4 toxic mistakes to avoid when writing copy
“You’re a great writer but you suck at copy-writing”, noted a friend.
That’s not quite true.
See, I’ve come to recognize that I’ve had certain mental blocks holding me back when it comes to writing copy.
I’ve written some killer copy on my website and have left my audience feeling ready to buy. I’ve done it more than once.
But I had to take his feedback seriously. I had to examine what I was doing and figure out where things were going wrong.
Today, I identified four toxic mistakes that were holding me back. Here they are.
Maybe “lazy” isn’t the right term. But it’s fair to say these days I’m a little more design oriented than copy oriented.
When putting together a landing page, I tend to focus more on how it looks and how the elements are presented rather than what the words are communicating.
Strange, because as much as I’ve had a stake in the graphic design game, my obsession with words began much earlier, when I was about 13 or 14.
The times when I’ve “nailed it” are the times when I turned everything off, put on my headphones, and thought long and hard about what my audience struggles with and how that makes them feel.
The times I haven’t nailed it are the times when I haven’t done that.
Now that I’ve identified this roadblock, however, in the future, I can avoid it.
Getting Too Comfortable
Even misery is comfortable when it becomes predictable.
Yesterday, I talked about how much people love consistency when it comes to content. It’s reassuring when you show up the same every week and become familiar to your audience.
So, at some point, I just got used to the idea that I wouldn’t be successful in my chosen field no matter how many ways I beat my head against the wall.
Misery didn’t feel good, but at least I knew what to expect waking up every day.
The mind is an amazing thing. It will follow the course you’ve set for it. If you think constantly on how success is inevitable, you will find a way.
So, I had to admit that at some point (even if it was subconsciously) I was starting to build a preponderance of evidence why I wouldn’t succeed.
From now on, I’m going to take the opposite approach — building a preponderance of evidence why the universe wants me to succeed. It’s conspiring to help me at every step.
In some ways, I’ve already touched on this in graphic detail.
I find that confidence is a moving target, or sliding scale, if you will. You might feel a 10 one day and feel like a four the next.
But if you try to write copy when you feel like a four, even sentences that might captivate a prospect could turn into bland, dull, flaccid, and generic hogwash.
Unwittingly, you might turn something like:
The Proven Secrets to Business Success No One Told You & No One Wants You to Know
The Business Success Secrets
They’re both fine, I suppose, but all things being equal, I would choose the former.
This isn’t to say you should only write when you feel like a 10. But if you’re feeling like a six while writing, you might want to come back to the copy when you are closer to a 10.
Swiping from the Wrong Places
No professional copywriter in their right mind advocates starting from scratch. It’s just painful.
If you have any hope of one day becoming a great copywriter, you’ve got to keep a swipe file on hand with templates, frameworks, proven examples, and more.
I couldn’t see this before, but I can clearly see now I was swiping from the wrong places. And that means creating content that might be gangbusters for one audience, and limp to another.
For example, in North America, we have a relatively forthright way of selling. If we don’t sell with high levels of excitement and intensity, prospects are bound to drop off the face of the universe.
But in Australia, people are smart and see right through the B.S. we pass off as selling in North America. Selling aggressively turns Australians off.
So, from now on, I’m going to be swiping from ads, books, websites, and other assets that sell to my audience demographic and psychographic instead of just looking to my mentors and favorite resources.
By the way, when I say “swipe”, you should never copy verbatim what someone else has written. You should always tweak it for your products and audience. Plus, you don’t want to plagiarize.
With the above in mind, I’m not saying I don’t have things to learn. I’m sure I do.
And I’m going to be spending more time studying copy-writing in general. Simultaneously, I will be keeping an eye on topics that are important to my audience as well as topics that are important to running a business.
What I’ve shared above reflects my weaknesses. But if you can find a bit of yourself in the word pictures, I’d be elated.
Ultimately, I hope you can see the value in identifying mental blocks to your effectiveness as well.