WDG’s Copywriting Guide of 2015: Part 2

Ask any experienced writer and they’ll tell you that, of course, substance trumps style. Every time. It’s not how you write it, but what you write.

The next stop in WDG’s Copywriting Guide zeroes in on what you should write to craft compelling and persuasive content for your audiences to read. As they say, the devil is in the details.

Keep Your Copy Clean

No reader likes long-winded sentences that beat around the bush instead of getting to the primary point of discussion.

See that sentence—don’t you feel bored already? That’s because studies show users won’t waste their time reading sentences that drag on forever. Especially if the point could’ve been made in fewer words.

So, edit, edit, edit.

To Do: While you edit, try this exercise. Choose any sentence and paraphrase it down. Then, with that paraphrased sentence, consolidate the words again. It’s a good way of learning how to edify your ideas.

Remember: Present, Not Passive

When you’re crafting up some great copy, of course you want it to be as strong as possible. You want your readers to feel engrossed in it. As it happens, a little grammar lesson will go a long way with this.

Take a look at two sentences:

  • “The copy is written by you.”
  • “You write the copy.”

In the first sentence, the subject of the sentence (“copy”) is acted upon, rather than performing the action. But in the second sentence, the subject (“you”) is explicitly doing the action.

In short: passive voice (the first sentence) weakens your message, while active voice (the second) strengthens it.

Break Some Writing Standards

You know all those writing rules you learned in grade school? Forget them.

Reading online is like a visual smorgasbord—the combination of different cadences, lengths, and tones make for an interesting experience. Online writing is a different game, so naturally, the rules are different too.

So yes, you can use fragment sentences! You can start sentences with because, or, and but!

To Do: All you need is a Word document and a subject to write about. When you have both, just start writing. No hesitations. Write exactly what comes to your mind. This will get you into the habit of writing without rules, and writing what you feel instead. (Edit, of course.)

Capture Your Audience with Calls to Action

A call to action grabs attention and encourages your users to act. With a short amount of real estate, your copywriting skills must let your users 1) know what they want to know and 2) what you want them to do about it.

Having clear directives–like “sign up” or “download”—are essential for guiding your users to action. The Daily Egg wrote an excellent article parsing out examples of different CTAs.

To Do: To write a good CTA, you have to understand your audience and have a clear goal in mind. If your company offers tutoring services, and your audience is college students, what will drive them to action? How are their motivations different from, say, middle school students?

Good copywriting requires a lot of practice. Know that you know how to understand your audience and what you should be writing, put those skills to the test. Have a question? Get in touch today!

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