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You are trying to develop a well-written article and sell it to your readers. You have a sales blog. Yes, you do, you just don’t know it yet.

By writing articles and making them public, you make sales. You try to sell your ideas to your readers, who, in turn, pay you in visits. And maybe they bring other friends, too.

Or, maybe you are trying software, like PHP scripts, AJAX scripts, a homemade script that does something useful, web site templates, WordPress templates, graphics, icons, widgets, and more.

That’s your sale. And these are the mistakes you (probably) make:

1: Being focused on you, instead of on your market

This is the easiest mistake to make, and the most common. Most ad copy is focused on the advertiser, not on the consumer. Big mistake. When you read copy that says things like, “We’re the best in the industry… we’ve been in business since 2000… we have the most well-trained associates… our facility has won many industry awards…” what is your reaction?

Most likely, your reaction is, “So what? What does that mean to me and my life?”

If you’re using copy that says “we”, “us”, and “our” a lot – find a way to change that copy so that it says “you”, and “yours”. Speak about the things that matter to your customer. Here’s a hint: those things are probably not what you think they are. Why not ask your customers? They know the answer, and they’ll be glad to share it with you if you’re wise enough to listen.

2: Using a weak, wimpy, or just plain bad headline

In the beginning, you only have one chance to grab the reader’s attention. That chance is the headline. Make sure your headline is strong, aggressive (without being pushy), and compelling.

Think of your headline as the sales pitch to get the prospect to read the whole ad. It has to be compelling enough that the reader thinks, “Hey, if this is true, I need to know about it…” You get one shot. You can’t afford to blow it.

3: Not using enough bullets

Bullets break up your copy into short, readable bursts. Especially on the web, people tend to scan copy before they read it. Breaking your benefits into bullets increases the chances your copy will “catch the eye” and thus get read.

To recap the benefits of bullets:

  • They break up copy (just like this) into short pieces.
  • They make the copy easier to scan.
  • They make it easier to pick out key words and phrases.
  • They get more of your copy read.
  • They make you more sales.
  • The more bullets the better (usually).

4: Using big words and jargon.

Copy should read like conversation; it should flow naturally and be easy to process. Using big words and jargon might sound impressive, but it won’t get you sales. Which would you prefer?

Use strong, punchy words. Write simply and clearly. Avoid jargon.

5: Using weak, wimpy, or just plain bad sub-heads

You should use subheads every 3-4 paragraphs in your copy. Make subheads strong and compelling; think of them as headlines for each section of your copy.

If read in sequence, your subheads should sound like an abbreviated version of your sales pitch (which is what they are). Sub-heads done correctly are a way to “stop the eye”, catch the reader’s interest, and get him to slow down enough to read that section.

6: Sentences and paragraphs that are too long

Keep your sentences and your paragraphs short. A paragraph in a sales letter should be no more than 3-4 sentences long – and they should be short sentences. People will read more of your copy if the sentences are and paragraphs are short. This is especially important on the first page (or the first screen, if it’s online) of your sales letter, when you are trying to draw them into your story.

Don’t scare people off with big blocks of text.

7: Not enough testimonials

One of your first tasks as a copywriter is to break down that skepticism, and get them to believe you – even just a little bit. Once that initial barrier of skepticism comes down, you have a chance of making a sale. How do you break through that skepticism?

Testimonials. You need lots of testimonials in your copy. How many? As many as you can get. Here’s a good rule of thumb: however many you have now, get 25% more.

8: Offers that stink

If your offer stinks, the best copy in the world won’t help you. By your offer, I mean the bundle, widget, or information as presented for sale. This includes your price, and how you demonstrate the value of your offer versus what you’re charging for it.

It’s best if you’re in the position of “selling dollars for dimes”. Then it’s easy to show the value of your offer. Is your offer good? If not, figure out how to make it good!

9: Forgetting to ask for the sale

It’s one of the most common mistakes in all forms of selling – not asking for the sale. Hard to believe? Maybe. But it’s true anyway; people just don’t want to ask for the order.

There comes a point where you’ve presented all the benefits of your offer; you’ve demonstrated its value; you’ve supplied lots of credible testimonials; you’ve shown your iron-clad guarantee… and you just need to ask for the sale. On the Internet, this can be as easy as putting in a link that says “Read More”, or “Click here for details”, or “Order Now”.

10: Pricing before benefits and offer

Sometimes business owners want to use price point as a selling feature, and so you see lots of web pages that right near the top will say something like “Now Only $24.95!”. That’s a BIG mistake.

First, you are signaling readers that this page is an ad, not a page of information. That will cause you to lose readers before you’ve had a chance to tell them your story. Second, you haven’t had a chance to elaborate on the benefits of your product or service, or to show the value of your offer.

Long before the price ever shows up on your page, you need to make the prospect feel that they must have the benefits that your product offers. They must desire those benefits in a strong and intense way. Don’t reveal your price before you spell out the benefits of your product, and the value of you your offer. If you do this well, and you do it in the correct order, price will never be an objection; your offer will always seem like a bargain.

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