- Put your money where your moth is (put your money where your mouth is)
- guest posy (guest post)
- poop-up shop (pop-up shop)
- no stings attached (no strings attached)
- lost conversions (loft conversions)
Obviously spell-checkers don’t pick these up, which makes proof reading a really important part of my everyday copywriting life. Mis-types are often difficult to spot, partly because I’m expecting to see the right word and have read and re-read the same passage countless times during the writing process. And partly because my familiarity with the context and content makes my brain automatically correct them. Which means I’m temporarily word-blind.
To make sure I catch everything, I put each completed piece of work aside until I’ve finished the next one, then I go back and check it one more time. At which point the mistakes suddenly shine through.
Now and again a copywriter creates something absolutely splendid. This is one of those times: a mini-triumph of clarity, charm and practicality, and a really beautiful piece of work. Whoever wrote this, I salute you.
Thanks to the Yellow Dog Project, whose site includes this smashing image. It’s a great idea too, so pass it on.
Unable to answer straight away because I do it on autopilot, I fired up a Word doc and jotted down the steps I take to complete the copywriting process.
Assuming I’m writing from scratch and not editing existing copy, it goes something like this:
- lay down the basic structure, indicating where the <h1> header, <h2>subheads and body copy go
- start with the opening sentence
- write it then go back and edit it any numer of times ’til it reads beautifully
- create the second sentence
- polish it until it’s perfect
- go back make sure the sentences sit together properly and flow smoothly
- carry on until all the sentences in the first paragraph are the best they can be
- rinse and repeat for every paragraph
- on finishing each paragraph, check the copy from top to bottom to ensure it all hangs together properly, rolls off the tongue and says exactly what it needs to say
- when the body copy is complete, add the <h1> header – I find it easier at this stage because the message is fresh in my head
- create <h2> headers
- check the whole thing again for flow, style, grammar, spelling and so on
- check the key terms are included
- check the keyword density is natural, not spammy
- write the call to action
- check the whole thing yet again, making final adjustments
- come back an hour later and tweak it one more time, seeing it through fresh eyes
- then and only then… send the first draft to my client!
(Thanks to http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ColinBroug for the fab free image)
In a recent SEOMOZ post, Rand Fishkin discussed how unique a piece of online content needs to be to pass SEO muster.
As a freelance copywriter I know it takes just as much time and effort to copy, paste and ‘uniquify’ an existing piece of content than it does to write something great from scratch.
If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. I’d rather knock myself out creating something outstanding than use exactly the same amount of energy creating sub-standard content. Which makes the whole ‘ is it unique enough’ argument a non-starter.
You can pay me to create something that’s a bit rubbish. Or pay me the same and get something special. I know which I’d choose!
It happens in business, too. Tribes of people who work in the same sector tend to use language to define the group they belong to.
Some tribes invent special words and phraseology that’s only understood by people in the in-crowd, something teenagers do a lot.
Some create complex code-like systems, for example cockney rhyming slang, which outsiders can’t understand. And others make up jargon, which only makes sense within the narrow confines of their area of expertise.
It’s all about exclusion, about as far from inclusive as it gets. Communicating to a wider audience, ie marketing to your customers and prospects, means speaking their language, not yours.
Say no to jargon in your marketing communications. Stick to clean, clear, simple, creatively-expressed plain English and you’ll stand a much better chance of winning hearts and minds with your copywriting instead of losing friends and alienating people.
(Thanks to http://www.sxc.hu/profile/nellart for the gorgeous free image)