Keep copywriting simple

The most effective copywriting and content is simple. Here’s why…

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” George Carlin

Copywriters, content produces, and other creatives need to keep one thing in mind: it’s simplicity that sells products and services. George Carlin knew it, we know it, and you do too. 

It’s usually at this point that someone will quote another famous George, the Big O with his six rules for writing

In between writing some of the most influential and important works of the 20th century, Orwell was a witty, sophisticated and compelling essayist. If you ever read his work, you’ll probably discover that he didn’t keep as steadfastly to his own rules as he perhaps would have liked. 

Now, Mr Orwell knew a thing or two about writing, but he was rooted in the analogue era, not the digital age. 

There’s no way we have got the bravery or the balls to attempt to update Orwell’s rules for the digital age, but the fundamental principle of Orwell’s approach is that simple sells anything. 

Why simple sells

Everyone is selling something. Whether it’s a product, a service, an idea or an outcome, you’re marketing it. It’s as valid for a commerce site as it is for a science case study. 

You need to convince the reader that you have authority, integrity and authenticity. You need to reassure them they’re in the right place and encourage them to act on that information.

When we keep things simple, people are more likely to believe what we’re saying (or selling). 

There’s no room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding. When your words are clear, it’s the message that gets through.

A good example?

Hands. Face. Space.


Get Brexit done.

Simple doesn’t mean basic

Keeping it simple is a relative concept. 

If you’re writing a paper for a specialist audience, a REF case study on brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome, for example, your audience is going to have a head start on the average punter. But you’ll still need to convey and carry the argument through your work linearly and logically. 

  • Set out your argument
  • Establish the evidence
  • Draw the conclusions
  • List the impact

How to keep it simple

Keeping it simple is straightforward in principle. But harder when words start hitting the paper. 

As a creative copywriter, it’s your job to explain to clients that simple copy is more effective. Forget the endless sentences full of clauses and sub-clauses. 

Keep messaging straight and to the point. 

Here’s an exercise that can help copywriters and clients. 

Just 5 words

Most businesses develop an elevator pitch that encapsulates what they do in a short burst. If you’ve been in a lift, you’ll likely find everyone is on their phone anyway, so the likelihood of anyone listening to a lengthy speech is zero.

So, do something creative. Break your proposition down into 5 words. 

To get you started, here’s an example. 

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