Have you ever sat to pen down some amazing content but only ended up staring at the blank page for hours? Well, you’re not alone. Most copywriters face this challenge on a regular basis, which is- getting started. And, of course, you want to make a solid start, but how do you do that? And how do you keep up with the same level of creativity? These are questions that copywriters are often struck with. Whether it’s about writing an email, a blog post, a jingle, or a tagline, it’s usually a challenge to get started.
Most writers often engage in intense brainstorming sessions so that they can have a striking start that sounds exciting and full of life. However, sometimes, thinking too much about something can make the task all the more overwhelming and even more difficult to get started. This is where copywriting exercises come into action. Yes, you read that correctly. There are copywriting exercises that can help you find inspiration to write and come up with exciting bits every time you sit to write. Just how physical exercises like jumping and running move your body physically, copywriting exercises can move your mind mentally and help you ease into writing.
This is exactly what we are going to talk about in this guide. While we will essentially shed light on the top 10 copywriting exercises to get you started, we shall also take a peek into what copywriting as a career looks like and how you can grow in it. Let’s get started!
First of all, what is copywriting, and who is a copywriter?
The writing space is quite versatile. There are many big and small categories where you can put your writing skills in full action and make a living. Copywriting is one of those categories, and a copywriter is a content writing professional working in it.
A copywriter is a type of writer who essentially writes content that sells. It is usually branded content meant for promotions to complete marketing strategies in the finest possible way. For example, writing the script for television commercials, coming up with brand taglines, writing jingles with melodies, or even tweets and other social media content today; all come under the domain of a copywriter.
When we break down the word “copywriter,” we understand that he/she is a person who writes copies. A copy is nothing but a single written piece of content that gets distributed among the masses. So, if a person pens down a copy of a television commercial that will be promoted to be seen by many people at a time, that person would be a copywriter.
Today, copywriting has taken a digital turn, as most of the content is written majorly for blog posts, website content, and social media posts. The intention behind this is to attract viewers and keep them engaged with your brand’s content. But all of this is possible only if there is a talented copywriter behind it. And how is a talented copywriter? Let’s find out.
Here are the top qualities required to be an excellent copywriter
Being knowledgeable is one of the most important requirements for a copywriter. The reason behind this is that most of the time, copywriters need to write topical content. Topical content is content that is specifically designed to suit important days and events. And to be able to tackle this kind of write-ups, he/she needs to be aware of the events, understand their significance, and should be able to convey them to the masses.
In the earlier days of marketing, promptness may not make it to the top pre-requisites of a copywriter. Because at that time, a lot of time was in hand to create a copy and publish it. But today, as the world has gone digital, and content gets generated and shared every minute, a copywriter has to be prompt in his/her writer.
Today, a new social event takes place every new day; trends change every few hours, new hashtags come up every few seconds. This quick exchange of content has given rise to a whole new category called moment marketing, and for copywriters to be able to capture and capitalize every moment, they need to be prompt.
Creativity is a non-negotiable element for any copywriter. No agency or company will hire a copywriter who does not have the creative juice running through the bloodstream. Since there is an ocean of content available on every existing platform, the competition is intense.
This intensifies the need to stand out from the rest and break the clutter. And for that to happen, copywriters ought to be creative in their writing and should be able to think out of the box.
As a copywriter, you will never write only for one brand. In most cases, there will be quite a few clients that you will constantly be working for. And of course, every client will be different because every brand has a different tone, different brand propositions, and most importantly, a different purpose.
This is why copywriters need to be fluid enough to be able to switch from one client to the other while ensuring that every brief is met. This also requires a high level of brand understanding and, of course, multi-tasking.
Relatability is a rare quality and comes with experience and time. Copywriters write for a number of brands, as mentioned previously. And every brand has a different target audience. This is why they need to be relatable in their writing such that the brand is able to build and maintain a connection with the audience.
Apart from that, when a copywriter writes a copy, the final piece of content is exposed to a large cross-section of society. Therefore, a skillful copywriter will always manage to create a copy that remains relatable to everyone, irrespective of the differences.
These are the top five qualities of a copywriter that makes him/her a good one. Having addressed that, let’s move to the core of this guide, which talks about copywriting exercises.
10 effective copywriting exercises to help you get started
Pen down the requirement
In most cases, copywriters don’t start from scratch. Instead, there is usually a topic, goal, or purpose that is to be addressed, which provides for a structure of the copy, whether it is a Google Ads headline for your pet care business or an Instagram post for a newly opened cafe. Or, in our case, a blog post describing ten useful copywriting exercises. In all cases, some basic information is provided.
And if you have these simple points of information, consider it a stepping stone to start with your copy. First, quickly note down the important points such as the primary intention of writing, the expected impact, the audience group that needs to be tapped, and other relevant questions. Once you have these points in front of you, ideas are bound to start flowing through your mind, which later can be picked and fine-tuned.
This will help you not only to gauge the scope and purpose of your copy but will even help in activating the right response and attracting the right audience. And the fact that it will lay out a straightforward outlined project for you is just a plus point that will encourage you to get started with your copy.
Start rewriting one of your favorite ads or two
A great way to get started with your copy is by actually starting with something else. If you’ve ever been fond of a particular ad campaign or have saved a well-written blog post, or if there is a jingle that never fails to impress you, try writing it down.
Take all the excellent copywriting examples that you have grown up admiring, and consider reading them again, watching them, and then try rewriting them. Reworking on the ad campaigns you love can help you find inspiration that seems to be lost. Pick bits and pieces from those copies and re-invent them in your style by adding a piece of yourself to it. Pick your favorite blog’s structure and brainstorm about how you can make it your own. Rewatch your most admired commercial, and see how you can do it with a sense of uniqueness of your own.
When you start diving into copies that truly interest you, you are bound to feel inspired, and inspiration is the best thing a copywriter can have to create something magical.
Draw it out
Not every copywriting exercise demands the use of words, and not every exercise needs to be all about brainstorming. Some can be fun, too, such as this one! The exercise we’re about to discuss here involves drawing and sketching, such that you can see your copy visually.
This works best if you are trying to write for a messy project with too many points to keep in mind. For instance, working on a video script of a product launch or drafting an email for a new nurture path.
Such projects include too many minute details, and many bits and pieces may not seem cohesive at first. This is where drawing the project can help you. Once you sketch down the plan in the form of a rough drawing, the visual representation helps you understand what exactly needs to be done and will encourage you to come up with a great copy.
Drawing also enables the creative juices to start flowing as the artsy side of the brain gets activated. Besides, once the drawing is laid down, you can not only figure out the start but can also continue to understand where the copy needs to be taken. It is like creating your own little visual reference point that guides you on how to go about the copy.
Another small tip for this exercise would be to use shapes and colors to represent various elements so that you have a clear understanding of what is what. Visualization has kept many copywriters in the industry for a long time, and you can be one of them too!
Take 10 minutes out for a free write
Can’t seem to bring yourself to write down a catchy headline or an attractive product description? Maybe it’s because you need to take a short break and go on a free writing drive for some time.
A free-write is exactly what it sounds like- freely writing about any topic you feel like writing about. This is an effective exercise that involves timed and constant writing without any oversight, supervision, or feedback. This means there is nothing you need to worry about other than writing on the decided topic. You don’t have to stress about going off-topic or writing too little or too much.
You can just write your heart out, and you’d never have to look at it again. Peter Elbow was the person who had championed this form of writing back in the 1970s, and his way of freewriting is now taught in classrooms to encourage children to write and express themselves freely.
Doing a quick free write can activate your writing spirit and bring all the words and phrases out, which you can later start incorporating in your copy after having completed the exercise. All you need to do is set a timer of 10 minutes or so, and write as much as you can or want to about any given topic, without a worry in mind. Next thing you know, you have ideas flooding your mind for the copy that is due.
Fetch some data
Let’s be honest, copywriting requires extensive research every time, and every copywriter benefits from that, as it enables them to learn more. Research again helps in gaining inspiration for your copy and, at the same time, ensures accuracy and relevance of information too. This is why fetching data, i.e., conducting research, is one of the most commonly adopted exercises among copywriters before they get started with the copy.
Take some time out specifically to read about the industry and the topic in particular, and ensure that you have solid sources for the same. You can also head to social media platforms like Twitter to read some threads by the public or LinkedIn and Instagram to understand what people are talking about with respect to the topic. This will help you get the audience’s viewpoint, which is very valuable to any copywriter.
Skip the intro temporarily
This is particularly for those copywriters who tend to work on larger pieces of content such as blog posts, ebooks, guides, whitepapers, and so on. It is a tad bit challenging to write the introduction, majorly because that needs to be super interesting and attractive to grab the reader’s attention. Copywriters often spend a long time thinking of a catchy first line itself, let alone the rest of the introduction.
If such is the case, then maybe you need to jump straight into the main content piece and get the major points addressed. Skip the introduction temporarily, and start working on the core content of the copy. Once you are through it, you can go back to the introduction with more clarity.
An ideal introductory paragraph is meant to establish the tone of the rest of the content and set certain expectations for the readers. At the same time, it introduces the topic to the audience such that everyone is on the same page. However, sometimes, it may happen that the copywriter is not aware of these points in the very beginning, which is why writing the perfect introduction can seem to be a challenge.
This is why a bit of friendly advice would be to dive straight into the main body of the topic, and once you understand the purpose and suitable tone for the copy, you can get to the introduction too.
As long as you are not writing a script for a podcast of video content, you are bound to forget that even marketing-related copies may not just be for consumption or scanning but are real. And when people start reading, they would sound out and, in most cases, even listen to the words becoming a part of their inner speech. This tendency is called subvocalization, and it plays a massive role in the reader’s overall content consumption experience.
This is why, as a copywriter, adopt this exercise of reading your script to ensure that it is precise and clear enough that everyone can comprehend exactly what you are trying to express. First, check whether you are tripping over the phrases or whether the rhymes can be understood, and whether the string of words is clear or not? Then, based on your feedback, rewrite the copy until it becomes easy to read, listen and understand.
Chit chat with a coworker
Yes, you read that correctly. We are practically asking you to spend some time just having a simple conversation with one of the coworkers. Speak to them about what you are up to, explain the project, and then discuss the ideas that have popped into your mind so far.
Having a one-on-one conversation with someone will also open your mind to newer ideas, giving you more clarity as to how to tackle the copy.
In this way, you can also turn your procrastination into productivity, and that is always a big plus!
Try summarizing your project in one statement
This is yet another excellent exercise for copywriters who have recently started or are supposed to start with a new project.
New projects can seem overwhelming at times, for the obvious reason that it is new and something you have not done before. At such times, it becomes essential to know how you can detangle yourself from the nervousness and the sense of overwhelm taking over. You need to achieve the maximum amount of clarity about the project before you even get started. And this is precisely where this copywriting exercise comes into play.
When you try to summarize the project in a single sentence, you will mostly include the introduction or the objective of the project. This alone will help you get clarity over the topic and will also prove helpful when you try to lay a structure for the copy. So first, ask yourself what the goal of the copy, who it is addressed to is, what its scope is, and most importantly, what it is about. Then, having done that, summarize all of it into one single and clear statement.
This will give you certainly, and a sense of confidence to get started. Moreover, it will ensure that you are concise and articulate with your writing.
Write an under the average first draft
Please understand that you need to marry the first draft that you write. You need not commit to it, nor do you ought to love it wholeheartedly because we all know that the final draft looks nothing like the first one. So instead of trying to ace it in the very beginning and wasting loads of hours on it, just get done with the first under-average draft so that you have something to work on if nothing else.
Remember, even the best of the best TVCs or taglines come from terrible first drafts. After that, it all comes down to the fine-tuning part and the revisions that you do over and over again until you settle for the final one. Now, this may seem a tad bit daunting at first, as you may find yourself in a never-ending loop where there is always some or the other addition or modifications required. However, it is always easier to work on making something better than to sit and wait until you write the best material in the very first attempt.
Allow yourself to be bad at writing sometimes, even if you are getting paid for your writing skills. Write bluntly, let the sentences sound bland or straight up ugly at times. But once you are through the first draft, all that needs to be done is beautification. Turn it into something you will be proud of by simple corrections, simplifications, or modifications.
These are the best ten exercises that you can perform if you are about to start writing a copy that appears to be scary. Adopt these practices and save yourself the time and energy of simply sitting and brainstorming. Over time, these exercises will certainly become a part of your copywriting routine, and you will never be tired of writing.
Now that the copywriting exercises are out of the way let’s look at additional tips and tricks that we have compiled based on what industry experts have been doing for years.
12 tips that can make you an outstanding copywriter
Keep the paragraphs short
Visual appeal is undoubtedly a huge factor when it comes to writing. You need to have a vision of how the content is going to be seen on the platform and whether it looks appealing or not. For instance, if you are writing a blog post, you need to structure it in a way that looks readable enough for the reader to stay on the site.
So, if you go on writing long paragraphs that look like walls, people will probably bounce from the page. So, if your blog post has a lot of content to be included, make sure you divide it into smaller paragraphs and give as many head points as possible to them. This will ensure readability and a visually appealing structure, which will, in turn, keep the reader attracted and engaged with your content.
Add facts and figures wherever possible
The key to writing an excellent copy is by including factual information in a simple and easy-to-understand manner. Most of the data is usually given in a very bland and complex manner through reports and research papers. It is the copywriter’s job to express the same data in a more human way such that the layman can understand it.
And yes, copies should not just be about opinions, views, and basic information about the topic. It should include statistics, numbers, and facts too, which will make the content comprehensive and accurate. All of these are important value additions that can take an ordinary copy and make it one of the best ones.
Storytelling is key
The difference between content writers and copywriters is that ordinary content writers focus only on the brief and informative part of their content. Copywriters, on the other hand, know how to express the same piece of information by weaving a beautiful story in it. They add the element of storytelling, which makes the content more engaging and worth reading.
Apart from that, we have known for years that stories make it easier to build connections. And for a copywriter, the biggest challenge is to help the brand connect with its audience. So, for doing so, it is always great if you, as a copywriter, start incorporating interesting storytelling effects into your content to make it more meaningful and adaptable for the viewers. This also makes the brand more memorable.
Use layman’s language
You’re a copywriter, and your job is to think out of the box and write as impressively as possible. But, while you do so, you need to keep the audience in mind too. As attractive as you may want to write, please ensure that you write in the layman’s language so that whatever you write is easy to comprehend no matter who the reader is. A copywriter’s skill needs to apply to strike the ideal balance between sounding attractive but still relevant and relatable.
So, keep your phrases simple, and avoid using words that are not used in your daily language. You may have a phenomenal vocabulary, but make sure you use it only when necessary and in an efficient way. Your words need to be clear and should be able to express the viewpoints in the way they are intended to be expressed. The rest of the dazzle in your writing can be controlled a little so that the final copy is easy to understand.
The last thing you want on your copy is errors. Now again, please know that we are not just talking about spelling errors here. While grammatical and spelling errors can degrade the quality of your copy significantly, they are not the only points of concern. Along with that, you need to take care of other things as well, such as political correctness and accuracy of information.
Yes, being politically incorrect also counts as an error and can potentially destroy your copy. Knowing where to draw the line when discussing religious, ethical, or potential issues. Stay up to date with the words and terms that are considered a foul language or that can demean a certain group of individuals. In addition to that, errors in facts and figures can also cost you a lot, so ensure accuracy in all ways. So make sure you proofread the content thoroughly before you publish it anywhere.
The last thing you want in your copy is non-original content. So please understand the significance of writing original content when writing a copy. And when we say “original content,” we don’t just mean non-plagiarised content. Plagiarism is obviously a big no, and there is no doubt about it. But please know that copied content can be free of plagiarism too. It’s called spinning.
Spun content is essential, copying the content from another website and merely changing the words or flow of the sentences. This can be done by using third-party software or a digital paraphrasing tool or manually tweaking the words here and there. Either way, it will be considered spinning, which can cause significant damage to the brand’s reputation. So be as candid and original as possible, and avoid spinning and plagiarism at all costs.
Determine the word count
Many times, copywriters find it challenging to understand when to end their copy, especially if the brief doesn’t mention the word count. At such times, instead of winging it, and trying to figure as you go, finalize the word count before you even start working on the copy. You may consider starting with your copy first and then deciding when to stop because it is easier that way. But know that this will only make the situation messier and more confusing.
Either you may end up writing too little, or you may go on and on with the words and just never seem to stop. This is definitely not a great way to go about your copy. When you set a word count at first, not only do you know how much to write and when to stop, but you are also in a better position to divide your content into points that need to be covered. This will add more structure to your copy.
Don’t sound like a salesperson
Count this as the tip of the day and pay careful attention as we explain this. Most copywriters write in a way that increases sales leads and conversion rates. While this is a part of the job, there is still more to it. A copywriter should never write to sell; he/she should write to promote in a way that the reader is attracted towards the brand. Leave the selling part to the sales team, and activate emotions with words so that the sales team doesn’t have to sell the product aggressively.
Find out ways to create the hype for your product through interesting and engaging copies by focusing limited attention on the products. As complicated as it may sound, the role of a copywriter is to make the brand memorable without talking only about the products. Create a connection with the audience through compelling storytelling, and let that connection do the job of boosting sales.
Know your audience
While a copy is meant to entice the audience and attract their views, for doing so, you first need to understand your audience. Only when you know what your audience is curious about, which questions do they want you to address, and what their intent is when they read the copy; will you be able to write an impact-generating copy. Any great copywriter would always talk about what the audience wants to listen to and not what he/she wants to tell.
Again, for doing this, you also need to establish your target audience prior to writing the copy. Understand the purpose of the brand and the product or service it is offering. Based on that, takes points like age, location, affordability, gender, likes, preferences, requirements of the audience into consideration. And finally, decide who will be the target audience and how you can attract them with your copy. This is the most efficient way of not just increasing traffic but also leads and conversions.
Optimize your content
If you are writing for any of the digital platforms, be it on social media like Facebook and LinkedIn, or even a blog post for that matter, optimization is a must! No matter how well you write your content, if it is not optimized with the most searched keywords, it will never get a high amount of traffic.
Search Engine Optimization is the process of elevating any piece of content with trigger words or keywords that are most-searched by the users. The incorporation of these words will enable your blog post to get a higher search engine ranking.
So, if your copy lands on the first page of the search engine results, it is bound to get more traffic as people rarely ever go to the second or third page. And when more people land on the website, there can be potentially more sales leads and conversions happening too. So as much as creativity is important in writing a copy, make sure you use the right strategy and other technical additions, too, that will make the copy more visible.
Write empathy-led copies
This is one of those tips that most copywriters often miss out on, but we’re here to keep you informed. As much as keeping your brand’s brief in mind is important to write an impactful copy, please keep the ethics and the current scenario in mind too. We live in a world that is going through many devastations on a regular basis.
Especially since the past few years, with the coronavirus pandemic taking over the world, it has become absolutely mandatory to write empathy-led content.
Yes, you need to promote the brand, and yes, you need to write a copy that sells. But at the same time, the empathy quotient should also be kept intact. This is not just a more ethical way of writing copies but also helps in making both- the brand and the copy more human. This, in turn, helps in connecting with the audience on a deeper level, and that is a massive gain!
A little bit of humor has never harmed anyone, and in today’s date, some of the most powerful copies are the ones that have a hint of humor. But, again, the great thing about humorous content is that they are quick to relate. And more than that, they are easy to consume as content pieces and tend to be more memorable also, provided the piece is actually humorous.
You can do this subtly by packing some punchlines in your copy or doing some wordplay around it. Other than that, you can go all out with the humor and build the entire script using sketch comedy.
However, make sure you know where to draw the line because sadly, comedy in copies happens to be the most picked on point for controversies and backlash. Therefore, pay utmost attention to how you are using humor in your copy and be 100% sure that it doesn’t harm any individual or group of the society. You can also discuss the copy with people from different backgrounds to get a brief understanding of the same.
Well, that’s about it with the tips and exercises for copywriting. In a nutshell, it is fair to say that copywriting is a great space to start or advance your career in writing. It will always keep you creative because, let’s be honest, creativity is the core of copywriting. As long as you can write with relatability, conviction, subtle selling spirit, story, empathy, and a tad bit of humor, you can be one of the finest copywriters the industry has ever seen.
That being said, we hope this guide helps you know a bit more about what copywriting is all about and how you can dive into this beautiful space and grow. Wishing you nothing but luck and light for your future in the field of copywriting.