You may have noticed the laser eyes on my Substack profile image.
You may think it’s random and strange.
The meaning behind laser eyes is focus.
Top Copywriters focus only on the small percentage of things that matter.
Below is a list of 12 things copywriters can avoid wasting energy and precious resources on.
Strategy can be defined as what you choose not to do.
And as a Pro Copywriter, you’re going to be constantly educating clients on what does and what doesn’t matter when it comes to writing high-converting copy.
Let’s dive in.
- Length or word count — your job is to make a clear sales argument and nothing more. It doesn’t matter if that takes 100k words or 3 words.
- “Make it so simple a first-grader could understand it” — this is the most idiotic writing platitude someone ever crapped out. If your audience consists of B2B cybersecurity executives, would you talk to them like they’re 5? No, you’d niche down for them and them only. If your audience consists of 25-year old guys into golf, niche down for them and them only. Ignore the writing platitudes and laser focus on your audience’s level of sophistication. Niche and precisely-specific copy is what sells. When a client says this, ignore and do what you were going to do anyway.
- Let finished marketing assets “sit” — in my experience, the most profitable approach is to ship assets quickly. It pains me when I turn in a wireframe for a client, only for it to be launched 3 months later. That means that asset isn’t working hard for them (the whole point). The longer the time gap between finished copy wireframe and live copy, the easier it is for the project to go stale. It’s best to build and launch while the iron's hot. I've had some clients take 5 months to design and deploy a wireframe I built for them. Others have taken 24 hours. Shipping fast = quicker market feedback in the form of sales & pipeline.
- Sweating criticism - people not liking your ideas and hating on them publicly is par for the course in this profession. This is always tough, but you learn how react to unfavorable feedback in healthy ways. It’s like a thickening agent for your skin. In any writing discipline, people are going to call you an idiot, an amateur, a knob and all sorts of creative names. And who knows, maybe sometimes they’re right? Point is, market feedback can be brutal, but it ultimately makes you so much better. So I wouldn’t sweat it too hard. What’s that saying? “A lion doesn’t lose sleep over the opinions of sheep".
- Adhering to rules and structures you were taught in school — Advanced Copywriters deeply understand how people consume information online (and no, I don’t mean “people skim!”). The vast majority of copy these days is read on the internet. For this reason, we ignore topic sentences and adopt The Battlefield Principle. Jump immediately into the action and work people through your web of ideas in an infotaining, fast-paced way.
- Pleasing Executives or Founders — this one’s always tough because you’re walking a fine line between nurturing their vision for their business and saying what needs to be said to make the sale. The incentives don’t always align, and I’ll be dead honest that’s one of the downfalls of client work. You don’t have full creative freedom in the same way you have full creative freedom when working on your own stuff. Bottom line, it’s your job to get the sale, not satisfy your client’s copy / marketing sensibilities.
- Internal company politics — this may be a little repetitive from #7, and it ties back in with aiming for the clients who understand marketing. But Pro Copywriters do their best to not get wrapped up in the politics of launching copy. The unfortunate truth is the reason we see so much bad content is because companies let internal politics get in the way. They prioritize keeping certain VPs happy over filling their funnel with copy that sells. And that’s out of the copywriter’s control, so best not worry about it too much.
- Forcing it — writing copy is a pull, not a push. Whenever you’re trying to force something, odds are you’re not at peak performance. Some days the ideas spill out of your brain like a chocolate fountain, and other days it’s like pulling teeth to get a damn sentence on paper. Through those difficult slog days, it takes a Pro to know when to sign off for the day and come back fresh-brained tomorrow. Copywriting (and pretty much all professional creative work) is not unlike that of being an athlete. The key is to show up every day and wring every last ounce of juice out of those days you’re at optimal performance.
- Allowing multiple rounds of edits — anything other than one round of edits by someone who’s written conversion copy before is most likely not necessary. Writers don’t tell software engineers how to write code. I don’t sit in on finance meetings. We don’t take fitness advice from obese people. It has to be by someone who’s written conversion copy or understands how to ship great marketing creative.
- Choking the process - there’s a certain level of “flow” needed for the conversion-copywriting process to work. I see this a lot with earlier-stage copywriters. They tend to overthink their own thinking. And while it’s indeed the job of the copywriter to think deeply and uncover new information, it’s in the interest of you and your client to not overthink to the point over under confidence. Opt for deep thinking, not overthinking. Give the process oxygen to work.
- Getting emotionally attached to the work — I’m guilty of this in a past life. But I learned over years out in the jungle that the highest-performing copywriters treat their writing work like a science experiment. Data and sales at the foundation, creativity and emotional appeals is the top layer. You can’t have Layer 2 without Layer 1 first. The market is the ultimate decision maker if your copy’s worth its salt.
- Education over sales - this one’s controversial and I may just get myself skewered for saying it. But copywriting is about sales (and educating where necessary to move the deal forward). We’re not going for education for education’s sake.