15 Copywriting Skills Every Business Owner MUST Master

15 Copywriting Skills Every Business Owner MUST Master

Excellent copy is all around us.

Not just in the fancy billboard ads you see on your streets, but also in emails, social media posts, and websites… like this one 🙂

All of these words have a significant impact on businesses. They increase awareness, traffic, leads, and conversions.

That is true for both fancy billboards and seven-figure advertising campaigns.

So, how do you create copy that converts?

After seven years of professional writing, I’ve discovered that some copywriting skills are essential for selecting words that compel action, whether copywriting is a primary focus of your job or something you dabble in.

And I’ve listed and ranked them, beginning with the most important.

Master these copywriting skills, and it will do wonders for your business.

Let’s begin:

1. Curiosity

The best copywriters aren’t usually the best “writers.”

They are people who genuinely want to understand how something works and are eager to explain it to others.

Famous adman David Ogilvy was the epitome of curiosity. He was obsessed with learning everything about the products he marketed and the people who bought them.

Curiosity is the fuel that powers the other skills on this list. Curiosity breeds empathy. You’ll want to understand marketing strategy. And you’ll be an excellent interviewer.

You can even use your audience’s curiosity to increase awareness.

That’s why I believe curiosity is the most important copywriting skill you can have as a business owner or a copywriter.

2. Empathy

Empathy is an important copywriting skill because it allows us to imagine what a customer is going through and explain our solution in a more relevant way.

With a little empathy, you won’t say that a family SUV has a cutting-edge entertainment system. Instead, you’ll claim it has “enough distraction that no one will ask, ‘Are we there yet?'”

Molly Maids gets it.

They use strong words like “chaos” and “stress” to empathize with busy parents who are trying to keep it together during the school break.

Empathy is a neurological response, so it comes naturally to most people. However, practice can help you improve your skills.

3. Goal Setting

It’s easy to get caught up in creating catchy phrases and overusing alliteration.

But it’s important to remember that copywriting, by definition, needs a specific goal. It could be to increase brand awareness or to get people to click on a call-to-action button.

In either case, the goal is your destination, and copywriting is the means to that end.

Setting goals is an important copywriting skill because it ensures that you are aligned with your organization’s marketing objectives.

Perhaps you write copy for the wrong types of customers. Or you might be focusing on clicks when what you really need is new leads.

Goal setting is at the top of this list because it determines how you will research and write your copy.

4. Making Complex Information Simple

The Office gif. Leaning on his desk, annoyed, Steve Carrell as Michael Scott waves his hand and says, "Why don't you explain this to me like I'm five?" which appears as text.

Explain it like I’m five (ELI5) is a phrase used in education and marketing as well as in The Office (Shout out to Michael Scott).

The goal is to break down complex topics and present them in a way that a five-year-old can understand.

That’s an extremely useful skill for a copywriter because you’re frequently the bridge between technical people who create products and non-technical people who use them.

There are many ways to use ELI5.

You can keep readers engaged by using a conversational tone, copywriting formulas, or bridge phrases.

5. Interviewing Like a Detective

Columbo is an old detective television show.

In it, the title character politely, but persistently, asks suspects “just one more question” until he understands exactly what happened on the night of the murder.

Interviews are not interrogations.

But if you approach a customer or subject matter expert with the desire to get the whole picture, you’ll ask that one extra question that reveals a killer story.

6. Using Psychology

One of my biggest regrets is that I did not minor in psychology. Not because I want to learn how to hack people’s brains to sell more.

However, to better understand how people process information and write more emotionally compelling ad copy. That is a skill that any copywriter can benefit from.

Instead of enrolling in formal classes, copywriters can learn about specific psychological principles and practice incorporating them into their copy.

There are also numerous examples of emotional copy to study.

7. Kill the Ego

Ego kills great copy for a variety of reasons.

First, copywriting is a team sport. The best work is created when people with diverse backgrounds collaborate. That means being open to ideas from non-writers.

Second, you may need to delete your favorite bits of copy. The unflattering term is “killing your darlings,” and it refers to removing exceptionally well-written copy that does not match the tone or target of the piece.

Finally, you’ll often have to write something bad before moving on to something good. Don’t bang away at the keyboard, aggressively hitting backspace, then pounding the keys even harder while trying a different approach.

Let a bad version of your copy flow first, even if it hurts your pride. There are always rounds of editing to make it better.

8. Understanding SEO basics

We’re nearing the bottom of the list, but I don’t want to leave the impression that SEO isn’t important.

Even in the age of zero-click posts and AI-powered everything, search engine results pages still generate a significant amount of traffic.

And it’s usually people who are looking for what you’re selling.

Copywriting for SEO requires its own skill.

You must understand how to find keywords and incorporate them into your copy organically.

You should also understand page structure and alt tags.

It takes some time to master, but SEO copywriting skills are a valuable tool in a marketer’s arsenal.

9. Break Grammar Rule

Grammarly and ChatGPT, for example, make it relatively simple to correct grammar. The true challenge is adeptly breaking the rules when it benefits your copy.

In her book Everybody Writes, the great Ann Handley wrote, “I encourage you to safely and fearlessly break those rules and to make those mistakes in writing—but only when doing so lends greater clarity and readability.”

So turn on your spell and grammar checkers. However, learn from the things they correct. Then, when the opportunity arises, you can blur grammatical lines to produce better content.

10. Attention to Detail

This one is closely related to the previous point we just discussed, but it is such an important factor that it deserves to be mentioned separately.

When you think about attention to detail, you most likely think of spelling and grammar. But that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Paying attention to specific details about a piece of copy allows a copywriter to tailor their writing to the client’s unique tone of voice, making the reader’s experience as seamless as possible.

It is also one of the copywriting skills that not all writers possess.

Having an eye for the small details covers a wide range of scenarios, and here are a few examples to help you understand what we mean when we say “small things”:

To write effectively, avoid switching tenses, repeating words or phrases, using consistent formatting (e.g. dates or punctuation), writing in the appropriate locale, and selecting words that reflect the tone of voice.

11. Research

One of the most important skills a copywriter should have is the ability to conduct effective and efficient research.

While many of us specialize in certain areas and have favorite subjects, we must always get our facts correct, regardless of what we are writing about.

That means being able to find relevant and accurate information to use in the copy we’re creating.

Research can take a long time to complete, especially when someone is looking for very specific information or data to support their writing.

If a copywriter is unfamiliar with research techniques, a significant amount of time can be wasted if research is not conducted correctly.

And, because efficiency is part of what makes a great copywriter, knowing how to conduct thorough research is essential.

This is especially important when writing for more technical clients or on factual subjects.

Highly specialised areas, such as health and pharmaceuticals, as well as insurance, require accurate information.

If the appropriate information is not found and used in the piece, its quality – and the client’s reputation – may suffer.

12. Sticking to Deadlines

Copywriting briefs come with deadlines, some of which require a quick turnaround.

A good copywriter must be able to stick to and meet deadlines with confidence and consistency.

I recommend using project management software to keep track of your ongoing client projects.

Trello, Monday, and Notion all have free versions that work, as well as paid versions with more features that you might want to invest in.

There is also the option of keeping a traditional written diary, but you may find that the visual prompts generated by these online management systems are more motivating.

It is critical that you do not miss your deadlines because doing so may harm your reputation.

You want to be known for producing high-quality content quickly.

13. Self Motivated

Copywriting frequently entails long hours spent alone, often at home, in complete silence.

As a result, you must be self-motivated and driven at work.

And that can be difficult.

Even with a well-organized workflow and effective project management, you must have the willpower to get started.

I recommend setting up a designated workspace in an area that will help to eliminate distractions.

When you need to focus, put your phone in airplane mode and turn off the television.

Give yourself breaks, and when writer’s block strikes, ten minutes away from the computer screen is always beneficial.

14. Know When Enough is Enough

You must first identify an endpoint, which can be any of several things.

If you weren’t given a word count, you’ll have to figure out how to be as effective as possible in the most appropriate number of words.

And once you’ve finished writing, you’ll have to decide when continuous fine-tuning and tweaking becomes a little excessive.

The road to perfection is long, and an almost-perfect piece of writing is far more effective than a work in progress that is never published.

15. Strong Writing Skills

This is one of the copywriting skills that goes without saying.

Copywriters write various types of copy, ranging from longer pieces of content (such as white papers and journal articles) to short product descriptions and advertising slogans.

All copywriters should be able to convey ideas that ultimately persuade an audience to take action through writing.

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Maku Seun is a freelance copywriter and direct response marketer. He helps digital marketers, coaches, and course creators boost sales by writing compelling sales copy which includes long-form sales letters, email copy, and website copy for their products and services. If you want him to write compelling sales copy for your business, click here.