“Copy” is the marketing, public relations, and advertising term for any and all words in an article, ad, or webpage. A copywriter is someone who...well, writes copy! But not all text is created equal. Here are some tips and tricks that will help you put your ideas to paper.
Write to your audience.
The most important part of copy is getting your point across. Sometimes folks get hung-up on trying to sound clever or smart -- those things are nice to have in your writing, but they’re not more important than being clear and readable. If you’re writing for lay people, avoid using jargon. Consider your word choice carefully given who will be reading your work. Clarity is the number one most crucial component of writing. Read it, believe it, internalize it!
Write how you would talk.
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times, but the seemingly trite adage is true -- just be yourself, including in the way you write. Your writing is, literally, your voice and your unique perspective. When you try to emulate another author’s style, you may end up sounding phony or inauthentic, and most people can see right through that. Imagine you’re telling a story to a friend -- that’s the best way to simplify your thoughts and begin to get them to paper.
Another added benefit? You will probably find it much easier to write well once you shake yourself free of the idea that some people can write, and some folks can’t. It’s simply not true -- you just have to find your voice.
Don’t stress too much.
It’s really easy to freeze up when you’ve finally sat down to write. Your fingers are poised above the keyboard, you’ve got the outline in your head of what you want to say and yet….nothing seems to come out.
When writer’s block strikes, it’s often a case of nerves. The voice inside your head might be getting you down and making judgments about the quality of your writing before you even start putting the pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). In this case, many writers will simply start writing, unbothered by the fact that it isn’t perfect. The point is to just get writing, and everything else will fall into place (with a good amount of editing after the fact, but we digress). Think of it like warming up before a workout.
Thesauruses are your friend.
This is a small thing that actually makes a gigantic impact in your writing. Using the same word over and over gets boring. Make sure you use varied and diverse language to make your copy interesting and fun to read. Just be sure that the synonym you choose really does mean the same thing as the word you’re trying to replace.
Vary your sentence structure and length.
Writing the same length of sentence gets old. You will bore your readers to death. Here is another sentence of the same length. Here is another sentence of the same structure. Are you asleep yet?
In all seriousness, including a diverse set of sentence structures and lengths makes for much more interesting reading. You’re much more likely to grab their attention and keep it if you’re able to create nice sounding copy.
Edit, edit, and edit! (And then edit again!)
Once you’ve gotten your initial draft done, go back and edit. This is when you can start to nitpick your writing. It’s been said that there are no great writers, only great editors.
There are several ways of doing this, but some of the best ways of proofing we’ve found are 1) reading your draft out loud and 2) reading it backwards. For some reason, these two methods make those dropped words and punctuation marks pop!
If at all possible, have at least one but preferably two people proofread your copy, too. Having an outside person take a look will help give you a fresh perspective that you may not have considered before.
Follow these rules the next time you need to get writing, and you’re bound to produce clean, fun-to-read copy that gets your point across. Of course, you could always use 25th Hour Communication Inc’s copywriting services and save yourself the trouble!