Writing good copy is not the same thing as writing correct copy. Correct copy has good grammar, spelling and logic. Correct copy is technically sound and factually correct. Good copy is correct copy with the human element, the soul, added.
To write well, sit at your computer, open a vein and then simply do the following:
- Be interesting
- Keep it short and simple
- Always be honest
- Be relevant at all times
- Grab attention and get an emotional response
This goes back to the old advertising adage: SELL THE SIZZLE, NOT THE STEAK.
What needs do the product or service you’re selling meet? Write about the benefits people will get, rather than the features of the product. People who want holes drilled aren’t interested in drill bits, RPMs and dust bags, they want a hole drilled.
Talk benefits, not features
Keep it short and simple
Your copy should be long enough to get the point across – but be careful not to be long-winded. People are busy creatures and, especially online, we tend to scan through content when we are busy.
Keep the message clear and upfront, and get it across with as few words as possible.
The entire paragraph you have just read could be re-written as “Keep it short and simple” – which is what the heading says. Says something about headings, doesn’t it?
Always be honest
Back in the days before the Internet, anyone could write down anything and it almost took on a magical truth because it was written down. Those days are long gone – facts can be checked, double checked and cross-referenced, making it easy to verify the truth.
Keep your story straight.
Being honest also means being true to yourself as a writer – don’t overly imitate the style of someone else, but rather develop your own voice so that as a writer you can flourish.
Be relevant at all times
Your reader could be anybody – who exactly is he or she? If the the objective of the website you are writing for is to capture orders for new cars, you need to bear in mind that your reader could be any of the following people:
- Knows little about cars or is a car fanatic
- Is out to buy a new car or is simply browsing around
- Has already made up their mind about what car they want or is simply doing some research
- Has purchased a car before or is first time car buyer
You could throw the usual demographics into the mix as well, which would include age, sex, location, income level, education level and so on, but the psychology behind your reader is most important of all. What is their motivation for being on the website?
Write according to who you are speaking to – be relevant at all times.
Nothing will waste your reader’s time and your efforts at converting them to paying customers more than forgetting to write appropriately.
Remember to write with the correct tone to meet your target audience – this is key to being relevant. Using formal, business-like language is not appropriate when writing for the teenage market browsing the web for new mobile phone content to download.
Grab attention and get an emotional response
You’re going to get people’s attention if your heading is suitably interesting, provocative or unique – and at the same time relevant to whoever is reading it. This will create a chemical reaction in the reader’s mind, leading to an emotional response to the words.
Once you’ve hooked a reader, you need to maintain interest by maintaining the initial emotional response in the very first sentence, and then in the second sentence, then the second paragraph and so on.
Keep your reader’s attention through every part of the writing to the very end.
The heading and first sentence need to work very hard to grab and then keep your reader’s attention.
Remember – practice makes perfect
Read works of writing from authors you admire, and then write as much as you can. Learn how to edit your own work and rewrite it if necessary.
Before you know it, your writing will be vastly improved and more effective.