Time for a guest blogger … today Izzy Woods offers some crucial copywriting tips.
If you write on a regular basis, you’ve probably found your flow – meaning that when you write, the words seem to just appear on the page. You may then simply send the writing to its final destination, assuming the job’s done and the brief’s fulfilled. But you might be surprised at how many copywriters (and writers in general) make the same mistakes over and over again. Whether you’re writing for a client or your very own website, the rules remain the same and while we’re not questioning your ability as a writer, it might help if you heard about the five top mistakes that (almost) all copywriters make. It might just make your next bit of copy the best one yet.
Mistake one: Failing to proofread enough
All writers are trained to read their work once its complete. They may even read it twice. But is that enough? Sometimes, it’s a good idea to leave a piece of writing in a drawer (literal or digital) for a day or two, then go back to it. This will ensure that your writing works on every level – from the punctuation and grammar to the actual message itself. It’ll also help you spot any typos you may have missed first time around.
Mistake two: Being a bit too ‘me, me, me’
One of the main roles of a copywriter is to sell a product or service. It’s easy to see then why so many copywriters create copy that’s very focussed on who is talking. There’s a lot of ‘we do this’ and ‘we offer that’, but not very much about the actual benefits. If you’re trying to write persuasive copy, telling the reader why they will benefit is a great idea – so make it more ‘you’ and less ‘us’. It’s easy to see why copywriters do this; after all, they’ve usually got a client to please, but it doesn’t necessarily make for the most compelling read for the customer.
Mistake three: Not providing a clear call to action
Another distinguishing feature of copywriting is that it will usually feature a call to action. This could be a ‘buy now’, ‘call us’, or ‘visit our website’. It’s essentially an invitation to the reader to take action and respond to the copy. Lots of writers know all about CTAs, but don’t use them properly. It’s easy to say ‘get in touch’, but if you don’t provide a contact web link or a phone number, the call to action is useless. Always be sure your CTAs are at the relevant spot (usually at the end), and that they’re clear.
Mistake four: Lack of focus, lack of ‘punch’
Unlike novelists or other long-form writers, copywriters usually have to work with tight word counts. That means that they often don’t have much room to make their point, so being concise is vital. By waffling on and talking about features rather than benefits, a copywriter can quickly lose the reader and the copy becomes worthless. Instead, a copywriter should use their words like a sniper – and make each and every one count. This brevity also helps to add ‘punch’ and immediacy to a piece of copy.
Mistake five: Not making the most of headlines and sub-headings
Imagine that you opened a magazine and saw an advert with a wall of text from top to bottom. What would your next move be? It’s unlikely that you’d read the whole thing, if any of it. If you are writing a longer piece of copy, it’s vital that you break it up somehow. The headline helps draw the reader in, but sub-headings are also very important to help keep the flow of the piece right. They can also serve as summarisers for scan readers – and there are plenty of those!
There you have it: five handy tips that will help save your copy from certain doom. And even if you’re not a copywriter, some of the rules still apply to all forms of writing. At the end of the day, you’ve got a story to tell or a message to deliver – and avoiding the well-known pitfalls can be one of the best ways to set a piece of writing up for success.