How to Be a Great Copywriter

Writing is easy. Every time you send an email, share a Facebook post, or send a text message, it is well received and clearly understood. Right??

Ok… maybe not.

Most of us communicate with writing every day, yet half the time our words are misunderstood. The truth is that our heads are messy, our plates are full, and we’re having trouble focusing on the task at hand.

Writing clear, actionable communication is very difficult.

On September 7, 1982, David Ogilvy drafted an insightful memo on writing for his management team. I found this gem in one of his bestsellers, Confessions of an Advertising Man. His advice has been extremely valuable to my daily work and I wanted to share it with you so you could glean from it too.

  1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing (Writing That Works; How to Communicate Effectively In Business, Harper & Row, 1981). Read it three times.

  2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.

  3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

  4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.

  5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.

  6. Check your quotations.

  7. Never send a letter or memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning and then edit it.

  8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.

  9. Before you send your letter or memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.

  10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

What practical writing tips have made an impact on you daily writing habits? Please tell in the comments below.