Copywriting Exercises to Improve Your Writing Skills
With the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, the internet has seen a surge of activity unlike any before; not to mention the change in how we use the internet. From time spent online to the content consumed, everything has witnessed a shift.
As people are subjected to more content over the internet, users are also becoming pickier in terms of the content they consume. Even content written like a pro is disregarded if it lacks good flow and the ability to grasp readers’ attention. And how can you incorporate that into your content?
Via regular copywriting exercises and keeping a close eye on the essentials of copywriting. At the end of the day, it all comes down to following the basics.
Here, we will discuss 4 exercises that can set you on your path to becoming a better copywriter and writing content that not only engages, but also converts. So, let’s dive in!
4 Copywriting Exercises to Help Write Content Like a Pro
There are a large number of exercises you can do as a copywriter to improve your writing skills and fine-tune them towards 2020’s audience. Remember, every writer’s style and ideas are different, so remember to keep those intact when practicing. Keep your tone intact; just improve upon it.
This is where you let your mind roam free with no limitations. Some argue that this isn’t as much of a copywriter’s job as it is a fiction novelist’s, but it is important to remember here that the main idea behind this exercise is to unlock your creative side.
When you’re freewriting, you can follow your impulses to wherever it leads, all while making sure all the copywriting guidelines are followed. At first, you’ll have to think a bit as you try to make sure you keep the sentences short, ensure readability and impeccable flow.
But as you continue freewriting, you will no longer have to consciously follow these guidelines. Instead, it will come as naturally to you as thinking. Then, as you allow your thoughts and inspiration to come to paper (MS Word) without premeditation, you’ll see a marked difference in how appealing it is.
After you’ve jotted everything down, you’ll only have to give it one more pass to polish it. This will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.
Start by setting a timer and a number of words you’re comfortable with. Since you’re writing off the top of your head, you might not need as much time to write, say, 500 words, as you would normally.
While no one but you will read it, you should try and keep it as legible and well-written as possible.
The more you exercise, the more creative you’ll get. Like a movie? Don’t hesitate to reference it. Like to play chess? Again, insert a reference. Just make sure it’s a well-placed reference. You’ll start finding your way around words better.
Apart from creativity, freewriting also helps you train yourself for one of the most prevalent problems writers face; writer’s block.
How It Works
30 minutes a day is all it takes – just make sure you aren’t interrupted when you’re writing. Try writing on the same topic every two days to get a better idea of how you’re making progress. Time your writing and try not to go above a certain word limit.
For example, if you’re targeting 1000 words, don’t go beyond that word limit even if you’ve finished early. Instead, try to wrap up your idea within those 1,000 words. This will help you get a better grip on ensuring that you stick to a word limit and the timeline you have set for yourself.
Why It Works
When you’re writing, you’re working not only your finger muscles but your mind’s as well. And much like any other muscle, the more you exercise, the stronger your mind becomes. You can train your mind not only to work longer and harder, but also how to work.
Your main goal with freewriting should be to increase your speed and get your mind to start following copywriting tips subconsciously.
2. A Picture Can Tell a Thousand Words
One of the most important skills necessary for anyone looking for how to become a better copywriter is to work on your comprehension skills.
Pick a random image from Google or a book you haven’t read and start describing it. Try to make a short story out of it. Take whatever direction you’re more inclined towards in the beginning to set the pace, and start changing the direction of the pictures you choose or the stories you write.
Try to make your stories as diverse as possible. Because any copywriter worth their salt can tell you that although it is good to have a niche, you should be able to work on a wide range of topics nonetheless.
As you improvise, you’ll find that your mind will open up further; even more than as with freewriting. We’re not saying this is more useful than freewriting; each exercise has its own place. Just that this is a different tier of exercise.
With this exercise, you’ll learn more about when to extend upon an idea, how much to extend and when to stop. Again, give yourself a time and wordcount limit before starting and then jump into it.
Advance the story, but don’t forget about the details. This principle applies to copywriting just as well, as you need to know when you’re dragging a point on, and when your audiences might not be interested anymore.
Once you have a good grip over writing stories out of pictures or words, it’s time to move on to how-to’s and guides. While the stories were written mostly off the top of your head, you’re going to have to research more when writing these guides.
A good idea is to start with subjects you are well-versed in. For example, if you’re an RC plan hobbyist, try writing a guide on how to repair your RC plane.
3. Read, Read, Read
Whether it’s JK Rowling, Stephen King, J R.R. Tolkien or any other great authors that you take inspiration from, read their writings and take notes. While these legends will help you get good notes on writing your novel, what about copywriting?
Well, to write content like a pro, you need to learn from a pro – just like what you’re doing here. The more you read, the more you learn about what you can and can’t do. You’ll see experts take liberties and get away with them, try out new tactics to write better content and more, all while following SEO guidelines.
If you delve into the details and observe the nitty-gritties, you will get a clearer picture of how they’re playing with words. For example, when copywriting, it is usually advised not to be too negative with any idea. That’s a news reporter’s job. However, some articles require you to be negative, because what you’re writing about may be a rather negative subject.
What do you do in that case?
There are ways to be negative while adopting a diplomatic approach too. Express opinions.
This is part of what you learn as you read other people’s content. Just remember, as you delve deeper into any profession, you start taking liberties. By reading more and more, you learn how and when you can afford stepping out of the boundaries set forth by copywriting guidelines, while not going too far.
Take note of things like:
- What is their general tone?
- Are they using longer or shorter sentences?
- What’s a typical paragraph length? Are they writing one sentence per paragraph or one idea?
- Are they evoking emotions?
- Is the information being presented in a humorous manner or serious? When is humor appropriate?
- Are they referencing Lord of the Rings time to time to give it a more ‘pop’ feel or are they just expressing their idea without any references?
- What’s their pacing? Are they dragging the same point for too long without adding value or is their pace just right or all-out wrong?
- How is their phrasing and pacing adding to the article? Remember, even long sentences can work impeccably if used the right way.
When going through articles, note down effective techniques and find ways to incorporate them into your own writing. In fact, if they’ve used a reference that you think you can improve upon or make good use of in your own article, don’t hesitate to note that down either!
Read other’s work regularly, and try to stick to specific writers. There are a lot of websites and blogs out there, each with their own style of writing and presenting information. Reading content from different writers will do nothing but confuse you on your road to becoming a better copywriter.
Stick to a few writers and read their content religiously – not just for what they have to say but also for their writing style. You don’t have to replicate it; just incorporate it into your style.
What You Need to Do
As a copywriter, one core concept you need to grasp is rewriting. No matter how many times you write and rewrite a sentence, if the final result is an engaging, converting sentence, the effort is well worth it.
Start by rewording this article, or perhaps just this section. Write it in your own words and let us know you faired. Paste it in the comments section below and we’ll try to help you out; point out mistakes, if any.
When starting out, don’t worry about how many attempts it takes, just make it something that you yourself would like to read. As you continue with this copywriting exercise, you’ll start to pick up the pace. And before you know it, you’ll be rewriting exceptional pieces in no time!
4. Edit Friends’ Work
After you’re mastered writing, you get to edit other people’s work. However, what if you start out writing by also getting to edit work? It’s like sitting behind the steering of a car before knowing how to drive properly. You’re sure to make mistakes, but you’ll get to identify your mistakes better that way.
In this copywriting exercise, you’re going to need a writer friend or a group of writers who are willing to let you have a go at it. There are several communities out there that do just that, such as Paper Writers.
Although targeted more towards academic writing, if you look hard enough you can find some copywriters as well looking to get their work edited. Tell them that you’re just starting out and just looking at how to be a better copywriter so that they can manage their expectations.
Or you could also choose to make edits to this article, but you aren’t going to find much here, considering this piece is going to go through two different editors before publishing. So it won’t be much use. You need raw articles to edit.
Start by scrolling through the content and getting an overview of the structure. Check paragraphs, headings, introductions and more. Don’t change the overall idea of the article, or try to make too many edits. Make sure you don’t start incorporating your own voice into the article instead of the writer’s.
Don’t edit your own work, as that is a recipe for disaster. Read through someone’s piece without making any edits. Just look at the structure. Next, go back and start again, this time making any improvements you can. These may include, but aren’t limited to:
- Spelling/grammatical/spacing issues
- Sentences that can shortened or split
Remember, your main goal with this copywriting exercise isn’t to become an editor but to take note of the common mistakes writers make. Furthermore, you get to experience other writing styles in much more detail as compared to simply reading, so you take in more this way.
Writing content like a professional takes a little bit of grit, and a lot of dedication towards copywriting exercise. There is no one-day course to becoming a great copywriter, nor are there any shortcuts or cookie-cutter policies. Every writer is different, and so is their writing and learning process.
However, the path towards a successful career is nothing short of rewarding, whether it’s for your own website or as a freelancer. We hope our list of copywriting exercises to improve your skills comes in handy for you. We’ll be looking forward to your comments down below and helping you on your journey towards becoming a better copywriter!