The 10 commandments of copywriting to write sales-boosting copy

There are certain rules that cannot be broken.

If you want to write great copy, the kind that gets real results, you should engrave these commandments in your mind and always follow them.

The profession of copywriter is not easy but it’s fascinating. You learn lots about a variety of topics, you work with very different brands and you can make up stories.

The issue is that – as in all creative work- you have to motivate yourself and there will be days of depressing doubts about your skills.

You’ll have moments when that sentence you’re looking for doesn’t come up and this will make you despair.

But if you respect these 10 commandments and if you dedicate time to think and write, it will come in the end, I promise you.

I’ve created these commandments thinking about the elements that make a piece of copy work, but also about what you have to do (or not do) to survive in this profession that is so hard and so fascinating at once.

Here we go.

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1.  You shall have no other Heroes before your Buyer Persona

This is the number 1 commandment because it’s the most important.

A piece of copy will only work if it puts the buyer persona in the centre of everything.

Talking about yourself or your brand won’t create the interest and curiosity you need to arouse in your prospects.

If you are working for the typical client who only wants to talk about themselves, you have to make them understand this:

The copy you’re about to write is not intended to please him, but to please his prospects.

Sometimes they won’t get it and they’ll insist you talk about their vision and how they like their coffee.

But your job as a copywriter is to make them understand that their prospects don’t care about that, because the only thing that matters to them is how your product or service is going to improve their lives.

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2.  You shall make for yourself a kind of idol

Writing copy is hard. You spend many hours alone in front of your computer and you inevitably compare yourself with amazing writers who have been there longer than you.

The worst is that you can’t just not look at other people’s work…

You should study other writers’ copy to learn how to write good copy yourself. There will be times when you feel like shit.

And it’s even worst when you come across a client who doesn’t like what you’ve written at all and it shakes all your confidence.

But you can’t let those doubts about your ability make you throw in the towel.

When you see other people’s copy and you think you’re a pile of shit compared to them, put your envy aside and start studying their techniques, their voice, their ideas, etc. with a cold mind and without thinking about yourself. (Put your ego in off mode as I call it).

And when a client tells you that what you’ve written is worthless, start writing again from scratch with the anger of a boxer who has been knocked down but is determined to win the fight.

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3.  You shall not misuse the name of your brand

Each brand must have its own voice.

It’s like with people, every time you think of your friend Chris you imagine him with his twists and turns, his grammatical blunders and his jokes.

So you have to create a brand’s voice as if it were a person.

Every time you write for a brand you should be consistent.

The brand voice has to be recognisable in all media: website, blog, and social media.

Observe how your client speaks and what terms they use. Make sure their target audience also uses those terms and understands them.

Write with a purpose beforehand so as not to waste anyone’s time.

Copy has to entertain, yes, but above all, it has to fulfil its objective: sell a product, build brand awareness, create a community, etc.

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4. Remember to take breaks by keeping them holy

A copywriter never really rests. She thinks she does but she doesn’t.

Even when you aren’t actively working on a project, your mind is still creating relationships between ideas that are initially unrelated, looking at details of life to extract ideas, and taking inspiration from overheard conversations on the underground.

So don’t get into a funk if one day you’ve only really worked for 3 hours sitting in front of your computer because the rest of the time your brain has been working for you.

But you should also give it material to feed on.

Read books, have conversations with people who know more than you and be open to new experiences.

And get moving. That idea you’re looking for can come to you any moment.

But, be careful, don’t confuse these moments of disconnection with procrastination.

Creativity won’t find you binging on series on Netflix but rather working in front of your computer or scribbling on a notebook.

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5. Honour your buyer persona with copy that adds value

There’s an insane amount of content out there.

If you don’t create content it will be much more difficult that prospects to find you.

But that doesn’t mean you should post content for the sake of posting. If it’s not worth publishing, don’t do it.

Better to publish less often but do it when the content brings a lot of value to your prospects because then they’ll respect you and think of you when they’re ready to buy.

Think about every post you write, if you think it contributes something or if it is at least funny.

6.  You shall not murder people with boredom

Sometimes the copy may provide value but it’s bland.

You may think you’re offering interesting information because you’ve produced numbers and statistics to back up your arguments.

That’s all well and good, but if you don’t include analogies or real-life examples that bring those statistics closer to the day-to-day life of your prospects, you’ll probably bore them to tears.

It’s like when you had that cool teacher at school who made you passionate about science when you had never been interested in it before.

Because he didn’t just give the lesson straight from the book but gave you real-life examples, engaged the classroom with interesting questions and made diagrams on the blackboard that clarified complex concepts.

And that’s why you still remember the parts of a cell today.

This is how you should write copy.

Reread it without mercy, and if you think it’s boring, start again.

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7.  You shall not commit impure acts with your copy

Every piece of copy you write should have a single clear goal. Every word, section, and page, must have one goal and only one. For example:

  • A Home Page – Arouse enough interest for prospects to stay and browse through the other pages
  • A Sales page – Sell a product or service
  • Social media Ad – Click on a link

If you don’t have your Big Idea clear in your mind, your copy won’t have the persuasive power you need and therefore your prospects won’t take the action you want them to take.

Don’t digress and always come back to your core idea, your goal and your buyer persona.

Have you heard about the Rule of One? This is the Golden Rule of copywriting.

Concentrate on:

  1. One Major Benefit – (that it’s the basis of your Big Idea)
  2. One Emotion – (you want to evoke in your prospects)
  3. One Story – (that engages your prospects because it draws a clear picture in their minds)
  4. One action – (depending on the goal: buy, call, subscribe, etc.)

8.  You shall not steal other people’s copy

Yes, I know, it’s tempting. You land on a super well-written website and you feel like copying whole paragraphs.

But that won’t help you stand out and sooner or later people will realise that you’re plagiarising.

Study your competition, read books on the work of great copywriters (The Copy Book, Ogilvy on Advertising, Read Me, there are just a few examples), study all the Ads you encounter and let all that information help you incubate ideas.

Copywriting is more about generating ideas than writing.

Imitate the writing style of your favourite copywriters and over time you will develop your own voice.

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9.  You shall not add false testimonies nor lie

Especially when you are just starting out and haven’t got yet many clients, you’ll be tempted to write fake testimonials.

But I believe that lies have a specific smell and in the end, they end up stinking. In other words, they are noticeable.

Same when businesses exaggerate the benefits of their products, people can feel they’re lying.

It’s one thing to embellish a product and another to add non-existent benefits or exaggerate the value.

Never underestimate the intelligence of your prospects.

People can sense when they’re being taken for a ride and will write negative reviews about your business if they’ve felt cheated.

Honesty above all.

10. You shall not covet the success of others

There will always be people who do better than you.

Or so it seems because on social media everything is awesome!!!, but who knows what’s really going on in people’s lives.

Your life is yours and it doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. What fulfils others doesn’t have to fulfil you.

I know it’s difficult because after all our brains are programmed to seek acceptance from others.

But it’s when that acceptance involves a continuous pressure to be “successful” and to always pursue a perfect life that that acceptance turns against you.

Think about what success means to you.

What makes you feel good and what makes you feel inauthentic?

You don’t have to tell every detail of your life on Instagram if you don’t feel like it.

You don’t need to be on social media if you don’t like it. You don’t have to work 50 hours a week to buy a sports car if, in the end, all that kind of life seems like a hamster wheel to you.

Success is relative and it’s up to you to define it so that it’s really worth pursuing.

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Sobre Elena de Francisco

Siento un placer inmensurable aplastando textos zombis que no dan resultados y transformándolos en textos llenos de vida que provocan muchas ventas.

About Elena de Francisco

I find real pleasure in crushing zombie copy that doesn’t provoke any emotion and turning it into vivid words that convert prospects into smiley paying customers.

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