Struggling With Your Website Copywriting? Try The Iceberg Theory

Copywriting is hard work for anybody other than a copywriter.

Add website architecture into the equation and you end up losing 3 things: time, money and sleep. Fortunately there is a solution that will help you.

Ernest Hemingway, one of the world’s most famous writers, came up with it. It helped him write brilliant short stories in the early to mid-20th century.

It’s called the Iceberg Theory (or Principle). You won’t need to be a literary genius to use it.

The Iceberg Theory will guide your website copywriting and save you time. It might even save you money.

This is because you will actually write less copy and get more out of it. Writing less may go against your best instincts. You are after all passionate about your business and you want to tell people everything about it. You need to stop.

Using the iceberg theory will help rein in that instinct. It will help you focus on the things that really matter in your business.

People will often only pay attention to the tip of the iceberg when they pass by your website.

The tip of the iceberg represents only 10%. The other 90% is the bigger chunk underneath. So it makes a lot of sense to start from the tip and work your way down.

Space is at a premium at the tip of your iceberg  

First you need to work on the very small message that hooks people in.

This will usually be on your homepage. 99% of people will read your headline, 90% your first paragraph and if they get that far, 50% will read the rest. So you need a technique that makes them read on.

The tip of your iceberg will be a few well-chosen words and sentences. Make sure you really get the message across and strip out everything you know that your customer will instinctively know also.

Hemingway wrote a famous short story once.

“For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

This is a very sad story but only the tip of the iceberg.

The really clever thing is, it creates that emotion inside us rather than give us all the details. Our imagination does the rest.

Like this incredibly short and powerful story from Hemingway,  your website should trigger emotions and impulses to get people to buy into your story.

So there is no need to pack everything into that opening page. Leave the details for other areas of your website where people who want to read on can do so. It will make your own life a lot easier.


About the author: Brett Tudor


Writer and SEO technician (isn’t everyone these days)

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This article was first published by Brett Tudor

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  1. 105 Web Content Writing Guidelines & Tips - Digital Marketer PK says:

    […] There are several interpretations of this theory but the crux is “less is more”. Just like an iceberg, you have to show the best part of your content at the top (at the start) and then share more […]

  2. […] Iceberg Theory.Source: Copywriter Collective […]

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