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How Long Should My Copy Be?

Finding the Sweet Spot for Engagement and Impact

 If there’s one question I often get asked from copywriters, entrepreneurs and business owners, it's this: How long should my copy be?

There seems to be a consensus that copy should be short and snappy because people have short attention spans or don’t read long-form content anymore. But is that really true?  Let’s consider how we, as human beings, behave when we browse online.  

Debunking Common Myths About Attention Spans

After carrying out hundreds of hours of research on client projects, I’ve found that people generally skim-read content, especially online. We live in a scrolling culture and turn to our devices when we’re bored or need something to do while we pass the time. 

But, human beings behave very differently when we are actively looking to solve a problem or answer a question. When we’re in research mode; whether that’s to buy a new brand of organic dog food, find the best hotels for our next holiday or find a business coach or enrol in a programme, our attention span increases dramatically. That's because we are interested and invested in finding the right solution. 

And that’s the key takeaway here. When human beings find a potential solution to their problem, the way I see it, it doesn’t matter how long or short the copy is.

Human beings are happy to spend time reading articles and blog posts and watching hour-long seminars when it’s about a topic they are interested in and delivered in a way that appeals to them. 

Instead of wondering how long your copy should be, let's reframe the question

Consider this perspective instead: Is this piece of copy I’m writing interesting to my customer? Is it engaging, relevant, helpful, entertaining, educational, informative and inspiring enough to retain their attention? Is it being delivered, packaged and formatted in a way to justify the length and inspire the desired outcome?

And if the answer to that question is yes then I don't think it matters if the post or article requires 50 words, 500 words or 5000 words to deliver your message.

Quote from copywriter, Nat Milligan, about how long copy should be

Respect Your Reader's Time

Here’s something else to bear in mind. You should respect your reader’s time. You don’t want to waffle on and on before getting to the point. In my experience, people respond better to information that is easy to understand, which increases the likelihood of them taking action in the end. 

There’s no fast rule when it comes to copy length.

There’s a time and place for stories, examples and relevant testimonials which can bulk up the body copy. And there’s a time and place for, sharp, snappy, to-the-point copy that cuts through the noise, stands out and jolts your reader into an activated state.

The key is to use your judgement. You should know what the end goal is, this is the call-to-action or CTA and then be intentional and craft the number of words required to generate the conversion you want. 

A Fail-Proof Copywriting Formula

Here’s a tactic I use to help get straight to the point and keep my copy clear and purpose-driven. This tip works especially well if you’re stuck on where to start or what to write. And is even better if you are prone to writing more words than you need. 

A Nat Milligan infographic showing the PAS Copywriting Formula

  1. At the beginning of your writing process - let’s say you’re using Google Docs - divide the page into 3 sections.

  2. In the top section write the word problem. This is where you identify the problems, pain points and challenges your reader might be facing. 

  3. In the second section, write the word agitate. This is where you compassionately highlight some of the unwanted side effects the reader might experience should they not fix the problem. The purpose of this step is to create a little friction or tension in the reader. 

  4. In the bottom section write the word solution. This is where you present your offer, such as your products or services, as the ideal solution. Or, if the solution is to read your blog post, social media caption or book a call, then the copy you write in this section should inspire and motivate the reader to take that action.

PAS (problem, agitate, solution) is one of many copywriting formulas you can use to write compelling copy for your business.

Simplify to Amplify: Have a Simple Copywriting Process

At the beginning of my copywriting journey, I re-invented the wheel with every client, starting from scratch every time, which wasted valuable time. But now, I subscribe to the belief that although every client is unique, my process doesn't have to be.  

I’ve taken everything I’ve learned from countless client calls and different projects over the decade and found the patterns and similarities. Then I created rinse and repeatable assets in my business to make the tasks I do on every project simple and much faster. 

I use checklists, roadmaps, templates, workout sheets and progress call questions, which ensures every client receives and experiences the same level of care and attention throughout their projects. 

Every student inside The Copy Rebel receives copies of my assets as well as examples of: 

  • Templates; for website pages, sales and landing pages, blogging, email marketing, social media captions and more.

  • Project worksheets to help clients share their brand story and copywriting style. Accompanied by exercises to help clarify their offers and objectives.

  • Examples of questions for the different stages of the customer journey. From the prequalifying and clarity call stage to the progress call questions and end-of-project summary and testimonial request. And more!

Infographic showing some of the features of The Copy Rebel Programme

Everything is fully customisable so you can make them your own. But having them readily available takes the guesswork out of what to do and how to do it!

It’s the fully stocked toolbox of copywriting assets to help new and aspiring freelance copywriters streamline their process and deliver the best possible results for their clients every time. 

If you’re interested in becoming a sought-after passion-driven copywriter with the freedom to work when you want and hit your income goals at the same time then The Copy Rebel programme might be the perfect path for you.

Client Testimonial with the words: This whole journey has been incredible

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