14 Apr Copywriting for BEGINNERS 3 top tips for crystal clear copy
Your website text, online bios, social media posts and emails define you. They are what make people notice you, connect with you and buy from you… or not.
If you want to write clear, persuasive copy but struggle to communicate your message plainly, these three super-tips are for you. I’ve picked these three techniques because they are some of the most reliable, straightforward and powerful ways to improve your writing – quickly.
Keep reading for three simple tips to take your writing from tedious to terrific. And for a free access link to my online training session where you can learn even more.
- KNOW YOUR READER
As a writer, there are a few things you need to consider before you even put pen to paper. Or finger to keyboard.
It’s impossible to write clearly and effectively if you’re at all unclear about who you’re writing for or what the purpose of your writing is.
That might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people start writing something like a web page or a social media post without considering their audience or their end goal.
So, for each piece of copy that you write, ask yourself:
- Who is going to be reading this?
- Why are they reading it?
- How can I help them achieve what they want?
You might find it helpful to visualise an actual person who will be reading your copy. For example, if you’re writing web copy aimed at potential customers, you can imagine your typical target customer when you’re writing. This is a technique I use and I find it a great way to keep my copy personal and relevant.
- USE ACTIVE VERBS
Using active verbs, or the ‘active voice’, makes your writing sound more direct and professional.
The active voice describes a sentence where the subject performs the action stated by the verb. It follows a clear subject + verb + object format. That simplicity makes it easy to read.
With the passive voice, the subject is acted upon by the verb. Using the passive voice makes for murky, roundabout sentences.
Here are some examples of the same messages written using active and passive verbs. You can see how using the active version comes across as more natural and straightforward. On the other hand, the passive examples are more bureaucratic and long-winded. Writing more complex sentences using the passive voice can also become confusing for the reader.
|This project will be finished by us soon||We’ll finish this project soon|
|The policy was approved by the Government||The Government approved the policy|
|The treatment facility had to be closed by the local authority||The local authority had to close the treatment facility|
Aim to make about 80% to 90% of your verbs active.
- TRASH THE ADVERBS
What is an adverb? And what have I got against them anyway?
They’re not always bad news. But they are often overused. And if you struggle to keep your copy clear and concise, trashing a few adverbs is probably going to improve your writing. A lot.
An adverb modifies a verb or an adjective to tell you how someone did something. There are a few different types of adverbs, but the type that it’s most important to check and consider deleting are easily identified. That’s because they almost always end in the letters “ly”.
Let’s go on a little adverb cull of our own…
|The painting is very exceptional||The painting is exceptional|
|Lucy walked quickly||Lucy sprinted|
|He spoke softly||He whispered|
As you can see, there are a few different ways of eliminating adverbs. In the first example I’ve simply deleted the adverb, and the sentence is stronger and clearer as a result. In the other two examples I’ve strengthened the verb itself. Doing so makes the adverb redundant and makes for a much punchier, more active sentence.
READY TO LEARN MORE?
I recently created my first online copywriting workshop and I thought you were just the kind of folk who would be interested.
The 40-minute Skillshare workshop is an introduction to professional copywriting techniques aimed at people who want to write clear, persuasive copy. Learn how to ditch the drivel, wave goodbye to waffle and polish your copy until it’s crystal clear. It includes 10 simple and effective ways to transform your copy from boring to brilliant.
Watch the introduction video to find out more:
I’ve got my hands on 10 free access links so that 10 people can watch my class for free without having to subscribe to Skillshare (£13 for a monthly subscription).
Enjoy your newly crystal clear copy!