12 Copywriting Exercises That Will Turn You Into a Pro in 30 Days

copywriting-exercises

Ever heard of Malcolm Gladwells’ 10,000-hour rule? 

Where you invest 10,000 hours of deliberate work in order to become an “expert”.

Hate to break it to you, but it’s bullsh*t.

There’s a huge misconception that if everyone applies 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to their craft they’ll become an expert. This is wildly inaccurate.

To begin with, not all crafts are equal. And not all individuals are either. 

Now when it comes to copywriting, professional copywriters usually have some form of an unfair advantage. It’s the exact same with successful businesses. 

Maybe it’s an AI copywriting tool or access to customer interview data. It could even be the help of an offshore team doing the heavy lifting for them.

Regardless of what it might be – you need an unfair advantage.

If you want to become a world-class copywriter it’s not going to require slogging 10,000 hours of writing and rewriting landing pages. Of course, this helps. But it requires a more clever approach.

In this article, I’m going to break down all the copywriting exercises that will fast-track you from a beginner copywriter to an expert. Without spending 10,000 hours!

Some of them require ongoing and deliberate practice.

Some of them you’ll reference each time you write.

And others will simply do the hard work for you.

So let’s get started!

1. Translate features into benefits

This exercise might not seem critical enough to be number one. 

But stay with me.

The best copywriters know how to translate a feature into a ✨benefit✨

Every product or service has a list of features, but a lot of them are pretty straightforward. They also don’t really mean much to a reader. To write a successful piece, you need to help the reader understand how the benefits directly improve their life.

You can do this by helping the reader understand what problems the item solves and how. This is critical if you want to become a better copywriter.

Exceptional copywriters can convince their readers that they simply can’t live without a product because of how much it will improve their life! 

Consider the following examples.

Alpha Brain:

Onnit Alpha Brain Supplement Product Page

Alpha Brain clearly shows its benefits to its readers. Who wouldn’t want to react more quickly or think more clearly under stress? 

Instead of listing all the ingredients in their supplements, they make it clear as day how your life will be better.

Smalls:

smalls.com landing page

Without even reading each individual statistic I know my cat is going to be much better off. Cat owners would almost feel guilty reading this.

I don’t own a cat. I probably never will. But if I did, I’d use Smalls.

2. Interview customers to find out what they truly want

The whole point of copywriting is to sell products or services. To be able to sell, you have to know which problems exist. 

Simply put, the best way to figure out which problems your customer faces is to speak with them.

However, you can’t simply ask them, “What problem do you have?” Their answers to these questions will be bland, generic, and not helpful. 

You need to ask probing questions – keep asking them why until they give more specific reasons, like reasoning, price, competitors, options available, or whatever is important to them. 

Everyone’s needs are different when product or service hunting, so it’s best to interview a range of people to get a full understanding of how people justify their purchases. 

Here are some questions you should ask:

  • What were you trying to achieve by using our product/service? Tell me more
  • What made you purchase our specific product/service? Why/Why not?
  • Which other products or services have you tried? Why/Why not?
  • Did our product/service do what you expected? Why/Why not?
  • Would you recommend our product/service to a friend? Why/Why not?

3. Build your own swipe file

To write amazing copy, one must first read amazing copy.

Before you even type your first word, you should spend a lot of time researching and looking for examples of copy that already exist on the topic or product that you’ll be selling. When you find great examples that you want to remember and learn from, you’ll put them together in what’s known as a “swipe file”.

If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of hunting the Internet for great examples of copy I’ve got you covered. Here’s a list to you get started: 

The collection is divided into different categories. Whether you’re writing advertisements, emails, or sales pages, these resources will be a huge help! A good copywriter will have a well-organized swipe file to reference at any given time.

Save, reference, and share them!

4. Handwrite great copy 

This is a great exercise that you can take part in every single day to improve your copywriting skills. If you’ve already followed the last exercise, then you’re one step ahead! As you’re building your personal swipe file, pick a great piece of copy every day and simply sit down and handwrite it word-for-word. 

There’s something about pencil on paper, where our brains seem to retain more than typing on a keyboard. It’s also helpful for coming up with new ideas that you can leverage to win potential customers.

If you want more guidance on where to start with this daily practice, Sam Parr offers a great CopyThat course. 

Sam Parr is the founder of The Hustle and Trends – one of the most successful newsletter businesses to be acquired. 

For a low price, you can sign up to receive a great copywriting example via email every day for 10 weekdays. Not only that, but you’ll get a copywriting lesson and explanation too! This is an awesome resource for anyone who is wanting to better their sales copy skills! 

5. Fully read e-mails

We all get so many sales emails every day that we often ignore them. However, there are always a few that catch your eye that you’ll open and even buy something from. Next time this happens to you, take some time to reflect on it. Read the email a couple of times and figure out what it was that made you click on this one and not the others. 

Be honest with yourself about what parts spoke to you. This will help you understand what copy affects you; then you can turn around and use that to write a successful piece that would catch your eye if you saw it in the wild! 

If you want to be deliberate about this, sign up for your favorite writer’s email newsletters. James Clear, David Perell, and Cole Schafer are great starting points.

6. Practice writing headlines

Your headline is your first (and sometimes only) chance to grab a person’s attention. If you aren’t writing amazing headlines, then it doesn’t matter how great the rest of your copy is because a lot fewer people will be seeing it. Again, keep great examples of headlines in your swipe file but make sure yours are unique and catchy. Also, write a lot of them – three to five every day, at least. 

If you’re submitting a guest post, you’ll notice many of them require you to submit the headline first. If the headline doesn’t capture their attention they won’t bother reading your piece!

Practice with a variety of topics that works with one of the four main headline categories:

  • Headlines that make people curious
  • Headlines that offer a benefit if you read on
  • Headlines that scare you
  • Headlines that are informative

5 headline formulas you can apply today:

  • {Achieve the desired outcome} without {pain point}
  • The {opposite of what the process usually is like} way to {achieve desirable outcome}
  • {Key feature/product type} for {target audience} to {what it’s used for}
  • {Achieve desirable outcome} in {short amount of time}
  • {Main feature} and {outcome of that feature}

7. Practice the art of persuasion

Copywriting is persuasion in written form. 

To be good at it, you need to be good at persuading people. 

Spend time studying how persuasion works. Read books on persuasion tactics, watch persuasive speeches, then put them into practice. 

Here are four books that will help you understand the art of persuasion:

  • Influence by Robert Cialdini
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury
  • The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene

8. Read your writing out loud

Of course, no one likes to listen to themselves speak. Regardless of how uncomfortable it makes you though, reading your copy out loud will help you catch issues that you normally wouldn’t. When you read something aloud, you can catch awkward pauses or pauses that are missing. Plus, you can tell if your writing is flowing or if it’s awkward and not getting your point across. 

You can take this exercise a step further too, and pull someone else in. Have someone read your copy to you or read it to them. Having another set of eyes and ears will help you catch even more areas of improvement that you would have missed otherwise. 

Fun fact: Sometimes I read my work out loud in Eric Cartman from Southpark’s voice. It sounds weird. But it really helps make sure the words flow. These are the things we need to do if we want to become better copywriters.

9. Find long-form copy and make it short

This is a great exercise for beginners and experienced copywriters alike. No matter how much practice you have, you can almost always say what you want with fewer words. To make this exercise work, find a longer piece of copy that is truly good. Look for a piece with multiple paragraphs, then study it. Make mental note of what works and what doesn’t. This could be a sales letter or email newsletter.

After reading and studying the copy, chop it up. Cut out any parts that seem to be unnecessary or repetitive. Try your best to cut as much of half of the copy, without losing important information. 

Don’t get discouraged if you can’t do this the first few times, it can be hard. However, this is such a helpful exercise because it trains you to catch pieces of your copywriting that are clunky or simply unnecessary. 

Side note: some forms of copy are intentionally long. They utilize the slippery slope method to tell a story. Disregard these pieces!

10. Just write. Everyday.

This may seem like a repetitive exercise, but it’s crucial to grasp its simplicity. The only way to truly get better at copywriting is by practicing. When it comes to writing, you need to practice it every day. This tip can be taken in two ways.

It’s not expected that you do this for 10,000 hours! A couple of months worth of daily writing and editing will really transform your copywriting skills.

If you’re struggling to do this, look at implementing a daily writing habit. James Clear is an expert on habits and will lay out exactly how to do this. Sometimes you might even need to get into monk mode and focus purely on writing for a couple of months. Especially if you want to level up quickly!

11. Freewrite

If you’re having trouble getting started, grab a timer. Freewriting is like a good stretch for your brain. It gets the creative juices flowing right before you need them. Give yourself an uninterrupted amount of time (10 or 15 minutes is perfect) and just write everything that comes to mind. 

Don’t worry about spelling or grammar or even making it coherent. Just write. When the time is up, look over what you wrote. You may be surprised and find inspiration for your next piece of copy that was just waiting to flow from your brain. 

If you’re like me and you love a good hack, then keep reading. Since freewriting has no clear agenda you could simply journal. You’ll still get the writing muscle going but you’ll also reap all the benefits of journaling!

12. Get your ideas on paper

Here’s an important piece of advice for all writers: your first draft is supposed to be rough – that’s why it’s called a ROUGH draft. The only way to make your copy better is by getting it down on paper. Once it’s there, then you can take what you’ve learned from all the other exercises in this list and make your first draft better. Revisions are part of the writing process and sometimes they can teach us more than the writing itself does.

Daily copywriting practices you can start now

Building a daily habit is the perfect way to get compounding results. If you want to be an epic copywriter then you need to practice copywriting. It’s pretty simple.

If you’re looking for the most effective daily copywriting exercises, there are two specific techniques you can apply.

Handwrite great copy: I learned this one from Sam Parr. Essentially, you compile a list of the very best copywriting on the internet and you write a page or two each day. The idea is that over time you’ll start to pick up on the subtle things that make it great.

Use daily copywriting prompts: I’ve been using a free tool called Copywriting Prompts to improve. Each day I receive a new prompt to write copy. It could be a headline, email, or even an ad.

Copywriting exercises recap

These 12 best copywriting exercises will help you become a much better copywriter. However, it’s important to have an unfair advantage. Practice doesn’t always make perfect. That’s why these specific exercises will help you level up without spending hours writing aimlessly. 

  1. Translate features into benefits.
  2. Interview customers to find their problems.
  3. Build your personal swipe file.
  4. Handwrite great copy.
  5. Fully read emails.
  6. Practice writing headlines – they’re important!
  7. Practice the art of persuasion.
  8. Read your writing out loud.
  9. Find long-form copy and make it short.
  10. Just write. Every day.
  11. Freewrite.
  12. Get your ideas on paper.

This blog is supported by readers. I got to a lot of effort into personally using and thoroughly testing every product (digital or physical). So, I may earn an affiliate commission if you buy a product or service through a link, at no additional cost to you.

Hi, I'm Luc 👋

I help eCommerce and SaaS companies attract and convert high-quality trafficI also like to write. Mostly about marketing, copywriting, side hustles, software reviews, and personal development. Stay connected below.

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