5 ways to kill your text: a how-to for copywriters


Do you think copywriters fall asleep fast? No, they really don’t. They would turn from one side to the other, searching for a recipe of the perfect text.

Author: Olga S., Content Writer

Do you think copywriters fall asleep fast? No, they really don’t.

They would turn from one side to the other, searching for a recipe of the perfect text.

How to write informative and, at the same time, engaging articles?

How to please a customer, a reader, and Google?

Change the side — and there you have it: the attack of keywords, titles, descriptions, and their servile minions — H1, H2, H3 headers.

No matter how long you will be staying awake, the unified formula will not come to your head, as there are no identical tasks and situations. Writing a quality article is impossible without prioritizing your customer needs, specifics of the field, and preferences of the target audience.

That is why we are going to talk about what will not help and try to single out the ideas applicable to most copywriting tasks.

1. Write, shorten the written, cut out some more… Or better — don’t write at all.

According to Anton Chekhov, brevity is the sister of talent. We won’t dare argue with one of the wittiest writers in the world, but some people say that talent also has other relatives.

Everyone knows that in today’s fast-pacing world, nobody is going to read long canvases of unremarkable content, especially when it is poorly structured and organized, lacks logic and clarity, and doesn’t answer our question. Maybe brevity is more about it giving the answer together with linguistic accuracy and zero linguistic nastiness like tautology, pointless rambling, and unreasonable complexity.

Some SEO experts note that unique, informative articles of over 12,000 symbols written by those who took their time, did their research and dug a little deeper than people usually do can be accepted more than well by both readers and search engines.

2. The more the merrier and other proverbs.

Swinging to the opposite side: bigger is not always better.

Let’s hear out the most common misconceptions here:

  • The more you say, the more you know about the subject. (Wrong)
  • Long introductions and lofty excursus are everything that readers crave. (Wrong!)
  • More abstract thoughts and complex structures will make the written look impressive and clever. (Wrong again)

And so the text unjustifiably grows while its value and relevance decrease.

This trouble is easy to avoid, though. The thing you need to do is follow the principle: the volume of the text depends on the topic and goals of the article and not the other way around.

Another thing to discuss here is long sentences. Imagine reading a 5-page article that consists of 10 paragraphs, with each paragraph containing one sentence only. On the other hand, a text of twenty short sentences, similar in structure and rhythm, is far from harmony either. Alternating long with short phrases is the best way to go here: the text will sound harmonious and won’t exhaust the eyes.

Let us stress it: a long text itself (as well as a long sentence) is neither good nor bad. The good happens when everything is clear, to the point, and suitable for the situation. Length and Size are consequences, not a goal in itself.

3. Keys + words

If a man wearing all black came up to you and offered two pills – ‘build your text around keywords’ and ‘build keywords into the text’, which one would you choose?

First of all, too many keywords will send your SMM masterpiece straight to the ‘SPAM’ folder. Plus, incoherent phrases grammatically disagreeing inside a sentence might become the obstacles that even the most loyal target audience will refuse to overcome. When dealing with keywords, keep reminding yourself that you are writing for human beings (not robots) and that someone is going to find your article and try reading it. How fast do you think this person will close the tab?

4. Mind the tone, young lady!

A written text doesn’t cease to sound; it is no less of a dialogue between a reader and an author than any other conversation. There is hardly a person who would like to chat with somebody whose main tune is condescending preaching. Phrases like ‘no self-respecting copywriter would use more than one exclamation mark in an article. Never. Ever. Ever!’ are unlikely to encourage the reader.

Flowery speeches about abstract notions will not make anybody into a better-educated philosophy-inclined deep-thinker. They will rather scare off all the potential conversationalists.

In contrast, those reading a manual instruction for jack-planes are not looking to hear about your childhood impressions of woodworking and carpentry. Emotions are appropriate for fiction and journalistic writing, and a copywriter must know the rules of each stylistic register and follow them. The tone has to always comply with a communicative situation and writing purposes.

A business article is not fiction; it has no place for unnecessary metaphors. The keyword here is ‘unnecessary’ as one or two bright and accurate images added to an official presentation will make the story vivid and memorable.

Extremes are never reasonable, be it your beliefs or writing approaches. ‘Dry’, bureaucratic language overloaded with passive structures and impersonal sentences will make the text unbearable.

5. I am not lying: I am just coloring the truth.

Every copywriter owns a deadly weapon – Unlimited Imagination.

The weapon is a killer: it does slaughter boredom and conquer hearts successfully up to the moment it starts lying. Will a business owner be grateful to the writer who has gilded the truth (but just a little bit), adding a few products or achievements to the history of the company and creatively altering the prices?

Unlimited Imagination won’t win over many fans by ignoring fact-checking and primary source materials. Limiting research by the first three links provided by Google might work only for those who treat copywriting as a one-day hobby.

Individual style and fresh ideas have nothing to do with poor grammar, by the way. Extra commas or no commas, tautology, confused apostrophes are not creative liberties: they are mistakes. However tolerant today’s online user is to a couple of slips and typos, unmasked indifference to the reader and carelessness are hard to overlook. Reading an article drowning in grammar and spelling mistakes is like swimming in someone’s spit. Would you trust a writer (and a business behind) who greets potential clients in such a way?

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