10 steps to successful copy
Do you want to write words that get your message across clearly, correctly and with a bit of pizazz? Here's how to write successful copy, whether it be in a blog, brochure or your social media content. As a English and Japanese teacher, author and copywriter, I can tell you that writing all comes back to the same simple things - what you are writing, who you are writing it for, why you are writing it and how it is written.
1. Know your target audience. Think about who you are targeting and what tone or 'voice' and words would be suitable. If you were in their shoes, what would you want to read?
2. Have a purpose. What is the purpose of your writing? Are you trying to persuade, inform or entertain your target audience? Different purposes will obviously lend themselves to certain words. For example if you're being persuasive you might say, 'Don't miss out on this amazing offer". Again, think about what you have read in the past that has persuaded, informed or entertained you. What worked? What didn't?
3. Keep it simple, Shakespeare. Long sentences and long winded explanations are just too. . .well, long! Get to the point quickly and make sure it is clear. A crime novel is the place for intrigue and secrets, not here. Don't make your writing difficult for your reader to understand.
4. Check please! Not everyone will care (or possibly see) spelling or grammatical errors, but for those that do, if you make too many errors you may lose them forever. As a self professed word nerd I must share that reading things riddled with mistakes is the equivalent of fingers scraping on a chalkboard - horrid! Regardless of that, errors show that the writer hasn't taken care and it is not professional at all. Get an app that checks your mistakes, put it through a Word document to check, or get a word nerd to check it for you.
5. Don't say that again. Repetition has its place if you are using it for effect but otherwise, try not to use the same words over and over again. If you're old school you can pick up a thesaurus. If you're on the computer anyway, just type your word into google with 'synonym' after it. Then, voila! You can add some fresh words to your copy. Likewise if you want words with the opposite meaning or words you are unsure of their definition, pop them into google with 'antonym' or 'meaning' after them.If you're not sure of a word, it's best to check what it means and avoid embarrassment.
6. Print and read aloud. I prefer not to waste paper but when it comes to checking your words, one of the best methods is to print it to read and also to read it aloud. For some reason, a hard copy sometimes makes it easy to see mistakes than on a screen. Similarly, reading your words out loud can help you see if the writing flows. Any long sentences will become obvious, as well as words that are repeated too many times. It definitely can't hurt.
7. Action! It may not be relevant with all copy but consider whether you want a call to action at the conclusion. 'Call us now for a no obligation quote'. 'Click the link to read more'. 'To read more recipes click here'.
8. Is it relevant? You can have copy with perfect spelling and grammar but this means nothing if the content isn't relevant and engaging. Ask yourself if all your words are necessary. If you left something out, will it make a difference overall? Don't include something just to up the word count. Sometimes less is more when it comes to content.
9. Techniques that take the cake. Any Year 12 English student will tell you that there are a variety of persuasive writing techniques that can jazz up your writing and make it more entertaining to read.
Consider using some of the following in your copy, especially as headlines or starting lines in long copy:
* metaphors *alliteration *assonance * puns *rhetorical questions
* similes * repetition *statistics * hyperbole * questions
* exaggeration * sarcasm * rhyme * pop culture references
10. Make it memorable! Some topics are written about time and time again. Be different. Be unique. Be memorable. Try and put a different take on what you are writing about. What is your point of difference? Consider certain advertisements or catch phrases that get your attention and sometimes even though they might be annoying, they are difficult to get out of your head!
Good luck with writing your own copy! If you do write something but want some professional eyes to check it, feel free to send it our way for an edit. Or, if you discover that it's still not your thing, contact us and we'll write it for you.