New copywriters are bound to make these copywriting mistakes when they are just starting out. I know I did!
Avoid wasting time on these because they are so easy to correct. Once you know how to avoid these like the plague, your copywriting is going to get really good, really fast. Here's what you should know.
Copywriting is marketing's right hand. Whether you are writing online, for print, or doing radio spots, good copywriting is the glue that captures your reader's or listener's imagination. The best copywriting gets them thinking about themselves. Not about you…about themselves.
The first rule is to spark an interest in Numero Uno with something that matters to them right now.
So the first thing readers hate: you talking about yourself all the time.
A little is good if it's entertaining, engaging and honest. People want to get to know you, but not as much as they want to get something for themselves. Newsflash: their own interests, livelihoods and concerns are way more interesting than you and yours. So remember who you're writing for.
Your job is to send email that people don't hate. If you have a website or blog it's to provide content that people actually find pleasant to read. If they can swallow a whole blog post and not gag, chances are they'll come back for more at some point. That's the idea, anyway.
Ideally you want them to be so turned ON that they never miss a post, but first you have to try not to turn them OFF.
Do readers expect impeccability? Is imperfection a turn-off?
Not with your content. Content is a wide-open field. The sky's the limit with regards to what you share, how you say it, the advice, technique, information or knowledge you impart. Someone's going to love what you have to say.
People don't expect you to be perfect. They want to be surprised sometimes, they want to be comforted with things they already know, especially if you tweak it so it sounds new. You can do what you want with your content.
You even have a lot of latitude with your writing technique. Short and punchy, funny and descriptive; it's up to you. Your blog, your style.
First, let's just say that most people are forgiving. Some who will note an odd phrase or less-than-ideal grammar, and they'll tell you all about it. Some sticklers will call you on the carpet for your errors, but not many. The internet is so full of bad writing and bad content, that good content (even if it's poorly written) is a breath of fresh air.
But there are two more unforgiveable copywriting sins in a reader's world. If one doesn't bug 'em, the other usually does. And you may induce ire over both.
The second is spelling errors.
People just love to correct spelling errors.
Some generally easy-going people can overlook everything except spelling errors. They just can't stand to see you look stupid or they relish proving how smart they are. I never know which it is, but disdain for poor spelling is real.
The fact is, spelling errors rattle people, so keep your spell-checker on; it’ll save you time and trouble. Keep in mind that spell-checker doesn’t correct homonyms…words that sound alike but are spelled differently. Tread with caution: get a friend to read your stuff before you go live. Or do what I do and just correct it when you see it. This is my modus operandi on blog posts. Sent email is another story. After I've emailed a spelling error, I cringe and then hurry up and write another one. Maybe they'll forgive and forget!
The third is pomp.
(Maybe it's just me, but ostentatious language makes a bad impression. This is no scientific study, you know. I'm basing it on loose feedback and observation.)
The "Big-Feelin’ Fella"
The first time I heard this phrase I knew I'd use it again. My husband’s granddad (a sharpshooting, story-telling western Nebraskan farmer with hard-earned opinions) had a saying for guys who came across as something they weren’t. He called them “Big Feelin’ Fellas” A little too much ego, someone who stands over there and talks down to you because he feels bigger than everyone else.
It's despicable when the intention is to make someone else feel small; sad when it's accidental. See, language offers juicy, creative words to make connections and to evoke the imagination of our readers and listeners. Or we can use bloated, bland words to distance ourselves from others. "Big Feeling' Fella" words don't do anything to flavor your writing. They exist to put a wedge between you and your reader — and they are some of the biggest copywriting mistakes you can make! Here's an example:
My friend and business colleague used to take himself very seriously when he wrote. In conversation and when he spoke in public, his style was friendly, curious, and natural. His down-to-earth personality made easy connections.
When he wrote however, all bets were off. He would use phrases like “as such” and “inasmuch” and “henceforth.” Words I never heard him use in real life. He came across as "Big-feelin’ fella" in his writing.
No wonder my friend felt such a huge burden every time he had to write a short paragraph or letter. He wasn't writing in his natural style!
Over the years, I’ve taught him to chill out. Now he writes like he talks. He gets his heart in the right place and strives for a connection. Then he uses the words that come naturally. And his writing is very good.
Give it a try.
If you want to connect with people so that they don’t even notice your writing, just write the way you talk. I recommend reading your work aloud before you publish it. That way you’ll know if it passes your ear test. If you write the way you speak, it probably will.
Remember that people are online for community, connection and information…not to judge every phrase and comma. Do your best. (That’s the Fourth Agreement, by the way…Thanks, Don Miguel Ruiz!)
If you want to write like me, forget about it. If you want to write like my friend; no such luck. All you can hope is to write like yourself.
Keep it real. Be authentic. Come on in. Just try to get a handle on these three copywriting mistakes ASAP and leave Impeccable at the door.