4 Ways to Write Bad Copy


As a copywriter, you write words that cause people to take action (such as buying a specific service or product).

Your copy must prove how this action can solve your customer’s problem.  Basically, your chances of success will improve if you stick to this rule.

But you don’t write copy to show how entertaining and crafty you are.

This seems more like a matter for a writer. Why ? Because he’s the one who loves playing with words and his reader’s imagination.

Besides, he doesn’t write any promotional content for clients, and he won’t change his style overnight.

But as a copywriter, you’ll have to.  The tone of voice used in your copy depends on the audience you’re targeting.

And what if you don’t adapt to your target audience?

Well, you may write bad copy like that …


Lyrical CopyThis is the kind of copy you might read from someone who’s in love with words.  He thinks he’s a wordsmith.

And he loves words so much … that complicated words are creeping into his copy.

He’s not fond of short words; he craves for longer synonyms. For example, he’ll use “demonstrate” instead of “prove”.

And that’s not all.

A copywriter must use simple words AND make simple sentences. The idea is to be understood by the average reader. And not by an elite.

But our lyrical copywriter will resort to complex and long sentences.

The problem is that nobody understands him. His copy’s confusing from the first reading.

Even worse: it takes so much time to figure out what he’s talking about that his target audience gets over it.


Clever CopyThis is the copywriter who thinks he’s smart. And the copy he’s crafting proves that he really is.

But if you write a ‘clever’ copy, you may be missing the point:


You won’t convert anyone with clever turns of phrase. This might irritate your potential clients, or leave them in the dark.

This is what happened to me, once.

I was asked to write a couple of space ads for a copy pod. For one of them, I used a slang word to make it sound more conversational, and most people reading my copy didn’t get it.

Even worse: it was not even slang.

So, be careful with your turn of phrases, slang, wordplays or jargons.

People might be confused and think that you’re trying to outsmart them.

The essence of an effective copy is to satisfy your reader’s problem, and not to impress him.


Unbelievable CopyBeing unable to convert your target audience is not the worst thing that might happen.

In fact, there’s nothing worse than writing a copy that makes you sound like a snake-oil salesman … See what I mean?

You may already have received those ‘sales letters’ over-promising  results that cannot be delivered like :

    • “Free download guide to getting 6-figure income in 14 days”
    • “DISCOVERED: this stock could help you turn your tiny savings into a 6-figure fortune in as little as 7 days.”

You might believe in those baseless promises, but your interest quickly starts to wear off as you get bombarded every week with the same junk content.

This may leave a bad taste in your mouth, as you realize that you’ve been tricked into buying hot air… And you won’t forget about it soon.

This is a line that you must never cross in copywriting.

But easier said than done. Many (newbie) copywriters have already fallen for that trick. And I’m one of them.


Humorous CopyAnd the last on our list: humorous copy.

Many people may think that a well-crafted copy contains humor.

After all, humor is part of our daily life. Nobody could live without a good laughter… So, if you inject a healthy dose of fun into your copy, fair enough.

Your client will like it …

… or not.

Actually, there are two problems with humor.

First, there are different types of humor. Some people are cynical. Others are sarcastic. Still, others love blond jokes … while others don’t.

In other words, you can never be 100% sure that everyone will laugh about the same thing.

Unless you know your customers perfectly well, please don’t use humor.

I made this mistake when writing a headline. It was kind of provocative but it was funny to me. And when I submitted my headline for peer reviews, I was told it was ‘insulting’.

Sometimes, it’s not worth taking such a risk. Especially if it damages the content of your copy.

Two, when you write a copy, you want to get people to buy your stuff. But deep down spending your money’s never been the funniest thing to do in your life.

Every time you go shopping, do you always pay with a big smile on your face? No, ‘cos it’s one of the most worrying decisions you can ever make.

Especially if you’re strapped for money.

Sincerely, I’m not kidding.

If you’re still not convinced, then read this.

Hang On to Your Ego and … You’ll Write Bad Copy

Bad CopyWriting that kind of copy may happen to everyone.

However, this can get really serious if it becomes a habit.

If you face the same situation quite often, then just ask yourself:

-did I choose this job to write for myself or my clients?

Copywriting is the art of putting yourself in your client’s shoes.  And not bragging about yourself.

In other words, spare your clients with outlandish, poetic or sophisticated words.

They just need copies with words that convert.

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