3 Common Copywriting Mistakes & How To Avoid Them
Collaboration is a necessary and important part of being a copywriter. Gaining the perspective of another person helps you get out of your own head, making your writing stronger and more refined. I’ve reviewed hundreds of articles written by my peers throughout my undergraduate education and professional career, and I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the collaborative process. I’ve also noticed a few mistakes that I see copywriters make all the time. In this article, I’ll go through each of these missteps and explain how to avoid them so you can become a better writer.
Mistake #1: Using Too Many Adverbs
I still remember the sting of disappointment I felt upon getting my paper back from my high school English teacher, Mr. Miller, and seeing that this essay I had worked so hard on had been absolutely ravaged. He had crossed out almost every adverb, which meant he had crossed out about half the paper, and given me a B minus. Not too bad of a grade, but for someone like me who considered English to be my greatest strength, it hurt.
After the initial sting wore off, I saw the situation with clarity: Mr. Miller knew I had the potential to be a strong writer, and he expected more from me than a gross overreliance on adverbs. I was using adverbs as a crutch to make my writing appear fancier and more meaningful than it actually was.
Adverbs are a cheap and easy way to add color to your writing, so I understand why so many copywriters—especially new ones—rely on them so heavily. However, after a certain number of adverbs, your writing starts to look ridiculous. Strong copy is fresh and variable, not repetitive. When every other word ends in “-ly,” you can see how your piece might get tiresome to the reader.
Instead of relying on adverbs to do the heavy lifting, explore other ways of adding meaning and color to your writing. Take this example:
Bad: Our customers are incredibly important to us, and we’re extremely grateful for them.
Better: Our customers motivate us to work hard every day, and we’re a better company because of them.
See how that sounds fresher and more interesting?
Mistake #2: Telling Instead of Showing
In writing and in life, it’s always better to show than to tell. Many writers fall into the trap of doing the opposite, because, in all honesty, it’s much easier. But it’s also much less effective.
What this means is that you should make your claims indirectly through supporting facts and figures, rather than just stating them outright. For example:
Bad: CEO John Doe is a leading expert in his field.
Better: CEO John Doe has over 35 years of industry experience and has headlined dozens of trade conferences all over the world.
The first example is essentially meaningless; all we can do is take your word for it. The second example is much more convincing to the reader.
Mistake #3: Choosing The Biggest Word Possible
We’ve all been there: It’s midnight, the big term paper is due tomorrow morning, and you’re struggling to make it to that 10-page mark. So you go back and change every word to its longer synonym—“help” becomes “assistance,” “make” becomes “cultivate,” and “skilled” becomes “dexterous.”
Don’t get me wrong: there’s a place for long, fun, fancy words in copywriting. But when you’re overly reliant on them, it just sounds silly. It makes it seem like you’re trying to reach a certain page count whether that’s your intention or not. Here’s an example:
Bad: Reach out to our adept team of customer service specialists to receive assistance.
Better: Call our expert customer service team if you need help.
Sentence one is so long and meandering that the average reader will forget what you’re even talking about, while sentence two is clear and concise.
Bonus Mistake: Not Hiring Parklife to Help
We all need a little help with our writing sometimes, so why not call the copywriting experts at Parklife Communications? Since 2009, we’ve helped dozens of companies create short- and long-form content that wows readers. Whether you need a ghostwriter or someone to take over your blog altogether, contact us today to get started.