The reason we all write blogs and content for our websites is because we have something that we feel is important to say, and we want to get that message out to the public and to our potential consumers. Unfortunately, as my boss has pointed out in one of his posts that only 16% of people actually read blog posts and the rest of us simply scan them for pertinent information. I have to be honest, as a reader and a writer I found this to be a shocking number and had a bit of a hard time accepting it. But, as Jeff explained to me, most of us are thrown so much information in one day that we simply don't have enough time to read it all.
I think that's only part of the reason though. Truthfully? There are a lot of badly written, boring posts and articles floating around on the web and most of us can't be bothered to read them to get the information we need out of it. But, the good news is that I do believe if something is truly well written or entertaining that people will read it. Therefore, in order to get our message across, we have to make our writing more appealing to our readership. Fortunately, these few simple copywriting tips can be used to help you tighten your writing and reach further than that 16 percent.
1.) Plan Ahead
Listen, if you don't know where you're going with your writing, than your readers don't stand a chance. Before you sit down and put fingers to keyboard, think about what you want to say and what the logical flow of your thoughts should be. Your writing should be orderly and have direction. If you're looking for a great starting place, try this simple adage: Tell people what you're going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you've told them. It'll help lend focus to your thoughts.
2.) Know your Audience
It seems like common sense, but you'd be surprised. For example, if you know that your travel site appeals to young urban professionals, writing a blog post about retirement travel is probably not going to go over well. Think about your idea and spin it: Maybe your blog post could be about where to send your retired parents on vacation. Find a way to make your new product or service appeal to your existing audience.
3.) The K.I.S.S. Principle
In other words - Keep it Simple Stupid (Hey, don't blame me, I didn't invent the acronym). Did you know that most newspapers write their stories for a grade seven education level? Writing for the web shouldn't be any different. And, while it's great that you have a PhD in entomology, but if your readers don't know you're talking about bugs, you aren't going to get your points across.
4.) N.M.A.P. (No more acronyms please)
Given the previous entry, this one is a little ironic. But here's the thing. Just because you know what you're talking about when you mention a BOGOFF (Buy One Get One For Free) or E&OE (Errors & Omissions Excepted); doesn't mean that the people reading your blog do. Explain what your acronyms mean before you lose all your readers with your technical talk.
5.) Mix it up!
Sometimes copy can feel really stale and boring, but you can't quite figure out why. It's often due to the overuse of certain words in your copy, so take a look over what you've written. If you see that every sentence starts with the word "the" then you need to make a change. This also applies to words in a paragraph, if you've described something as "good" four times in the past three sentences it's time to pick a new adjective.
6.) Use Awesome Words Sparingly
Being overly descriptive with your writing is not necessarily a good thing. If you were writing a novel, sure, there might be room for more flowery turns of phrase. Web copy though, should be more simple and direct. Don't over illustrate what you're trying to say, just say it, otherwise you'll lose your readers.
7.) Text Not
It doesn't matter how busy you are; text speak does not belong in proper copy. Take the time to write out each of the words you want to say, otherwise you'll turn off your readers. Because, not only is text speak annoying, it can also be hard to understand, so resist the urge, kwim? (Oops!)
Once you've finished writing your blog or article, save and close the file and walk away from it. After you've taken a little bit of time (20 - 30 minutes) come back to it and start editing. Your fresh eyes will help you be able to see the mistakes and the unnecessary parts more easily. And remember, if you think you've gotten a bit too wordy or it runs a little too long, than it probably has.
We write content for our websites or blogs because we want people to read it, but appealing to readers in the information age is easier said than done. Writing should be tight, direct and interesting to your readers. Following the above copywriting guidelines should get you on your way to improving your copy.
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