Copywriting Formulas: 4 Of The Best

This article offers some popular copywriting formulas that will help you write persuasively, faster.

If you’re wondering what a copywriter does, they write to sell products, services, and ideas. If you’re writing for an online audience, it’s a valuable skill to learn too.

Copywriters excel at:

  • Capturing readers’ attention (even if they don’t have much to spare)
  • Persuading people to read your work and that your ideas have value
  • Convincing readers to take action, e.g., join your email list, share your work, buy your book, etc.
  • Turning a boring product description into snappy benefits.

Fear not: there are dozens of copywriting formulas that you can learn and write better non-fiction. In this post, I’ll share four useful writing formulas with you.

1. The Motivating Sequence

Robert Bly is an American copywriter who came up with the Motivating Sequence. There are five steps to this sequence.

  1. Get your reader’s attention
  2. Identify a problem or need
  3. Position your answer
  4. Prove your answer
  5. Ask the reader to take action

You can use this copywriting formula to introduce your blog posts and non-fiction articles. You can also use the various steps of this copywriting formula to outline your articles.

I use this formula a lot when writing articles like this one.

Motivating Sequence Examples

The step-by-step nature of the Motivating Sequence makes it easy to apply. It’s particularly useful for shorter blog posts and articles.

Here are three examples of the Motivating Sequence in action.

Example 1: New Bloggers

New bloggers have to wade through a lot of noise online when starting. Let’s use this sequence to guide them in the right direction.

[Get your reader’s attention]

“If you’re using Facebook to grow your blog, you’re wasting your time.”

Now tackle their problem:

[Identify a problem or need]

“In 2014, Facebook changed how it displays people’s posts. This change means the only way you get real traffic from Facebook to your blog is to pay for it. And if you’re a new blogger, you probably can’t afford to pay for traffic.”

Next, set up your answer:

[Position your answer]

“Don’t worry. In this post, I’ll give you five free and easy to apply traffic strategies for your new blog.”

The rest of your blog post should prove why blogger outreach is a better source of traffic than Facebook, and it should call on readers to start their first outreach campaign.

Example 2: Serious Bloggers

Serious bloggers are often guilty of working on the wrong things at the wrong time, and the last thing they need is another blog post that’s going to add to their growing to-do list.

Let’s use the Motivating Sequence to grab them by the ears:

[Get your reader’s attention]

“Would you like to find an extra hour in every day?”

Now, progress to the problem you’re going to address in your article:

[Identify a problem or need]

“How many hours are you spending answering the same questions for new subscribers, fixing the technical parts of your blog, and managing multiple email accounts?”

Next, reveal your answer:

[Position your answer]

“If your answer is ‘too many,’ I want to share a recent study with you. It shows the average blogger spends 10-20 hours a week on tasks that they could easily outsource.

Hiring a virtual assistant will make your working week easier. It will free up your calendar and give the free time you desperately crave.”

“These five simple tips will help you find the perfect VA”

Your post should then prove why virtual assistants work and encourage readers to hire one using your recommendations.

Example 3: New Writers

Finally, new writers often say they want to write every day, but they have trouble finding the time. To get them over this hurdle, you could start your article like this:

[Get your reader’s attention]

“Are you struggling to find time to write every day?”

Now, write about the problems of your readers:

[Identify a problem or need]

“Perhaps you get home from a long day in the office, sit down on the couch and find you’re too tired and burnt out to write? Or maybe you’ve got kids to feed, a house to manage, and a wife or husband to spend time with before you write? “

Next, talk about how your post can help:

[Position your answer]

“Getting up early in the morning before you go to work will help you claim the time you need to write. In this post, I’ll explain how I created a habit of rising early every day to write three thousand words, and how you can do the same.”

Your post should then prove why it makes sense to write first thing in the morning and call on readers to create this important habit.

2. The AIDA Formula

AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action, and it’s a proven copywriting formula from the advertising industry.

Firstly, grab the attention of your readers quickly and directly, with a bold first-line or via a dramatic statement.

Rouse their interest by explaining what you’re going to offer.

Next, create desire by explaining your offer or product’s measurable benefits via stats, proof, or a customer case study.

Finally, prompt the reader to take action.

This formula lends itself well to sales pages and sales letters as you can write paragraphs of copy for each of the four AIDA elements. It also works well for headlines and social media posts.

AIDA Formula Example

Let’s use the first three elements of the AIDA formula to create effective copy for an introduction.

Here’s the pain point we’ll tackle:

Many content marketers want to earn more money from their work. However, lots of new content marketers struggle to balance writing with reviewing how their work performs.

Let’s write a blog post opening for this audience:

[Attention]

If you only write content for clients, prepare to be shocked. You’re wasting your time.

[Interest]

Yes, it’s important to write regularly and create content. However, if you really want to make more money from content marketing, you need to prioritize learning analytics.

[Desire]

Last year, I completed a course in Google Analytics. As a result, I’m able to identify the top-performing articles on my client’s websites and make recommendations about what to create more or less off. They’ve doubled my pay as a result.

In this guide, I’m going to reveal what the types of analytics every smart content marketer should know.

AIDA Headline Example

As noted above, many headline writers use this formula. Here are a few examples of this copywriting technique:

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  • Last Chance! 50% Off Our Software. Hurry. Buy Now.
  • 3 Powerful Ways to Double Your Word-count-FAST

3. PAS Formula

Problem-Agitate-Solution is an old-school formula copywriters still use today. It breaks down into three parts:

Problem – introduce a problem the reader is experiencing.

Agitate – use emotional language to intensify the problem.

Solution – offer a credible solution to the problem.

You can use the Problem-Agitate-Solution formula to create a powerful openings for your articles.

I use this formula a lot when writing copy for landing pages, as it lends itself well to bullet points.

PAS formula example

New writers often complain about not having a lot of good ideas to work on. As a result, they feel frustrated and anxious about how they’re spending their time. Let’s tackle this problem for them.

[Problem]

“Are you sick and tired of having nothing good to write about?”

Now let’s whip up their emotions:

[Agitate]

“Millions of aspiring writers like you write stories every day. They work for hours on end, and they don’t do anything with their writing. They never find readers or earn money.”

“Unless you spend time on a few simple creative practices, you’ll never hit that target word-count or publish your book.”

Now we offer a lifeline:

[Solution]

“What if I told you there’s a better way? What if I told you a few simple practices would ensure you never run out of ideas to write about again?”

See how this formula uses a problem to draw the reader in?

4. Before and After Bridge Formula

The Before and After Bridge (BAB) copywriting formula is similar to the previous examples in this guide.

This time, your job is to paint a picture of life before a solution… and life after it. Write about the audience’s desires and frustrations first.

Then, explain how a product, service, or offering will help them get there. Basically, the reader must act (read, click, buy) to cross the bridge.

This copywriting formula works particularly well in email campaigns. Introducing a benefit or ideal-end state is far more likely to hold a recipient’s attention than a boring feature.

Bridge Formula Example

Let’s return to our beleaguered content marketer.

[Before]

“For a busy content marketer, it’s often hard to find time to build an audience on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. And that’s before you even consider repurposing content for YouTube and optimizing for search engines.”

[After]

“What if I told you that there is a way of sharing all of your latest content on social media? A method that can help you build up your presence on these social media networks without spending hours using them. This method will give you more time to write great copy for clients… or even take the day-off.”

[Bridge]

“Today, I’m going to reveal how I work with a social media manager who takes care of my business’s presence on all of these channels. And it doesn’t cost me much more than a hundred dollars a month. I’ll provide you with the exact procedures and tools we use.”

Copywriting Formula: The Final Word

These copywriting formula should save a lot of time when writing your next sales page, email or article.

That said, play around with the formula to see which ones work best for your audience and message.

Learning how to write copy is one of the quickest ways to start getting paid to write – many companies need writers who can clearly and concisely write about their products and services.

If you’d like to get started, the below books are useful resources:

This post on Copyblogger by Demian Farnworth is an excellent read too.

Like anything, learning how to write great copy takes practice and dedication. But if you write online or for clients, it’s time well spent.

Is copywriting hard to learn?

Copywriting requires study, practice and hard work. It requires combining an ability to write persuasively with a knowledge of what converts or turns a reader into a customer.

What is good copywriting?

Great copy explains how a product or service will help a potential customer. It isn’t flowery or going to win a literary prize. It convinces a reader to take action, that is download, subscribe or take out a trial. It takes the reader on a journey from casual browser to customer.

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10 thoughts on “Copywriting Formulas: 4 Of The Best”

  1. Nice post! Thanks for such an awesome guide Bryan. I have been doing this sequence without even me knowing. But I usually start with identifying a need on my articles. Do you think there’s a big difference if switch step 1 & 2?

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