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last updated:
August 26, 2022


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Hey! Ashlyn here, OG copywriter for creatives—reporting for duty. 

Let's get you a message so tight you can bounce a quarter off of it. Around here, we serve up science-based storytelling strategies the creative set.  Even while raking in more than 1.26M in agency work since I've been at it, I firmly believe working from a place of rest (not hustle) IS possible—and I want the same for you. Words matter. Best be sure they work (and oui, with math) ... and know how to party while they're at it. 

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Reading time: 6 min.

Want to know my hot take?

Many online “best practices” are usually pooled ignorance. Not always, but many, many, times, just like the game of telephone. 

You hear, “Long copy doesn’t convert,” but what they forgot to tell you was, “Long copy that’s boring doesn’t convert.”

Or that, “You need to have a catchy headline to make a sale,” and what they unknowingly left out was, “You need to have a catchy headline that makes sense to your audience to make a sale.”

These pieces of digital advice get spliced and chopped somewhere along the way of getting delivered to you on the world wide web. It’s true — you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. 

A few weeks ago, I asked for some of the worst copywriting “advice” over on Instagram — and hoo boy did you deliver! 

I got tons of juicy responses, but here are the nine best (or should I say worst?) ones I heard — and the advice I think they probably stemmed from.

#9: Don’t use “to be” verbs

I’ve heard this one a lot, and I honestly have mixed feelings about it. It’s decent advice disguised as bad advice. True, you need more persuasive and decisive verbs when writing sales copy, but using these verbs isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

They get the idea across and can even be helpful when describing something. But the key is to supplement it with those action verbs — ya know, the ones that give your writing muscle tone? That pack a bigger punch?

Here’s an example…

To be verbiage: The candle is burning. 

Action verbiage: The candle burns.

When you put this together in sales copy, it’s far more impactful and has a better chance of persuading the reader to get them to take whatever action you’re directing them to. We can’t get away from “to be” verbs, but remember to stay tight on that voice and make it actionable.

#8: Start with the headline

Yeah, I’m going to have to say nope on this one. I’m getting the ick just writing it! Why do I dislike this particular piece of advice so much?

Starting with your headline, or with the top of the copy, leads to blinking cursor paralysis. 

In other words, it gives you a nasty case of writer’s block. How can you write attention-grabbing pieces of copy if you don’t have the context to back it up first?

The headline is the pivot point where people either feel welcomed or awkward and out of place. Writing a good headline requires you to write the meat and potatoes first.

Don’t get too ahead of yourself. Write about the actual offer, the specs, the main point, etc., before you ever write a single word of your headline. 

#7: Your copy needs to sound like you

This one is a half-truth, because, yes, your copy needs to fit your brand voice. If the home page copy is super formal, but you hop on IG live and talk pretty casually, there’s going to be some disconnect and people may start wondering “Who is this??”

Brand voice is only half of the equation. The other half? Making sure your audience can understand what you’re talking about. Copy is meant to communicate above all else!

#6: No one reads emails 

58% of people open their emails first thing in the morning — and that’s not limited to one generation over another. In fact, 85% of Gen Zers, youngins that they are, are checking their emails daily! 

What this means for you is that email marketing is still going strong — and even if you’ve ghosted your list, there’s still an opportunity to build connections in a way that no other mode of communication can. 

And as for the rest of my argument here? Well, I’ll just let those numbers do the talking. 😉

#5: If you’re a service provider, you don’t need a guarantee 

A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that if you offer a service, you don’t need a guarantee because there’s nothing to “return.” But your guarantee doesn’t have to be money back.

You still need a brand promise on your work with me page — one that lets your audience know that you’ve got their back and you’re going to do your absolute best to make them happy!

This can mean the difference between someone saying yes to working with you or saying “Ehh, maybe later.”

#4: Outsourcing will fix all of your problems

In the 6+ years I’ve been running my own copywriting business, I’ve had to fix a lot of copy that people got from outsourcing. The thing is, even the best copywriting can’t sell a bad idea. 

If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank, then you know how every entrepreneur has to go in with 2 things in their back pocket, because the Sharks always ask about ’em — their value prop pitch and their numbers. If they can’t clearly lay out what makes them different, then they aren’t getting an investment. 

It’s the same thing with your copy. If you can’t be clear on why someone should buy from you, then a $75 per hour copywriter won’t be able to fix all of your problems. 

#3: Your about page isn’t about you

This one is all kinds of cattywampus because it’s a half-truth at best (much like everything else on this list). Yes, people want to know what’s in it for them. They’re shopping with a me-first lens (like we all do). But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to know more about you. 

You have to create an about page that sells to your audience while telling them about the brains behind the operations. And to do that, you’ve got to hook them in at the top of the page and earn the opportunity to tell them more about yourself. 

#2: Copywriting and content writing are the same

Copywriting and content writing are cousins, not sisters. They’re similar in a lot of ways but serve different purposes in the sales funnel. Copywriting is much closer to the actual point of sale than content writing.

Copywriting gives readers that little nudge forward to buy from you, but content writing welcomes them in the door for the first or second time. 

Copywriting includes:

  • Sales emails
  • Sales pages
  • Brochures
  • Taglines
  • Facebook and Instagram ads

Content writing includes:

  • Blogs
  • Social media posts
  • Newsletters

Copywriting wants to make a sale. Content writing wants to get your attention and earn your interest. 

#1: Copy can’t be long 

If I had a quarter for every time I heard that one, I’d be off visiting castles in Europe instead of working at my desk five days a week. 

I think this myth is heavily circulated because we have so much information to process in 2022. Attention spans are short, and so we think that people will just scroll on by if they see anything longer than a few sentences. 

But long copy still sells — boring copy doesn’t!

It’s also because we like to write like how we like being sold to. If you’re concise and to the point, that’s how you’ll initially write your sales pages. If you’re a sucker for storytelling, you’ll most likely sprinkle a few anecdotes along the way. 

The problem is, you have to consider your customers in your copy. Know that not everyone in your audience, even if they are your ideal customers, wants to be sold to in the same way.

Your audience, though they have common goals, is made up of multiple people. And long copy gives you a better chance of appealing to as many of them as possible.

How to know if copywriting advice is bad advice

So now that we’ve broken down some of the more common copywriting advice out there, let’s talk about advice you might hear in the future.

After all, I can’t break down all the bad advice you’ll get on the internet. I’d be here forever, y’all.

The bottom line? The numbers don’t lie. If you’ve been given advice that doesn’t have legs to stand on, you can probably go ahead and let it fade from your memory, like the many birthdays and names you’ve forgotten in the past.

Copy is kind of like a science experiment. You test one thing at a time and see what works. You consider the variable (aka the data points) involved and make decisions based on what you find. 

Remember — the creative aspects of marketing and advertising are always fueled by numbers.

If you want even more ways to make your copy stand out and rope in the right people — check out Copywriting for Creatives!

This is the first and only page-by-page system that helps you confidently clarify your stand-out message and launch to sell in as little as 30 days. 

Learn how to master your brand voice, write your site, and position it to sell so you can run a meaningful (and profitable!) creative business.

I’ve served more than 1,600 creatives with this copy methodology, and I’d be honored to help you too. 

See what others are saying about Copywriting for Creatives and learn more about joining the waitlist here!

Reading Time: 6 Minutes Reading time: 6 min. Want to know my hot take? Many online “best practices” are usually pooled ignorance. Not always, but many, many, times, just like the game of telephone.  You hear, “Long copy doesn’t convert,” but what they forgot to tell you was, “Long copy that’s boring doesn’t convert.” Or that, “You need to […]


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