You sit down at the keyboard, all full of cheer and smiles. It’s a new year and you are psyched up to tackle the to-do list. You have decided to be your own copywriter this year. You’re going finish those new web pages, spruce up the old landing pages and actually get your email newsletter out on time each month.
That’s when the dread hits you.
I call it ‘copywriter dread.’ Some call it the January Blues. Perhaps you prefer ‘back-to-work-itis’?
Whatever you call it, there are ways to beat back the dread and get productive with your copywriting no matter what time of year.
Here are three verified (by yours truly) super effective ways to kill the dread.
1. Borrow a page from Nike’s playbook
‘Just do it’ was such a wonderful campaign because it was so precisely insightful into the workings of human nature. We don’t always know where to begin.
Sometimes being a web copywriter isn’t easy. Self-doubt. There’s a blank page just staring back at you. Your colleagues, friends, customers and strangers will ‘judge’ your writing.
As human beings, we all need to be pushed at times, and at other time all it takes is one small action.
So, just write.
Sit down and start writing. Write anything. Write about not being able to write.
Whenever we run web copywriter training workshops, I always tell the participants to outline their work.
Because it helps the copywriter in you to let the ideas flow, getting them down on the page by committing you to just doing the outline and not worrying about the writing part (yet).
When the blank page looks back at you like the local bully, you can fight back and just do the outline (see above for Nike-related inspiration). Here’s how I outline a web page:
- Topic and angle: this will become your headline. It doesn’t need to be creative; in fact some pages are better off just saying what they are (e.g. About Us). If you’re blogging, play around with ideas until you find a compelling twist to your topic that will attract attention when you share the post.
- Goals: what is the one thing the page needs to do? Get shared? Get sign ups? Convince readers to look up the pricing? Whatever it is, outline it and write the reader to the goal. Set a primary goal, and if necessary, a secondary and tertiary goal. Any more than that is an indication you have too much going on or don’t know what you want from the page.
- Main points to cover: I try to keep it to the 3 or 4 main points. This keeps my writing tight and helps reduce the chances the reader will be distracted and head off before finishing my page.
- Call-to-action: tell the reader what they should do next. This relates to your goal, but don’t forget the opportunities along the way to create valuable links to further content and to your secondary or tertiary goals.
3. Write a bit at a time
Being part of a copywriting agency brings with it a lot of topic-switching. Sometimes this can be distracting, but often it’s inspiring and creative.
I usually like to write an entire piece all in one sitting. But there are days and topics that require more effort. So I break the process down into pieces.
If you have outlined your work (you should!) then you can focus only on writing each section at a time. This will help your motivation, but also keep you focussed on the topic at hand, and on-target.
That’s it. Just write. Start with the outline. Write each section at a time.
Before you know it, you’ll have reached the end…