How to Be a Copywriting Genius: The Brilliantly Sneaky Trick You Must Learn

How to Be a Copywriting Genius: The Brilliantly Sneaky Trick You Must Learn

Reader Comments (128)

  1. Sonia, spot-on commentary! In a world where our prospects are assaulted by marketing messages from every which way, clarity of purpose – like simply asking for the action – will almost always win the day.

    Now please tell that to my non-profit clients who think it’s vaguely ‘dirty’ to come right out and ask for a donation πŸ™‚

  2. It’s uncanny but I did a talk on just this very thing a few days ago – even some of my examples were the same (great minds and all that). I think you totally nailed the concept and I shall be passing the link to this article on to some of my clients.
    Thanks!

  3. Hi Sonia, I don’t normally click through to the site however this really got my attention and just wanted to say thanks. I will be using your tips πŸ™‚

  4. Really enjoyed your post, Sonia. I’m always fighting the temptation to be to subtle in my writing. People don’t have time to interpret, so you have to be crystal clear.

  5. This is a method I would never dream of using, simply on the basis that I assume that the readers knows exactly what needs to be done. This has shed some light on the matter for me definitely and I intend to use this in the future. Well done a very simple and concise post.

    http://www.rapidfireblog.com

  6. Hey, well done, Sonia. You’re right on with this.

    “Click here to learn more.” “Visit our XYZ page.” “Give us a call right now.” Those are all call to action phrases (short and sweet, mind you) that do help people know what to do next.

    You explained it well and wrote it well. Couldn’t have said it better myself!

  7. Really well done, Sonia.

    Most people don’t believe just how simple you have to make things for other people.

    Here’s a tip for bloggers:

    If you put a mashup of 10 links in your post, the very few who do click will click the first one.

    My testing indicates that if you really, really want your readers to go to a link, you have to make it the whole point of the post and the only link available.

    I’ve been the first link of 10, in a blog post, on a blog with tens of thousands of readers and gotten 45 whopping visitors from that post.

    Those posts with 15 places you want your readers to visit are almost worthless to the 15 people you link to, visitor wise. Almost.

  8. Thanks, all!

    Boy, Roberta, I feel your pain. I have one of those as well. I love them dearly and they do some amazing things, but they’re very particular about anything that feels “icky.”

    There’s a whole category of techniques that help response tremendously, but can be hard to sell to certain kinds of clients. I call them the “I don’t want to sound like an infomercial” issues. Talking reluctant folks through those is probably one of the major themes of my blog, in fact. πŸ™‚

    One of the things that first drew me to Brian is that he’s really mastered the art of using those time-tested direct response copy techniques without sounding cheesy. It’s a skill well worth acquiring.

    To change the subject, with a little luck, the Internet at large will think that very pretty woman in the photo is me. πŸ™‚

  9. I am a blogger by night and an interactive copywriter by day. You’re absolutely right. “Click here” is necessary because a majority of internet users still don’t really “get it.” You have to make that call to action clear as a bell.

  10. As Jonathan from Freelancefolder suggested in one of his older posts, I always try to end a blog post with a question that requests feedback.

  11. This is a keeper, Sonia. Not only because I love the word “bombastic”, but because in a very real way good copy is a map to the treasure. “X marks the spot”, big arrow with “dig here”, and a drawing of the jewels…all very good ideas.
    Loved reading this.
    All best, Jan

  12. Great tips! Others have aimed at it, but you’ve really nailed the topic.

    When I wrote for newspapers, we aimed at a 6th grade reading level because readers are too distracted by life to give up much more of their attention, not because they cannot read. Now, I check the reading level and ease ratings for all of my articles, then go back and re-write as much as possible to keep the topic easy to ‘get’ quickly!

  13. Great advice! I’ve known many people who are too afraid to ask for exactly what they want to happen. People can’t be afraid to ask for their users, readers and anyone who happens upon their site to do something — especially online! In the online universe, there’s quite a remarkably smaller barrier to entry than there is buying something in a store. There, you’ll see an ad in a magazine, think about it and then have to head to the store. Online, it’s all right there. πŸ˜‰

  14. Copy can be the most difficult part of a blogger/online marketers “job.” These are absolute essential for effective online copywriting, especially for online marketers.

    Great job!
    Maria πŸ™‚

  15. Hmmm, some interesting points to ponder. My take away from this is to remember that you most likely don’t have your readers 100% attention. The TV’s on, the kids are crying, the dogs barking, etc. You need to keep it straightforward for these people. Thanks for the post!

    – Dave

  16. Great article, Sonia! I’ve been teaching a lot of web-writing classes lately for my day job and really had to stress to the students that writing simply or using reading level algorithms in order to reach a sixth grade reading level was NOT dumbing down their content.

    I also really like how you ended with your own advice! Excuse me, I now have to go persuade somebody to hire a blog consultant… πŸ˜‰

  17. Wow, It’s very interesting! My blog has a section for the readers to receive their jobs by email but most of them forget to confirm the subscription, and I think it’s because I don’t explain it very well. Now I have learned that wonderful principle!
    Thank you for the post, Sonia Simone!

  18. Hi Sonia,

    Great advice…and fun to read too! I like your “bombastic”! I have a choir director who speaks with this “new language” as well…and it certainly makes life more colorful! Thanks again.

  19. Great article. I’m going to use these tactics for a click through to an affiliate product. I wonder if it will work. Too often, copywriters get stuck on the creativity part of creating an ad–trying to make something really creative and interest–but keeping it simple is an important thing. Thanks for the reminder.

  20. Great post, but you forgot to give the step by step call to action at the end πŸ™‚

    “Now go to your own blog. Add a new post. You will see a blank space. Write in it. Don’t to ask your readers to act on your call to action.”

  21. This is such great advice. When I first started, asking my readers was a little embarrassing. But it works. People respond in a very positive way when you’re specific about what you want them to do.

  22. In a kaleidoscope of conversion seeking presentations, focus is fleeting. Why not ask? Empowering advice delivered with an enlightening perspective!

  23. Great advice, Sonia. I have just recently started to implement this into my own blog writing, so I will be curious to see how it turns out πŸ™‚

  24. This is great advice. I have yet to include an “insane level of detail” in my copy but I think I am going to try it. It doesn’t feel natural but if it gets the results I want, then it won’t matter.

  25. Sonia

    Thanks, that helps, I need to write descriptions for dresses, but I want to description to be a call to action in itself. Your article pointed my nose in the right direction πŸ™‚

  26. Great article, I think many times folks can get caught up in all the other aspects of writing good copy, they forget to ask for the sale! Also, some still have a mental block when it comes actually time to sell something, they don’t want to get that “negative rep” for being a “salesperson”, and this stops many from simply asking for the sale.

    Thanks for the article. I have some catching up to do on here.

  27. Very informative, thanks so much.

    I love to write with great attention to detail, as you will see from my blog, and it’s good to know that this is important.

    I am still trying to break into the freelance writing business, and hope to get somewhere before the end of the year.

  28. I love, love, love, this article! This really puts things in perspective for me as a fledgling blogger. Thanks so much for the insight!

  29. Dammit Sonia – i love that call to action in the last sentence at the end. Subtle, effective, actionable….

    think i’ll go ahead and ask you not to stop writing. Ever. Please.

    – thanks!

  30. Great advice for this blogging newbie. Especially the quote from John Caples. I know I am so busy these days with a job, raising labradors, and trying to write that I skim what I read. I only take the time to read something completely if it is absolutely essential to me. Thanks!

  31. People feel relief when you tell them why you’re calling. I get 3-4 sales calls a week*, and most people ask “how I am,” and they are either strangers or very nearly so. It chaffs my soul. I can’t deal with it, it feels sleazy. I got a call from someone recently that was “hey, I’m calling to see if you need me to design a FB fan page.”

    Much better & more direct. So it works in normal sales.

    *this is a result of having a profile at Active Rain.

  32. Hi Sonia: So nice to stumble upon blog commentary that’s expert and solid and, try as I might, I haven’t found what it is you’re selling – oh, wait a minute, maybe you’re not selling anything, or, at least as refreshing, it’s not so in my face that I had trouble ignoring it… Maria Sansalone

  33. Sensational advice Sonia
    I clear message and call to action is essential no matter what type of advertising medium you are using.
    The last thing you want is a reader ready to take action but confused as to tp what they should do.

    Cheers Adam

  34. Great article Sonia.

    I’ve always avoided using “click here” like the plague for the reasons you stated especially for the actual hyper link. Guess that become I come from a technical background and learned that this was a practice to be frowned upon.

    You’ve changed my mind now, as getting action is more important that being politically correct!

  35. Sonia
    You have made a believer of me. Up until reading your article I would have felt icky about telling my readers what to do. You did such a good job of explaining this point, and using the example about the details and what the buyer can expect once he clicks, etc – has really opened my mind. Also, the point about intelligence v. the intelligence that will actually be trained on our text is excellent.

    Thanks a million!

  36. Great advice Sonia. Loved your Ron Reader story.

    I’m guilty of forgetting basic copy rules when I write something that isn’t an ad – like a blog post. That’s why my posts can turn into rambling shaggy-dog stories without any punch-line.

  37. Call to actions are missed so much in local business ads. Not many businesses use them just because none of their competitors do and on it goes lol.

    Great article, thanks.

  38. Sonia. Thank you so much for all that you do on this blog. I am starting a small business providing training for musicians using the software Ableton Live, but I also work as a rhetoric instructor. I find your tips immensely useful not only for my website, but also for my classroom. Keep up the good work!

  39. Sonia,

    Thanks for this post, you make some very good points here. I especially like the way you closed this article by suggesting that we make our ads simple, not because our readers aren’t intelligent, but because they’re busy and we’re fighting for their attention. Definitely something we should never lose sight of.

  40. I found this incredibly compelling, as I’m just getting into copywriting for a company blog. I tend to write in complex sentences and have been swallowing my pride a lot lately when my boss copyedits a draft that decimates my prose. Keeping it simple, not because of the expectation of the reader but his or her fractional intelligence available, is something I never considered, and frankly refreshing.

  41. This has shed some light on the matter for me definitely and I intend to use this in the future. Well done a very simple and concise post. Looking forward to learning more from reading your blog.

  42. The John Caples advice is golden. Aspiring internet marketers would be well served to study the advertising trailblazers like John Caples, Claude Hopkins, and Robert Collier. There is an incredible amount of advertising and marketing wisdom in their books. I sometimes think web entrepreneurs forget the “Marketing” part of Internet Marketing.

  43. Put at least one unambiguous call to action into every piece of persuasive writing you create. You’ll see results.

    I suspect that one line has more than made these past several hours of reading your posts that much more worth it.

    I am going back and putting a call to action in everything.

    Thanks,

    Frank

  44. Ditto Frank J.Kenny I am fairly new to the online writing circuit. I was completely amazed at the contents of that very same sentence. Thank you for all the great tips. when people visit my site at: “Write Talk Right” they will be totally Blown Away by my website cos it’s nothing like this at all, that’s right! nothing like this at all If you are just a bit curious,

    : CLICK HERE

  45. “click here” is a great call to action, but when it is so overused I think information consumers shy away from it a bit. Nonetheless a great article!

  46. Most of us are way too shy about a clear call to action. Your entertaining illustration drives the point home very well, though. I even see myself in it…finding a page at the end of the day that I had opened in the early morning and started reading, thinking to myself, “Man, how did I get pulled away from that.”

  47. Thank you for sharing this informative article. This is a great tip for anyone wanting to improve their copywriting skills. Once readers are told exactly what to do, any writer will manifest immediate improvements with their copy.

    Best,

    Stacie Walker
    WomanInLeadership.com

  48. I absolutely agree. As a PR gal for authors, it’s staggering the number of people that don’t want to include to ask their readers to vote for them, click, or just flat out buy the book if they’ve enjoyed the excerpt. It’s not nagging as long as you do it tastefully and are not bombarding people. It’s closing the sale. And plenty of that is what keeps the lights on. (Just think – drivethrough fast food people *obviously* don’t have the same mental block, hmm??? πŸ™‚

  49. I posted an article this morning and saw little traction, I read this article and “How to Write Magnetic Headlines” and then changed my articles headline…two minutes later I began to see activity! Thank you! : )

  50. Way to live up to the headline!

    I loved the emphasis on simplicity and the quote by Caples (anything old school that wakes me back up to the fact the Internet didn’t invent anything when it comes to persuasion).

    Great CTA of your own: “Put at least one unambiguous call to action into every piece of persuasive writing you create.”

    Your article on A Rabble-Rouser’s Rules for Writing Kick-Ass Closing Paragraphs, in particular the concept of shrinking the change, has been a guiding light for me.

    Thanks so much!

    • Awesome, Aaron, thanks!

      Brian Clark long ago figured out how smart it is to go back to the old school (Caples, Ogilvy, etc.) for enduring principles that can be brought into the 21st century.

      It’s a great way to stay grounded and avoid chasing too many internet rainbows and unicorns. Yes, some things are different today — but a lot of things aren’t as different as we imagine.

  51. Thanks for the tips Sonia! Sometimes I wonder when am I being too pushy with my readers… I strongly believe there is a fine line between calling their attention and sounding a little too bossy/obnoxious. Still trying to figure that one out!

    With love,

    Adrianna Naomi
    http://www.adriannanaomi.com

  52. Hello Sonia Simone,

    Very much agreed towards your view, not only having better plugins and seo,
    one would not be able to engage much traffic, if they write their content not up to the mark.
    I am too fighting to get my writing content up to the mark. It is hard task though.It takes time
    to be perfect at our skills.

    This great tips to add up, and I am looking forward to adopt the skills you mentioned.
    Thank you.
    Keep writing.
    Shantanu sinha

  53. Hi Sonia,

    In the last month I put a website “www.selfimproveguide.com” on the net in which i offered a free book to the subscribers and a splendid e-book “From passion to peace” which was written in 1910. So far no one has subscribed to my free e-book. I have today read your article and came to know where I was going wrong. I will do the way you have suggested and hope to get subscribers for my e-book. Thanks a lot.

  54. Great information. When I lived in Austin and worked residential real estate there I had a blog that got a lot of attention, but I was not doing some of the things you addressed in this post. I just started a new blog for my new city and will incorporate some of your ideas.

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