Copywriting tips from CopyCon 2019

Copywriting Tips CopyCon 2019

CopyCon. A copywriting conference. For copywriters.

And there was me.

I work with copywriters at the end of their creative process. So what are they doing and thinking and applying before they get in touch with me?

So off I toddled to London. I wanted an insight into this realm of research and rewrites. I wanted a better understanding of the copy that comes my way for proofreading.

And to get out of Cornwall. And the flat. And actually talk to people.

The ProCopywriters' event was everything I needed. Speakers that were smashing it. Attendees who absolutely made my day. And a buffet lunch that saw Glenn Fisher walk past me once with a chocolate eclair in my mouth. Then on the way back shoving in a lemon tart.

Here are the main copywriting tips and takeaways from CopyCon 2019. And a few blurry photos.

Copywriting that gets a yes

First to fire us up was Copyhackers’ Joanna Wiebe’s take on conversion copywriting.

You need to say exactly what the audience needs to know at exactly the right stage. So how do you get a genuine understanding of the audiences you’re writing to?

Online review mining!

Type this in Google: inurl: !product-reviews” “tired of” [keyword]

The keyword is whatever you’re writing about. Period pants. Pasties. Proofreading.

Conference tip 1: A cagoule, a polyester jacket and a knitted synthetic jumper over a t-shirt isn’t ideal conference wear. I blame Cornwall. This must be where I started to sweat out all sense of social etiquette.


Astroten’s Richard Shotton shared the psychological proof that we follow what other people do. Here’s how to use the EAST framework to take advantage of our behavioural biases.

Make your copy…

Easy: Get rid of tiny barriers. Those unclear call to actions need clarifying.

Social: Imply popularity. Show other people doing what you want your readers to do.

Attractive: Admit weakness. It’s the ‘pratfall effect’. We trust brands that show their faults. Find the flaw and flip it to a selling point. Stella is reassuringly expensive. It’s no Cornish cider, mind.

Timely: To reduce confirmation bias you need a distraction. It takes up the cognitive capacity they need to create a counter argument. Use the style and tone of a message to divert attention from the message itself and persuade them otherwise.

Conference tip 2: Don’t tell people you’ve never met before that you’ve just epilated your legs.

We’re suckers

The workshop by Wordnerd Sally Mayor smoothly followed on with a deeper look into behavioural insights.

  • We believe things more when they’re written in bold.
  • We’re swayed by the primacy and recency effect. Sandwich less important info between the two most important points.
  • We love stats. Authority figures, experts and celeb endorsements do the trick too.
  • Choice gets our knickers in a knot and we struggle to decide. Give us less. Less options. Less webpages. Less sign ups and CTAs.

Conference tip 3: Sit at the front of the lecture theatre. Leg room!

Master of the Universe (well, direct response)

The chap with the All Good Copy podcast, Glenn Fisher, told the copywriters in the room to DIE. The relief of being a proofreader.

To DIE you need to…

Disrupt: With a statement. A promise. A claim. A question.

Intrigue: Find the thing that’s essential for your reader to know. But don’t confuse intrigue with vague.

Engage: Chat on social media and get those CTAs involved. Make them clear: give clear guidance, incentive and reassurance so it’d be daft of them not to click through.

Conference tip 4: Bumbags make everything easier. At conferences. In life. At weddings. (Just don’t let slip to your friends that it’s your bag of choice before the big day.)

Lorraine Williams Katherine Wildman
Harry Kapur.jpg

A beginner’s mind

Laura Parker took us on a trip to the land of UX. I didn’t know the difference between copy and content writing. Good job she explained.

Copy is to sell. Content is to inform and help people interact with what they’re reading.

It’s about writing honestly and simply so that the software we use is human and relatable. Here’s how:

  • Don’t assume the user knows anything.
  • Cut out ‘simply’ and ‘just’. It might not be simple to someone else or whatever it just is to us.
  • Cut the clutter. We don’t see all letters/words in a sentence as our eyes bounce along in saccades. (New word!) So get rid of unnecessary words.
  • Humour doesn’t always work but we always need empathy.
  • Lead with copy. Then design.

And the point that made an entire auditorium of copywriters audibly gasp…?

Send your copy to designers in anything other than Word!

Notes, Pages, plonked in the email itself. Most designers use Macs and don’t want to faff around trying to open different formats. Ask them what they want.

Conference tip 5: Pack paracetamol in your bumbag. Four coffees, not enough water, incessant breaktime chatting and concentrating so damn hard might make you brain cells pop and your head bang. All afternoon long.


A talk on ‘skin in the game’ made me think of the ‘never go in without a skin’ advert.

But Velocity’s Harry Kapur didn’t close the day with a talk on condoms. This was how you represent your copy clients.

Be real: And be honest about negatives.

Research for opinions: Not just facts. Some percent may think this. Another percent may think that. But these are people not just percents. So how do they actually feel…?

Eat your own dog food: Take the risks you tell your clients to take. How was it? Would you change anything? What decisions would you make now? Our marketing is our woof chum. Eat it.

Don’t just say: Do. Take the risk. Think ‘put your money where your mouth is’. Wipe off the dog food first.

Conference tip 6: Don’t drink a few too many fizzy apples at the post-conference soiree then try and carefully eat a halloumi kebab on the whiter than white bed in your hotel box of a bedroom.

Next year’s conference will be a two-day dalliance. Although I’m not sure I should ever leave Cornwall. Or the flat. Or actually talk to people. Ever.

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