My (recently graduated with a Master’s Degree in Medieval History) 23-year old son has kind of stumbled into copywriting and is currently doing an internship at a local digital agency where he is helping to write websites.
Meanwhile back home it’s become a kind of Copywriting College. He shows me what he’s written during the day and I provide constructive (hopefully!) criticism and advice which he (hopefully) absorbs and puts into practice.
The latest piece of advice is that, as a recent graduate, he needs to unlearn everything he learned at university about how to write stuff. Copywriting is different from essays and dissertations; it’s much more relaxed and – yes – you can use it’s, they’re, we’ll, etc rather than it is, they are, we will, etc. And you can begin sentences with and, plus, etc. You can also have two- or even one-word sentences. Like this.
In a nutshell, he needs to relax his writing style. Keep sentences and paragraphs short and snappy, get straight to the point and keep to it, and always make sure your features are transformed into benefits: what the product does for you rather than simply what it does.
Also, flag down the skim-reader by having a great headline and sub-headings throughout the text rather than a huge wadge of unbroken text (yawn). Bullet points can also make the copy appear more visually enticing while getting across key product benefits in a direct and succinct way.
Most important of all (and that’s a good phrase to use, too), he must keep the reader reading without anything that might cause him to stumble, stop and back-click.
So that, in short, was Friday evening’s copywriting tutorial!