Here’s a harsh truth: getting straight A’s in high school English doesn’t make you a killer copywriter. It’s a profession, and like other professions, there are skills and strategies that you need to learn and master.
It’s true that you need a certain amount of natural writing talent, but you also need to learn the rules. Just like a baker has to learn how to separate eggs, or a mechanic has to learn how to use a wrench, copywriters need to learn how to craft a killer headline and create captivating content.
The good news is that there are plenty of free guides to help you acquire those skills and learn how to wield the tools of the copywriting trade. And one of them is by the content marketing guru, Neil Patel, which can be found here.
“The Ultimate Guide to Copywriting” by Neil Patel – General Overview
Here’s what you’re wondering: it might be called “the ultimate guide to copywriting,” but is it really worth my time to read several thousand words, even if they are by Neil Patel? I’m here to save you some time by reviewing the Neil Patel “Ultimate Guide to Copywriting” before you make the commitment to dive in.
Let’s begin this review by saying that it is reassuringly long, detailed, and comprehensive. You’d expect something called “the ultimate guide” to give you plenty of advice and information, and Neil Patel definitely delivers on that here. He discusses every step of writing top copy, from composing a heading to structuring the meat and bones of your content.
What’s more, Neil Patel’s “Ultimate Guide to Copywriting” talks you through more than how to write the copy. There’s a lot of guidance about how to approach copywriting, like thinking like a sales detective and getting inside the head of your audience. If you’re new to copywriting and you’re nervous about getting started, you’ll appreciate that Neil holds your hand all the way.
My TL;DR is that it’s a thorough piece of work that takes a deep dive into multiple aspects of copywriting. It has its weak points, like a bit too much love for flowery metaphors, but the actionable advice will give you the shove you need to kickstart or ramp up your copywriting career.
Strengths & Weaknesses
One of the best reasons to read this guide, and read it carefully, is that it’s full of solid, practical tips. For example, you’ll find 3 different tools for writing an attention-grabbing headline, and another 3 different suggestions for ways to create attractive openings.
There’s a lot of extra value here that you don’t find in most free copywriting guides, like advanced psychological tips, and a deeper discussion about bullet points. There are also a lot of examples of great copywriting scattered throughout the piece to illustrate each concept and help you understand what it looks like in practice.
By sharing this example of a great headline, Neil explains exactly what the writer changes and the impact it had on conversion rates. I appreciate this useful advice, instead of vague reminders to write in an engaging way.
Perhaps it’s just me, but I found that there was too much flowery language in this guide. I read copywriting guides to get actionable information and practical tools, not because I want the writer to dazzle me with their huge vocabulary. Sometimes the metaphors and analogies got in the way of the actual guide.
My 3 Favorite Tips From the Guide
1. Explaining the Value of Action Verbs
If I had to pick just one section of this guide to keep with me and refer to often, it would be the part near the end. The guide discusses the difference between using action verbs instead of a lot of adjectives. In a few paragraphs, he explained two different styles of writing in a way that helped me immediately see how to apply the advice to my own work.
2. Masses of Guidance about Headlines and Openings
I also really recommend that you read the sections about “crafting headlines that jar prospects into attention“ and “crafting openings that suck people in.” Each one is packed with specific skills and strategies for doing exactly what the heading says. It gives you an instant toolbox of copywriting techniques, so that you can get over the anxiety that faces everyone when they’re staring at a blank screen.
3. Advanced Tips for Experienced Writers
If you’re reading this as an already-experienced copywriter, I recommend checking out the “advanced psychological tips.” This takes apart a couple of examples of effective copy to identify the psychological techniques that draw in the reader so that you can recreate them yourself.
Alternatives to Neil Patel’s Guide to Copywriting
Let’s get real, it’s not like Neil Patel’s “Ultimate guide to copywriting” is the only guide out there. There are alternative copywriting guides, and if you’re serious about improving your writing abilities, you’re not going to read just one guide and call it a day, are you?
Here are a few other guides to copywriting for you to consider as well:
- FreelanceWritingGigs has an Ultimate Guide to Copywriting that’s laid out as an infographic, so it’s really easy to scan it and pull out the valuable information for how to write copy.
- Copyhackers has a long, long guide that is full of actionable advice and great illustrations, much like this one by Neil Patel. You’ll also find a lot of short, useful articles about different types of copywriting elsewhere on the Copyhackers site.
- Copywriting: The definitive guide from Backlinko goes into a huge amount of detail to show you how to write different types of copy. Take your time reading it, because there’s a lot to get through.
- Quicksprout’s Complete guide to copywriting begins from the very beginning. You’ll find the real basics of copywriting here. Quicksprout walks you through the process of writing copy from A to Z.
Conclusion – Should you Use the Advice in this Guide?
In a word, Yes. I have to admit that even I learned a thing or two from Neil Patel’s “Ultimate Guide to Copywriting,” and I’ve been at this for a while. It’s the kind of piece that has something for copywriters at every stage of the journey, from total beginners to those with more experience.
It’s true that there are weaknesses in the guide, like rather too many metaphors and analogies, but it’s worth it to wade through the flowery sentences to benefit from the real value that’s lurking beneath.
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