Copywriting Q: Is it ever ok to swear?

Happy New Year, friends!

I hope this second-full-week-of-a-new-decade is treating you well. Mine started off with a live workshop in front of a group of awesome entrepreneurs in Toronto’s west end. 

We talked all about how to create copy that connects and converts (including many of the tips you’ll find inside Master Your Message, my free (& fun!) copywriting workshop for entrepreneurs).

There were lots of questions – one of which got a good laugh but is actually a really good Q in the context of being authentic and writing like a human:  

“Is it ever ok to swear?”
My answer: would you say it to your dream customer in person?

This ‘gut check’ applies to virtually any question about voice, tone, style or level of formality.

Because when writing for a small business – especially if you’re a one-person show or the face of your brand – the goal is for your words on paper/screen to feel and sound like you do in real life.

That’s because people want to work with – and buy from – PEOPLE that they know, like and trust. One of the ways we help them get to know us and build the ‘know like trust’ factor is to channel our spoken word into our copy.

This means using a similar tone, style and level of formality.

(This is a big reason why I always start my projects off with a lengthy kick-off meeting – it’s as much to get a feel for your tone, style and ‘vibe’ as it is to gather the info I need to create your copy!)

So – back to the question of whether or not to swear. If your vibe is informal and/or edgy and that kind of language is what your ideal customer would expect from you, you’re probably ok to use it in writing in a similar context.

But if you wouldn’t? Best to avoid as the risk of offending (or appearing unprofessional, depending on your line of work) is too great.

I’d love to hop onto social right now and let a few f-bombs rip about the impending one-day strike at my kids’ school board – or the fact that I have a fevery six-year-old at home with me today – but I won’t, because it’s just not part of my voice, brand or vibe.

Does that make sense? I sure hope so. If you have any other questions you’d like me to answer, shoot me a note and ask away! I’ll also be doing some more Qs and As over on Instagram so be sure you’re following along there too!