At the end of each month, I’ll do a quick-fire round-up of everything we’ve learnt so far, with a few extra tips thrown in.
By following the rules below, I guarantee you’ll transform your copy into something that will engage your readers and inspire them to take action.
1. Write for your audience
Firstly, you need to establish who your target market is – what they do, where they live, what their favourite pizza topping is. Okay, maybe not that last one, but the more you know about your audience, the better. Because how else are you going to know how to speak to them?
Take a look at this email I received from Buffer. They know exactly how to speak to their audience. It's light, fun and approachable. Just like them.
2. Write simply
Your content might be complex, but that doesn’t mean your writing should be. Try to communicate in a simple and direct manner.
Take this example from Dropbox.
“400 million people around the world use Dropbox to work the way they want, on any device, wherever they go.”
They could have said. ‘Dropbox allows its users to access their files, photographs and documents from any devise with access to the internet, enabling it’s 400 million users to work wherever they wish.’
It’s hard not to over-explain our products or services, but try to refrain. You can get to the nitty-gritty part with your customer later. But initially, try to pull them in with a straight-forward explanation of what you do.
3. Don’t bullshit
‘I guarantee you will lose thirty pounds in three days!’
Stop with the bullshit. People see through it. And if they don’t see through it, it will only lead to disappointment, which leads to a massive headache for you. Transparency and honesty is best.
4. Use active voice
Sentences with active voice have energy and honesty. They put oomph into your writing. If you’re not sure how to write in active voice or just want a recap, click here.
5. Vary your sentence length
Using a variety of long, medium and short sentences prevents your reader from becoming bored. Long sentences are also great for scene setting or building tension. Short sentences snap. They get your reader to pay attention. Look at the example below from the British Heart Foundation, and how they use a combination of a long, medium and short sentence.
6. Stop saying 'I'
Go through your website and highlight any words that say I. Change some or most them around so the reader is the subject. Replace the word I with You and rephrase! Simple.
7. Have a story
I won’t lie to you; your readers won’t care too much about your story. However, if your story helps sell your product or service, then use it. Take this perfect example from one of my personal favourite chocolate companies (I have many, to be fair), Green and Blacks.
8. Refrain from utilizing overtly multifaceted communications
Stop with the fancy words! It’s tempting to look super intelligent but try to avoid this - direct and simple words are far better.
9. Find your voice
Find a way to communicate with your audience and customers and stick to it. Make sure you use this style across all channels, from emails and telephone greetings to web copy and social media posts. If you’re unsure how to craft your voice, click here.
10. Write how you talk
My English teacher’s head is exploding right now. But yes, here is another rule that goes against the rules. Try to sound like you’re having a conversation with your reader instead of bombarding them with information. A client of mine once gave me a great tip. He records his conversations with his customers to help him with his writing.
11. Informal vs. Formal Language
Decide how informal or formal you want to be in your communications. This is a great way of figuring our your ‘voice’. From there you can add your nuances and ways of wording.
12. Cut The Fat
We absolutely guarantee you’ll love our product.
We guarantee you’ll love our product.
By cutting unnecessary words from your sentences you’ll find your writing is snappier and keeps the reader engaged.
13. Get rid of expletives
I don’t mean swear words; you can keep them. An expletive is described as a word with no meaning. Examples include words like it, here and there, followed by verbs are, is and was.
Before: There is nothing better than chocolate.
After: Nothing is better than chocolate.
14. Say bye to boring verbs and adjectives
Often, people combine a boring verb and a boring adjective. For example, ‘I ran quickly’. When you could say ‘I sprinted’ or 'I dashed'.
15. Sell the benefits your audience will like
Selling the benefits and not just the features of your products or services is sound advice. But make sure the benefits you promote appeal to your target audience.
Feature: Child Safety Locks
Benefit: Keeping your family safe
Benefits that speak to your audience: Don’t worry, when your children want to go outside while you’re going 70mph down the motorway, we’ll make sure they don’t!
16. Stop talking about yourself
It’s tempting to talk about our vast experience and outstanding skills. But I’ll let you in on a secret…your audience doesn’t care! Stop talking yourself and instead, talk to your reader.
Before: I have five years’ experience as a fitness trainer
After: Imagine fitting back into your favourite pair of jeans…
17. Evoke the senses
Enrich your writing with words that evoke the senses. Words like "sizzle”, “tranquil” and “zing” are excellent examples. Just look at your shampoo bottle in the shower and you’ll find some great sensory words.
I love the example below from one of my favourite brands, Nakd.
And that concludes my first set of blog posts about writing. Next month, we’ll be looking at the power of storytelling.
I would love to hear of any copywriting tips you have, just comment below.