Here’s something no one tells you about building your own business:
There’s a TON of writing involved.
The writing never, ever ends.
When you daydream about going out on your own, you always picture the glamorous parts: The flexibility of being your own boss, the impact you’ll make on people’s lives, the podcasts you’ll be asked to appear on. (You know, to share your million-dollar secret.)
You DON’T think about hours spent sitting in front of a blank screen, trying to come up with copy for your website. Or ads to run on Facebook. Or subject lines for emails. Or….
All that writing can be daunting, and there’s really no way around it; after all, words are the building blocks for just about everything you want to do.
But here’s the good news: You don’t need to be Don Draper to come up with effective copy.
5 Copywriting Tips for Entrepreneurs
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be cranking out great work in no time:
1) Write down your goal before you write another word.
Copywriting is all about getting people to take action. So to keep yourself on track, make sure you’re completely clear on what that action is for every project you work on.
As soon as you open your working doc, write the word “goal” on top of the page, preferably in bold. Then, write a short, simple statement, starting with the word “to,” of exactly what you want to accomplish with this piece of writing — the specific, tangible outcome you’re going for.
For example, let’s say you’re starting an interior design business, and you need to write copy for the homepage of your website. Your goal might be this:
To get people to sign up for a free consultation.
Or maybe you’re a fitness coach who’s found that people are often late for outdoor classes because they can’t find the meeting spot in the park, so you’re creating an automated same-day email with directions. Your goal might be this:
To make sure people can find the class.
This goal statement is your North Star, the guidepost you’ll keep coming back to as you dive into the actual writing. After you’ve been working for a while, stop and read your goal, then ask yourself: Will what I’ve written so far actually help to accomplish my goal? Is the homepage copy enticing enough? Are the directions so clear and specific that anyone could follow them?
Before you ask: Yes, of course you can have multiple goals in mind. Take that interior-design homepage, for example. You might want to signal your good taste, make people feel like you’re fun and relatable, and get them to sign up for the free consultation. All important!
But how do you actually acquire customers? Through the free consultation. Everything else is in service to that outcome — so that’s the goal you should use to anchor you. Every single word you write should be in service of that goal.
2) Eliminate the word “we” from your vocabulary.
One of the most common mistakes you’ll see in copywriting is a focus on the writer instead of the reader. For example, you see lines like these in ads or on websites all the time:
We make it simple to live in the beautifully decorated space of your dreams.
We’re here to help you get in shape in just 30 minutes a day, from the comfort of home.
We believe that everyone deserves to start their day with fresh smoothies, but without all the work.
But here’s the thing: Potential customers don’t care about you, they care about themselves. Their lives. Their problems. Their aspirations. And by using the word “we,” you’re putting the focus in exactly the wrong place: On you.
Listen to how those lines sound if you cut the “we”:
Live in the beautifully decorated space of your dreams.
Get in shape in just 30 minutes a day — all from the comfort of home.
Fresh smoothies every morning, now without the work.
Completely different, right? Now your reader is picturing the benefits your product or service offers, the problems you can solve. Maybe they’re even typing in their email address…or their credit card number. (Way to go!)
As a small business owner writing your own copy, keep the focus on your prospective customer, not on yourself. Read your work over and make sure you’re directly addressing your audience, and using the words “you” and “your” a lot. It’s simple to do — but completely essential if you want people to listen to what you have to say.
3) Use Copy.ai to help you brainstorm ways to hook people.
Speaking of problems and solutions: If you’re looking for help coming up with copy to draw your audience in, try Copy.ai. (We recommend the “Pain-Agitate-Solution” feature specifically for this — more on that in a minute.)
Copy.ai is an AI-powered copywriting tool that generates ideas and inspiration at the click of a button. All you need to get started is a sense of who your service is for, what you offer, and how it benefits people (which is an essential part of branding your business anyway).
Here’s how it works:
- Choose the type of copy you’d like to create (e.g. subject lines, Facebook ads, taglines).
- Enter the name of your business and a short description of what you do.
- Hit the “Make Copy” button and get 10 suggestions at a time.
What does Copy.ai look like in action?
Let’s say you’re a personal trainer starting a fitness program for new dads, and you’re trying to figure out how to get potential customers interested. You go to Copy.ai, select the Pain-Agitate-Solution tool, and enter the required info.
The results you get give you creative ways to evoke the need (pain), really drive the point home (agitate), and then position your service as the solution. For example, here’s just one result:
Pain: Your free time is precious – and with a new baby taking over, time in the gym is getting even harder to find.
Agitate: Finding somewhere that offers a reasonable timetable; making time for exercise; and avoiding awkward conversations at the gym – it can all be pretty hard.
Solution: DadFit brings everything to you in one convenient package. You can keep up your workouts from the comfort of home, schedule regular check-ins so you don’t lose motivation, and make time for yourself.
The copy you get typically won’t be 100% ready to go as is, but you can run the tool as many times as you like, edit the results, and mix-and-match to your heart’s content.
Our advice: Think of Copy.ai as a starting point generator. There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page, but now you don’t have to.
4) Make your copy as clear as humanly possible.
This one is pretty simple: If people don’t understand what you’re saying right away, if they have to stop and think to figure out what your copy actually means, you lose. Because in a world of a million distractions, you only get one chance to hold someone’s attention — so you better not blow it with vague, murky prose.
But here’s the good news: There’s a simple way to make sure your copy is clear.
Ready? Here it is:
Ask yourself how you’d say it to a friend, then write that down. Don’t even think. Just do it.
This technique will give you just about the clearest copy you can write. Not sure how you’d put it? No problem. Record yourself talking to friends or family about your business, then transcribe the exchange later on.
The analogies you use, the way you frame your big idea…it will all make perfect sense. Sure, you might want to massage things a bit for whatever use case it is, but you’ll have the kernel of great copy.
People get nervous when they write for business. Their language gets stiff and formal; they use jargon they’d never, ever use in conversation; they feel compelled to make things sound “fancy.” As a result, the simple meaning of what they’re trying to communicate gets lost.
But if you just come right out and say what you mean, you’re golden. Authenticity is a marketing buzzword for a reason — because it works.
Bonus tip: To make sure what you’ve written is clear, ask someone to read it over for you, either in person or over FaceTime or Zoom. Listen closely and watch their face carefully. If they stumble over anything, or make a face that shows even the slightest bit of confusion, you know what you need to edit.
5) Remember that you’re already an accomplished writer.
How much writing have you already done today? Let’s see.
Those emails with potential investors. The texts to your friends. The WhatApp with your cousins, that Facebook comment thread that’s been going strong for two straight weeks now and shows no sign whatsoever of slowing down….
The fact is, whether you realize it or not, you write a lot. And yes, the writing you do when you’re not even paying attention is extremely relevant to copywriting.
Think about it. Good copy connects with its audience. It’s authentic. It’s relatable. It makes its meaning understood.
Just like…you know…that last Facebook comment. And everything else you write a million times a day.
So don’t be intimidated by copywriting, because honestly — you’re already doing it.
Paul is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for technology. He’s a Co-Founder of CopyAI, an AI-powered copywriter for entrepreneurs and small businesses. CopyAI is focused on democratizing access to the latest AI technology. Paul is also an angel investor and advisor to several startups.