(This piece first appeared as a LinkedIn article)
If I only had the chance to dole out a single piece of advice about writing great copy, it would be this:
Do something else. Anything else. As much as possible.
Yeah, I know. We’re meant to write every day. Copy out great sales letters by hand. Read all the business books. Listen to all the podcasts. Find a mentor. Learn all the tips, tricks and headline hacks…
You should absolutely do those things… but at a ratio of something like 3:1. Or is it 1:3? I really dunno.
(And yeah, I made that up, but it feels about right.)
What I mean is, for every hour you spend studying copywriting, marketing or business, spend 3 more hours of your life living it. Don’t crouch in your copywriting cave until you know everything there is about how to say something… but don’t have much to say.
Listen to all kinds of music. Watch really great TV shows and films with subtitles. Make time for some terrible stuff, too. Read books about history, psychology and throw in the odd thing you pickup at the airport. Make TikTok videos.
Fall in love so hard it leaves a mark… and be sure to have your heart stomped on at least once. Try an improv class. Burn a souffle. Look for meaning at the bottom of a bowl (or 3) of frozen margherita. Learn to understand someone (or a group of someones) that you hate, until you can at least respect them.
Spend time out in the field, observing the stuff you read about ‘the humans’ in books. You should also lose yourself in the experience of being out there with them – make yourself available to be observed.
Why? You’ll hear every copy guru, mentor and coach worth their online course conversion funnel say that good copy needs specificity. Now, I may only manage to pronounce that word correctly 6 times outta 10, but this I know: to make your writing specific to your reader, to write something that resonates, you’re going to need references, examples and to be able to predict their ‘random’ thoughts.
You need to know how to be human.
If I’m a half-decent writer, it’s because I’m super interested in how other people live, think, feel, make decisions and rationalise things.
I learned that first by living a curious life…