This guest post is written by Tom McSherry
Becoming an email copywriter is one of the most lucrative ways to make money online as a freelance writer.
Content marketers with huge mailing lists stand to make thousands from a well-crafted email, so they’re willing to pay big bucks for good copy.
Likewise, most brick-and-mortar businesses these days have cottoned on to the usefulness of email marketing and autoresponders. The demand for good writers in this market is huge – but the number of writers with the skills to meet the demand is fairly small. I’m going to fill you in on some of the key skills you’ll need to develop if you want to tap into this lucrative freelancing niche.
The Art of Powerful Subject Lines
If you can’t write a compelling subject line, you’re sunk before you even start – so let’s cover this first.
Writing subject lines for email marketing is the same as writing headlines for any selling copy. The number one criteria is that it must grab attention.
Now, be warned – people are so used to getting marketing emails these days and they’ve become desensitized to certain words. ‘Cool’, ‘amazing’, ‘killer’ – most of these generic emotive words have lost their power through excessive use. You need to be creative and throw something out there that people aren’t expecting to see, something that will spark a bit of curiosity. The headline should grab attention, but it should also spark emotion.
Ruthlessly Cutting the Fat
In copywriting, you must get your points across without any unnecessary words. In fact, being long-winded can actually hurt you as the reader will lose interest.
Now, you might be thinking, ‘But I see all these sales letters and they’re really long, isn’t that good?’
A piece of copy can be long, but that doesn’t mean it’s long-winded. I could write a 2000 word sales letter, but every word in it will be there for a reason. Nothing is extra. Every word is chosen for its ability to spike the right emotions at the right time and get the reader to take action as a result.
In an email, you don’t have 2000 words. Most emails will be under 200 words, so brevity is even more important than ever. You must learn to look at your writing critically from the perspective of the reader and ask yourself: ‘Is this word necessary? Does this sentence really add anything?’ If not, cut it. That’s the rule.
If I had to sum up the style of an email copywriter in two words, this would be it: conversational persuasion.
Stop and think for a second about the kind of media email is. A typical inbox is crowded with a few different types of messages. Some of those messages are from friends and family – people we want to hear from. After all, those are the people email was developed for in the first place.
And then there are emails from businesses, charities, groups and so on. Often these are pushy, over-the-top and just ‘feel’ different from the authentic communications of people we know personally.
Your job as an email copywriter is to write copy that feels like it has that personal, intimate edge – while still persuading the reader to take action. It’s not an easy proposition. You need to find the balance between being conversational, and prompting action.
In general, I try to write email copy as if I really am just chatting with a friend. But there is still a layer of technique there. I remain aware of what someone is going to feel as they read the copy and how I can turn those feelings into an action – a click, a purchase, whatever it may be.
A Strong Call to Action
The Call to Action is one of the core elements of copywriting – in fact, if you don’t get this right you’ll be a bad copywriter no matter how well you do everything else. Headlines grab attention; compelling body copy pulls people in and gets them emotionally invested; but it’s the Call to Action that clinches the sale.
That’s what gets the Most Wanted Response – and the goal of all copy is to get the reader to engage in the Most Wanted Response, whether it’s a click, a sale or a sign-up (in the case of email copywriting it’s typically a click-through to a landing page).
The Call to Action is pretty simple – the most important thing is that it’s actually there. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. ‘Click here now!’ can work as a Call to Action, but to make it more compelling you’ll want to spice it up with some emotional specifics. ‘Click here to take the next step towards building a more confident you,’ could be a Call to Action for a dating confidence product, for example.
The Rewards of Email Copywriting
This is a beginner’s guide to learning the art of email copywriting. By developing these skills, you’ll be able to command over $100 per hour from clients who are desperately in need of a competent email copywriter. If you’re willing to put in some time and practice, you too can reap the rewards this lucrative freelance writing market offers.
Bio: Tom McSherry is a professional email copywriter and the founder of Premium Online Writing, one of the world’s top-shelf content marketing providers. He helps online business owners achieve greater success by writing copy that converts and building made-to-order niche content sites that pull in visitors for his clients.