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How to Write an Advertorial?

Updated on June 29, 2020
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Prachi has been working as a freelance writer since 2012. When not writing, she helps people with web designing and development.

The most famous advertorial of all time - Guinness Guide to Oysters by David Ogilvy
The most famous advertorial of all time - Guinness Guide to Oysters by David Ogilvy | Source

The moment you hear the word “advertorial”, you certainly think about “editorial”. Advertorial is, indeed, an editorial written for the purpose of taking an action from the user-end.

In other words,

Advertorial = Advertisement + Editorial

To write it, you need to know the copywriting ways to write an article that aims to sell a product or service.

Unlike traditional ads, advertorials don’t indulge in hard-sell ads. It is more about persuading the audience through an emotional-driven personalized story to take a particular action. Your advertorial is one of the best if you the audience take it as an informative article unless they reach at the end to find the call-to-action or a disclaimer stating the article is an advertisement.

An advertorial can be written as:

  1. Lists
  2. Guides
  3. Videos
  4. Print articles
  5. Blog posts and so on…

Regardless of how they are written, the primary method is to deliver it through a story which ends up persuading the readers to perform a “call-to-action”.

As a copywriter, journalist, or article writer, you must have written various advertorials without even realizing it. It might not be completely about selling, but about informing the audience, but you do have an idea of, how to begin with, it. The main concern is, with so many advertorials being published daily, how to make yours stand out from the rest. In short, how to write an effective advertorial that sounds less like an ad but more like useful information to the audience?

Writing an effective advertorial

Advertorials are enriched with flexibility. They can be posted in magazines, newspapers, and even blogs. Since it’s indirect advertising, you can pull in a large number of readers’ attention.

1. Grab an understanding of the product/ service

  • Are you personally acquainted with what you are writing about?
  • Do you have previous experience of working with the client?
  • What level of research do you need to do to establish your authority in the related authority?

2. Learn about the publication

  • Your advertorial is most likely going to be shown in a magazine or website.
  • Understand the publication’s conventions. It includes typography, layout, column choice, bylines, headlines, and blurbs.
  • Most importantly, get an impression of the publication’s audience.

3. Mind the headline

  • The headline is the heartbeat of your advertorial. It should clearly outline the summary of your article.
  • Suppose you are selling a newly launched deodorant. You can write the title, “Always Smell Good! How to Stay Cool Even When You’re Sweating?”
  • Another example can be of a smart refrigerator that consumes less electricity, having a title, “Locals Line Up for Smart Refrigerator that Requires Minimum Electricity to Run”.
  • Talk about a benefit in your headline and grab the attention.
  • What type of headlines are used in the specific publication? Are they in fragments like “Social Media Celebrity Visits Day Care Facilities” or use complete sentences like “How to neutralize the effects of air pollution?”

4. Study the opening and body of several articles

  • Study the first few sentences of several articles to understand how the publication attracts readers’ attention.
  • Do they use a character in the opening?
  • Do they give a detailed or brief description?
  • Are the opening sentences long, short, punchy, or quoted?
  • Do they use sophisticated language like in Scientific American or plain like in BuzzFeed?
  • What length do they prefer: short or long?
  • Your advertorial must closely match these elements.

5. Examine the audience

  • Contact the publication to learn about the demographic and psychographic reports of their readers.
  • Interact with them through comment sections or e-mails
  • Try to talk to the editor to share insights on the audience

6. Read the advertising policy

  • This is a must. You should ask about their advertising policy.
  • Ask questions, if needed.

7. Craft the structure

  • The average length of an advertorial is between 600 to 800 words.
  • Within this word limit, you need to inform, engage, and persuade your readers. You need to explain how the product/service helped you and how it can help your readers.
  • Your advertorial must be a beginning where you introduce the product, middle where you explain your experience, and end where you pinpoint its benefits and ask users to take relevant actions.
  • Consider this example, you have to sell your client’s vegetable disinfectant machine. You start with the question, “How to make sure my vegetables are fresh and free from germs?” You mention your client’s product as a solution. “I tried Veg-Fresh 360 after my friend recommended it.” As a result, “My stomach problems are all over now. I and my family live a disease-free life now.” The need to find an instant solution for the problem, the introduction of the product as a solution, and finally the beneficial results all stimulate interest in the product.

8. Avoid mentioning the price

  • Your readers must be interested in the product and its benefits instead of making their decision on the basis of its price.
  • If the product demands an elaborate explanation, you must avoid mentioning words like “cost”, “price”, or “expense”.
  • Before readers reach the “call-to-action” option, you must give them enough juice to direct their thoughts in purchasing the product.

9. Don’t sound like a sponsor

  • Avoid exaggerating your thoughts that may suggest you are an employee of the company.
  • Consider this example, “When I clean my vegetables with tap or distilled water, there are always some germs left. I have been suffering from stomach problems for a long time now including my family. Our family doctor’s visit hasn’t helped us enough to completely eliminate the problem.”
  • Instead of boasting about the product, emphasis on your story, and how that product fits into that story.

10. Decide your charges

  • The prices depend on several factors. It includes the type of client, industry, advertorial length, medium, and your years of experience.
  • The standard rate is $1 per word, though most of the copywriters go for a flat or an hourly rate.
  • The rate also depends on the medium where your client is going to use the advertorial. If the client wants the advertorial to be in a popular magazine that pays around $1.50 per word, then you must charge the same for your work.

Note

Besides pricing for writing the advertorial, your price also depends on your level of research, the number of revisions required, and final polishing. There are high chances your client is going to publish the same advertorial in different publications for months. In this scenario, they may hire you under a “Work for Hire” contract or purchase All Rights. This means they will own all the copyrights to your work and they won’t need to pay you royalties or multiple payments whenever they publish the advertorial.

Some questions to help you decide your price

Ask yourself the following questions to evaluate how much your service is actually worth:

  1. How much research do you need to do? More research demands more time, and thus more money. You may need an average of 25% of additional time to complete your research and write the advertorial.
  2. When’s the deadline? The early deadline means more pressure and less time available to write an effective piece. So, opt for a higher rate.
  3. Is it a past client? A past client approached you means they trust your work so asking for a high rate isn’t a big deal. In the case of a new client, you can go for a discount to encourage them to hire you again.
  4. Is the client demanding? If you are given creative freedom, then it’s appropriate to charge a little less. But if the client is too demanding, you must go for higher charges to fulfill their demands.

Consider this example, your past client asks you to write an advertorial about a new brand of perfume. The turnaround time is two days. You are unfamiliar with the product, also the list of requirements is pretty lengthy. You’ll require at least 5 to 6 hours to research. Your base salary is $55 per hour or 0.75 cents per word. You go through the project needs and do the following estimation:

$55 X 6 hours of research = $330

$330 X 25% for a limited time = $82.50 (surcharge)

600 words X 0.75 cents for a word = $450

Summing up it all, the estimated final price is $862.50 or can be reduced to $860.

The pricing can be different, but you can use this formula to receive a rough idea.

Apply the Pareto Principle, your advertorial must be 80% about your story and 20% about selling the product.

© 2020 Prachi Sharma

Comments

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    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      12 days ago from Beautiful South

      Very good article. To me the hardest part is deciding how much to charge the client. Some of them are really sneaky, and I actually read them for the information contained therein. I think the U.S. has a law that advertorials in magazines and newspapers must be labeled as "Paid Advertisement". At least they did before deregulation.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      12 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Cool, this sure makes a lot of sense.

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