Not all of us can be stellar copywriters. Even if you’re writing to your target audience, you could still be making some basic mistakes. If you’re not ready to turn things over to a pro, here are some steps you can take to jazz up your web copy.
1. Take action
Your website’s traffic is meaningless if people aren’t buying your product or engaging on blog posts. But you can’t expect them to hire you if all you’ve given them is vague, cloudy copy!
Instead, use your writing to inspire action in your readers. That means choosing strong verbs, seeking out specific nouns, and avoiding the passive voice. Adjectives and adverbs might seem helpful. But if they’re generic or unnecessary, cut them out!
Verbs to watch out for: is, determine, acknowledge, establish, help, make, find. Replace them with words like show, signal, support, control, assist, create, discover, and investigate.
See the difference? You can probably picture someone doing the things in the second list. But the first? I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a vivid image of what it looks like to acknowledge something.
2. Emphasize the good stuff
Every sentence you write has an emphasis—even if you never use bold, italics, or the dreaded ALL CAPS. Thanks to the way we stress our words, the last word of a sentence is automatically emphasized. Because of this, most English speakers pay extra attention to the end of a sentence. That’s where they find the most important ideas.
You can highlight significant info or call your readers to action just by tweaking your last words. Give your homepage a quick facelift: restructure your sentences so the final words are ideas you want to stick in your readers’ minds.
3. Find your rhythm
Have you ever had a teacher who spoke in a total monotone? It was probably boring, right? The bad news is, you may be writing in a monotone without even realizing it.
To inject your writing with good rhythm, you need to pay attention to breath units. A breath unit is a group of words you can speak without taking a breath.
Take a minute to test the rhythm of your writing. Choose a section to read out loud, and print it out. As you read, draw a line between words when you need to stop for air.
The words between each set of lines are your breath units. Are they mostly long? Short? Ideally, you’ll have a healthy mix of both. Long breath units can overwhelm readers, and short ones can make you sound like a robot. Keep them balanced to create a killer rhythm you could dance a mamba to.
4. Get friendly with punctuation
You may not love grammar, but you can still use punctuation to give your writing some extra zing. Here’s a quick guide:
- Dashes: These handy punctuation marks are perfect for getting your clients to pay attention—especially to the end of a sentence.
- Commas: Use commas to create a pause if your breath units are getting too long.
- Question marks: Sure, you know how a question mark works. But asking rhetorical questions will cause your readers to stop and ponder their individual situation. It can be a useful tactic for making them realize they could benefit from your service or product.
- Semicolons: These guys may feel a little old fashioned, but they still work. Use a semicolon to separate two full sentences that are closely related in meaning; it gives your readers a place to pause while helping them make the connection between ideas.
- Exclamation points: Keep these babies to a minimum. At best, you’ll sound forced and salesy. At worst, you’ll sound like a teenage fangirl at a One Direction concert.
5. Make it punchy
Most bloggers know the “rule” of tight copy when you’re writing for today’s ADD Internet audience. But short sentences have the added bonus of giving your writing some KA-POW!
The key to making this tip work is to vary your sentence lengths. If all your sentences are short, they’ll lose their punch. But if you throw in a few longer sentences, readers will feel the full weight of a short one.
Go through your website with these ideas in mind, and your copy will be sparkling in no time.
Do you have any quick tips to whip your copy into shape?
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