Good Copywriting Doesn’t Require “Impeccable Words.”
I talked about the fallacy of perfection the other day. The fear of “impeccability” can scare the bejeezus out of the aspiring copywriter who’s thinking of writing his own copy for his business.
But you don’t have to be a perfect writer. You just have to focus on communication. And like I said before: If you can speak you can write.
Good copywriting doesn’t mean perfect writing.
Good copywriting is writing that communicates and writing that “sells” ideas, products and services. You probably already do that in your speech.
The Fallacy of “Impeccable” Written Words
Which is easier for you, writing or speaking? If you’re like most people, you’d say speaking is easier. Your mother was probably in your face telling you to say “mama” before you were old enough to eat carrots. Speaking is hardwired into our brains in a way that writing is not.
A copywriter’s job is to fearlessly leap between the spoken word and the written word.
Copywriters pay attention to the spoken word in order to excel at their craft. They listen to what people say and how they say it. They study how easily a speaker skips from descriptions of physical things to intangible ideas. They listen for the moment the story turns into a request. They hear how speakers naturally build a case or illustrate a point.
The written word is a different beast from the spoken word, though.
Spoken words are here one second, gone the next. They flit off into the ether. They can be mumbled, forgotten, and even “taken back.” Not so with written words. No wonder writing freaks some people out. There’s that sense that you can’t remove words once they are written.
Even the very phrase, “It is written” carries a Biblical connotation. Writing is seen as a somewhat sacred activity.
There’s also the impression that writing is permanent. After all, you can go back and re-read it long after you’ve written it.
In writing, you are putting yourself “out there.” Writing is like going out on a limb. And once it’s done/posted/sent and consumed by your reader…it’s un-editable.
But don’t confuse “un-editable” with “permanent.”
On the Internet (that’s the kind of writing we’re talking about here, not the Great American Novel) impermanence is expected. Granted, you can go back and read something written years ago if that web page still exists, but the very nature of digital content is such that it’s here today, forgotten tomorrow. Unless a post or article is evergreen and well-researched, it probably won’t get seen much after about a week of the publish date. (A good case for repurposing and scheduling social media posts more than once… but that’s another blog post for another day.)
Like one frame in an animated cartoon, your single piece of writing adds to the entire impression your customer has of your business. It’s usually not the only deciding factor for a sale!
Finally, even experienced writers have to beat back their inner critics with more assertion than with our spoken conversations. Sure, every now and then you recall something you should have said differently or not at all. But writers frequently second guess themselves even after the piece is finished. Even if the writing is so clear, simple and elegant that a 6th grader can understand it; yet powerful enough that a Ph.D. is moved by it — yes, in the same piece of writing! — it’s still not going to be perfect for everyone. We often think the next draft would have been better. Alas, the deadlines…
The impeccability that professional copywriters strive for only emerges after many thousands of pages. For the new writer one blog post may take on epic importance. But the experienced writer knows it’s just part of the flow.
Remember that good copywriting makes a personal connection with your reader.
There are critics who would shred this article to pieces. Luckily, they’re not here to stand between you and me now, are they? That’s the beauty of the written word, good or bad. Your reader absorbs your message alone inside her own mind and imagination. No one else’s opinion matters at the moment.
So “speak” to your reader; forget about the copywriting critic inside your head. Over time, you’ll learn to ignore her.
Just say your piece. If you think of something to add, then go back and say it differently next week. You can do that, you know. That’s called practice. And you’ll get better at writing if you do lots of it.
So the next time you want to write an email or blog post that stands a chance of getting read, simply say what you need to say. Don’t worry about style, or how your writing would be critiqued. Get it down on the page (even if it’s a little rough) and get your message out to your reader. Give yourself permission to start here and improve.
Good copywriting chops are earned over time, so why not start now?
Need a few copywriting tips to get you started? I made 21 short, one-minute videos where I share my top writing tips for copy that sells. If you’re doing your writing for your own website or product, then start with this… Just join the free content library and you’ll get access to the video course and much more! [Click here]