Time to confess
The copywriter’s confession
I’m a copywriter dammit, not a salesman.
I’ve been wanting to say that for about ten years now. And I know it goes against the grain. I am in the business of helping people promote their goods and services after all. I write copy that sells.
But I think there’s an important distinction to be made here. Because in spite of what some copywriters will tell you, I think a copywriter’s job is less about selling to people. It’s much more about talking to readers in an open and accessible way.
The techniques we use to do that are writing techniques, not sales techniques. You don’t need a list of 50 guaranteed sales words to persuade people to work with you, you just need to write in an engaging way.
The copywriting process is all about making connections, imparting information and answering questions. For me, it all comes down to these three things
- Talking to readers, not at them.
- Using good, clear English
- Writing with personality
A bit of sales nous helps. Of course, it does. But good copy is about understanding the company you’re writing for, the people you’re writing to, and really knowing the product or service you’re writing about. If you’ve got that, you don’t need to push or cajole; you’ll be giving your readers everything they need.
Get ready to edit…
“Kill your darlings.”
William Faulkner said it. Or it might have been Arthur Quiller-Couch. But that’s not important. What matters is that, whatever you’re writing, you can improve it with a bit (or let’s be honest, a lot) of copy-editing. Basically, you just need to edit, keep editing and then, when you’ve finished editing, you edit some more. In fact, don’t stop editing till there’s blood on your hands.
Copy-editing is hard. When every little word has been carefully chosen, and every comma has been perfectly placed, you don’t want to change a thing. But if you can cultivate a healthy disregard for the sanctity of your own written word and you’ll unleash your copy’s full potential.
So here are a few tips to help you edit your own work more easily. All you need now is your choice of red pen, scissors or rapid-fire delete finger…
If you’re copy-editing on-screen, never edit your original document. Open up a version 2 and copy the original copy over. Then start editing the duplicate. You’ll soon be able to see the positive effect of every edit.
The pen is mightier than the diode
Apparently, 90% of all news stories will be written by robots in just a few years. But so much online content already sounds like it was written by an algorithm that the future they’re predicting is already here.
So, as a copywriter, how does that make me feel?
Actually, I’m over the moon about it!
Robot writers aren’t a threat. If anything they’ll make journalists, SEO content writers and copywriters raise their game… maybe even encourage them to step out of their ruts and remember how to write like people. To use turns of phrase and allusions that could only have been written by people for people. To engage, inform and excite.
We don’t write for robots. They’re not very discerning readers. But some people spend a lot of time and effort making sure their copy is web crawler friendly. Because if web crawlers and ’Google bots’ like it, so will search engines. Or so the old theory goes…
Let’s see if we can help you engage your audience with some interesting product descriptions…
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about product descriptions. So if you’re looking for the basics, I’d recommend you look here and here for some entry-level ideas on writing a product description.
But if you’re here looking for new ideas and fresh techniques, I think I can help you…
Like all the best product descriptions, I’m going to get to the good stuff quickly. So here we go…