In my last post, I talked about one of my best “red pen” writing tips: “Subtract Words, Add Actions” and how it affects the advice we give on our blog posts when we do that–making it more memorable and valuable.
But the idea about subtracting words is so often misunderstood and misapplied, I want to clarify my stance on that in this post, Part 2 of the advice-giving series.
Everyone tells you to have less copy.
As a copywriter, I’m either supposed to be offended because copy is my thing OR be doing a secret celebratory dance (mine looks like a cheerleader/bad hulagirl–you can interpret bad however you like) because the less copy you want, the easier my job.
I’ll be blunt: Wrong. and Wrong.
So that’s two strikes against what everybody says. How can you get a hit on your next swing? Don’t cut your copy just because you think there’s a rule about it.
Instead, choose shorter copy if it’s the right thing to do for what you’re intending to communicate. And how and why and to whom. Plus don’t think saying what’s important in fewer words is easier! Or faster! Doing it right typically takes more work.
Write to communicate.
Edit to communicate better.
With marketing copy, a rule of thumb is don’t go on too long if it’s not necessary. But what is necessary? That is the question.
Whether it’s a landing page headline, a tagline for a new business, product packaging, or list of Services, there is no concrete answer here. Sorry, no study that magically proves shorter taglines are more effective, and no matter how many emails capture your attention with a certain style of subject line, there are just as many working just as well on other people in other audience groups. THAT is a fact.
Even pro writers approach their own marketing copy differently–look at the difference between the Services copy on these high ranking sites for the term “freelance writer”:
See, the important thing about your copy isn’t how long or short it is, but how effective it is. And we can’t determine what will make it most effective, in general. That is a case-by-case scenario. (Check out the difference between me and Oscar up there! My services)
You know your intention for your copy, right? You should write it to communicate that. Edit it to make it better. It might get shorter, it might not.
When I helped out with brainstorming for the Snippefy tagline, I stood up for its current version. Too long? But but… the audience consists of readers! If you would want to “Read and share your Kindle notes and highlights all in one place,” would a 12-word tagline, instead of 8 or 9 words, be a deal breaker?
Doubtful. However leaving out “read and share” or “all in one place” surely could be. Don’t subtract words at the expense of more effective communications.
My blog posts are often rather long.
So? Blogs are the best thing ever for people like me! We can get away with more “fluff” on our blogs than in our marketing copy, if we have an audience interested in knowing our perspective on things. If you can inspire or entertain them, or thoroughly educate them, you also have the liberty of revealing what your secret celebratory dance looks like.
- Some people don’t want to read long blog posts and some people adore epic posts with tons of info
- Some people only pop into your site for a moment’s glance and if you’re not to the point they might bounce
- Some people only pop into your site for a moment’s glance and if they don’t get you they’re likely to bounce
- Some people only pop into your site for a moment’s glace and if you seem like all the others they will bounce
- Some people want what you’re offering. You’ve intrigued them and they will read more than 8 words
- Some people don’t know what they want, or what to expect from you: know that your copy teaches them
New visitor or cherished follower, you know what to expect from me. I might write a short & sassy post once in a while but mostly they will be meaty, personal, rare. If I offer advice, I try to make the make the takeaways memorable.
And believe it or not, I edit a bunch out before you read it.
Links to great advice on the web, Part 2
I had so many wonderful recommendations for my last post, I carried over these gems:
Brooke McAlary from Slow Your Home cites this:
Barrett Brooks, Director of Member Success on Fizzle.co, the forum I frequent for unfathomable amounts of online business advice, offers this:
From James Altucher’s The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Reinventing Yourself
Chris Bolger of Man vs. Anxiety relates a long time memory of some advice about the difference between chance and luck, from author Peter Ragnar who wrote, The Awesome Science of Luck.:
My e-Book also has free advice you can act on to make a difference in all your copy! Please take advantage: 30-Minute CopyMaster