Use swearing in copywriting

1. Conduct a qualitative research such as 1-on-1 interviews, customer surveys, or live chat transcripts, to learn who your audience is, what words they use, do they swear, and what words they expect you to use.

Swearing might signal that you understand your audience and that you’re one of the group, or that you’ve invited them into your circle of trust. You need to be very confident in your qualitative data because the risk that comes along with swearing in copy is big.

2. Run a test starting with mild swear words like damn, shit, and hell, to learn how your audience responds quantitatively and qualitatively.

Test to find the balance between attention-grabbing and just plain offensive. Find the line between tasteful and crass. An example of using swear words to show personality in copy is, Be an Unfucker, a site dedicated to fighting eco apathy.

3. Don’t use swear words if you think it might be offensive or disrespectful.

You can always get your point across without swearing. Your brand will undoubtedly suffer when swearing signals poor education or disrespect for your reader. Don’t use swear words when it is more likely to be a distraction than anything else. Some brands might need you to swear in order to stay on brand; that might be their thing and not doing it might alienate existing customers and readers.

4. Use swearing sparingly and strategically to capture attention, to emphasize a message, to make a point, or to shock the reader into continuing on.

You can also use swearing to add emotion, to look more believable, to show you feel comfortable, to make your audience laugh, or to build a bond and show you belong. Treat swearing the way you might treat jargon. Swear words such as fuck, may help clients self-select, your real audience, and filter out leads and customers who probably wouldn’t have been a great fit. For example, Joel Klettke calls himself a “kick-ass conversion copywriter” and Lianna Patch’s website says “Knock, knock. Who’s there? A shitload of money!”. Also, you can use it to try to rally people to contribute to a cause they’re already passionate about. If you do swear in real life use swear words to show you are open and honest.

5. Use euphemisms, acronyms, and casual lingo such as shite, WTF, mofo, phuket, and a$$, instead of ass and fuck, to avoid strong emotional responses.

Swearing can also get a bit more of a pass when it’s done in a humorous way. Take into account that with no risk of a strong negative emotion, there’s no chance of a strong positive emotion either.