Copywriting No-No List

Being a creative copywriter, I do dig around in cyberspace a lot checking out how people go about their business writing.

Sometimes I stumble across things that make me cringe, wonder what the heck the person was thinking or shake my head in bemusement.

If you don’t want someone like me or your customers having the same reaction to what you write, avoid the copywriting no-no list!

1. Writing to ‘match’ your competitors. Find your own voice! Be customer-centric!
2. Just ‘making do’ with copy. It’s an important part of attracting customers.
3. Not developing a personality for your social media (or having many personalities- yeech!)
4. Trying to write in a way you assume the audience will respect as opposed to in a way they understand. Buzz words are for show offs, not real people.
5. Writing too much on the web. Customers just don’t have the attention span for long essays.
6. Ignoring the potential to or being afraid to be creative. Standing out is what it’s all about, yo!
7. Writing in isolation. Everything you write needs a story to it or at least a connected vision.
8. Over explaining. Keep it short, sweet and to the point.
9. Expecting a reader to have patience for your waffle. Make it relevant.
10. Being needlessly cryptic. People don’t have time to unravel your meaning. Have an intellectual wank on your own time!
11. Being too formal. You’re not having tea with the Queen, you are trying to reach someone! Make your copy conversational, appealing and relevant.
12. Not making use of the personal. Include people in your copy, invite them, and talk to them.
13. Thinking about SEO first, audience second. People aren’t Google bots and won’t be turned on by your SEO.
14. Forgetting to include things that are actually new and helpful when offering top 5’s and tips. Be inventive, not cliché.
15. Ignoring the visual aspect of the web. Add pictures, animated gifs, videos & don’t be too text heavy.
16. Having too many messages in the same piece of copy. Be clear in what you want customers to remember.
17. Thinking your personal rant on a subject gives you authority on a subject. It doesn’t. It just makes you whiny.
18. Not reading a lot in your industry & studying trends. Things are changing quickly, keep up!
19. Only reading stuff that validates your school of thought. You need to understand other points of view.
20. Blogging to a timetable as opposed to creating content that attracts readers, sharers and comments. If it’s regular and regularly boring, what’s the point?
21. Leaving social media or blogging to an intern. It takes skill and experience to deliver a strategy.
22. Be truthful in what you write so when someone does engage with you there isn’t a difference between what you present and what you are.
23. Throw anyone out of your office that promises you top rankings on Google and 10,000s of leads for $XX price.
24. Australians overuse the word “that” when writing. Don’t be one of them.
25. Don’t write like an advertiser. Seriously, people aren’t as stupid as advertisers think. And most of us find their style annoying.
26. Even when you seriously don’t feel like it, writing something is better than the dead stare of a blank page. Even if it doesn’t see the light of day.
27. Everyone has a word they overuse. Identify yours and cut it out as much as possible.
28. Story always trumps structure. You can always tweak the structure later but if the story is boring, you’re boned.
29. Twitter alone doesn’t count as writing practice. I can’t stress this enough!
30. Gratuitous use of question marks (???) makes you seem rude, impatient & needy. Not a good look!
31. Don’t set yourself up as a Grammar Nazi. It makes people less likely to communicate freely with you on the internet because they will be afraid you won’t listen and you’ll just poke fun.
32. It doesn’t matter what makes sense to you. It needs to make sense to the other person too.
33. Choose to spell with either UK English or US English but avoid mixing it up.
34. If you are writing like your competitors or to impress your competitors you are doing it wrong.
35. Bullshitting about your product may get you the first sale but it won’t get your repeat purchases or word of mouth referrals.


Business writing is becoming more and more important as consumers turn to the online world for their research and brand interaction.

By taking your business writing seriously and treating it with respect, you can kick some serious arse.

If you need a hand with your business, CONTACT ME. 



4 Comments. Leave new

  • Me likey muchly, Especially the line ‘Have an intellectual wank on your own time!’

    Is it just me or does the copy overrun into your tag cloud?

    • Cheers Kate- appreciate the feedback.

      Funny that “intellectual wank” almost went the way of the “give a damn” line from Gone With the Wind- was worried if it was too spicy!

      Tag Cloud seems fine to me? You on mobile or laptop? mac or PC?

  • Hey! Yep, I had an issue with the lines running into the tag cloud too – I’m on a laptop.
    I’m inspired by your confidence to use your real voice in this post. I speak like you write, but am frankly too afraid to write like I speak – an issue that’s come up recently as I’m rebranding and creating a new whizz bang website.
    What do you think? – be who you be and let the chips fall where they may? Or tone it down a touch and keep your appeal that little bit broader? I know some alienation is inevitable, but I’m wondering whether drawing a line for myself is the copywriting equivalent of ‘selling out’…

  • CoastgalAndrea
    October 17, 2013 9:24 am

    hey Bec great pece…thanks for your “frankly I dont give a damn” when it comes to certain writing conventions…I’ve been bored stiff by writing when working for some of my cleints sometiems and have been delighted when they’ve been happy to come out and play in the fun wading pool pool with me!

    Kates comment about your tag cloud matches mine…I’m on PC and it looks like the copy runs into it…Dang! Double dang!

    The words are great though!!


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