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If you’ve been following my blog for a while (hi mom!) you may have noticed a change in tone, style, and personality recently.
Don’t worry, I haven’t hit my head or developed a split personality.
Nope. But I did realize a massive mistake I’ve been making in my business – I hired someone to write my copy.
Not a massive mistake in and of itself if I’m being honest. Lots and LOTS of businesses, big and small, have writers on their team. No, the true mistake is I did it before I figured out what I wanted my brand to sound like. Instead, I left it to the pros to figure it out from my wishy-washy, “make it sound like me but better”, directions.
Well-written, factual, valuable, content that’s as bland as the first soup stock I ever made. It needed salt.
And surprise, surprise. It got me nowhere.
So, despite the lack of time and skill, I’ve decided to take the wheel on my copy, so to speak, and see where it takes me.
But first I need to address the real reason I haven’t been writing my own copy.
… I didn’t have anything of value to say.
… I’d get something wrong and be called out as a two-bit huckster.
… my writing wouldn’t be any good.
… no one would read it, or worse they’d read it and love it and I wouldn’t be able to keep it up.
And I bet that’s exactly why so many other people don’t write their own copy.
It’s understandable. After high school or college, most of us aren’t in the habit of writing hundreds of words every day. You might feel insecure about your grammar, sentence structure, spelling, or style. You may fear all the same things I did (do ????).
And you might be right.
The first bit of copy you write might not be stellar. Like any muscle, you need to build it up. But this is the only way that you’ll be able to develop your voice and bring authenticity to your audience.
Writing your own copy doesn’t only help you develop your voice and hone your skill. It also:
So here are a few tips/things I’ve learned to help you get started writing your own stuff.
Be honest with yourself. You need to identify and address the real reason you’re not writing.
Practice writing every day. Open a Google doc and journal every day or write an email to a friend, or write a short story, or blog or social media post. Whatever it is – do it daily.
Practice editing every day. Writing is only part of the process. You also need to edit your work. Cut it down. Make it shorter, punchier. Add personal stories or snippets that help your audience know you better.
Collect your stories and facts. Create a document filled with stories and fun facts about you. You can get started by googling “conversation starters”. They’re handy personal question prompts that will give you tons of writing fodder. (I like this list, and this one, and this one).
Use the Hemmingway App. A fantastic tool to bring your writing to the next level. It helps identify complex sentences that could use some tweaking. As well as words to shorten or replace, and areas where you’re using a passive voice that may be better as an active voice.
Hire a proofreader. Every piece of content should always have two sets of eyes on it. Even if you’re a terrific writer, no one is immune to typos and slip-ups.
Hit publish. You may find that you’re hesitant to hit publish. You might decide that it needs another round of edits. That paragraph is a bit long; that sentence is a bit hard to read; wait, I’d never use that word…
Stop. Take a deep breath and hit publish. Done is better than perfect.
Don’t be afraid to get help. Let’s be clear, I still have help. I’m useless at getting copy started. Instead, I write a topic, add a few key points I want to make, a story or snippet of personal detail that I want to use, and any strong thoughts, feelings, or facts that must be included, and give it to my team. They bring me back a draft.
Sometimes they’re bang-on and the copy gets published with a few tweaks from me. Sometimes I get a burst of inspiration and decide to take it in a whole new direction (like this one).
Often I change some wording, add or remove a paragraph here and there, and polish it up to sound more like me, and hit publish. (And pray you like it. Insert desperate plea for validation here.)
This helps me keep on schedule while still infusing all my content with my voice.
What about you? Do you write your own copy? Tell me why or why not in the comments below.