Long-winded copy is not good for business.
You know when you get stuck in a conversation that feels agonisingly slow and meandering? And you come away not really knowing what the point was?
It’s kinda the same with your copy.
If what you’ve written is too wordy or sluggish, your perfect customers might lose interest and go elsewhere.
OR they might persevere but there’s a risk your message won’t land in the right way.
As purpose-driven businesses, we need our message to land, because this is how we connect with our audience and inspire them to take ethically positive action – whether that’s choosing our products or services or becoming conscious of a cause.
If you’re struggling to make your copy punchy and concise, try these five tips straight from my copywriter toolbox. *
* Note: These are techniques, not rules. As you write, keep in mind your brand voice and the tone of your piece to ensure your copy still feels true to you.
1. Stop saying that
No, really, the word ‘that’ often adds nothing to your copy.
It only adds to your word count.
Take this example:
“Diving with manta rays is the most magical thing
that I’ve done.”
I’ve never dived with manta rays (a girl can dream) but back to the point…
See how easily I removed ‘that’ from the sentence? And how it hasn’t altered the meaning in the slightest?
This is a quick win to make your copy snappier.
Give it a try: comb through your copy for ‘that’ and, if it doesn’t add to the meaning or accuracy of the sentence, let it go!
2. Get active
No, I’m not asking you to whip out your yoga mat. But if you want to take a savasana before tackling your copy, you go for it…
I’m talking about writing in the active voice.
Take the sentence “I love swimming”. It’s clear and simple, isn’t it? The subject (I) performs an action (love) on an object (swimming). This is an example of active voice.
Now, let’s flip the sentence: “Swimming is loved by me”. This is passive voice. The object (swimming) is being acted upon (loved) by the subject (me). The message is the same as above but it’s a way more indirect and roundabout way of saying it.
When your copy has too much passive voice, it can feel murky and unfocused.
Try using the active voice to add impact and oomph.
3. Mix it up
Is every sentence of your copy a similar length?
If so, this could be affecting the pace of your writing and making it sound robotic and monotonous.
Check out this example:
Our swimwear is ethical and sustainable. It is made from plastic bottles. It is designed to fit securely. This lets you enjoy more adventure. It also means more ocean impact.
Our swimwear is ethical and sustainable. Made from recycled plastic bottles, it’s designed to fit securely so you can stay in the water for longer. This means one thing – more adventure! And more ocean impact.
One is way more engaging and conversational, don’t you think?
In the first example, every sentence is six words. As such, the tone feels mechanical and impersonal. You’ll tire your reader very quickly if you don’t mix up your sentence lengths.
In the second, the sentence lengths are varied. This reflects the normal rhythm of speech and lets the reader find a flow.
They’re tiny tweaks but they make a big difference!
4. Cut redundant words
Absolutely essential. Past experience. End result.
See how both words mean the same in each phrase above?
You can cut ‘Absolutely’, ‘Past’ and ‘End’ without changing the meaning.
If something is essential, adding the word ‘absolutely’ doesn’t make it any more essential, does it?
Similarly, experience is by default something that happened in the past, so saying ‘past experience’ is unnecessary repetition.
These are redundancies (i.e. unnecessary repeated words or ideas).
And they’re easy words to trim to make your writing sharper. *
* Don’t feel like you always have to remove redundancies, though! Sometimes they can add personality to your writing. For example, I love saying ‘Absolutely’ and ‘Totally’.
5. Get to the point
I was once taught a trick I’ll never forget:
Write your piece, then delete the first paragraph.
Oh. My. God. – It makes the piece so much more attention-grabbing.
We have a tendency to write our way into things or over-prepare our readers. But when you cut the first paragraph (or more), you pull them straight into the heart of the action. And that’s a far more interesting place to start!
Remember: readers are busy. They don’t have time to wade through paragraphs of fluff and filler.
Keep it focused!
Right then, that’s about it for how to add punch to your writing.
Reach for these tips whenever your writing feels flabby and enjoy seeing it connect with more of your perfect people.
Of course, if you’re an ethically conscious or sustainability business, I can write your copy for you or do a copy clean-up. Get in touch to chat about how we can work together.
Until next time,
Keep making waves!