33 Writing Tweaks That Will Turn You into a Copywriting Master

write

Can I make a confession?

When I started writing, I was no Shakespeare. I wasn’t even a Hemingway.

In fact, I was downright awful.

Like many of you, I didn’t get any kind of degree in writing. I didn’t shine in high school English. I never entertained dreams of being a best-selling author.

And my first few posts online proved it.

But over time, I started realizing how important writing is in business. (Spoiler alert: it’s super important.)

So I studied, practiced a lot, and got better. I’m still no Shakespeare, but I’ve learned a lot about writing.

Writing isn’t a talent—it’s a skill. A skill you can develop, refine, and improve.

Becoming a great copywriter isn’t easy, but if you consistently work on your writing, your writing will get better and better.

Here are 33 (count them!) writing tweaks that will propel you to copywriting mastery.

1. Use you instead of we or us

Guess what? Your copy shouldn’t be about you. It should be about the customer.

Using you means the copy is talking directly to the customer. But using we and us turns you into another boring company.

Don’t fall victim to the “all about us” copywriting trap. Show your readers how they’ll benefit.

See how SumoMe’s home page features a huge you statement?

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2. Qualify

You know you should sell benefits instead of features. But you can’t stop there—you have to emphasize that value. That’s why you need to qualify your value statements.

By making a list or a series of sections about benefits, you’ll communicate both quality and quantity. Your customers will be able to see a clearer picture of what you can do for them.

3. Ditch boring verbs

Remember in high school English class when your teacher told you to avoid the passive voice? That’s still true and extends to passive-sounding verbs, like the verb to be.

Why?

Because they tend to sound boring.

Which is more exciting: “Vacation is near” or “Get ready for vacation”?

I’m betting it’s the second one.

When it comes to your copy, don’t skimp on the verbs. Use strong, active verbs, and be direct.

4. Focus on your titles and headings…

Legendary marketer David Ogilvy is famous for saying,

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.

Take a lesson from the master, and create the best titles and headings possible. Whether you’re writing the main headline on a landing page or an email subject line, put some serious thought into it.

Want to become a copywriting master? Check out these 33 writing tweaks that will turn you into a copywriting genius.

5. …but resist clickbait temptations

While clickbait titles can initially boost your conversion rate, they’ll hurt you in the long run. That’s because with clickbait, you’re over-selling and under-delivering.

Instead, craft titles relevant to your readers. Rely on that relevancy to sell the title. Promise only what you can actually deliver, and then deliver.

6. Practice writing fewer words

Even if you’re writing a 3,000-word blog post, you still need to be concise. Take Strunk’s advice, and “omit needless words.”

Next time you’re writing something, challenge yourself to express your idea with as few words as possible. Then, build on that skeleton.

7. Write shorter sentences

Short sentences are powerful.

While you shouldn’t try to make every sentence short, you should use them to break up the text. No one wants to read a sentence that’s two paragraphs long.

Short sentences catch your readers’ attention. They’re easier to digest, and they help readers move through the content easily.

8. Harness the power of single sentence paragraphs

A single sentence paragraph can do a lot.

(See what I did there?)

When you use a single sentence paragraph on its own, you draw attention to it. Your readers will know that’s an important point to remember.

If you want your readers to listen up and remember something, make that sentence into its own one-line paragraph.

9. Brainstorm unique CTAs

To be blunt, a “Buy now” button is boring. So is “Join.” And don’t even get me started on “Click here.”

Use your call to action to give your readers something different. A great CTA lets readers know what they’re getting, and it gives them a great reason to click on it.

Treehouse has a great CTA on its homepage:

image05

10. Bold or italicize important statements

If there’s something you want your readers to remember, make it bold.

A survey by the Nielsen Norman Group revealed that 79% of users scanned every web page. Bold text makes that scanning process a lot easier.

11. Use the power of reason

People like to feel they have a good reason for what they do.

Next time you ask your readers to do something, give them a reason to. Using “because” is a good place to start.

(And no, you don’t have to use the word “because.” Just give your readers a reason to do what you want them to.)

12. Don’t be afraid of the word I

You might have been taught to not use I, me, or my in your writing. Well, throw that idea out of the window.

The more you sprinkle in references to yourself, the more you’ll be able to get personal and genuine with your readers. Your readers are craving it.

I do it all the time, and here’s what I’ve noticed.

When I write a blog post without referring to myself much, it tends to get ignored. All the engagement metrics I track go down. But when I do tell a story or share some insights into my life or business, engagement goes way up.

It just works. Trust me.

Be yourself, and refer to yourself.

Just remember: it’s not about going on an ego trip. It’s about being as honest and real as you can be in front of the people who matter—your readers.

13. Use personal stories

A personal story can turn a good article into a great one. If you’re writing about SEO and you tell readers how it helped you, they’ll be more likely to try it themselves.

Personal stories help build personal connections with your readers. They’ll see that you’re just like them, and they’ll be willing to listen to you.

14. Use other people’s stories

I love using real-life examples in my writing. When I include stories about how influencers have benefited from something, my readers understand how powerful it is.

Using others’ success stories lets your readers know you’re not full of hot air. If you know that something works, use stories to prove it.

15. Answer questions

I’m not talking about asking customers to send in questions. I’m talking about answering customers’ questions before they can even ask.

Great copywriting provides all the answers a customer needs. Your copy should tell the what, why, and how of your product. That means preemptively answering most anticipated questions in the copy itself.

16. Start strong

When it comes to writing articles or blog posts, you absolutely have to start with a strong statement. Tell your readers why they should keep reading.

I’m a big fan of using the first few sentences to relate to readers by addressing their concerns.

But you can also say directly what the post is about. Brian Dean from Backlinko does this a lot:

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Doesn’t that make you want to read more? You immediately know why the article is going to be superb.

No matter what you do with the beginning of a post, make sure you connect with the reader right off the bat.

17. Read it aloud

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Read my writing aloud? Yeah, right.”

But trust me—this works.

Reading your writing aloud will help you identify places where the writing doesn’t flow. If you trip over some words or stop to process the writing, you know it’s time to go back and fix those sections.

18. Make friends with a thesaurus

Ever notice you tend to use the same words over and over again? Or have you found yourself looking for the perfect word to use? You need a thesaurus.

Having a thesaurus is ideal for finding new words to introduce into your writing.

Now please, don’t use a thesaurus to try to find big, sophisticated-sounding words.

Simpler words are almost always better. But if you can’t think of a simpler word, maybe the thesaurus will help.

19. Speak your readers’ language

Take a look at past comments from readers. How do they write? Do you see any common phrases popping up?

Use this information to improve your writing. By literally using your readers’ language, you’ll make it easy for them to relate.

20. Use subheadings

Good writing needs visual contrast. That means no walls of text and no dense copy.

Using subheadings to create subsections helps the reader digest the information and understand it more easily. Make sure you state the main point of each section in the subheading.

21. Stuck? Try combining ideas

Fusing unrelated ideas creates a new twist on an old subject. It works so well because it grabs people’s attention. It makes you do a double-take.

For example, Gary Vaynerchuk posted an article with an eye-catching title:

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You have no idea what he’s going for, right? It makes you want to read more because the combination is so unexpected.

22. Stay actionable

There’s nothing wrong with theory—in theory, that is.

When you write an article without giving one actionable tip within it, it’s hard to take that article seriously. Your readers have no way of knowing whether you’re sharing good information.

In each post, aim to include several actionable tips your readers can use today. Sprinkle them throughout the text so readers get new advice with each section.

23. Make friends with summaries

Summaries, conclusions, wrap-ups. Whatever you call them, there’s no denying they’re important.

Here’s the thing: If someone’s made it to the end of your article, they should be rewarded. One easy way to do that is to include a summary or a conclusion at the end.

You can write a list reminding your readers of the most important facts in the article. Readers will be more likely to remember that important stuff, and it’s also convenient for them. Win-win!

24. Use humor sparingly

I’m the last person on earth to say your writing shouldn’t be personable. But there’s a fine line between relating to your readers and trying too hard.

If you want to use humor, do so—but don’t overdo it. You shouldn’t be cracking a joke with every new paragraph. With humor, often less is more. So, be funny, but don’t be funny all the time.

25. Bookend important points

You were probably taught that you should start a paragraph by introducing the main idea (a.k.a. a topic sentence). I’ll go a step further and say you should talk about your main idea in the first and last sentences of a paragraph.

People will remember information better if they see it more than once. By talking about your main point both at the beginning and at the end of a paragraph or section, you’re making that idea stick in your readers’ heads.

26. Be brutal when editing

Rough drafts aren’t called rough drafts for nothing. You may have a great idea, but without editing, you won’t make your writing the best it can be.

There’s a saying in writing: “Kill your darlings.”

The point is not to become too emotionally attached to your writing. Don’t keep something because you think it sounds nice.

Be honest and unbiased. Cut out filler words, remove lazy phrases, and shorten any novel-length sentences.

Need help? Try the Hemingway app.

27. Use transitions

No one likes to be hit over the head with something.

If you’re going from one topic to another, use a transitional phrase or sentence to make the shift smooth.

One great method is to connect the current section with the next one. Ramit Sethi uses this approach often:

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28. Avoid clichés

We all use clichés in everyday speech, but they’re a bad choice for writing.

That’s because using a cliché is a great way to say nothing at all. There is always a better choice (unless you’re making fun of a cliché, of course).

29. Include rhetorical questions

Do you want to be an awesome copywriter?

That’s an example of a rhetorical question. If you use rhetorical questions in a smart way, you can build a better connection with your readers and get them hyped for what’s next.

But if you go overboard, your readers will probably leave. Use rhetorical questions only when you want to emphasize a point or create hype.

30. Leverage lists

Lists are fantastic. They break down information into smaller chunks, and the format makes it a breeze to read.

If you’re packing a ton of information within a paragraph, consider making it into a list. Numbered lists work well for processes, and bullet points are ideal for everything else.

Here’s Pat Flynn using both:

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31. Eliminate buzzwords

It’s tempting to use jargon because it’s so widespread. But the truth? Most of the time, it comes across as vague filler text.

You might want to write a post called:

“Creating a Streamlined Process for Creating a Dynamic Funnel,”

but it’s more direct to title it:

“How to Get More Customers Fast.”

There’s a time and place for buzzwords, but don’t go over the top with them.

32. Keep it focused

Writing about sales? You could go into all sorts of topics, from marketing to public speaking.

But it’s important to narrow that scope so you don’t lose readers by going on tangents.

Keep everything on topic. Don’t talk about another subject unless it’s relevant. If you do talk about something else, keep it short.

33. End with a bang

My absolute favorite way to end an article is to include a question that engages my readers.

I like interacting with my readers and getting them involved. Asking an open-ended question is a great method of doing that.

End your articles with questions that start a conversation, and respond to comments. You’ll create a strong community, and your readers will appreciate it.

Conclusion

You don’t need years of study to become a master copywriter.

But you do need to practice.

And you need to practice a lot.

Your writing will only get better if you take the time to refine it. Every day, make it your goal to write something, even if it’s not much. You might be surprised to see how quickly your wordsmithing improves.

What’s your biggest writing challenge?

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Comments

  1. Jerome Perrin :

    Great article, very inspiring, beautiful wording.

  2. Hey Neil,
    Really helpful tips for beginner writers.
    “Use personal stories” it really work for me.

  3. Jamie English :

    These are great. I’m going to put some of these into practice. Best yet!
    Thanks!

    • Let me know how it goes Jamie.

      • Great stuff Neil.

        I’ve been blogging for 6 years now and since then I’ve been involved in writing guest posts, posts for my own blog, comments etc.

        I know one thing about writing: keep writing daily. That’s how you can be a better writer.

        The 100th post you write will be better than your first post. Practice is the key here. Also make sure to just focus on writing instead of editing.

        Most people make a mistake of editing while writing. It takes too much time and you will feel writing is really harder.

        One quick tip for those people is to turn off monitor while writing. It helps to just focus on writing stuff instead of looking for typos.

        • I’ve seen many tips out there for writing and appreciate your input here Anil.

          Sometimes the simplest tip is buying some ear plugs 😉

  4. Thank you sir
    It’ll really helpful for the beginner like me.

  5. Hello Neil,

    A particularly generous and helpful post for me – thank you.

    I won’t elaborate but, I shall keep this post as a valuable reference

    Thanks.

  6. I enjoyed your pitch but loved Gary Vaynerchuk 😛

  7. Great post as always. I broke Paretto on this. I remembered more than 20 %.

    Maybe you can wrote something about publishing sequence u use and why.

    I read this post on Facebook and shared on Twitter four hours ago. But I just get it my e-mail inbox.

    I would love to hear your “philosophy” about this.

  8. Neil, these are great tips, thank you! I wanted to point out that the Hemingway app above takes me to an unresponsive page with scrambled text all over. Not sure if it’s just me or everyone.

  9. Yo’,re right, Neil, about writing every day.I made the habit to write daily 1000 words.

    I do it when I drink my coffee in the morning (I like to say I added to my coffee 1000 words). It helps tremendously.

    After only two months I write easily my blog posts and I feel the progress.

    That’s great advice, thank you!

  10. Hephzy Asaolu :

    Great piece as usual. My articles started getting better when I began to read your blogs. You thought me how to write better, inspiring and engaging articles for my clients. Thank you so much, Neil.

  11. Ram Chandra dash :

    Thanks, it is one of the best article I ever found. Thanks for send me the email

  12. Hey Neil great post, do you recommend any books/other blog posts on effective writing or better yet I’d love to see an over the shoulder of you writing one of your posts and your thought process behind each and every word maybe even showing how you do your research in finding the topics, using your readers language, formatting, etc. thanks again

  13. Srinvasa Chaitanya :

    I am a non-native English speaker. Grammarly and Thesaurus helped me a lot to improve my writing. I usually write 3000-word posts for my niche blog and it takes 2-3 days for me to write a post of such length.

  14. Clear, useful and to the point. Great article Neil, I will put these to use straight away,starting with the Hemingway app!

  15. Sandeep Rathore :

    Hey Neil, this is really an informative post. I totally agree with all points, especially point no. 4 about headlines and titles. Being a great fan of Hemingway, I can say that simple sentences are more powerful. Thanks for such a great post!

  16. Hey Neil,

    Those are some really powerful writing tweaks! I personally love using “I” a lot.

    And yes short sentences are my favorites. You can easily pack a punch using short sentences. They are powerful.

    And they make reading a lot easier!

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips.

    Cheers,
    Jane.

  17. Simple ideas and you know when you read this all of this works. Great article.

  18. Merry Williams :

    the tricks you suggested is very much helpful for a beginner. Thanks for this.

  19. Great Checklist! Could even have had a downloadable checklist in PDF-form for this.

  20. How can you make boring topics like tech a little more interesting? I find It’s a bit tricky .

    • You try to combine it with another subject usually. So it might be something in the press you use to make it more interesting.

  21. This is very helpful. Going to refer to it over and over…

    Thanks a lot Neil 🙂

  22. Teddy Tech - SEO & Digital marketing in Kerala Alleppey :

    Thanks Niel … Reading your blogs i feel you are the best example for the best SEO friendly content …

  23. Nice Post point 1 : use you instead of we or us rally works amazingly and collect data for interesting user for your website.

    Thanks Neil

  24. Hi Neil,

    I’ve read a few of these from other people as I’m trying to write better copy and I was pleasantly surprised to see a few tips I’d not seen before. Will definitely be putting them into practice.

    Thanks a lot
    Surya

  25. Web hosting turorial :

    hi neil,
    thanks for putting up such a excellent post.
    It clearly explains the benefits of improving writing habits.

  26. Thanks for this wonderful post.
    Just what I need to sharpen my skill.

  27. Shirley Piekstra :

    That’s a lot of good information! I have no clue how to start now, hahahhaha. (i’ll manage, no worries)…

  28. Gestor de Redes Sociales :

    I liked the “omit needless words” advice.
    You don´t see it very often.

  29. I’m correcting my posts now, especially thanks for SumoMe and Brian’s way of starting the post writing.
    Making readability green!

  30. The good thing about writing online part time is the ability to transform it into a full time business. Once people get serious about creating content for their blog or website and stay consistent, they’ll see good money from it in less than 5 years. But they have to stay consistent though.

  31. I loved the part when you said”Dont get emotionally attached to your writing” because I always do and end up writing an article which sounds good but is never up to the mark or satisfactory.

    Anyways,amazing article !
    Thank you:-)

  32. Sometimes I need to refresh my mind and discover something new. You’re doing this work totally perfect. Thank you, for these posts of inspiration and good tips. You remarkable person and you always provide us the most innovating and newest news.
    Thanks for sharing, good luck!

  33. Instead of reading aloud, I tend to use the text to speech function on my Mac. Much less embarrassing than reading to myself in a busy office!

  34. Great actionable steps. Thank you!

  35. Very Helpful Article. The best thing I learned was related to well-crafted headlines. Mine are truly boring “clickbait”, and I’m going to work on that starting today. Thank you Neil!

  36. Thanks for this wonderful post.
    .Very Helpful Article.

  37. Nice post Neil!
    Undoubtedly, Bolding important information and facts is one of the best writing tweak.

  38. Neil sir,

    I had this question.

    As I heard from many, I should use simple language, and some say using strong verbs is the way to go. But sometimes, using strong verbs makes the writing harder to read though it chops down a few words.

    For example:

    “make every sentence short”

    to: “shorten every sentence”

    The first sentence does sound more natural and gives the feeling we’re talking to someone firsthand. But the second one is shorter and easier to digest.

    Which one do you prefer better?

  39. Thomas McCallum :

    Writing in a way that’s easier to read. So I’ll be using the Hemingway tool you suggested to help. Thanks neil!

  40. Right in time, Neil.

    I was looking for a well-structured, easy to digest article about copywriting tips.

    This post is useful, i am learning new things from it.

    Thanks

  41. I think there is a post from the near past that is related to this article of yours, Neil:

    Some good tips on scannable content here: https://www.quicksprout.com/2016/10/31/the-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-scannable-content/

    And about CTAs here: http://neilpatel.com/2015/08/22/how-to-create-the-perfect-call-to-action/

  42. Hello Neil. Such a great and informative article . Thank you .
    I am little doubtful about the word “I” whether it would work for all especially for beginners who just have started building their personal brand.
    May be “I” works for you because you have a good personal brand. People trust you .
    What would you suggest for beginners and also for company’s whose size is more than 2 people.
    Do u still recommend to use word “I” in their articles?
    Thank you once again

    • I would try to talk to one person only and visit a few other useful sites copyhackers, copyblogger and Kopywriters Kourse.

  43. Ataib Ur Rehman :

    great article Neil, students can also apply this to thier exams…..

  44. Hey Neil, Awesome article. I loved the tips and how you break everything down! I will be trying these out in the near future! Thank you and keep up the great work!
    Regards,
    Mark

  45. sorry messages :

    Perfect timing! I’m in the process of writing my first guest piece, and I need every tip I can get my hands on…

  46. ModernTechnolab :

    Cool.. Thank you so much, Neil, for your detailing content. This will really assist to us to make a good content for our work.

    Keep motivating with this kind of submission, it will be a really helpful.

    Cheers!!

  47. Great article with lots of concrete suggestions and key examples. I’m probably not the first to mention that “kill your darlings” should be attributed to its author. You apparently have some options, but I think calling it a saying isn’t quite fair. See Slate’s article from Oct 18, 2013 “Who Really Said to ‘Kill Your Darlings’?”

  48. Tell me something that’s not on the web.

  49. Once again, another great post Neil! These copywriting tips are spot on. I’m sure many people will find this article helpful.

  50. 3 BHK Flats in Salt Lake :

    Thanks for sharing this info.

  51. Hi Nail

    Very useful tips for writing. Thanks for sharing.

  52. Neil, thanks for the article. I recently published an article on Tuesday and I have used some of the tips. It is has 43 comments, the highest I had so far. Thanks!

  53. Thiranja Lakrandika :

    Awesome, I found some very useful content. I am a Sri Lankan boy trying to go on with a blog. Though I have a better knowledge in English than the others around me. It seems hard to express my ideas 100% without being a native English speaker.
    But, I feel I’m developing my skills and your article might make a boost on me. Thank you

  54. Awesome write.Really helpful.Keep sharing these things.

  55. Shirley Kufeldt :

    I’ve written a few blog posts but it is my letters to the editor that have honed my skills. The limit is 400 words. I dictate a long email to myself, copy it into Word and start the editing process from 6-700 words. For Thesaurus I use the word search in Word to view suggestions. I like the suggestion to read it aloud. I’ve had to do that when I record a video. You find out what flows easily and what causes a stumble. With a letter to the editor I don’t add subtitles and hadn’t with blog posts. But you are right. I SKIM, so obviously everyone else does too. This article is a keeper! Thanks!

  56. Thanks Neil, I have learned a lot from this Post.

    Some of the techniques explained here i have even tried them before and they worked some how in my field and even gave me new friends too.

    This post has given me a much wider knowledge and i will apply it as am building my writing skills.

    Thanks a lot Neil.

    I didn’t waste my time reading this.. It’s 100% worth my time i spend on reading thsi wonderful article.

    With Love.

    Ally Msangi, from Tanzania, East Africa.
    23rd November 2016
    http://www.allymsangi.com

  57. “Kill your darlings.” is it required ? when blogging is for self satisfaction? pls explain

  58. This article is so great! I start a new job as a copywriter/content creator for a web design company in February and all of these tips will be extremely helpful! I will be saving this and referring back to it A LOT! Thanks for the tips.

  59. I like to write as if I was talking to a good friend. This helps so much but most people don’t even know it. They want to sound “professional” instead.

  60. Tour 3 Dao Nha Trang :

    Great piece as usual. My articles started getting better when I began to read your blogs. You thought me how to write better, inspiring and engaging articles for my clients. Thank you so much, Neil.

  61. Great article. Much information to take in.

  62. Doesn’t #1 conflict with #12?

    Signed,

    confused

  63. Wow! I just loved how you started it. Many of us lose confidence in our writings at some point. Sometimes, I stop for a moment and ask myself, “What am I doing? I haven’t been long in this business.”

    You have answered my question.

    I really need your advice in writing copy for business presentations. Have you written a related article? If so, could you please share the link! I’m sure it will help me a lot, as I have recently started working as a copywriter and your advice will really help me get started.

    Thank you so much Neil 🙂

  64. Deepak Eapen :

    Hi Neil, Kemccho.(well, I’m not a Gujju, but I know this) 🙂 I’m a subscriber to your feed and have read several articles of yours and have also tried to incorporate your style of conveying an idea in a clear and succinct manner in my writing too. You are one of my greatest inspirations as a writer. Keep up the good work mate!

    I noticed that you have mentioned Hemingwayapp (which I too use) in the post. It’s a quintessential tool to improve readability. Another great tool that I would like to suggest to writers is Grammarly (checks grammar and spelling), I know almost all writers know about it, but maybe not so familiar for the beginners.

    Thanks,
    Deepak.

  65. Imran Topu Sardar :

    Hi Neil,

    I was looking for these types of tips, and you are great really.

    Thanks a lot.

    ProWriter

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