Writing copy for marketing and sales purposes is an area that leaves many course creators scratching their heads. This is for a good reason, as writing may not feel like a “natural” talent for many of us. Combined with the fact that the most common writing experience people do have is usually academic, writing engaging copy can seem like a challenge.
Hiring a copywriter can be hugely beneficial to help with this. But the reality is that working with a professional, especially in the early stages of course creation, may not be financially accessible. And copy is so important, because if it’s boring, vague, it can be a make-or-break factor when it comes to a student enrolling in your course or not. Read on to find out how you can write copy that is engaging, supportive, and actually converts into sales.
Everything is copy
The first integral part of writing engaging copy is to stop telling yourself that you’re not a writer. If you can write, even if it’s mediocre, then you’re a writer. You can use a mantra like “I am a powerful writer,” or even just “I am a writer.” This mindset reframe can help right away to ease resistance by signaling to your subconscious brain that being a writer is a part of your identity. Own it. If it feels like too much of a stretch, you can also use a stepping stone mantra, such as “I am becoming a writer,” or “I am learning to be a powerful writer.”
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Find your voice and flow
Another vital factor as you begin is to find your voice. Frequently, copy doesn’t convert because it’s boring and dry. Ideally, your audience is able to feel your energy and really connect with you as they read.
First, identify who your target audience is. Then ask yourself how you’d talk casually with them in conversation. A good way to practice this is by recording yourself talking. You can do this when you’re having a conversation with an actual student or you can also pretend. Alternatively, ask a friend to help fill the role of the student. Listen back to it and notice descriptions and explanations that you use, as well as any shorthand or phrases that are unique to you and your content area. Use these when writing engaging copy.
Focus on feeling
When you don’t know what to say, take a pause of a few deep breaths and think about your ideal student. Oftentimes, your ideal student is feeling similar to how you did either before you started in your area of expertise, or just as you were getting started.
So for example, if you’ve created a course around making pottery, then perhaps you remember that initial desire for a new creative outlet. You recall the pull you felt to work with your hands and how lit up you were when you first sat down to throw clay. Tap into that feeling and speak to that version of yourself.
How did you feel when you first started with pottery? Think about the feeling you experience when you’ve finished a piece. Then reflect on “pain points” aka areas that you got tripped up in during the process. Speak to these, because it’s likely your students have experienced them too. It can be very supportive and validating to know that they’re not alone in that.
You can describe and use these myriad of feelings as a reference point to encourage students and draw new ones in. Remember to have emphasis on the end result or transformation of what they can experience. People care about the end result more than the process it takes to get them there. This is about connecting, so you really want to focus on emotions and how your students will feel after they’ve completed the course. (For example, creatively inspired, excited, empowered, etc.) This is a great reference point before diving into the free write.
Exercise: free write
Staring at a blank screen or paper can be extremely intimidating. Besides feeling a lot of pressure, it can be easy to immediately start judging what you’re writing as “not good.” Instead of this high-stakes way of writing, get some pen and paper and set a timer for 10 minutes and do not stop writing the entire time.
It’s recommended to write this instead of typing as it activates more creative sections of the brain to physically write compared to looking at a screen. Even if it means at one point you’re literally writing, “I don’t know what to write,” just keep the pen moving. When you get in the flow of writing, there’s going to be some awesome content that comes out, even if it’s sandwiched in between nonsense. Plus, this gives you a lot to work with for the next tips!
Once you have this first draft to work with, you can start to go through to refine what you’ve written. Using different colored highlighters can be beneficial here, especially if you’re a visual person. If you don’t have them, you can still complete this step. Read through what you’ve written and look for the gems—anything that is emotions or feelings based, encouraging, or spots where you really notice your voice coming through. Remember, these don’t need to be perfect at this point (or ever.) You’re just clearing out the gibberish here.
Refine—and refine again
The next draft will focus on refining sentences and word choice. Using a different color highlighter, mark any words that you notice repeat frequently, or sound a bit dull or dry. Keep an eye out for adjectives (descriptive words) and where they could be spiced up. You can replace dull adjectives such as “good” with more exciting words, like “spectacular” or “high quality.” The thesaurus can be your best friend here.
Embrace the quirk
If you’re feeling bold, it’s also a fun practice to replace dull adjectives with a simile—basically comparing two things with the words “like” or “as.” For example, “This course will make you feel creatively free” could be revised to say: “This course will make you feel as creative and liberated as a fat turkey freely roaming the woods on Black Friday.”
Remember to write as if you’re casually chatting. This is to connect, not to set up a business meeting. Pay extra attention to the first sentence of your copy, as this is the hook that can draw readers in to keep them reading instead of clicking away.
Continue the refinement process until you have copy that is specific, feelings-focused, and engaging. It’s likely it will never be completely perfect, so embrace that. The reality is that most people who read it aren’t going to remember what you said verbatim anyway, so let that take some of the pressure off. It’s very helpful to read it out loud, either to yourself or a friend, to make sure the tone is casual and that your voice shines through.
Work out the kinks
Lastly, keep in mind that writing is a muscle—you will get better (and faster) the more you do it! Certain tools like Grammarly can be helpful if you’re unsure of some of the technical aspects of writing engaging copy. But don’t get too hung up on these. If someone decides not to enroll in your course because you have a dangling modifier in your copy, then they’re likely not an ideal student anyway.
Reading is also a powerful way to up your writing game, because by doing this you can learn new vocabulary, sentence structure, and techniques without even realizing you’re taking it in. Whatever you do, keep practicing. You’ll find over time what works for you and what could be tweaked.