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Sales Writing Is an Art Form:
5 Ways to Polish Your Skills
It is part of human nature to put things off: to indefinitely postpone tasks of long-term benefit while we focus on short-term gratification.
We might understand that getting some exercise is the right move but end up sitting around eating chips instead. Our best-laid plans of cleaning the house often fall by the wayside as we find ourselves idly browsing YouTube.
Most of the time it’s possible to find reasons to justify this conduct, usually invoking things like time and balance. When you’ve worked hard throughout the day and have endured an irritating commute, you can reason that you need to relax as much as possible. When you only have an hour in the evening, you can tell yourself that it isn’t enough to make any progress, so you might as well simply fritter it away on something frivolous instead.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. There’s an excellent chance that you’re stuck at home for the most part, with no social events hogging your calendar and the shortest working day you’ve ever had (with no commuting and no need for a long lunch break). So what’s your excuse for putting things off now, aside from sheer laziness?
There isn’t one, so why not use this time productively by working on your sales writing. It’s a skill that transcends the sales industry, because being able to convince people through text is useful in so many situations, and you won’t regret improving it.
Here are five ways in which you can polish your writing skills from the comfort of your home:
Brush up on the basics
You should know how to walk before you run, or else there’s a decent chance you’ll trip over and tear a quad. If you can’t write competently, how can you realistically expect to sell anything with your words alone? Take extracts from classic literature then riddle them with typos and grammatical mistakes: all of a sudden they won’t seem so compelling. If you’re anything less than 100% confident in your ability to create rock-solid prose, you should review the basics.
Thankfully, the internet is full of great resources to help you do just that, so you don’t need to go trawling on Amazon for expensive textbooks. These writing skills pages alone contain more than enough to run you through everything from common mistakes to writing in plain English, and there’s even more just a simple Google search away. There are paid courses out there, naturally, but there’s no good reason to pay anything with so many free guides available.
Work on your confidence
You’re no doubt familiar with the stereotype of the slick salesperson who descends upon unwary visitors with the hunger of a starving shark and smoothly talks them into massively exceeding their budgets. That kind of rhetorical power requires eloquence, sure, and an ability to read the room, but it also demands confidence. Only immense self-belief allows someone to deploy their selling ability without feeling self-conscious and holding back as a result.
Due to this, I strongly recommend working on yourself in general. Exercise regularly. Improve your diet. Talk into a mirror until you feel comfortable asserting yourself. If you doubt yourself and suffer from a lot of anxiety (not surprising given what’s happening in the world), then consider looking for some kind of coaching — sites like Orion's Method have various tips and services that can prove useful — and/or learning from one or more of the many books written on this topic, such as The Six Pillars of Self Esteem.
Research great online stores
Great writers develop their styles by reading. There’s no true originality in the world, because everything that feels original is just a refreshing arrangement of existing elements, so you shouldn’t expect to spool out fantastic sales copy through sheer creativity. You need to take inspiration from what’s already been written — so why not check out great online stores?
Think about brands like Apple, for instance. Apple knows how to present products incredibly succinctly, using the fewest words possible while making iPhones sound like slices of divinity sent from the heavens to bring us all together. Look around, see what you can find, and let it all soak into the back of your mind.
Practice on your friends
You’ve probably heard of the pen test that often gets thrown into interviews. “Here’s a pen. Sell me this pen.” It’s fairly stupid, in truth, but that kind of artifice can actually be pretty useful if you deploy it correctly. When you’re talking to your friends online, why not just try to sell them things? They can be real things (perhaps your possessions), or things you’ve made up.
To be clear, you do need to make a serious effort, no matter what you’re trying to sell. Don’t just joke around and get ridiculous. Legitimately attempt to convince them to buy from you. The circumstances will be incredibly challenging if you pick something unappealing (provided you don’t explain that you’re just practicing) or easier if you pick something interesting, so you can scale the level of difficulty to suit you.
Look for freelance work
Learning by doing has a lot of value, and there’s nothing quite like sales writing when you’re trying to get better at sales writing — so you should try to do some sales writing. How, particularly if you’re not that great at it yet? Well, you can look for some low-importance freelance gigs through a site like Upwork or Freelancer (here are some options).
Quote a low rate and overdeliver. It isn’t a sustainable model, but it’s fine for short-term practice — and since you need to practice regardless, anything you make will be a bonus. Take the feedback you receive and build on it. And if you get great reviews from the outset, you might even get enough business to start raising your rate.
Sales writing is pretty challenging, requiring you to have excellent writing ability and know how to build a rhetorical case. The only way to get good at it is to practice, learn what you can, and commit to it as a priority. Use these tactics to get going.
About the Author
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.