidence
Your self-assurance, confidence and determination are big factors to your success. No one likes wimpy uncertainty.
You have to have confidence. It has to show in every word of your work. That may mean hiding your terror of goofing up deep down inside, but if that’s what it takes, do it. The more you step up, the more confidence you’ll gain and the more it’ll show in your writing.
8. Readers like something different
Kick-ass freelance writers have their own edge. They’re distinguishable. They have to be, because in a sea of sameness, they need to find ways to make people pay attention.
So what’s your winning difference? What’s your edge? Go ahead — break a few rules and find ways to zig where others zag. Find something that you can call all your own, and make yourself stand out as special.
9. Readers like you to be humble
No one likes snotty people who think they’re better than everyone else. And it’s often easy for creative types to get that inflated ego going on.
No one’s perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Keep that ego in check, don’t get too lofty about your skills or self-worth, and accept that sometimes you suck — because everyone does. Acknowledge your shortcomings gracefully.
10. Everyone likes you to tell it like it is
Skepticism is one of the hallmarks of today’s age. Honesty is the name of the game. In fact, it’s one of the most commonly appreciated qualities these days.
So when you write, be open, honest, and transparent. Don’t treat people like dummies, don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes, and don’t sneak around with questionable tactics. People sense when they’re being sold, and they can smell a scam a mile away.
What do you think it takes to be a kick-ass writer? Which techniques and tricks have you used to get ahead in your own career?