9 pieces of advice that will make you a better copywriter.
These quotes are taken straight from the most essential reads on writing, storytelling, and advertising.
Writing isn't easy, but it's not hard either.
These quotes from some of the world's best books on writing will get you over your fear of the blank page so you can get words on the page.
The blank page is terrifying
There has never been a time in my career when I have faced the empty page and not been scared. I was scared as a junior-coassistant-copy-cub-intern. And I’m scared today.
Luke Sullivan Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads
It’s terrifying for beginners and it’s terrifying for experts. Get over it.
Once the words start flowing, you’ll forget your fears and be on your way.
Don’t make people think
If I ask you to think about something, you can decide not to. But if I make you feel something? Now I have your attention.
Lisa Cron Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence
Get readers’ interest by tapping into their emotions first. Once you have their hearts, they’ll give you their minds.
Information is more powerful than advice
Your primary role should be to share what you know, not to tell people how things should be done.
Steve Krug Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
This is similar to a sentiment from master copywriter and adman, David Oglivy. Good information outsells directives every time.
People want to make decisions for themselves.
Happy little trees
When you are describing things and places the reader has seen, keep description short by reminding him of the pictures he has on file. When you are describing things and places the reader has not seen, keep description short by using pieces of the pictures he has on file to create new pictures.
Gary Provost Make Every Word Count: A Guide to Writing That Works—for Fiction and Nonfiction
The best words paint a picture in the reader's mind. But they do this with pictures that already know.
Common symbols and images work better than verbose descriptions.
Curiosity killed the cat (but sold the product)
Curiosity is a basic human drive. In evolutionaty terms it motivated us to explore our world, to discover new foodstuffs, technologies and people to mate with. When you pair curisoity in general with the desire to find out something that will direclty benefit us you have a very powerful cocktail indeed.
Andy Maslen Persuasive Copywriting: Using Psychology to Influence, Engage and Sell
A unique fact that could change the way a reader goes about things can pique interest for even the most boring products.
Find that fact, tell its story, and you've found a way to sell your product.
Share small universal truths
Write about small, self-contained incidents that are still vivid in your memory. If you remember them, it's because they contain a larger truth that your readers will recognize in their own lives.
William Zinsser On Writing Well
The smaller net you cast, the wider audience you'll reach. It's a paradox that's as true for writing as it is for marketing.
Show don't tell
I’d much rather watch people do what they do than talk to them across a desk.
John McPhee Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process
This is a fresh new take on an old piece of wisdom. When you're writing copy, tell readers what happens when a user picks up the product.
What the user does is much more interesting than what the product does.
Clarity over cleverness
Using a clever play on words, a pun or quick witticism is becoming less important than being able to craft a well-constructed, stimulating message.
Mark Shaw Copywriting: Successful Writing for Design, Advertising, and Marketing
If you can't come up with something creative, that's fine. Don't worry about it too much. Be clear in your writing instead.
Describe what you need to in as few words as possible. That's where good copywriting starts.
Just get started
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.
Anne Lamott Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Let's end where we began. It's better to get words on the page than to never start at all.
So go out there and get some words on the page.