We’re going to get to those overused copywriting phrases in a second – but first, let’s see if you agree with me: As an online business owner, you’ve seen some really bad copy.
I’m gonna bet that you’re nodding.
You’ve browsed websites for your own coaches and assistants or stumbled across Facebook groups with “inspiring” posts that are really just thinly-veiled ads. And chances are, you cringe at a good 70% of the copy out there.
As a writing coach, I firmly believe this comes from entrepreneurs who don’t know what they don’t know about copywriting. I’ve heard this in a few different ways.
- “I didn’t even know copywriters existed.”
- “I’m already pretty good at writing. I’ve written essays/emails/short stories/blog posts for years. I can just write the sales page myself.”
- “I can just pay someone cheap on Fiverr. It’s all the same anyway, they just need to put what I tell them into writing.”
- “I took a quick course/watched some videos on copywriting and learned all the essentials I’ll ever need.”
In each case, it’s clear that the person doesn’t understand the profound psychology, doesn’t know the diverse formulas, and/or hasn’t practiced the craft that makes writing copy – and great copy at that.
When entrepreneurs assume they can figure out copywriting for free and without much effort, that’s a recipe for disaster. And it’s the recipe for the bad copy you’ve seen on the internet!
It leads to about pages that are narcissistic, “sales pages” that are a dry, uncompelling list of “how it works” and “how to pay,” and weeks worth of lost time and money spent on creating complicated funnels their business isn’t ready for and their copy can’t support.
Let me repeat that: it not only prevents you from earning money to cheap out/be lazy about learning copywriting – it actively LOSES you money in both the short and long term.
When someone without training tries to create sales copy, it leads to the extremes: boring and/or sleazy selling. That’s NOT who you really are and it’s only going to turn off your ideal clients – in the worst cases, irreversibly. It leads to uneducated attempts to recreate sales pages that you liked, or what you think good writing needs.
It leads to these 5 overused copywriting phrases that you do NOT want to use in your writing – at least, without knowing the risks.
Now, being aware of these concrete words and phrases will improve your copy, but not on its own.
You need a great course, a skilled 1:1 writing coach, or you need to outsource to a professional to do that. There’s too much psychology, craft, and structure for you to learn by osmosis or in a hands-off course, or by watching some YouTube videos.
But this IS a great start on fixing that core problem that leads to bad copy: assuming you know more than you really do about it.
- The phrases: “X number of people can’t be wrong.”
- “X can/could…”
- The “but everyone’s my potential client” taglines, like:
- “For all your _____ needs”
- Whether you’re a ________ or a __________” when they’re extremely broad.
- Clichés – for example:
- “Outside the box”
- “Content is king”
- “Tomorrow’s _______ today.”
- “Invest in yourself.”
- “Built from the ground up.”
A note on #5: Starting any sentence (outside your bio section) with the words “I” tells your reader that you’re thinking about yourself, not about them. So use it sparingly! Double-check your text and see how often you can switch a sentence that starts with “I” to a version starting with “you.” That’s the ideal change because it centers your client in your brand story and in the transformation promised by your offer.
An important caveat.
Picasso once said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
There’s a lot of lessons to be learned from that quote, but the main interpretation/lesson I think is relevant to the art and science of copy is that time is well spent on learning the theory, rules, and best practices at the beginning. That’s the science part.
THEN you can break those guidelines – become the artist – because you’ll know the risks to ignoring best practices. You can then employ overused copywriting phrases as a conscious choice for a certain effect. In other words, you’ll be able to balance the risks with the benefits of throwing in a cliche, or a using the phrase “whether you’re a ____ or a _____.”
It’s all about acknowledging what you don’t know, learning, and then using what you do know to craft incredible copy that works.