If you’re blogging for business – or running a blog for a business – you need to have stellar copy. The best ideas, arguments, and offers won’t get you any new clients or convert readers into loyal followers if they are conveyed poorly. The quality of your copy matters when it comes to determining your blogging success.
You may be an incredible speaker, a wise consultant, or an inspiring teacher. But if you’re blogging, all this could be lost on your readers if they don’t like your way with words. Writing is the primary medium when it comes to selling ourselves online. Even podcasts or YouTube videos require captions or short introductions to help convince your audience to listen or watch. Your writing is your delivery, your execution, and if that fails, so does a large part of your ability to be persuasive, compelling, and engaging.
The truth is, your writing could probably be better. Everyone’s writing could stand to improve (and yes, I’m including myself and this post in that assessment). If you want to crank up your copy and start producing standout writing, consider these ideas and tips to improve your content.
Find and Maintain Your Passion
The first rule to amazing copy is to make sure you are passionate about your subject. Your enthusiasm and delight will shine through your words, and these positive emotions are contagious. You need to believe in your subject, service, or ideas. After all, if you don’t feel strongly about them, how will you persuade other people to feel the same?
This is why it’s crucial to understand you can’t start blogging or creating copy that converts readers into followers or clients with the sole purpose of making a profit from your endeavors. That’s where that sleazy car salesman vibe comes in, and most people are incredibly adept at picking up on that – and running in the opposite direction once they sense it.
Good copy starts with a belief in the content you’re creating. You don’t have to be a writing wizard to lay down some fantastic blog posts that people will get behind, because your passion is going to do a lot of the work for you.
Mentally Revisit Your 8th Grade Grammar Lessons
Keep in mind passion won’t do all the work, however. You can’t expect your copy to be outstanding if it’s barely readable. Temper that wild enthusiasm and tighten up your writing with a touch of formality and you’ll have the best of both worlds.
Remember those years in school where all you did was learn about the “right” way to write? Think back to the classes in which you were endlessly drilled on grammar rules and the way words were supposed to be formally composed (if you immediately started humming “Conjunction junction, what’s your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses..” yes, you’re on the right track).
Although it might be tedious, good writing often follows basic rules of grammar. Here are a few common trouble areas in grammar that plague even the best of writers:
- Subject-verb agreement and verb tense agreement
- Sentence problems: fragments, run-ons, and comma splices
- Overusing pronouns
- Using weak words, including just, very, a lot, really, and like
- Using passive voice (and avoid combing this piece for passive voice please, as it’s my biggest vice as a writer).
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should work to make every piece of content you produce extremely stiff and formal. Rules were made to be broken. Sometimes. It’s important that you write in your own natural voice and let your individual personality shine through. But you also need to remember that excellent copy by and large sticks to the fundamental rules that govern language. This makes writing easy to read and comprehend. Using three punctuation marks after every other sentence is obnoxious. Adding in a little flair with a brief sidebar (perhaps in the form of a parenthetical!) might be appropriate.
Excellent copy is a balancing act between your own style and generally agreed-upon rules about what makes a piece of writing great.
Other Rules to Follow and Tips to Consider
Grammar creates only some of the guidelines good writing typically follows. There are additional “best practices” that you can utilize to improve your content. In order to create standout copy, keep the following in mind as you write:
Create a Hook
Your introduction can make or break your copy. You need to immediately hook your readers with something compelling that encourages them to continue consuming your content. Don’t use up three lengthy paragraphs of text before you get to the engaging line. You need to…
Get to the Point
Avoid being extremely wordy. If there is a simple way to say what you mean, always choose that straightforward delivery over something full of jargon or a sentence stuffed with adjectives. Be specific and be precise.
Be a Storyteller
Some of the best, most compelling copy is content that tells a story. Spitting out dry facts left and right may make for accurate writing, which is certainly important (always be honest) – but it gets dull fast. Craft a story for your audience to delve into and explore.
Format Your Copy Properly
Once you’ve got the actual content figured out, you need to dress it up in a pretty package if you want your readers to pick up what you’re laying down. Format your copy in a way that is easy to read.
For the internet, this means easy to scan and easy to consume. Using headings, subheadings, numbered or bulleted lists, and break up paragraphs so that chunks of text are balanced by white space. It’s intimidating to open up a web page only to be confronted with a massive wall of text. Make your copy inviting to readers by breaking up long sentences and paragraphs into smaller pieces.
Include a Call to Action
Great copy won’t rock back and forth on its heels, shyly waiting for an audience to engage. A compelling piece of copy will leap up and flat-out say what readers can do next. This is a call to action, and it means that you wrap up your content with a next step. Ask a question to encourage comments or provide a click to tweet link for a great quote from the piece.
Try Some Actionable Techniques
If you want to crank up your copy, then take action!
- Practice. Apparently, it makes perfect. The more you write, the more adept you’ll be at working with words.
- If you get stuck or don’t know where to start when creating new copy, resort to word vomit. It may get a little messy, but that’s what editing is for. Sit down and literally put pen to paper if that’s what it takes.
- Brainstorm. You can’t write excellent copy if you have zero excellent ideas. You might have to let the word vomit fly here too until you make brainstorming sessions a habit, but simply getting everything out is a great way to unearth amazing ideas.
- Do research if you need to. Be able to admit what you don’t know, and strive for accuracy.
Once you’ve created your copy, there are a few hoops you can make it jump through to find its weaknesses, figure out how to improve it, and determine whether or not it’s ready to be published.
- Read your copy out loud (or have a friend read it out loud to you). This technique is a great way to fish out sentences that are clunky, confusing, or need clarification. This will also help you identify areas where you’ve been overly verbose.
- Also plan on making multiple revisions. There’s a reason your teachers required you to submit rough drafts and final drafts. A quick read-over of something you’ve recently produced is not a great way to edit; because your ideas are so fresh in your mind, your brain tends to automatically correct any mistakes as you read or discrepancies in the text. Before you edit, go do another activity or let a significant amount of time pass. Sleep on it if you need to, and come back at your copy with fresh eyes and a clear head.
Now, Get Out There and Crank Up Your Copy!
With these tips, ideas, and actionable steps, you should be ready to attack your next copy challenge and crank up the quality of the content you’re creating. Don’t let your incredible ideas and important message get lost in poorly written copy. Instead, work to improve your writing so you can provide your audience with intelligent, persuasive copy.