Copywriting for web and print

Alastair Crompton 'The Craft of Copywriting'

The copywriter’s bible!

My background

I was lucky enough to have a good education in England at a time when we learned correct English grammar and spelling. Since starting work in the early 1970s I have written effective copy for print media. I also worked as a proof-reader for a distance-learning education study materials supplier, which trained my eye for detail. I’ve written for the web since around 1998.

Learn from the experts

I have studied advertising copywriting and writing for the web – two very different skills. The best book on the former is Alastair Crompton’s ‘The Craft of Copywriting’. If you want to write your own print media copy, buy the book. A lot of it applies to web copy too.

Copywriting for the web

Many of the websites I’ve created have been written by me. In the early 2000s, many Irish websites were outsourced and I frequently perform a makeover on these relics, which includes writing new body copy & headlines which ring a bell with an Irish audience.

  • I can set a ‘tone’ which conveys product quality and industry authority. From what I’ve read on the web, this is a dying art. I always picture someone when I write copy. It helps me not to become too highbrow or patronising. After all, you should be lighting a fire, not filling a bucket  – as WB Yeats once said.

How people read online

In my experience, people appreciate well-written printed copy. Online, they tend to scan through text so you’ll need to emphasise your main points in bold so they get the message very quickly.

See example here

Google will pick up keywords within copy, but there’s a lot of skill in keeping it readable for humans too. After all, humans will buy from you and Google won’t – so don’t turn people off with tacky sales-speak and false promises or superlatives. Picture someone you know and write for them. As 1960s advertising guru David Ogilvy once said – “The consumer is not an idiot, she is your wife”