Writing good copy is a skill. First you need content, then you need to be able to convey that content in a clear and concise way. You need to connect with the audience, build rapport and have a strong command of language. It’s easier said than done.
After hours tapping at the keyboard, even the best copywriters can become blinkered. Repetition and waffle lurk in the wings, ready to turn your masterpiece into something destined for the a long lean on the backspace button. Unnecessary words are your enemy.
The good news is we have some simple copywriting tips to share. Apply them and your writing will improve overnight.
- No more than 25 words to a sentence.
- Do you really need to say that? If you can’t substitute the word ‘that’ with ‘which’ in a sentence, you probably don’t need it.
- It’s fine to shorten they are to they’re, we are to we’re.
- Is it possible to re-structure a sentence to remove unnecessary words?
- Can you split a long sentence into two shorter sentences?
- Keep paragraphs short too; no more than three sentences each.
- Repeat messages not words: use synonyms, say the same thing but in different ways.
- Watch your spacing. You only need one space after a comma and a full stop and there’s no need to indent paragraphs.
- The use of punctuation. In more serious writing, avoid exclamation marks – you don’t need to shout. If writing a blog aimed at a younger audience, or an informal post on social media, they can be used selectively. Use your judgement and if in doubt, avoid.
- Always proofread your work. Go through it two or three times and keep a sharp eye for any further edits you can make. If you’re writing a particularly long feature, sleep on it and proof it again in the morning. You’ll notice more with fresh eyes.
- Know your grammar. It’s very easy to make this kind of mistake and can mean the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit. Always double check.
With blogging and social media playing a big part in brand communications, it’s important to have the right tone and lines can become easily blurred. Keep your audience in mind and adjust your language accordingly.
If it’s too much to remember the good copywriting rules above, try this mantra instead: reduce, re-jig, re-word.
Do you have any copywriting rules you live by? If so we’d love to hear from you. Leave them in the comments box below or tweet them to us @thisispublicity where we’ll RT our favourites.