How to conquer any copywriting challenge
Here’s the fundamental thing you must do to complete your next copywriting project.
Are you ready?
You actually need to start.
Sounds easy, right? It can be. But everyone has those days (weeks?) when they’re unmotivated, out of ideas, or plain ‘fried’.
And tackling a new article can be extremely daunting.
But if you apply some structure to the way you develop your ideas, you’ll be making progress before you know it.
Follow these steps and your next copywriting effort will begin taking shape at a rapid pace.
It’s tempting to dive right in and start bashing away at the keyboard (or, like us, stare at the screen and hope the ideas come).
This method may work for some of the people, some of the time. But for most of us, we’ll end up missing our key points, or producing copy that ‘floats’ around without landing any killer punches.
So stop … and think about why you’re copywriting at all. ‘I need to post another blog’ isn’t a good enough reason – your copy will reflect that. Nobody wants to read something that sounds like the author didn’t want to clock in that day.
You need to dig down and figure out why people would want to read your content. What information are you trying to pass on, and for what reason? Why is it valuable?
People don’t read blogs or sales copy for the sake of it. There has to be something in it for them. Identify what it is, and we can move to the next step.
Write during your most creative times
Nightowl? Crack out the keyboard post-midnight.
Do your best work before the sparrows are up? Tackle your copywriting tasks early in the morning to capitalise on your creative flow.
It sounds like an obvious approach, right?
But how often have you pushed your writing tasks to the back of the queue during your peak energy times, in favour of more ‘pressing’ work?
- Identify when you’re feeling most creative, and
- Don’t tackle anything else before you’ve spent at least an hour writing.
You’ll knock over a decent chunk of your copywriting project, and it’ll sound better because you’ll have written it at the peak of your creative power.
Create your headline first
Your headline is the most important part of your piece (at least initially).
It’s the hook that stirs interest and compels people to click through to read your copy.
It communicates value and justifies why a reader should sacrifice their time to consume it.
So, think about:
- What are you offering that’s valuable?
- How will it help people who read on, or hinder those who don’t?
- Who can benefit from it?
A great way to get started is by jumping on to Co-Schedule’s Headline Analyser.
This awesome tool rates your headline (out of 100) and provides a detailed breakdown of how your score was calculated (and where you can improve).
Use this information to re-write your headlines until you hit that perfect spot – the one that has a statistically higher chance of moving your readers to click through to your article – without miscommunicating its essence.
Brainstorm your concept
Now you have direction for your piece in the form of a killer headline, you need to start nutting out the individual elements that will make it a compelling read.
This is where a lot of people get stuck. Mostly, they try to do too much. Or they just plough on with no real structure.
For this step, all you need to do is get your main ideas on paper (or screen).
Don’t worry if they’re not in order, or aren’t worded perfectly. Get as many ideas down as possible.
- Ask yourself, ‘what are the key points I’m trying to communicate?’.
- Jot these down one-by-one.
Cull, then organise your narrative
At this point you’ll probably have quite a few points on the page. If not, you may want to start brainstorming again, or pick another topic.
Now it’s time to review your ideas, identify areas where they overlap, consolidate them, and cull anything that’s left over.
How do you do this?
Identify the 4-5 key things that represent the essence of what you’d like to communicate. Write them on separate lines.
These become your subheadings.
Congratulations. You’ve just done a LOT of the hard work of your copywriting challenge.
The beauty of subheadings is twofold – they break down the writing process into ‘mini-topics’ (better for you psychologically than tackling a behemoth of an article), and they act as signposts to indicate the article’s key points to readers.
After completing this step, you’ll have a:
- Headline that provides structure for the theme of your piece.
- Series of subheads that organise your thoughts in a coherent manner.
With the skeleton of your piece now in place, it’s time to start fleshing it out. Begin by adding the dot points you want to cover under each subheading.
If there are any holes, or you feel there’s room for a more in-depth look at a particular point, plug it into Google and extract what you need from your search.
You’ll be amazed at how many times the current piece you’re writing has been covered before, or covered from a different perspective.
This can open your eyes to new information and give your writing much more depth.
At the end of this exercise, you should have at least 3-4 solid dot points you’d like to cover for each subheading.
The final step of the process it to …
Begin writing … finally!
You’ve done the hard work of creating your headline, identifying your key ideas and fleshing them out in point form.
Now it’s time to enter full writing mode, tackling one subhead at a time. Don’t worry about the quality of what you’re writing; go nuts and let your inner author run free.
It’s important to tackle one sub-heading at a time so you can build momentum without slowing yourself by switching between them.
Repeat for all subheads until you’ve finished the main body of your article.
Review, top and tail
Now it’s time to review your entire piece, tighten the copy, cull redundant sentences and give it a general polish.
With everything fresh in your mind, you’re in a great position to create a compelling introduction for your story and wrap it all up with killer call-to-action (i.e. telling people what you want them to do next).
Follow these steps to round out your writing task:
- Proof read and tweak the copy until you’re satisfied with the content and flow.
- Write your introduction.
- Write your closing paragraphs.
- Add a relevant call-to-action (this could be asking your reader to download an eBook, join a mailing list, or share the article, for example).
Congratulations – you just conquered your copywriting challenge!
You now have a shiny piece of copy with which to communicate your ideas to the world.
By breaking the process into manageable chunks like this, you minimise the burden of tackling such a complex (and often scary) task.
It takes practice, but before long you’ll be creating article skeletons, adding flesh and polishing them up in your sleep. It may even become enjoyable <gasp>!