December 20, 2018
How to write remarkable copy
Writing remarkable copy isn’t easy, and it isn’t fast.
Whether you’re writing a landing page, blog post, social media status, email, or press release, you need to create a system that helps you just sit down and write well.
Here are 5 tips for your everyday writing workflow.
Write body copy before headlines
The headline is the most important line of copy on the page. On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest (Copyblogger).
A great headline is your shortcut to wild success. A bad headline can mean your content isn’t clicked at all.
Don’t get stuck typing your time away trying to create magic headlines. Try writing your headline as a placeholder, then come back to it later. This way, you’re removing the pressure to come up with a genius headline off the bat — giving yourself permission to progress with your actual writing.
Get words on the page first, and come back to your headline when you’re ready. Writing will almost always inspire you with (more relevant) ideas for your headline, anyway.
Be short but sweet
Reading can be hard work. And when your writing looks like too much of an effort, people won’t read it.
When you begin with long sentences and (god help me) long words, you’re making it harder for your readers to engage with you. This is doubly true on mobile — smartphone screens make even the shortest sentences look longer than they are.
Short, crisp copy also forces you to get to the point. Be clear, be concise, and be useful to your readers.
Are you using semicolons? You probably shouldn’t
Your job is to use words to communicate. Good communication does not rely on fancy punctuation at any level. Just express your ideas clearly.
Most people don’t know the proper placement for a semicolon, and you probably don’t either. Don’t feel pressured to add one. 99% of the time, you’re better off using a full-stop.
Your audience is busy, impatient, and short on time. Don’t slow them down with muddled, punctuation-heavy sentences.
You don’t have to be a grammar genius to be a good writer.
Nothing is final
Don’t get cocky — your writing can always be improved.
When you’re proofing your own work, don’t be afraid to rewrite sentences and paragraphs. Often, you’ll even need to delete them entirely.
Forget about how clever you felt when you wrote it. If it’s not making sense, your audience isn’t going to be impressed.
Every amazing piece of writing you’ve ever read has been through countless editing cycles. You’re not special. When you see writing that isn’t good, change it, or kill it.
Trim the fat with your final edit
I always write too much copy. It’s likely that you will too.
Overly-long copy can happen because of an arbitrary word limit, but often it’s because we get carried away writing.
When the words are flowing freely during your first draft, it’s a good sign. But make your final edit about filtering out the parts of your copy that aren’t useful.
You’ll be amazed at how much just isn’t necessary. Don’t waste your audience’s time with excessive text that lacks value.