03 Jul Have you been asked to write copy?
I work with design agencies, website builders and clients, and it’s easy for me to see that one of the key bottlenecks in any project can be the copy.
Why does this happen?
Agencies often don’t have their own dedicated copywriter, which means the job of writing the copy will be given to the designer or marketing specialist, or passed back to the client.
And sure, anyone can write some words to go on a page that talks about your business, but there’s an art to crafting copy that makes people want to buy what you have to sell.
So if copy is holding up your project, I’ve got some tips that can help get you back on track:
Tip 1 – Make some notes before you start writing
It’ll make it easier for you to write the copy you need if you’ve jotted down some key points about your business first.
Write down the answers to these three questions:
- Why do people buy from you?
- What makes you different?
- Why don’t people buy from you?
Once you know these things you can keep referring back to them when writing your copy – have you addressed the concerns of your customers and told them what makes you different?
Tip 2 – Plan out the key points first
It doesn’t matter if you are writing a home page, bio, product description or ‘about us’ page, it’ll be easier to write if you have spent some time planning what you are going to write before you start writing.
Write out your key points and then insert your notes from Tip 1 beneath each relevant section.
My copy follows a template or formula, so I know I’ve covered all the key points each time, and it goes something like this:
WHAT WE’RE ABOUT
WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT
HOW WE DO WHAT WE DO
Want a copy of my template for your own writing? Send me an email and I’ll shoot it over – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tip 3 – Break the task into sections
Don’t try to achieve the impossible – you’re not going to be able to write all the copy at once. Writing good copy takes hours or even days, so give yourself time to get it right.
Work on one page at a time and set yourself mini goals – one day you could write your notes, the next day flesh out the structure, then the only thing left to do is join the dots and write the copy.
Tip 4 – Write from scratch
Sure, it may seem easier to just rework what’s already there, but take it from me, that’s a bad idea.
From time to time we’ll be asked to rework someone else’s copy, and invariably it takes longer and is less effective than if we’d written it from scratch.
Why? Because you’re working with restrictions.
Doing the design first can cause the same problem, so if you can get your copy done before sending it to the creative people, you’ll get a much better result.
When I work with digital marketing agencies, we almost always write the copy before they even think about starting the design, and you should do the same if you can.
Tip 5 – You only need one ‘Call to Action’
Your Call to Action, or CTA is the section of your copy where you ask the customer to take the next step – to call, enquire, get a free quote, ask for a demo, get in touch, buy now, shop online, find a store, etc.
Most businesses only need the one main CTA, so work out what it is and reuse it throughout your copy.
It’s a good idea to reword the CTA so not every button reads ‘Get in touch’, but by using the same action again and again you’ll reinforce the message and make your job a little bit easier.
Tip 6 – Less is more
It’s A LOT easier to read short sections of text than long blocks. So avoid writing a novel and keep things short and sweet.
You can use bullet points in your copy to keep things even shorter, in fact we often use bullet points because they’re super easy to read.
And try to keep paragraphs to less than 4 lines long.
Here’s a couple of examples (we only wrote one of these, see if you can guess which):
The first example uses short, sharp headlines and small blocks of text:
And our second example has a simple headline (with a possibly contentious claim?) and a large block of text:
Note: I actually love both of these builders – their copy isn’t a reflection of the quality of their homes. But it’s much easier to read one of their websites, which means they’re more likely to engage potential customers and then turn them into clients.
Tip 7 – Get someone else to help
You don’t need to do it alone. Enlist a friend, colleague, even the office junior to help with two key elements:
- Bouncing ideas around at the start, and
- Proofreading at the end.
When you’re making your notes prior to writing your copy (see Tip 1) it can help to talk with someone else who knows your business to get their ideas, plus they may think of something you’ve missed.
And at the end you’ll need to proofread, so get someone to look over what you’ve written and give you feedback. You may want to choose someone who is good at grammar for this task.
The Saving Grace
If you’ve followed all these tips but the copy is still holding you back, then there is another option. I’ve been helping companies get their message straight for years, so if you’d like to outsource your copy just get in touch and I’ll make your copy issues disappear.
Reach me at email@example.com
Extra bonus tip: if you’re really struggling, pour yourself a big glass of red before you sit down to write – it can really improve your confidence 😉 just remember to proofread the next day.