Sometimes it’s loud.
Other times it just whispers.
But this voice never fails to get the message across.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not a native English writer/speaker, but there’s a voice in my head, constantly warning me against one of the worst mistakes a copywriter can be guilty of.
I’m talking about being lazy with words.
What do I mean by being lazy?
Using words like “empower”, “leverage”, “seamless” etc. the classic corporate speak.
But I also mean settling for whatever comes to mind first and write it as your final copy.
Or, even worst, writing like you (or your client) would say it, instead of using their audience’s language.
Another way of being lazy is writing funny, or using popular idioms. Those can work if the context and audience is right and if they’re not overused in the industry. But more often than not, your prospects won’t think of that. Or they might take a while to connect the dots.
And a while can mean lost conversions.
When in doubt, clarity trumps cleverness.
The voice in my head is powerful. And it keeps me on my toes.
For example, the other day, I wrote this in a subhead “….kick ass and take names”. Felt good in the moment and somehow matched my client’s voice.
Pro tip: when a piece of copy feels good and emotional in the moment you’re writing it, give it a day. Get back to it. Chances are it won’t feel as powerful or as clear anymore, and it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
And that’s what I did. You’ll always come up with better and more appropriate copy that’s specific, clear, concise and matches people’s language, when you go back to it.
This voice can paralyze you.
Making you overthink every single letter.
I think I found a good approach for writing without getting stuck, and at the same time avoiding being lazy.
It’s in 3 stages.
- Outline: this is where I think of the messaging hierarchy, the UX and the flow of copy
- Draft writing: I fill the outline as best as I can, this is where that voice is loudest
- Re-writing/editing: I double check and rewrite anything needed, usually a day after.
What’s best is actually doing these in batches.
For example outlining multiple pages, then writing the first drafts of each, then finalizing them after. this saves you a ton of mental energy. Because the UX/outline mode is much different from the writing mode. And switching between the two is expensive.
Last, extra mile step? Wireframing.
It’s only when you try and design your copy onto the page that you understand when paragraphs are too long, headlines don’t fit and bullets look weird.
These are some ways that help me keep that voice at bay.
Even though I’m thankful for it every time.
What’s it like for you? I’m curious.
Just shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.