Does your copy have this essential quality?

Jun 29, 2018 | General | 3 comments


There are SO many tips, tricks and formulas to writing copy. It’s exhausting.

And I’m just not into it. I’m not out to trick people, or to learn ways to get them to buy from me through some secret cleverness. I’m not saying doing what works isn’t important. I’m saying it doesn’t have to come from a script or a formula.

What I’m into is genuine connection. And, for me, what drives connection is understanding.

Here’s a question for you: how do you know if you’ve been understood?

Think about a time you felt genuinely heard – someone ‘got’ you. It could have been as simple as buying something from the deli counter in Tescos. Or it could have been during a counselling session, or a deep conversation with a friend.

Have a think about how you knew you’d been understood, and how that made you feel.

For me, feeling understood is like a can opener.  I’m more open, I’m less defensive, I’m more willing to share, and I’m more likely to take action. You can see the contents of my can 🙂

And if I don’t feel understood, the opposite is true. I’ll close up, I’ll be cagey, I’ll walk away. Even with something as mundane as buying fruit at a greengrocers, if I’m asking for apples and I’m being offered grapes, I’m going to take my custom elsewhere.

So – how did you know you were understood?

What did the other person do (or not do) to make you feel as though your needs had been heard and responded to?

Take a second to think about this for yourself. I’ve broken down what matters to me, and here’s my list:

  • I have been given attention
  • I have been given space – listened to, not just talked at
  • They have reflected what I’ve said back at me
  • They have responded to what I’ve said
  • I recognise truth in what they say
  • They have suggested a relevant next step (without bulldozing me with solutions).

If those things happen, whether it’s in a face to face conversation, a call or online, you’ve got my attention. If not – I’m switched off.

This stuff is vital for connection.

Which means it’s vital for your copy and content too.

But how do you show understanding on your webpages? It’s hard when one partner in the conversation might not even be in the same time zone.

Firstly, you remember who you’re writing for. Yes, it’s important to be you, to be honest, to be authentic. But if you’re writing a blog or a website, you’re not writing for yourself. Your message is for your reader – the people you’d love to connect with and help. So get yourself walking in their shoes, living their lives, understanding their niggles, woes and joys.

Write honestly and clearly with your reader in mind, and you’re a long way to building understanding.

For more chat on honest, values-driven copy and content, a chance to share your writing in a supportive community and the odd picture of coffee do come and join us in The Copy Kitchen.


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Gayle Johnson

Gayle Johnson


Gayle is a freelance content writer, writing mentor and facilitator. She is the creator of ‘Wordspill’ and loves helping people use words to connect with themselves and others. Find out how you can work with Gayle and her services


  1. Debs

    This is super relevant to a conversation I have just had with another teacher about us asking much more questions when an incident happens at school and giving them time by listening without jumping in at the end of when they speak. It’s important our teenagers feel understand them better.
    Thank you

  2. Georgia Varjas

    Love the guidelines you offer – you special can opener type of women!!!

  3. Claire Cutler-Casey

    Thanks gorgeous Gayle, perfect timing, I’ve been a bit lost with all the ‘formulas’ when what I want is to make a heart connection. I know it’s the way forward for me, sharing what I do from my heart to theirs. 💙


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