Published On: January 23, 2009
When I was a student, I regularly turned in papers that were well below the assigned word count. I never really meant to…they just sort of turned out that way. Yet, in spite of my detour from the letter of the law, my grade on a given paper was almost always among the highest in the class.
With a bit of hindsight, I’ve realized that the brevity of my writing was likely a key to my academic success. Those professors probably assigned 3,000 words on “King Lear” because their experience told them that most students would need that much space to get around to saying anything. I said something, but left out the filler — even though I’d wager that I spent more time writing five pages than many of my classmates spent writing eight.
While my pared-down writing style wasn’t intentional( it was just the only way I knew how to write), I’m finding now that my natural tendency towards less over more serves me well as a copywriter. If my professors, staring down a stack of ungraded essays, appreciated seeing the a compact arrangement of the essential ideas, the average website visitor probably appreciates it more. Most of the time, folks on the Web want to find the desired information quickly and with minimum effort.
Of course, in copywriting, merely including the relevant information isn’t enough. Style and syntax are critical if the text is to have any life on the page (or screen). In truth, the smaller the body of text, the more carefully these various elements have to be balanced. Add to that a need to keep SEO in mind (keywords, headings, etc.) when writing specifically for the Web.
Condensing all of the previously mentioned elements in to a seamless bit of text is one of the most satisfying and challenging tasks I perform at JLB. The work can be mentally exhausting, but a result both that appears effortless and tells the client’s story is well worth the struggle.