Writing that is easy to read is often the hardest to write. Look at any reputable website and you’ll see that their website copy is a carefully composed selection of words that engage and entice you to take a look around, buy something, or hand over information. Those sneaky copywriters!
Carefully composed copy is not something that just anyone can churn out in under an hour, but there are things you can do to achieve good results. If you aren’t keen on hiring a copywriter – either because of cost, or you’re worried that they won’t grasp your company’s vibe – there are steps you can take make your own writing shine.
Some of the best websites have very little copy. Threadless.com for example is graphic and menu heavy, but light on words. What little copy they do have reflects their quirky style – “We like you! You should like us on Facebook for exclusive offers and awesome awesomeness!”
Likewise, Innocent has a similar charm: “hello, we’re innocent… and we’re here to make it easy for people to do themselves some good (whilst making it taste nice too).”
I don’t want to put any hard-working copywriters out of work, but here are some top tips for writing killer copy.
1. Have a clear idea of what each page on your website is trying to say. Are you trying to inform, educate, drive action, mine information, amuse, shock, or can this particular page make do without any words?
2. Look to your competition as a jumping off point and answer the following question: how are you different?
3. When writing your company’s ‘about’ section try the elevator pitch before putting anything down on paper (or screen). Give yourself a minute to say, out loud, what your business does. Record it, whittle it down by removing the ums and ahs, and then you’ve got the basic framework.
4. Send it to a colleague, a family member, or a friend. If you’re indecisive then only share it with one person you trust, if you’re open to criticism share it with anyone who will read it.
5. Revise, edit, revise some more. Print it out, and don’t look at it for a day. Read it over breakfast with fresh eyes.
Bonus Tip: Measure the readability of your document using the Flesch–Kincaid method.
Open up word, click the ‘start’ button and select ‘word options’.
Go to ‘proofing’ and make sure ‘check grammar with spelling’ and ‘show readability statistics’ are checked. Now, after checking the spelling you’ll see the following box.
Reading ease is a number between 1 and 100. The higher the number, the easier your text is to read. Aim for 60-70. The grade level reflects the American school grade reading level of the document. Aim for 8-9.