Entries from May 2009 ↓

20 No-nos When Writing Copy

Content is everywhere. Some of it is great – informative, funny, attention-grabbing, persuasive, powerful…some of it is, well, pants quite frankly.

You would probably be hard pushed to recall a great ad or piece of copy, but I bet you can remember the bad ones.

To avoid falling into the trap of producing bad copy, I have compiled a list of 20 sins that you should avoid.

1.  No attention-grabbing headline

2.  No sub headings

3.  No benefits

4.  No guarantees

5.  Spelling and grammar mistakes

6.  No testimonials (believable ones, anyway)

7.  No features

8.  No conversational writing or questions

9.  Over complex and long sentences

10.  No deadlines

11.  No strong call to action

12.  No free trials


14.  Very few ordering options

15.  No visuals (all text is a bad idea)

16.  No comparison against competitors

17.  No emotional appeal

18.  Way too much jargon

19.  Text is either too small or too big

20.  Not enough white space

I’m sure you can provide further examples, if so I’d love to hear about them.

Sally Ormond is a freelance copywriter helping businesses become more visible in their market place, increasing their targeted web traffic and sales.
Her UK copywriting services help numerous companies in the UK and abroad.

Create Killer Content in 3 Simple Words

I have written numerous posts on here about webcopy and how you should write it. Its all about writing clearly for your reader. Forgetting jargon and long sentences. Creating headings that make navigation easy. Basically making it easy to understand.

This post from Coppyblogger by Demian Farnworth sums its all up rather nicely. Read on and discover how easy it can be to write webcopy.

Everything You Need to Know About Creating Killer Content in 3 Simple Words3

Creating great content is not hard. In fact, it’s quite easy. That is, if you understand three simple words.

If you summarized every single book and article written on writing for the web, you’d get these three words. Yet, no one–not even the experts, authors, or pundits–have ever consolidated all this knowledge into one simple, sticky formula.

Until now.

Write with these three words in mind, and anything you publish on the web will rivet attention, stoke desire, and get action.

Don’t believe me? Well, after you’ve read the rest of this article, give it a shot. And let me know what you think.

1. Clear

In less than four seconds visitors need to be able to comprehend what you wrote on your web page. I didn’t say “read.” I said “comprehend.”

Even before Steve Krug wrote it, the unbreakable law of the web has always been this: don’t make me think.

Your headlines, subheadlines, links, labels and navigation should all communicate clearly what lies in, under or behind them.

This is part of giving readers control. No tricks. Nothing clever or cute. Never lie. Just straight, uncensored, easy-to-digest truth.

Do it any other way and you’ll repel people. Bore readers. Lose money.

2. Concise

Writing for the web is a minimalist affair. Your words, sentences and paragraphs are short. Precise. Lean. Tight. Web writing trades in sheering off useless words. Cutting flabby paragraphs…

Even shedding entire pages.

Think that’s harsh? Jakob Nielson recommends you cut up to half of the words for every print page you plan to put on the web.

There’s a great benefit for you behind all this editing: You’ll become a ruthlessly good writer. You’ll get much better, in fact.

Best of all, writing clear and concise won’t make you boring or dull. Far from it.

3. Compelling

The Rich Jerk is irritating, annoying and loathsome. But he’s compelling. Interesting. Persuasive. That’s why he won’t go away.

Why? Because he’s tapped into human emotions—greed and pride—that pull people into his copy… whether they like it or loathe it.

You have to do the same. You have to uncover what makes your reader tick. What strokes his ego. What plucks his gut strings. What keeps him up at night. And when you uncover that hot spot, punch it.

If he’s a political junkie, wave breaking news in front of him. An Apple addict? Share the latest hacks and apps for the iPhone. A wine lover? Hustle the best bottles his way.

Whatever it is, give your reader what he wants. Or he’ll go away. It’s the law.

What About SEO Copywriting?

Forget about it. Seriously.

If you focus on writing clear, concise and compelling copy, you will naturally write keyword-dense copy. You’ll naturally write for the search engines.

In fact, that’s why I think the label SEO copywriter is redundant. Every web writer worth his salt is a SEO writer. At least they are if they write clear, concise and compelling copy.

The question is, content creator, are you?

What Do You Think?

Did I miss it? Are there more than three words that describe successful online content creation? Let me know and we’ll debate it.

About the Author: Demian Farnworth is Senior Web Writer for an international humanitarian aid organization and blogger for Fallen and Flawed.

10 Ways to Improve Your Tired Copy

Have you noticed that your website copy, brochures or adverts don’t seem to be working for you any more?

Well, it is probably because your message has become stale. Your readers are fed up with the same old thing time and time again. They’re ready for something fresh that will make them sit up and take notice.

Before you roll your eyes and think “…and just when am I supposed to find the time to re-write all my sales materials?” remember that simple changes can make a huge impact.

Listed below are 10 simple but effective ways to breathe live back into your tired sales copy.

  1. Change the length of your copy – if long copy hasn’t worked, try short.
  2. Break up your copy with sub headings. This will make your text easier to read and will help keep your readers’ interest.
  3. Pose questions that will persuade your reader to buy.
  4. Highlight your keywords.
  5. Put your main benefits in a bulleted list to make them standout.
  6. Play with the font size – make the salient points larger.
  7. Increase or decrease your advertised price.
  8. Include testimonials and statistics, but make sure they are real and relevant.
  9. Take out any jargon – there is no bigger turn-off than copy riddled with complex terms.
  10. Add special offers, free trials, discounts etc.

You can use as many or as few of these as you like. Try different combinations for different audiences and products.

Keeping your content fresh is vital to keep your readers’ interest.

Sally Ormond is a freelance copywriter based in Suffolk. She works with companies all over the country and internationally providing expert copywriting services to help them increase their market visibility, targeted web traffic and sales.

10 Tips for Eye-Catching Copy

You could write the most interesting copy known to man, but if it isn’t laid out in an eye-catching way it won’t get read.eye

We humans are a fickle bunch – if we are going to take time out of our precious lives to read something, we want to know it is going to be interesting and (more than likely) benefit us in some way or another.

Therefore your copy has to look attractive. Hands up all those of you who have browsed the shelves of your local book shop and chosen your next read by its cover? And when you flick through the pages have you been put off when faced with an impenetrable wall of small text?

The look of your copy is as important as the content itself. By following these 10 tips you will be able to create eye-catching copy.

  • Colour – without going overboard, use colour graphs and charts (if appropriate) or pictures.

  • Highlight – if you are using incentives and guarantees, make them stand out.
  • Simple – keep your sentences simple and short.
  • Be bold – place your important words and phrases in bold.
  • Pictures – visuals can be attention grabbing. If possible use ‘before and after’ images.
  • Headline – this is your opportunity to grab your readers’ attention. If in doubt use ‘free’ or ‘new’ in your headline as they always make people sit up and take notice.
  • Stand out – your keywords and phrases need to be obvious so use them in headings and sub headings which are in a larger font to the rest of your text.
  • Bullets – make your benefits stand out by listing them as bullet points.
  • Divide and conquer – breaking up your copy with sub headings makes it easier to read and navigate.
  • Adjectives – use these to make your product stand out – incredible! High power! Sizzling! Just don’t go overboard with them.

Sally Ormond (Briar Copywriting) is a freelance copywriter offering a comprehensive range of copywriting services to businesses locally, nationally and internationally.

Why Content and Social Media are a Powerful Match

While I was browsing the internet the other day I came across this blog post on CopyBlogger by Sonia Simone.

It really struck a chord with me. As an internet marketer, I have come to understand the power of content and when it is coupled with social media…wow!

It is such a powerful way of getting your opinions out there into cyberspace and of course, an incredible vehicle from which to promote you and your business.

Take it away Sonia…

Why Content and Social Media are a Powerful Match

Creating stellar content for your marketing is great. But great content doesn’t (quite) distribute itself. It needs vehicles for people to pass it along, discuss its merits, argue over its controversies, blog it, mash it, tweet it and even scrape it. Which is, of course, where social media comes in.

Social media didn’t create content marketing, but it’s an unsurpassed tool for getting it distributed. On the flip side, great content gives social media life, by giving people something more interesting to talk about than what they’re ordering right now at Starbucks.

Social media is the third tribe’s sacred hearth

The third tribe—the new breed of smart, savvy online entrepreneurs—are creatures of the social web. Gathering points like forums, Twitter and Facebook are the campfires that pull the tribe together. Some of us have been convening around digital campfires for a long time. (I found my first in 1989, before the invention of the World Wide Web.)

Social media has grown so explosively because connection is probably the deepest drive we have. The campfire gives us a place to share information about the day’s hunt, a forum to air out the tribe’s differences, even a place for us to consider new and better ways to build campfires.

No, it’s not a utopian picture. Our campfires are places for bickering and malice as much as for inspiration and community. But without a connecting place, without a central spot to bring us together for conversation, there is no tribe.

Our gathering places are never perfect. They’re human. Which is what makes them so extraordinary.

Great content is the third tribe’s saga and story

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the Yanomamo in the Amazon rainforest or friends at a barbecue in Teaneck, New Jersey. Anywhere people gather around fires, they’re going to tell stories.

It’s in the nature of the human animal to play with language, to create fables and songs and nonsense to entertain ourselves with. And it’s in our nature to make beautiful objects and embellish anything that will stand still long enough.

These instincts are alive today in great writing and imagery being shared all over the Web. The impulses that make us reweet a blog post or a fantastic Flickr image are the same ones that bring a superb Navajo weaver renown across four states.

Wonderful words and beautiful images capture our attention, no matter who we are or what technology we might have at our disposal. Our impulse to create, and our desire to remark on skillful creations, haven’t changed much since we started walking upright.

The third tribe is on the move

In addition to our passion for connection, the other remarkable human trait is adaptability.

No other animal can adapt to as many different ecosystems and environments as we can. We’ve built dwellings in Antarctica and in space. We’ve survived the Ice Age and world wars, tsunamis and earthquakes, and even Joan Rivers winning Celebrity Apprentice.

When the environment is stable, we get complacent. We settle into calm, self-satisfied habits for thousands of years at a time.

But when the earth starts to shake, we wake up again: the same smart, watchful, inventive and dangerous monkey we’ve always been at heart.

I’ve heard the current economic meltdown described as “economic climate change,” which I like a lot. We don’t know where it’s going to get unbearably hot and where the temperature will plunge to permafrost. The system is too complex to predict, except we know it’s going to change and it’s likely to change fast.

But some things won’t change. If we can sing a remarkable song, others will gather to hear it. And now, digital campfires connect us from Kuala Lumpur to Iceland to Dallas.

If I create content that’s worthy of attention, the world will show up and talk about it. I don’t know how they’ll show up in 5 years (or 5 months), but I know they will.

My job is to make something amazing, then use the global network of digital campfires intelligently to find the people who will love and appreciate it.

How about you? What songs and legends are you bringing to your campfire