Copy Critique – More Than Editing

copy critique

We’ve all been there and done that. We hit publish on a piece of copy or content, confident it’s going to take the internet by storm. It’ll be the best thing we’ve ever created, sure to go viral and make our business name known worldwide overnight. Only…it doesn’t.

It sits there like a lump. Its bounce rate is so high you’d think the thing was a friggin trampoline. Its sales results are dismal. And all you can do is wonder “why???” That’s where a copy critique can come in handy.

It pays to have a source for a second opinion, whether it’s your car’s motor’s funny sound, the cause of your daily headaches, or your copy’s quality and potential. I have fellow professionals that I trust to give me THEIR opinion of my copy. Yes, even copywriters and professional marketers get copy critiques. Our copy and content are too valuable NOT to, in my opinion.

What Kind of Copy Can Benefit from a Copy Critique?

  • Emails
  • Web page content
  • Social media posts
  • Profiles – LinkedIn, especially
  • Sales letters and pages
  • Ad copy
  • Fundraising appeals
  • Brochure copy
  • Press releases and other public relations materials
  • White papers, case studies, one-sheets, “lead magnets”
  • Guest posts for other people’s blogs

In short, ANY kind of copy or textual content can benefit from a copy critique. If it’s got a message or offer to communicate to a specific audience with a desired action or end result in mind, it’s important enough to deserve a review.

What Is a Copy Critique?

So what IS a copy critique?

  • A second opinion and critical examination – looking over your text for common issues and concerns, and trouble spots
  • More than editing – it doesn’t JUST look for typos and bad grammar. It delves into purpose, audience, and overall voice/style/messaging issues.
  • Suggestions, comments and advice – possible rewrites, fixing “clunky” bits, telling you when something is good and when it isn’t, how to address the audience better, lower your readability score, etc.

What Can a Copy Critique Do?

  • Strengthen weak spots in your text
  • Help you better match text to its intended purpose and to its intended audience
  • Strengthen your overall writing ability – when you know you are doing something wrong, you can avoid it next time

Can You DIY a Copy Critique?

Sure. You can give your own copy a good going over before you hit publish or send or post. It’s not as good an idea to DIY a copy critique, as we tend to be way too harsh on ourselves, or way too lenient. However, here’s a simple checklist you can use to review your next bit of copy or content:

  1. Read Aloud Time. Read your text out loud, either to yourself or to someone else. Reading aloud can help you find places where your copy doesn’t read well, or needs to be broken up into smaller sentences, or just needs some revision.
  2. Proofread. Look for obvious mistakes like spelling errors, missing words, run on sentences, and punctuation issues. (It’s a good idea if  you KNOW you have issues with “language mechanics” like commas or run-ons to look for them AS you write, to save time in review.)
  3. Watch Your Head(line). There are no hard and fast rules for writing headlines. Even we pros disagree on when it should be written and how. Here’s some tips: Keep it short, keep it simple, keep it descriptive and interesting. Your headline should make them understand what they are going to be reading about, but not such that they don’t need to read. It should also make them WANT to read.
  4. Know Your Reader. Everyone does, or should, have a unique voice and message that resonates with YOUR specific reader group. Make sure the language you are using, the topic you are addressing/offer you are making, and the platform or medium you are using is appropriate for your reader. Keep ONE person in mind as your write. Write to that ONE person as if you were talking to them directly.
  5. Know Thyself. Stay true to YOUR voice and YOUR message. Don’t try to be someone or something you aren’t.
  6. Check for Readability. There are free apps all over the place where you can fill in or copy and paste your text and it will be scored for readability. Keep the readability score at a level compatible with your audience.
  7. Tell, Don’t Sell. Even if your copy is a sales piece, hyped up, spammy, smarmy sales talk went out with the polyester leisure suit and late night infomercials. Don’t be “that guy” when selling. Tell your story, give valuable information, tell them what you want them to do, which leads to…
  8. Be Direct. If there is some action you want your reader to take, if there is some desired end result of reading your copy, don’t be afraid to come out and ask for it. Use clear, concise language that every reader can understand and point them in the direction you want them to go. Make it as easy as possible for them to follow your lead.

If there are any issues with your text as you go through the checklist, stop and see what you can do to fix them. If you are trying too hard to sell, or if your voice is “off’, or if any other concern becomes apparent, backtrack and find a way to correct the problem.

What To Do Now?

Whether you’ve never had a copy critique of your content in your entire business career, or if you never  publish or send without one, the next step is obvious. Start performing a copy critique on every important piece of copy and content you create fro here on out. If you DIY your copy critique, and have trouble figuring out what to do to fix the issues you find, that’s quite common. Don’t worry. There’s a solution for that. There’s also help and hope for those of you with no time or desire to DIY your own copy critiques.

Simply contact me here at Bloomers Marketing. I offer copy critiques as part of my consulting and coaching services. I’ll take my professional eye over your copy or content and give you a thorough review, including rewrite suggestions and possible alternative headlines, if needed. The service is $400 for each typed or published page of copy. Use “Copy Critique” in your subject line so it doesn’t get lost in my inbox.

Together, well have your copy in winning form in no time!

PS I will, if necessary, tell you “It sucks.” A copy critique only goes so far, and somethings can’t be fixed easily or without a complete rewrite.