Everyone loves criticising stuff, and I’m no different. I try to avoid criticising other people, because really we have no idea what journey they’re on. We only see the outside.
But other adverts, landing pages, and articles? Well, in that arena I know whereof I speak, and so they’re fair game.
I was in the optician yesterday waiting for an eye test for my awful eyesight
(This is the one competition I always win – Person X: “Oh, I’m sooooo shortsighted, it’s awful!” Me: “Orly? What’s your prescription?” Person X: “It’s –4.5, I’m practically blind!” Me: “Hahahahahahaaaa shutup.”)
While I was waiting, I was flipping through one of the local magazines looking at the adverts, and I came across an article. Now, you might argue that what I’m about to say doesn’t matter, because it’s an article, not an advert.
But you’d be wrong.
Because what’s the point of writing an article if not to have people read it? And there’s usually some kind of call to action, even if it’s only implied and the idea is to help you choose something.
I’ve looked at that image a fair few times over the past 10 minutes, and I gave up on the “headline” at the top every time, until I forced myself to read the whole thing. See, I struggled through the first two lines and it was just too much bother. Why?
White typeface with some kind of awful shadow-effect, on top of a pale, busy image. It’s almost impossible to read. You have to be really dedicated to read it, and I suspect most of the people reading that magazine aren’t marketing geeks so didn’t bother.
Then the other headline is really dull. But at least it gives you an idea of what’s in the article.
Look: the bottom line is, your headline is there to get attention. If it can’t be read, it won’t be read, and so nobody will bother to read anything else. It has one job: to entice you and get you to read the next line.
Then the next line has to make you want to read the one after that. And so on.
Which leads me to problem number two: the first paragraph is dull as ditchwater. And it’s badly written. And the first sentence is so long that, again, I gave up.
All this is by way of showing you how not to do it. That goes for an article, an advert, a landing page, an email; whatever. Including a book.
This copywriting shizzle is important, yo. But it’s not the most important part of whatever it is you’re putting out there. You’ll note that my criticism isn’t just of the words, it’s also of the layout – and, crucially, readability.
Which is something I go into in a lot of detail in my Published in 90 Days course. It’s about so much more than simply writing a book: it’s an entire crash course in marketing and copywriting. Even if you’re not thinking of writing a book (and you should) it’d be invaluable.
Rather than me blather on about it, I’ll let someone else say something nice:
“Anyway, I hope some more of your people decide to do your course, it felt like a ‘how to write a book properly’ course rather than a ‘write a book to make loads of cash’ course, which is what many of the others seem to be. I’m glad about that, because now I know how to do it properly, I’ll have much more chance of making loads of cash (tongue in cheek but true!). Janice”
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.
PS Mebbe I piqued your curiosity and you’re thinking, “Well, her eyes can’t be that bad – after all, she wears contact lenses right?” Yes, yes I do. And my eyes are that bad. I have a “complex prescription” on the NHS which means I get a measly few quid off any glasses I buy.
My prescription? At present, it’s –13.5. In your face, eye-sight whingers.