GUEST BLOG: TIPS FROM AN ACTUAL COPYWRITER
After Googling the words ‘COPYWRITING TIPS’ I was rather shocked to be hit with a seemingly infinite expanse of results (6,789,338 to be exact). But I was even more shocked at the quality of them. Or serious lack thereof. 90% of them seem to have be written by people who’ve never actually worked as a copywriter, professionally. It was all theory, no practice. And on top of that, a lot of the articles were actually badly written. Rather ironic really.
To be honest, this annoyed me. Quite a lot actually. To the point where it prompted me to start writing a list of tips of my own. Tips that I felt were actually truthful and useful. So, I began writing and writing and before had a long rambling list of points which I’ve condensed down to the most important. My ‘Best of collection’ if you will.
1) SPEAK TO PEOPLE, LIKE PEOPLE.
That means avoiding marketing spiel and techie talk whenever you can. Refer to your customers, as customers. Not something ridiculous like ‘our target market sector’.
Always be simple, clear and concise; but make sure you inject the personality of your brand wherever appropriate. Wherever you can, keep your tone conversational – like how two like-minded people would speak to each other.
2) KEEP IT PERSONAL.
Write with your reader in mind and try to see things from their point of view. Always be inclusive, rather than exclusive. That means using words like ‘we’ and ‘our’. This is certainly not a case of ‘us’ and ‘them’.
3) ENGAGE AND INTEREST. NEVER PREACH OR BORE.
Don’t bury your message in marketing lingo and tired ‘sales speak’. This isn’t the fifties. Be straight-up. Be modern.
Jargon? Don’t even think about it. Avoid it at all costs. Write as you’d speak, but always speak with proper, well-crafted English.
Avoid reaching for the thesaurus where you can. Call a t-shirt, a t-shirt. Not an ‘Upper torso material garment’.
4) KEEP SENTENCES SHORT. AND PUNCHY.
This goes for all copy, whether it’s a headline, long copy or a product description. Don’t cram too much information into your sentences, it feels bulky and cheap, and your audience will smell it a mile away and stop reading. Try to make one point per sentence – it’s not mandatory, but it’s a good place to start. The shorter the sentence, the more confident you’ll sound.
5) ACTIONS REALLY DO SPEAK LOUDER.
It’s an old adage, but true nevertheless. Nine times out of ten it’ll be better to show your message rather than say it (strange for a copywriter to admit, I know).
Try and bring a product’s benefit to life through visuals first. If you can’t, then try with words.
6) DON’T BE DULL & REPETITIVE. IT CAN SOUND REALLY DULL & REPETITIVE.
Being clear and bold with a point is good, but saying the same thing over and over is a sure-fire way to lose your reader. Say something once, and say it well.
Each piece of copy, should have its own message. For example, it’s pointless having a sub-head that says pretty much says the same thing as your headline. And if you’re struggling to figure out what that sub-head (or any bit of copy for that matter) should say, you probably don’t need it in the first place. It’s important to know what to write. But it’s also important to know what not to write.
Let’s use words properly and ACTUALLY make a difference.
Jim Dye is a senior freelance copywriter with over 15 years’ experience in advertising and marketing. He spent the majority of his career at creative agencies such as Grey, BBH and McCann working on everything from TV and print, to email, websites and social media.
For help with your copywriting, you can contact Jim by emailing him here
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