Online Copywriting: 123 RAW Copywriting Tips [2018 Update coming soon]

Note: I KNOW this is messy, crappy and probably shouldn't even be published because it's not much more than personal "notes" on online copywriting tips.

...But I'm doing it anyway... because I can. And mostly so that I just get this dang thing OUT of my Google Drive, and into the world.

Also because this is a tiny experiment. (Shh!)

The hope is 2-fold:

  1.  That I'll just publish the thing and the shame of its horrendous-ness will actually cause me to go finish it (we'll see what happens haha
  2. That by publishing it NOW, rather than perfect later, I may get some extra google SEO-love when I DO improve the post solely because it's been around for a few months and has been updated.

Shall we jump straight into this hot-mess-express? Let's do it.


Online Copywriting Tips for Sales, Conversion and more:

  1. “My failures far outnumbered my successes” lose enough and eventually you’ll win — Joseph Sugarman.

  2. Write your first draft fast.

  3. Crappy first draft [don’t edit while you write!].

  4. Pour out all of your emotions and feelings in your first draft. Worry about logic later.

  5. Goal of copy: “To cause a person to exchange his or her hard-earned money for a product or service” Joseph Sugarman

  6. Crank up the excitement level, it’s just words, you don’t have benefits of video or voice —Ramit Sethi

  7. Have general life knowledge

    1. Be curious about life and dabble in or master many skills

    2. Draw upon your experiences and relate them to new problems or opportunities

    3. Be a great listener

  8. Become an expert on what you write about or the product or service you’re selling

  9. Know your customer

    1. Do customer research [Online research like Amazon reviews, surveys and most importantly actually talking to them]

  10. “All elements and design of an advertisement are really there just to get you to read the first sentence.

  11. Make your first sentence short. [easy to read, and sucks you in to read on- and almost incomplete so the reader must read on]]

  12. Some magazines (and even blogs) use the Drop cap or all caps the first word or 2 of an article to draw you in.

  13. The sole point of the first sentence is to get them to read the second sentence.

  14. First few sentences are absolutely key- you must captivate them early or they’ll never make it to your CTA [call to action]

  15. The first few paragraphs and images should create a comfortable buying environment based off of the type of product and customer you’re selling to. [Discount vs. high-end, fun or serious,

  16. Build rapport— get your customer to know, like and trust you.  Help them to relate to you or your copy/product, get them to agree with you. No you don’t have to be cheesy with constantly trying to get them “yes” like a broken record, but they should agree with, and “nice day isn’t Mr. Jones?...So you like breathing air, do you?” Get agreement and avoid the “no’s” or you risk them pushing the back button.

  17. Use your target audiences real words - not corporate speak, or “proper” stick-up-your-butt writing.

  18. Don’t be afraid to let your headline or copy exclude the wrong people.

  19. Don’t try to sell to everyone, you’ll likely sell to no one. And most “everyone” products are commodities with slim margins.

  20. Start with interesting short stories, or news events to hook your readers

  21. Save a swipe file of your favorite articles, sales pages, headlines, or e-mail subject lines that got you excited to click and open. I use Evernote's web clipper, and screenshots [mac = cmd + shift + 4 for adjustable size- hold spacebar to move it around nicely)].  This is great to get ideas from when you feel stuck or uninspired. [CopyHour is excellent for this and takes it to a whole new level!]

  22. Save interesting articles and anecdotes to weave into your copy

  23. Get rid of assumed constraints- ask, what limiting beliefs am I assuming when it comes to solving this problem in my copy.  Sometimes I like to use the 10x method to help with this- how would I do this 10x faster, or increase sales or customers by 10x?

  24. Use Seeds of curiosity or Bucket Brigades to increase time on websites [good for SEO] and to cause your reader to subconsciously continue reading through slow or sticking points.

    1. Examples: Let me explain.  Now here comes the good part. And here’s why. Onward [Gary Halbert made this famous in his Boron letters].  Stay tuned [Used on TV].  This is similar to our next tactic… [yep, ellipses are a way of doing this too]

  25. Information gaps- be careful not to overuse this, or you can tire your readers out if you have a regular email relationship with them.  This is a longer form of seeds of curiosity.

  26. Every word has an emotion associated with it and tells a story— choose wisely to insight the emotions you want your reader to have.

  27. Sell on emotion, but you justify with logic. E.g. People give their friends some stats so they can justify why the dropped $100,000+ on a Tesla Model X.

  28. Understand and use psychology principles throughout your copy to convince and convert

  29. Each word tells a story, be thoughtful about your word choice because it sets the tone, buying mode and can impact conversions (especially in the headline).

  30. Don’t sell the product or service, sell the results, the concept, the desired outcome (the transformation).[The flower in Mario is selling a dude who spits fireballs. A Superhero.] Joseph Sugarman says, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” Some also call this the Unique Selling Proposition.

  31. Let your subconscious solve problems, and tie things together by taking a break.  Once you’ve researched and read everything about what you're selling, and maybe did a bullet list braindump of everything you know or feel about the product, go do something else.  Take a walk, go to the gym, or sleep on it.  Your subconscious will piece together concepts you’ve never thought about.  This is also great for when you get stuck on a project.

  32. Make your copy long enough to cover all the essentials to selling the product, and short enough to keep attention.   If it’s interesting to the reader, they’ll keep reading.  If it’s not, they’ll stop. And In general, but not always, more expensive items often need longer copy, and cheaper items can get away with less.

  33. Write personally. Use words like I, you, me, your etc.  Similar to not using corporate jargon, don’t write from a cold and faceless XYZ Company.  

  34. If you have to write for B2B, be personable.  Put in personality and make it feel as if it’s one person, speaking to another.  

  35. Lead the reader and answer their questions the sentence after they pop into their minds.

  36. And let your copy flow in logically ordered sections from the top [Attention & Interest] down to the bottom [Call to Action].  Each section should anticipate and lead the readers from question to answer as if in a face to face conversation.

  37. Use captions under your images. It’s a highly read area, and it should help people continue reading the next line

  38. PS.. use them to convey the main point or again ask for the sale.  After the subject line, this is often the most read section of an email.

  39. Use formulas and never worry about a blank page again.

  40. Spend a disproportionate amount of time on your headline

  41. Edit your copy to refine it, cutting unnecessary words, and expressing exactly what you want.  This is where you add in jokes, anecdotes. Fix spelling, grammar, ad in seeds of curiosity etc.  And don’t do this all in one pass.  Edit in stages.  If you did your first draft right, you should have sentences that are an absolute mess, paragraphs that are out of order, and many complete sentences that won’t see the light of day.

  42. Chop, chop, chop.  Cut weak, superfluous words.  

  43. Watch out for preliminaries like

  44. Make some sentences short, and punchy, and vary others so there’s rhythm instead of monotony.  

  45. Kill the jargon (in most cases)

  46. Search for “that” and often you can delete most of the words preceding it. “And if you tried it, you know that writing can be tough” “writing is hard.”

  47. Edit multiple times, and on different days. And if it’s important, get a second set of eyes on it- ask a skilled friend or pay an editor.  Don’t try to do it in 1 fell swoop, it may take 5 or even 10 passes to get it right.

  48. Use good grammar.  And break it sometimes too-- know your audience.

  49. Font choice. Fonts relay emotion, personality, and legibility.  For Copy, Joseph Sugarman says legibility trumps everything else. If people can’t read it easily, they simply won't read at all.

  50. Use paragraph headings to break things up, arouse curiosity, introduce something new, and make the copy less intimidating so readers continue to read.

  51. Keep paragraphs around 3 sentences or less for most material.  Like above, it makes the material easier to read, more inviting and less intimidating.  Huge blocks of text may be ok for books and scientific papers, but for most people, it’s a turnoff when so many other things call for their attention.

  52. The best copywriters know the rules and then break them.  In that order.

  53. Use equivalence to simplify difficult and new products when explaining how they work.  

  54. Explain a simple and well-understood product more on the complicated side to set it apart from the crowd.

  55. Highlight the new, and novel features of your product or service to help it stand out.

  56. Use (some) technical explanation to show you really are an expert on your product and industry. Even, if the consumer doesn’t understand it all, it conveys you know what you’re talking about (make sure you do), and builds trust. In general, it’s best to use...

  57. Use clear, concise and easy to understand language. The above is an exception meant only for a small portion of your copy (unless your audience is highly technical). I wrote about using a Flesch score to increase readability in my psychology for marketing article under cognitive ease principle.

  58. Bring up the objections you know customers will have, and respond to them like they asked in person.  Dispel or provide solutions.

  59. Use a strong and appropriate guarantee to calm customer concerns and crank up sales. Risk reversal is key for any substantial investment of money.

  60. Give them the facts.  If you leave out crucial information, you’ll miss sales.  If you’re looking for a desk to fit into your office and there are no dimensions, you’re likely to look elsewhere before emailing or calling for that info.  This is especially true of physical products but still carries over into digital goods too.

  61. Use specific testimonials— not general “the product is great” ones.  The right testimonials that are relatable to the reader can have dramatic effects on sales.

  62. Summarize your offer near the end, and tell them exactly what they’re getting for the price.

  63. Make it ridiculously easy to buy or take the action you’re asking for.  Don’t make them hunt for the opt-in button or figure out what they’re supposed to do next.  Spell it out for them. “Just put your first name, and best email in the box below, and click ‘download now’”.  A great example is Amazon’s 1-click buy.

  64. If you’re in control of the post-sale follow-up, remind them why subscribed, or why they bought and what they’re getting.  This helps to negate buyers remorse and decrease refunds.  There’s a lot more to be said about the post-sale “wow-experience” but that’s for another time.

  65. Ask for the sale!  This seems obvious, but so many people forget or shy away from specifically asking for the sale at the end of their copywriting message.

  66. Involve their senses. Get them to think of the smell, the taste, the touch— the more senses, the merrier.

  67. Evoke a sense of ownership and involvement.

  68. Honesty: Consumers, as a whole are smart and ‘critical’- so you won’t get away with lying for long.  Don’t sell products you don’t believe in.  And don’t be afraid to call at your product's’ shortcomings while explaining why they don’t matter that much for the reader.  The honesty can earn real trust, and sales, both in the short and long-run.

  69. Use a promise that’s both big and yet still believable.  If it’s not big enough, it isn’t worth our time or money.  If I don’t believe you’ll fulfill it, I’ll go to who I think can.  Be credible.

  70. Prove your product or service’s value.  You can compare it to a similar, higher priced product if it’s a lower price to show value or if it’s a higher price, use things like the features and benefits to show its value.  Consumers must understand the value in order to move forward with a purchase.

  71. Similar to proving value, you also have to help the customer justify their purchase.  Sometimes that’s with how much money or time they’ll save, or how much they’ll make.  Other times it’s “you’re worth it”, “you deserve it”.  The higher the price, the more you have to work at this.

  72. Play on greed.  Let’s be real, people can be greedy, and occasionally using that can help sales.

  73. Establish authority.  People want to buy from the best, and most knowledgeable.

  74. Ensure their satisfaction.  Tie this into the guarantee, it’s subtly different. What if I don’t get results?

  75. Use a checklist before publishing or sending your copy [example]

  76. Know the Nature of Product is it a serious product like life insurance or a fun vacation package?  Write consistently with what the products true nature is-- this doesn’t mean you can’t work around this some, but don’t fight an uphill battle here.

  77. Nature of Prospect- understand the key driving factors of who they are and what they want, especially in regards to your product.

  78. Trends and Fads- know when to ride them, and know when to hop off.  Be careful not to build your whole business off of a fad, or it can fall out from underneath you.

  79. Use the desire to belong.  Many people won't admit or don’t know that subconsciously they buy something because they want to be a part of (or identify with) a group, culture or idea that appeals to them.

  80. Consider using the desire to collect.  Think of all the attics full of old beanie-babies, those got there for a reason— from a fad, and people’s desire to collect.

  81. Use curiosity to increase sales. To get people not only to read on but to click, buy and try.  Sometimes it pays to not lay out every last detail, and insight some curiosity— fiction books are excellent at this.

  82. Create a sense of urgency.  If there’s no reason to act now, then your readers are likely to wait… and get distracted, forgetting about your offer.  Don’t let that happen.

  83. Fear.  Fear of loss (people are loss averse) of things like wealth, health, their young age, and safety are all strong triggers that motivate people to take action.

  84. Instant gratification.  Can you give immediate access to your product, free download, or benefits to your service?  Whenever possible, express this in your copy and it will help people to take action.

  85. The Exclusive factor- many people like to be a part of and brag about how the got custom item or access to something exclusive.  People want to feel special and unique-- can you find this in what you’re saying or selling?

  86. for copywriters & 7 great uses for telling storiesStorytelling.  This is an incredibly powerful technique used for thousands of years.  Even Jesus used stories as his main method of teaching. A Ray Edwards’ podcast had Neville at has a great breakdown of a few of the main story arcs you can use right away to do things like 1) persuade, 2) build trust, 3) train your readers 4) grab attention 5) Evoke emotion and a whole lot more.

  87. Create suspense in your writing to make people’s brains work a bit, and to keep things exciting.  This can keep people reading and create a “pay-off” when the figure it out.

  88. Be specific, it sounds more true and trustworthy, instead of like some advertising cliche.  Instead of saying “this technique will grow your email list rapidly” “Content upgrades increased Joe’s email subscriber opt-ins by 68%”.  It makes you look like a knowledgeable expert, to a world of skeptic consumers.

  89. Familiarity [see liking/consistency in Robert Cialdini's book  Influence]- use familiar words to create understanding and trust

  90. Hope.  Give the people hope that they can improve, transform, or gain something new.  This is often done through testimonials or personal success with something, without giving a specific and guaranteed promise of an outcome for the customer.  Think things like many health foods and cosmetic products.

  91. When you can sell the Cure, not the prevention.  It is significantly more difficult to sell a prevention because it isn’t a problem most people have right now, so it’s put off until the issue becomes real.  Many products can be both if you look deeply enough, so focus more on the curative effects and underplay the preventative.

  92. Self-Grading: Create a scale to grade your copy by before publishing. You could include a checklist of things like invoking emotion, strong and clear Call To Action(s), is it customer-focused etc. Find out what matters to your copywriting success and try to make a tool to help weed out some of the subjectivity.

  93. Don’t write from scratch- use formulas and templates to write faster and increase your chance of success [copyhackers]

  94. Begin and end your bullet lists with your 2 most compelling bullet points

  95. Cut out weak bullets. Weak but It’s better to have a handful of stellar ones to persuade than 3x the amount of mediocre additions

  96. Use Fascinations instead of bullets.

  97. Start CTA buttons with “get”- people like to get things, it works.

  98. Use consistency in your copy to create better conversions. If the user clicked on a link that had a specific headline, make sure to use that headline or very similar on the landing page.

  99. Answer the question “So What?” to convert features into benefits.

  100. Test and Track your results.  This gives you base metrics to improve upon and also lets you analyze what’s worked in the past, so you can do more of that.  Seems simple, but it’s another often overlooked technique.

  101. Use earplugs to block out the world and get your writing focus-on. Hat-tip to Neville Medhora.

  102. Use distraction-free writing apps free: paid: Byword and John Saddington’s Desk.PM. There are tons of others.

  103. Focus your writing more on who your target customer is, instead of going on and on about your business, product or service.  WHO you’re selling to is exponentially more important than the “what”, when it comes to how you sell.

  104. Place the most important words and ideas at the beginning of each sentence.  Don’t make the reader work hard to figure out where you’re going with a sentence.  Ann Handley says to put the Subject and verb at the beginning.  Qualify your sentences less [Hey Brent, note to self!], and if needed, do it in the middle or end.

  105. Write out the purpose of your copywriting piece at the top of your page to keep you on track.  This could be to get them to request a free trial of the product, get them to join an email list, to build rapport, to persuade them to adopt an idea or mindset.

  106. Write to one person.  Some people know a real customer that they pretend they’re writing to, or a friend, or a customer “avatar”.  This gets you in the habit of writing personally and using the earlier tip of “you”, “your” and the like.

  107. Read it out loud.  If you fumble in spots or have any other troubles, then it’s likely you need to fix the copy.  This is an easy way to catch several mistakes that are near impossible when reading it in your head.

  108. Ditch bland and weak verbs in favor of the bold and zesty.  Be careful to not overdo this, or you’ll come off as too intense.

  109. Show, don’t tell.  Paint a vivid picture.  Put your reader into the story, into using the product, feeling the results (or lack of), and emotions. “Image you….”

  110. Use strict deadlines to help with motivation.  Even if they’re self-imposed, they can be extremely effective.  However, I like to tie in consequences and accountability to crank up the effectiveness [Scroll down to the section on "consequence pricing"].

  111. End your writing session on an unfinished sentence.  This tactic gives you an easy place to start the next day, which removes the barrier to starting, so you’ll get-r-done.  Don’t write into an exhaustion if you don’t have a hard deadline.

  112. Break some grammar rules. If it increases readability, persuasion, and ultimately sales, do it.  Short sentences, short paragraphs, and starting with words like “and” and “because” can add some life and speed to your copy.

  113. Make a significant portion of your copy informational and education.  People love learning about areas they’re interested in, so it keeps them reading, builds trust, and leads them toward the sale.  Neville suggests a 70/30 ratio of education/selling.

  114. Pay attention to trends, fads, their timing (peaking or dying), and also longer-term public perceptions (e.g. we’re in a recession, it’s time to cut back!”).  Play to or against those in your copy, depending on your target audience and product.'

  115. Talk to the creator.  If you’re writing to sell someone else’s products, talking to those who developed it will often uncover unique angles, insights and specific information for positioning and selling.

  116. There is only 1 call to action (it can be used multiple times).  Don’t try to get me to buy your course AND follow you on twitter, or read your next article.  Pick 1.

  117. Add in social proof to increase trust.  Who have you worked, or who’s used your services that the audience may already know like and trust?

  118. Don’t be afraid to use bold claims in your headlines, even though some “experts” say not to.  You’ll need to back them up, but if you can, it can grab loads of eyeballs.

  119. Put a song on repeat for getting in the zone in your writing.

  120. Make sure there is whitespace in your writing so it’s easy to read

  121. Don’t wait for inspiration, write anyway.  Build a habit. “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” —E. B. White

  122. Keep Copy consistent. A landing page’s copy should match or stay on focus as the Ad that preceded it. Same Goes for thing like pop-ups— the headlines/buttons should match the copy that the user saw and clicked on.

  123. Copy is a craft, a skill and you’ll keep improving as you keep practicing and studying the best

  124. [To be continued…] Okay, here’s an actual tip I learned from Derek Halpern: Write blocks of copy and stack them together, or as he says it “assemble” it.  You don’t have to write one long letter.


Again... I KNOW this is sloppy and probably shouldn't even be published because it's not much more than personal "notes".

...But It's an experiment. Can I get a headstart in Google SEO by publishing sooner rather than later, and then updating it as I make time for it?

And can I create some motivation for myself to get to fixing this more quickly due to social shaming and pressure?

Time will tell ;)


BACK TO YOU: What's your secret-weapon copywriting tip?

What online copywriting tips did I miss?