How to critique your own copy

Jul 18, 2023

There’s one thing you can do on your own that can dramatically improve your copy.

It’s an underused tactic that once again became apparent to me during the last month.

Each of the past four Wednesday’s, I’ve hosted a Copy Mentoring Sprint call where I critique copy submissions for a small group of copywriters.

I offered this 4-week Copy Mentoring Sprint for the first time back in June, and had to close the doors almost right away to keep it to a manageable size. 

Each call, I reviewed anywhere from 8 to 10 different copy submissions and provided critiques. While doing my critiques, I would read a good part of the copy out loud.

And it’s amazing how many copy issues doing that one thing can quickly reveal.

If you’re not reading your copy out loud before you consider it “final” and send it off to your client…

and reading it out loud multiple times before that while you’re drafting it to perfection…

…you’re doing yourself and your copy a huge disservice!

Reading your copy out loud instantly reveals a long list of common issues that will confuse or lose your prospect, hurting your results more than you may think.

Plus they’re the types of careless mistakes and bad writing that drive clients crazy and make them far less likely to hire you again.

Here are some of the most common copy snafus that reading your copy out loud can immediately expose:

  • Missing words or typos that scramble what you’re trying to say and muddle your message (this includes missing punctuation as well)
  • Long run-on sentences that combine too many different ideas, confusing your prospect and weakening the impact of what you’re trying to say (if you get out of breath reading it, that’s a surefire sign!)
  • Redundancies in your copy, where you’re repeating something you said earlier and it feels like you’re looping your prospect backwards instead of moving them forward
  • Bad sentence structure, such as incomplete sentences that aren’t meant to be incomplete, or changing subjects or tenses within the same paragraph, tripping up your prospect and causing “hiccups” that interrupt the flow
  • Getting too far in without the prospect knowing who is talking, losing the chance to introduce the spokesperson early enough to demonstrate their authority and expertise (without them coming across as a braggart)
  • Flat, boring copy that needs more emotion and vivid adjectives to punch it up and engage your prospect
  • Excess words and sentences that don’t add anything and simply take up space (every word must earn its place by helping your case for your product)
  • Not having a smooth transition from the headline to the opening copy and creating a disconnect or worse, losing the power and curiosity generated by your headline because it’s never followed through
  • Choppy transitions from one paragraph to the next
  • Not following a logical flow, i.e., jumping around or not saying what the prospect expects to hear next based on the previous sentence

As you can see, you can’t just expect the Hemingway app or whatever program you’re using that checks your spelling, grammar, and grade level to suffice.

The majority of these issues aren’t ones that some tool will catch for you. You have to catch them and fix them yourself.

And the very best way to spot them is to read your copy out loud!

Now, you may be able to just read it out loud in your head… but it’s quite possible if you’re not that experienced at writing copy, you’ll miss some things.

You can also give your copy to someone else to read it cold, as that will reveal various “speed bumps” that confuse your prospect.

But whatever you do, make sure you put your copy through this thorough test before you use it or turn it in to a client.

I promise your copy will be MUCH stronger for it!

Yours for smarter marketing,


P.S. I’m planning on offering my next Copy Mentoring Sprint in October. You’ll get advance notice when the doors open when you get on the wait list here. 

It may become an ongoing monthly program next year, but space will be limited… and former “sprinters” will get priority on those spots. (Note: no running required!)