There isn’t a copywriter or marketer on the planet who doesn’t face the blank page monster from time-to-time.
Here’s the typical scenario…
You have to write an ad, email or landing page. You need to get that done today. Yet, try as you might, you just can’t string any words together. The ideas won’t come. And all the while, the unfeeling glow of the WORD doc page is beaming back at you, menacingly.
The good news is, there are many practical techniques for getting those first few sentences onto the page quickly—and ultimately getting into the flow.
I’m sure you’ve heard of some of those: create a mind map, sketch out an outline, freewrite, use a template, etc. But if those popular techniques aren’t working for you, here are five more that can often bring that blank page monster to heel.
1. Begin with anything.
Most copywriters say that once they nail the first few sentences, the rest of the marketing piece comes more easily. So, try that. Just skip the “nail it” part! Write an imperfect opener. Start with anything—a question, fact, statement, example—and then just keep writing. You can always go back and revise or completely change the opener later.
2. Play with bullets.
This technique works well if you know what you want to say but are struggling with how to say it. Simply create a bullet list of the key points and then move them around until a persuasive sequence emerges. Next, look at your first couple of bullets and play with ways to communicate those points with impact. Before you know it, you’ll have written your opener. Then all you have to do is keep going, turning the rest of your list into motivating copy.
3. Paint the promise.
Fellow copywriting expert Joanna Wiebe once said that, when writing copy, you’re essentially selling your prospects a better version of themselves. (I couldn’t agree more.) That insight reveals a fast way to jump into your copy. Begin by painting a picture of that “better version” you’re promising the prospect. Make it as vivid and enticing as possible. Then, explain how your product or service can make that happen, by presenting the features, benefits, differences, proof, etc.
4. Skip the opener, for now.
Who says you have to write the headline first? Or those first few sentences? If you’re stuck trying to craft your opener, just skip that and move on to another section. Jump in and write the bullet list, the differentiation paragraph, the call-to-action, anything. Think of your marketing piece as a canvas where you can place your brush anywhere and just begin. Soon, you’ll see the copy coming together.
5. Talk it through.
Recently, during a corporate training session (via ZOOM), a marketing manager said she was struggling to write a promotional email. I said, “Talk me through what you need to say to motivate the prospect to click.” She then proceeded to do just that as I transcribed her words onto a whiteboard. What emerged, in just minutes, was a solid first draft that needed only a little tweaking. So, if you’re struggling to write your copy, try talking it through. (No one ever gets “talker’s block”.) Before you know it, you might have a decent rough draft.
The blank page monster isn’t going anywhere. It’ll always be lurking, ready to pounce whenever we have an important email, ad or sales page to write. When that happens, try one of these techniques. Just getting a few ideas or copy lines onto the page is often enough to get that monster to skedaddle.
This article was originally published in LinkedIn Pulse here.