If you want to improve your copywriting skills, here are 10 writing exercises that will help you to achieve that goal:
Stock Photo Stories
A skilled copywriter should be able to write about any topic with a little creativity, research and structure. A “writer’s block” may be the least of your worries if you seem trapped on a spinning hamster wheel of the same topics. A great writing exercise to help you sharpen your copywriting skills is to select a random stock photo as the subject matter of an article or story.
You could decide to turn this “stock photo story” into a published post on your website or blog. However, it would be more beneficial for you not to do so. Most writing tips on brainstorming and mental exercises will encourage you to practice and journal – reminding you that you do not need to publish everything that you write. Creating stories about random stock photos should just be a fun warm-up exercise that will keep your skills fresh and your “thinking cap” functional.
Random Word Soup
Expanding your vocabulary should be an ongoing adventure as a skilled copywriter – especially if you want to take the quality of your writing to the next level. This exercise forces you to use randomly selected words that you may want to add to your vocabulary within an article, story or blog post. Once again, there is no need to publish any of this content, but it will help you to easily engrave those vocabulary words into your mind in addition to improving your writing skills.
Most writing tips encourage copywriters to focus on structure regardless of what they write or the topic that they choose. Quite a few writers may consider the standard “how-to” article as one of the easiest types of content to create. This may be true when covering simple step-by-step procedures – such as washing your hair, cooking a dish or even building a shed.
That is where the twist comes into the picture of the “how-to twist” exercise! You must write about a topic that is not easy to explain in words. For instance, how would you explain the steps of taking a deep breath? A step-by-step recipe may help you to bake a cake, but can you write a how-to article that explains how to swallow it?
This exercise will teach you the value of organizing your thoughts and using simple thoughts to convey a not-so-simple message. The last thing you want to do is overcomplicate something that is not at all complicated – which is why this exercise is valuable for copywriters and others looking for great writing tips.
Tweet, Tweet, Tweet
You may not consider your Twitter account as an effective platform for writing exercises or writing tips. If that is the case, you should reconsider immediately.
Twitter helps you to appreciate the adage that “less is more.” Skilled copywriters know the value of cutting the fat and fluff away from their content. Twitter helps you to practice that principle via social media to essentially prepare you to apply the same principle with all your content.
Even when Twitter decided to expand its character count from 140 to 280 characters, this still forced active Twitter users and influencers to focus on the clarity and conciseness of each message.
As an exercise to improve your copywriting skills, use your Twitter account daily to communicate with your target audience. Experiment with a variety of messages and posts to expand your skillset with each posted tweet.
Fiction in a Flash
Along the same line of storytelling, you can also exercise your copywriting skills with a little help from flash fiction. The typical flash fiction story ranges from 100 to 1,000 words. It would be interesting to split the difference and limit your story to 550 words.
Keep in mind that you must tell the entire story – introduction, body and conclusion – without exceeding the word count limit. At first glance, this may seem like a piece of cake. That is, of course, until you take the first “bite” and realize it is much easier said than done.
Just as with your daily Twitter routine, this exercise will help you to focus on cutting to the chase and paying closer attention to the words that you use to convey your message.
Movie Scene Mix-Up
Another great way to work with fiction to improve your copywriting skills is to have a little fun with movie scenes. Think about 2-3 of your favorite movies – movies with familiar scenes that you can mentally picture frame-by-frame without hesitation. Select one scene from each movie.
The challenge of this exercise is to skillfully find a way to combine the scenes together into one script or story. This will help you to practice the seamless blending of various types of source material within the same article or post. You may even come up with a great idea for a blockbuster film along the way!
Summarize a Movie in 100 Words
Can you summarize your favorite movie in 100 words? You may find it somewhat easy to create your own basic story with such a limited word count. How, though, could you summarize a 90-minute movie in just 100 words? This exercise will again help you to practice clarity and conciseness with your writing. It will also boost your editing skills since chances are you will have to complete several drafts before you complete the exercise.
The introduction of any article or blog post is a crucial cornerstone. One report from the Writing Center at UNC refers to the introduction and conclusion of content as “bridges” that allow readers to travel “from their own lives into the ‘place’ of your analysis.” As is the case with an actual bridge, you should never approach building an introduction haphazardly or without a clear and concise strategy.
Think about some of the introductions you have created so far this year. If they were physical bridges, would your readers feel comfortable traveling across them? Or, would they take one look and run in the other direction?
The Introduction Remix exercise requires you to rewrite your most recent introductions. You can complete this exercise as a warm-up for 15-20 minutes a day each day for a specified period (i.e. one week, one month, etc.) You will be surprised at how much your bridge-building skills will improve over time!
It is very easy to become overly attached to your own opinions, feelings and thoughts on a matter. This should not surprise you – especially if you take a moment to consider the vast amount of opinion-based content flooding various media outlets today. As a skilled copywriter and content creator, though, you must find an effective way to see both sides of any topic, subject or debate.
To improve this skill, you can use the “side switch” exercise to switch sides on a passionate topic or subject. Think about the natural stance that you take on any given topic or argument. The objective for this writing exercise is to “flip the script” and defend the other side of that fence.
For example, let’s say that you have a strong disgust for a specific reality television series. During the “side switch” exercise, you would write a piece on how much love you have for that same series. The objective is to reprogram your brain to avoid biased attachments and see things from all sides – including the neutral position.
Correct and Create
Some of the best writing tips encourage you to dissect your own work when it comes to revisions and rewrites – refusing to publish or post your first draft. The “Correct and Create” exercise allows you to apply this same technique to someone else’s work.
Find another published article or blog post. Copy and paste it into your word processing software or text editor. Your objective is to find as many effective ways to improve the quality of the content. In addition to searching for misspellings and grammatical errors, dig deeper to see how you can breathe new life into that existing content. You should also look out for wordiness, keyword stuffing and other signs of fluff that you can remove as part of this exercise.
As referenced above, this type of exercise should just be used to polish your skills – not to publish as your own. However, you will still be able to learn a lot that will help you to edit your own content with a fresh perspective.