“I’m a content writer at the moment. What steps do I take to to transition to copywriting?”

This was an email I got recently from a Cafe Member.

Simple answer:

1. Write lots of good copy! (Practice)

Start writing copy before you even have clients to practice on. Rewrite promotions you see and make them better. Write a sales letter for your own services once you figure out what those are.

2. Read some good books about copywriting, but don't go overboard.

Some copywriters think you have to read all the classics, and all the modern classics. Pick 3 good books on copywriting and immerse yourself in those.

My suggestions: for an old standard that never gets old, read Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy.

One of my favorites: Hey Whipple, Squeeze This! The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads by Luke Sullivan. And Dan Kennedy’s The Ultimate Sales Letter should be required reading for anyone in business.

Start with those. Then get started writing copy! For clients! For money! If you wait until you’ve read and understood Gene Schwartz’s Breakthrough Advertising, you might never get going. (By the way, I’m one of the few copywriters who does NOT recommend that book.)

3. Likewise, read some good books about selling.

You have to understand selling to become a really good copywriter. Surprisingly, a lot of copywriters don’t enjoy selling, don’t understand it fully, and aren’t very good at it. I know, hard to believe, right?

Read The Secret to Selling Anything by Harry Browne, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer, How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger, and Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff (a modern classic, that last one).

Beyond reading about selling, observe it in action. One complaint I often hear from copywriters:

“I never get to see selling in action. I would love to hear a real-live client conversation with a copywriter who does it well.”

Now you can – on my Cafe Confidential calls. We do regular client-copywriter role playing to show you how it’s done (another perk of Cafe Writer membership – see next point).

4. Get good, professional feedback.

The best way is to get mentored by an A-level copywriter for free. Maybe in exchange for doing work for them.

Next best if you can afford it is paid coaching by an A-level copywriter.

At the very least, get ongoing copy critiques from professionals who may not be top 1%, A-level copywriters, but can give you good feedback.

Lots of places you can do that, including my Cafe Writer membership site (for a fraction of what you’d expect to pay).

5. Critique others' copy.

This is something I don’t hear mentioned very often, but I think it can really shorten your learning curve and accelerate your growth.

Get good at the art of giving professional feedback yourself. As you start to dissect and analyze others’ copywriting, and give constructive feedback and ways to improve, you’ll get better yourself.

Again, this is something my Premier Members benefit from – not just getting feedback, but also giving feedback.

We have a lively, Private Discussion Board that’s more detailed and higher-level, in general, than the typical Facebook group discussions.

To Summarize:

Practice a lot, read a little, get feedback at every step. Get good at copywriting and learn how to sell. Become a Cafe Writer.

Last piece of advice: Think of yourself as more than a copywriter. Be an Idea Generator and a Problem Solver. Get good at those things, too, and the world is at your command.

Tell me. Are you a content writer or a copywriter?

Steve Roller

Author Steve Roller

I'm a business coach, author, copywriter, world traveler (33 countries on five continents so far), and professional speaker. In addition to helping companies get more customers and make more money, I help other writers create profitable businesses. I offer one-on-one coaching, professional copy critiques, and live, in-person business-building workshops. When I'm not writing, coaching, or speaking, I enjoy nothing more than hanging out with my wife and four kids and planning my next adventure.

More posts by Steve Roller

Leave a Reply