Repeat after me: What I learned in school does not reflect real life.
I am talking about those essays covered in red with your teacher’s comments to avoid repetition and “Choose a different word.”
Avoiding repetition then was important so you can expand your vocabulary and sound like a 6th-grader… when you are in fact in 6th grade.
Embracing repetition now is crucial if you want to go beyond words and get your message across.
Many SEO writing companies will tell you repetition is the root of all evil, duplicate content and all. Yes and no. When done in moderation and by a skilled writer, that is never a concern.
As content writers, we often get fearful about repeating ourselves, and that sometimes costs us. Our message gets lost in a sea of “trying hard not to repeat myself.” Truth is, once you’re out of school, there are times when repetition is the only way to reach “skimmers.”
Don’t feel like less of a writer if you can’t tell when repetition is a good idea. Here is how and when you can use repetition without it being redundant.
#1. Do It for Clarity
People don’t read much, but they skim a lot.
For people to understand your copy, they must see it first. When they are randomly skimming through your article, ad, or another piece of content, the only way to get them out of the “uninterested zone” is to make them question you.
If their eyes fall on the same thing twice (or more), they will wonder “What’s up with that?” And then they will read what indeed is up.
Use special formatting, unicorn emojis even, anything that would call attention and fits your format.
#2. Do It for Certainty
You read your copy hundreds of times, but they don’t.
As writers, we often like to think that our readers soak in everything we feed into their brains.
It doesn’t work that way.
It is wrong to assume that your readers will get it the first time, nor that they will remember it after. That doesn’t mean the copy is bad, it means that people breathe in a dense fog of information clutter that you need to cut through.
They will “hear” it the first time, they will understand it the second.
If you are a blogger yourself or use content writing services for your website, you will need to repeat some concepts every now and then to fix your message firmly in the minds of your readers.
#3. Do It for the Comic Effect
If you can make them laugh, you can do anything.
Having a running joke with your readers can be such a strong adhesive that bonds you forever.
Think Friends, think How I Met Your Mother, think The Simpsons, they are all there.
Some things are just not funny twice, but repeat them 10 or even 15 times, and we can’t help but chuckle. It wires your brain for the joke, and you get a sense of pride when you’re quick to catch on to it.
#4. Do It for the Music
Make your writing swing.
Ever wondered what are choruses in songs for? Exactly. They are the rhythmic repetitive lyrics that make you connect to all the other often difficult to sing along to text.
Can you imagine “I Have a Dream” written by a Martin Luther King Jr. who was afraid of repetition? Do you think that speech would have been just as effective had it been tweaked to “I have a vision,” “I have hopes,” “I can picture a different reality,” and so on?
I personally can’t.
One Final Note
Because I love leaving sticky notes on the fridge.
If you are in the field of providing content writing services, like us at 411Writers (hey there, competitor), and you leveraged repetition for a client piece, that does not make your work cheap or uninspired. Sometimes, oftentimes, it makes it all the more effective because “skimmers” might actually catch your message.
Use repetition wisely, but use it nonetheless.