I don’t usually like to work at Starbucks—too crowded, too loud, not enough outlets, small tables, impossible to resist the $8 cup of sugar—but Monday morning, I had no choice.
I had an awkward amount of time between getting my car inspected (ew) and getting my teeth inspected (even more ew), and I was on a deadline, so I was left with only 2 options: work in my car, or work in Starbucks.
I plopped myself down at an empty squeaky chair along what can only be described as an obnoxious, out-of-place dining table, facing the door.
I surveyed my surroundings before getting started, in typical neurodivergent business owner fashion, attempting to get all distractions out of the way, and focused in on a group of middle-aged men chatting at the table in front of me.
They seemed like the only potential distraction, but they weren’t being too rowdy, so I opened up my Google Doc and got started on my website copy edits.
I should have known that sitting right in front of the door would be a bad idea, because I looked up every. single. freaking. time. it jingled as someone left.
“Bye Tony,” a woman said. Jingle.
Back to work, Sara.
“Have a good one, Tony,” a man said. Jingle.
Back to work, Sara.
“Hey, Tony, how ah yah! See yah latah,” a grandpa said. Jingle.
Okay… back to work, Sara. But, question: why does everyone know Tony?
“Heeeey, Tony! Good to see yah, man,” another grandpa said. Jingle.
“Ayyy! TONAY! Nice to see yah, buddy,” a kid in his 20s said. Jingle.
Tony! Tony! Tony!
Why the F does EVERYONE KNOW TONY?!
Is he the Mayor? The Town Manager? A local cop? Someone famous’s dad? A luxury drug dealer? The inventor of Toaster Strudel? A former Pats player? The new owner of the Celtics? Did I miss a news story?
Who IS this man?!
All of these questions were obviously all over my face, because Tony’s friend—no clue what his name was, apparently no one knew him—kept looking up at me every time someone called out to Tony and jingling the damn door.
I could read his mind: she’s wondering why everyone knows Tony.
And he could read mine: she knows I know that she’s wondering how everyone knows Tony.
Half of me wanted to get up and leave, just so I could yell “heyyy have a good one, Tony—good to see yah!” and fuck with him.
But I didn’t.
Instead, I’m going to spend the rest of my life wondering who Tony is.
Yeah… that story actually doesn’t have an end. I still don’t know who the hell Tony is. But you were interested, right?
That’s because I didn’t start at the beginning of the story.
& that’s my best copywriting tip:
This is a two-part tip, made up of one half storytelling, and one half clarity.
When it comes to story-based copy—aka words that tell a story, to inspire readers to take action—starting in the middle is key.
(Or the end. Honestly, anywhere other than the beginning works.)
This will pull your readers in, and make them want to keep reading sentence after sentence. I know you’ve seen it before.
Think about the last time you read a fiction novel. Did you notice that it started off with a sentence that made you want to find out what happened next?
The book I’m reading right now literally started off with “I just punched a girl in the face.”
→ Who did they punch?
→ Why did they punch her?
→ Did she deserve it?
→ Is she gonna get beat up?
→ Is she gonna get in trouble?
I didn’t know. I had to keep reading to find out.
(She punched her best friend, because she was messing around with her boyfriend, so, yeah, she deserved it. She didn’t get beat up, and she didn’t get in trouble.)
This tactic works with more than just fictional stories, though.
You’ve probably noticed it on a lot of websites, sales pages, and sales emails you’ve read, too.
& the reason why this tip is one half clarity, too, is because ain’t nobody got time to waste.
And, like I’ve told you a million times here on the BTL blog, readers are selfish.
Your readers want to know what’s in it for them—what’s the point of reading it? Why should they care about it? Why should they spend their precious time on your website, sales page, email, IG post…?
If you want to give them a reason to stick around, you have to skip straight to the good stuff.
THEN you can tell them WHY that good stuff is so good, or why you’re so good at the good stuff, or why they need the good stuff so much… you feel me?
Take this Services page, for example.
Monocle Productions is an NYC-based event production company that custom produces once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and their clients want to be hosts that deserve standing ovations.
So, instead of starting off with the WHAT—custom-produced events—I chose to start off with the end result of what the What would bring the reader.
⭐️ What we know about the ideal client: they want a standing-ovation-level reaction from their party guests.
⭐️ What we know about Monocle: they can help the client plan an event so sick that they will get that standing-ovation-level reaction.
The ideal client doesn’t have time to read through a biography about Monocle’s expertise right away—they don’t know Monocle yet. They’re not even sure if they’re interested.
But once they read that Monocle specializes in providing them exactly what they’re looking for?
Well, now they suddenly have the time. They start to care. They want to know more about how they can get that result. They start to get curious about who is behind this company that’s promising to meet their desires.
And that’s when a lead converts to a buyer.
…all because we didn’t start at the beginning. 😉
I still don’t know.
But I CAN promise you that—despite a ridiculous amount of my email subscribers thought when I told them this story—that I did NOT make him up.
So many people replied to my email about him that I completely made up the story just so I could share the “skip straight to the good stuff” tip, and, I won’t lie to you, I was low key offended.
I’d never make up a story just for the sake of a newsletter – our regular lives are interesting and relatable enough that no one should have to make up a story solely to send it in an email.
However, on the other hand, I AM kind of glad so many people asked where the story came from, because it inspired me to FINALLY share how I come up with what to say in my weekly newsletters.
Subscribe to my newsletter. You’ll love it, I swear.
Oh, and if we haven’t had the chance to *virtually* meet yet, hi!
I’m Sara Noel—website copywriter and marketing mentor for creatives, copywriters, and all-around cool people. If you like my content and you want even more BTL in your life, here are a few ways you can connect with me:
Check out my services. I write website copy, sales pages, email sequences, blog posts, and brand messaging guides for entrepreneurs of all kinds! Maybe you’re my next favorite client.
Read the rest of my blog. It’s home to everything from copywriting tips, to marketing education, to freelance advice, to portfolio-worthy projects… if you like this post, you’ll love the blog. Here’s a quick roundup of my most popular posts.
Sign up for my web copy course. Actually, it’s not *only* about website copywriting—I also teach modules on copywriting basics, developing your target audience, search engine optimization, blogging, and email marketing.
Enlist me as your mentor. I have an entire in-depth blog post about my one-on-one consulting process for new and aspiring copywriters, if you’re interested in having a big-sis-style mentor to help you grow your freelance copywriting business & get results.
If you're an entrepreneur, business owner, or course creator with big dreams of success and growth—and a big, scary blank document standing in your way every time you sit down to write your own copy—nice to meet you, I'm your new solution.
Through what I like to call sales-focused storytelling, I'll help you find your brand's voice, perfectly position your offerings, develop your target market, and write copy that resonates with your ideal audience. And I'll do it all while keeping your personality at the forefront of every draft, to ensure that each word aligns with your true self.
let's work together
Writing your own website or sales page copy doesn't have to be something you stress over anymore. I'd love to work with you to craft conversion-friendly, SEO-optimized copy your leads will love.
As an absolute email marketing fiend, there's no one more qualified to teach you how to get new subscribers on your email list and write the most click-and-binge-worthy newsletters.
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