5 Micro Lessons for Content and Copywriting Freelancers!

Greetings, writers of the world!

Not long ago, I was tutoring a younger writer who wanted to improve their copywriting. I made notes to review with her during our sessions, and want to share them with you, too! 

So without further ado…

Imagine you’re in a class. The teacher talks a lot and makes important points along the way.

But how many of those points do you, the student, remember — and act on? 

Too often, the teacher’s points get lost in the lecture. Usually, that’s because the teacher isn’t making it interesting or clear enough, so the student loses focus. 

*

Now — imagine you’re reading a blog (actually, you are reading a blog…). 

The same thing that happened in class can happen when you’re reading a blog about how to do XYZ! 

You, the reader, can easily lose interest and lose track of the takeaways. Why? 

Because the writer wrote content longer than it needed to be (to get SEO brownie points, probably!). 

So, for this post, I will use “micro lessons” to focus on what you should remember and act on. In other words, no fluff!  

Micro Lesson 1: Remember Your Audience; Know Your Message

Before you worry about the writing, think about the audience and the message.

What is the goal of the thing you’re writing? What is its purpose? 

The way I know the purpose of things I write is because my clients often tell me. Maybe they want to rank well for a certain keyword or convey a piece of information to reel the reader into a funnel. 

Micro Lesson 2: Are You Writing Content or Copy?

Is it content? Or is it copy?

Content tells a reader something, and maybe they take some action after reading. Their action may or may not be related to the organization that published the content. 

Content must be objective, or at least appear to be. 

Copy persuades a reader to do something related to the company, such as buying a product. Copy doesn’t have to pretend to be objective. It is tooting its own horn, same as branding. 

Copy must be clear, compelling, and ideally backed up by research. Without research, it is only opinion. Avoid saying things that can’t be backed up, such as “everyone” or “most people,” etc. 

Micro Lesson 3: Writing is Only Half the Job

Writing is only half the job of writing; the rest is editing. 

But there are many types of editing, such as developmental editing, line editing, and proofreading! 

Editing is not entirely a separate process from writing, since we edit when we write in our heads. But we call it “editing” as a different process once we’ve written the words down, then go back to review them. 

Most of what we write in our heads is based on sentence structures we’ve memorized subconsciously. We try to write the way we think we’re supposed to sound. However, correct grammar and sentence structure do not alone make for good content. 

Content is only as good as the reader thinks it is. 

And the reader will only form a judgment if they actually finish reading! If they don’t finish, the content failed to do its job. 

Micro Lesson 4: Write Interesting Content and Copy

Use anecdotes, stories, trivia – these things keep readers hooked. Like a song that is catchy, you want your words to be catchy too. 

You’ve heard of a “page turner” novel? 

Well, content and copy aren’t books, but the idea of a page turner still applies. Keep the reader from skimming; keep them interested enough to read each line, one after another, then on to the next paragraph…

The reader should WANT to keep reading!

Chip away anything that is boring. 

As in sculpting, just remove anything that doesn’t look like what you want the final output to be. 

Replace the not-great parts with interesting word choices, phrases, expressions, and questions. Make your content and copy compelling by making the reader think and question. 

Be a bit controversial, use conflict, say something unexpected, and — 

Micro Lesson 5: Choose Your Words Carefully

Focus on creative word choices and find words that capture attention, like: 

  • Immediately
  • Surprising
  • Remarkable
  • Amazing
  • Astonishing
  • Startling
  • Unbelievable

Here are a few great words to use for marketing writing:

  • Obsession
  • Surging
  • Pioneering
  • Unsurpassed
  • Confidential
  • Bold
  • Tempting
  • Unconventional

Stay tuned for more content and copywriting micro lessons, coming soon!

Photo credit: “Typewriter (pre-email relict)” by mripp is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Published by Matt Cates

Retired USAF Veteran. Freelance writer. Author of 'Haveck: The First Transhuman.'

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