LOL for Copywriters: 13 Tips & Guidelines for Writing Humorous Content

I’m not funny. Whenever I try stand-up comedy I end up sitting down. The simple truth is that you don’t need to be funny to write humorous content… and that’s no joke!

So why would you want to produce humorous content anyway? What benefits would it provide? And how would you go about doing it? Here are 13 tips and guidelines for writing humorous content. Remember, I repeat, I’m not funny though… at least not in a bright, sunshiny way… so you won’t be needing your shades or sunscreen!

01. Don’t Try Too Hard to Be Funny

Don’t! If you need to make a concerted effort to be humorous, it probably isn’t going to work. Humorous content is best when it’s natural so find a relaxed and easy-going tone and let your creative juices do the rest. Don’t force it – you may amaze yourself with the results.

Humour does work with content. That’s been proven, but the last thing you want is to attempt to get “canned laughter” to sell your product. Be authentic and if natural hilarity happens, you may be on your way to establishing an inherent trust from your reader. If not, your true writing style will carry you through anyway.

02. Know Your Audience Well Before Attempting Humour

Injecting a little humour into content can be a real vitamin shot in the arm if you know your audience well enough to gauge what their response to it will be. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll get many parades or fireworks after writing a funny article designed for Nobel Science laureates. Unless your name is Sheldon Cooper. So be selective when showing your funny side, and ensure that any silliness is entirely apt for your readers.

03. Use Humour That Will Work

Witticisms, puns and other clever humour works better than its puerile, childish counterparts. Of course, posts for kindergarten kids or slapstick movie fan blogs are exceptions to this rule. Puns, although often facepalm-worthy, are intrinsically clever and memorable, whilst displaying a sharp wit encourages readers to continue scrolling in the hope of more of the same. Monty Python may not agree though…

04. Humour Encourages Feedback

You all secretly love feedback and so do your brands. Feedback via likes and replies, or retweets and shares, all help you to assess the success and impact of your content. Whether feedback is positive or negative, it serves its purpose and assists you with your future marketing endeavours. The right humour creates a sense of relaxation and enjoyment in your audience and encourages response. Yes, I’m hinting here… all responses hereafter will be appreciated!

05. Relax When Writing Humour

If you’re uptight and chasing deadlines, the likelihood of writing humorous content that encapsulates your audience is highly unlikely. Be in the right mood, the right frame of mind, when you’re writing as this will carry through to your content. Relax, take your time and enjoy the experience. Think De Niro in “Meet the Parents” as opposed to De Niro in “Goodfellas”. Capeesh?

06. Don’t Be a Grammar Nazi

With direct reference to the above point, you need to relax when writing light-hearted, humorous content. That means relaxing your grammatical prowess a little as well. Do things slightly differently compared to when you’re writing serious content:-

  • Shorter phrases. Sometimes even One. Word.
  • USE CAPS TO EXPRESS YOURSELF
  • Use more exclamations!!!!
  • Spell incorrectly to emphasizzzzzze!
  • Use contractions you mightn’t not usually
  • Make use of abbr. 2 help peeps LOL. 
  • Use improper words to whoop up your tone
  • Chuck in some onomatopoeia. That word still cracks me up.

07. Don’t Be Controversial

We live in a sensitive world and your copywriting objective is to drive sales. The use of humour that is negatively-targeted towards any organisation, gender, race, religion or mental or physical defect is exclusionary and bigoted. This kind of insensitive content only shows how small-minded and bigoted you are and generates the same impression of your brand.

Also, leave out the bad language. A “#&@!!#!” here and there as depicted will suffice if you really need to stress a point in this way. There are exceptions but, if you’re included among these, you probably won’t be reading this article anyway. So leave bigotry and crassness to the stand-up comedians as those who buy their tickets determine their audience. Your content alone is what determines yours.

By the way, I’m still sitting down. And I’m definitely not #&@!!#! funny!

08. Maintain Your Brand’s Identity

Any funny content you include will fail if you don’t maintain a relevance to your brand’s identity. Don’t even consider linking tenuously to it – your job is to improve your brand’s presence and drive conversions. This is no laughing matter! If you feel a need to branch off at a tangent, the tree that you’ve been growing for so long is likely to fall down. Save these tangents for your personal blogs in your own time. I’ve read a few of them – they’re really funny!

09. Practice the Art of Deflection

I had a humorous experience while writing this article. While using ContentBot to autocomplete a funny sentence, I typed “I’ve not tried a full day in the gym for a very long time.” I found this hilarious as I’ve actually not tried ANY day in the gym for a very long time! Guess you had to be there…

Deflection is a good way of creating increased engagement with your audience. Going off topic using humour works well if you’re able to anticipate a positive reader response. Especially in long form content, giving your audience a little breather in-between the seriousness of the content itself provides for increased motivation to read further.  Ultimately, if you are able to tie your deflection tactic into your brand identity in some way, you’re even more likely to achieve positive results.

10. Don’t Overdo the Funny

Sometimes too much of a good thing can actually be a bad thing. Even humorous copy doesn’t have to be continuously funny to be effective. So temper your compulsion to throw jokes and witticisms into every line or paragraph and rather err on the side of caution.

Time your humorous moments in copy and content. A misplaced joke can have an adverse effect on you as the writer. You don’t want to come across as the “class clown” or you might never be taken seriously again.

11. Create a Call-to-Action

If you can create action using humour then call it. Shout it! Scream it!

As a copywriter this is what you’re all about. If you are able to use humour to engage your audience in a manner that will drive sales of your brand. It isn’t a prerequisite but it will give your readers a little bit more clarity into who you, as a writer and person, actually are. Building a personal connection between yourself and your audience will definitely help you to promote your products. Work on the emotional bond you have with your readers and you will turn more of them into customers.

I only wish I was funny. It would help.

12. Use Self-Deprecation

Somebody who can joke and laugh about themselves is often endearing and authentic to others. Creating humour about yourself in your copy will create a better impression of you with your audience. I wouldn’t suggest going overboard with this though as self-respect is also a redeeming quality in copy. Find that fine line and balance on it.

As much as you can find ways to deprecate yourself beneficially with your content, don’t do the same with your brand or products. Your purpose is to market these and making fun of them may give the impression to certain members of your audience that you don’t actually believe in what you’re promoting. Just DON’T go there!

13. Hire a “Funny” Copywriter

A last resort, if you can’t write funny copy and are required to do so, consider hiring somebody for those times that it may be really necessary. It is HARD to be funny so don’t beat yourself up about it. That would be erring on the side of slapstick!

Many of you aren’t equipped to write humorous content, just as many aren’t equipped to write technically or in a scholarly fashion. This is no slight on you and there is always something that you’ll need help with from somebody more adept or well-suited. Consider the option of outsourcing as opposed to hoping that you survive any potential train-wreck.

Hmmm… perhaps I should have?

13 Tips & Guidelines for Writing Humorous Content: Avoid a Train-wreck!

Warren Potter
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