But hold on… before you go off writing something that sounds like your sister’s high school diary or a sci-fi novel, let’s break down what the point of copywriting is.
- GRAB ATTENTION — People are busy. They’ve also read TONS of articles before yours, quickly skipping over stuff they didn’t find interesting. Your headline has only 2 seconds to grab their attention and entice them into reading the rest.
- PROVIDE VALUE — If you are an affiliate marketer, you probably have new customers with TONS of questions. The article is how you answer them in the form of education. The best articles are detailed and easy to understand.
- CALL TO ACTION — Whether you want the reader to sign up to a newsletter, click on a link, read a review, leave a comment or buy something, the call to action (CTA) the phrase that you use to ask the reader to DO something.
In this article, I want to cover two of the fundamental parts of copywriting:
The hook. And the core.
The short attention-grabbing phrase. I like the word “hook” because, like in fishing, the reader is about to pass you by unless you say something to make them stop.
The hook isn’t always text, however. Today in the internet age, a video grabs much more attention than text alone.
“Aw, man! I have to read all that text?? OH, LOOK… A VIDEO!!”
Let’s say you are promoting a product in the health/diet niche. Pay attention to how these headlines make you feel differently…
GOOD:“Free Ebook for Eating Healthier Food”
BETTER“Amazing New Red-Tea Detox Will Get Rid of Your Stubborn Belly Fat in 6 Months or Less”
There are many ways to write headlines. Some appeal to the reader’s strong desires, while others more towards their fears and emotions.
A headline can also be a mix-n-match between a BENEFIT they will gain, contrasted against a LOSS they can avoid, for example.
GOOD:“How To Get Leads with Instagram”
BETTER:“Instagram Hack: Get More Leads Without Spending Money”
I’ll give many more examples in the next blog post.
For now, it’s important to see how powerful a good headline can be. Once your headline hooks and piques their interest, they slip right into the next part…
The useful information provided to the reader/viewer. Something they care about in that moment, and value enough to give you their time.
It’s the section of your copywriting which contains the important information. The hook made a big announcement, like a giant bright sign to come watch a movie.
Now they want to see the actual movie, for example, so The Core is it.
Just like a good movie, it has to be assembled in a certain way in order to be meaningful and useful. Let’s dive right into the structure of a good copywriting core.
Copywriting That Delivers Value
The Core is where the reader will spend most of their time. They want something and they hope your articles give them what they need.
You don’t need to blog every single day to be a helpful blogger, but more important is your ability to structure the article so that the reader gets value from it.
To deliver great value, it begins with being a master at grabbing attention.
A Strong Start
Have you ever suffered from a headache or pain, and needed to buy pain reliever quickly?
You probably walked into the store, described your issue with the helpful clerk and the second you spotted exactly what you needed you wasted no time grabbing it off the shelf and walking to the check-out stand, right?
For most people in that situation, they wouldn’t spend another second reading the fancy label or other features. Or even comparing other similar products or comparing prices.
They knew what they wanted. They found it. And immediately took action and ignored the other options around them.
A Good Headline Conveys… “This is what you’ve been looking for and this is the best place to get it.”
Because when we have a negative emotion to deal with, we only care about one thing:
“Does this fix it?”
In the same way, a reader will quickly scan your headline to get straight to the point. The way you phrase your headline must convince them that they’ve come to the right place. Before that, nothing else matters.
Does it remove risk or fear?
Does it make things easier, simpler, more convenient, faster, cheaper, etc?
Proof That It Works
If it’s a tutorial on how to play guitar, make money blogging or anything that produces results, then showing proof that it works is what people value most.
For this, numbers and facts are very convincing, as well as testimonials (written or video) and screen capture. Proof of success and statistics give a prospective buyer the confidence that they are about to make the right decision.
ETF: Simple Copywriting Always Wins
Copywriting is not like the kind you see in college textbooks or drama novels. As a matter of fact, you should avoid using big vocabulary and cutting straight to the point.
Make it conversational, talking the same way you would explain things to a friendly neighbor.
We call this an easy-to-follow (ETF) structure.
Here is what is working for us:
Before you jump into writing an article, the people at BACKLINKO agree that it helps to develop a content strategy so you’re headed in the right direction.
Once you have your content strategy in place, you can focus on the details of each article.
In many ways, the level of detail you use should feel like you are the hero that did all the work and shows up to hand them all the answers.
People are generally lazy, and they love convenience. So develop the habit of writing in a “show me, don’t tell me” style. How can you do that very easily?
And images, as they say, can be worth a thousand words. If you are a physical trainer, say, illustrating proper form for a push-up is necessary. If you are an affiliate in the travel, restaurant or DSLR niche, then getting your hands on the best images you can is a no-brainer.
Bullets, Small “Chunks” and Scannable Subheadlines
Can you imagine writing hundreds of words that nobody really reads? Well, that’s the reality.
Your blog isn’t the only thing your visitor is busy with. The visitor might have 5 browser tabs open simultaneously, and they are quickly looking for something interesting.
Instead of reading your article word for word, they use their eyes to quickly scan anything that stands out. That’s where bullets and subheadlines come in.
Using bullets and numbered list of items helps the reader quickly scan the article and think, “Is this what I need to read right now?” If it feels relevant, they continue reading.
- bullet points increase retention on your blog
- on a sales page, bullet points boost sales
- bullet points focus the reader’s eye, which invites them to continue reading
Small Bricks, Not Long Walls
Do not write like your teachers taught you. What?!
On blogs, paragraphs are not 5-7 sentences long. That’s like asking a person to climb over a huge wall. Two is normal. Three is pushing it.
Nobody wants to feel like they’re being forced to read thousands of words. Even though that’s exactly what’s happening, you don’t want it to feel that way.
When you break down the wall of text into small “bricks”, those are a lot easier to jump over, and you give the power back to the reader.
Because now they can choose to jump from one small paragraph to the next, they are more likely to keep reading.
Narrow The Vision
Use narrow paragraphs. What do I mean by this?
Keep the width of the paragraph between 600-700 pixels, not more. Think of how much a person’s eyes have to move left and right when reading.
too wide = too much work for the eyes (left/right motion).
medium narrow = comfortable to read.
Engagement: Passive vs Active Reading
Imagine a person sitting at home with arms crossed. They’re reading your blog. They don’t need to move and they don’t really need to think too hard.
This is a passive reader. Their level of engagement with your content is minimal.
Let’s Profit from Passive Readers: In case you are curious, I wrote this article to help you earn income from blogging directly to passive readers.
But the moment you ask them a question, their brain wakes up a little more. Now they are engaged with the article.
The same thing happens when you embed a survey in the middle of the article or present them with a social media ‘Like’ button they might feel happy to click.
They have to DO something. This is active reading.
Engaging the reader this way, with surveys and buttons and things for them to do boosts retention for your page, which Google rewards with a higher ranking.
It also works really well on landing pages, when you want the lead to wake up, interact and take action on something.
And THAT is how you turn words into money!
This is just the surface of copywriting. Plenty more to discuss.
…but don’t tell your college professor about all the rules I told you to break here.
They just might get upset because…
…affiliate marketers can potentially earn a teacher’s annual salary in a month if you hone this skill. If you’re ready to get started, I recommend the Gold Masterclass, a complete step-by-step home study course to learn how to do exactly that.
Which of the topics covered here would you like me to elaborate on? Leave a comment below and let me know!
I will be sure to write an article for it next week.
Isn’t online income great?