I Taught English as a Foreign Language for 8 Years: Here Are 5 Copywriting Lessons It Taught Me (Spelling and Grammar Not Included)
On the first of September 2010, I stepped into a classroom in Dnipro, Ukraine to teach my first English lesson.
The lesson went horribly as I was inexperienced and nervous as hell. But over the next eight years, I improved as I learned a lot about language and people. But those lessons weren’t just useful for teaching English, they also helped me write better copy.
Here are the 5 top copywriting lessons I learned from teaching English.
#1: Use simple language
Your instructions and explanations need to be simple enough for everyone to understand.
The same is true in copywriting. If you use jargon or complicated language you risk confusing the reader. And a confused reader is never a customer.
If in doubt, simplify.
You can’t assume someone has understood a language point, you need to test to make sure.
In copywriting, this means testing the performance of your copy. Even better record someone walking through your copy and describing their thoughts, questions and reactions. Use that data to correct your copy.
#3: Relate your examples to their day-to-day life
We remember language that is relevant to us.
Just as presenting language in a relevant context helped students learn, effective copy talks about situations the reader can relate to. You want to
- use the language they use,
- make references they get
- and speak to their fears and desires that motivate them.
These are the three ingredients of sticky copy.
#4: Start with where they are and move them to the next step
When we learn, we add knowledge into our existing mental frameworks.
And with copywriting you have to start where the reader is.
- What do they want now?
- What do they know about you?
- What do they believe at this moment?
If they need to believe something to buy from you and they don’t at the moment, then you have to challenge that belief.
#5: Just get them to take the next step
You don’t have to teach everything in one go.
The same is true with your copy. You shouldn’t always try to force a sale on a brand new reader. Instead, focus on getting them to take the next step, to build their knowledge and trust in you and your product or service.
When they’re ready, pitch.
Now you don’t have to spend 8 years teaching English
Just follow those five simple points and you’ve gained most of the copywriting lessons I learned during that time. And I didn’t even mention punctuation, grammar and spelling.
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