Who knew that running your own business would require so much writing?
Marketing emails. Social media updates. Blog posts. And (no, please, save us)…..s-a-l-e-s pages (shudder).
So. Much. Writing.
Alas, bashing out text onto a screen is a necessary function you can’t avoid. You can outsource bigger projects to a fabulous copywriter (well, hello there 😉 ). But at some point, you’ll need to communicate a message in writing with your audience.
What if you could write something that your audience wanted to read?
What if you felt proud of the thing you wrote?
This is 100% possible.
But first, I need a to share a secret. I’m not a good writer. I’m a really good editor.
The first draft of anything I write is usually a mistake riddled, jumbled puddle of piffle.
It’s not good. Right now as I bash out this draft at high speed, my screen is littered with red squiggles as the the spellcheck cries out to me in desperation….and I’m continuing to hastily smash the keys, blissfully ignoring the need for proper spelling, punctuation and grammar.
But by the time you read it, this little nugget will be so carefully polished, it’ll be almost unrecognisable from that initial rough-hewn musing.
Want to give this tried, tested and trusted process a go yourself?
Step 1: What’s the point?
No really. Why are you bothering to write this thing at all? If it’s because your to-do list says ‘write email for subscribers’ step away from the laptop and find something more productive to do. Good writing starts with the end in mind. When your reader reaches the end of your text what do you want them to know, feel and do?
Step 2: Sketch out your skeleton
Whatever you’re writing, you’ll need these 5 essential ingredients:
♦ an attention-getting headline to get the email opened, the title clicked, the post read;
♦ an engaging intro to persuade the reader to invest the next 30 seconds of their life on you;
♦ the meaty middle to communicate your message;
♦ the wrap up to reflect on what you just covered;
♦ the call-to-action to tell them what to do next.
Sketch out the structure so you’re no longer doing battle with a blank screen and a blinking cursor.
Step 3: Write with wild abandon
Starting with the meaty middle, transfer the contents of your mind into written word (either on your computer or with pen and paper if you’re old school). Do noT hesitate. Do not self-correct. Do noT filter your thoughts. Your #1 goal at this point is to get the words out of your head and into a document.
Step 4: Make it make sense
Before your writing can be brilliant, it must first be clear. During this first round of editing ask yourself ‘am I communicating this as clearly as I can?’ You may find you’ve mixed together multiple points, or threads of thought. This is the time to separate them out. Make each email, blog post, or social media update about one clear message. Copy and paste additional messages into another document to use later.
Step 5: Edit and repeat
Edit your text through as many cycles as you have the time and energy for, looking for opportunities to:
♦ Replace mundane words, cliches and examples with more colourful language that reflects your stellar personality;
♦ Maintain momentum of the piece – as you read it back to yourself look for sudden changes in the direction of an argument, or passages that require too much concentration/re-reading (confused readers leave).
♦ Build connection with the reader by mentioning things you have in common, making on-target references, and getting buy-in through the use of small interactions aside from the text (like when I whisper something to you in brackets).
The world is not divided into people who can write and people who can’t. You must write. And you can. So forget trying to write well, and instead write freely, then edit beautifully.
Laura is a digital copywriter, and writing coach for micro-business owners, with more than 10 years experience in online marketing and communications. She loves helping entrepreneurs connect with their audience using the words on their website, blog, social media and emails.