Before I transitioned into conversion copywriting, I wrote a lot of content.
A LOT. For nearly 20 years.
Mostly feature articles, columns, blogs and cover stories for health and fitness magazines like Health, Self, Shape, Family Circle, AARP, and Men’s Fitness, and many more.
Along the way, I learned a few things — great writing tips from editors — about putting words together.
Before I go farther, I need to be clear on the difference between copywriting and content writing.
In a nutshell… the two terms vary based on their purpose.
Copywriting (what I do now) is writing persuasive copy that prompts readers to take action, re: sales and attracting customers / clients.
Content refers to copy that’s meant to entertainment, educate or inform: articles, blog posts and such.
The tips I’m about to share can be used for either, regardless of what you write: emails, landing pages, blogs and other content – whatever – they work.
Your writing will improve if you take heed of these…
#1 Instant Writing Tip: Nail the Opening
Start with a bang. Jump right into the action. Imagine your reader parachuting, James Bond style, into the middle of your copy.
You literally have seconds to capture your reader’s attention. Usually all you need to do is eliminate the first sentence or paragraph.
This “warm-up” copy is usually not necessary. Most readers will skip it.
For example, an email may start with:
I had my suspicions, but the truth would be far crazier than I imagined…
I never knew that morning how my world would be turned upside down…
It wasn’t supposed to happen ever again. Yet, it did.
You get the idea.
#2 Instant Writing Tip: Shorten sentences
This is super common: sentences that go on forever.
Back in the day, we called them “run-on sentences.”
The Oxford Dictionary recommends 15 to 20 words per sentence for readability.
But other research shows 8 words per sentence increased understanding.
It helps to stick to one idea per sentence. Break up long ones into two.
#3 Instant Writing Tip: Slide into segues
Switching subjects or segueing into another idea sounds choppy without transition words. Phrases that lead you to that thought can be:
- In addition to
- At any rate
- Above all
For a complete, printable list, check out this expansive, helpful LIST.
#4 Instant Writing Tip: Swap out echo words
I’d never heard this term until an editor at a major publication pointed it out to me in my own copy.
Echo words are those we tend to repeat in the next sentence or within the paragraph.
It’s common when you’re writing about a subject where descriptive words tend to repeat.
A thesaurus is your best friend here.
I opened the door to find a huge, smelly, Bigfoot. The huge beast tried to come in the house but couldn’t fit through the door. Thankfully.
#5 Instant Writing Tip: Read it aloud
You may feel silly doing this if you’re alone, but reading copy aloud enables you to catch a lot of mistakes.
You’ll catch echo words easily, for instance.
And missing or extra words your eye skips over will also pop out when you read them.
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