Writing Better Content: 13 Creative Exercises for Copywriters
While graphic designers and programmers can choose from a wide range of courses for their professions, copywriters are left to their own devices. As a web content creator you can, of course, sign up for courses concerning general issues, copyright or SEO basics, but if you’re not a beginner anymore, you need something extra.
Each of us wants to write better but how to achieve it?
The greatest difficulty about courses and exercises for more experienced copywriters is that it’s hard to find an editor or teacher who could provide you with constructive criticism and help you make it to the next level.
Some kind of pragmatism is involved here as well. If your current set of skills and tools is sufficient for employers from your niche, what’s the point of investing time in doing exercises and honing your trade?
The answer is simple: the better you write, the less competition you have so you can win better customers. All that makes you different in a positive way from other copywriters and raises your level above average, increases your chances of obtaining more valuable jobs.
Perfecting the copywriter’s skills and tools – creative exercises
Creative exercises for copywriters have also this advantage that… they stimulate imagination and encourage you to look at least once at what you’re writing from a slightly different perspective. They give you not only an opportunity to have fun but also to develop your sensitivity to words and constructing texts.
Exercises recommended by us are not time-consuming – you will need just 15 minutes to do them. Besides, you don’t need to worry that they will require more creative energy from you than in your daily work. And maybe you will use them to get over your writer’s block?
1. Analyze your texts
Maybe you remember the exercise from your learning a foreign language at school. Seeking your own mistakes and correcting them is one of the most difficult exercises, but also the most effective method of learning.
Find one of your older texts and read it carefully. What could have been better in it? Would you write it today in the same way?
2. Practice brevity
Choose one of your older texts exceeding 2,500 characters (including spaces) or work on any text of a different author. Now try to shorten it, first up to 2,000 characters and then reducing it by another 500 characters.
Aim at adjectives, which contribute little to the text, too long sentences, clichés and overused phrases. How do you read the text after your editorial efforts?
Maybe you don’t have texts to practice on? Make use of descriptions of films and series available on film websites. How can you shorten a text without losing the gist?
3. The length of sentences and readability
You are aware that readers have contact with your texts in different situations most of which diverges from ideal reading conditions. Don’t try their patience: work on readability and the length of sentences. A whole range of tools for copywriters can help you with that. We recommend the popular Hemingway App or Grammarly.
4. Read the content of customers you want to work for
Do you have a list of your perfect customers? Have you decided on the industry and the size of the company? Spend at least 15 minutes a week to read what they publish.
Doing this exercise will help you to get to know employers’ needs so you will be able to prepare offers tailored to their expectations and will find out what content is appealing to specific groups of readers. The last thing will be useful to you in your daily work as well.
Try to write a short text that will imitate the subject matter and style of the published content. How is their set of skills and tools different from yours?
5. Improve one of your existing texts
We have recently written about how to refresh blog posts – if you also run your website, then treat content “recycling” as practice. Use subheadings and analyze how subsequent paragraphs are connected with one another. Are you ready for the extreme experience? Use a speech synthesizer (e.g. Balabolka http://www.cross-plus-a.com/balabolka.htm, Natural Readers https://www.naturalreaders.com/online/ or NoteVibes https://notevibes.com/) that will read your text. Does it sound as good as in your head?
6. Copy the lead
Leave the main part of the text and focus on the lead – a short fragment that introduces the entire article and encourages the reader to continue reading. Try different approaches, points of view and elements you will focus on.
Create 3 to 4 leads. The first two shouldn’t cause you any problems but the next ones can lead to creative racking your brains.
7. Explain a complex issue using less than 100 words
It’s harder than you might think. Choose any issue from the industry in which you specialize – it can also be online marketing and SEO. Your task is to be brief and informative to the maximum but to avoid oversimplification at the same time.
8. Create a story in less than 1,000 words
Your task is to write a complete story with a plot and characters using up to 1,000 words. This limitation forces you to create a plausible character using several sentences and to think through your introduction, development of the action and conclusion.
Having such a small amount of text at your disposal, it will be easier for you to learn how to give up unnecessary details for the sake of emotions and the sense.
9. Improve someone else’s text
If your problem concerns not the pace of writing but further text editing, practice using texts of others. If you have a copywriter or a novice writer among your friends, offer your help in editing. Focus on grammar and stylistic mistakes, punctuation, sentence length and clarity of the message.
Do you notice any positive qualities in the text? Analyze them and try to incorporate them into your set of skills and tools.
10. Create your archive
Perhaps in the web, newspaper or billboard catalog you’ve come across a slogan, claim or text that made an impression on you? You might have laughed, subscribed to a newsletter or decided on the purchase? Collect such perfect examples of human ingenuity and add them to your archive. It will help you to figure out similarities between them and understand the secret of their success.
11. Get to know your reader
Certainly when you’re writing a text there’s an image of the reader in your mind: you know who it is and what they need. It is reflected in your text as well?
Work on a text created by a brand specializing in a specific niche or having a specific group of customers. Outdoor clothing, sports equipment, handicraft products… the choice is yours. Find fragments in the text that help you to determine who is the addressee of the whole text. They can be specific phrases, language or references to culture. How has the author achieved such an effect?
Now give rein to your imagination and change the target group. How about a description of the advantages of Gore-Tex directed at young people? Change the target group for readers aged 60+. How about a comparison of buggies addressed to new mothers? Try to convince fathers to buy them.
12. Create a blacklist
Do you tend to use the same phrases all the time? Do your texts begin with similar clichés? Prepare a list of sentences, catch-all words, clichés, and phrases you overuse and forbid yourself to make use of them.
This way you’ll go off the beaten track and your texts will become more diverse. How can you replace phrases being in the spotlight?
13. Practice making strategies
Choose any product – it will be easier for you with something of questionable usefulness, for example, a banana-slicer. Who might be interested in it?
Think about a narrow group of readers you want to reach and prepare a product description and a draft of the text for your company blog. Concentrate on two groups of readers who:
- see the need of acquiring the banana-slicer but aren’t ready for the purchase
are ready for the purchase but require more information
Now work on the content directed at a wider group. Prepare two drafts of texts concerning issues related to the product but addressed outside the main group of readers.
If you need additional practice, write new drafts for the next two groups of readers: the first one has made a purchase and the second one has given it up.
Exercises for copywriters – summary
Creating texts on commission sounds like a dream job for many people. If you decide on becoming a freelance copywriter, your career development depends solely on you. The better your set of skills and tools is, the greater your chances of obtaining good jobs from high-end customers are.
What could you do when your experience is little and you realize that you don’t have enough opportunities to hone your set of skills and tools? Or maybe you’ve achieved first successes as a copywriter and want to develop?
Invest some time in perfecting your set of skills and tools: developing your writer’s sensitivity, learning mechanisms of creating effective texts and writing content corresponding to customer needs.
Most of the exercises for copywriters included here aims at developing creative thinking and identifying structures imperceptible for readers, which influence the readability of the text and its cogency. Try doing at least some of these exercises regularly and observe how your skills are changing!