Want to sell your writing?
Today, it’s essential that you put a little effort into promoting your writing, even if you hate self-promotion. (More on that in a moment.)
As a freelance writer, you’re competing with writers from all over the world. If you’re a self-publishing author, millions of books compete for attention on Amazon and elsewhere.
Copywriting (promotional writing) is a lot of fun. It’s always been fun for me; I love copywriting with a passion… But for years I found promoting my own writing services and products challenging, to say the least.
I hated it; I’ve no idea why.
How to sell your writing if you hate it: fake it until it’s fun for you
Here’s what helped me. I pretended that I loved writing copy for my own material.
In short, I faked it. Then finally, I began to enjoy it.
Let’s look at some tips to help you to sell your writing.
1. Get attention, without clickbait: give people a reason to read your ad
Have you heard of AIDA, the copywriter’s favorite acronym? It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.
If you’re writing online, whether you’re writing ads or not, you need to win attention.
If you’re blogging, try to avoid headlines such as: “Jane Smith’s new book is amazing” or “Book recommendation (name of book)”. Neither headline is inspiring.
Unless you have a huge readership, your blog gets its readers via feeds: aggregators. Prospective readers will see your headline and maybe a sentence or two. Make the headline reader-worthy in some way.
Perhaps your headlines are confusing: “Hey (something or other)” for example. If your headline isn’t clear, readers won’t read.
Try this. There are endless headline formulas. Use them if you like. Or use this simple formula online: Keyword + Benefit. (The keyword helps with SEO.)
Headlines matter. That said, they’re not all that matters. Once you have someone’s attention, you need copy that’s clear and presents an offer that’s too good to refuse.
2. Try this simple formula for persuasion: “but you are free”
The formula: “but you are free.”
Example: “check out our widgets today, but you are free to check out our competitors too.”
“But you are free” is a well-known phase to win compliance. It sounds simple, and it is, but it works.
3. End procrastination: write, and fix it later
When you want to sell your writing, you can over-think it.
End procrastination. Write your copy. Get feedback. How many sales? Tinker with your copy. You can and will improve your copy after you’ve written it—but you need to write something first.
4. Love what you’re selling (seriously)
Fall in love with any product or service you want to sell. There’s no other way. Your emotions come through in your words. If you hate what you’re selling, that shows…
Become enthusiastic by learning more about the product you’re promoting, by trying out the product, and by talking to others.
5. Create your own swipe file: why does an ad work?
Many copywriters keep a “swipe” file; a collection of inspiring copy which sells.
I adore vintage ads. I love thinking about the era in which an ad was created, the emotions the ad is targeting, and why the ad was successful.
A vintage ad for Palmolive from the Vintage Ad Browser
Learn to love advertising. Read junk mail. Read ads, wherever you come across them. Read labels. Ask yourself why an ad works. (Or doesn’t.)
6. Can’t get started writing? Write your own brief
When you write for someone else, you receive a brief—a project description. Write your own brief. Describe the project. Write yourself an email message describing it.
When you describe what you’re trying to do clearly, in your own words, you’ll become inspired. (This works, try it.)
7. No need to be “creative”: your goal is to sell your writing
Advertising genius David Ogilvy pointed out:
“If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.”
Attention needs to be on the product. Ideally, your writing is as transparent as a pane of glass. If the focus is on the ad, rather than on the product, the ad is a dud. (Unless it sells. Who knows? It just might. :-))
8. Make the offer strong; then stronger, if you can
An attention-getting headline is important.
Your offer is even more important.
Brainstorm ways you can make your offer stronger.
For example, let’s say you’re writing an ad to promote your blogging services. How could you make your offer stronger? You may be tempted to lower your fee; don’t do that.
A tip: avoid competing on price, always.
If a prospective client tells you he can get your service cheaper, smile. Maintain your price. You can sweeten the deal if you wish, but don’t drop your fees, because it’s an excellent way to go out of business.
Ready to sell your writing? You can do it
Start today. If you hate it, remember: pretend until it’s reality.
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.