Today, we’re going to talk about copywriting exercises for beginners. Many new copywriters will say to me, “I want to do this copywriting thing, but I’ve never written one single bit of copy. How can I practice? What are some good copywriting exercises I can do to develop my skills so that I can feel confident? Are there any good courses or tutorials that I should take?”
These are all great questions, and I do have some ideas. But before we get to them, I’m going to assume that you know how to write well, meaning you’re a competent writer who understands the rules of grammar and punctuation. If you don’t, you can learn those skills, and you should focus on doing that first before you dive into these copywriting exercises and tutorials.
OK, so copywriting exercises for beginners . . .
Below, I’ll share some places where you can learn more about copywriting (and other relevant things, like inbound marketing) as well as some exercises you can do at home. I’m including free certifications as well as paid courses. Note: I’ve only done HubSpot Academy (which is free). But I’ve heard good things about the others. These aren’t endorsements. ALWAYS do your own due diligence.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve likely heard me talk about HubSpot. HubSpot is a SaaS company that makes all-in-one marketing software, CRMs, and sales tools. HubSpot made the term “inbound marketing” famous, and it’s the go-to choice for companies large and small.
If you’re not familiar with HubSpot, fix this ASAP. Check out its resources. It offers definitive guides on things like SEO, content marketing, and the like.
And best of all, it offers FREE certifications in its HubSpot Academy. The two courses I would recommend starting with are the Inbound Marketing Certification and Content Marketing Certification. Do both of those, and you’ll quickly develop your knowledge and confidence around these topics.
Both courses clock in under four hours each, so you could conceivably finish them in a weekend. You’ll get badges that you can display on your website, email signature, and LinkedIn page.
Copyblogger & AWAI
Copyblogger is another excellent resource. They have paid courses, which I suspect means you might have the benefit of a set of eyes on the work (great for getting feedback). Same thing with AWAI (American Writers and Artists Institute).
Note: My understanding is that AWAI is a bit more expensive than some others. You can also search on YouTube for folks who train new copywriters. I know there are lots of copywriter channels that tout being able to get writers up and running quickly. Again, I can’t speak from experience. Always read reviews etc. And I wouldn’t recommend spending money you don’t have on courses you can’t afford. But that’s just me! If you’re truly strapped for cash and just starting out, HubSpot Academy is a great place to start.
But also keep in mind that one of the best ways to practice copywriting is simply JUST PRACTICE COPYWRITING. 🙂
Learning copywriting is like learning to draw. Grab a pencil and start sketching. So challenge yourself to write a home page for—I don’t know—a personal trainer. Or a dog-walking company. Make up a name and a location, and practice what that copy would look like based on everything you learned in the courses you’ve taken.
What other marketing assets could you create for that dog-walking company?
- Do some keyword research and write two or three 600-word blog posts with keyword-rich titles, compelling sub-headlines, engaging content, and strong calls to action.
- Write a series of social media posts for this fictional dog-walking company (or whatever company you’ve come up with).
- Create a downloadable offer—maybe something like “10 Things to Look for When Choosing a Dog Walker.” Create the landing page copy as well—and then create a series of lead nurturing emails that someone would receive after they download the checklist.
Look at all the content you just created—and all the practice you’ve done.
KEEP DOING THAT.
Keep doing it until you get into a rhythm and until things begin to feel like second nature.
If it feels weird to do these things for a fictitious business, ask yourself if you know a small business owner. If you do, consider doing all of the above for them pro bono (this is the ONLY time I’ll recommend writing for free). Tell them you’d like to create three blog posts, a downloadable offer for their website, a series of social media posts, and a series of lead nurturing emails free and clear.
You can simply explain you’re starting a copywriting business and looking to get practice. They can have the content free and clear, with no strings attached. You’re doing it so you get practice and portfolio pieces for your website.
And, of course, if they like the content, you can always talk to them about doing some paid work. But don’t expect it (or make them feel guilty if they don’t inquire about it after you hand over the pro bono work).
Other copywriting exercises for beginners:
- Evaluate pieces you encounter, like print ads and direct mailers. If you don’t think the piece is any good, rewrite it and make it better. Again, for practice.
- Practice brainstorming subject lines for emails and headlines for ads.
- Offer to do pro bono work for a nonprofit you’re involved with/believe in. Is there a local food pantry in your area? They often need marketing help. Again, I don’t recommend writing for free too often, but when you’re learning, you need to think of these early stages as an internship. And at least with nonprofits or organizations you already volunteer with, you’re giving something valuable back to the organization. Plus, the items you create can also make great portfolio pieces.
If you’re more of a visual learner, watch my video where I discuss all of the above: