025: “I’M SO BAD AT WRITING COPY” AND OTHER COPYWRITING LIES THAT ARE KILLING YOUR BUSINESS
Today’s question for the podcast:
I'm struggling with figuring out what I want to say on Instagram. I feel like I'm not connecting with people and also that what I have to say isn't unique compared to all the web designers that I see.
One of the things that tends to trip people up, slow you down and frustrate you is your messaging, Aka copywriting
You think you're not good enough or that you don't have anything to say or you just don't know how to say it. So, you sit down to write your Instagram captions, your promotional emails, your sales pages and you just want to scream – and I get it. I know that feeling and I'm doing this episode because I want you to really understand that you CAN learn how to be a stellar copywriter in your business and I'm also here to say that you shouldn't hire it out. (Yep. I said it!)
So today we're going to talk about copywriting and why it's so incredibly important for your business. We're going to go through strategies, techniques and tips. More than anything, I want you to walk away feeling inspired that you can actually be a very, very good copywriter, that you can nail down your message, and you can speak to your ideal client or customer avatar better than anyone else in your industry. Okay, I won't make you wait any longer. Let's go ahead and jump into it.
COMMON COPY STRUGGLES
So a lot of you know that, I've taken the time to ask my community about their struggles and after pouring over a lot of responses… here is what I have discovered about what most business owners struggle with when it comes to writing copy.
Well, there are a bunch of them, but there were also some surprises in the feedback that I got and they were surprises to me because honestly, I thought I was the only one who struggled with these things.
#1 | Time Constraints
One of the most common struggles that business owners recorded was the feeling that it takes them forever to write anything because they're constantly second guessing themselves. So some people say, “it could literally take me 30 minutes to write out a simple email response.”
I have definitely had days when I've sat looking at my computer screen, looking at a blank white page and thinking, what am I going to talk about? How am I going to open this? How am I going to write this blog post? And I have to tell you, this is one of the things I kind of have as an Achilles heel.
So looking at your responses and seeing that so many business owners struggle with this exact same thing, feeling like they're so slow and it holds them back, especially as it relates to their writing - I could relate.
#2 | Perfecting Your Voice
Another struggle is something that goes like this: My writing never sounds as good as it does in my head. Somewhere between my heart and the page, everything gets lost.
This is a huge one. I think we've all had the experience where we have this vision or this inkling about what we want our words to sound like, how we want something to feel, how we want our customers to receive it. And then when we go to type it, it just comes out nothing like that: it's stunted, it's rumbling, it doesn't seem eloquent, it doesn’t seem punchy.
Another is using pre-made options. Trying copywriting formulas or a course that gives all these, “just fill in the blank templates.” These formulas and those templates can end up never sounded like yourself. It sounded really forced, really contrived and a little bit like a used car salesman.
#3 | Dealing with Silence
Sometimes you ask, and your audience doesn’t answer.
This really broke my heart. I will say that writing great copy, will fix this struggle, but I've heard a lot for this that the silence is devastating. People recorded that. They ask questions and no one answers. I post an update on social and just get crickets. I offer my services and no one buys. So obviously this is tough on an emotional level, but on a more objective scale that can kill your business. If you have no sales, you have no business.
#4 | Writers Block
This is the feeling of: “I bought my domain or three years ago and there is, it sits all alone. Just the blank page I want to get on with my business and life already.” So that is an extraordinary case of writer's block. Not knowing how to use the right words to connect with your audience can keep you paralysed and frozen.
#5 | Finding Results
“I spent hours tweaking my latest announcement that didn't get a single sale. It's frustrating. And I don't know what I'm doing wrong.”
I couldn't believe over and over again reading through these responses how similar everyone's responses were, and they had no idea that they were writing the same thing. It was the preface of the same story. So, these are some of the things most business owners struggle with when it comes to writing copy. Here’s the good news: you can get on the other side of those struggles.
I've broken through a lot of these, you can go from being stuck, feeling paralysed, not having sales, to being able to write hundreds of percent faster than you can right now to getting sales and making tremendous connections with your audience.
FINDING YOUR COPY (& rules to get rid of)
So we were all likely taught some rules in school about writing that are actually hurting our sales and conversations in our businesses today.
My undergraduate degree was in English Language and Linguistics… I can safely say that having a degree in English does not mean I understand how to write emails that people want to open. You might be an amazing writer, but there's a difference in knowing:
How to write to convert
How to write in your own voice in a way that connects with your audience and gets them to actually buy
A lot of the rules that we learnt really do hurt our sales and conversions… so here are some traditional “no’s” that should be changed to “yes”
#1 | Sentence Fragments
So sentence fragments are just those little tiny phrases that aren't necessarily even a full sentence, but they mimic how we actually speak. For example, one of the most famous ones is: “just do it.” The slogan is just a tiny fragment, and so much more powerful than: “maybe you should just consider simply doing it.” That never would have worked.
Fragments can be really powerful, though we were taught to have full beautiful, perfect sentences. Though in copy, focusing on this can turn into lengthy run-on sentences. Fragments create rhythm, an emphasis in your copy, and they mimic how we speak.
#2 | Prepositions
Another one is to not end a sentence in a preposition. If you had English class, you learned it. For example: “with whom are you going to the movies?” Nobody talks like that! Instead we actually say: “who are you going to the movies with?” If you continue to follow the traditional rules, your writing is going to become stunted and stilted and not sound like a human.
#3 | Slang
English teachers often say, don't use slang. Nobody wants to see your slang in English class, yet common words like frenemy, throw shade, or bromance are words we actually use in order to make conversation.
Now while you certainly don't want to overdo that with your copy because it can feel forced, you do want to allow yourself to use some slang in your copy that's genuine to you and your audience. Why? Slang, especially when it's genuine to you can help your reader it relate to you and it creates the know like and trust factor. Nobody wants to hear from some stiff corporate robot.
I think especially where we are right now in time, there is such mistrust in terms of big organisations, institutions and big businesses, and for good reason. We're not really sure if we can trust these people, but we do trust people that sound (and are) friendly, genuine, that are like us. So when you sprinkle in just a little bit of slang that is true to you, and makes sense for your audience, can really open people's hearts and can help them want to hear from you.
Rather than feeling like they are being sold to, they are hearing from someone who is a friend who is friendly, who is entertaining, who you could maybe have a cup of coffee with or a glass of wine with. You've got to be using the language of your audience is using. The minute you don't, they just don't see it, they disconnect, and so they don't keep reading.
And I say this and I teach this and I want everyone to write this one down: the best copy starts in your reader's head, not yours.
THE SECRETS TO WRITING GOOD COPY
I want to give you some tips and strategies that you can apply. Here are some secrets to writing good copy that I have been using to really resonate and connect with my audience.
Now these are three that I use all of the time. Apply them instantly and I promise you that you will get better and better and better.
When I say headlines, I mean headlines for blog posts, email subject lines, podcasts, videos, etc. Most people don't write nearly enough and will maybe do a draft of 5 – 10. Write at least a 30 before choosing one. I know, I know it sounds like so many, but it actually isn't.
Buzzfeed or Upworthy make major money off good headlines. They make all of their writers write at least 25 headlines before submitting. Here’s why: none of us, no matter how experienced a writer you are, you only get to the goal and you only get to the magic once you get past 15 or 17.
The first lot of stuff you write is probably complete rubbish and nothing feels good, and you might feel like you can’t get there, but the mistake people make is to stop themselves short. All of the gold in creativity comes from the grind. If you can push yourself to volume, you are going to get amazing stuff.
Headlines, especially subject lines in your email marketing, are the only thing that determines if someone's going to click. Obviously if they like you increases the chance. If they trust you and want to hear from you, that's great. But as email volume increases, as distractions increase, as people have less and less time, they are going to be less and less inclined. You have to capture their attention with a fantastic subject line or a fantastic headline. Push yourself for more, because that is where you are going to get the gold.
Writing VS. Editing
Don’t write and edit at the same time. This one is a really hard habit to break, especially if anyone listening tends to be a perfectionist: you want to bang stuff out, so you want to write it once really perfectly and then just get it out the door. But there are two distinct and very different parts of our brain that do the writing on the editing. I promise you, you will get your best, most genuine, original, inspired work out if you can allow yourself to write really crappy fish drops and stay out of editing mode.
A lot of times when we're trying to push, we start to write a sentence and then think: “I didn't really say that, right.” You delete, delete, delete to go back and try to write and craft these perfect sentences one by one. It takes forever. You don't get anywhere. There is no flow.
Again, not writing or editing at the same time is a great way to get yourself to write tons of ideas out fast. Even if it's messy, even if the grammar isn't there. Even if you're making a ton of spelling mistakes. Then go back, switch the part of your brain that was an editor. For 90% of us, it's actually the more pleasurable task to rearrange things, neaten stuff up, trim things down, etc.
Part of the reason why people are saying it takes hours to write a simple email is because 90% of the time they are approaching it from a perfectionistic standpoint. They are writing and editing at the same time. If you can separate those two, you will save yourself time and come out with a better, more powerful persuasive product at the end.
Read Out Loud
Ignore the stares of your family or friends, and read out loud. This is the fastest and easiest way, not only to catch errors, but it's the best way to see where you're slipping into either professional mode or robot speak or slipping into mimicking someone else.
When you read things out loud, do you start to catch areas where you either sound like a carnival salesman or catch spots that don’t feel right.
If you're someone who struggles with not knowing if it is in your voice or if it sounds friendly or if it feels right or if it's too salesy. Reading it out loud is a really simple and effective way to quickly edit your copy and also to make sure it sounds like you.
Finding Your Voice
I know something that comes up a lot is thinking that you don't know what your voice is. Though everybody has a voice.
Most people can’t describe their voice, but it comes out naturally with practice. Start writing as you normally talk because: Nobody gets talker's block, nobody.
Again, some of the most prolific, talented, experienced writers, all get writer's block. What's cool about writing copy is that you can just write like you talk and literally you can say a sentence out loud.
You will start to see your voice on a page on overtime. It's just going to become habitual. I promise for anyone reading, not only do you have a voice, you don't have to find it. You don't have to develop it. You just have to get the words on the page and the quickest way to do that is to talk them. You've got to do the work.
Even a business with a great product, a great niche, a great audience, everything aligned, can fall flat on their face with copy.
Here's the deal about copy. No one is born knowing how to do this. It's not your fault if as a business owner you don't know the stuff. It’s one of the hidden secrets that make brands and businesses take off. If you don't train yourself in copy, you are going to wind up wasting a ton of money if you try to hire someone and try to outsource this. If you don't understand the mechanics of really good copy, you won't know what to look for when you're hiring someone. No one will understand your ideal customer as much as you.
Writing effective copy has been the single most important skill I've developed over the six years of my online presence. Not only has copy helped me succeed beyond anything I could've ever imagined, but it has allowed me to do something that I'm really passionate about, which is to make a positive difference in this world.
The ability to write effective copy is something that every single business owner needs to take control of. Don't outsource this. Don't underestimate yourself. You come do it and it's easier than you think.
The world of business is becoming more and more complex. There are so many social platforms, so many bits of correspondence that we have to have with our customers. Any place you use words is a chance to inspire someone into action with your message. It's a chance to surprise and delight them.You have to be able to write it quickly and it has to be from your spirit, your heart and your voice. Copy is the place that not nearly enough people are paying attention to and you can have an advantage.
TOOL RECOMMENDATION OF THE DAY: COSCHEDULE
According to David Ogilvy, the father of copywriting, five times as many people will read your headline and skip the content. Now an article on upworthy gets 75,000 Facebook likes. They became the king of Facebook click bait by crafting influential headlines that trigger curiosity, and the headlines are conversational and they are geared towards driving shares on social media.
You've read thousands of blog posts, product descriptions, and landing pages. It's the reason you bought a handbag that you didn't need. Words have the power to convince, but it's invisible without a great headline, which is why today I want to talk to you about CoSchedule. Headline Analyzer.
Coschedule headline analyzer is a copywriting tool that drives a traffic and shares. You get a score for each headline that you create and they recommend you aim for a score above 70 so headlines that performed the best in terms of shares, Seo and traffic include how tos lists and question headlines. So your goal is to hit the perfect balance in common on common emotional and power words.
So you input your headline ideas, click through each one using the history and look at why the headlines You like might be doing well or not well. Make a few to the top performing headlines and repeat. It doesn't matter what your blogging goals are. If you can't get people onto your site and deep into your content, you're not going to reach those goals. Headlines plus amazing introductions equals how you get people into your content.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
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