Is my copy any good?! Moving past a copy crisis.

August 19, 2020

I'll be real with you, this could also be titled ‘an ode to imperfect action’.

Because here’s the thing, I can’t really tell you if your content is good.

Pretty disappointing of me to throw that in right off that bat like that, huh?

But what is good anyway?

I bet when you think about it - seriously, take a moment here and really think about it - you don’t have a clear definition yourself.

We spend a lot of time worrying about a benchmark we can’t see, name or explain.

So when it comes to asking ‘what is good’ I’d like us all to lower the bar. At least to a place where we can actually see it.

My personal bar would sit somewhere around: clear, inclusive, answers audience questions and makes them smile a little along the way.

Of course, understanding ‘good’ doesn’t help that much when you’re really stuck in your own head.

I’ve been there a lot recently. And this truth (which I'm pretty sure I've nicked from Katy Prince) became all too obvious to me:

Sitting on the fence is not a comfortable place to be.

If you’re sitting in a state of overwhelm, finger hovering over the ‘publish’ button, remember this: you don’t have to stay there.

Yes, you can dedicate time to learning the subtle science and exact art that is word wizardry. But who has time for that?

Instead, let’s rethink the fear that’s keeping you there.

People will judge me if I make a mistake

I don’t like it when copy tips boil down to ‘use spellcheck’.

This advice says, your opinions are less valuable because a little spelling error or autocorrect issue sneaks through.

It’s similar to the argument that vocal fry, and like, Valley speak (ideas associated with women’s speech patterns) reduce your authority. Judging people based on mixing up a few letters, or having a comma in the wrong place swings anywhere from a bit of a jerk move to ableist and classist.

And I say this as a recovering grammar snob.

Yes, pay attention when it really matters.

Consistent spelling came of age with print, to ensure that all readers could get the same message. The predictability of spelling makes it easier for us to read. The longer the potential shelf-life of your content the more time you should spend with your fine tooth comb. For example, you imagine that website will last longer than an Insta post, spell check accordingly.

And remember:

  • Most digital content can be edited (and quickly) if you see a mistake later.
  • Most of the time, a small error won’t completely confuse or change your meaning.
  • Most people are not jerks. They will forgive you.

People might not like my opinion

I get it. The vulnerability hangover after you share something online can be rough.

But sharing things that are within your zone of genius? That’s your job isn’t it?

Whether you’re a service provider, a coach, a trainer or you sell a product, sharing information (no matter where) is part of what you do.

From telling people about garment sizes through to walking them through your work process, I bet you share information with people all day long.

For some reason - I think born from the nerves associated with handing in written assignments in school - we only start questioning these things once we start writing them down.

Sometimes, when I’m getting stuck writing something down, I’ll have a little chat to myself instead. I’ll open a fresh Google doc on my phone, turn the microphone on and speak it out as if I was speaking to a peer.

A lot of my ideas take shape in DMs or through chats over coffee because, for me at least, conversation helps me solidify wispy ideas that need a bit more meat.

It’s amazing how much more our words stand up on their own - and sound like us - when we actually breathe some life into them.

I don’t know if this is what people want or need

And by sharing my words, I’ll expose myself as the total fraud I am.

What? Just me?

Our biggest doubts come from uncertainty. So how can you get certain?

You ask.

Don’t be afraid to ask people how you can help them, what they need right now, or what they think of your idea.

Face-to-face (at a social distance), on the phone, in an Instagram poll, in an email. However it works for you.

Asking doesn’t make our skills, services or ideas any less valuable. In fact, it makes your stuff better.

Worried that you have no one to ask? Step into your audience’s shoes and write as many questions about you, your service, how you work as you can.

Give yourself confidence that by sharing your content, you’re delivering something that people need.

After all, knowing your work is good is all a question of confidence.

Keep reading

Stretch your vocabulary (but not in the way you’d expect)

Everyone’s a copywriter

Knowing what works on your website