From the time to you entered school, you've been taught a myriad of grammar and/or writing rules. They range from "i before e except after c", to never start a sentence with "and". What they didn't tell you was that sometimes it's ok to break those rules. That's right, writing rules were meant to be broken. After all, it was obvious that you wouldn't be writing for your sixth grade teacher forever. And if you followed all of those rules she told you, chances are you're business would be going under. No potential client of yours wants to feel like they are reading their biology textbook when looking at your site.
Potential clients want to feel like they are your friend slowly building a relationship with you. Remember, when your teacher told you to write formally in almost all instances? Well, when it comes to marketing material, you need to stop that. Potential clients like to feel comfortable with their service providers. That means leaving out big words and using contractions when you can. After all, you weren't impressing people with your proper use of "cantankerous" anyway.
You are also not impressing anyone with very long paragraphs even though your teacher told you a paragraph must have at least three to five sentences. I'm convinced teachers only said that to stop students from being lazy and actually do their work. They couldn't possibly believe it's necessary. There's evidence of shorter paragraphs in the business world everyday. I've scene paragraphs as short as one sentence or even one word to draw attention. Besides, these days people have short attention spans and are very busy. So the shorter the better!
If you want to be really daring, take a walk on the wild and start a sentence with a conjunction. *Gasp* I know what you're thinking, but sometimes it's perfectly ok to start sentences with "or", "and", or "but". When speaking, we naturally use conjunctions at the beginning of sentences to transition. It works for marketing materials to - sometimes. Just make sure you don't over do it.
It has come to my attention that I throw the term copywriter around pretty frequently. However, a lot of people don't even seem to understand what a copywriter does. Obviously that's a problem. To my surprise, many confused the term "copywriter" with "copyright" despite the context clues.
Simply put, a copywriter writes copy. Depending on the writer, the type of copy they write might vary as some have specialities and others don't. Copy refers to the content or words used for your marketing material. Copywriters are responsible for writing the copy on business websites, flyers, slogans, newsletters, brochures, direct mail paraphernalia, advertisements, sales letters, product descriptions and more. However, what makes a professional copywriter different from the high school kid down the street, is the ability to make that copy sound as professional and concise as possible while sticking to the personality of the business.
Most importantly a good copywriter knows how to translate your copy into to more views or prospects, which of course leads to more sales. Copywriters do this by highlighting the traits that make you stand out from your competitors. They also address the wants and needs of your target audience. Lastly they analyze, core business values and insure they translate into copy that shows the company in the best light which yield desired results. In other words, they make you sound pretty damn good!
You may have set a resolution to trim the fat from your waistline this year, but your content may stand to shave off some excess weight as well. If you're confused I don't blame you; especially after hearing from several gurus that it's best to write in a conversational tone. In other words, write the way you talk. Yes, it's good advice. However, the problem is most people are naturally very wordy and don't get to the point. And that is why it is almost always necessary to trim the fat from your writing.
In case you were wondering, the fat is the verbiage that adds absolutely nothing to your work. Most likely they are those unnecessary words that take up space. Here's a few of them:
In almost all situations cutting the word "just" makes the sentence much stronger and less demanding or needy. Examples:
- I just wanted to say goodnight.
- If you would just pay me tonight I can buy the tickets.
The only thing "going to" does to a sentence is make it more wordy and harder to follow. Instead remove "going to" and replace it with "will". Examples:
- I am going to find that book before work.
- Michael is going to forget how to play the piano if he doesn't practice soon.
In most cases "that" is usually an unnecessary word and weakens the sentence. Examples:
- Did you know that elephants have amazing memories?
- I love the outfit that Beyonce wore at the Grammy's.
It's no secret the most difficult part of writing is the editing. After all the typing and brainstorming is complete, you somehow realize that what you wrote is way too long. Or you managed to miss the point you were trying to make completely. Of course, the next step is to break out the infamous red pen or work out that backspace button until you get it just right. The only problem is you feel that it is already just right and you can't bear to separate yourself from the lovely melody of words that danced its way into your heart. I think it's safe to say that we've all been there at one point or another. Luckily, the solution is simple. Ready?
STOP FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOUR WORDS!
I know the truth hurts, but it's a harsh reality that we all need to face at some point. The reason why editing your work is so difficult is because you've gotten too attached to it already and think you'll suffer from separation anxiety. Even worse, you're nervous once you hit delete your compelling words will disappear forever, never to see the light of day again.
Well, you're in luck. Thanks to advancements in technology you now have the power to create multiple documents and save multiple versions of your work. That way you'll never have to worry about the death of a short lived quote again, because it will live on forever in your hard drive. Now you have the ability to hit delete without remorse and continue editing your work until it reaches perfection.
Now, I'm not saying you can't put your heart into what you write or lust after the string of words you created. I'm just saying, don't get so attached to your work that it prohibits you from doing your job well. Falling head over heels with your content can turn a 20-minute editing job into a two hour job. Do yourself a favor and remove those shackles from your heart, master the art of saving several document versions, and get to editing.
Trust me, your readers will thank you. Besides, you can always revisit past loves in the doldrums of your hard drive when the feeling strikes.