The 4 Phases Of Copywriting

(This blog post is an extract taken from a recent Marketing Mentorship call that I conduct with our marketing students every month)

"Sales copy" is a fancy word for all the words you would write when you're advertising something via an email, a brochure, a website or video, etc. And when most people start writing sales copy for the first time, it's not unusual to feel a bit like a fish out of water.

So I want to give you what I believe are the four phases that any copywriter goes through when writing sales copy.

To illustrate these four phases, I'm going to split this upside-down triangle I'm drawing here into four even pieces (see video above). And the first piece at the top when it comes to copywriting is confusion.


Woman writing copy on a laptopYou're not sure where to start writing. You've got that dreaded blinking cursor, and you're unsure where to begin.

Confusion is a natural progression to it.

What you want to do is move from confusion to the next step, which is creative.


You want to brainstorm all the possible things you could actually call something. For example, let's say I'm trying to name an event. It's a two hour evening event, and the event is all about weight loss.

Woman thinking about what to write on her laptop So you think, what am I going to call this? There are so many different things. Let's get creative. This is where we have 'green light' or 'blue sky' thinking.

No idea is dumb. Let's just get it out there. What about something like, "How to get six-pack abs"?

Or okay, that's not the best. What about "How to lose five kilos in five weeks"?

What about "The power of a ketogenic diet"? What about "Eat what you want and then lose weight"?

So I get all these ideas, and I'm just being creative. It's this whole blue sky thinking idea.

Once I've got that, I move to the next thing. I try and be really clear.


Middle aged man smiling and using a laptop to write copy imageSo out of all these things, when I said, alright, how to lose five kilos in five weeks, is that my message? Is that really what I was trying to say? How can I change that now, so I'm really clear?

"How to lose five kilos in five weeks"...  you might think, no, I don't think that's it. It's more like, "How to lose stomach fat, not just for five weeks but forever."

Or it's kind of like "How to lose stomach fat forever... without going on some fad diet".

So right now, I'm not trying to be concise. I'm just trying to be really clear.

Once I've got it clear, we can move it to the next step. So if I believe it is "How to lose stomach fat forever without going on a fad diet", I write that down, and I check in - is that what I'm trying to say? Yes, it is. Let's move to the final step then.

Clever & Catchy

The final step is being clever. This is where you make it sound catchy. One of the things to make it sound catchy is to shorten it.

For it to be concise, I might shorten it and think to myself that I don't have to mention the fad diet. It's more about "How to lose stomach fat forever".

Woman thinking of clever copy to writeSo it could be like "How to drop the flab forever". Well, that sounds good because it's a bit of alliteration. So now I'm doing a clever thing, and it's quite short, "How to drop the flab forever".

If I'm still hung up on this, and I want to include the fad diet, I can bring that in. It also starts with an 'F', so I get heaps of alliteration. So it could be "How To Drop The Flab Forever (without crashing and burning on a fad diet)." And that's the event name.

Working Through The Stages

So if I go through the stages again of what we do when we're trying to get our copywriting brain into action, this could be a landing page, an email subject line, writing the body of an email... step one is confusion.

If you're at that stage right now, "Praise the Lord!" so to speak, because most people go through it. It's not like I'm sitting here thinking of what am I going to name this email and then a bolt out of the blue hits, and I go straight to calling it "How To Drop The Flab Forever (without crashing and burning on a fad diet)". That doesn't happen!

Embrace The Confusion

Thomas Edison said, "The way you have one good idea is by having many ideas."

So to recap, the four phases of copywriting are:

  1. Embrace the confusion.
  2. Get creative. Blue sky thinking... no idea is a dumb idea.
  3. Make it really clear.
  4. Be clever by shortening it and then adding some alliteration or rhyming or whatever it happens to be.

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Cham is the CEO and Head of Marketing at Authentic Education since co-founding it in 2009. He is passionate about productivity, empowering people, marketing and is creator of Digital Marketing Made Easy.

He has worked for Anthony Robbins, Chris Howard and Dr John Demartini from "The Secret" and has featured in BRW magazine, and newspapers such as Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.