How To Write Copy That Sells: Copywriting 101



Written by Jenai Kershaw

Writing copy isn’t easy. Writing great, provocative and thoughtful copy?
That’s difficult to say the least.

Copywriting is one half of an idea; it’s the ‘ying’ to art direction’s ‘yang.’ It’s a craft that requires time, patience and constant learning. It’s an avenue for your craziest ideas to push the envelope far enough to make a real impact.

A great idea is often nestled within a 100 bad ideas, and once it’s worked, shaped and polished, it can become a real nugget of gold. You could say the job is hard-work, but gratifying. So if you’ve decided to pursue copywriting, it can be daunting to learn where to start and how to end. Here are a few tips we’ve picked up along the way:

AD – Diego Lopez.  CW – Hayley McOstrich.

More than words

Copywriters do more than just write.

This may come as a surprise to people outside advertising, but it shouldn’t to you. You bring creative fuel and ideas to table just as much as other members of your team. Coming up with a great idea is half the battle. Perfecting it and crafting it is the next step.

AD – Junggle Kim, Ela Kallonen.  CW – Cristina Marquez, Maddie Rosenberg.

AD – Kennedy Choi.  CW – Charlie Tran.

Hook them with the Headline

“When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
This quote by ad legend, David Ogilvy rings true decades later. Headlines will make or break your ad. Today’s world is saturated with ads that look, sound and feel generic. A great headline will hook you and lure you to read the rest of the ad.

Authenticity and practice are the pillars to a great headline. Your style, your research and your word choice all contribute the how authentic to your brand and your consumer the headlines read. Practice helps you dissect the good from the bad.

AD – Kennedy Choi.  CW – Charlie Tran.

Do your Research

If you don’t know what you’re writing about, how can you sell it? Research makes your writing better. The more you know about your brand, the easier it is for you to write for it in a meaningful and authentic way. If your ideas and words are rooted in truth, they will resonate with your target. There’s nothing worse than ad that feels out of place.

AD – Victoria Lyons.  CW – Charlie Tran.

AD – Victoria Lyons.  CW – Caleb McMullen.

Get to the Point

In an effort to clever, it’s easy to lose touch with what’s important. What are you trying to convey? Whether it’s your creative director or your mom, you should be able to get the point across without losing them in the poetry of it.

So how do you make it interesting? As David Abbott said, “things you can’t say literally can often be said laterally.” After all, that’s where the craft comes to play.

AD – Victoria Lyons.  CW – Caleb McMullen.

Revise, Revise, Revise

Copywriting is so revisionary, you could argue that it’s never truly complete. It’s important to constantly ask yourself, “is this necessary?” Puns, word-play, and flowery language play a role in great writing, but you need to realize when they’re helping and when they’re hurting your work.

While helpful, these tips only scratch the surface of great copywriting. Our 2-year Copywriting Course is a great hands-on, portfolio program that will help you hone in your copy into great ads. You can learn more here.

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