The Destructive Power of Shit Copy

This is a guest post by Jo Watson, Freelance Copywriter, Editor and Trainer (lover of swearing, sarcasm and puns, in case you couldn’t tell…) 

Despite the expletive, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was some kind of essay title set to a university hall filled with first-year Marketing students. In fact, when Lewis Kemp (of Lightbulb Media fame) challenged me with the topic, I almost expected him to throw a ‘critically consider’ or ‘explain using reference to the source’ caveat at me to go with it.

This is no essay, however, because for me to write one of those, I’d have to present two sides to the story. I’m not generally skilled at fence-sitting at the best of times, but when it comes to assessing the power of copy in any of its forms, there really is no discussion.

Good copy has the power to inform, entertain and engage, but it’s only really great copy that seals the deal – it converts. I hate to say it, but when you’re in business, that’s all that really matters.

Shit copy, on the other hand… all that does is unleash the most destructive power possible for your business. People are very likely to see your stuff online or in print prior to meeting you in person (if the latter ever happens at all), so if you’re brilliant in person and ‘come across really well’ and blah blah blah, your written copy absolutely has to do the same, or clients (along with their wallets and future recommendations) will go elsewhere.

Actually, that’s the best-case scenario, because the worst-case scenario is that people will actively stick around and rip the piss out of you for your shit copy for a long time to come.   Just think of the psychological edge you’re giving to your competitors the minute they lay their eyes on it…

Let’s think about what shit copy leads to in the long term, shall we?

Shit copy – shows your shit level of attention to detail when it comes to doing a good job (if people can even tell what it is that you do).

Shit copy – shows shit levels of care about anything you’re hoping to sell (or who you’re hoping to sell it to).

Shit copy – leads to jack shit chance of anyone even bothering to read any of it (after forming the initial opinion from your words on your paper that you are, in fact, a bit shit).

I’m fully aware that ‘shit’ is subjective, so allow me to present you with some different definitions of how and why your copy may be classified in that category:

Shit copy might be content that you’ve put no thought into whatsoever because you’ve essentially put it out there to fill white space. It’s unresearched, it’s unchecked and it’s unpolished. #LoadOfShit.

Shit copy might be content that’s well put-together in technical terms, but does absolutely nothing to stand out or shout loud. It has no impact at all in swaying the reader in any way to truly ‘feel’ anything and take action. #SameOldShit.

Shit copy might be content that says everything… without saying anything at all. It’s corporate, it’s full of buzzwords and/or it’s flowery as fuck. #BullShit.

Don’t even get me started on the powerful destruction that shit copy is having on your whole industry… that’s probably for another blog, though. Unless Lewis thinks this one is shit and doesn’t ask me to write anything again, obviously…

Have a think about your copy. Do you ‘live’ in any of those campshites listed above? If you do, the way out is always via the same exit – through the medium of a shit-hot copywriter.

Oh, and if you have no copy whatsoever… have fun on your way to Shit Creek. I’ll just be busy over here, working with your competitors on some seriously good shit…


You can find more of Jo’s quality content on her website here, or watch people lose their minds on her LinkedIn posts if you’re looking for more entertainment.