If you avoid all those mistakes, there is no way you cannot make millions in copywriting.
It's been almost 30 years I've been writing copy.
And I cannot remember all the students I've mentored.
Nevertheless, I still do remember the mistakes they made (in no particular order).
Because I always see the same.
Again and again.
And here are the top 28 mistakes that killed my student' copies (and that will probably kill yours if you don't know how to write a good copy).
1. Your copy is boring
Whatever we do in life, it always comes back to avoid boredom.
It's already a challenge to get people attention and there is a ton of competition out there.
So do yourself a favor and entertain your readers or they'll leave to watch some Tik Tok.
2. "Yet another one..."
What do you think when you see this?
Yet another scam on weight loss..
And there is no wonder why this kind of copy is not very profitable. Most readers don't even go further and leaver after reading the headline.
It has been seen over and over again and people just are not sensible to messages they are exposed to all the time.
Instead you must find a way to get a unique angle for your offer, even if in the end, it's just another one all-the-same diet.
3. Too vague, Not specific enough
This is one of the most common errors I see: people having a too vague offer.
Below is an example of a very specific headline: numbers, subjects, manner—all is very specific. Which adds a lot of credibility and trust to your pitch.
4. Lack of proofs
What do you think?
I don't believe you.
This seems way too good to be true. And it also cumulates with the "Yet another one..." effect.
To overcome this objection, the author will need a lot of proofs early in his copy to have us stay and believe him.
5. Lack of concrete examples & analogie
"You have the ability to change the rest of your life just by thinking certain thoughts."
To be honest, would you believe this?
I wouldn't. I'm the kind of guy that's rather logical and rational.
But with a good example, the copywriter can overcome this kind of objection and add a lot more authority to his pitch.
Later on he takes the example of Bill Bartmann who went from paralyzed to founding one of the biggest American companies.
Believe it or not, but this kind of example will bring a lot more credibility to your copy.
Humans relate to others through stories and analogies so you must absolutely use them in your copy to pass your message.
6. References & examples are outdated
This one is a classic.
For example if you leverage the Covid-19 situation to sell your product, then be sure to update your copy when it won't be in the news anymore.
Else it can just give the really sales-killer feeling that your copy is outdated. And no one loves buying outdated products. We want some new, fresh product instead.
7. Value proposition is not clear
Sometimes, after reading the full copy of a student, I'm just wondering...
What is he selling exactly?
It's not clear to me what I'll get exactly against my bucks.
And if the value proposition is not clear, then there's no way I'll give him my hard-earned money, right?
So you must be absolutely sure that your offer is crystal clear to your prospects.
8. Bonuses are not strategical
Junior copywriters have seen that all good copies have bonuses.
So they just add bonuses.
But do they really understand why and how to use them?
9. Copy is too long
Copy length is a well-known question in copywriting.
And there is no easy answer.
But sometimes, it's just clear that the copy is too long, too repetitive, too boring.
If you didn't spend enough time during the research phase, you won't have enough material to put in your copy. And you'll end up stretching the few ideas you have on pages and pages.
And people will just leave without buying.
You must write your copy in his shortest possible form.
Another time when a copy is too long is on a hot audience. Sometimes YouTubers come to see me and show me a very long copy.
But it's useless since their audience would probably buy as much (or even more) with a simple order form.
If your audience is much aware of your business, you should aim for a rather short copy to close the deal as quickly as possible (there is no need to build curiosity, trust or authority since you already have done it with your free content).
10. Copy is too short
The pendent mistake is when the copy is too short.
It is especially killing when you target a cold audience who doesn't know you and your product.
A cold prospect has way many more objections than a hotter one. So you must make sure you answer all sales objections he may have. And answering those objections takes time. That's why copies targeting cold traffic are usually longer.
Another reason when your copy is too short is when you're trying to sell expensive products.
You cannot expect people to buy a $1000 product from an unknown after simply reading 1000 words. It takes time to build authority and trust when you try to sell pricey items.
11. Audience is not qualified
Another common error for young copywriters is to forget to qualify their prospect.
If you don't know who you are targeting exactly, there is no way you can be profitable.
You must know exactly who you are selling to. So you can express the right message with the right vocabulary.
Here the copywriter starts his copy with: "Budding author or first-time novelist?".
This is a good example of a good qualification. Authors that read this copy will feel it is exactly the right message for them and it will very surely boost the sales.
12. Audience is too broad
Here the audience is the people that wanna make money online.
But it is way too broad and not specific enough to have a real effect on the conversion.
13. Audience is over-qualified
Qualifying your audience is good, but beware over doing it.
It's very very specific. Maybe too much?
It will depend how the traffic will be driven to the copy. But for cold traffic, it'll most probably be a failure.
14. Do not answer the main objections
Why should I give you my attention? What's in it for me? Who are you? Why should I trust you? This is too expensive. Why should I buy now? How are you different from your competitors? Are you really better than your competitors?
Those are the kind of objections you must tackle in your copy if you want to make profits.
15. Lack of visual consistency
Let's be honest: pink, red, blue, green...
This letter looks like sh*t.
And it's bad looking surely hurts the sales.
But don't get me wrong, first get the copy right then improve on the visual.
16. Superfluous elements
Avoid adding elements just to fill the space.
This is a common mistake many beginners do: adding some stock photos here and there in their copy to make it feel lighter.
All elements have a role and a reason to be present.
If it doesn't add more curiosity, urgency, authority... then throw it away.
Here is an example of photo stock that doesn't bring anything to the copy.
If you try to sell a photography course, you can put pictures of yours to show that you're a great photographer.
Or pictures of exhibitions you've done to show authority.
But don't put stock photos just to fill the space...
17. Headlines don't tell a story
I should understand your copy by simply reading the headlines.
Most people don't start by reading your copy line by line.
No instead they hover over your page and briefly read your headlines to understand what it's about.
If your headline doesn't tell a story, then the prospect won't be able to figure out what you're gonna explain.
So you should make sure to put enough curiosity in each headline to make the reader want to read the full paragraph.
Here you can see that each headline clearly makes sense and tells the story of the copy. Plus there is a bit of curiosity which makes us want to know more.
For example: what is this mysterious molecule the author is talking about?
18. Lacks a guiding thread
A copy doesn't need to be logical, but to feel logical.
And for this you need to articulate all your parts in a logical way.
Many of my students neglect having a proper structure when they write.
They "write by instinct" and put all the persuasion elements randomly like they would tick a checklist.
But they completely miss something: the copy must flow in a logical way to be effective. The different sections must be present at the exact timing the prospect would expect them.
And this is the conjunction of all those elements plus the structure that makes a great copy.
So make sure you have a proper structure in mind before even starting to write.
19. Use negative phrasing
This one is for more advanced copywriters.
You should always avoid negative phrasing.
Prefer: "Make money easily."
Over: "Make money without effort."
It's been proven that positive phrasing was increasing the understanding rate.
20. Use questions that people may answer "No"
Usually we ask questions in our copy to engage the reader.
But beware to ask questions where the reader can mentally answer "No".
Because what we want is to have them answer "Yes" every time we ask or say something so they will take the action we want in the end.
21. Sentences too long / complicated
This is another classic problem.
And it is not specific to copywriting but can be applied to all forms of writing.
You need to keep your sentences short and easy to say.
Also they should chain themselves in a flow.
The best exercise to make sure they flow nicely is to read your copy out loud like the legendary writer Gustave Flaubert (and many more).
Note: I'll be honest with you. I'm super bad at keeping my sentences short and simple. No writer is perfect.
22. Words too long / complicated
It is similar to the above mistake.
Avoid words that are not part of the common language and try to pick short ones.
23. Words not precise enough
The choice of words is at the heart of the writing process.
So make sure to choose them nicely.
That's also a nice way to qualify your prospect.
Ex: Instead of saying "people", you can say "entrepreneurs".
24. Wrong vocabulary / lexical field
If you're writing on a topic you're not an expert in, make sure to study the vocabulary associated with this thematic.
Using the wrong lexical field is often the best way to make yourself look incompetent and lose the sale.
25. Use desire-killing words
Some words are to avoid.
Especially when you shouldn't talk about the "product", the "sales page", the "ebook" and all those words that let the reader know you're gonna sell them something.
Compare those two versions:
- You will receive a pdf with my method to run profitable Facebook Ads.
- You will receive my secret system to make millions on Facebook Ads.
Which one is better?
26. Tell upfront you're selling something (especially bad for cold traffic)
If they know you wanna sell them something, their self-defense will rise and it'll become harder to grow your trust and authority.
This is especially true in the copy lead. It is of course ok to talk about the sale later in the close part of the copy. But for cold traffic, you should avoid stating you want to sell something in the lead.
27. Do not fulfill the initial promise
Sometimes we read a copy only because we got caught by the promise in the lead.
But if this promise is not fulfilled, we'll get angry and never buy.
So if you use some clickbait headline, make sure you really have the material so readers don't end up frustrated.
We finish this list with the most common error from beginner copywriters: stealing.
I often catch my students copying ideas, patterns or even headlines of mine without even understanding the logic behind them.
First, this is illegal.
But also it is counterproductive.
Those students end up with a patchwork of stolen copy parts that literally has no sense... and of course doesn't convert anyone.
If you show me a copy without any of those mistakes, I can guarantee you'll make money.
No more, no less.
If you found this useful, then please share this to copywriters around you (you owe me, do you?).
I would strongly suggest you to print a version of this article and have it near you the next time you write a copy.
I hope it will keep you from shooting yourself in the foot.