Writing copy for your business or for your businesses’ website can be a tedious task—I get it, we just launched a mini website. I feel like I birthed two babies this year—one, the website, I carried a lot longer than the *actual* human baby.
Okay, but the thing is your website, my website, it’s got to work when we can’t. I believe that so firmly it is worth putting the time into figuring out how to get great words that actually convert and pull their weight.
Today, you’re gonna learn how to make your website copywriting process work for you, because whether it is your home page, your services page, about page, blog posts, whatever it is, most of us just want to get that done, checked off our list and moved on so we can go do other things—I’ve got two kids andddd I get it.
Productivity hacks are my side hobby—I may have missed my calling as a supply chain manager, but found it here as a copywriter … where I DEFINITELY need productivity tips.
I counted up last week’s words, and realized I wrote 3,296 words JUST for my business’s marketing last week (1 blog, YouTube video script, copy for Instagram captions, and email newsletter copy).
That’s a lot, but I’m guessing you’re not too far behind.
“Every 2 days, we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003.”
WOW, right? That’s a lot of content for our noisy globe to handle.
It’s a big responsibility, too: it’s our job as creative small business owners to put out GOOD, worthy, and relevant content … content that is thought-provoking and worth the time it takes to read.
And if you’re like me, you kind of hate the blinking cursor. Today, I’m gonna take you through six tips that you can do to start writing faster, whether it’s your website copy that you need to tackle or blog posts or just some other business writing task.
Here are 6 tips that I use to write content and copy faster, so you can create BETTER content and produce less noise.
No. 1 | Hack Your Time
Write during the best time of day for YOU.
Want to write faster? Opt for—typically—the first 4 hours of the day.
If possible, Gary Keller writes in my favorite business book, The One Thing, “select 4 hours first thing in the morning, when you have the most willpower.”
That is usually when I work best when I’m a maker in the morning, a manager in the afternoon. But if I want to write more creatively, it’s usually best to write whenever you’re groggiest actually, whether that again is possibly early in the morning, or even later at night.
WIRED Magazine referenced an Albion College study that tapped into college students to see when their most creative answers came.
“The larger lesson is that sleepy students … benefit from the inability to focus. Their minds are drowsy and disorganized, humming with associations that they’d normally ignore.”
So interesting, right?
Typically when I’m doing client work, which is writing since I’m a copywriter, I can kind of turn it on and just be in the zone and actually write and crank out the work. When it comes to my own business, sometimes I’m the hardest client to write for.
What I found is that I could shake off some of those nerves. If I started writing really early in the morning, like four o’clock, five o’clock when I was just kind of still dreaming, I think, or maybe it was very late at night, my kids were down, I can pour a glass of wine or a cup of tea and just sit down and just have the freedom to write. If that’s you and you tend to put a little pressure on yourself when you’re writing, then try the time hacking tip. And that segues me right into tip number two here, is embrace the sloppy copy.
(You’ll need to edit anything, sleepy or not—click here for a blog I wrote about how to DIY edit your work, and go ahead and install Grammar.ly for free to catch 99% of typos/edits you’ll make.)
No. 2 | Use The Pomodoro Technique
Next up, use the Pomodoro Technique or give yourself a hard stop.
You’ve probably heard of Parkinson’s Law before, the concept that work either expands or contracts to fit the time available for it.
Essentially, if you have four hours to finish a task, it’s gonna take you four hours. If you tell yourself it’s only gonna be able to take you 30 minutes, you’ll probably fit it in closer to 30 minutes, and as a very crude explanation, but essentially download and use the Pomodoro App. It is fabulous, it’s free, I use it all the time.
Basically, just ask me how I can stretch out a Netflix date with random British documentaries about castles if I don’t cap it.
A Pomodoro sprint helps you stay on track during the task at hand: 25 minutes on, 5 minutes off.
Rinse and repeat.
Basically, just sprint out 25 minutes of grinding (no snack time, no IG!) before a 5-minute break. It works, I promise!
Want to scoop up a few more productivity tips? Here are 3 mindset-shifts I made in year one that grew my business quickly.
No. 3| Embrace the Sloppy Copy
For some this almost sounds elementary, but I had to remember this since I was writing my website. Sometimes you just need to get that first draft, second draft, third draft, even over and done, and you can come back to it and reiterate it, and by the time I finished the 11th draft, it feels like it sometimes looks absolutely nothing like the first, second, third, fourth, so on and so forth. I had to get through those to even get to the point of having an 11th draft.
Writer Anne Lamont says in her book Bird by Bird, start each day anywhere and let yourself do it badly.
This probably doesn’t seem like a task at ALL, but it’s a mindset shift you have to make to write faster.
Before you write, own that this will NOT be published today. It will take editing.
Back in agency days, my boss never let us send anything to our clients at Delta Air Lines without looking at it with “fresh eyes” the next day, so think about doing that.
Write messy, don’t pause to edit, and just get it out.
You will always need to come back and edit. That’s part of the process.
I’ve done videos that have an entire blog post on how to self edit you can read here, but you’re never gonna get those incredible final drafts if you don’t go through the process of pulling out all the different things like a magician that could be in the hat and then you’ll get the bunny. I don’t know where that analogy came from.
Bonus tip? Create your own little code for things you’ll need to fill in later: I pop in placeholders constantly while I write a draft so I can move faster without having to stop to look something up.
For example, I use “NAME” when I can’t remember someone/something’s name, “TK” if there’s info that I don’t have yet (journalist-speak for “to come”), and “RSFF” for research/fact-finding I need to do.
Here’s what that would look like in action in a draft of caption copy:
Camellia bushes and azaleas from NAME cozied up on my porch this weekend—we’ll find a home for them [RSFF about when I need to plant them for seasons], but for now, I don’t mind their plastic containers one bit. 😉 Want more tips about first time gardening? Grab my free guide at TK!
So, that’s it. Accept that when you sit down to write this, it’s gonna be a sh**ty first draft.
Keep writing, and use placeholders, TK, etc. as needed.
No. 4| Start with a Structure
Always, always start with structure. I write for a living very rarely. Am I just going to open up a document or a Word tab and just start writing, even when I’m writing in my journal for free time, for fun, I like a prompt, I like something to just get me going.
There’s a John Caples quote that copywriting should be approached the same way an engineer approaches the building of a bridge. Heck yes!
You can use templates for:
- Blog post outlines (You can grab mine in the shop)
- Canned email responses
- Captions (Grab The AW Shop Instagram Party-Starters templates here!)
- Video scripts
- Subject lines
- Client magazines (Get your free copy swipe here >> )
- Sales pages
- Website page copy
- Headlines (Get the swipe of 27 website headline copy templates for $29)
Start with a structure, a framework of formula and let yourself fill that in based off of the order in the hierarchy that the messaging should come in.
This is why I created The Copy Bar. It’s the template shop side of my business. I love it so much and there are a lot of templates that I use all of the time as prompts to just get my wheels turning and get my juices flowing. You can and should use some sort of a framework or an outline or a template if you’re sitting down to write a pillar blog piece in your business, mine is in the shop, I used it to even create this post. Things like captions or canned email responses, sales pages, homepages about pages, subject lines.
There’s some sort of tried and true framework or hypothesis that someone has put out there and tested and you might as well see if you can take that and riff off of it, or at least just don’t start with nothing. I haven’t said it in one of my videos for a while, so it’s time.
Best practices are essentially pooled ignorance, unless you know how they’re going to work on your audience, or if you’re at least willing to test it.
So while having a framework or a formula to play off of is good, at the end of the day, you’re accountable and responsible for seeing how that performs with your audience or with your brand and with your messaging, and then basing your findings and tweaking things based off of what comes in, right? What data comes back, but it’s at least somewhere to start, right?
Give me a template and I’ll love you forever.
No. 5| Copy Bank
Always pull your research and start to create some sort of a copy bank. Can’t even tell you how much I relied on my copy bank as I ripped my website, pulling little snippets that, oh yeah, I pulled that like three years ago and I love that phrase. I just have never had a place to put it before until now, I can slide it in.
I was definitely a collage kid in the nineties, two thousands when I grew up, and no, we don’t have the Seventeen and the Y magazines to pull from now, but it’s kind of that same process is I want to be able to look at a whole sampling of phrases and words that I can pull from and assemble the best message possible. So I keep those messages and corral them in what I call, a copy bank, quotes, quipes, one liners that made you laugh, absolutely voice of customer data and research.
I’ve done a video where I talked about three ways that you can kind of kick off your swipe file and get going, that could help you with concept if it is a little bit new.
As far as housing this, Trello, Evernote, Asana whatever tool you’re already using, don’t complicate it, just use that and then be like a sticky wad of tape or something rolling around and as you start to hear and pick up on little bits of sticky messaging, no matter where you hear it, it could be from somebody talking on a podcast, it could be from a book you’re reading or a magazine you’re flipping through, or some Instagram account you’re scrolling.
When you see a little phrase or a snippet, just grab that and put it in your collage bank and you’ll start to build this repertoire of words over time that you can then turn around and use, and insert in your copy.
Writing an in-depth blog on something? Pull facts, stats, studies, and notes together.
Writing in your brand voice and still not super comfortable DIY’ing your copy? Have your brand voice style guide on hand to check yourself as you write.
Writing anything? SAVE IT! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a blog or Instagram caption, decided not to publish it, and just filed it … later, I’ll be able to salvage a bit of it for another post!
The other thing I like to have on hand is what my Copywriting for Creatives students know I call a “Copy Bank”—it’s basically a swipe file, but it’s more than just example email copy or headlines I like. Quotes, quips from magazines that made me laugh, one-liners I read on a BuzzFeed article at 2 a.m. when I couldn’t sleep … The Copy Bank system keeps me creatively charged.
To note, I don’t reference my Copy Bank until AFTER I write most of the content … I just peek at it afterward, and if there’s a phrase that fits perfectly, I pop it in. I said it in the video last week, it’s a classic copywriting quote that copywriting is not written, it is assembled, and that’s what I’m talking about here.
No. 6 | Write Somewhere Enjoyable
This goes to the concept of grand gestures. Maybe you’ve heard how JK Rowling would rent out an entire hotel room as she worked to finish the Harry Potter books. That’s what I mean here.
How can you create a space that is lovely, and enjoyable, and you actually want to sit down and write in?
I’m gonna tell you a couple of things that I did to finish the gargantuan of a website that we just launched. I bought two candles, I put them on the business and I know when I light that candle, it means go time. I’m priming myself, I’m teaching myself that the only way that I can light that candle is I’m gonna be head down, working on something furiously, putting every single bit of my energy into it and then when I blow it out, I’m done and I’m walking away.
Headphones, white noise, the Calm app, you can get so many great sounds on the free version of it. The premium version is pretty good too.
Another thing I did a lot was go to my favorite coffee shop in town and I knew when I got there, I was gonna focus and I was gonna work and I’d only let myself go as a treat. And it also back to the comment that I made about the Pomodoro time and going on sprints, I knew that I had a hard stop where I was gonna have to leave and go home. I couldn’t stretch it past that. Knowing that I had a hard stop, pushed me to get a lot of writing done and copy done for the website, so I could turn it over to my team to look at and edit before we pulled it in and started installing.
Having a good workspace you actually enjoy writing in, hacking your time and writing when you’re best on, whether it be creatively or geared up to write quickly, giving yourself a hard stop, whether it’s through an app or through some kind of hard timestamp, you actually need to quit working at and always having some sort of copy bank system ready that you can pull together the collage of phrases that you wanna say. Can you have that voice of customer data ready and at hand? All of that is gonna equip you to write your copy that much faster for your business.
Okay, I want to hear from YOU! Comment below—what takes you forever to write? Could any of these tips speed up your flow?
If you found this video helpful, be sure to tap it, give it that thumbs up, and don’t miss this video—I’m breaking down and showing you a template that you can use to structure your pillar pieces of content and go to blog posts for your business. I promise you’ll win in on these copy tips.
Reading Time: 11 Minutes Reading time: 14 min. Writing copy for your business or for your businesses’ website can be a tedious task—I get it, we just launched a mini website. I feel like I birthed two babies this year—one, the website, I carried a lot longer than the *actual* human baby. Okay, but the thing is your website, […]