Copywriting 101: 7 Deadly Traps Copywriters Fall Into

There are a few aspects of copywriting that are routinely overlooked so often that they should be a crime.  Learning to avoid these can help set a copywriter above their competition.

Punctuation. Learn it, love it, live it.  The bottom line is that the number of copywriters who abuse commas or have no idea when to use a semi-colon is simply stunning and evident anytime one looks around the Internet.  Sadly, this has become the status quo in the industry as a large number of less-talented and/or less-educated copywriters replaced professionals who actually went to school to become writers.

Failing to know the audience. In some cases, it can be hard to know just who is reading the various pieces being written, but take an educated guess.  Failing to so may result in texts that are far too complex for a relatively simply audience or appear insignificant to a more sophisticated crowd.

Inadvertent repetition. Repetition can be both good and bad, but learn how to avoid bad repetition by adding an extra read-thru just for redundant/repeat phrases or words.  Once trouble areas are identified, it is time to bring the thesaurus to bear.  The long-term key to success here is going to involve building out one’s vocabulary, and there are some great ways to do this.  Reader’s Digest is a good place to start, but so are the countless websites.

Negativity kills. People love to see a good verbal jab at someone or something they dislike, but that does not usually translate into good copy.  An old saying in politics is that people buy with hope and vote with fear.  This saying can be paraphrased into copywriting parlance rather simply: people buy with positivity even if they continually browse the negative content.

Failing to check copy. Some copywriters just churn out content one after the other without bothering to check the spelling, grammar, punctuation, and/or quality of their work.  Why does this happen?  Overconfidence mostly, but even the most overconfident amongst us will start to make mistakes at the end of an 8-hour day of turning out a digital mountain of content.  Check every single piece, every single time, or be willing to pay the price.

Eschewing clichés is not always a wise idea. Clichés, sayings, and phrases are all deeply rooted in the collective psyche of an entire culture, and they should be taken advantage of.  There is no reason to reinvent the wheel when the wheel says so much on its own.  For example, the concept of the boy who cries wolf is probably far too lengthy to explain in text and will have readers wondering just why a popular saying or phrase was not used.

Hyperbole. Hyperbole is a double-edged sword that needs to be well managed in order for it to be truly effective.  Learn how to manage hyperbole early, and remember that understanding an audience is half the battle.

Written by

Chad Weirick is a global traveler, ghostwriter, teacher, and father. His hobbies include reading, languages, mixed martial arts, photography, digital media, blogging, and spending time with his family.



  • Mike Roosa says:

    Good stuff Chad. Another is long, wordy paragraphs that go on and on forever. I like short, concise paragraphs focused on a single subject.