So, you need some help with your copywriting? That’s completely fair – as knowing how to create that striking piece of copy that speaks to your audience in a personal, enticing way can be like feeling around in the dark if you’re new to it.
Thankfully, we’ve created a very handy copywriting checklist for you to fall back on when it comes time to write that super important ad, or webpage, or blog post, or social media post, or any kind of copy.
Why do I need a copywriting checklist?
Other than the immense satisfaction of ticking boxes, knowing the important elements of copywriting will go a long way towards helping grow your online presence. But rather than having a giant info dump bury your enthusiasm, this checklist offers a digestible, concise guide to writing effective copy. So, no matter how confident you feel about writing copy, let this checklist do all the heavy lifting for you. Language and communication is an essential part of any business, but copywriting shouldn’t have to feel overwhelming. So, grab your favourite notebook and pen, draw up 6 boxes, feel free to colour code if you wish, and let’s dive into step 1 of our copywriting checklist.
Step 1: Have a Clear Call to Action
The first step in our copywriting checklist is making sure you have a clear understanding of your outcome. What result are you shooting for when someone reads your piece? Do you want them to sign up, purchase, interact, get in touch etc?
This is where your Call to Action (CTA) becomes a vital piece of the puzzle, and we think it should be foremost in your mind during the entirety of the writing process.
If you’re unsure of how to start your copy, it may be wise to write your Call to Action first, so you have a clear understanding of where the rest of the piece is heading. Identify your desirable outcome, work it into an eye-catching Call to Action, and then form the path that works its way to that final destination.
Step 2: Make Your Copy Readable
There’s nothing worse than coming across copywriting that is completely U n r E a d A b l E.
And while avoiding typos and grammatical errors is one thing, choosing which font to use, how often to bold, italicise and underline words, and other considerations like spacing all come into the mix.
Often, practising restraint is the best option. You generally shouldn’t have sentences that are over 50 words longs or paragraphs that consist of 20 lines of text. Also avoid topsy-turvy formatting that’ll make the reader nauseas.
Aim for clean, digestible writing that isn’t exhausting for someone looking to take in every aspect of the piece. But, which it can also be skimmed with ease.
And please, make your Grade 10 English teacher proud, and proofread, proofread, proofread!
Step 3: Picture Your Target Audience
Whose attention are you trying to capture with your copywriting? Your target audience is super-duper important to nail down when you are deciding who to write for. After all, you’re going to be using quite different language depending on who you’re targeting. The copy will vary greatly depending on if it’s written for women aged 18-25 or retirees looking into pension funds.
Really flesh them out and personify them: what do they like/don’t like, what are their lifestyles, where are they likely to shop?
If you’re wanting to look deeper into this subject, check out Alex’s article on Putting on a Show: The Importance of Writing for an Audience.
Step 4: The Headline Needs to Grab Attention
Some forms of copywriting may only have a few words to work with. So, don’t you want to make sure those words count? Even if you’re typing up a 1000-word blog article, the first words people read will be the headline. It needs to promise something enticing.
Obviously, we’re not saying to make it clickbait, as that will only build distrust between you and the reader. This also creates the risk of being looked down unfavourably by the Google gods. But it’s crazy how often people pour their focus into writing amazing body text, only to spend seconds spitting out a half-baked headline.
Some classic techniques for engrossing headlines include:
- Phrasing it as a question (When was the last time you…)
- Phrasing it as a solution (Here’s how to…)
- Targeting your audience (Attention: New Business Owners…)
- Featuring numbers (A 7 Step Copywriting Checklist…)
Step 5: Describe Benefits, Not Just Features
Step 5 in our copywriting checklist is an important one. Afterall, you may have a killer product that’s an industry leader or packed out with the latest cutting-edge technology. But none of that matters to your audience who are just looking for a solution to a problem.
Features are your product’s selling points; benefits are why your readers should care about them. And while it’s important to make your features clear and understandable, the benefits are what’ll convince the reader you have a great solution to their problem.
A really easy way to draft out your features and benefits is to start by writing the feature, adding the bridging phrase “which means”, and flowing into the benefit from there. For example, “The new Suzuki Swift comes fitted with 8 surrounding air bags which means safety for the whole family”.
Do you think the customer reading this would be in the market for the car with the most air bags? Or, would it be the car that guarantees the highest safety for themselves, their partner, and their children?
From here, you can adapt the wording to fit best within the type of copy you’re writing.
Step 6: Conversational Is Conversional
You don’t want your copywriting to read like a textbook or be soulless to the point that a robot could’ve written it. You’re trying to promote an idea you believe in, so be passionate about it. And write like a human being talking to another human being. Be conversational in your copywriting, and you’ll have a better chance of achieving those conversions.
It doesn’t hurt to read your copy out loud to make sure it has a natural flow to it, even if you feel a bit silly while doing it. And remember, conversational doesn’t mean lazy. It should still be professional, only on a more personal, organic level.
Bek goes into more detail about this in her Why Does Tone of Voice Matter? article.
And there you have it. A nice and simple copywriting checklist that isn’t longer than most of your shopping lists. Of course, if you are seeking more help with your online copywriting from some awesome people, check out BeKonstructive’s copywriting services to get an idea of why we love helping your words deliver your vision.