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Effective Writing

You’re Not in English Class Anymore

Effective copywriting has no time for most of the rules you learned in school. The style of writing taught in English class is designed for essays and the occasional formal letter (anyone else have the rules about sincerely vs faithfully burned into their mind?) both of which do not belong on the web or on printed marketing materials. 

In this lesson, we’ll go through a few new rules to make your writing instantly more readable and engaging online.

Apply Paragraph Breaks Liberally

Let’s do a little test, shall we? For the rest of this short section, I’m not going to hit the return key nearly as often as I usually do. I’m going to give my right hand little finger a break for the time being so that you can see the difference it makes. Generally, online articles are written in paragraphs of just one or two sentences each – far shorter than paragraphs that you were taught to write in your essays about Shakespeare. We do this to provide empty space around the words (simply called “white space”) which makes it easier to scan through and read on a screen. Without this white space the text can look overwhelming and dense in a way that it wouldn’t if it were in a printed magazine or brochure. Long paragraphs (like the one I’m forming right now) form what we call a “wall of text” that can put people off easily, especially when they’re on a phone screen because this text will turn into page after page to scroll through! Hit the return key often and give your readers some breathing room. 

Break it Up With Headings, Bullets and Images

Most people don’t read properly unless they’re reading a book. When we’re looking at websites or posters the majority of us do a quick scan first to decide if it’s worth our time to read a bit more. Then, if we’re compelled to, we might go back and read bits and pieces in more detail. 

What can I say? We’re all busy and/or lazy these days. 

Help your frazzled potential students/parents out by putting a heading or an image every few paragraphs. Headings can provide the signposts for our reader so that they can see the structure when they do that first skim-read. Images allow the reader to quickly digest the general meaning of the page before they actually have to read anything.

Bullet pointed lists can also help to minimise the perceived reading effort because they show that you’ve edited yourself. The entire purpose of bullet points is that they get to the point and people unconsciously recognise that. 

So, with that in mind, here are 3 new rules for you:

  1. Add images to illustrate or enhance what you’re saying.
  2. Insert a heading every time the topic changes to help your reader make a mental map of the page.
  3. Whenever you find yourself making a list of items with commas, ask yourself if it could be a bulleted or numbered list instead.

Find Your Voice

If you do some research about copywriting or online writing styles and conventions, you will likely come across the advice that you should write conversationally. While this is somewhat true (one definitely does not want to write in formal style,) I think it’s more useful to think about finding your voice. 

Because it really is unique to you, your personal style and your superpower as a music teacher. In person, I start sentences with “Because” and “And” so that’s how I write online too. I also tend to use silly facial expressions quite freely, even in adult company, and so I make use of emojis to do this in my articles. 🤓😆😎

But that might not be your bag at all. 

You need to write in a way that sounds like you and reflects the type of studio you run. You do not have to throw in the latest teenage catchphrase or write some particular kind of a way

The oldest advice in the book rings very true here: Just. Be. Yourself.

More to Explore

This video uses the example of a mindfulness guru, but there are many lessons in there for music teachers too. Way back when, I listened to this episode of Amy Porterfield’s podcast and it literally changed how I wrote from then on. It might have some wisdom for you too if you’re struggling to find your writing style.