At a glance
All across the internet, I see these copywriting mistakes over and over and over.
Eliminate these problems and instantly improve your content.
1 // Your sentences are too long
Writing online is not the same as writing for English class. There are some habits you learned back then that are holding you back now.
The first is writing long, rambling sentences.
You have one minute and your minute has begun and no time will be added at the end, even to accommodate this sentence with all of its baroque dependent clauses and cascading turns of phrase. — Andy Bernard, The Office
It may have been your goal to sound smart when you were writing that midterm essay, but that’ll only hurt you online.
Attention spans are short, and your sentences need to reflect that.
BEST PRACTICE: Write short, simple sentences.
2 // Your paragraphs are too long
Remember that 4-6 sentence rule you learned back then? Banish that damned rule from your mind right now.
Paragraphs in online copy should have a maximum of three short sentences.
Oh, and single sentence paragraphs are totally acceptable.
Like that one.
And that one.
BEST PRACTICE: Write short paragraphs (max three sentences).
3 // You don’t use enough headings
^ that’s a heading.
Good copywriters include lots of them throughout their writing because they know their readers are scanning what they’ve written.
Headings serve as anchor points for scanning, and make it way easier to jump through content.
Also, whitespace — gaps in the text — is equally critical for scanning, and headings help create whitespace as well.
Every time you start a new section, it should have a heading.
BEST PRACTICE: Make ample use of headings throughout your copy.
4 // Your words aren’t simple and familiar
You’re not Moira Rose. You’re not writing for Moira Rose. (Though I wish we all were — Moira is a goddess.)
Injecting your copy full of big, unnecessary words is annoying as hell to your readers.
Online copywriting isn’t the place to get cute or clever.
Use simple, familiar words and your readers will thank you.
BEST PRACTICE: Use simple, familiar words.
5 // Your copy is jargon-y
Again, we’re not writing an essay. We’re also not writing a technical manual (I assume).
Adding flowery adjectives and other fancy words isn’t going to make you seem smart.
Loading your copy up with business buzzwords — synergy, circle back, think outside the box, etc. — will also have a drag on your copy.
At best, you’ll seem a little silly. At worst, you’ll seem like a pompous jackass.
In online writing, it’s best to write like you speak: natural and conversational.
BEST PRACTICE: Use natural language you’d use in regular conversation.
What’d I miss? Do you disagree with anything here?
Drop them in the comments below!