Write Better: 10 Tips from a Professional Copywriter
Some of us love it, some of us hate it, some of us are “good” at it, some of us not so much.
Bottom line: We all have to do it. If you own or work for a business, you must know how to communicate clearly and effectively in a compelling way that engages your customers.
Now more than ever, consumers are heading online to shop and interact with brands. What is your website saying to them, and how is it saying it?
Here are 10 tips for business owners to help write better copy for your website, emails and social media:
1. Brevity is key
Be short and punchy. This is especially true for social media posts and headlines. Here’s an exercise: Write your post or headline. Then go back and erase. Erase some more. One more time. Repeat. Ok, now that’s more like it!
2. No one cares what you do
This might sound harsh, and I hate to be the one to break it to you. But here it goes: No one cares what you can do. Sorry (not sorry). People don’t care about what you do. They care about what you can do for them. So if your business only talks about the product, service or yourself, chances are people are going to lose interest in doing business with you. Fast.
3. More “you”
Your website should be 80% words that talk to the consumer with words like “you” and “your”, and only 20% (or less) of “we”. Show and tell what your customers will get from your business. What problems will you help them solve? What aspirational identity will you help them reach?
4. Avoid using the passive voice
Active voice is much stronger, less awkward, and much more direct.
5. Stop using adverbs
Generally speaking, that is. As the great Stephen King once said: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs. Adverbs, like the passive voice, seem to have been created with the timid writer in mind.”
6. Focus on first line
The first line of copy is the most important. Don’t fill it with fluff.
You are a person. Write with personality. Be relatable, real and authentic. Especially in this current climate. Everyone knows that businesses are “making efforts to contain Covid-19 during this unprecedented and uncertain time blah blah blah”. How about this email that landed in my inbox back in March: “Hi there! Melanie here, CEO of Andie. I’m writing to you from my living room as my dog Sara proofreads--we’re both working from home today.” Awesome. Why is simplicity and authenticity so memorable these days? Because not enough people are doing it!
8. Confuse 'em and lose 'em
This is a no-brainer, but not enough people follow it. As the Donald Miller often preaches with his Storybrand methodology: "If you confuse, you lose." This is so important when it comes to your website’s homepage headliner. It’s that simple. Don’t be cute and clever. Tell your customers (1) what you offer and (2) how it will make your customer’s life better.
9. Find the conflict
People like conflict. Find the conflict. Here’s an example. A mortgage lender (ABC Lending, as a fictional example) wants to entice you to enter your email for a free booklet. Which do you think would be more effective:
- “The 5 Ways You Can Save Money With ABC Lending”
- “5 Ways Other Lenders Rip You Off”
It’s psychology. Humans are more interested in finding out how they can avoid losing something, than finding out how they can save something. Keep this tip in mind when writing a sales email campaign or a lead generator for your funnel. Stakes language is important. But--like anything else--don’t over do it.
10. Set deadlines...and stick to them
When it comes to writing, give yourself a deadline. Stick to it. Once you’ve hit the deadline, wash your hands and be done with it. Leonardo da Vinci said: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Of course you could keep editing that email, blog or article. But if a solid deadline isn’t met, your writing will never be finished. So stop procrastinating, and just do it and be done.
Does all of this sound good, but you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of writing projects you currently have on the table? Maybe you need help getting started, or you realize that outsourcing your copywriting to a professional is probably the smartest route? Great! We can help!