I read a fantastic piece about great copywriting today – unfortunately I forgot to bookmark it! But I’ve decided to write down the essence of what it said and mix it up with some of my own thoughts as well.
Copywriting has been around since way before websites and the digital era – it’s a craft in itself. There are many, many good writers out there, but not so many great.
A great copywriter is a listener – that made me feel happy, as I’m usually pretty quiet in meetings, taking notes (old-fashioned, I know) and trying to absorb as much information as possible, not only about the subject, but about the culture surrounding it.
Research, research, research! Look at the market you’re writing for, any competitors and what they’re saying. Then approach the copy in a different way, so your client will stand out from the crowd.
Good copy needs to be conversational – write as if you’re chatting to someone sitting next to you on a barstool, not a stuffed shirt in an office. It mustn’t try to be too clever – those long words that sometimes pop into the heads of us writers may seem cool, but actually they can alienate the reader.
Think really hard about the audience. Does that press release need to make industry bosses sit up and take notice, or should it inspire the reader to get involved in, say, a fundraising event. Emotional engagement is key, either way, to make them read on.
A picture may paint a thousand words, but web copy is as important as the images that go with it. We may be drawn in by the pictures but if the words don’t match them in impact then the edge is lost!
Keep it short.