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At first glance, creative writing and copywriting seem to have nothing in common at all. Creative writing is all about expressing oneself and being self-involved, and copywriting — especially for the Web — is all about keyword density and getting people to click in the right places, usually to buy something. But the two forms of writing are more similar than most people might think. Spicing up the often dull and dry work of writing website copy using some creative writing principles can give your cyber prose a much needed boost and add some pizazz to it. So, if you’re looking for a way to put your MFA to work in your copywriting career, here are some things you might want to keep in mind the next time you look at a list of keywords and a density target.
This probably goes without saying, but creative writing is creative — and it’s fun! If you can bring a unique voice and vision to your website text, you’ll encourage your site visitors to stay longer and view more pages of your site. Website copy doesn’t have to be boring and utilitarian; it can be playful, humorous, and optimistically onomatopoeic.
Although there are a number of reclusive writers out there (Salinger, Pynchon, I’m looking at you), none of them were timid in their writing, and you shouldn’t be timid either. Be big. Be brash. Be bold. Say what you want to say and don’t beat around the bush. Good creative writing and good copywriting both need to have a point, and they need to get to that point without extra words and fluff. When visitors come to your site and see your forwardness, they’ll feel your passion and respect it.
Bad writers publish their first draft. Good writers play with their text; they revise, rewrite, rearrange, and retool the copy until they come up with what works best. Copywriting should be no different. Don’t be afraid to experiment a little. If you feel you’ve gone too far in one direction, reel yourself back in and try again. You’ll never know how far you can go, and how good you can be, unless you’re willing to play around and try something different from time to time.
If you’re searching the web for a specific piece of information, what’s the last thing you want to find? Useless gobbledygook that’s filled with keywords and devoid of information. Good creative writers know that you need to focus your narrative to bring your readers into the story and keep them along for the ride. As you write web copy, take the same mindset. Hook your readers, and bring them along a focused path to the conclusion. In a novel, writers are trying to get readers to the resolution but in web copy, it’s usually something more like getting customers to buy a product. Focus your prose so that at the end of your copy, your readers want to click “buy.”