How to Learn the Basics of Copy and Content Writing
A few weeks ago, I spoke about how to learn the basics of copy and content writing on the Pretty Sure We Can Do Better podcast with Angie Cazares. The episode, Be Brave and Act on Your Intuition, Even if it Means Going Against the “Expected” Path, also dives into my experience of strengthening – and following – my inner compass, even when it meant leaving a stable job – then leaving a Master’s degree – to ultimately establish my business and a lifestyle I adore.
At about the 24-minute mark, we dove into my advice for getting started as a copywriter, regardless of your career background, and the resources can also be useful for new business owners doing their writing themselves!
So, here are my ABC tips for learning the basics of copy and content writing, no matter your educational or career background.
A. Experience for all copy and content writing
This is the single most important way for you to start a career as a copy or content writer, and even to feel confident and capable as a business owner doing the writing yourself.
Experience allows you to build your skillset, confidence, testimonials, and portfolio all at the same time. It’s where you get the most bang for your buck (or more accurately, your time and effort.) So how do you start gaining experience to learn the basics of copy and content writing?
Start by creating your own website and testing out what you’ve learned in books, on Youtube, from a mentor, or from a course (if you’ve gone that route – more on those last two options in B and C.)
Here are the most important pages to play with, in order, based on the order your typical readers will visit them:
- Home page
- About page
- Services/Work with Me page
- Sales page
- Resources page
- Contact page
Then, immediately move on to writing blog posts. This allows you to practice a different style of writing (content writing) and also embedding SEO best practices. If you’re building this as a website for your business, past or future, then establishing good SEO at the beginning will help leaps and bounds in your Google ranking long-term. (Normally, whatever you do now for SEO starts to see its greatest benefits 3 months down the line.)
Special notes if you’re testing the basics of copy and content writing for a career:
Practicing both static pages and blog posts will also help you identify which type of writing (copy or content) you prefer. You’ll discover if you want to focus on a particular type and even if you want to niche down to a particular skill (like sales pages) or content subjects (like technical writing or wellness writing).
Once you’ve done this step, start reaching out to your network, whether professional or friends and family, and offer to do some writing for free in exchange for a testimonial and feature in your portfolio. This provides further practice but also establishes credibility so that you can start pitching your work to people in the outer sphere of your network, or start marketing yourself as a copy or content writer online.
Developing a strong portfolio is especially important for writers if you don’t have any formal credentials like a course or a diploma in Marketing. Ultimately, a great portfolio, confidence, and professionalism are way more important when someone considers contracting you than any formal training (you’ll read more about this in Point C). Trust me, I got experience before even getting a mentor, and was already making money!
B. Books for the basics of copy and content writing
As a writer, I’m an avid believer in the power of words to transmit knowledge. This is true for copywriting in particular, since it’s very theoretical in many ways.
Copywriting involves formulas, persuasive writing techniques, and other components that are developed through experience but can only be practiced with intention after learning the theory.
Your content writing can also benefit from books about journalistic techniques and reading blog posts about blog posts and SEO. However, you’ll find less value about content writing in books, in my experience.
So, for some core theory and inspiration about copywriting, check out a few of my favourite books below:
Web Copy that Sells:
Building a Story Brand:
C. Training for advanced copy and content writing
If you’re willing to invest time and money, a mentor or dedicated course could be the most thorough way to go.
In my case, I’ve achieved a fulltime, successful business as a copy and content writer through this journey:
- Mentorship during my first job in Marketing
- Mentorship with my current mentor as an independent business owner, Jacq Fisch
- Continued experience + mentorship + finally, formal training through AWAI
AWAI stands for American Writers and Artists Institute and is the first formal training I’ve ever had as a copywriter. I dove into this membership both for the community and the continuing education. But remember, I was already making a full-time income as a sought-after writer and writing coach before I took the leap!
So, formal training is beneficial but not necessary, nor is it the only or even best place to start. That’s particularly true if you’re not learning about copy and content for the sake of becoming a writer, and rather so that you can do it yourself for an existing business. In that case, I highly recommend mentorship with a copy and content writing coach (like myself) beyond any other option.
Coaching provides you the theory, the support, the experience, and the feedback all at once. Plus you’ll actively create work that you’ll immediately implement in your business to grows its visibility, improve client connections, and increase conversions. This is true whether you’re a jeweler, a life coach, a financial consultant, an influencer, etc.
Your business needs strategic copy and content writing, and a coach is the best way to learn exactly what you need.
Ready to start writing intentional and impactful copy and content for your business? There are 2 spots currently open for 1:1 writing coaching with me in 2020 before the investment goes up next year. 💃 Book your complimentary discovery call with me today. There’s no better time of year to get your web copy and content marketing prepared for your goals! 🍾
About the Author
Emma Givens is the Founder and CEO of EG: Content & Copy. She’s a brand messaging strategist, copywriter and writing coach with 10+ years of experience. She specializes in serving premium SMBs (Small and Medium-sized Businesses).
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