If you write your copy like you wrote your essays in high school you’re missing the mark of good copywriting.
Try these four simple ways to improve your copy
Remember back in school when you were assigned a topic and you had to meet a certain page requirement?
If you were like most students you:
- Wrote long, rambling paragraphs
- Used multiple words and phrases when one would work
- Filled your writing with adverbs
- Resorted to redundant phrases
As a student, I did all of the above. I could fill a college blue book front to back and ramble with the best of them.
As a former English teacher, I’ve seen it all, but as a former journalism teacher, I spent years teaching students not to do any of those things.
As a copywriter, I’m glad to say that you are no longer restricted to artificial length requirements.🙌
However, I find that many people find it hard to break those old habits when they try to write their own copy. This often results in sales pages that don’t get to the point, long emails that ramble, and unclear landing pages that may sound clever, but don’t convert.
Readers that have to work to figure out what you are saying, will simply click off of the page or delete the email.
Remember, if your offer is unclear, you will lose sales.
Here are some ways you can break those bad writing habits.
Keep your paragraphs short
One of the best ways to improve copy is to forget the rules you learned in school about 5 sentences in a paragraph, keeping similar topics in one paragraph, and having a topic sentence and supporting sentences.
Readers have short attention spans and tend to skip long paragraphs.
To keep that from happening, keep your paragraphs short.
It’s perfectly fine to have a one sentence paragraph. (I know, your English teacher is cringing, but your reader is saying THANK YOU!)
This allows your reader to skim and find the most important information without a lot of effort.
Another thing to remember is that the majority of readers will be reading your copy on their cell phones, so even a short paragraph looks long on a phone screen.
Shortening your paragraphs also forces you to really think about what you’re writing so you can tighten your message and stay on topic. Again, that’s a win for your reader.
Cut out empty phrases
Are you guilty of using phrases like:
- Due to the fact that instead of Because,
- In order to instead of To,
- In the event that instead of If,
- At the present time instead of Presently or Now,
- In spite of the fact that instead of Though?
When you were trying to meet a word or page count, you used extra words to increase your length, but they didn’t add to your message.
These empty phrases do not add to your message.
Now that you’re writing copy, it’s time to cut out the waste. As a rule, the fewer words it takes to get to your point, the better, so be succinct whenever possible.
Avoid filler words
If you totally want to improve your writing I highly recommend that it is absolutely essential for you to cut out extra words that are very unnecessary and in fact can really make it very difficult for your reader to just understand the point.
See what I did there? All of those italicized words are filler words that take up space but do not add to the meaning of the sentence.
Filler words clog your writing and slow the reader down.
Here’s a cleaned-up version: To improve your writing, cut out the extra words that make it hard for your reader to understand your point.
Common filler words include: very, just, that, even, really, absolutely, basically, literally, totally. You can delete most words that end in -ly. If you use a word before a verb to modify it, most of the time it is unnecessary.
Delete redundant phrases
Redundant phrases seep into your writing, often without you being aware. However, they serve no purpose and should be removed because they repeat the same idea.
Some redundant phrases to avoid:
Actualfacts All-timerecord Basicnecessities Briefmoment Carefulscrutiny Closeproximity Completelyeliminate Desirablebenefit
altogether Endresult Finaloutcome Freegift Honesttruth
with each other
for the first time Knowledgeableexpert Mostunique
One of the best ways to improve copy is to keep your reader in mind and write for their simple understanding.
Good writing is clear and concise. Your message should be obvious.
Don’t be afraid to go back over your copy and edit ruthlessly. Cut out the dead words and eliminate empty or redundant phrases.
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You might also be interested in:
- Copywriting Lessons Learned from Ernest Hemingway and Journalism
- The ONE Rule to Remember in Copywriting