Common copywriting mistakes

Here at Write My Site, we read a lot of copy (hey, it comes with the job description), and the old adage is true – nobody’s perfect. We’ve noticed that there are a number of mistakes that the even the best copywriters will make from time to time, so we’ve decided that it’s time to address these issues once and for all.

Here’s our guide to common copywriting mistakes that you might not even know you’re making, and ways that you can avoid them.

Lacklustre headlines

Clarity is the most valuable asset of any good headline, but there has to be something else –something that grabs the reader’s attention. The headline should mention a particularly exciting aspect of your story – for instance, instead of simply writing “Survey shows that…”, lead with the most interesting statistic from the survey. Certain quotes also make nice headlines too. If you’re really stuck for inspiration, keep it short, sweet, and punchy – a bit of alliteration wouldn’t go amiss!

Over explaining

Whilst headlines often require a bit of spice, copy can usually be kept simple and straightforward. As we explained in our recent ‘3 things a good copywriter should never forget’ piece, the most important aspect of your content should be expressing the point in an accessible and articulate manner. Using too many words, or ‘waffling’ in layman’s terms, will cause your reader to switch off and make your copy redundant, so look at every word, and consider whether it’s truly necessary. If not, get rid.

Over punctuating!

Yes, the brief did say ‘fun’, ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘powerful’, but that doesn’t mean you have to forget the humble full stop ever existed and end every sentence with an army of exclamation marks instead. Okay, we exaggerate, but over punctuating your copy can make it look unprofessional. Put down the punctuation and think about how you can use the words to make the point, without needing the excess of exclamatories.

Only writing one draft

As Ernest Hemmingway once said, “The first draft of anything is ****” (insert your favourite four letter word as appropriate). Whilst this isn’t necessarily true 100% of the time, it is true that the majority of first drafts could do with a buff and polish before going to print (or in the world of digital, post). If you have time, redrafting is usually the more reliable way to improve your copy. If you don’t have time, move on to our next point…

Forgetting to proofread

For an editor, few things are more frustrating than reading a rushed piece of copy, which has spelling mistakes that even Word has pointed out with a big red wiggle. Look at your work once last time before you hit send – you might just spot a major mistake that you were about to send to an important client.

Have we missed one of your personal copywriting pet peeves? Leave us a comment and let us know! Or if you need help with copywriting for your company, drop us a line [email protected].

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