Blunt Copywriting – Beautifully crafted copy converts. Yet polished prose remains out of reach for many marketers still clinging to generic claims or flowery pretentiousness. Such writing repels rather than compels action.

This guide cuts through the fluff to deliver brutally honest copywriting advice optimized not for elegance but economic impact. Digest these concentrated lessons to start producing words that sell across channels from landing pages to banner ads.

Follow in the bootstrapped footsteps of direct response marketers who distill everything down to emotional triggers, crystal clear positioning, irresistible offers rooted not in eloquence but reader benefit. Our refined frameworks help tailor messaging to what customers care about most – their problems, fears, and desires.

Come ready to absorb hard-hitting copy lessons designed for high-performance results instead of passive nodding. Take what works for your business needs and leave behind played out conventions. Quickly build the commercial writing skills to surpass competitors still clinging to conventional wisdoms corrupting clarity.

Many articles will tell you how to improve at copywriting based on things the author has been doing RIGHT.

Blunt Copywriting Writing for results

But we asked our ProfileTree writer Conor to own up to his biggest mistakes – giving you some insider tips you might not see elsewhere!

Blunt Copywriting- Image of typewriter (re copywriting)

Blunt Copywriting: Dusty Advice for a Digital Era

So, it’s 2018 and you’ve been learning all you can about SEO. That means you’ve read blogs full of advice and the odd podcast too.

But before keywords and YouTube guides, generations of tried and tested advice had already stood the test of time.

Which ones are worth passing on? The ones where I ignored their wisdom and regretted it. So now you don’t have to.

Oh, and I’ve even included some of the bad copywriting habits I’ve mentioned. Intentionally (honest).

Don’t Fix…Change

Something wrong with the sentence or unsure about a word? Would you rather have an engine replacement or a new car? Press delete.

I’ve wasted hours trying to fix text, but it comes down to attempting to save the Titanic with a bucket. If it’s broken, replace it.

Blunt Copywriting Shipwreck image (re copywriting)

So What?

Read your sentence, ask yourself ‘so what?’, then improve it. Repeat in a spin cycle until my metaphor runs out.

I could’ve saved any number of of garbled headlines with this simple tip. But it isn’t too late. Save yourself!

Here’s one I made (a mess of) earlier…

*Ps – not the views of my employer etc

Blunt Copywriting Image of too-long headline (re copywriting)

Blunt Copywriting: Don’t Wipe Your Feet on the Way In

Don’t mumble into a point by showing uncertainty. Make sure of your point, make yourself sure of your point or ditch it.

If you aren’t sure, they won’t be sure either. You’ll soon find this out in the comments section (been there, done that). Again, delete is your friend.

Time is short and people are a’scrolling, so make your point and make it clearly. A cat photo to distract the reader’s attention is only seconds away.

Go all in. Always.

Blunt Copywriting Poker cards (re copywriting)

Blunt Copywriting: Say the First Thing First

The head of a pint of Guinness is pretty much the only time the first should become the last. Or the last should become the first. Amen.

A month of research once sank like a stone when a muddled headline of mine sent readers down the wrong path. Now you’ve no excuse. Put up a neon sign to show the way instead.

May my family eventually learn to bear the shame of this headline…

Blunt Copywriting Image of too-complex headline (screengrab, re copywriting)

Blunt Copywriting

Remember the Rules of Three and Seven

Humans process information presented as three items really well. Think of a fairy tale and you’ll see what I mean. Psychology also tells us that seven works well to. Because psychologists say so.

I’ve asked friends if they remember facts from longer lists than this from my articles. They change the subject then don’t call back. You’re better than this.

Blunt Copywriting 333 numerals (re copywriting)

Every Word Has to Earn Itself

True today more than ever. Here’s an example: who on earth are the ‘general public’? Do we have a specific public?

A newspaper editor I worked for would almost throw the (actual) book at you for this. Keeping the rule in mind is a much easier way to learn this copywriting essential.

Blunt Copywriting Man pointing (re copywriting)

Blunt Copywriting: Get It On the Screen

Make a start and you’re halfway there. Wait around and someone else will write your idea up for you (like it or not, and it happened many times to me).

“To get started, write one true sentence” (Ernest Hemingway). What he said.

Blunt Copywriting Ernest Hemingway quote (re copywriting)

Let It Soak

If possible, a draft likes to mature overnight before you edit and have it proofed. Why? Because that is the way of things.

A fresh pair of eyes in the morning can – and has – revealed many copywriting sins. Better now than when you press ‘Publish’. Trust me.

Blunt Copywriting Man sleeping ( (re copywriting)

Have a Sounding Board

There’s nothing better than someone who will call rubbish on low quality.

Oh, and always always use a proofreader. Always.

What happened every time I’ve thought “it’ll be fine” when pressing send. *Narrator’s voice: “It was not fine”.

Ps – Always.

Blunt Copywriting Pen writing the word Honesty (re copywriting)

Make Your Lists Shorter Than This One

There’s no excuse. My excuse? I don’t have one. Because there is no excuse.

Ten items is fine, 14 if you REALLY need to.

Roadsign for placename Dull (re copywriting)

Blunt Copywriting: What’s In It for Me?

A basic copywriting technique and one to remember all the time: what’s in it for my reader to click and give away their time?

If you don’t mind very dated and salty language – or dated and salty movies – watch the start of Glengarry Glen Ross (NSFW) and you’ll learn even more.

What’s it for you to read this one if you aren’t a movie nerd? Apparently not a lot…

Blunt Copywriting Screengrab of an article intro (re copywriting)

Be Good at Mistakes

Every article could be better – but only if you know what was wrong with the last one.

Ask and you shall receive, but make sure you take feedback on board.

Oh, and I have no idea what this image means. But it’s very pretty.

Blunt Copywriting Complex input / output flowchart (re copywriting)

Blunt Copywriting: It’s Not About You

The reader is king around these here parts. Talk to them, not at them. Know them, love them, listen to them.

Talk their language and the language of the platform they’re using to read your work. Then talk to their friends, find out how they spend their time. But always follow the terms of your restraining order.

So, ditch the metaphorical selfie stick. 

Blunt Copywriting No Selfie Sticks sign (re copywriting)

Blunt Copywriting: Read Great Writing

Read something you loved? A quote or social post or line in a book?

Write it down or file it in a dark corner of your brain with the stuff about whisky and reality shows you secretly like.

You’ll use them some day. Promise.

Blunt Copywriting Photo of library (re copywriting)

Examples of powerful copywriting hooks and value propositions:


“What if you could capture professional-quality product photos without expensive equipment or a photography studio?” (plays to desire for simplicity)

“Are you wasting hours per week trying to optimize social media posts when you could better spend that time growing your business?” (identifies pain point)

“Ever feel you’re not reaching your potential or possessing all thewillpower you were meant to?” (provokes self-doubt/aspiration)

Value Propositions

“Our meal kits save dual-income families up to 10 hours a week through prepped ingredients and simple recipes for under $9 per serving.” (quantifies time & money benefit)

“We condense complex health studies into a daily 30 second digest featuring personalized insights tuned to your genome and lifestyle.” (defines unique solution)

“For less than most gym memberships, our app delivers customized home workout programs to match your goals powered by algorithms recommended over 130,000 times.” (dimensions value against competitor)

Tactics for optimizing conversion-focused calls-to-action (CTAs) in copywriting:

  • Lead with the benefit in the CTA wording itself upfront to compel clicks immediately
  • Use imperative commands like “Download Now” or “Learn More” instead of passive “Download” to give urgency
  • Make the CTA hyperlinked text bold/colored and substantially sized to draw attention
  • Limit to one strong CTA per section max so readers know exactly where to click
  • Give CTAs consistent placement like page bottom for user familiarity
  • Ensure the CTA click leads users to a page fulfilling expectations set by messaging
  • Test loss aversion wording e.g. “Claim Your Spot Before Registrations Fill”
  • Personalize CTAs dynamically when possible to increase relevancy
  • Track CTA performance to determine optimal wording/placement over time

Sharpening CTAs shapes one of the most critical user experience touchpoints for conversions.

Personalized copy tailored to individual customer data and context is becoming increasingly important for better results:

Improves Relevance

Copy personalized to someone’s name, company, needs or browsing history simply resonates more. It shows you understand them versus blasting generic messaging.

Reflects Omnichannel Reality

Today interactions happen across channels – email, web, mobile apps. Personalization maintains continuity as people switch contexts.

Outperforms Stock Copy

Personalized copy has repeatedly proved higher open & click through rates, conversions versus boilerplate content.

Fuels Loyalty

Customers feel valued when your comms demonstrate individual understanding through customized suggestions, offers etc.

Closes Relevance Gap

As content volume balloons online, laser focused personal copy cuts noise meeting precise user needs.

In summary, the capacity to dynamically populate copy with external data signals, behavioral insights, CRM intelligence etc magnifies relevance and in turn response. The tech enables 1:1 communications at omnichannel scale.

Overview points on modern copywriting approaches like conversational messaging and storytelling:

Conversational Copy

  • Write in first or second person for intimate reader connection
  • Adopt vocabulary matching real informal speech
  • Use contractions, imperatives and short sentences
  • Feels like helpful guidance from a friend


  • Share a narrative arc transporting readers into scenes
  • Spark interest by introducing conflict/tension then resolving it
  • Use descriptive details, colorful imagery and emotion
  • Builds rapport while embedding brand ethos

Both styles forge emotional bonds absent from formal corporate text. Conversational copy mimics one-on-one help friends might provide. Storytelling immerses readers into overcoming shared struggles.

When appropriately applied, these framing techniques humanize messaging while sustaining clarity around calls-to-action. Test resonance with audiences but avoid full informality unbefitting of brand standards. The ideal blend depends on positioning.

New decisions around long-form versus short-snippet writing:

Long-form (blog posts, guides etc)

  • Expands on topics in depth creating rich resources
  • Attracts organic search visibility
  • Showcases thought leadership capable of sophisticated messaging
  • Higher production investment

Short-form (social posts, Quora etc)

  • Condenses into fast-scannable bite-sized bits
  • Ephemeral but wider initial reach
  • Gateway to guide awareness to long-form assets
  • Enables experimentation through volume

Ideally brands use both formats tailored for each channel – lengthy blog articles housing deeper funnels, short social snippets winning attention milliseconds at a time.

Evaluate whether assets deserve full analysis depending on commercial intent. For lower intent offers, concise copy cuts fastest to the point. But for premium services warranting nurture, long-form content builds relationships over time.

The integration between two depends on the role each plays capturing interest then sustaining engagement in nuturing sequences mapping to conversion paths.


  • Content Brief – Captures goal, audience, messaging, outline
  • Headline Formulas – Mad lib headline types optimized for social etc
  • Email/Landing Page Frameworks – Sections/flow mapped out


  • Google Docs – Collaborative writing and commenting
  • Hemingway – Assesses grade level and complexity
  • Grammarly – Checks grammar, spelling, style
  • CoSchedule Headline Analyzer – Scores social headline effectiveness
  • Buzzsumo – Researches performing content formats
  • SEMrush – Surfaces questions and keyword gaps

Leveraging templated frameworks standardized for specific asset types like emails or posts preserves message integrity across creators. Tools help hone presidention for readership level, grammar, mobile delivery etc.

Preparing documents upfront for contributors to simply fill in details bound to objectives, outlines, target lexicon etc drives alignment while saving time.

Blunt Copywriting: FAQ

Frequently Asked Copywriting Questions

Q: How do you write emotional copy?

A: Trigger problems/aspirations readers relate to. Use vivid language and visualizations.

Q: What makes compelling calls to action?

A: Lead with user benefit. Command urgency. Make hyperlinked text bold and sized.

Q: What copywriting skills are most in demand?

A: Distilling complex topics simply. Utilizing data dynamically. Conversationally connecting.

Blunt Copywriting: Conclusion

Impactful copy provides the foundations for all effective messaging converting readers into customers across formats from static ads to personalized emails. While room exists for elegance, priority rests squarely on emotion, clarity and brevity in selling anything.

Hone persuasive skills continually to close knowledge gaps around pain point triggers, quantifiable benefit communication, frictionless calls to action. Absorb lessons from direct response legends but also test new approaches as attention spans fragment across channels.

Now equipped with this exclusive book of blunt copy lessons, fire ineffective stock messaging methods to compel measurable responses with words optimized solely for outcomes. Progress beyond surface level platitudes to incite reactions through media neutral commercial writing expertise ready to deploy across domains vying for crowded inboxes and news feeds.

Blunt Copywriting: Most of All…

Enjoy yourself, then others might enjoy your writing too. What could be better than that?

Oh, and test out dusty old writing tips for yourself. Just don’t ignore them.

This is the confession of a ProfileTree copywriter.

Go in peace.

See also: Your First Blog The Best Blogging Platform For You? Promote Your Blog Business Blog Topics Creative Strategy Ideas for Business Your Map of Digital Marketing Channels

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