How to get better at writing copy (it's not what you think)
I have what might be an unpopular opinion to share: You’re not just going to magically wake up one day and be a good writer.
I mean, some people – the people who were gifted with writing as a superpower instead of coordination or organization or disassociation – sort of wake up good writers because they were literally born that way. (Cue up the Lady Gaga for me.)
But for lots of other people? Writing is a skill they have to learn. And that takes practice.
(Don’t roll your eyes at me. If you want to get good or even better at something, you HAVE to practice. You don’t see professional athletes or Olympians blowing off practice just because they made it to the playoffs or the gold medal round, do you? Umm, no. You see them practicing EVEN MORE.)
So, no, this post might not be the motivational rah-rah-you-can-do-anything message you might have been hoping for when you saw that oh-so-tantalizing headline. But it’s real. It’s something you can actually do and that will actually make a difference.
Let’s get better at writing copy, shall we?
Read more. Read all the books.
And I’m not talking about books on writing. Just books. Any book. I don’t care if it’s a cookbook with step-by-step instructions for making a layered cake or a picture book that comes complete with pop-ups and those flaps you have to lift or a trashy-ass romance novel that someone left behind at that sandy motel you stayed at on your last beach vacation and you squirreled away into your suitcase. (Forget take one, leave one…)
When you read more, you get a better sense of what makes something enjoyable to read. You learn new words, new sentence structures, new storytelling methods. You see what makes a paragraph flow. How to describe things. How to throw something unexpected in there just to piss people off.
Then…you steal like an artist. (Have you read that book? Please read that book.)
You take the things that made that book a page turner for you, the things that kept you reading till well past 2 a.m. even though you had an early morning session with your trainer scheduled for 5 a.m., the things that made you tear through that book faster than a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. The fun-sized bag, sure. And you bring them in to your copy.
You take inspiration. You take words. You take structures. Don’t be a douchey drama llama and take everything word for word. (Besides, you’re not writing the next great historical novel here. You’re just writing some copy for your website, and I’m pretty sure people will notice if you randomly insert four paragraphs on Pocahontas. The person, not the movie. Although the movie has no place in your copy either…)
Write more. It’s a practice.
Remember that incredibly inspiring speech I gave you earlier about how athletes practice even after they’ve reached elite championship GOAT status?
Do that. Keep practicing. Never stop practicing. Because the more you do something, the better you’ll get at it.
Like tying your shoelaces (I totally had velcro shoes for a long time) or riding a bike or mastering the tango, you learn by doing.
You’re never going to become a better writer if you don’t do it. Does that sound harsh? Maybe. But if you keep avoiding something even though you say you want to get better at it…that doesn’t really make much sense, does it?
If you hate writing and you’re cool as a tub of nice cream in the freezer section in January to produce your content in other ways, that’s totally different. But if you get all green-eyed with envy every time someone prances around being a braggart about how much content they produced last week and how it was sooooo easy and how writing is their love language, well, you might want to rethink your avoidance strategy.
Hop back on the proverbial bike and ride until your thighs burn like the rain when Adele sets fire to it. Ride until the pain goes away and starts to actually become enjoyable (you masochistic minx). Ride until you crave the pain, you love the pain, and you don’t want to go a day without hopping in the saddle to get your pain fix.
You might think that’s crazy talk. And maybe it’s a *slight* exaggeration, as I totally have a leaning toward hyperbole. But you won’t know until you try, now will you?
Ask someone for feedback.
There’s this saying about vacuums: “What’s the difference between a Harley and a Dirt Devil?”
Oh, wait. That’s a silly joke.
The real saying is this: “You cannot create art in a vacuum.” The same goes for creating content when you’re not so confident about said content creation.
You might need some community, some interaction, some creative backup, some – gasp! – feedback.
When you’re trying to get better at writing copy, you need to know what’s working, what’s not, and what could be better.
You could get this feedback in a few ways, I imagine. You could ask your business best buddy for life to take a look (although sometimes you might open yourself up to less-than-helpful comments like, “It’s good!”). You could crowdsource feedback in your fave Facebook group, but you might get the same result or so many comments you don’t know who to trust and it all becomes a little (read: A LOT) overwhelming.
You could release it into the wilds of the online space and see how it fares – whether it spreads its wings and soars or…gets shot down in a great fanfare of feathers and squawking. (This route might hurt your ego quite a bit and leave you a little shellshocked.)
You could also turn to a professional and trust their expert, well-qualified opinion. (This’ll cost you, yes, and, sure, you could get some pretty generic feedback if you’re not working with the *right* professional. But it could also be an amazing return on your investment. Not that I’m biased or anything like that…)
The choice is yours, my friend. But if you want to get better at writing copy, you have to take action. You can’t just sit on the sidelines. You’ve gotta lace up and get in the game. Read, write, reach out – but don’t think getting better at writing is gonna be easier than that time in 1916 when Georgia Tech absolutely destroyed Cumberland 220-0 in what I imagine was a very un-fun (and unfriendly) football game.
And definitely don’t think it will never happen for you. Because that’s just defeatist and no one likes a quitter.
If you’re intrigued by the “hire a professional” option, well, you’re in luck. I’m a professional. Wink, wink. Check out my services here. Might I suggest Spice Rack for this particular issue you’re facing? Righty-o.