Keeping Your Copywriting Trim

You’ve probably read about the idea of keeping your copy ‘tight’.

But what exactly does that mean?

Well, when writing sales copy your message must be clear, punchy and to the point.

If you spend an age waffling around your subject, fill your copy with adjectives and finally, 1000 words later, get round to telling your reader what you’re actually selling, it won’t be very effective.

Before you start, you need a plan and you need to do some research. Think about:

  • What you are selling (the emotional impact it will have as that is the way to a sale)
  • To whom you are selling
  • Why you are selling it (is the timing important?)
  • What you want your reader to do (your call to action)

Then, and only then, can you start to write.

Tight copy

As you are crafting your copy, here are some things you should always bear in mind.

1. Cut the clutter

As you write, you will add words that aren’t essential. We all do it, but you won’t spot them until you read your copy back to yourself. Watch out for words such as:

  • Great
  • Some
  • Many
  • Right
  • Quite
  • Only
  • Even
  • Such
  • The
  • Got
  • Really
  • That
  • To
  • Actually

I’m sure you can think of a few more, but these are all words that can be cut from sentences without having any effect on its overall meaning.

2. 3 part lists

These are useful when stressing a point. Remember Tony Blair’s “education, education, education”? The rhetorical effect of a 3 part list helps to drive home your point.

3. Second person

No, that’s not the forerunner of “The Third Man”, writing in the second person (i.e. you and your) makes your copy personal because it addresses the reader directly. This will help you build rapport and establish trust between you and your audience.

4. Distinguish between features and benefits

Anyone can write about the features of a product, but a copywriter will concentrate in their benefits. But not any old benefit; the benefit to the reader – saving them time, money, making them more successful, making them more attractive…

5. Bulleted lists and highlights

As well as adding interest to your page, bulleted lists and highlighted text will also draw the readers’ eye. So what better way to stress your key points than to list or highlight them?

6. Paragraphs

Most of us like to get our information in short chunks. Lengthy pages of text are a big turn-off, so use short paragraphs to get your information over succinctly.

7. Read aloud

The only way you will get a feel for your copy’s flow and rhythm is by reading it aloud.

Yes, you’ll feel ridiculous, but it will instantly identify where your copy works and where it falls short. Better to find out then than after it’s published.

Over to you

Great, readable copy is all about minimalism. That doesn’t mean all copy should be short, but it does mean that all copy should only use as many words as are absolutely necessary to get your point across.

How about you? Do you have any favourite methods you use to make sure your copy is as tight as a nut?

Leave a comment below and share them with us.


Sally Ormond

Freelance copywriter, blogger, social media addict and lover of rum butter toffees

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