5 Copywriting Mistakes Everyone Makes
When I tell people what I do I get a mixture of responses - some think I write the little copyright statements at the bottom of websites, others think I copy down what clients dictate to me and neither of those tasks are really anything like my actual job.
The trouble is that because a lot of people have never heard of copywriting they don't think to hire a copywriter when they end up writing their website or designing a poster for their business. After all, writing is easy, right?
Let's correct that opinion once and for all - writing is hard. Copywriting is also probably the hardest type of writing there is. In fact, the overwhelming amount of bad writing I was seeing both on and offline is what motivated me to bring my skill-set to the market in the first place. So in an effort to right the eternal copywriting wrongs displayed on pages everywhere, here are the 5 Copywriting Mistakes Everyone Makes:
1. Using Way Too Much SEO
Everyone wants to be on the first page for Google, but charming Google is like charming a beautiful woman. You can't be too keen. You should look like your not even trying to impress them; if you're good enough you'll pop up on their radar anyway.
Keyword cramming makes you look desperate, which means you don't end up getting the highest quality visitors. Make your copy read cleanly and naturally.
2. Screwing Up Basic Spelling or Grammar
If you're a professional writer or you want your writing to look like professional writing then you need to avoid basic errors like they're the plague. A quick scan for obvious errors isn't enough. Run your copy through a processor and spell-check and grammar-check, then go through with your eyes carefully.
The extra ten minutes you spend checking is definitely worth not destroying your credibility with a typo.
Yes, your product is fantastic. Yes, it's going to change the world and you're going to be crowned as the genius who came up with it. I believe you, really. But wouldn't it better to show me, rather than tell me?
Copywriting is all about conversions. It's all about sales. You want your headlines to draw people to your body copy, then you want the first line to draw them to the second, the second to the third - all the way down to the bottom of the page. After they read the last line they should want to act; sign up to your email list, download a free trial product, read more information, whatever you ask of them.
But the product then has to live up to everything you've said. If you create a brilliant moisturiser don't say it cures aging and makes you look 18 years old again, because it probably doesn't. Instead just say what it actually does. Anyone can tell lies about their product or service - it takes real skill to portray the truth in an interesting and compelling way.
4. Being Really, Really Boring
This is the flip-side to over-hyping; boring your audience into apathy. I don't care if you have to sell the most boring product in the world. The whole point of copywriting is to make it interesting. Yes, it's much easier when you're selling a Ferrari that travels at 500km/h and breathes fire, but that's not going to be your average job. You're going to have to sell retirement packages, personal tax classes and special shoes for people with flat feet.
If you can't make the most dull topic to you sparkly and interesting to somebody then you're in the wrong industry. You have to strike that perfect middle ground between boring and unrealistic.
5. Not Using Backspace Enough
Copywriting consists in saying what needs to be said in as few words as possible. I'll break that rule right now to say that again because it's really important; copywriting consists in saying what needs to be said in as few words as possible.
Space is valuable, so fill it sparingly. People have short attention spans and they get ever shorter the longer a block of text they have to look at, so keep it short and sweet. Headings especially should be as short as you can make them. Backspace is your best friend.
Above all remember the timeless advertising advice from the legendary Leo Burnett.
Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.