We love what we do, but it’s not always rainbows and butterflies at a full-service content and copy agency. Sometimes we come across people who have certain ideas as to what we actually provide to clients. Some are so convinced of these copywriting myths they’ve heard that they refuse to believe otherwise, even when we tell them the truth.
So, we’re here to set the record straight on common copywriting myths and rules of language and writing. Get your debunking hat on and dive in with us.
“Writing like you talk is unprofessional.”
This one grinds our gears so much we wrote a full-length blog post on why you should write like you talk. Just because you’re creating content for your business doesn’t mean you have to adopt a business-like, super professional tone in your content.
Writing like you talk helps you sound like a friend. An acquaintance your audience wants to get to know. Someone smart who knows their stuff, but down-to-earth enough for people to like and trust. And eventually, buy from.
Unless your brand personality is literally “business-like and professional,” feel free to write like you talk.
Does your brand use AP Style or Chicago Style? Is it okay to break the rules of grammar? Yay or nay to the Oxford Comma? (Don’t ever say “nay” in front of Amanda, BTW.)
In the grand scheme of things, format really doesn’t matter when copywriting. No one will read your blog posts and gasp because you ended a sentence with a preposition. In fact, that example rule is barely a rule today.
Language evolves. Its uses, its meanings, the way it’s shared, the way it’s supposed to be written: all of it is constantly changing. Look at how the meaning of the words they/them/their have changed over the last decade.
Don’t be afraid to break or ignore the rules when it makes sense for your content. Focus on something that has a much bigger impact on your audience and business, like your brand voice.
“Format doesn’t matter.”
Traditional style guides and outdated rules aren’t the be-all, end-all to copywriting. But we’re not suggesting you throw every rule of language out the window. Otherwise, how can you express yourself in your content clearly?
When you communicate well with your audience, you build credibility and trustworthiness. You’re showing respect for your readers by not dumbing down your language. You’re delivering a message that’s accurate and concise.
Not sure how to determine whether a writing rule is smart or bogus? Ask yourself this question:
“If I break this rule, does my writing still make sense?”
If you answer yes, read your content a second time to determine if it’s on-brand and accurate with context. If you answer no, then ask yourself why you’re breaking this rule.
To be funny? Cool? Unique? Trendy? If that’s the case, you may be trying too hard.
“Copywriters just write what they feel and don’t need a strategy.”
HAHAH oh, how we wish this myth was true. Copywriters should just go with the flow! Write totally from scratch! That’s what being creative is all about!
On a good day, yes, getting words out of your brain and putting them into a Google Doc feels easy. When copywriters are feeling creative, we can’t type fast enough. But this kind of writing flow can’t be achieved unless there is some strategy in the mix.
You don’t have to provide a long-ass, overly detailed brief, either! A great copywriter can write something amazing based off simple details like:
- What’s the purpose of this thing I’m writing?
- Who’s it for?
- What’s the main idea?
- How will this content be delivered?
- What’s the brand voice?
If you’re new to working with a copywriter (or wondering how to help us out, if you’re a UC client), give us something to work with. Give us a starting point and face us in the right direction before we can unleash our writing talents. Just a little strategy will do.
“Copywriters have one specialty, and that’s it.”
Okay, who perpetuated this myth?
It’s rude and untrue, at least for the Uncanny team.
While there are some copywriters out there who may specialize in only sales pages, blogs, emails, social media, or ads, that doesn’t mean that all copywriters have only one specialty. And that doesn’t mean that a copywriter with a specialty can’t write anything else.
If you’re looking to hire a copywriter for your business, think about what you need help with. Do you want a copywriter who can write all sorts of content — and write them well? You can absolutely find one talented and flexible enough. (*ahem that’s us, ahem*)
Or, if you want someone just for specific content needs like marketing, or UX, or technical writing, there’s nothing wrong with finding someone who specializes in that type of writing. But don’t believe that all copywriters are one-trick ponies. Please. We’re multi-talented horses.
Side note from Jess: I have a Bachelor’s in Technical Communication that I’ve never “officially” put to use. But it has definitely helped me in my 5+ years writing for all sorts of businesses with Uncanny!
“Content writers can’t write copy.”
To this myth I say, “Just watch us, bitch.”
First of all, we write both content and copy. Traditionally, people think of “copy” as writing that is meant to sell something. Advertising copy, product copy, marketing copy.
“Content” encompasses a broader swath of writing. It includes non-written messaging like images and videos, too. Content is often used to entertain, tell stories, educate, raise awareness, etc.
Second of all, the whole content or copy debate doesn’t really matter that much to us (look, here’s a writing rule we’re breaking!) Why doesn’t it matter?
Because strategy is more important above all. When you create a piece of copy or content with a solid purpose, you’re more likely to achieve your goal — whether that’s to sell, educate, or inspire.
If you’ve ever read a piece of copy that sounded off-brand, desperate, or gross, it’s probably because they didn’t have a good strategy rooted in the business’s brand and goals.
The content writer on your team should know your brand voice, audience, and messaging through and through. So they’ll know how to sell to your audience, in your brand voice, with the right messaging. Let us content writers handle your copy, okay?
Copywriting myths: busted
There you have it. Six common copywriting myths busted. To recap:
- Writing like you talk isn’t unprofessional; it’s relatable and more easily accessible.
- Not every copywriting rule matters. Many are outdated or too trivial to care about.
- Not every copywriting rule should be broken. If it makes your writing clear, concise, and accurate, stick to the rule.
- Every copywriter needs a bit of strategy and direction to create great content.
- A copywriter may have a specialty, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have other writing talents.
- Content writers can write sales copy, sometimes even better than a copywriter, because they know your brand inside and out.
Glad you joined us on this myth-debunking journey. If you ever need help busting another copywriting myth, let us know.