The 80/20 of Improving Your Copywriting as Quickly as Possible

January 27, 2018 - 10 Comments

You've got a serious problem. Yes, you.

The problem is that your copywriting is terrible. And bad copywriting touches every aspect of your business. It makes it more difficult to sell things, it makes it more difficult to get traffic, it makes it more difficult to build an audience.

In short: poor copywriting is an obstacle on every step of the way, when you're trying to grow an audience and an online business.

Today's post is the fastest intervention I can offer, to help you solve this problem.


Why This Intervention is Needed

In our previous series on how to create irresistible offers, we had an episode about copywriting. And we issued a headline writing challenge, which you can learn more about below, as well.

From the headline examples that were sent in in the contest, we could tell there was a problem. And on our recent livestream (watch the replay here), it was confirmed: poor copywriting is a widespread problem. It's the source of more of your entrepreneurial struggles than you realize.

That's why I'm presenting you the 80/20 of fixing bad copy, right here.

Listen to the episode to get all the details and read on below for a summary and the recommended resources:

4 Critical Components

You don't have to improve every aspect of your writing. In fact, if you focus on just these 4 components, you'll achieve the greatest results with the least effort:

1) Headlines

Every blog post has a title, every page has a headline, every ad, every video,... pretty much everything we engage with online has a title or headline. And even for media like podcast episodes or videos, the title makes a huge difference in how many people click and start watching/listening in the first place.

The job of a good headline is to get the reader to engage. To either click on the headline or to keep reading.

2) Email Subject Lines

Emails are one of the most effective marketing tools and email subject lines are the critical component. Just like with headlines, the subject line's job is to get initial engagement.

3) Hooks

The hook is the first bit of your content. The first paragraph in your blog post or email, the first few sentences you say in your video or podcast.

Why does a hook matter? Because even if someone starts engaging with your content, they're still on the brink of leaving. You have to give them a good reason to make the decision to keep reading/watching/listening. Even if your content is free, there's a price to pay: time and attention. And the hook's job is to get your visitor to decide: yes, I will spend my time and attention here.

4) Call to Action

Every piece of content should lead to some conversion goal. There's some action you want your visitor to take. Maybe it's to buy something, maybe it's to leave a comment, to share your post, to fill out a survey,... whatever it is, you need to have a clear, strong call to action.

How to Use These Components

  • Pay attention to these 4 critical components. Make an extra effort to write good title, subject lines, hooks and calls to action. If you do only that and make no extra effort on any other part of your writing, you can skyrocket your results.
  • Remind yourself of the role of each of the components. "Is this a good headline to keep people reading?", "Do I have a strong hook in this content piece?", "Do I have a clear call to action?".
  • Even if you do nothing but pay attention to these 4 critical components, you'll improve your results.

The Interventions

Alright, with that in mind, here are the specific things to put into practice, to write better copy:

  1. Use headline formulas. Don't try to reinvent the wheel every time you write a title. You can use fill-in-the-blanks formulas that result in highly effective, proven headlines. Get our free guide on this at Thrive University.
  2. Use content patterns for your blog posts and content templates for your sales pages and landing pages. You can learn more about content patterns in this post. For tutorialized sales page templates, I recommend Thrive Architect (which is a product my own company created). Here's an example of such a template.
  3. Always write more than one headline or title. Never settle for the first thing that pops into your head. For blog posts, you can apply the scientific method and test different headlines against each other, using the Thrive Headline Optimizer plugin.
  4. Always write more than one email subject line and always A/B test your subject lines. If you're using an email marketing service that doesn't let you easily do this, switch to a better one.
  5. Always write more than one hook.
  6. Always write more than one call to action. Are you seeing a pattern here? The principle is to not leave the 4 critical components up to chance. Make sure you spend an extra few minutes to try and improve upon whatever your first idea was.
  7. Write your content or script, then take a step back. Ideally, revisit your content the next day. With fresh eyes, you'll be more capable of improving upon your first draft.
  8. This is about habits. If you make the habit of following these 7 tips above, it will make a huge difference over time, but it won't cost you much. It's a minimal investment, turned into a business advantage.

Going Deeper

Okay, what else can you do to improve your copywriting skills? First and foremost: do a 30-day challenge. Copywriting is a perfect candidate for a skill you can rapidly improve in a short burst of activity.

Here are some examples of 30-day challenges you can do:

  • Spend 30 minutes every morning writing sales copy (pick any product, either your own or from around the web or around the world).
  • Write 15 headlines every day (pick any headline, on your own site or anywhere else and write 15 variations for it).
  • Spend 30 minutes every day re-writing hooks for blog posts and articles.
  • Pick one landing page every day and re-write the copy for it, completely.

In addition, I recommend that you add 10-20 minutes of research, reading, learning to this. Do this for 30 days and your copywriting skills will be on an entirely new level, by the end of it.

Resources to Learn From

Also, if you want to learn more from Dave, who made an appearance at the beginning of the episode, check out the group podcast with the Thrive Themes marketing team and learn some of Dave's advanced Facebook marketing tactics here.

Subscribe & Download

Listen on the go! Subscribe to the ActiveGrowth Podcast using your favorite app:

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Click here to download the mp3 file of this episode.

Want to ask us a question or provide feedback on the ActiveGrowth podcast? You can leave a comment below or use this widget to record a voice message:

Challenge & Contest

Here are the two things you can do, to make the most of this copywriting intervention:

  1. Make a commitment to improve your copywriting in the next 30 days using the techniques outlined here. Leave a comment or voice message, to let us know what your commitment is.
  2. I've reopened the headline writing contest. Send in a polarizing headline for a product or piece of content. We'll pick the best one and send a $100 Amazon gift card to the winner.

The contest has closed!

Thanks for listening! I hope this will help you with your business goals.

Shane's Signature

About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

​Related Articles

  • I’m going to make a commitment of 30 days of blog posts with headline, hook and CTA testing focus – and yep

    my copy is pretty bad right now :p


  • As I clicked to open the email with your subject line “You need this”, I was thinking “bet I don’t!” But I still opened anyway and it turns out I do need it! I’d love to know what other subject lines you’re testing for this email.

    Great post, Shane. All anyone needs for better copy is right here. Plus the actual “doing”…


    • That’s great! Thank you for sharing your thought process that led you from the email’s subject line to this post.

      Maybe someone else can chime in and share what subject line they saw.


  • Karen McCamy says:

    I saw the same subject line as Sean… Regardless, I always open your emails! I know it’s something I need! I’m never disappointed! Seriously!

    I’m commiting to a 30-day Challenge! I’m going to spend 20 minutes daily studying copywriting “psychology” & 40 minutes daily doing, following your suggestions in the article: headlines, hook, CTA. I plan on “practicing” on my own material… I know I need the experience and improvement…

    I’m actually **terrified** of copywriting (for myself — it’s easier when it’s someone else’s product/service ) to the point of paralysis! I really needed this podcast and article! …And your motivation & inspiration — and steps — to actually DO something about it! Thank You, Shane!


    • Thank you for your comment, Karen!

      It’s interesting that you say you’re terrified of this. What makes it easier in other people’s projects than your own?


      • Karen McCamy says:

        Great question, Shane! I think it’s a two-fold problem:

        1. I’m “too close” to the subject, so a lot of what should be “obvious” — such as benefits and pain points — are rather transparent (“fresh eyes test”), and…

        2. It’s “too important” in my own scrambled brain! ;-) Perfectionism at work — always! Ughhh!

        In both cases, I rationally know the details (benefits, pain points) but the perfectionist part of me stirs up the self-doubt and I start second-guessing myself!

        As an interesting point that may help give perspective to other readers… I’m re-visiting the Thrive University Copywriting course (spurred on by this post) and even though I had gone through it before a few months ago, I had “forgotten” so much of the lessons!

        After doing the course *this* time, at least I came away with the realization that I’m doing a lot of your suggestions **already**.

        So — bottom line — I’m better than I thought I was! LoL!

      • Thank you for elaborating. It’s odd how we all struggle against ourselves in so many ways. The way I look at this is as a 20 mile march. I know I can’t make my shortcomings disappear all at once, but I can keep chipping away at them and keep going.

  • Thanks for covering my question about Affiliates, Shane! Quick follow up, though: how do you figure a percentage to offer?

    As for the rest of this, as always, great episode. I was thinking of the Ogilvy on Advertising book, but might check Cashvertising first.


    • Thanks for sending in your question, Brad!

      I don’t know if I have a good answer regarding the percentage. I think many affiliates get excited about the idea of earning lots per referred sale, even though that isn’t actually the metric that matters. And for digital products, the expectation is that the percentage is high, so if you offer something like 10%, it will be seen as cheap. What I’m saying is: it’s mostly a human psychology thing. There’s no rational right answer, I think.


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