Writing about a specific field when you aren’t an expert begs the question: why not just have an actual expert write the copy?
The truth is, it’s the copy that’s most important. If your resident expert can’t write, you’re out of luck. That’s why more and more companies are hiring copywriters that, while they might not be experts in the field, can use the right language and tone of voice to communicate just as effectively as if they were experts.
Sometimes you have to fake it ‘till you make it. But there’s a right and wrong way to fake it – here are our top tips for sounding like a genuine expert in your writing, even when you aren’t one.
Do your research
In order to sound like an expert, you’ll need to know your stuff. You can’t expect to write about the latest computer technology if you don’t know what that is, much less anything about it.
To start, you’ll want to make sure you’re sourcing from the best. It’s best to avoid crowd-sourced sites like Wikipedia because, even though the information might sound reliable, it isn’t always. Find a collection of well-written sites or books you can trust to provide only the most thorough and correct information and then get to reading.
When doing your research, try to take notes if you can. If you’re working on copy in bulk for the same client, having your own bank of information you can refer to repeatedly will help with continuity, and will save you time researching in the future.
Find some examples of writing done well
As you’re doing your research, take note of the sources you grow to trust the most. What is it about their writing style that makes them trustworthy? How would you describe their writing style? What sort of language do they use?
The best writers know what makes the best writing, and the only way to do that is to read vehemently. Only once you’ve identified how the experts in your or your client’s field speak, can you begin to sound as they do.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that using the tone that fits with your client’s style guide should always come first. From there, you can blend the two, using expert language in a manner that mirrors your client’s brand identity.
Talk like an expert
To sound like an expert, you’ll need to use the language of an expert. That doesn’t mean you should throw out a string of jargon you read on a technical website and hope that some of them resonate. Experts reading your writing will know immediately if you’ve fumbled your way through.
You’ll need to actually understand what the words mean in your field if you want anyone to trust your writing. From there, you can carefully compile your own expert dictionary to refer to over the course of your assignment. This will ensure you’re using the proper lingo to communicate with your audience and best describe your product.
Follow up with a ‘why’
Piggybacking on the idea of using expert language, you’ll also want to ensure your writing is as specific as possible. That means using details and examples wherever you can.
You can say you’re the best in the business, but what does that actually mean? Why are you best in the business? Back up your statements with accolades, specific materials or processes you use that make your products that much better than your competitors and how long you’ve actually been doing what you’re doing.
UGG Boots’ page in which they describe their company’s craftsmanship and why their boots are above the rest does a good job in using the ‘why’ technique. Beginning with a bold statement that UGG Boots deliver a ‘truly unparalleled experience’, the copywriting then goes on to describe the process that makes this so:
“For over 35 years, UGG has used only the finest, luxuriously soft Grade-A Twinface sheepskin in the world, putting each sheepskin through an extensive process to ensure it will provide the signature UGG experience. When sourcing our trademark Twinface sheepskin, we look for uniformity and a flawless, fine-grained texture. On the wool side there has to be an even “stand up” thickness across the entire piece. At six different points in our process we select, re-select and select again against these criteria ensuring only the highest quality sheepskin make the cut.”
The ‘why’ element is critical because, when you make definitive statements and achievements – ‘We’re the best in our field’ or ‘Our boots are better than all the rest’ – the follow-through allows people to know exactly why that’s true. Anything that can be backed up with proof will better illustrate your brand and help establish a sense of trust between you and your reader that you know what you’re doing and talking about.
Enlist an expert to proofread
When in doubt, get a second set of eyes to look over your finished copy – preferably an expert. They can point out where you’ve missed the mark, used a technical term incorrectly or how you can better speak to your target audience.
While you’re there, pick their brain for more ways you can sound like an expert. Are there any resources they, as an expert, trust in the industry that might be helpful to you in the future? What sort of industry social media do they follow? A true expert uses all of the resources available to them – people included.