One thing that many good writers never understand is that writing to sell and writing an essay are not the same exercise. Sure, good essays need to be persuasive and well-written, but if they were written in the style of a sales letter, most readers would find them off-putting.

Not surprisingly, the same can be said about sales letters that are written like an essay. If, for instance, your sales copy reads like a long, well-reasoned argument that weighs the pros-and-cons of purchasing your product, then it isn't good sales material.

Rather, a good sales letter is not impartial or unbiased. It is forceful, direct, and compelling. It grabs the reader immediately; and forces them to work through an argument in favor of your product.

In short, a good sales letter is not just a good piece of writing. It is a powerfully-persuasive piece of writing that takes no prisoners; and focuses narrowly on enticing, alluring, and then closing sales.

So, if you have existing sales letters that lack vitality and power, get to work fixing them. Don't simply let visitors show up and leave unconverted; fix the weaknesses and strengthen your sales letter.

In particular, there are 10 qualities you should change about your writing when trying to sell or persuade:

1.Be direct. When you're writing an essay or a piece of fiction, cleverness and flowery language can often be impressive. However, when it comes to sales, communication trumps all else. Tell your reader exactly what you're selling, exactly what it costs, and exactly why they must buy it.

2.Use short sentences and short paragraphs. Today, it's common to refer to this type of writing as being written for "Internet readers." That is, when people browsing sites, they don't want to run into gigantic walls of text. They want something that is light and readable. And this is exactly how your sales letters should be.

3.Get rid of jargon. Again, when it comes to sales, showing off your vocabulary is not particularly effective. Few people will be turned off if you don't use large words, but many will find it off-putting if you do.

4.Make persuasion your ultimate goal. Instead of writing to fill a page, think about using each word as part of a master plan to persuade your reader. Think about how he will respond to each word, sentence, and paragraph; a craft it with him in mind.

5.Don't try to keep the writing "even" throughout the sales letter. Instead, focus on different things in different parts. In the beginning, try to grab the reader's attention. In the middle, show the benefits of your product. And towards the end, put a lot of pressure on the reader to buy--and to buy NOW.

6.Use lists frequently. If you read the blogs and writings of successful copywriters, you'll notice that most swear by the power of bullet points. The reason for this is simple: bullet points convey a great deal of information in a format that is scannable and enjoyable to read.

7.Bold, italicize, and highlight. In an essay, it would be considered tacky. In a sales letter, it is an absolute must. Bolding, italicizing, and highlighting allows you to tell readers what they should scan; and, alternatively, what is not terribly important.

8.Use subheadings. Subheadings allow you to divide up your sales copy into several pieces. This will ensure that your readers are able to follow the flow; and to scan for important information, too.

9.Make shocking, controversial statements--and then back them up. Make a big, true claim about your product. And then demonstrate how it is true.

10.Avoid introspection. When it comes to sales, your goal should always be to think about and target the reader, so try to stay out of your own head; and focused on what the reader is thinking.

In short, these are some of the basic rules that most good sales letters (and good copywriting in general) usually follow. When you begin writing sales letters (or when you check old sales letters), you should start with these 10 items. If your sales letter doesn't satisfy this list, then it might be a good piece of writing--but it isn't a good sales letter.

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