I used to take tae kwon do lessons. It was fun, and I was in the best shape of my life. I learned a lot from those sessions and part of what I learned helped me to be a better copywriter and gave me some great lessons of my own to teach to my own students in copywriting courses. Here they are in no particular order.
Practice until it hurts
This was probably the biggest lesson for me. I am not naturally athletic, so I had to practice at the gym, at home, and even in my mind, visualising each kick, punch and routine so that when I had to test for my belt, I knew what I was doing. It was really hard, and sometimes all that practice made me hurt physically, mentally, and yes, emotionally. But then I’d see my instructor practising on his own, by himself in the gym, rehearsing his moves.
And it was then that I ‘got it’. I couldn’t just learn something once and move on. If I wanted to be an instructor, I needed to practice continually and constantly. Honing my craft. And that’s one secret to learning copywriting successfully – you have to practice it. You have to employ the various techniques over and over again with countless products and services. You need to rehearse and keep track of your killer headlines and calls-to-action. It’s not something that just happens over night for most people (although there are some gifted writers out there).
Once you ‘get it’, keep practising – it only makes you better.
Learn to take your punches
In our gym, I got hit. A lot. And that meant that I had to get okay with getting hit. In fact, it was one of the things that I appreciated about my instructor. He was very frank with us about being in a real-life self-defence scenario. The one thing that makes most people do the wrong thing is their fear of being hit. If you can get over this fear (it hurts, but isn’t that bad) then you’ll have a clear head to defend yourself appropriately. Likewise with being a copywriter. You get feedback. Constantly. And a lot of it isn’t complimentary – especially at first. But that’s okay. It isn’t meant to hurt you, it’s meant to get the best out of you. When you get over your ego as a writer (it hurts, but isn’t that bad) then you’ll have a clear head to write better copy next time. You can do amazing things when you don’t think about it.
One session that sticks in my mind was when our instructor saw that as a group we were not achieving all that we could. He made us line up on one side of the mats. Then, standing on the opposite side of the mats, he asked us to jump across the room and kick him. One at a time, we attempted and failed. He then stood in the middle of the mats and asked us to do it again. This time, we all were able to jump the distance and kick him. Once again, he stood on the opposite side of the room and commanded us to forget the distance. Forget the space. Not to think, just to do! And sure enough, one by one, each of us jumped and kicked much much farther than we ever thought possible.
And that’s another secret of being a good web copywriter – not over-thinking the job. When you get a block, it’s because you’re thinking too much. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you switch your mind off and remove the blockages of thought. Simply starting and doing is enough to bridge the gap and make it across to the other side.
There is one big difference, though, in learning to be an SEO copywriter. In martial arts, you can’t make a losing match better; but in writing, you can always edit later.