The Difference Between a Good and Bad Copywriter
Updated: Dec 19, 2019
I recently came across an article titled The Difference Between Good Writers & Bad Writers and was shocked to read that this best-selling author of five books said that the difference between good writers and bad writers has little to do with skill… but rather, perseverance. He said, “Bad writers quit. Good writers keep going. That’s all there is to it.”
As a professional copywriter, I’m going to respectfully disagree with this author because it’s not that cut and dried. Nor is it a case of being either-or IMHO.
The difference between a good and bad writer of any kind has EVERYTHING to do with skill AND perseverance.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus more on copywriters and the difference between a good one and a bad one.
For starters, a good copywriter would agree with the definition of what great copy is: “Copy that produces great results.” In our complex marketing world, I’d say that’s a pretty simple and straightforward definition, wouldn’t you agree?
The quality of your copy isn’t defined by the techniques you use or the latest trends you follow. It’s not determined by how many people tell you it’s great. And it’s not confirmed by how many likes you get. None of the above pays the bills for the company marketing their products or services or the copywriter who’s doing the marketing for that company.
So, the million dollar question then is: Who determines if your copy produces great results?
And the million dollar answer is: Your prospects do.
How? By responding to your copy in the only way that matters — by spending money on your products or services (or not). Without fail, it’s always about the almighty dollar.
A good copywriter is knowledgeable. She understands that the only way to know good copy for sure is to…
1) Use it.
2) Measure the result.
3) Compare that result with previous results from other similar promotions.
A good copywriter can get a feel for how your prospects might respond to your sales copy.
She’ll write in a way that touches key “buy buttons” in the minds of your best buyers using the following Four Temperaments Personality Types:
1) Powerful Choleric (task-oriented) - leader, aggressive, gets things done, dominates, mover
2) Peaceful Phlegmatic (people-oriented) - stable, calm, down-to-earth, slow, consistent
3) Perfect Melancholy (task-oriented) - organized, meticulous, analytical, dramatic, musical
4) Popular Sanguine (people-oriented) - fun-loving, people person, adventure, happy
She’ll also be able to spot weaknesses in the sales copy and eliminate them to increase response (i.e. sales, money and success).
A good copywriter is skilled. Her writing is impeccable throughout every stage of the sales copy.
For example, she’s skilled at writing winning headlines that include the six “U’s:”
A good copywriter shows her skills when she writes in a way that gets the target audience to know, like and trust her.
She also knows the difference between being an expert writer versus an expert and writes accordingly.
A good copywriter is persevering. She will write, write and write some more to the end of time. She’ll write poorly until she writes well. And she’ll take this piece of advice from Jerry Seinfeld, “Writer’s block is a phony, made up, BS excuse for not doing your work.”
A good copywriter is results driven and will go the extra mile to ensure that her clients get the absolute best results possible.
The best-selling author that I mentioned above said, “Bad writers quit.” That may or may not be true. I think that some bad writers quit while others just persevere at writing bad copy.
A good copywriter has a winning mindset. She subscribes to the truism that “winners are not people who never fail, but people who never quit.” – Edwin Louis Cole
Clayton Makepeace is hands down a direct response copywriting master. He came up with a 12-question checklist to determine whether the sales copy (or package) is good enough to be sent.
So, as you’re reading sales copy - whether your own or someone else’s - ask yourself these 12 all-important questions:
1) Does the headline and lead stop me in my tracks and make me want to continue reading the sales message?
2) Is the tone of the copy appropriate for the message being delivered?
3) Is it written using the kind of language my typical prospect is likely to use in day-to-day communications?
4) Does the spokesperson come across as my advocate - someone who’s intensely committed to helping me improve my life - and NOT like just another run-of-the-mill salesperson?
5) Does the copy offer me a benefit or a series of benefits I’m willing to pay for?
6) Does the copy convince me that this product can truly deliver those benefits to me?
7) Does it convince me that this product is unique in its ability to deliver those benefits?
8) Does the copy answer every objection I can think of to making the purchase?
9) Do I feel as though I’m moving through the sales copy easily and effortlessly? Is it free of spots that seem dull, repetitive, slow-going, or that allow my mind to wander?
10) Do I feel my excitement rising with every new paragraph I read?
11) Does the price seem insignificant compared to the value of the product or service that’s being offered to me?
12) Do I feel an irresistible urge to purchase this product from this company, TODAY?
When you can answer a resounding “YES” to each of these questions, chances are good you’ll win gold with this winning copy.
My recommendation: Use this 12-question test every time you write sales copy… or hire a good copywriter who does. If you can’t say “yes” to at least 50% of the questions, then go back and rework your copy. Keep refining it until you get a “hell yes” on all 12.
It could be the deciding factor between making a little bit of money… or a whole lot of money. The choice is yours, my friend. Make it wisely.
Please comment below and/or share this article with your network. I'm on a mission to help small and mid-size businesses become more visible and profitable. One company… or 1000 companies at a time… because there are infinite possibilities. 💓☮️♾
Shelli Schilke | Owner & Freelance Copywriter | Write Attractions
www.writeattractions.com | 512.626.6216 | firstname.lastname@example.org