Copywriting For you

The 8 Habits of Highly Effective Copywriters
The 8 Habits of Highly Effective Copywriters

If you’ve been in the business world for a while, you’ve likely heard of Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Written over 30 years ago, it has sold over 40 million copies to date! And just a few years after it came out, I was introduced to Covey’s principles. Just starting out in my career, I embraced the direction I provided. 

As a copywriter, freelancer blogger, and CEO of Copywriting For You, Covey’s well-documented habits still guide me daily. That’s why I wanted to share my approach to copywriting with all of you—whether you are an aspiring freelance blogger or a business owner looking to hire a copywriter, I think what I have to say will help. After all, these very habits I’ll share are what you want to find in a writer working for you.

Inspired by Stephen Covey and Adapted to My Freelance Blogger Lifestyle 

Of course, I have to give credit where credit is due. I am not the author of the seven habits that FranklinCovey still promotes today. But I’m a big fan. These habits have helped me to be successful and effective throughout my career. And today? You guessed it—my modified habits have become my guiding principles. 

Let’s get into it.

Habit # 1: Stay Ahead of the Curve 

Covey’s first habit is about being proactive. And a world of good will come to you when you adopt that mentality. This means not waiting for the work to come your way for a copywriter. You must remember that clients can break their contract at any time, regardless of whatever clause you have. So, what are you doing to build a pipeline of new clients continuously?

If you don’t stay ahead of the curve by networking and getting your products and services in front of prospective clients, you could find yourself in a bad place should a client or two need to pause their contract. Besides, new business owners could use your services to grow their website’s visibility. Be persistent and persevere in growing your business.

Habit # 2: Know Where You Want to Go

As a business owner, you need to have an end goal. What is it that you want to achieve? Whether it’s a daily goal, a monthly goal, or a career goal, those keep you motivated. As a content writer, I totally agree with this. I set daily goals each and every day. My checklist of goals might be as simple as sending three proposals to prospective new clients. Perhaps my goal for the day is to complete five blogs for existing clients. Or, maybe you want to increase your step goal for the day, recognizing that you’ve been typing away too much time in that office chair.

Knowing where you want to go helps to keep you motivated. It also helps you create your best work.

Habit # 3: Prioritize the Big Rocks (But Check Off Those Small Ones As You Go)

Covey’s third habit for highly effective people is prioritizing and achieving your most important goals instead of constantly reacting to urgencies. And there is something to say about that when it comes to highly effective copywriters. If you keep getting bogged down by the little stuff, that can keep you from achieving those big goals. 

However, you must be highly responsive to your clients as a copywriter. This means having some sort of SLA (service level agreement), whether verbal or agreed to in writing, about how often and quickly you’ll respond. I ask that clients always get back to me in two business days. However, I also explain that taking them that long could impact the deliverable deadline. 

That said, if your client is reaching out to you because they have a question or need something, they may look poorly on you if you wait too long. So, make sure you are making time to manage those small tasks throughout the day. Maybe you check your email or Upwork messages once or twice daily and respond that way. Maybe it is more frequent. Whatever you do, find a rhythm that ensures clients aren’t continuously waiting on you. And, if you find that minuscule requests are bogging you down, it could be a sign that you need to revisit your processes and project scope.

Habit # 4: Look Out For Your Client’s Best Interests

If you’re in the freelance business, your clients are your gold. That means you might need extra steps to help them succeed. By no means does this mean you should spend hours working on things outside the scope of your project? But if you happen to stumble upon an area of opportunity, I encourage you to bring it to their attention. 

Some of you reading this might think those extras aren’t your job. But if they are related to your work and you want to be a highly effective copywriter, help a client out. Here are just a few things I do for my clients all the time. I don’t expect payment, and I don’t think of it as going above and beyond. These things provide incremental value and demonstrate that I am integral to their marketing team.

  • Mentioning typographical or spelling errors on their website.
  • Letting them know if previous work (before my time) isn’t optimized correctly.
  • Advising on implementing SEO best practices that seem to be missing, like meta descriptions and alt tags.
  • Identifying broken links that could affect user experience and SEO.
  • Suggest updating outdated content that no longer reflects the client’s current offerings or industry standards.
  • Recommending more effective call-to-action (CTA) placements to improve conversion rates.
  • Noticing a lack of testimonials or case studies that could build the client’s credibility.
  • Pointing out opportunities for new content that could address gaps in the client’s market or audience needs.
  • Highlighting areas where integrating multimedia (like videos or infographics) could make the content more engaging.
  • Calling attention to a non-mobile-friendly design that could be affecting their site’s usability and search engine ranking.

Trust me, the importance you hold with your client will grow when you do this (and when you communicate the opportunity in a friendly and helpful way).

Habit # 5: Speak in a Language That Everyone Understands

Years ago, a former CMO I worked for shared a quote from Albert Einstein: If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. And ever since learning about Einstein’s words of wisdom, I have paid attention. When talking to clients, I don’t claim to understand things I don’t understand. Seems logical, right? Well, time after time, I hear from prospective clients who hired writers who claimed to understand the subject matter, only to get a terrible piece that missed the mark entirely.

So, what have I learned from hearing that? I don’t ever claim to be the subject matter expert. I’m upfront about content ideas that I am not comfortable with or where I don’t think I can do it justice. Yes, clients occasionally need to look elsewhere for a different writer. But, I’d far more gladly lose that deal than claim to be something I’m not. Often, the client really wants to work with me, and it takes more time to educate me and provide me with more details to make the job successful.

Habit # 6: While You Can’t Please Everybody, You Should Try 

Okay, it’s essential to take this figuratively. I don’t want you to read this and think you should go above and beyond each and every time you take on a project for your clients. Doing so is dangerous territory and sets a precedent that you might not be able to escape. While your clients hold some responsibility here, too, the message is to be cautious.

This said, as a content writer, you are in the people business. Your role is to create great content that your clients (and their customers), will love. So, if you miss the mark on a project and can confirm that the client’s constructive feedback isn’t changing the initial scope, you should take steps to rectify the situation. Not only will the client appreciate it, but it will allow you to learn and grow.

Habit # 7: Move Your Body Every Day (Your Mind Will Thank You For It)

Covey’s seventh habit is self-renewal and personal care—he calls this sharpening the saw. And for highly effective copywriters who spend hours in front of the screen, this habit is uber-important. Sitting for extended periods isn’t just harmful to your physical health; it can also stifle creativity and reduce focus. 

I take proactive steps to ensure I move my body daily. My Apple Watch, despite our love-hate relationship, serves as a persistent nudge to stand up and stretch my legs at least once every hour. Initially, it aimed to get me moving for just a minute, but I’ve since extended my goal to five minutes every hour. This small act of standing and moving helps my physical well-being and provides a much-needed pause for my eyes and brain. 

Habit # 8: Create Boundaries, Not Barriers 

Last but not least, I need to reiterate a habit I have talked about—the need for boundaries. Recognize yourself as the artist you are. While you might not hold a paintbrush, you create art through your words every day. And to do that, you must remain focused on the piece at hand.

Taking phone calls and responding to constant interruptions throughout the day (revisit habit # 3) can seriously stifle the flow of those creative juices. I can’t tell you how many times, earlier in my freelancing career, where I would be deep at work on a client piece only to see another client’s name pop up on my phone. What would I do? Stop and answer, of course. While, yes, I probably did a favor to the person on the other end of the phone, I was doing a massive disservice to the client I had been writing for and to myself.

Now, I had to get back into the rhythm and pick up where I had left off—not always successfully. And this is no bueno for that client who expects you to be at your best. But perhaps even worse is the disservice you have done to yourself. The piece you were working on will likely take you longer to finish, and since your time is so valuable, this can impact your income.

So, how to handle it? Highly effective copywriters need to create some boundaries. I don’t take client phone calls unless scheduled in advance, and I only take calls two days a week during a specific set of hours. This allows me to plan my day to be as efficient and effective as possible. Is this possibly inconvenient for your clients? Possibly. But they understand when you explain why you have these boundaries and how it benefits the quality of work you do for them. Always. And they appreciate it.

Leveraging Effective Habits to Create Great Content

We must learn what works best for us in our unique business. As a highly effective copywriter, these habits work super well for me. They allow me to be productive and to love what I do each and every day. And if you are a content writer reading this, I hope these tips will help you, too.

If you are a client or prospective client reading this, I hope this will show my dedication to creating great work for my clients. I am passionate about writing and do what I can to bring my best to the keyboard every time I write. I know this pays off in the final pieces that I deliver.

Do you need a content writer for your business? If your content is not working, contact me at Copywriting For You today. Let’s chat and see how we can up your content game.

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