Have you tried juggling kumquats?

If you’re the kind of canny business owner who appreciates the value of compelling copy, but doesn’t want to shell out your shekels on a copywriter to make yours better…

Let me point you in the direction of someone who can give you a free critique.

Yep, it’s YOU.

Let’s face it, you probably already feel like you’re doing ALL THE THINGS, so adding “critiquing my own copy” to your ever-expanding list won’t make too much difference.

First, a warning…

I’m NOT going to tell you the ideas I’m about to share are just as good as having a professional copywriter look over your words, but…

… I AM going to say if you put these simple ideas to work, you WILL write better copy.

1. “I’d give it 20 minutes if I were you…”

You’ve done battle with the blank page and wrote some awesome words. 

You’re tempted to hit “send” as soon as you hit that last full stop and finish your “YAY! I just wrote an email” celebratory dance…

DON’T.

Stop.

(Must… fight… the… MC… Hammer… gag)

Step away from the computer and go and do something else for an hour – something that doesn’t involve words, like doing a random act of kindness for a stranger or juggling some kumquats.

Once the sixty minutes (at least) are up, it’s safe to head back to the keyboard.

Have a look at your words now. 

Yep, I know. Stop crying.

It’s weird how the simple act of taking a break can help us get clarity on what we wanted to say. Looking at your words now, you can probably see a whole bunch of ways you can make them better. 

Pop your editor’s cap* on and make any changes.

* memo to self – merch idea

Who’d have thought juggling kumquats could help you write better copy?

2. “You don’t actually mean ‘out loud’ do you?”

I know I keep banging the “read everything you send out loud” drum.

There’s a good reason for that – it works.

It works so well, I even coined it “the one copywriting tip to rule them all”.

After you’ve stepped away from your keyboard for an hour and made your changes, read what you’ve written out loud.

Notice any weird-sounding words? Change ‘em.

I heard you stumble on that overly long sentence from here. Break it up.

Hang on… did you just use the word “notwithstanding”? You never say that. Swap it for something you WOULD say.

Done that? Fab. Now read it through again. And again. And again.

(And try not to hate me)

3. A problem shared…

After you’ve set your words aside for an hour or so and read it out loud so many times you’re sick to death of the damn thing, now’s the perfect time to invite someone else to this little critiquing party we got going…

You know who you’re writing these words for, so why not send it to them and ask for their thoughts?

Actually, don’t do that. That’s a terrible suggestion. 

Send an email asking “thoughts?”, and you’ll just get a bunch of:

“Yeah… looks good” type responses.

We want to know HOW to make your copy better so when you send over your words ask for:

– The THREE bits they liked best or connected with (and why)

– The THREE bits they didn’t like or didn’t gel with (and why)

If you’re writing a sales page for your primo-super-duper offer, you don’t want “yeah, that’s fine.”, you want…

“OMG! This is fucking awesome. Here’s my credit card… Please tell me you have one left!”

The easiest way to get that ^^^ kind of reaction? 

Ask your people how to get it.

(No, this isn’t cheating. Legendary copywriters are famous for heading to bars to read their words out loud to test what worked*)

* Or maybe that’s what they told their partners…

– – –

That’ll do for now.

Like anything in life, these aren’t hard and fast rules. For example, I only used two of these ideas in writing this email.

(A heavily dented kumquat to the first person to hit reply and tell me the right answer)

The more tools you have in your copywriting toolbelt, the more easily you’re able to spot what’s going wonky with your copy.

Or…

You can just have me do it for you.

Either way, I hope you found it useful.

Have an absolute beast of a Thursday,

John