Copywriting is the art of persuasive writing, but crafting those punchy sentences can feel unnatural for some of us.
“The first draft of anything is s*&%.” Welp, Ernest said it best. Rough around the edges, but true as they come: this quote gives me confidence to start loosy-goosy typing, knowing I will edit with surgical precision in a bit.
Here are my top six quick and dirty copywriting hacks:
1. Type like you talk. Assume your readers are lazy — use contractions, break the rules a bit and start sentences with “and,” etc. Can your copy pass the BFF test? Ask yourself if your best friend would read it and say “this sounds JUST like something you’d say.”
2. Break up those text chunks. No chunky writing! If it’s more than 2-3 sentences, consider a paragraph break. Again, go back to your reader and his or her lazy eyes. Make it easy to digest the info. Lists rock.
3. Spice it up! Dare yourself to use punctuation marks.
- Try an em-dash: “Take the leap — what if today is the day everything changes?!”
- A colon: “My command is this: love each other.”
- The Grammar Police are divided and we bleed red ink over it, but I happen to love a good use of the semicolon. Here’s a good article on semicolons.
4. Kill your darlings. Ah! My heart already hurts. But it’s true. Edit, edit, edit. Do not say the same thing three different ways.
“Good writers are those that keep the language efficient.
That is to say, keep it accurate. Keep it clear.”
– Ezra Pound, poet
5. End with a call to action. The reader is putty in your hands — especially in persuasive copywriting, like for a services or sales page, are you directing him or her to the next step? Don’t bury what you want them to do. End on it. For example:
- “I would love to know your thoughts. Hit reply and let me know!”
- “Interested? Click to search vacation options.”
- Good CTA buttons on a webpage work well: “Send ‘em my way!”
6. Proofread efficiently. Read it twice. Once from the bottom up, which should shake up your mind’s auto-fill and clear out most of your grammar and spelling edits. Then, read it out loud.
7. Finally — for bonus points — throw in a poetic device or two. My secret? If I can’t hit on just the right word, I put a place filler (typically TK, which is journalist-speak for “to come.” Sometimes I just write “SOMETHING”). In the editing process, think on some good words for that spot. Can you use a poetic device? Some simple ones are:
- Alliteration: “should shake up your mind”
- Repetition: “edit, edit, edit.”
And there you have it. Now go write something!