Copywriting 101

By Anne Daly | April 19, 2018

Writing - it seems simple.

Just pick up the pen, or open a word document and start typing. Let the words flow.

But whether you’re a seasoned writer or an occasional dabbler, you know it’s not that easy.

Getting started can often feel like trying to run through a brick wall. Even if you do get something down on paper, there’s no guarantee that it will be any good. And if you’re in the marketing business - or any business - bad copy isn’t a mistake you can afford.

So, how can you set yourself up for copywriting success?

Try this five-step process.

1. Find a Topic

The first thing you need is a topic. It’s not worth trying to write if you don’t have anything to say! You’ll end up with a blank page, or worse, 500 words without any clear purpose or point to them.

So, how can you find a topic?

First, think about your audience. Who are they? What advice or insight are they looking for?

For clues, refer back to your buyer persona. Or, ask your client about the questions and pain points they hear about the most from their audience.

Then, think about your perspective. What’s your take on the topic? What makes it different? In a world that’s supersaturated with content marketing, it’s important to be able to cut through the noise. So, make sure you’re saying something specific and unique.

2. Do Your Homework

So, you have a topic. Now, it’s time to do some research.

Research can usually be split into two categories: independent research, and interviews of subject matter experts.

For independent, online research, make sure you’re pulling quotes from reputable sites. And - this should go without saying - also make sure you’re not citing competitors!

If you interview a subject matter expert, try these tricks of the trade from Denamico’s own journalist-turned-inbound-marketer Adam Stewart. (A hint? Make sure you have a way to record the interview. Plus, learn why awkward silences can be good.)

3. Outline

Material? Check.

Now, it’s time to organize it.

What’s your hook? Main supporting points? Call to action at the end?

Remember, each point you make should clearly tie back to your topic, and your goal with the piece.

Tempted to let the piece take a hard left and cover some exciting but unrelated ground? Slate a new post or article for that topic, and give it the attention it deserves.

One last hint - your audience likes white space. So sometimes, parts of your outline can make it, as-is, into your final draft. So go crazy with the numbered steps and bulleted lists.

4. Write

Okay, it’s finally time to write. Don’t let writer’s block get in your way! If you do run into roadblocks, try one of these 3 tips.

3 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block:

1. Race the Clock

Set a deadline. I will write X words in the next 15 minutes. I will write without stopping for the next 20 minutes. Put your headphones on, your head down, and go. Don’t worry about editing, or saying just the right thing - the trick is to put something, anything down on paper. You’ll be surprised by what you can write when you’re racing the clock.

2. Clear Your Head

Sometimes, you need to change up your environment. What was the last great idea that occurred to you while you were staring at your computer screen? You can’t remember? Me neither.

Getting up for a walk is a great way to clear your head and get out of your own way. Plus, exercise increases blood flow to the brain, so it’s a sure way to get those synapses firing and new ideas flowing. If you can’t slip out of the office for a quick walk, try walking to the other end of the building, or just stretching your legs and taking the long way to the water cooler.

3. Talk it Out

Sometimes, you need a fresh perspective. If you’re getting stuck in your own head, ask a coworker to chat about your conundrum. Or, if your draft is far enough along, pass it along for a second set of eyes.

5. Find an Editor

Your copy is written. You’re done, right?

Wait! Before you hit send or publish, there’s one more thing left to do.

fThat’s right, you need an editor.

Why? It’s especially hard to spot any errors in your own work. You can literally become blind to some of them. A good editor is like a goalie - you need them to make the big saves.

When you enlist the help of an editor, have them look for these three things:

3 Edits to Ask For:

1. Grammar and Clarity

Sometimes, asking for grammar edits makes people tense up. “I don’t remember sentence diagramming,” they’ll say. “I couldn’t identify a dangling modifier if my life depended on it!”

Just remember, the key here isn’t to make sure the grammar passes some technical test.

Instead, your goal should be to write concisely and clearly. Have you used six words where one will do? Do you go off on tangents? These are things you’ll want your editor to look for.

2. Brand and Voice Consistency

Does this sound like something our client would say? Does it use the language of our buyer persona? The voice of a law firm should sound different than a car dealership.

3. Links

This one’s simple - make sure any links you include in your post work! And set them up to open in a new tab so you don’t steer readers away from your great content.

So, the cat’s out of the bag.

This is the tried-and-true five-step copywriting process we use at Denamico to get results for our clients.

Other keys for success? In addition to a great copywriting process, make sure you're optimizing your blog posts. Plus, have a plan for combatting blogging burnout.

Need some help implementing a great copywriting process? Or looking for a marketing partner that specializes in great copy, automation, and inbound marketing strategy? Don’t wait until it’s too late. Schedule a consultation today and get the support you need to grow your business!

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