The hardest part of a copywriting project can be getting started. Have you ever let yourself be defeated by the blank page? Allowed it to push you into distraction, procrastination or even panic?
I have a formula – a kick-start process – for getting past that annoying interval between an idea or assignment, and the flow of words into a document. When you follow these steps, you’ll get yourself ‘primed’ to write your next blog post, press release, speech – anything you need to write!
Before you start
To make the most of this process, there are a few things you should do before starting:
- Set aside at least two hours to really get into the zone and make some serious writing progress.
- Organize your workspace, your files, your computer’s desktop; anything you need to tidy to feel clutter-free.
- Gather and review all necessary background information and notes.
Here is my copywriting kick-start in seven steps:
Step 1: Make a few notes about your audience
You have already determined your audience and created a marketing persona before sitting down to write (right?). Recap now. Just jot down a few words and sentences that describe your audience to bring them back to the forefront of your mind.
Step 2: Write down your communications objective
What do you want this copy to achieve? What larger communications objective does it support? Write it down.
Step 3: Create a list of reader questions to address
Think about your audience and what they are hoping to learn from your content. Write down these questions and points. This will help you find that sweet spot where your communications objective meets your audience’s needs.
Step 4: Brainstorm
Write down any words or phrases that come to mind when thinking about this piece of writing. Use this exercise to allow themes to emerge and to unearth specific language you’ll use.
Step 5: Create an outline, mind map or sketch
Create an outline, mind map, sketch or any other technique (or combination of techniques) that helps you to think through your main points or sections. If you aren’t already using them, I suggest you now move to pen and paper. I find that the act of actually writing and forming letters instead of typing gets the creative juices flowing.
Mindmaps help me to develop ideas, themes and structures; they help me to distill everything I’ve been thinking about so far and serve as a starting point for outlines.
Now: take a very short break to let the information percolate. I suggest a 10-minute walk. DO NOT use this time to check in on email or anything else that will take you away from your writing task or undo your “priming” work. Skip the walk if you think you’ll get distracted or if you’re ready to write now.
Step 6: Write down your main message
Now that you’ve given it considerable thought… If you could sum up this piece of content in one sentence, what would it be? Write it down.
Step 7: Start writing!
You’ve primed yourself to think about what you want to say, to whom and how you want to say it. Take advantage of being in ‘the zone’ by writing for at least 25 minutes. If you can do it, I suggest a solid 50 minute segment of writing now!
Tip: Tell yourself that it can be totally rough and just start. Remember, no one else needs to see the first draft and editing is usually easier than the first push of writing. Plus, you may be pleasantly surprised by the quality of your rough start!