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Copy Rules for Entrepreneurs

November 2, 2023

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Welcome! As the founder & lead copywriter of CU, I’m obsessed with seeing how words can light up a creative entrepreneur, breathe fire into their spirit, and revitalize the passion they have for their business. 




So, why does copywriting matter so much anyway?

To put it simply, copywriting is content design. And in the words of Mark Shaw, “[it] requires all of the design thinking that goes into any other creative aspect of a business.” And as much as we love design, solely focusing on your logo, images, or web design just isn’t going to produce the results you seek. You also need the right words to inform, inspire, persuade, and move people to action. Copywriting is the art and science of words. It requires the fluid innovation of an artist and the meticulous thought of an accountant.

Good copy doesn’t tell people what it is, or even what it will do. It shows people how it will improve their lives.

The good news is, there are replicable formulas, strategies, and proven tactics to improve your own copy, so you can powerfully connect with your readers and compel them to act…all without the cringe factor. The enclosed “rules” are some of my favorite tidbits – they’re ones I use in my own writing and our client’s copy – for you to swipe and apply to yours.

My hope for you is that you’ll learn the rules, structures, and boundaries of good copywriting – so you can ultimately push back on them to test, experiment, innovate, and create something entirely your own.

1. Know Thy Prospect

This is the first commandment of writing effective copy. If you don’t know:

a)) who you’re writing for
b) what you’re really trying to say to them
c) what it takes to make it interesting
d) how to shape your message to suit their needs
e) why it matters

…then you’re not writing professional copy. [Adapted, Mark Shaw, Copywriting] This may feel like time consuming, unnecessary background work, but it’s not. It’s necessary. Even if you choose not to go the DIY route and hire a professional copywriter (hi!), you’ll still need to have some semblance of an idea of the above.

That’s just part of owning a smart, focused business! That’s why we spend a fair amount of time on this in our course Vine to VoiceTM, and then again in our other Cu Edu Courses. Knowing your prospect and conducting intentional market research will allow you to create a deeper connection with your readers, which leads to building trust and ultimately, conversions.


Have you ever succumbed to a curiosity-inducing headline that promised ONE big

For example, “The One Thing You Need to Know Before You Bungee Jump”.

Shoot, I’m clicking on that headline! I want to know what that one thing is! Especially before I embark on doing something as dangerous as bungee jumping…

But what if that same article was headlined with: “100 Things to Consider, Pack, and Do Before Bungee Jumping”. Sure, that might get saved to your “Wanderlust” Pinterest board, but you may pass over reading it for a moment when you have “more time”…(whenever that is).

Not only is having ONE clear benefit more click-worthy, but it’s also way easier to your write your copy around ONE core idea, rather than trying to infiltrate it with #allthethings. So even if your business does 20 different things, you DON’T need to list all of them right from your homepage.

THINK: How can you succinctly communicate the one core benefit and then take them on a journey of uncovering the rest as they browse your site?

“The goal of every line of copy is to get your reader to read the next line of copy.”
Joanna Wiebe


What’s a house without a blueprint? Along the same adage, what’s a page of copy without an underlying structure?! If you just write with reckless abandon…your reader will feel it.
Regardless of what you’re writing, have an idea of where you’re going with it and ensure there’s some sort of a backbone. Here’s a basic structure to follow: As hinted at in rule #2, you need a crisp headline – a clear, creative hook to draw your reader in, followed by a sub-header or descriptive statement that briefly elaborates on the headline/title.

Next is your first paragraph of body copy. This is your chance to quickly reinforce your headline – and make sure they know you plan to deliver on your initial promise.

Next is your first paragraph of body copy. This is your chance to quickly reinforce your headline – and make sure they know you plan to deliver on your initial promise.

Followed by your bread and butter copy—this is when you start to get into all of those juicy features, benefits, and important details that show you clearly have the best possible solution.

Lastly is your close-out – remind them of the clear outcome/result/transformation and present a clear call-to-action (contact, buy, more information, subscribe, donate, etc.).

A super simple structure like this ensures your reader is rewarded for getting through your copy – they get the information they were after, and you gain trust and credibility. Win, win.


The term “brand voice” refers to your company’s unique sound and style of communication. In short, it’s your personality. It’s largely dependent on rule #1 (know thy prospect!), but also takes into account how your brand desires to ‘position’ itself in order to stand out. Are you bold and irreverent? Cheeky and sarcastic? Kind and heartwarming? Thoughtful and reflective?

If you’re not sure, start here: “The baseline tone of voice is clear, informed, and interested” (Mark Shaw). It involves the reader and has a clear sense of direction.

Be intentional about the words you choose, the grammar and inflection of your
writing, and your cadence. All of this determines your particular ‘sound’ and the
feeling you create for others through your writing.


Also known as conversational copy – this one reminds you that you’re not writing to/for an inanimate screen. You’re talking to a real human, as a human! That kind of empathy, clarity, and thoroughness is what makes your reader feel like their sitting on the couch with you, rather than trying to discern what the heck you’re saying.

This also means ignoring some high school grammar schools. For example, for the love of rosé, USE CONTRACTIONS!

If you were talking to someone would you so precisely say, “I will be there” or would you say, “I’ll be there!” Would you say, “I am a copywriter…” or would you say, “I’m a copywriter…”. Small change, big diff.

Less formal doesn’t mean dumbed-down, it means it’s more natural & digestible! And that’s a beautiful thing.

Want to receive the other 11 Copy Rules? We got you!

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