We all want our audience to understand our content, so why is it so hard to keep it simple? Here is some straightforward advice for meaningful, uncomplicated, clear copywriting.
If your copy had a soundtrack, what would it sound like? Do you try to impress by using every instrument and covering five different genres? Or do you keep it simple and catchy? As much as we’d like to think that we can pull off the next Bohemian Rhapsody, the truth is that we should be aiming to be Wannabe, which like it or not, is super memorable (science tells us so).
To start with, you have my unreserved apologies for putting Wannabe in your head for the rest of the day (#sorrynotsorry). The next thing to say is that many of us struggle to create clear content, so you’re not alone.
The Challenge of Simple
Finding time to create content is difficult, so when we have the chance to blog for our website, for example, we try to cram too much information into it. We confuse providing value to our reader with telling them everything we know about a topic in one hit. Yes, it’s good for your audience to understand your expertise, but not as important as it is to give them information in a format that is truly useful to them.
This is not at odds with great content that genuinely is ‘The Ultimate Guide to (insert your topic here)’. You’ll find that the best of these comprehensive blogs or articles set out to accomplish one thing. They teach or explain one thing well and they do it thoroughly, expanding enough to make a point, but not so much that they start to cover a different skill or topic.
Good content also exemplifies simple, clear copywriting. Remember that while you are familiar with the content, this is the first time your audience is reading it. You need to write so that your audience understands it quickly, not after going over it two or three times. It’s actually more likely that they’ll become frustrated and stop reading your content rather than persevere with deciphering complicated writing.
How To Please Your Readers
We all want our audience to spend lots of quality time consuming our content, so it is worthwhile learning how to create clear copywriting that is easy to read. Follow these tips to achieve lovely, reader-friendly content:
Keep most of your sentences to fewer than 25 words. When they get to be longer than 35 words it becomes more difficult to grasp the meaning.
If you find your sentences are longer than 35 words, break them up into shorter sentences.
Use sub-headings. It is difficult to draw meaning from large blocks of writing, so break up your content into blocks of around 300 words.
Use simple language. Use words that you would use in a conversation and that are going to be most familiar to your ideal readers. Using obscure language does not make you seem smarter, just more complicated.
Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your content. Do you want to inform, persuade, entertain? Usually it will be a combination of purposes, but there should be one overriding reason you are putting this content together, and that needs to come across most prominently.
Deliver what you promise. If your content says it will teach x, it better deliver that! Stick to your topic, answer the questions you set out to answer, and leave your reader satisfied that they got what they came for.
Brevity. If you can say something in 10 words instead of 20, go right ahead and do that. There is heaps of information relating to SEO that spruiks the benefits of longer blog posts to receive love from Google, but there is someone you should be trying to please above Google: your audience. This is true for all clear copywriting. Remember who your ideal reader is and what their needs are. Write for THEM. If you are creating high-quality, valuable, tight content, your audience will always reward that, and so will Google.
I Can See Clearly Now
Great copywriting involves using a tonne of empathy. You need to put yourself in the shoes of a potential client and ask yourself what it is that you would want to see in your content to feel that it has you, as a potential customer, in mind. Using clear copywriting acknowledges that your audience has clear goals, is time-poor, and wants to determine your value to them as quickly as possible. This is what I mean by meaning more and saying less. By ensuring your writing is purposeful and uncomplicated, you will achieve happy readers and shiny, clear messaging which is what we all want, what we really, really want.