5 Tips For Aspiring Digital Copywriters From A Marketing Practitioner

I’ve already said how I feel about Mashable.  Their CEO Pete Cashmore did follow up and give his perspective which was cool – Pete is smart and following an obviously working path even if I don’t find much value in what they do.  I get it, their approach to web content is “more posts is better.”  They’re killing it so they shouldn’t listen to me anyway.

That said, one of their recent posts ended up in my stream I clicked, read through and was let down – I just felt it was altogether generic advice.  The type of advice that every copywriter already knows.  But Mashable, as they are the Demand Media of social news (their content is fast, cheap and profitable) would allow that type of content through their filter.

I’ll save you the trouble of reading their post and sum up all 5 tips in a quick list:

1.  Write frequently and put various types of your writing on display for the world to see

This first piece of advice is good, but I think most aspiring digital copywriters have caught on to this by now.

2.  Understand your audience (and study them).

They write this one as “get knowledge” but this label is more descriptive and actually sums up everything they wrote below the heading.

3.  Deal with rejection

How, exactly, is this specific advice to help aspiring digital copywriters?  This is generic advice which applies to all types of freelancers.

4.  Less is more

This advice is just plain wrong.  Many of the most successful sites actually create longer-form content (just look at the length of articles on sites like Slate and Smashing Magazine).  The truth is this is a specific piece of advice thrown in with more generic tips that doesn’t work because it’s not always true.

5.  Write well

Thanks, that was super helpful.

So, you’re an aspiring digital copywriter?  All of the above is OK if you’re not already doing that.  But as someone who deals with many aspiring copywriters, I feel like the above is largely understood.  So from the perspective of a marketing practitioner and what I really want to see – here are 5 tips I’ll offer that would benefit someone looking to be a modern, in-demand copywriter.

1.  Study analytics, become a data-driven copywriter

I do like that the author encouraged aspiring copywriters to, well, write.  That’s great, but by itself is actually not enough.  If you’re simply writing but not studying both web analytics and social metrics behind content, you’re not properly closing the feedback loop.  Without this, you can’t truly get iterative in your writing and learn what resonates, where it resonated and why.  Bonus points:  selling yourself, show case studies and success metrics behind your most popular content.  If you can’t do this, how do you expect to compete with those who can prove themselves with data?

2.  Build your own community

Truly adept copywriters don’t just write for clients or create content in a vacuum.  They are nurturing their own community and following behind their content, as they understand the importance of growing a network to use as social proofing to get more business.  Plus, the learning afforded by nurturing your own community is invaluable experience in a world where most copywriters lack this skill set.

3.  Learn how to promote content

Writing by itself is only half the picture.  Some entrepreneurial writers have made themselves unique, in that not only will they write content for businesses or web publications – they’ll take it a step further and promote that content, helping it go hot on the social web and acquire organic backlinks.  If you’re serious about becoming an indispensable copywriter, learn content promotion in addition to creation and build up networks ready and waiting to share your content in targeted verticals.

4.  Comprehend how to create search-friendly content

This one should also be filed under the tips listed in the Mashable piece because it’s so basic – but from experience most copywriters lack even basic SEO skills such as how to conduct keyword research or being cognizant of including anchor text links within content.  Aspiring copywriters should learn SEO and learn it well.  Showing a true fluency in search makes your writing that much more valuable.

5.  Understand how to create effect content across digital specializations

Learn how to create email marketing campaigns and landing pages that convert like crazy.  Understand how to create blog posts which net 1,000’s of Tweets.  Comprehend the archetypes of successful Digg, Reddit and Stumble content.  If you really want to be an in-demand digital copywriter, you should be able to do all of this and more.

What other tips would you offer for aspiring digital copywriters?

Oh, and if you want good digital copywriting tips, read Copyblogger.