The 14 Dos and Don’ts of Copywriting
Are you a newbie in the world of copywriting? Or perhaps you have already taken the plunge? You now want to improve your copywriting skills. Well done. You may already have turned to your trusted friend Google for advice. But let’s be frank. The amount of varying advice available on the internet can often be an overdose. Asking a fellow copywriter can help. But again you don’t want to pester them 24/7.
Keeping all this in mind, I have jotted down 14 basic dos and don’ts of copywriting. Drill these pointers into your brain to become the king (or queen?) of content creation in no time.
The 7 Dos
1. Do: Research your audience
The customary ‘think before you say or write’ doesn’t work here. For effective copywriting, you must research before you write. Take the time to learn about what your prospective customer wants to know. Read, conduct surveys or even carry out market researches if you need to. Then include your findings in your writing.
2. Do: Follow the 80-20 rule
Your content should be 80% of your audience and 20% about you. Readers want to know how you can help them. Therefore, focus on the ‘You factor’. The ‘About us’ page can be an exception. Apart from that, there should be very few mentions of you.
3. Do: Talk to your audience
Imagine that you are in the same room with your customer. Address them directly. Connect with the person reading your text. Unless highly necessary, replace all instances of ‘we + company name’ with ‘I’. That’s you as the first person.
4. Do: Write for scanners
Your paragraphs should ideally have no more than 3 sentences. Keep these sentences short. Use symbols, numerals, bullet points to make the text easily readable. When reading online, most people tend to read vertically rather than horizontally. Help them to skim through quickly while absorbing maximum information.
5. Do: Keep it simple
You’ve probably heard this one before. But really, save the fancy vocabulary for your personal blog or your Facebook status updates. When copywriting, keep your language simple and easy to understand.
6. Do: Tell benefits not features
This is a popular one. Your audience wants to know how they can benefit from what you’re trying to sell. Don’t take up their time boasting about the features of your product or service. Show them what their gains are.
7. Do: Include a clear ‘Call to Action’
Remind your readers (nicely) about what action you want them to take. Tell them whether you want them to buy from you, sign up for your mailing list or something else. It is your job as a copywriter to send a clear message across.
And Now the 7 Don’ts of Copywriting
1. Don’t: Write for Everyone
When you research to know your audience, you get to know what they are looking for. Filter out and address 20%-35% of them. This is your target niche that has more chances of converting.
2. Don’t: Imitate John Steinback, instead, copy Dr Seuss
What is copywriting all about? Copywriting is very much like writing a children’s book, like the ones by Dr Seuss. Be simple, concise and attractive to the eye. Use a captivating tone, short sentences and where appropriate, add images.
I can’t stress enough. Copywriting is all about conveying your message in a simple and clear manner. Don’t leave anything unsaid. Remember your audience needs solutions, not complex riddles. So, don’t expect them to read between the lines. Edit out the jargon.
4. Don’t: Use narrow spacing or tiny fonts
A study published by Google/IBM suggests that the font size used in a web copy impacts your audience’s reading speed. Yet another study shows that using an easily readable font can stimulate particular emotions more effectually. There! You got it!
5. Don’t: Copy someone else’s tone of voice
Be original. Avoid a tone which doesn’t come naturally to you. Instead, use a tone which resonates with your target readers.
6. Don’t: Try to sell everything at once
Don’t overwhelm the reader with too much information. Take one step at a time. Give them time to understand how things work. Then try to convince and convert.
7. Don’t: Write only for the search engines
Write for humans. Using keywords is great for ranking your article high up on the search engines. However, don’t let your writing lose the human touch. At the end of the day, you want customers to buy from you, not robots.
Your writing needs to have a clear focus. It needs to grasp the reader’s attention within seconds. Remember to always proofread and remove monotonous text.
As with anything else, new rules of copywriting are introduced often. However, follow these basics and you won’t go wrong. Be willing to learn and improve your skills to excel as a copywriter.
Happy copywriting! 😊
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About Bisma Hashmi
Bisma Hashmi is an engineer turned copywriter, with over 7 years of copywriting experience. She enjoys helping businesses save time by creating quality content for them. Her main focus is on B2B sector. However, she also equally likes writing for B2C. When she takes her copywriter’s hat off, she’s a mum of two. Amongst her many talents, Bisma is famed for her excellent baking and cake decoration skills.