Blog

If you hate writing about your business…

I know what I want to WANT on my website, but when I try and write it, it looks all business-y, sales-y and a bit… ‘Ewwwww’. I hate it!”

That’s the hard thing about writing – YOU know what you do, why you do it and who you do it for, but when it comes to writing it down so other people can understand it, we go a bit nuts.

What started as “Hi! I’m Bill. I bloody love whittling!”, ends up (after running it through Grammarly, Hemingway and your 3rd year English teacher) looking like, “Hello there! My first name is Bill, short for William. I am rather partial – fond if you will – to spending elongated periods shaping former pieces of woodland into recognisable objects…”

It’s like you’ve somehow taken your perfectly normal words and run them through a “complete and utter shite” filter.

In my GOOGLE DRIVE OF AWESOMENESS!!!! (patent pending, though still not applied for), I have a guide to writing better emails. I’ll put a link in the first comment in case you fancy having a look. Whether you do or don’t though, I’ll give you one of the tips now:

GET TWO DRINKS DOWN YA!

If your tendency when writing is to end up creating something like Bill (“short for William”) above, you need to relax.

Imagine you’re talking to a good mate and you’re two drinks in. What would you say then?

Note – I said “SAY”, not “WRITE”.

Don’t write it down – SAY IT OUT LOUD!

Use the REAL ACTUAL words you’d use if you were talking to a REAL ACTUAL human.

Stand up, hit “record” on your voice memo and tell me, your new best mate, what you do.

This works for EVERYTHING you need to write –

*Got something you want to get across in a post? Start with the takeaway – what do you need to tell them? If you suddenly realised you had to tell your mate this, and you were sat in a bar, what would you say?

*Need to create a sales page? Stand up and talk through everything you want to get across. Talk, out loud, about the problems your customer is having, what they dream about, how your new thing can help and what they need to do next. You can worry about structure later.

Why is this important?

People don’t remember what you said, or what you did, but they sure as hell remember how you made them FEEL…

… and “…shaping former pieces of woodland into recognisable objects…” isn’t going to hit people in the feels.

You need to give customers a reason to choose you. It’s not about being funny. It’s about giving people a feeling of what you’re about.

So…

  • Relax
  • Imagine you’re talking to a good friend
  • Talk out loud

Do those three things and you’ll never look at your writing and go “Ewwwwwwwww!” again.

(If you still find the idea of creating words scary or hard, let me know and I’ll do it for you! I’ll write words that sound like YOU wrote them!)

A word from Seth Godin

“The way we feel can be triggered by outside events.”

That’s how today’s email from Seth Godin begins.

At times like this, we don’t need reminding of this.

Except maybe we do.

Sure, our feelings are being triggered by lots of things outside our control – the disease, the latest medical research and government policies – but we also need to remember that we get a choice into what other “outside events” we pay attention to.

⚠️⚠️⚠️ WARNING – CLICHE INCOMING IN 3… 2… 1… ⚠️⚠️⚠️

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn

  • What are you watching?
  • What are you reading?
  • Who are you talking to?

Be deliberate in your choices. I can’t remember where I heard it, but someone smarter than me recently said, “The way we feel can be triggered by outside events.”

For me, this means deliberately choosing news sources, the people I follow on social media and cutting about 80% of the email newsletters I’m subscribed to.

Here are some of the ones that did make the cut:

  • Seth Godin (duh!)
  • Cal Newport
  • Ryan Holiday
  • Matt LeBlanc’s “Colonic Irrigation techniques of the Indian Mystics – a journey through the sages”
  • The Daily Stoic
  • The Daily Dad

All the above writers make me feel a little bit more empowered, a little bit more in control.

(Please do share your faves too! As my old PE teacher used to say, “I’ve shown you mine, now you show me yours…”)

Spending time with these people, even in my inbox, makes me feel more optimistic and hopeful.

There’s a chance for YOU to do this for YOUR people. You don’t have to be a “leader”, “guru” or have 8 gazillion likes on that photo of you provocatively leaning against a 1989 Vauxhall Chevette.

You just need to be someone who inspires others, lifts them up and makes their lives better in some way.

Be someone who can move the needle in the right direction. Every little bit counts.

Make a video, go LIVE!, write something or share your favourite meme…

(No, not THAT one)

Just be a needle mover.

Oh, and if you fancy the “write something” part, but hate the thought of sitting down and staring desperately at the flashing cursor of death, let me know. I’ll be glad to help you out. 🙂

The four questions that instantly make you a better writer

Hi!

Short one today.

Busy weekend.

Very little sleep.

Short, broken sentences.

OK?

I was invited onto a Facebook live in my friend Gina’s Brand Hacks group today (if you want to learn about branding, there’s no one better than Gina), to talk about copy and humour.

It was a lot of fun.

Someone asked about what books I would recommend for someone new to copywriting.

That’s my first instinct too when wanting to learn something – buy a load of books.

With copywriting though, the best thing you can do is start writing.

Put pen to paper, or fingers to keys, every single day.

“How do I get better though?”

To get better, you don’t need a load of books, you need some questions to keep you on track.

Here are some to get you started.

 From now on, whenever you write something, ask yourself four questions:

  • Who is this for?
  • What do I want to tell them?
  • Why should they care?
  • What do I want them to do after reading this?

Whatever you write – whether it’s a blog post, MySpace update or a lust-fueled note to your athletic lodger, make sure to keep those questions in mind before you click send and you’ll get better.

Just in case you’re unclear on any though, let’s have a closer look at each:

WHO IS THIS FOR? – Makes sure you have a clear idea of your audience.

It’s OK to have different markets and readers, but each piece should be for SOMEONE.

If it’s not for someone, it’s for no-one, and a piece for no-one isn’t worth writing.

Who is THIS piece for?

WHAT DO I WANT TO TELL THEM? – What is the point of the article?

What are you going to tell them?

How does this article make their life better?

Even a sign saying, “DON’T TOUCH – WET PAINT!” has a point.

WHY SHOULD THEY CARE? – You have the audience, you have the information… but why should they care?

Why is this important?

Why should they pay attention?

Your audience needs to know why they need to read this. if they don’t, they won’t.

WHAT SHOULD THEY DO AFTER READING THIS? – Have a “Call to Action”.

Contrary to popular belief, a CTA doesn’t have to be a link to buy one of your things.

Maybe you want them to read another article on your blog.

Maybe you want them to subscribe or download a PDF.

Think of what you want them to do next and tell them to do it.

If you don’t, they’ll start to think for themselves and they could wander off anywhere!

If you want to improve your writing, you don’t need a load of books, you just need a few helpful questions.

I hope these are useful.

Have a great start of the week,

John

P.S. My “Smack My Pitch Up!” is still available for pre-order.

Grab it before the 8th and you’ll get a free email consult – that means you can get your networking pitch sorted with even LESS effort on your part!

You can grab your copy here (don’t forget the discount code FIERCEANDLOYAL to get 25% off!)

P.P.S. By the way, the copywriting book I recommend for beginners? This one