Okay, so we all have roadblocks in our business.
You know what I mean… the thing that holds you up, your bottleneck, the “Man, I wish I had a magic wand to fix this” thing.
Can you guess what mine is? Well, beside printer issues (boy does that make me wish I still had a secretary a-la corporate days).
For me, client after client, time after time, my biggest bottleneck is COPYWRITING. Note, this is copywriting with a “W,” not a ©.
Copywriting is sales, or marketing, writing, and it is VEEERRRRRY different than the writing you learned in school. For example, spell check is necessary, but grammar… not so much.
My clients almost always think they can write their website or blog content. And they 100% of the time are shocked (also dumfounded), flabbergasted, freaked (out), stunned, stupefied by how stinking HARD it is to capture their message in written words in a way that makes their ideal customer realize “I NEED this!” and buy BUY BUY.
I’m always looking to hone my copywriting skills because copywriting is the most important strategy in marketing a successful business.
Why is this a priority you ask? Well, maybe you’re not asking, but stay with me here. Or pretend you asked. Anyway, keep reading. It’s important.
Copywriting is a priority because successful businesses are successful marketers.
Need proof? Next time you are baking cookies (COOKIES ???), take note of the salt’s brand in your cupboard.
Morton’s Salt is a staple in most kitchens and costs a whopping 72% more than the store brand. For. The. Exact. Same. Product.
Copywriting is both an art and a science. After coaching dozens of clients and writing copy for too many websites, email campaigns and blogs to count, I have found that the easiest way to get started is to learn how to write “conversational” copy.
Here are four tips on getting started with writing conversational style copy from Nikki Elledge Brown, The Communication Stylist. You can also listen to her on Amy Porterfield’s Podcast #74 (I love listening to podcasts while I bake said cookies).
No 1. GRAMMAR
Correct spelling always matters. Especially since the invention of spell check. Proper noun capitalization matters too. Miscellaneous Caps Are Distracting. For just about everything else: Throw the grammar rules out the (browser) window! Write in fragments. (Like this.) You can even end a sentence with a preposition if you want to! Use contractions whenever possible. Otherwise you are going to sound like a robot. (See?)
No 2. READABILITY
Make it easy on human scanners. Use headings, bullets, bolding, and white space. Avoid big blocks of text. Keep paragraphs to one main idea and 3-4 sentences max. Avoid compound sentences (with commas + multiple parts). Keep ‘em short and sweet. A strong, impactful sentence can handle the pressure of being out there all by its lonesome.
No. 3 SPECIAL EFFECTS
Use parentheses for things you’d say under your breath (usually for a giggle). If you want your words to sound like this, and not this, use italics. Use bold for things you want readers to see no matter what – especially if they’re scanning.
No. 4 PERSONALITY
BE YOURSELF! This isn’t an academic essay; it’s real life. Write as you actually speak. Personality is in the details. If you think “sigh” – write “Sigh.” Don’t censor yourself in drafts! If you feel awkward, stuffy, teachy, preachy…etc. reading your copy out loud, REWRITE it. Use YOUR lingo. (You know, those wickedly charming phrases you use in person?) Aim to pass the BFF test. i.e. If s/he read it, s/he’d say, “I can SO hear you saying that.”
BOTTOM LINE: Your voice is in there! Be patient, keep writing, and it will find its way out.