We can't all be copywriters but as Ann Handley puts it - everybody writes!
I myself have been out of the game for a few months whilst having a baby, and i'll be the first to say it can be hard putting pen to paper when it's not something you've been doing every day.
So, what do you do when you need to write engaging content for your customers? Not everyone has the luxury of a copywriter on hand to help draft the next piece of website content or promotion (although I could tell you of a few businesses in Perth that are lucky enough to) - it's up to you!
With that in mind, here's some tips that I live by, should you need a little guidance the next time you're tasked with writing content.
1. Overcoming writer's block
This is likely to be your first hurdle - procrastinating over the job because you have no clue where to start. We all experience this, but the best thing to do is just start writing - crazy right?
Your first draft is exactly that. Don't try to overthink things, just scribble what comes to mind. You'll find that once you get going the ideas will start flowing. You can refine the finer details later but for now it's about getting the creative juices flowing.
If you're more of a visual person then give mind mapping a go. Write your topic in the middle of a page and brainstorm everything related to it. There are no limits to this and it's a great way to generate ideas and your overall angle.
2. Make the most of your resources
If you have specific brand and/ or language guidelines in place then refer to these - it's why they're there! This is especially handy when you've never had to write anything for your brand before. It will help you to capture the right style and tone of voice, and understand what is and isn't acceptable when writing content.
3. What's in it for them?
Focus on 'you' not 'we' or 'us'. Put yourself in the customers' shoes and think about what the benefits are to them. This is what you should be highlighting and conveying as naturally as possible.
Be conversational as if you were writing to your peers. No one wants to read boring facts or overused jargon that sounds cliched. Keep it simple and you'll come across much more genuine.
Depending on the purpose of what you're writing, inject some of your own personality and experiences - the more you can humanise your content, the more believable you'll be.
4. Reviewing your copy
Once you've written your draft, give yourself a break and let time pass before reviewing it again. Any mistakes or areas of improvement will be much more vivid to you after stepping away from your copy.
Print out a copy (you don't blink as much when reading on paper) and read it out aloud. Edit any unnecessary words and refine your content as best you can. Try replacing some of your words with words that evoke imagery. This will create a visual impact for your readers - a thesaurus is good for this!
5. Read read read
This is more of an afterthought but one worth noting. You can improve your writing by simply reading more (like Halloo's blog!). It will dramatically improve your vocabulary and ability to write engaging content.
Exposing yourself to different genres will also help you creatively, so the next time you have to write some copy you won't feel so daunted by it.
Happy writing :)