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Copywriting Mistakes to Avoid: Common Pitfalls and How to Fix Them

Copywriting Mistakes to Avoid: Common Pitfalls and How to Fix Them

Copywriting is anything but easy. 

It might seem straightforward enough. We all learned how to write in elementary school. But that isn’t copywriting. Copywriting is interesting, engaging writing that drives some type of action: an email newsletter sign-up, the purchase of a product, and so on. 

Becoming an effective copywriter is a blend of natural talent and putting in the reps. You have to have a solid base to work from: a good grasp of grammar, an expansive vocabulary, and an understanding of how the businesses you work with operate. After that, it’s all about putting in the miles. 

Great copywriters are made over time. There isn’t a shortcut, no matter what some Twitter (X?) guru aggressively tries to tell you. And during the years and years it takes to become a great copywriter, you’ll make mistakes. Lots and lots of them. What’s important is that you recognize them. 

What’s even better, though, is if you understand the common copywriting mistakes to avoid and make a proactive effort to avoid those pitfalls in the first place. In this article, we’re going to explore what these common copywriting pitfalls are and explore how to fix them. 

Mistake 1: Not Writing for Your Audience

One of the keys to effective copywriting is understanding your audience. Too many copywriters write for themselves, failing to account for the needs, interests, and wants of the people who will actually read their content. 

At Hire a Writer every new client works with us to complete an Audience Segmentation exercise so that our writers know exactly who we’re writing for. During the exercise, we’ll build our Ideal Client Profiles (ICPs), outline the pain points and value drivers for different audiences, and try to build a cohesive picture of exactly who we’re writing for. 

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Mistake 2: Using Passive Voice

When you’re writing for a business, using the active voice enables you to present your copy in a far more compelling way. But too many writers slip into the passive voice, which is a great way to make your business sound unimpressive. Which is probably not what you’re aiming for. 

Here’s an example of two sentences:

Today, Acme Corp launches a new software platform that enables businesses to streamline operations and improve productivity. 

A new software platform is launched by Acme Corp to enable businesses to streamline operations and improve productivity.

The first sentence uses active voice, whereas the second uses passive voice. In the first sentence, it’s clear Acme Corp launched something exciting that will improve the lives of their customers. In the second sentence, it’s not necessarily clear much has happened at all, never mind something that customers should be excited about. 

Drop the passive voice in favor of the more empowering active voice. In doing so, you’ll cast your business as the hero of the story, rather than just some participant that an event happened to. 

Mistake 3: Not Being Concise

Copywriting should be short, snappy, and interesting

Of course, at times, it makes sense to have lengthier pieces of copy. A pillar post or eBook, for example, should be thousands of words. But it should be thousands of words of actionable insights – not boring fluff. 

When copy includes yawn-inducing, unengaging sections that fail to impart any new information to readers, people stop reading. Which means that whatever you had to say next doesn’t get read. 

You can often cut entire paragraphs from a first draft, but you should also focus on being concise at a more granular level. Ruthlessly edit each sentence to remove filler words and unnecessary phrases. Avoid complex, run-on sentences that last for multiple lines. Eliminate technical jargon and replace it with simple, easy-to-understand terms. 

Copywriting isn’t a competition to make something as long-winded or as detailed as possible. Your goal should be to convey information in a short, digestible format that anyone can understand. 

Mistake 4: Lack of a Clear Call to Action

Remember, the ultimate goal of any copywriting is to get someone to do something. Exactly what that is depends on the nature of your business and the role a certain piece of content plays in the overall marketing process. 

Make sure you understand the action you’d like to stir in your readers, and then spell it out for them. Don’t try to be coy with your CTA – state it explicitly. Ideally in a shiny graphic with a brightly colored button showing your readers where to click. 

Consumers are bombarded with communications from brands every day. If they’ve chosen to give you their attention, you need to make the most of the opportunity, grab the mic, and tell them exactly what you want them to do and why they should do it. 

Mistake 5: Not Passing the “So What?” Test

Practically every copywriter talks about the features that the product or service they’re writing about offers. Let’s take the example of project management software. There are many project management software tools out there, and they all essentially do the same thing. 

If you’re copywriting for one of these tools, you might talk about features like adding comments on tasks, uploading attachments to projects, and assigning work to different team members. Pretty standard fare. 

What many copywriters fail to do is to write about how these features positively impact the lives of their audience. This is called the “so what?” test. 

Back to the project management software. You can add comments to tasks and upload attachments to projects. So what? Why does your audience care? 

They should care because this enables their team to communicate better and access all the information they need to perform their work successfully. That’s what your product does for them – the benefit it delivers. Explicitly stating the benefits of your product or service, and relating them directly to individual features, is key to helping readers understand the benefit of your product or service. 

Hire a Professional Copywriter with Hire a Writer

Every copywriter makes mistakes. As a copywriter, you make tens of thousands of tiny decisions every day. What should the next sentence be? Which adjective fits best here? Where is the best place to include a mid-copy CTA? It’s inevitable you’re going to get some of these decisions wrong. 

Individually, these errors don’t amount to much. But when you make many of them, the overall quality of your work is severely degraded. Learning to diagnose these errors, and working to eliminate them, is key to your success and continued development as a copywriter. 

Copywriting is a lifelong pursuit and is never something you’ll completely master. But by committing to continuous learning and improvement, you’ll become a more rounded professional, unlocking new opportunities along the way. 

Here at Hire a Writer, we regularly share our copywriting learnings right here on our blog. Sign up for our newsletter to receive a regular summary of our top content every week, tailored to your individual preferences.

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