As copywriters, if we’re writing in the traditional textbook inverted pyramid style, offering the who, what, when, why and where, then it’s pretty straightforward. The facts are stated upfront and we’ve got good content.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Most writers don’t want to write just to convey the facts so bluntly. Reading any copy that gives the facts up front can dehumanize a story and become a boorish routine of receiving and processing information. This kind of content doesn’t really challenge the reader to think. The beginning, middle, and conclusion are being spoon-fed to the reader without them having to chew!
The Art of Writing: Trimming the Fat
Writers write because we want to give our audience something to chew on—but that’s not always needed, especially in the digital world of copy content. People don’t want to chew the fat, they want it trimmed away!
As a copywriter, that’s exactly what you’ll have to do. Check your ego at the door along with your literary certificates, degrees, and accolades! A copywriter is a newspaper reporter on steroids! To be a copywriter means going back to the basics!
Remember when they told you that the newspaper industry is dying? They lied. The newspaper industry evolved. It re-introduced itself as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Writing. The term is too long so we just say copywriter or content writer. Whatever you choose to call it—if this is your role, then it’s time to unlearn every clever literary trick and just write the facts!
Copywriting the Facts. Here’s What I’m Talking About
The objective here is to get the attention of your reading audience and keep it. Content readers are not all leisure readers. Not everyone reads for pure entertainment. Some of them don’t like to read at all! These kinds of people are looking for insight whether it’s informative or authoritative. As a copywriter, you better give it to them or they’re going to click somewhere else!
The Inverted Pyramid. Still Relevant.
The Inverted Pyramid is an upside-down triangle that represents the structural model for hard news stories that’s most common in the newspaper industry. Here, the base of the triangle is considered the conclusion while the mid-part represents the supporting details, and the tip conveys background information. Great for news reporters, boring for literary writers.
Going Back to the Basics
That’s why you just have to go back to the basics and implement what you learned in Journalism 101. Give the people what they want. By doing this, you’re more likely to keep their attention. The whole Inverted Pyramid style of giving up all your information in the beginning could be looked at as “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” type of thing, but if the milk is good enough, they’ll want the cow! Who’s thirsty?
Writing for the Digital Audience
In the fast-paced world of digital information, the quicker you can respond to a reader’s needs, the quicker you’ll be in capturing his or her undivided attention. In this digital age, you’ll have about five seconds to pitch your product or idea before readers decide whether or not they want to engage. So starting your copy off with ‘fluff’ ain’t gonna cut it!
I know, I know, they taught you to change your style of writing, make it interesting, make it pop, don’t write the way everyone else is writing—be different, creative—grab their attention!
Yeah, well there’s a fine line between doing that and getting and keeping a reader’s attention.
Again, you have to keep in mind that not everyone is in love with the written word like you, so when you start having fun with composing the content at the tip of the pyramid—content you may feel is a literary work of art, just go ahead and push that down toward the bottom of your copy because it’s probably fluff and insert the factual details at the top.
Fluff? Yes, in the world of copy content, your storytelling skills are looked at as fluff. Don’t take it as an insult. Everything has its place and while fluff is welcomed in some masters programs and literary publications like Poets & Writers, and 45 Magazine Literary Journal, this kind of writing is more appreciated as a filler for copy content. Not to say that what your writing isn’t valuable—it’s informative stuff! It’s just that when you’re shoulder to shoulder with thousands of competitors, you’ll need to grab a reader’s attention with exactly what they’re looking for and you can’t do that with fluff. You can, however, combine the facts with fluff and there lies the art of writing copy my friend!
Conclusion or Beginning?
Think of it this way, online readers have a short attention span. Some might be scanning with a purpose and looking for a specific piece of content. With casual browsers, anything can catch their eye—title, descriptions, the first paragraph, and even visual content. This is something to keep in mind when composing your next copy.
It if helps, start writing your fluff and be as creative as you want, but when it’s time to refine your copy, be sure to add the facts at the very beginning. Next, add the supporting information to those facts. In short, start the beginning of your copy with your conclusion, and you’ll have a well-crafted piece of content that gets straight to the point, showing off your reporting and literary talent.
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