Hello copy poppers! Long time no talk…but we are back today with a quick writing tip for you inspired by two often-heard quotes:
- French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal famously wrote: I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time
- Mark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one.”
When I first heard these sayings, I thought they were wrong. In school, the hardest assignments seemed to be the long term papers 15 or more pages long.
But as a former teacher, professional copywriter, ghostwriter, and all around writing nerd for internet copy, I’ve come to learn they are profoundly true.
I admittedly have the habit of ‘over communicating in writing.’ I tend to add too many details in emails — and try to keep in mind that if something can be said with fewer words, it should be.
Let me give some concrete examples for you…
COPY EDITING EXAMPLES
1. Let’s Edit a Bio
Say you are writing about yourself for an author bio, for an about page on your website, or for an email in a marketing campaign so that new subscribers can get to know you.
You may write something like this:
“I did my undergraduate studies at UCLA and majored in Psychology, earning a bachelor’s degree with a minor in German in 2003.”(true story for yours truly!)
This is a perfectly good sentence with 22 words.
But can we tighten it up without losing any meaning or important information?
After copy editing how about…
“I graduated in 2003 from UCLA with a degree in Psychology and a minor in German.”
That’s shorter! With 16 words now.
We shaved off 6 words…or 27%. Not bad and no meaning was lost.
2. Let’s Edit a Business Description
Say you are writing up some information about your company for your website or short social media bio.
You could write something like this:
“At XYZ Media Company, we know the importance of leveraging social media to grow your business in this increasingly online and global economy. This is the reason why we love helping businesses create and execute strategies that help them grow their businesses through attracting new leads, converting sales, and building brand loyalty.”
This is a lovely description from a company who gets it!
But at about 52 words, it looks like a big paragraph that most people may say ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’ and skip over reading it.
After copy editing how about…
“Leveraging social media is essential to grow your business. We help you create and execute strategies to grow by attracting new leads, converting more sales, and building brand loyalty.”
This version is 29 words, so 44% shorter.
Plus, we changed 3rd person words like “their” and “them” to 1st person words like “you” and “your.”
I also cut out things like “At XYZ Media Company” under the assumption that if someone is reading it on your website, they know what you are called — you don’t have to restate it. And also “in this increasingly online and global economy” because if your audience doesn’t already know this is happening, I’d be shocked.
3. Let’s Edit a…3rd Example?
Send me a piece of copy you’d like cleaned up to be shorter and more punchy. I may feature a quick edit of yours in a future episode! [laura @ copythatpops.com — without the spaces]
Hope these copy editing examples helped inspire you to look for words you could cut to improve your writing online.
It takes more time to trim the fat, but it’s worth it!
Until the next episode, keep finding ways to write copy that pops!
Host: Laura Petersen
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