How to Defeat Your Copywriting Boogeymen
Considering the name and nature of my blog, this post was stuck in the "blank page with blinking cursor taunting you" stage for an unforgivably long time. Creative Caffeine? More like Creative Sleepytime Tea.
If you rely on writing to any extent in your day-to-day, you've faced the Big Bad Blank Page, probably at the least convenient time possible. And, if you're anything like me, it's never just your cut-and-dry "writer's block."
In this blog, I'll cover a range of copywriting-centric topics, including some testing and experimentation with real results from my own marketing endeavors. Hopefully you'll get struck by a few creative jolts along the way. But for my first entry, why not start from square one: When I can't even get to the writing part.
When it comes to copywriting, I am my own writer's block. My three greatest enemies, the boogeymen in the closet that keep my fingers frozen above the keys, are as follows:
- I feel like I'm not being original: "There's nothing new here, Dani, you're not making the event/product/company sound any more interesting, they've read this a million times before."
- I don't know how to start: The first line is crucial, if it doesn't shoot off fireworks your reader has already checked out by the second. No pressure though.
- What was I even writing about, again? So much focus on items one and two, you forget the objective of the copy in the first place.
As is the case with any creative endeavor, there really is no magic fix other than to just grind on through—and in this case, results from an A/B test can't help much either.
But here are a few little tricks I've found to get the gears turning and the cursor moving:
- Pretend You're Emailing a Friend
I wouldn't agonize over convincing my sister that watching "Cupcake Wars" will change her life, so why should I when telling readers to come to a webinar? This trick is two-fold: It keeps the tone natural and readable, and it helps to quiet the pesky "originality police" in my head, since it will sound like my own unique voice.
- Start With a Song Lyric
Honestly a personal favorite. It's no lie that music brings us together. If a reader recognizes a reference, you'll have their attention—and if you get them humming a familiar song, your copy will automatically stick with them. Recently I used the subject line "All you need is love ... and a great direct mail piece," and I was rewarded with a flood of positive comments and a stellar open rate.
- Or Any Pop Culture Reference, Really
They make me open my emails, at least. (Stick with this blog: I'll be testing some of these, if you don't want to just take my word for it.)
- Get a Little Personal
Talk about yourself! Promoting a report on social media trends? Start with a line or two about how the information will help you tweet your way to glory. When promotion is genuine and personable, it comes through.
- Start From the Middle
A good way to get over "if the first line sucks what's the point"-phobia. Start with whatever you've got; nine times out of 10, something catchy will hit you midway through.
- STOP THINKING SO HARD!!!
Sorry for yelling. But it's important. I need this reminder constantly, and often giving myself permission to just shut up and write the [bleep]ing thing is enough for a breakthrough.
Hopefully one of these nuggets helps you through a future hitch. (If you've heard it all before and I just wasted ten minutes of your life ... well, you kept reading buddy, so joke's on you.)