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Thread: Rules of Great Copywriting

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    Default Rules of Great Copywriting

    I see lists of the "6 Rules of Great Copywriting" and the "8 Secrets of Great Copywriting" all the time. I'd like to start our own list of great copywriting rules. What do you think is required for copy to be truly great and effective?

    I'll start.

    I think one rule of great copywriting is that your copy has to have passion. You have to feel something about your subject. If you're disinterested in your writing, it shows in your copy.

    What else can we add to the list?

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    It must be compelling and invoke some kind of response from the reader (other than zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz).
    Steve Chittenden

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    "Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." -- Theodore Roosevelt

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    You must know your target market - spending time writing copy without knowing what the target market wants, needs and desires is an exercise in futility...

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    This is a good start to the list. I'll add another one.

    You must understand your subject. Writing about something you don't understand leads to vague, misleading copy.

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    Good copy must know it's purpose. Steve mentioned above it must invoke some kind of response in the read and along those same lines the copy must know the response you want the reader to take.
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    It has to be easy to read. Both in what you say, and how you say it (for example, I use short paragraphs, subheadings, and bullets almost everywhere.)

    Back when I was forever finding a new job, you'd be surprised how many HR people commented on my excellent cover letters. I really didn't do anything special in writing them, but I made sure I used a subheading and a 3-4 item bulleted list in each one. Resume books would tell you to never do that... but what do they know? They weren't the one looking for a job
    Dan Furman - Copywriter, Business Author, Entrepreneurial/Business Consultant
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    I think good copy should also be fun, or at least interesting to read. Copy that just lies there on the page won't hold anyone's attention.

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    Use of titles and headings is important too. Think about reading the newspaper. Certain titles tend to stand out and make you want to read the article. I sometimes spend as much time creating a good title as writing the content. BTW, I usually write the content untitled, or a basic title, then do the title last.
    Steve Chittenden

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    Use of titles and headings is important too
    You need a good title to get people to read in the first place. Headings and other things like lists and blockquotes are great for letting someone skim and scan. Online most people tend to scan. I'm someone who believes they still read, but I think they first need to decide if something is worth reading.

    I've seen some great copy where just by reading through the headlines and other standout elements you can really pick up all the ideas in a piece of writing. It definitely encourages further reading of the details.
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    I'm glad you brought up that scanability, vangogh. I was thnking of that too when I posted, because people do skim and scan just like you said, so I'm a firm believer in making it skim friendly.
    Steve Chittenden

    Web design, graphic design, professional writing, and marketing.

    "Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." -- Theodore Roosevelt

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