How to improve your copy in 5 minutes? (14-step guide)
The magic is not writing, but editing.
Sometimes I have my first draft of copy, and if I showed it to you, you wouldn’t believe that this is written by a professional.
But I can edit very well because I know what to look for. And we publish the end result, not the first draft, so it’s the final quality that really matters.
In this article, we will provide you with 14 tips on how to edit your own copy.
1.) Sleep on it
Always read it with a fresh head. If you look at it with different eyes, you will notice more errors, and have fresh ideas on how you want to phrase things.
2.) Delete your first few paragraphs
If you are not a pro (meaning if you don’t do copywriting for a living) then you are very likely to “warm up” at the beginning of your copy before you get to the point.
There’s nothing wrong with that. You are in the editing phase to delete the portions that don’t add value. The copy should begin with the first important statement, the essence for which you wrote the copy.
Look at the beginning of this article. I could have written something like “many people think writing and editing …” or “there is something really important …”.
But all this is irrelevant because my first sentence is a statement. You should start with your copy with a strong statement or a question that awakens curiosity.
3.) Read it out loud
If you can’t speak a sentence out loud with one breath, it’s too long. If your tongue clashes in your own text, the term is too complex. If you start to get bored of reading, that part is boring.
This tells you where and how you can improve it.
4.) Change the formatting when reading
Increase the font size, change the font, color, or print it out and read it.
When reading a print-out, you read your text differently, and you may notice things that you would not have noticed in the “normal” original form because your eyes are used to the original. You’ve read it so many times as you write that your mind is going through everything, even mistakes.
5.) Forget what you have learned in school
The purpose of communication is to create engagement between two people. Write freely and clearly, just like talking to your ideal customer in a restaurant. While you are talking, you are not worried about what your former English teacher would say.
6.) Use the “Enter” key often
When you write online content, you need to love short paragraphs and even stand-alone statements.
Like the ones I’m writing now.
It is easier to read short paragraphs; the reader feels like they are progressing, and when your reader looks at the text, they see friendly, inviting copy, not a bunch of long sentences and bulk size paragraphs. If it’s visually overwhelming for you, think about how your reader feels.
7.) Break down the long sentences
In ideal writing, a sentence means a thought. If you have 3 or 4 thoughts to say, just start a new sentence.
A long sentence may be grammatically correct, but it doesn’t work online.
8.) Re-write the title
It is difficult to write a good title (we spend a lot of time with titles). The success or failure of your text depends primarily on your title, because that is what convinces your reader to decide whether to read your copy.
The title doesn’t have to sell. It doesn’t have to summarize. All you have to do is encourage people to read the article and click on it.
I have two good approaches to title writing. One is to move away from your own text as far as you can and look it through the eyes of your target market. Look at your title to see if you would click it if you came across it on the Internet. If so, your title is good. If not, then bad.
Alternatively, simply steal a good title. The Internet is full of brilliant titles and even titles from other industries or countries can work. If you see a good article title, use it with a little redesign for your content.
However, one thing to keep in mind: never trick the reader with the title, as your reader will bite back. If your title is a scammer and a liar, they may open it, but close it immediately because they see it was a balloon that quickly burst.
And next time, they won’t even click it, because they know you scammed them last time.
Never assume that your customers as stupid.
9.) Write subtitles
Divide your text into good sections with good subtitles, lists (see how I divided this article into a 14-point list).
You help your reader by highlighting important information in this way.
10.) Delete 10% of the words
Good content is so concise that you can’t pull out anything.
11.) Replace the jargon
You want to communicate with the copy and this requires that the other person understand what you are writing about. Use technical terms only if you are sure your reader knows the meaning.
If you can’t get around the term, explain it, or give an example.
12.) Write to one person
Imagine your ideal reader and write to them. Your reader will read it alone, so you have to write to one person. Him or her.
13.) Fix spelling mistakes
You lose credibility by publishing copy with a lot of misspellings or grammatical mistakes. This is is especially true if you are a copywriter (we see this regularly).
You can’t always rely on your word processor (whether it’s Word, Google Write, or something else) as a spell checker because it often won’t catch cases where you use the wrong version of a word (for example, their, they’re , or there). It also may not catch when you separate words that should be together, such as spelling the word copywriting as “copy writing.”
Most copy is waiting patiently in a drawer or on a hard drive, never to be published. The author is afraid it’s not good enough.
Can I tell you a secret? It will never be “good enough”. As you gain more practice in writing, you set the standard ever higher and higher. There will always be a sentence that you want to correct, a word that just isn’t what you want, and in the end, you can’t stop editing.
The hardest part of writing copy is to click on the “publish” button. But do it, sit back, look at the results, and write your next bit of copy even better.
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