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The 7 deadly sins of copywriting

With Halloween fast approaching, our Content Manager, Amelia, tells the tale of 7 deadly sins that will drag your writing straight down to hell. Spooky!

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Amelia Hall


Our Content Manager, Amelia Hall, is a self-professed theatre nerd, bookworm, and dog lover. When she’s not in the office, you can find her treading the boards in Exeter as part of a local light opera group. Or gravitating towards the nearest dog.

 


 

In many ways, copywriting is a dream job. You get to write all day, demonstrating your ‘mastery’ over the English language by tapping words into your keyboard with a theatrical flourish. It’s kind of like showing off for a living.

But your heavenly job – and dreamy writing skills - can be dragged down into the fiery bowels of hell if you give in to the seven deadly sins of copywriting.

Avoid at all costs.

 

1. Pride

Not being willing to adapt

“My writing is awesome! Why would I ever need to change it!”

I think it’s fair to say that most copywriters have had the devil on their shoulder whisper that phrase into their ear at some point. You’ve worked hard to hone your craft – why should you change anything about it?

Your writing is great. But different pieces, different clients, and different situations all require slightly different writing. You can’t apply a ‘one size fits all’ model just because you’ve mastered a certain type.

Trust me, I don’t write this flippantly when I’m writing a press release. Most of the time.

 

 Confident woman wears crown against orange background

 

2. Sloth

Not researching properly

Unless you have every Wikipedia page totally memorised, nobody is an expert in everything. Like it or not, you will have to do a lot of research in order to write something that’s accurate, interesting, and successful.

Many writers find this the least fun part of their job, but it’s a necessary effort. Don’t make like our favourite tree-hugging animal.

A piece of content has a job to do, whether that’s getting clicks, engagement, or getting people to part with their hard-earned cash. Make sure that what you’re saying is true and relevant.

 

Sloth on a branch

 

3. Gluttony

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is just greedy. You really don’t need that many buzzwords in a sentence. Put some back!

What’s more, it won’t help your site’s ranking in Google search results, so there’s no point in even doing it.

 

Man stuffing food into his face

 

4. Lust

Self-indulgence

Lots of writers find it hard to restrain their creative flair when they’re writing, but learning how to spot when you’re straying into the self-indulgent can be invaluable.

Steer well clear of purple prose – or anything that’s unnecessarily flowery or ornate. If you can imagine Dame Edna Everage (or someone equally flamboyant) reading your writing aloud, then your writing is officially purple.

Your writing will be even better if you just cut it down a bit. Be a little critical in how you proofread your work.

 

Woman with book against purple background

 

5. Anger

Forgetting to spellcheck

Nothing brings a reader more rage than an errant spelling or punctuation error. I may flip a table if I see a stray comma. Just me?

At the very least, spellchecking will make your incredible copywriting work seem just a little more professional.

 

Angry man using a megaphone shouts at computer

 

6. Envy

Using too much jargon

You don’t have to fill your content with jargon for it to be good. Yes, other people do it. No, you don’t have to do the same thing.

In fact, the less jargon in a piece of content, the more likely that your audience will engage with it. If you were reading something, you’d want to be able to understand every part of it without being distracted by Googling a word. Same goes for your readers.

 

confused woman 

 

7. Greed

Going on and on and on and on

Don’t be greedy with your readers’ time by filling your writing with flannel. Once you’ve got to your point, stop.

 

Alarm clocks on yellow background


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