5 Copywriting Habits That Will Improve Your Writing

The debate of how long it takes to become a great writer never ends. Malcolm Gladwell popularised the idea that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. That’s 1,250 working days - not exactly a walk in the park. At The Author’s Pad, we’re not sure if 10,000 hours is what it takes to master copywriting, but we do have some actionable advice that can significantly improve your writing. Stay with us if you’re interested in growing as a writer and producing more compelling content.

1.  Analyse copywriting in the world

One of the best ways to improve your writing as a copywriter is to dive deeper into the copywriting you find out and about. The next time you eat a bowl of cereal, read the whole box. Ask yourself why the marketing team used those words, why they gave it that name, and what they hoped to achieve with their copy.

The more you consciously engage your analytical mind in the real world, the easier it is to identify patterns and techniques that you can incorporate into your own writing. If you have a niche, check out copywriting surrounding that niche to get an in-depth view of what works and what doesn’t. Here are a few examples of places you can look for writing to analyse and assess.

  • Food packaging

  • Magazine covers

  • Online ads (including sponsored posts on social media)

  • Advertising posters/billboards

  • Cleaning product labels

Compare samples of the same type of copywriting, e.g. packaging for several different kinds of cereal. Decipher the target market and determine how the writers customised the copy to them. Ask yourself which copy you respond to the most and pinpoint why you like it. Practise using your analytical eye to improve your skills in writing for specific markets and specific products.

2.  Cultivate a focussed environment

Trying to write in a cluttered, distracting environment never leads to your finest work. Writing can be an isolating experience - in a good way and a bad way. Embrace the positives of writing in solitude and create an environment that helps you focus, relax, and crack on with your work. Please note: this is a highly subjective task. What works for some people may not work for you, and vice versa. Customise this step to your needs.

Consider putting your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode when you plan to get lots of work done. At the least, keep your phone silent, screen-side down, and away from your desk. Phones are one of the biggest distractions, so eliminating this one altogether improves your chances of producing compelling content that clients love. Experiment with these factors to increase your focus.

  • Sound/silence

  • Tidy workspace

  • Regular, small breaks

  • Standing desk

  • Planned isolation

Some people work better in total silence, while others focus better with background noise. Clean, tidy environments free from clutter help you focus on your work. Using standing desks and taking regular, short breaks to move around keeps you more physically comfortable, allowing you to stay in the zone longer. Lastly, let your friends and family know you’re unavailable for 3-4 hours to blast through your work.

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3.  Hone your craft

It goes without saying that practice does improve the quality of your work. That doesn’t mean 10,000 hours, but it does mean a few simple exercises that can improve your writing. One activity that will enhance your physical writing abilities is typing tests. There are tons of these for free online, and you can practise to improve your mobility and become a faster writer.

Try writing reviews for products, films, and books to improve the quality of your writing. Think about what specific aspects you enjoyed the most and why you enjoyed them. Take a moment to consider what you didn’t like and write how you would change it also. Being aware of positives and negatives is essential to being an astute writer. Consider these exercises too.

  • Write letters to your friends/family

  • Draft social media posts for your favourite brands

  • Assign yourself articles to write

  • Read fiction books with lots of dialogue

  • Write 5-10 headlines promoting your favourite film

Writing compelling pieces targeted towards people you really know will help you tune in to what it takes to convince real people. You also benefit from practising writing for different formats like social media. Decipher precisely why you like something and ask yourself how to sell others on it. Reading dialogue helps you write more naturally, closer to how you speak.

4.  Stay informed of industry evolutions

The best copywriters are knowledgeable about their industry. For copywriters, the most significant advancement in recent years is the introduction of AI chatbots to the field. Some copywriters are concerned that AI will replace them, but this doesn’t have to be a reality. Learn how to use chatbots and establish how to turn them into a tool for you.

Chatbots like ChatGPT, for example, have the potential to streamline your work and reduce time spent on tasks like research, analysing client content, and optimising SEO. Although you should always double-check what ChatGPT produces, it can definitely save time for larger projects. Increasing your efficiency gives you more time to improve your writing skills. Consider these factors as well.

  • Industry-specific developments

  • Google updates

  • Social media trends

  • Copywriting style trends

  • New formats like video

If you write in a specific niche, being informed about the newest revelations gives you the best chance of writing better content. Google’s updates dictate much of how the copywriting world works; new updates could affect what you write and how you write it. Equally, following trends is crucial for creating the most relevant content for clients. You must understand how new formats work and how to write for them.

 

5.  Familiarise yourself with the best tools

Finally, having the best tools in your toolkit will see your writing improve time and time again. Tools are excellent for copywriters to use for content ideation. Drafting initial ideas and getting inspired can be difficult, so finding tools to spark your creativity is essential. Also, tools can save time for demanding tasks like keyword research. 

Tools for spelling, grammar, tone, and style are another aspect of copywriting. Everybody makes mistakes, whether it’s a typo or misusing a word. When we check our own work, it’s easy to gloss over these little mistakes without noticing them. Using tools makes the editing stage of your writing significantly easier. You can also adjust your tools to identify words you use too frequently and find suggestions for alternatives. Here are a few of our favourite tools.

  • Grammarly

  • Answer the Public

  • Pro Writing Aid

  • Strict Workflow

  • Hemingway Editor

These tools can increase your efficiency when editing your work. They can also help you discover the best subheadings and keywords for your work. When you’ve done the hard work of writing a great piece, using editing tools saves lots of time in perfecting it. Finally, you can also use tools to keep you focused on your work. Some tools temporarily restrict your access to distracting sites so you can produce better writing.

Some habits take time to become second nature. Practising these five behaviours will help you make them into subconscious habits you perform without thinking. No matter where you are in your copywriting career, you can continually improve your writing skills. If you want more advice about forging a career in copywriting and honing your abilities, check out The Author’s Pad blog.

FAQs

Here’s our take on a few common questions about improving your writing skills.

What Causes Poor Writing Skills?

Copywriters who struggle to understand their target audience end up writing sub-par work. Knowing the strengths of your client’s product is great, but if you aren’t targeting your ideal audience’s pain points, you’ll get minimal results. Perhaps your spelling or grammar are also lacking. Thankfully, you can improve these skills with research and practise. Sometimes, copywriters don’t include a call to action, leaving readers unmotivated to progress.

Is it Normal to Struggle with Writing?

Copywriting is an acquired skill, so it’s normal to struggle initially. Some clients have specific style guides they want writers to follow too, adding to the learning curve. If you often make mistakes in your writing like spelling errors, or you struggle to edit your writing when you read it back, you could have dyslexia. People with dyslexia can still become writers, sometimes changing the contrast between your text and your background makes all the difference.

What are the Four Cs of Copywriting?

The four Cs of copywriting are: clear, compelling, credible, and concise. These terms describe the most effective copywriting that gets results. Convincing copywriting doesn’t waste time or confuse its readers. You can build trust with customers through simple copywriting that grabs their attention. Ask yourself, ‘Would I stop to read this if I was scrolling past it?’ to make the most of these tenets.

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