Posted by Sarah Whitman on Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 06:00
Copywriting can be a tricky business for designers and other creative professionals, but it’s an essential skill to hone. Use these copywriting tips the next time you’re tasked with a writing project.
Every creative professional needs good communication abilities, and writing skills are essential for your career toolkit. From client briefs and emails to blog posts and brochure copy, designers and other creatives are frequently called upon to flex their writing muscles. If you find yourself easily frustrated and staring far too long at a blank Word document, these copywriting tips for nonwriters will help you face your fears and find your voice.
1. Determine your topic and theme. When it comes to copywriting tips, there is none more important than this one: Before you begin writing, determine both your topic and your theme. Your topic is the subject you are writing about; your theme is your point of view on that topic — the message you want to convey.
2. Pick your points. You likely have a few key messages about your topic. In fact, these main points probably helped inform your theme. While you may have lots of ideas to share, try to group them under a few headings.
3. Create an outline. After you’ve determined your topic, theme and main points, put together an outline. Once you have the bones of your piece in place, it’s easier to add the meat.
4. Lower your standards (at first). While your inclination may be to start at the beginning, it’s OK to jump around within your outline. Add information as it comes to mind. Not every sentence has to be perfectly constructed or even grammatically correct. Your goal at this point is simply to get your thoughts down on the page.
5. Flesh it out. After you’ve dumped all your ideas into your outline, add your supporting research. Then comb back through your piece and turn phrases into complete sentences, add transitions, and vary your word choices if you’ve referenced the same topic or idea several times.
6. Punch it up. You’ve introduced your topic and laid out your main points, which all support your theme. You’ve written a conclusion that reiterates your point of view or issues a call to action. Now it’s time to sell even harder. If you’re describing a product or service, for example, focus on using language that helps the reader picture or feel the concept you’re trying to convey. Connect with your readers by using power words such as you, free or new.
7. Keep it clean. Take the time to revise and re-read your work several times, then use spell check. Though you’re not a writer by trade, straightforward and error-free copy will get your ideas across in an authoritative, professional manner. Copy editing with care will make your writing stronger and more polished.
Becoming a good writer takes practice, and even seasoned pros battle writer’s block. Remember that your objective is to create clear writing that is compelling and easy to understand. Skip the flowery prose full of adjectives, metaphors and clichés. If you follow these copywriting tips, you’ll not only knock a daunting task off your to-do list, but you’ll also boost your communication cred.