Hire a gardener, and you can tell if the flowers grow. Hire a carpenter and you’ll know if the shelves are solid.
But when you hire an artist, like a copywriter or a graphic designer, judging the results can be more challenging. How can you tell if you’re getting good, creative content as soon as the first draft?
Copywriting is one of those amazing occupations that straddles (or dances across) the line between art and science.
Writing well is an art, there’s no question about it. Crafting words that evoke emotions, stir passions, and convert into actions is a sought-after skill.
But copywriting is also a science, to some extent. There are strategies, concepts, and “rules” that experienced copywriters follow because they’ve been proven time and time again to work — to get the reader to take action.
Of course, some “rules” are made to be broken. Sometimes doing so even helps you stand out in a crowded field. However, you won’t know unless you test them.
But before you get to that point, it’s useful for you to know some of the basics. Doing so will help you recognize what to pay attention to when a first draft of content is submitted to you for your review.
Here are 6 questions that you can ask yourself the next time you’re evaluating copy:
1. Does the copy present ideas clearly? Does it demonstrate an understanding of your customers’ problem(s) and the solution(s) you offer to help them? Good copy will have your readers saying “yes, that’s me, I want what they have to offer.”
2. Does the headline make you want to read more? The purpose of the headline is to pique your interest and get you to read the first sentence.
3. Is the copy easy to read? To judge if it sounds natural, try reading it out loud. Are you using any jargon your customers/prospects may be unfamiliar with? Speak to your audience in terms they understand.
4. Does the copy flow easily and transition from one point to the next smoothly and in a logical sequence?
5. Does the copy ask you to take a specific action and tell you why it’s important for you to do so? Active language propels the copy forward and not only keeps your readers engaged, but makes it more likely for them to take action themselves.
6. Does the copy make a compelling case? Does it make you want to take the action you want your reader to take? Again, try reading it to a partner and gauge their response if you feel too close to the subject.
The easier it is for you to say “yes” to these questions, the better your copy will be.
Once you’ve evaluated your copy using these questions, you can also communicate more effectively with your copywriter about changes you want to make. Being specific and telling her that you’d like more active language is much easier for her to grasp than something like, “It needs more oomph!”
What questions do you have about working with a copywriter? Drop me a line at debra (at) writedirection (dot) com. Here’s to your sweet writing success.