My mother is a fastidious presser of laundry. Has been all my life. She doesn’t iron underwear but she does press sheets. Now, if you’re my kind of housekeeper, you’re probably thinking “why bother”. That’s something I ask her too from time to time, with invariably the same response. “You can fit things better in the cupboard”. Actually, that’s a lot like copywriting. Haven’t made the quantum leap yet? Let me explain.
Writing to fit your cupboard space
Every writing project begins with a plan and structure. Much like the linen press. The ultimate goal is effective communication. It’s important the writing is well ordered and a good fit for the available space.
What does your linen press look like? Are things are shoved in, pushing up against the next shelf leaving no way to see what’s actually in there? Just like having enough space around items in the cupboard, copywriting needs:
- Well organised pockets of information
- Breathing spots like headings to help the reader
- White space so content doesn’t feel overwhelming
One of the best techniques for writing marketing copy is to ‘overwrite’. Much like those un-pressed sheets, if this overwritten content were utilised, the message would be lost in overstuffed communication. In copywriting (web content especially) less is more. So, just like ironing sheets to fit them in the cupboard, cut back content. As a general rule of thumb, when I’m almost finished writing, there’s still up to one third that could go. Well known advertising guru Robert Fleege famously said “An ad is finished only when you no longer can find a single element to remove.”
Creases and folds meet headings and paras
The thing about freshly pressed linen how delightful it is to make the bed or set the table with. All those well ordered lines make it so easy to match up the middle or side and seat diners. Pressing your copywriting is just the same.
Going through the tasks of editing, analysing and checking your content is a good fit for its environment helps readers enormously.
- Content headings act like crisp creases
just as folds help decide where to unfurl sweet smelling cotton, titles provide a roadmap for readers and top level guide to where content belongs
- Neat little squares or well planned paragraphs
much like those pressed-in checks, copywriting is placed neatly and orderly in and around the layout, so readers find it easy to follow
Decrumple content for clear ideas
Then of course there’s the whole reason why you’d iron anything in the first place. To get rid of wrinkles. Pressing out copywriting to minimise crumples gives readers a better idea of what you’re saying. Lose the rumples of complex language, tangents and other ideas. Get back to basics with one key message: neatly and simply communicated with well written words. All fitting neatly into the designed space.
So should you iron the sheets? You betcha!
3 take away tips
- Overwriting and cutting back is an effective writing tool.
- Headings and paragraphs build well organised content pockets.
- Press out crumples and rumples into one clear message.