Six Pro Copywriter Tips To Make Your Copy As Strong As Possible

By: Darcy Juarez on: April 25th, 2013 28 Comments

What is good copy? What is bad copy? And how do you tell the difference?

This past year, I attended the American Writer’s and Artist’s Inc. (AWAI) copywriting boot camp.

AWAI is best known for training professional copywriters. Which is why I went to scout out copywriters at AWAI’s Job Fair. While there, I spoke with AWAI’s co-managing partners Katie Yeakle and Rebecca Matter.

One of the things I learned was some great tips for how they review the copy they receive from writers to help make the copy they receive even better.

Because let’s face it, whether you write your own copy or hire someone else to do it, you want to make sure it’s the strongest it can be.

So here are some tips I learned from Katie and Rebecca about how to review your copy:

1)     Read the copy out loud.  When reading your copy out loud, if you find a place that you stumble, inevitably this is where your reader will stumble too.  This is a great indicator that there is something wrong that needs to be fixed.

2)     Read for one type of edit at a time.  When editing, there are really different types of editing you should do. One type of editing involves looking for spelling and grammar errors, missed words such as “not”, or misused words such as “they’re, their, or there”.

The second type of editing involves looking for clarity and accuracy in the copy. Is the come clear? Does it get your message across clearly? Are there better word choices that could make your copy stronger or places where an example might help to clarify?

By reading through copy more than once, focusing on only one specific type of editing task each time, you’ll be able to zero in on places that may need work. Some editors suggest you narrow down your focus even further, for example, looking for places where you can use action verbs instead of passive ones for example.

3)      Use the CUBA method.  This is a great method that anyone can use. In fact, you can have your family, your staff, etc. use this to help make your copy stronger.

The idea is to give the content to several people to read. As they read through, have them identify any areas where they find the copy confusing, unbelievable, boring or awkward. To indicate these areas, have them mark a C, U, B, or A (Confusing, Unbelievable, Boring, Awkward) directly on the copy.

4)     Use track changes and comments.  Having several reviews/editors with different comments can get confusing for anyone. If you want to make sure all of your edits are addressed, using the “track changes” and “comments” under your review section in WORD is one of the best ways to send edits back to a writer.

5)     Check for readability. When proofing your document in Word, you can check “show readability statistics” under your preferences for Spelling and Grammar.

When Word has completed checking your spelling and grammar, it will show a screen that gives your Readability score. This measures three things:

The first is your percentage of passive sentences. Reducing passive sentences makes your document stronger.

The next measure is something called the Flesch reading ease. You’ll find the best copywriters keep this around 80% or better, although this can be difficult and may not be achieved when there are technical terms involved.

The last score is the Flesch-Kincaid grade level. This rates your text on a U.S. school grade level. Ideally you want your level to fall around a sixth grade level, no matter how intelligent your audience is because it makes your message easier to read.

6)     Print it out.  It is easier to catch mistakes on a printed page than on a computer screen.  This is especially true if you do your own writing and don’t hire someone else to write your copy for you.

What methods do you use to help make your copy stronger? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

NOTE: Knowing that you are looking at reasonably good copy and understanding why it’s good will help you make better decisions, hire better copywriters and get better results. Inside The 7 Key Questions Every Copywriter You Hire MUST Be Able to Answer To Write Killer Direct Response Copy and Create Marketing Campaigns That Will Outsell The Pants Off Your Competition!”  is what every business owner should ask before hiring a copywriter.

So if you plan to hire a copywriter to give you an advantage, be sure to get GKIC’s FREE report here.

Get “The 10 Rules to Transforming Your Small Business into an Infinitely More Powerful Direct Response Marketing Business” for FREE. Click here to claim your customer-getting, sales-boosting tactics.

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Darcy Juarez has created marketing systems in the direct response and information marketing world that have gained national attention. As the Director of Marketing for GKIC , Darcy has taught thousands of business owners her step-by-step strategies for creating their own success and obtaining more time and more profits. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to www.GKIC.com

    28 Responses

    1. Brenda says:

      Thought it was interesting that you have a copy edit error 2) paragraph 2.

    2. Jim Penny says:

      Great tips. Thank you for sharing.

    3. Ruth says:

      Thanks, Darcy! LOVE your tips!
      Makes perfect sense…
      Blessings,

      Ruth

      • Thanks for the writing techniques and ideas. Copy is critical. I use a direct mail piece that is working well. Copy is king!

        Jef

    4. I love this article! Short, sweet and sexy.

      Never fails to amaze me that the “read out loud” part is almost always mentioned by top copywriters. Editing “by design” is also a time saver if you just look at the real value of this tip. CUBA could be an easy prototype to know more about your copy from the “horses’ mouth” and I’m using it in my next “can you please read this copy for me” phase of my projects.

      I have yet test tips 5 & 6 because they involve MSWord technicalities if I’m correct? If I nail these ones… then I can say I’m up another level in my toolbox when “polishing” my works

      And yes, PRINTING out will save you hassles in the long run.

      Would it be ok if I include some of the tips you’ve given here in a short informational video about copywriting too?

      Anyway, thank you very much for these tips!

      Cool ~ o

    5. Super helpful! Even for a rank amateur like me! Thank you so much!

    6. Thanks for the copywriting tips, Darcy. I agree that it is easier to catch errors when the copy is on the printed page. It also helps to step away from the copy for a while to give your eyes and brain a rest before reading it again.

      If the words begin to run together or all you see or hear is “blah blah blah” when you read it aloud or silently, then that’s a good time to take a break.

      I have found that not taking a break in between reads usually leads to errors. That’s because we already know what the piece is *supposed* to say. But, of course, just because we think our copy gets the message across doesn’t mean that it actually does.

      For that reason and many more, it’s definitely a good idea to have more than one pair of eyes on a piece of copy.

    7. Paul Kennedy says:

      Thank you very much, great tips

    8. Dorinda Luz says:

      Great Tips! They help alot, Thanks and see you the June BootCamp

    9. Eugene says:

      I like the editing tip. Which of two different types would you suggest to go through first? I would think that after you edit for clarity there will still be plenty of grammar to be fixed :)

      • Darcy Juarez Darcy Juarez says:

        I start by reading for clarity and content and then the last pass for grammar

    10. I cut my paste into a new email in OutLook. Then I highlight all of the text and use the SPEECH feature to read it out loud to me! SPEECH is under the “EDIT” tab. I also avert my eyes or even close them to ensure I am not reading along. I keep editing until it sounds right.

      • Darcy Juarez Darcy Juarez says:

        That’s a great tip! I will have to try that one

    11. Lyn Bell says:

      Thanks Darcy for the great tips! I remember a few years ago the spellcheckers didn’t seem to want you to change “your” to “you’re”. It was frustrating. They seem to have improved.
      Cheers
      Lyn

    12. Javier says:

      Very good article Darcy. Thank You.

    13. Alex says:

      Great tips, thanks.

      Just one thing, was that a deliberate mistake?

      Point 2) paragraph 2 line 1 ends “Is the come clear”?

      Alex

      • Darcy Juarez Darcy Juarez says:

        I’m just testing to see who’s paying attention :-)

    14. Gary says:

      Very informative Darcy. I tend to read my copy aloud before i finish a writing session. It proves to be very useful in terms of how clear the writing is. It also identifies missing words.

      One thing you don’t mention here which I have found to be massively helpful is to put some distance between the writing and the editing. I know sometimes time is pressing however if I write today and edit tomorrow I find much more clarity when I edit.

      Thanks again for your insights.

    15. Michael says:

      This is golden! I never knew about the C.U.B.A method or the readability statistics feature in Word. I will definitely be using that feature when I proof my ad copy. Thanks Darcy!!!

    16. Vikramaditya says:

      Hi All,
      This is true. I am an AWAI student and also follows GKIC closely and might join you as a customer in a week or two. You shared great points.

      I am writing my own copy. Editing and going through your copy is tougher in this case. I would like to suggest one thing…

      When you write your first or second draft, always give yourself some time to relax and let go of this project. It is not easy to point out the fixable items on the same day when you have written the piece. Take time, relax and you will come up with fresh ideas and perspective.
      Regards

      • Cari says:

        Very true. My original vocation was in typesetting. Working in a small print shop, I often had to proofread my own work. If I couldn’t wait a day, I at least waited a few hours. There was something about being familiar with the content I had just typed that made my brain see what should be there instead of what was! As Vikramaditya said, it’s even more critical when you’ve invested lots of time and thought writing the content yourself. I definitely need a day away myself to try to gain a ‘fresh’ perspective as a reader instead of a writer.

    17. Hi Darcy,

      How is it that all this time I didn’t know about the “readability” feature in Word? I especially like the grade level feature. I thought I was writing 6 grade level but maybe not…

      Thanks! Jennifer

    18. […] Make it easy to read.  There are several things you can incorporate into your writing style that will make your emails easier to read. For example, use clear, concise language. Use a mix of short and long sentences. Write to express, not impress by using more common words and writing at a 5th-7th grade literacy level. (Find out more about using your “readability” feature in Word to check this in my article: Six Pro Copywriter Tips to Make Your Copy As Strong As Possible […]

    19. You’re doing what you tell us to do quite well. I appreciate the concise recommendations and explanations and am getting ready to write copy very soon. Thank you.

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