Copywriting is a rare skillset. It’s a careful blend of psychology, persuasion, advertising, and sales. Plus, it takes years to master. But, copywriting remains as relevant today as it was in its infancy over a century ago.
Which means it’s a lucrative skillset, too.
As a result, to help master your copywriting skills, here are the best 50 copywriting courses and books to help you get started, grasp the fundamentals, take career ownership, and eventually master this essential craft.
Looking for a starting place? Look no further. The AdWeek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman is the perfect introductory guide to the practice of copywriting, teaching you the ropes like the importance of topic expertise, why you should write copy quickly, and how to lead readers line-by-line.
It might only take half a day to read it cover to cover. And the real world examples help crystalize each of the practical tips in each section.
Favorite quote (courtesy of Kissmetrics):
“All the elements in an advertisement are primarily designed to do one thing and one thing only: get you to read the first sentence of the copy.”
The Ultimate Sales Letter was originally written decades ago by direct marketing and copywriting guru Dan Kennedy.
He’s since published many, many books (in addition to an info-product empire). But this remains the original, popular source.
It’s provides a high level overview of writing direct-responsive style ads that may have originally by sent to your mailbox (remember those?), but today can work just as well on AdWords, long-form landing pages, and targeted email campaigns.
The chapters flow quickly, with pithy insights shared from real-world experience, that will help you quickly understand the mindset behind forging words with persuasion.
The Landing Page Conversion course from Unbounce spans multiple topics, all designed to help you understand how to convert more readers into product sales or service inquiries.
Unbounce co-founder, Oli Gardner, leads the course. But it also features top digital marketing experts like Rand Fishkin (Moz), Peep Laja (ConversionXL), and Brian Clark (Copyblogger) just to name a few.
There are eleven emailed lessons packed with video tutorials and ‘tear downs’ of real examples.
The middle of those lessons focus squarely on copywriting (from writing effective Calls To Action, lead capture forms, landing page copy, and psychology.
Peep Laja is the founder of the popular ConversionXL blog (and CRO agency of the same name). His eight week conversion course touches a wide range of topics with copywriting at its heart. There’s a bonus ninth week that teaches you how to run and manage a CRO agency. And a certification program at the end.
Peep’s program is not cheap. In fact, it’s the most expensive option listed here. But it also goes far beyond many of the other courses, too. For example, it’s an actual, live coaching with two live webinars each week (not the traditional video-based instruction). There’s also live Q&A each week to ask questions or get feedback.
Peep promises a 10x return within a year. And his expensive protégé option gives you weekly calls, unlimited email access, client referrals, and any access to any other ‘open doors’ you might need.
So the idea is to help you develop a skill set that puts you in the “top 1% of optimizers.”
The last option too expensive? Totally understand.
Thankfully, you can get a taste for Peep and ConversionXL’s work by spending the next thirteen minutes reading this in-depth blog post (that’s like a self-contained mini course).
This budget friendly intro focuses squarely on getting people to do something with the written word (like opt in for your service, download an eBook, or buy a product).
This post qualifies as a course because it presents a six step, repeatable process you can use to boost results. Those steps include:
- Conversion Boost
- Revise, Rearrange
Neville Medhora, creator of the Kopywriting Kourse, rode to prominence years ago as AppSumo’s chief copywriter for their amazing daily deal emails.
Each was clever and funny. Off-the-wall but insightful.
When they hit your inbox, you couldn’t resist opening and reading each one.
That same style (and the lessons behind it) have been bottled up inside his Kopywriting Kourse. The video courses are short and digestible (but actionable). You’ll also get access to a copy checklist you (or team members can follow), along with deeper dives into specific subjects like autoresponders, content writing, and how to become a copywriter.
AWAI’s six-figure copywriting program is ideal for beginners looking to create a career in copywriting for themselves. It’s a completely self guided program. So you can move through ASAP. Or squeeze it in around a day job, school, or just life in general.
An extra added perk is access to their exclusive job board, DirectResponseJobs.com, to help you get hired after completing the program.
You’ll build copywriting skills, but also discover how the business of copywriting works so you can hit the ground running when ready.
Not sure if you’ll like it? Give the 30-day trial a spin!
The Blackford Centre for Copywriting spans almost every copywriting topic you could think of, including:
- Basic and advanced writing skills
- Methods to research audiences
- Direct mail, brochure, and press release writing
- Tech copy tips including PPC ads, email marketing, SEO copywriting
- Finding work online and offline
It’s also a self guided course that you can move through in sequence (based on the course agenda). The assignments are ‘interactive’, which means you can also get support from tutors (both email and phone).
And for what it’s worth, this program is one of the only on the list that’s nationally accredited.
CopyHackers, by Joanna Wiebe, is a virtual treasure trove of copywriting goodness for tech companies.
Their introductory offer, a free video-based 101 course, walks you through the fundamentals of copywriting for the web with fellow copywriters Lianna Patch, Sam Woods, Amy Hebdon, and more.
In addition to the basic skills into, you’ll also get a longer discussion on the importance of features vs. benefits, writing for AdWords, and homepages vs. landing pages.
Perfect for those new to web-based copywriting.
The yet unreleased Copy School is a revamp on Copy Hacker’s previously successful courses for homepages, landing pages, and emails.
They’ll present the the same tips and frameworks used on tech titans like Buffer, Wistia, Crazy Egg, Invision, and more.
There’s no pricing currently as it’s reopening in May, but you can expect it to be at least a few hundred one-time/annual on the low side.
Looking for a taste of what’s to come in the Copy School? This free blog post – over 59 minutes of reading – paves the way.
It’s a complete rundown of the major copywriting formulas for increasing conversions across every scenario imaginable. For example, homepages, landing pages, ads, emails, video scripts and even tweets.
Some of the formulas, like AIDA or PAS, have been around for years and still work excellently for the most sophisticated online companies. So you can save this resource, revisiting it again and again and again.
Podcast Experts On The Wire comes courtesy of respected SEO, Dan Shure. In this episode, Dan speaks with Rainmaker’s (Copyblogger) Executive VP of Educational Content, Pamela Wilson, about her experience becoming a self-taught copywriter.
She shares her approach along the way, with tips and insights that others can (and should) mimic in their quest to becoming a fully fledged copywriting authority.
Speaking of Copyblogger, here they are with their own certification for content marketers. It’s a self-paced, four week program that’s split into two modules each week (so eight total modules).
Although it’s currently closed so there’s no pricing available, you can preview the course syllabus to see how the program is structured (and sign up to be notified when it’s opening back up).
Those who pass also get the added bonus of being featured on their Certified Content Marketer page.
‘SEO Copywriting’ is a unique blend of traditional copywriting skills but applied to the web in order to better rank in search engines (thus driving more visibility to your offerings and converting more readers into customers).
It’s an online-only, three month course that also contains lifetime access to all lessons and new versions or updates. (Read the course syllabus for the full details.)
Heather Lloyd is the creator, but group training calls also include other industry luminaries like Brian Clark (of Copyblogger and Rainmaker Media), Bruce Clay (of BruceClay.com), Roger Dooley (of Brainfluence), and more.
Gary Halbert was a professional, well-known copywriter for years. But he’s best known now among aspiring copywriters for this famous series of letters that he wrote to his son (some of which, while sitting in prison).
It’s all here. Understanding customer psychology. Influencing that psychology to get what you’re after. And a perfect, templated model to structure your writing for maximum readability (is that a word?).
The letters were once only available inside his premium membership. They’re now available online for free. And they’re also in a Kindle or Paperback edition if you want a to-go copy.
He’s created many of the famous ads that are still referenced today. And this book contains his best insights from making clients millions and millions over several decades at Ogilvy & Mather.
Sprinkled in among the gems are 223 photos from real campaigns. So avoid the Kindle in this case and spend the few extra bucks for the hardcover or paperback edition.
The specific methods for doing that haven’t changed much (despite new technology and mediums). So the tactics or formulas that worked in the past can still be applied today to devastating effect.
Robert Bly’s The Copywriter’s Handbook is like a field manual that you can keep next to you while writing. It contains countless formulas, like eight headline variations, fifteen ways to open a sales letter, and another fifteen for email marketing messages.
Here is the Kopywriting Kourse’s Neville provides another witty resource guide in a concise 54 pages (that you can read through in a single sitting).
It covers all the basics, from basic psychology to formulas and other style techniques like voice and tone.
Practical, to-the-point, and actionable. Can’t get much better than that.
The first of several Udemy courses from famed copywriter Len Smith and Sean Kaye. This one centers on the business of copywriting and getting started in freelancing for yourself. It goes beyond the basics to include sections on ways to increase income and start generating new sales from a website.
Along the way you’ll also learn how to quickly put together a portfolio (even when starting from scratch), how to market or sell yourself, and how to get a website up-and-running within five days.
The second course from Len & Sean focuses more on writing copy.
Specifically, you’ll find out how to leverage emotion, write more effective copy faster, develop thought leadership in your industry, and even how to network with bloggers and other influencers to shed more light on your burgeoning practice.
This course contains three hours of video-based instruction with lifetime access, along with some suggested extra materials.
Brian Yang’s course rounds out the Udemy offerings with web copywriting material for online entrepreneurs.
This one packs over six hours of on-demand videos that you can watch as quickly (or slowly) as you’d like. There’s also 43 minutes of audio and 13 supplemental guides to take your learning further.
Brian’s course is heavy on timeless principles and formulas that can help you push the ‘hot buttons’ of prospects to drive the most results in the least amount of time.
Copywriter Len Smith now takes aim at the startup and entrepreneurial crowd with this course focused specifically on sales skills. The goal is to help real business people improve their understanding and application of persuasion (or getting people to do what you want).
There are eight major sections that include self guided videos and cheat sheets. New lessons (or “fireside chats”) are also added regularly (which past customers get free access to).
Robert Bly’s Fortune 500 Copy is exactly that: a guide to show copywriters how to write effective copy for large clients. The reason give to work with large companies? More opportunities, more pay, more repeat business, etc.
This 92-page eBook breaks down how large companies look for new copywriters, how they vet venders, and how you can get in their good graces.
Steve Slaunwhite delivers another ‘business of copywriting’ guide with Start & Run a Copywriting Business.
He teaches new copywriter’s how to begin making your first six figures, all while retaining the benefits like a location-independent business and flexible work schedule.
Steve also covers less popular (but common) problems you might face, like when a client tries to stiff you or ask for a discount. You’ll find out how to defend yourself inside.
Peter Bowerman’s Well Fed Writer has been teaching new copywriters the ropes since around 2000 (in one form or another).
What started as a simple self-published book (before self-publishing was cool) has grown tremendously into an online magazine, tele-seminars and in-person ones, mentoring, and more.
You can get started now though by simply reading his free report on the topic.
26. Spin Selling
Spin Selling was originally published back in 1988.
This was the heyday of high pressure, aggressive sales tactics. And Spin Selling, written by Neil Rackham, bucked that trend by instead asserting that those tactics actually hurt large scale purchases.
Instead, if you sell high priced products or services, you’d have much better luck with a more ‘consultative’ sales process.
The reason it’s included here is because the framework it presents is the real-life example for what you need to do on landing pages and in sales letters.
“The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words,” according to a study performed by Backlinko.
That means content that performs best in search results is also incredibly long.
Churning out ~2,000 word pieces of content on straightforward, commoditized products isn’t easy. Which is why you need Dr. Andy Williams’ Creating Fat Content.
SEO has certainly evolved since its 2007 introduction, but many of the same principles are timeless and still ring true.
Usually, that point for most mortals is only around 2,000 words. But here, author Rachel Aaron shows you a few tips (in her short 72 page book) for increasing your writing volume by 4X to 10,000 words a day.
You’ll learn how to “create characters that write their own stories” and other tips from a real, in-the-trenches fiction writer that can be applied to the art of business copy.
Jeff Goins continues the writing theme with the appropriately named You Are a Writer. The point, is that what separates writers of all stripes, from everyone else, is that you need to write.
That means put up or shut up. The only one stopping you from becoming an influential, high paid copywriter is you.
This short book should serve as a refreshing wake up call to any that’s still struggling with the notion of becoming a full time writer.
The finest headline writers on the internet might well as be BuzzFeed. But not for the reason you might think.
Sure, they’re expert clickbait-ers. But you know why? Because they’re expert writers.
For example, one of the best ‘angles’ you can use is to use misdirection; starting with the opposite of where a piece will eventually end. Just like BuzzFeed does with every clickbait headline. And just like this example is doing now.
Writer’s Digest publishes a treasure-trove of actionable content for free on their site that sits somewhere between a course and a book. Let’s just call it: good.
Writing a sales page is no different than plotting a move. The “two executional competencies” as Larry Brooks calls them – scene construction and writing voice – are just as important when selling toothpaste as when penning the next blockbuster.
Story Engineering is an in-depth look at the ‘mechanical’ elements of storytelling that can be dissected, templated, and improved.
Pixar is the best example of modern day storytelling masters that we have. Each film is a work of art – visually. But even more important are the underlying themes, metaphors, and characters that we can’t help but root for.
They’re currently sharing their secrets on self-paced, video tutorials with the Khan Academy. Each is relatively short and digestible; offering a rare look behind the scenes of their creative process and how they develop memorable storylines that stick in our heads long after we’ve left the theater.
33. Headline Hacks
Ogilvy once said that five times as many people read your headline as the body copy. Nowhere is that truer today than online, where headlines dominate social media updates and email subject lines.
Jon Morrow’s free Headline Hacks contains a cheatsheet of 52 ‘headline templates’. They’re split between categories like ‘Zen’ and ‘Threats’ that speak to our internal lizard brain; acting as a catalyst for motivation and inertia-busting momentum.
WordStream follows that up by applying ready-made headline templates to you AdWords headlines. This in-depth blog post contains seven ready-made formulas that you can slice and dice for multiple different industry examples (including local business, low-priced products, or high-priced consulting).
The difference between a good and a bad headline might be slim. But in AdWords, it could mean thousands of dollars (if not more).
35. Words that Sell
Words that Sell is a research manual that contains over 6,000 words and phrases you’ve come to know and love (like “zesty” or “baby-soft”). It’ll also give you alternatives for beaten-down, cliched words like “exciting” (over 100 variations inside!).
You don’t have to already by a copywriting master to write sizzling copy if you have Words that Sell on your desk next to your computer.
There are little, subtle nuances that separate the amateurs from the pros. One of those are the use of power words, or phrases that inject emotion into otherwise bland prose.
Jon Morrow’s huge list post contains over 300 so-called ‘power words’ that can be used immediately. They’re like a shortcut that can leap off the page, latch themselves onto the reader’s brain, and not let them go until they finish hearing what you have to say.
Tested Advertising Methods is old. It was written by John Caples, one of the first ‘big’ copywriters, decades and decades and decades ago.
It’s short. Dry as you’d expect an ‘old school’ guide to be.
And yet, most of the information still holds true. For example, it says headlines should be newsworthy and quick, while inspiring curiosity and playing to the reader’s self-interest.
Caples also talks about the importance of testing not only copy and media, but also the position, time of day, and seasonality. Essentially the same stuff you read about today with improving Facebook ad results or running A/B tests.
Claude Hopkins is the guru’s guru.
Respected copywriter’s we’ve already discussed, like Ogilvy and Halbert, refer to Hopkins’ work Scientific Advertising as another “must read.”
It’s another short, dry book. And it, like Tested Advertising Methods before it, lays out many of the same principles we still use today (like coupons and split testing and customer tracking).
Copywriting Basics for Successful Sales is the first of three Skillshare courses by Jack Zerby. His courses are unique because they look at copywriting from the standpoint of successful online product pages and visual user interfaces. He was the former design director at Vimeo (among other places).
This first installment is 75-minutes, split down into twelve short video-based instructions that date back to many of the people we just covered from the twenties, thirties, and forties.
Best of all, Skillshare’s unique membership pricing means one account gets you into all three courses (and many more).
Jack’s back. But this time focusing on ‘microcopy’ over the span of 90-minutes.
This unique copywriting subset deals with the tiny bits of text (like on your signup form or product labels) that have a huge bearing on whether or not someone has a successful experience with your product (or service).
It breaks down the six main types of microcopy for internet-based business people of all shapes and sizes.
Jack’s third Skillshare course focuses on how you marry the design of the site with the words on a page.
He pulls from old ad men like Joe Sugarman to show you how the same principles, like “speaking in your customer’s language” can be applied to today’s landing pages or email newsletters.
Each participant who finishes Allison’s Copywriting for Startups course will be able to write a high-performing landing page (using her specially-made template). Like all other Skillshare courses, it’s a self-lead course with short video tutorials and some Q&A.
Once again, the modern-day trends that we follow were paved long ago by John Caples. His Making Ads Pay dives deeper into specific creative tips meant to do one thing and one thing only: sell.
He analyzes ads, often with comparisons, to show you step-by-step reasons why one is empirically better (based on sales performance) than the other.
Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz is considered The Bible on ad copywriting.
It’s incredibly hard to get a hold of (currently selling for almost $400, but recently copies were sold around $500 on Amazon). It’s technical, dry, advanced, and tough to swallow.
But it’s like a one stop shop for advanced copywriting principles that are as lucrative today as they were decades ago.
Perry Marshall’s 80/20 Sales and Marketing is about optimizing performance across all of your promotional endeavors by focusing on the old Pareto Principle.
You can read this book in half a day. And probably start making money with its lessons in the second half of the same day.
The best tip comes from properly identifying your audience (with the “Racking the Shotgun” principle). Understanding how this works helps you create lazer-targeted copy that maximizes impact on the small subset of people who’re most likely to purchase.
The Direct Marketing Association’s Copywriting Essentials course is a six week training program led by a real-world practitioner in Clare Harrison of Full Circle Consulting. Unlike many of the other video-only courses so far, this one is live and interactive so you can get real-time feedback on a weekly basis.
It also expands beyond digital media to include offline or traditional media principles as well, and then how to integrate them all into a cohesive campaign that delivers results where it matters: the bottom line.
DMA’s other copywriting offering (Creative Copywriting) is a slimmed-down version that you can go through on-demand in 90 minutes. It provides a high level overview of the tactics, like how to get started, channel-specific considerations, how design impacts copy, targeting special-interest groups, and more.
MediaBistro’s Copywriting Fundamentals is an introductory guide that walks you through how a brand voice is developed and how to communicate that to specific audiences. The best part, though, is that it teaches you how to write distinctly. For example, how to incorporate word play, repetition, and when to break ‘official’ writing rules for punctuation or sentences to make copy more conversational and interesting.
It’s almost four and a half hours of content. View the course syllabus for a full explanation of the material.
The Copywriting Essentials Course, from The Association for Data-Driven Marketers and Advertisers, offers a four-module course presented online and/or in-person (in one day or eight hours).
The modules start with the basic foundations, then progressing into creative and copywriting techniques, before finishing up with adapting to web writing.
The ADMA’s Advanced Copywriting Course is a live, in-person only workshop that builds on the fundamentals in their previous course.
The material is again presented in one day, however the sophisticated content is more suited to an audience of big brand marketers, agency directors, and other media professionals who’re ‘in-the-trenches’ on a daily basis.
Copywriting is one of those skills that can take a lifetime to master.
Reading a single book doesn’t make you an expert. And only writing – day in and day out – will eventually develop your skills.
But any one of the courses and eBooks on this list can give you a head start. Or round out your skill set to make sure there are no obvious weaknesses holding your career back.
Or your copy from accomplishing your goals: sell more.