I’ve been doing a degree through the Open University for the last three years. If there’s one thing I’ve learned (there’s lots more but let’s go with this for a minute), it’s that how I write an essay is not how I write my website copy, blog posts or social media. But I realised something. So many people do write that way. And I got to thinking about why that was. Here’s what I think. After years of school, college and university, you’ve been sent out into the big wide world only knowing how to write in a certain way. You’ve been brainwashed into thinking you can only write in that formal, stiff manner favoured by academics. Is it any wonder that you struggle to write fun, friendly, relaxed words for your business?
The reason you can’t write like you is because you’ve never been taught to write like you.
Well, there’s good news. Because you don’t have to write like that anymore. I’m releasing you from that academic net. Say goodbye to all those ‘to summarise’, ‘in conclusion’ and ‘therefore’ filler words because I’m going to show you how to make your website copy more conversational and remove the formality forced upon you over the years!
Break All The Rules
When it comes to conversational copy, you need to step away from grammatical perfection. Take the rule book that tells you you can’t use contractions or end sentences with a preposition and throw it out of the window.
Conversational copy is not about rules. It’s about showing your reader hidden meaning and nuances that they’d typically hear when you speak. So, use grammar to show pauses or where you’d naturally stop to take a breath or create a dramatic effect. Start sentences with ‘and’ or ‘but’. Yes, Mrs Watson will be turning in her grave at the thought, but hey, you’re not doing Year 9 English anymore.
Like I said, this isn’t about being grammatically correct. It’s about sounding like a human instead of a robot as people read your words on their screens.
Don’t Try To Sound Smarter Than You Already Are
You’re not getting graded on the intellect of your words here. There’s no Distinction or C- for what you write in your blog post. So, stop trying to make yourself sound super smart and intelligent by using longer words or writing long sentences to confuse your reader!
If you wouldn’t use the word ‘pernicious’ in your everyday speech, then don’t use it in your writing. That’s fatal 😉 It’s not your job to belittle your readers, so pick the simple, everyday terms. Not only will your readers be able to understand what it is you’re saying, they’ll find it easier to relate to you too.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t use any long words at all, though. You may actually find a longer word that expresses your meaning better than any simpler, shorter word can. That’s fine. I won’t nitpick. But try to write in a way that people can engage with and relate to, as much as possible.
Create A Brand Voice Guide
If you don’t have a basic guide already about your brand voice, then get one together. It’ll help you to produce consistent words and keep things sounding like you when you’re struggling to find the right words.
We’ve all got words we use a lot in our everyday speech. You might not realise what yours are right now, but pay attention when you’re talking in future. Or ask your friends to point out what you say frequently. You’ll soon notice them yourself! One of mine is ‘lovely’. I use it as a term of endearment for my friends and clients a whole lot. You might even see it pop up in my copy from time-to-time as well!
Create a list of the most common words you use to describe your business or your feelings regularly. Then, when you’re struggling to find the right words, you can draw on that list to help you get back on track. Think about how you describe your business at networking events or how you go about expressing when you’re happy, or excited, or sad.
Also, have in mind the person you’re writing for. Know who your client is and picture them as you write. The words you put in a blog post to them should be the words you would say to them if you met them for coffee and cake. Speak to them and ONLY to them. It’s that confidence and personal voice that will shine through in your words.
One of my favourite things about the English language is how mouldable it is. It’s like play-dough. It’s waiting to be pulled apart and smooshed together with other play-dough colours to make new words. Yes, I’m telling you that you can make up words and no one will judge you!
I’m a big fan of using weird hybrid words I find dotted about the internet. Words like ‘nonversation’ and ‘hangry’ might not appear in the dictionary, but you know what they mean, right? Sometimes, I’ll even make up words of my own!
You can get creative with words too. Using comedy, puns, and double entendres, make your words fun and full of personality. And it helps people to understand who you are as a person, especially if they get your jokes!
Write How You Speak
I’m sure I’ve stated this one many times in various blog posts. But stop writing how you think you SHOULD write. Start writing in a way that feels natural to you and sounds like you when you’re speaking.
Use contractions like ‘won’t’ and ‘don’t’ instead of ‘will not’ and ‘do not’. Because I’m betting you don’t say the full words when you’re speaking the majority of the time. Use words like ‘gonna’ and ‘wanna’ too, if that’s how you typically talk. Drop g’s from your words if that’s what feels natural. I often use ‘flippin” in my copy because it’s a word I use a lot in my everyday conversations. It sounds like me!
If you’re in any doubt at all, take that copy and read it out loud before you hit publish. If anything sounds off, a bit stiff or formal, you’ll hear it when you say it out loud. So, change it to something that feels more natural to your own everyday speech. I promise you, this is not rocket science – you can do this!
And if you’re still struggling to make it work, then come and talk to me about copywriting. I’m more than happy to chat about how I can help you!