Make every word count.
Now, I’m not confessing to be an expert copywriter and I certainly don’t love the complex nuances of the English language – perhaps quite the opposite – but after years of creating and reviewing copy, there are a few things that I’ve picked up along the way which can make or break whether your content gets noticed.
Whether you’re taking pen to paper for the first time or need a little refresh, I hope these points help you get your copy noticed.
What setting is your copy being used in? Will people have time to read it? Who is your audience? What do they want to hear? Can you use a visual to help explain what you’re saying?
Taking a step back before you start will help give you focus. Make some bullet points and refer to them as you draft your content. It’s easy to get distracted and go off on a tangent – your notes should help you stay focused.
Don’t let a blank page put you off. Start by listing the key points that you want to get across. Check you’re happy with the order of these points – start with the most important. Now build these points into short sentences.
If there’s a lot of detail in your article, it’s a good idea to start with a short summary – you can even indicate to your reader the length of your article, so they can judge whether they have time to read it all.
If you’re lucky enough to have a designer on hand or page layout that you need to follow, don’t feel the need to fill the space that you’ve been provided.
Less really is more. Even the best Olympic athlete needs a break occasionally – so do your eyes. White space and images give your eyes a rest and enable them to read on without getting tired.
Writing a suite of articles for a website or brochure? Think about creating a structure for the pages. An introduction, main body and summary.
Perhaps you want to highlight the key messages – why not use bullet points to make these stand out? If you’re covering a range of information, use sub headings to break up the content and allow your reader to jump to the section that is most interesting to them.
We’re all busy, but getting a second pair of eyes on your content is really important. As the author you know what you’re trying to say – your brain is clever and completes sentences and skips double words without you even realising it. A second or third pair of eyes can help eliminate mistakes. And don’t forget there’s a whole host of digital tools that you can use, so don’t forget to set up your spell check!