Copywriting Basics Every Virtual Assistant Should Know
Should a virtual assistant offer copywriting services to their clients?
The truth is, there’s no right or wrong answer. I’m Ami, and I’m a copywriter and content writer. So, I’m firmly on the “if you don’t know it inside and out, you shouldn’t offer it” stance when it comes to a virtual assistant offering copywriting or content writing services.
That said, there are thousands of virtual assistants out there who do offer these services. So, if you’re one of them, I want to make sure you’re well equipped and understand the basics of copywriting. Remember, copywriting is all about conve
rsion. So, if the words you’re creating aren’t converting, then your clients will likely have something to say about it. Plus, you don’t want to be making copywriting mistakes. They can be a lethal blow to a client’s brand.
With that in mind, here are some of the basic lessons you’ll need to learn if you choose to offer copywriting services to your clients as a virtual assistant.
But first: what exactly is copywriting?
Let’s start with the very basics. Because if you’re offering copywriting as a service to your clients, you need to have a crystal clear understanding of what it is and what it entails. Copywriting - at its core - is all about conversion. It’s words that push a reader into the next phase of the buyer’s journey.
It’s a common misconception that copywriting is simply “words that sell”. And, by believing in that, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
“Words that sell” is - in essence - direct response copywriting. That’s when the words focus on making a sale there and then.
But copywriting as a whole is focused on conversion. So, that could mean turning a website visitor, for example, into an email subscriber. Because that website visitor is now one stage closer to making a purchase: you’ve converted them into a subscriber.
So, it’s not all about making sales right there and then. It’s about pushing the reader up the mountain, and encouraging them to get to the top.
What’s the difference between copywriting and content writing?
This is something I see all too often when virtual assistants are offering copywriting services. VAs will offer “copywriting services” but then clarify by saying “blog posts” or “social media captions”.
To clarify: those are not examples of copywriting. They are forms of content writing.
The difference lies within the purpose of the piece. We’ve already established that copywriting is all about conversion. However, content writing is about:
And while some content may convert, and you may even aim for it, it’s never the dominant purpose.
So, what’s the point in content writing if it’s not bringing in sales? Well, it stems down to one word that is pure gold-dust in business ownership: Trust.
Content plays the long game. It proves to the right people that you’re the right brand for them. Once you’ve mastered your content strategy, it can become a lead generation machine all by itself. But as I said, it takes time.
Some examples of content writing are:
Social media captions
White papers (lead magnets and other PDFs)
So, we’ve cleared up the murky waters that linger between copywriting and content writing. Now, let’s dive into 5 key copywriting basics that you’ll need to know if you want to offer copywriting as a service to your clients.
1. No, it’s not aimed at everyone
Let’s make one thing crystal clear: There is not a product or service out there that’s “for everyone”.
It might have a wider-ranging demographic, but there isn’t a single offer out there that speaks to everyone in the world.
Consider candles. We all love candles.
Well - most of us do.
But the brand will tailor the target audience depending on the brand’s values, mission, and product. I have a scented candle in my bedroom with a label on it that says “Netflix and Chill”. My grandmother loves candles. But it sure isn’t aimed at her. She thought it was a Ben & Jerry’s flavour. (Have you seen the “Netflix & Chill” Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? Delish.)
While you’re a virtual assistant, when you start writing someone’s copy, you become a copywriter. And as a copywriter, the most obvious yet most crucial thing to note is that there is a target audience. Even if your client says “it’s for everyone”, it’s your job to pinpoint who the product is aimed at and relay this to the client.
Without a clear target market, your messaging will be diluted and frazzled. And it won’t stick to anything.
2. Every word counts
And I mean every word. You need to be able to read back your work with utter confidence that you could explain the reason each unique word is there.
When you write content, you have a little more freedom in terms of word count. With copywriting, however, you need to get to the point as quickly as succinctly as you can without dropping engagement or reducing impact.
Your copy should be no longer or shorter than it needs to be. But you - as a temporary copywriter - must be able to explain why certain words or structures have been used.
3. It’s okay to break the rules
Something that many non-copywriters find confusing is grammar.
I’ve had a lot of people come to me and say they needed my help because their grammar was horrendous.
The truth is: copywriting isn’t proofreading. Though, it is one of the things we do during the process.
And it’s also worth noting that copywriters break grammar rules all. The. Time.
Here’s the catch: If you’re going to break grammar rules, you’ve got to do it with a purpose. Otherwise, it’s just a mistake.
Copywriting should never sound like writing. It should feel like, when you’re reading it, you’re sitting there with your reader, chatting. So, we need to mirror spoken language.
That means using terms like “gonna”, “wanna”, “haha”, etc. That breaks the rules of grammar. But, because we’ve got a purpose, it’s fine. Turning “because” into “’cause” is another strong example. Note, though, that the apostrophe marks the omission of the first two letters. That proves that we acknowledge the rules of grammar, but we’re breaking them with purpose.
4. You have a natural writing style. But you have to adjust it to match your client’s.
Something that you’ll need to practice over and over again: brand voice. Your brand voice is made up of lots of components, and it’s totally unique to you. The voice is made up of the words we say, the beliefs and morals we suggest, and the personality we show. It’s what makes your brand human.
But, as I said, every brand voice is totally unique. Copywriters have experience adjusting their tone of voice when writing to match that of their client’s brand. But if you’re new to this, it’ll be a tricky skill to master.
I’d recommend creating a swipe file. In short, a swipe file is a collection of examples of copywriting (or content writing) that you’ve analysed to understand what makes effective writing.
Consider the voices of well-known brands and dig into them. What are the personality traits that shine through? And what words were used to do so?
Make notes so you can refer to them when writing for your clients. Some brands may have a style guide or tone of voice guidelines that you’re able to follow. Don’t take this lightly. The voice literally speaks to the world. So, think carefully about the brand’s personality before writing.
5. You’re not applying for a job
Obvious, I know. But bear with me.
Copywriters know that good copy feels conversational. It feels warm, trusting, and jampacked with personality.
Many people who have not studied copywriting will use complicated vocabulary and structure. Why? Because they want to prove their intelligence.
Since we’ve been young, we’re taught to stretch our vocabulary to prove that we know what we’re talking about. Mask your insecurity with jargon and people will respect you - right?
At least - in the world of business, anyway.
Running a business requires a totally different approach. Remember, it’s all about capturing and nurturing trust. Showing the right type of people reassurance that the brand is there for them.
Using complex words and unnecessarily confusing structure actually isolates people. It pushes them away. Because, with your words, what you’re actually telling them is: “This brand is too smart for you. You don’t understand, so this isn’t for you.”
The best copywriting is simple.
Should virtual assistants offer copywriting as a service?
When all’s said and done, it’s really down to you. What I will say, though, is that you need to brush up on your knowledge of copywriting. If you don’t know how to write words that convert, then you’ll need to either:
a.) Invest and learn about copywriting (blog articles, online courses, mentorship, books, etc)
b.) Don’t offer it as a service.
The route you take is up to you. But don’t underestimate the sheer power of copywriting. It’s a fantastic asset to have: a string to your bow that can manipulate the arrow. But only if you put the time and effort into learning.
Ami’s a copywriter and content writer who transforms words into leads. She’s a huge Harry Potter and Disney fan, and is happiest with her 2 fur-babies, Luna and Winston.
Ami has been writing copy for nearly a decade now, and she’s dedicated to balancing the scales between men and women in the business world by writing for female-founded brands. Want some wordy magic for your business?
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