I found myself trying to explain how to write bold, searchable and hardworking copy to a self-confessed fashionista last week. For some reason, she had it in her head that writing wasn’t for her. She isn’t a words person – apparently, she can’t string two sentences together – and doesn’t have time to teach herself the craft.
She’s thrown writing into the washing basket.
Problem is, she wants to start a business. And write a blog. And produce social media content. She wants people to stand up and take notice of her on the internet. Sure, she can produce videos but these normally involve basic scripts. My friend could also hire a copywriter but she’s a little strapped for cash at the moment – you know how it is.
I know I’m a little biased being a writer and all, but I think the best solution for her right now is to get over her fear of writing and learn a few tips and tricks to ensure her writing gets in front of the right people and moves them into taking action.
Great writing can be taught.
It’s about taking formulas and best practices and applying them to your business. I know my friend isn’t alone in thinking that writing is a skill you’ve either got or you haven’t. Determined to help her, I thought hard for days how I could quickly teach her a few copywriting principles in a way that she would instantly understand. Then I had an idea.
Declutter your copy using basic fashion principles
Whether you’re a fashionista or not, these tips will hopefully help you polish your copy (and worst case scenario clear out your wardrobe really for your winter items!).
You grabbed it in a hurry one day when you needed a top to wear to a last-minute event but it isn’t the best material and it looks like every other white tank on the market.
It’s funny how most copy gets written at the last moment because someone suddenly needs it to launch a website or add lines to a speaker profile or send a brochure off to the printers. How many of us in this situation have simply copied and pasted old copy together and even borrowed standard lines off the internet like: “We value our customers…” or “We create impactful….”. It’s OK, you can admit it. I’m guilty of this too.
The problem with this kind of copy is that it’s vague and filled with words we’ve all heard before. And as a result, we’re less likely to read it because we feel it’s meaningless. It also doesn’t position you and your brand as unique and offering something different to your competitors.
If your copy is a mashed up, spare of the moment job you need to rewrite your copy from scratch. Or at the very least go through it line by line and delete all jargon, acronyms, repetition, extra words and reduce prepositions. Then rewrite your copy how you would speak, using words and phrases that you use every day in your business.
The standout item
You spent loads of money on it and convinced yourself that it was going to work with the rest of your wardrobe. But every time you put the dress on it clashes with all of your shoes and handbags.
You’ve spent ages working on your copy and there’s one line or clever phrase that you swear is the best thing you’ve ever written. It’s easy to get smug and forget to look at the bigger picture like overall clarity. We’ve all been there, and I know it’s hard to let it go. But you have to ditch the clever copy because it’s taking up space and doesn’t go with anything else.
The problem with clever copy is that no matter where you position it, the sentence ruins the flow of the piece and stands out in a bad way. It can even confuse readers and make them click off your page because they think you don’t know what you’re talking about.
While in some cases it may be important for you to experiment, make sure your copy choices are adding value, not subtracting from the purpose of your piece. Often it’s the simplest idea that works best. If you find yourself thinking, “This is so obvious, why haven’t I thought of this before?” it probably means you’re onto a winner.
The stretched sweater
You love it and don’t want to throw it away but you won’t wear it out to brunch with friends because you know they’d tell you it’s time for you to get a new one.
When you initially set up your business you crafted amazing copy and couldn’t wait to share it with everyone. But now you’re a little embarrassed about how out of date it is and you don’t feel confident to direct people to your website or hand them your product. Sometimes it’s tough to admit you’ve moved on and are into new and exciting trends.
The problem with out of date copy is that it’s no longer serving a purpose. That is, to sell who you are, what you do and attract your ideal clients. Your personal brand may also be affected because the way you are in real life is vastly different to the way you present yourself online.
Copy should be a living, ever-changing thing. So when you change, your copy should change with you. Read your copy as if you were seeing it for the first time. Does it still clearly articulate your purpose and what you’re trying to achieve? If not, is there a word you can change or add that captures where you are right now? Tweak your copy until you feel confident to get it out at your next dinner party.
Featured image from Pexels.