Rewriting Existing Stuff – Making Your Words Work Harder

Roughly a third of my copywriting work involves rewriting other people’s stuff. If you’ve written your own blog posts, articles, web pages, press releases or whatever but you’re not happy with the results, hand it to me. I’ll transform it into something that works hard to support your business, your brand, your customers’ expectations, and search engine algorithms. Here’s how.

You might be a brilliant writer, imaginative and skilled, but there’s a lot more to online content than great writing. You have to think about a shed-load of extras that would never cross your mind when writing a letter or an essay, a business plan or a story.

Let’s assume you need to sell your wares, something almost every online business wants. You’ll need to think about all the points below:

  • Know that every web page, article, and blog post is a story. Write the most compelling story you can within the restraints of a sales context
  • Bear the principles of Direct Response Marketing in mind
  • Put the information in the right order, with the elements that affect sales the most given top priority, and those that don’t left until last or left out
  • Know what information really matters in a marketing context, and what doesn’t
  • Make the header inspiring enough so people want to read on
  • Understand your audience as best you can – but bear in mind they’re sometimes ‘just people’. The audience for loo roll is ‘just people’, while the audience for a new Apple Mac will be a lot smaller and more tightly targeted
  • Write what your reader wants to hear, not what you want to say
  • Realise that very few people are interested in the business itself. They simply want to buy from it
  • Prioritise the benefits of your goods or services first, the features second
  • Write the way you speak – in Plain English
  • Break the piece up with headers and subheads to make it easier for people to read and search engines to analyse
  • Understand the power and relevance of properly-formatted headers: H1, H2, H3 etc
  • Use bullets and lists to showcase essential information, making it easy to find and read
  • Know what search engines need to do their job – their job being to surface the very best search results for users
  • Understand about keywords and keyword stuffing
  • Never copy someone else’s words – your business deserves unique content
  • Be entertaining and interesting without being flippant
  • Be interested in your customers, understanding their desires in a business context
  • Forget word limits. Write as much as you need to do a top class job, neither too much nor too little
  • Include a call to action every time you want people to act as a result of reading the content, whether ‘acting’ means buying, contacting you, answering a question…
  • Check it. Would you find what you’ve written interesting or useful? Or would you click away after a few lines? If it’s the latter, start again!

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