I’m excited about the new direction this blog has taken. Now I get to write a lot more about one of my favorite topics, copywriting. I hope you’re also excited because you get to learn the tools of the trade and also about the trade itself.
Today you’re going to learn a basic, but highly effective, copywriting skill – writing like you talk.
If you can talk then you can write
I hear a lot of people tell me, “Writing is too hard. I’m just a bad writer.”
Sometimes they confirm this by showing me some of their writing. I think, yeah I’m not going to argue with you.
But most of these people have no problem talking. I never hear someone say, “Talking is too hard, I’m just not a good talker.”
Well, I think you can see where I’m going with this. If you can talk you can write. Now I didn’t say you’d be able to write well – but if you are able to communicate the spoken word then you have a valuable resource to pull from. I admit, talking and writing take different skill sets but if you can learn to write like you talk you will be that much more effective as a writer.
Assess your current writing. Look at your emails, sales letters, blog posts, newsletters, love notes – just find something you’ve written and read it out loud. Does it sound like your voice or are you trying to make yourself sound more “intelligent” by using big words and clunky phrases like, “It’s been brought to my attention that you have indeed…”? Why not just say, “Oh wow, looks like you…”?
Now try to write a few paragraphs in your own voice. Don’t worry about proper punctuation and grammar right now – you can focus on that later – just start writing like you talk. What good will it do if your writing is error-free but lacks authenticity? I’ll tell you what will happen, people won’t read it. Writing is about connecting with your reader.
I’m not telling you to be sloppy but correct grammar is NOT the number one tool of great copywriters. Writing like you talk is more important. I know this goes against what they taught you in school, but in the real world of copywriting success is measured by results not by being correct.
Do you have a predilection for ten dollar words?
You might if you even know what that means. Using big words is tempting because it feels like it makes you sound smarter. But most the time it just makes you sound like a snob or worse, a wannabe snob. Ask yourself, “Would I use this word in an a normal conversation?”
I’m not saying you should never draw words out of your deep vocabulary well but do it sparingly. Think of those pretty words as salt. You only need to sprinkle a little throughout your work to add the right flavor (and of course it depends on who your audience is but that’s a completely separate lesson we’ll talk about another time).
Pay attention to good writing
If you want to be a good writer you must read good writing. When you read good writing pay attention to the author’s voice. Why did it grab your attention? Did they use big words that you had to look up in the Dictionary? What was the flow like? How long were the sentences and paragraphs?
Every good writer I know is also a voracious reader. And yes, when I say writing, I’m also talking about copywriting. So if you want to be a good copywriter you must ______ good copywriting (did you say “read”?).
There are several good books about writing and copywriting and I plan to add a Resource page to this site with a list of recommended reading. So keep an eye out for it.
Happy writing everyone!