The Writing Tip That Changed My Career Path

I always knew I would be a writer “when I grew up.”

I could see myself sitting in a rustic log cabin, a fire blazing, a loyal dog at my feet, and crumpled sheets of paper on every surface.

In my mind, I was a female version of Stephen King.

Fast forward to today and I’m a little surprised at the writer’s life I’m living …

I do work from home, with a fire blazing (in the winter), and two loyal dogs at my feet.

But, there isn’t a crumpled sheet of paper in site (everything is virtual). And, I don’t write fiction.

Instead, I discovered copywriting and one of the most basic principles of good copy:

Write like you talk.

Writing in an informal, “conversational” way, as if you’re talking to a good friend, will get the attention of your reader, making him more likely to read all your copy.

If you're struggling with this concept, here are three easy ways to make your writing more conversational:

  1. Imagine you’re having a conversation with your reader.

    How would you talk? What would you say?

    Conversational copy might go something like this:

    “Boy, do I have a story to tell you … you’re never gonna believe it!”

    Inauthentic — or less conversational — copy would sound like:

    “I have a story I want to tell you. You might not believe it.”

    To practice this, talk to someone — even if it’s your dog — and write down what you say.

    Better yet, invest in some transcription software and your computer will write for you. (Some computers now come with transcription abilities built-in.)

  2. Forget what you learned in English class.

    Your writing should be like a letter to a friend, not a textbook or legal document. Feel free to use slang (as long as your reader will understand it).

    Use contractions like you’re and you’ll.

    You can even start sentences with the word “and.”

    All of this will make your copy conversational and engage your reader.

  3. Use short sentences.

    If you write a sentence that takes more than one breath to read it out loud, it’s too long. Try chopping it into two or more sentences.

    Remember, this isn’t for English class, so feel free to use fragments.

    Also, use simple words. Try “get” instead of “acquire.”

As you’re writing, think about your reader. They’re another living, breathing human being. The more it feels like you’re talking to them, the better your copy will be.

What’s your favorite way to write like you talk? Comment here.

Over the weekend, practice writing like you talk. This basic, yet powerful, concept will put you on the fast track to success.

It's one of the basics of copywriting that, as you've seen this week, will help you shine with copy projects and give you a strong foundation for a career in this industry. And that leads to bigger clients and higher-paying work.

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Published: May 24, 2013

3 Responses to “The Writing Tip That Changed My Career Path”

  1. I actually find it liberating to write the way people talk. (The rebel in me loves to break those grammar rules!) But I also enjoy writing in a "voice" other than my own. Whether I'm writing in the voice of a man or a woman - a doctor or investment adviser - the tone of my copy changes. So it's more than just writing how people speak - it's writing how your spokesperson speaks. You have to be a bit of a chameleon, but it's so much fun.

    Guest (Deanna Blanchard)

  2. Vary your sentence length! Listen to how people talk and you'll find they speak in long sentences punctuated by short ones. Try it! More helpful info:

    Kathy Widenhouse

  3. I pretty much write like I talk. I am more a left side of the brain thinker than I am a right side. I don't even abbreviate when I text. I like the grammar, punctuation, and rules of English. One of my pet peeves is starting a sentence with the word 'and.' I would probably like editing or proofreading. This is going to be very interesting.

    Guest (Cheryl)

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