6 TIPS FOR IMPROVING READABILITY

Did you know that 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an 8th grade level.

50% of people can’t read well enough to read prescription drug labels.

775 million people are illiterate worldwide.

And that 45 million of these people live in America!

The fact is that today most of us can’t read anything more complicated that a Tweet.

The addictive nature of the internet has left us with the attention spans of goldfish.

This means your copy needs to be extremely easy to read.

There a few things you can do to achieve this.

1. Avoid large blocks of text.

Break your writing up into dozens of bite sized paragraphs.

2. Use headlines and sub headlines.

These should be bolded so they stick out. Also keep them short. No more than one line and only a few words.

3. The font you use is also important.

Sans serif fonts are best because they are easiest to read. Your font should also be bigger than 9 points. Anything smaller is too difficult to read.

4. Keep your paragraphs short.

Especially your opening paragraphs. They should be a maximum of eleven words. You can help readers into paragraphs by using arrowheads and asterisks. Also use bullet points and lists where you can.

5. Break up the monotony of long copy by using boldface and italic.

Illustrations, pictures, and text boxes are also great for breaking up copy.

6. The number of words in your sentences is also important. Here’s a quote I once saw.

“Tests have shown that a sentence of eight words is very easy to read; of 11 words, easy; of 14 words, fairly easy; of 17 words, standard; of 21 words, fairly difficult; of 25 words, difficult; of 29 or more words, very difficult; so this sentence with 54 words, counting numbers, is ranked impossible.”

Any sentence longer than 29 words should be split up.

The basic rule of thumb is this:

Use short words…

Short sentences…

…and short paragraphs.

These are the keys to improving readability…

Increasing response…

…and getting people to actually read what you write.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

10 QUESTIONS THAT HELP YOU UNDERSTAND ANY MARKET

How do you write copy that actually converts?

Believe it or not, the secret isn’t using the right words.

No, more important is WHAT you say.

It doesn’t matter if you struggle to string words together

As long as you say things that appeal to the market you’re guaranteed to make sales.

You need to speak about their dreams, hopes, desires and greatest fears.

But how do you do this?

The trick is to understand your market on the deepest level possible.

It might sound like a cliché…

…but you have to know them better than they know themselves.

Doing this is tough.

(Especially if you’re not involved in the market).

If you’ve never played golf you’ll struggling to understand golfers.

But there are ways to make this easier.

For example, here are 10 great questions to ask when trying to figure out your market.

1. What keeps them awake at night, sick with anxiety?

2. What are they afraid of?

3. Who and what are they angry about? 

4. What frustrates them?  

5. What trends are occurring and will occur in their businesses or lives? 

6. What do they secretly desire?

7. Is there a built-in bias to the way they make decisions?

(For example, technology people are exceptionally analytical).

8. Do they have their own language or jargon?

9. Who else is selling something similar to them, and how?

10. Who else has tried selling them something similar, and how has that effort failed?

Take your time and think deeply about this stuff.

Weave what you find into your copy.

And remember, the real answers are never the most obvious.

Until next time,

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

PERSUASION TIPS FROM THE MAN WHO INVENTED CLIMATE CHANGE

Frank Luntz is a political communications consultant, pollster and pundit.

He describes his speciality as, “testing language and finding words that help clients sell their product or turn public opinion on an issue or candidate”. This guy is a great example of the power of language. For example, he’s the man behind famous phrases like deathtax, climatechange and energyexploration. He’s known for using these to replace other phrases like estate tax, global warming and oil drilling.

What’s funny is that he doesn’t come up with this stuff by himself.

Instead he uses focus groups and interviews.

During these events he simply feeds the audience phrases and watches for how they react.

It’s all about looking for the specific words that trigger emotion.

In fact, he’s quoted as saying, “80% of our life is emotion and only 20% is intellect. I am much more interested in how you feel than how you think…”

This is absolutely true.

Emotional language is the most important skill you have to master as a copywriter.

You need to learn how to appeal to the markets emotions and not their logical or critical thinking ability. This is how you develop marketing messages which resonate with people and…most importantly…get them to ACT on those messages.

Until next time,

Cheers

Alastair Walton

4 TIPS FOR WRITING KILLER OPENINGS

The first few lines of copy are critically important.

You need to pull prospects in and hook their attention immediately.

If you cannot do this they will simply stop reading.

What you also need to realize is this:

The first sentence gets them to read the second…

The second sentence gets them to read the third…

The third sentence gets them to read the fourth…

And so on and so on all way to the end where (hopefully) they buy your product.

Now, without further delay here are 4 things you need to do when opening.

1. Explain the headline

Start by expanding on your headline. Remember, the headline needs to be as short as possible. This means you’ll have lots to explain. Your opening is where you do this.

2. Arouse curiosity

You need to make the reader curious enough to finish your message. The way to do this is by promising to reveal something. This should be something they desperately want to know the answer to.

3. List your benefits

Benefits pull them into the letter. List the benefits they will gain from using your product or reading the copy. What is it going to do for them?

4. Make it easy to read

Keep sentences short and simple. Use bullet points and paragraphs of no more than three lines. Reading your copy should be effortless.

Combine these elements and you’ll pull in more readers.

(And ultimately increase your sales).

Drop me a line if you’ve got any questions about this.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

REAL LIFE DON DRAPER SHARES HEADLINE WRITING WISDOM

The headline is probably the most important part of your sales letter.

To quote advertising legend David Ogilvy:

“On 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.”

This makes sense if you think about it. 

But what it also means is that nothing is more important than writing a great headline.

If you’re struggling with this here are 6 tips that will help:

1. Keep it short.

Most people try to do too much in their headline. They write headlines that are far too long. The only purpose is to get attention. This means your headline should be short, sweet and to the point.

2. Make it punchy.

Use power words and phrases. Remember, some words are more powerful than others. Think about how the words you use make the reader feel. For example, instead of kill say slaughter.

3. Be credible.

Your headline needs to be credible and believable. You must give readers a reason to believe your claims.  Also try to quickly establish the credibility of the person who is talking to them.

4. Include benefits.

The headline should contain at least 1-2 product benefits. This gives people a reason to read the copy.

5. Use curiosity.

Curiosity is the most powerful human motivator. Use it as often as you can in your headlines.

6. Ask a question.

This is by far the easiest way to write a headline. The question should be something your market desperately wants to know the answer to.

Until next time.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

P.S. One final tip I can give you is to write LOTS of headlines. You should honestly write at least a 100. Use every possible angle and keep going until something leaps out at you.

THE SECRET WEAPON FOR GETTING COPYWRITING CLIENTS

There’s a secret weapon for getting copywriting clients.

Very few copywriters know about this let alone use it.

You see, before hiring you clients will want to see copy that you’ve written.

Not only that, they’ll want to see that you’ve written copy which actually converts.

If you can’t do this getting hired can be an uphill battle.

For most copywriters this can be difficult.

Especially if you’re just starting out.

The simple solution is to start selling your own products.

To do this you’ll obviously have to write a sales letter and other copy.

If you can show this to prospective clients you’re WAY more likely to get hired.

(The trick is that your copy actually has to convert and make sales).

This really works:

I sold products long before I started freelance copywriting.

During this period I wrote multiple sales letters to sell these products.

When people wanted to hire me I simply showed them this work.

This was the reason why I got hired far more often than other copywriters.

Selling your own products demonstrates that you actually know what you’re doing.

That you can write copy that converts and understand how to market products.

99% of copywriters won’t do this.

It takes hard work and effort.

Plus you actually have to know how to write copy.

But if you’re willing to put in the work you’ll immediately set yourself apart from the crowd.

You’ll also be one step ahead of every other dork who calls themselves a copywriter.

Something to think about:

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

P.S. The secret weapon for getting copywriting clients is selling your own products. To do this you’ll have to write copy for these products. If this copy converts, and you can show it to prospective clients, you are vastly more likely to get hired.

THE #1 THING THAT COPYWRITERS HATE

What’s the most irritating thing a client can do?

Promise work that doesn’t exist.

This was something I noticed when I first started freelance copywriting.

About 70% of clients would promise future work.

The line was always something like…

“If this goes well I have more work for you.”

“I want to work with someone long term.”

Or something to that effect.

The funny thing is that almost none of this so called work materialized. After a while I stopped replying to people who said things like this. If they mentioned future work I would immediately tune out and slot them into the not serious category. The reason why clients do this is basically to manipulate you. They dangle the prospect of future work in front of desperate writers to get them to jump through hoops (BTW, in psychology this is known as a future adventures projection. You tell people something great is going to happen to get them excited.)

It’s the type of sleazy trick that people like pick up artists use.

If you do this do you think I’m going to want to work with you?

Probably not.

Most clients believe they’re in a buyers-market and can jerk writers around. But the truth is that finding someone who makes deadlines 100% of the time, and can actually write is harder than it seems. So make sure to treat your writers like gold.

If you’re a copywriter avoid people like this.

And if you’re trying to hire copywriters don’t ever do it.

It’s the easiest way to get yourself written off as a time waster.

Bottom line:

Don’t promise future work and avoid making promises you can’t keep.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

WHY YOU SHOULD WRITE DAILY BLOG POSTS (EVEN IF NO ONE READS THEM)

Let’s talk about copywriting and how to improve your skills.

Anyone who sells products or services online will know that marketing is paramount.

Your business will die unless you have a continuous flow of leads, clients and sales.

That’s why mastering the skill of writing copy that converts is absolutely critical.

The better you are at copywriting the more money you will make.

That’s a guaranteed fact.

If you’re struggling with this my advice is to start a blog.

Try to write at least one post a day.

(Even if no one reads them)

It doesn’t have to be long 200-300 words is more than enough.

You see, one of the easiest ways to get good at something is to do it every day. Writing daily blog posts gives you a chance to practice and internalize various copywriting techniques. Your blog is like a lab where you get to experiment and play around. You can practice everything: stories, headlines, transitions, your P.S.

The sky’s the limit.

Once you get into the habit of doing this you’ll find yourself rapidly improving.

Writing a daily blog also means you have to come up with new ideas every single day.

Doing this will train your creative ability.

“Writers block” will become a thing of the past.

You’ll dramatically increase the speed at which you write copy.

One more thing:

A copywriting blog is hands down the best marketing tool for copywriters

You wouldn’t believe how many people have hired me after reading my blog.

It really works like magic.

Start today.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

P.S. Another benefit of writing daily blog posts is that you can repurpose them into other content. Your blog posts can be turned into emails, social media posts and even products eventually.

AN EASY WAY TO MAKE YOUR COPY MORE POWERFUL

Want an easy way to make your copy more powerful?

Here you go:

Reading copy out aloud can dramatically increase the quality of your work.

Every time you do it you’ll find something to change.

You’ll pick up on mistakes you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed.

Plus it makes everything smoother and easier to read.

Reading copy out aloud also gives you a completely different perspective on it.

This technique works like magic and it’s something that every copywriter should do.

How many times should you read it out?

At least ten.

It’s usually by the tenth time that the copy really starts to click.

Yes, this is hard and takes a while but it’s worth it.

And if it can increase sales then it’s DEFINITELY worth it.

Give it a whirl and see what happens.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton

P.S. What’s also interesting is that old school copywriters swore by this technique. In fact, what they would often do was take an in person sales pitch (something that had been used 100’s of times to make sales in real life) and simply transcribe this and edit it into copy. Supposedly this was one of the most effective ways to write sales copy. It’s also the secret behind some of the most powerful sales letters ever written.

THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO SELL MORE PRODUCTS

Story telling is an enormously powerful tool for selling.

Here’s an example of this:

I recently read an award winning article about mental health.

This article opened up with a long story detailing the writers history with mental illness. How they were arrested and placed in a mental hospital. Their suicide attempts, medication and eventual recovery. It was a dramatic and compelling tale. By comparison the rest of the article was fairly dry.

What’s funny is that a week later I couldn’t remember a word of this article.

But what I did remember (can still remember) is the story that it opened up with.

The point I’m trying to make is that stories are unbelievably powerful.

There are a multitude of reasons for this.

The first is that stories get read. People are more likely to read your copy if it’s built around a story. Stories also create curiosity and draw readers in. When you use stories prospects are more likely to stay actively engaged and read your copy all the way to the end. Another reason why stories are important is because (as we’ve said) they get remembered. Stories are also incredibly persuasive. You’re far more likely to believe something if it’s told to you in the form of a story.

Bottom line, always look for the story behind your product.

Then make prospects a character in that story.

Do this and everything you write will always be that little bit more persuasive.

Cheers,

Alastair Walton