Creating copy that engages with your audience and inspires can take time. I’ve written a post about spring cleaning copy, but as a lover of lists, I wanted to share my own checklist that I look to if I’m having a bad pen day. Motivating your audience into action is the ultimate goal, but if, at minimum, you generate a positive branding experience and entertain, so much the better.
1. Could you read your copy out to a good friend without them feeling like you’re preaching a sermon?
This is up at number one for good reason. Think about how your target audience normally communicates and craft your copy accordingly. Engaging copy shouldn’t be hard to understand, condescending, or self-interested. Ask questions, entertain, and make it clear what’s in it for them. Avoid jargon or acronyms if you can, as you’ll likely lose attention extremely quickly.
2. Check your sentence lengths.
Sometimes there’s a temptation to include all the information in one sentence because you have so much to say and you don’t want to have to cut and slice, but in doing so you’ll lose your readers’ attention and interest so it’s not really worth it, especially as by the time you get to the end of your sentence they’ll have completely lost interest so you could be describing the most exciting facts about puppy dogs tails, snails, whales or curly kale but they won’t even know.
3. Does your copy have an impactful ending? If not it’s.
What do you want to leave your audience with as a lasting impression? What’s your call to action? What do you want them to think, or do?
4. Plan properly, and be true to your intended format.
Don’t start your piece of writing as a listicle and deviate idly halfway through towards a written article. The laziness will permeate.
5. Are, you? Prone. To punc:Tuation?
This was my biggest failing in English. Don’t ask me why, but I loves me a comma. Try to resist over indulging on the punctuation marks if you can - you’ll lose your audience and dilute your sentence structure.
6. Grammatically, do you know what is going on?
Get it right. Your audience might not forgive you if you don’t.
7. Know when it’s time for something glorious and when it’s time for something that gets the job done.
I’m all for bells and whistles, but a 94 page website can’t be ringing and whistling all the way to the contact page. If your audience is looking for information, make your copy functional.
8. Get a proof reader
Also known as fresh eyes, an objective point of view or critical eye. Frustrating and unfathomable though it continues to be, but I still can’t pick up on each and every last inconsistency and typo. Get a good proof reader who will relieve you of the stress.
9. Have you brought ‘it’ to life without relying on clichés like ‘brought it to life’?
This is a tough one, particularly when the creative juices are running thin. Go to bed and attack again on the morrow.
10. The final test: if your copy was out on show for all to see, would you point and smile, your heart bursting with pride and contentedly proclaim ‘I wrote that’?
Whilst I sincerely hope your copywriting improves as a result of these few pointers, I nonetheless unashamedly offer my services if you’d like a bit more help.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Image courtesy of Jonathan Kim