Instantly Improve Your Copy With These Writing Tips

Don’t lose your powerful message in confusing, jargon-filled copy. One of the best tips for writing is to simply write clearly.

George Orwell said, “Good prose should be like a window pane.” Before being clever and interesting, be clear. Writing copy is about inciting action. If your message is entertaining, great! But if the call to action isn’t clear, you simply won’t see results.

Here are some writing tips that will instantly improve your copy:

Keep it simple

Don’t use a complicated word when a simple one will do. It’s tempting to whip out a thesaurus to find rare and big words to impress your readers. But the easier your writing is to read, the more energy they’ll have to think about your idea, brand, product or service.

George Orwell’s example illustrates this perfectly:

“Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

This monstrosity could be simplified to:

If you look carefully, you’ll see that success is more about luck than talent.

Write for scanners, not readers

We don’t tend to read anymore, we scan—especially in the digital space. Breaking text into small snack sized paragraphs makes it easier for people to scan and consume your content.

Headings and subheadings also help with this. Imagine if this article had no paragraphs and headings.

Your headings may also be the only text someone reads. So make them meaningful and specific. Will they get your message from your headlines?

Write how you speak

The more formally you write, the faster you may lose your reader, especially when it comes to copy. Copywriting is about connection and engaging in a conversation. So be human, keep it simple and avoid jargon when possible.

As David Ogilvy said, “Write the way you talk. Naturally. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs. Never use jargon words like reconceptualise, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are the hallmarks of a pretentious ass.”

Use active voice

Active voice puts the subject first, which helps the reader imagine themselves taking the action—it’s no surprise this is great for copywriting. It also uses less words and creates a faster moving sentence. It’s a simple adjustment that will make your writing more engaging.

Active and passive sentences look like this:

Passive: Object+verb+subject
Active: Subject+verb+object

Passive: eCommerce is dominated by your brand.
Active: Your brand dominates eCommerce

Sometimes the difference is subtle, but when it comes to writing, small changes can make a big impact.

Eliminate fluff

If you can cut out a word, always do.

Very, rather, actually, really, that—get rid of these filler words. These pad out your sentences without adding value.

Most filler words are adverbs and adjectives. According to Stephen King, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs”.

Rather than padding your sentences with words that describe verbs and nouns, choose your words more wisely. Use one good word, instead of 2-3 mediocre ones.

Here are two sentences:

The light came into the room abruptly.
The light chainsawed into the room.

Which do you prefer?

Edit

“I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” - Mark Twain.

Writing is rewriting. There is no getting around this. Writing effective copy takes time and usually many drafts.

Go back and read your writing. Use this as a checklist. Ask yourself: is this as simple as it can be and will my audience know what to do?

How does your writing hold up?

“Good writing is not a natural gift, you have to learn to write well.” - David Ogilvy

It takes time and patience. And chances are you may not have time if your head deep in building your kickass business.

Our copywriters at Stead Lane know a thing or two. We write clear engaging content across platforms for all kinds of brands. Let’s chat!

 

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