If you find it difficult (or on the rough days, borderline impossible) to write for your business, fear not—you’re not alone.
Earlier this month, I discussed how daunting writing can feel when you add it to the pile of other things you juggle as a business owner and entrepreneur. One way to make it more manageable is to break the task down into smaller pieces, so I shared the five steps we use at Leadpages to create high converting landing page copy at high speed.
But even with a framework for easily creating solid landing page copy in hand, there’s still one hard thing you need to do: get started.
For those of us who’ve gone months, days, or even years with a sense of dread at the idea of writing emails, blog posts, sales letters, or landing pages for our businesses, it’s time we reframe writing in our minds. We must stand up to the copywriting monster under our beds and say, “No more!”
Because writing good landing page copy isn’t just important—it’s essential. The way you talk to your audience either makes them want to learn more or it pushes them away. That’s the difference between a successful conversion and a page bounce…
Based on my own experience facing down that monster in my own work, I’ve put together nine copywriting tips to make your business writing less difficult, more effective, and maybe even kind of fun. Try one or all nine and watch that monster shrink into a dust bunny today.
These suggestions will help you write more easily the next time you’re ready to build a landing page, but I’ve also created an extra resource to help you make your messaging more meaningful and original before you even begin. Click below to download our free list of five fun—and unusual—writing prompts that are guaranteed to get you thinking about writing for your business differently.
Now, let’s get into some tips.
1) Try as many options as humanly possible.
If it’s tough to write one sentence, why would writing a bunch of versions of that sentence feel any better?
Because you don’t have to worry about getting it exactly right in any single one of those versions. It’ll help you uncover the best way to say something by letting variety do the work for you.
Next time you’re writing a headline, keep writing different versions of that headline in a row, one after the other. Switch the order of a sentence, rotate through unique, emotional or interesting synonyms, and delete words where they’re unnecessary, until it reads right to you.
For example, I rewrote the title in 11 different ways before my editor and I settled on one that seemed like the best fit for the post—check out all the options we went through in the screenshot below. (Disagree with our final choice? Tell us in the comments!)
Some days the 11th time’s the charm!
2) Be kind to your future self: test, test, and test your writing.
One of the most valuable outcomes of writing many different versions of your landing page copy is that once you’re done with the writing, you have plenty of options for testing.
Using A/B testing, you can put two slightly different headlines up against each other, try different two versions of your button copy on your call to action, or adjust the length of copy on your page to see which versions outperform others.
Identifying successful copy through testing is like creating building blocks for your future self that you can use any time you write a new page. When you split test versions of your writing, you can see how subtle additions and subtractions can make a huge difference in your conversion rate—over time you’ll compile a list of sentences, headlines, calls to action, and guarantees that work for you (and for your customers).
3) Don’t try to sound smart.
Many entrepreneurs get totally off track by trying to “sound professional.” They think about what an “authority” should sound like and then try to mimic that by packing their writing full of industry jargon and buzzwords.
Many of us want to sound smart, because we want our prospects and customers to respect us and respect our writing. We want to feel official, and be perceived that way by others, because we think it will lead to more sales.
But in this pursuit of “professional” copy we often clutter our message and make it more difficult to actually get the writing done. Not only does it make the writing (and therefore reading) feel unnatural, but you’re probably not even impressing anyone in the end: even the most widely respected writers in the world tend not to write above a 9th-grade level.
For example, the original title of this section was:
“Simplicity is the mother of clarity in copy.”
That line is sort of backwards, difficult to follow, and uses words that don’t really need to be there. As you can see now, it’s evolved to:
“Don’t try to sound smart.”
It communicates the same thing, but in a much more direct and easy to read way.
In the end, authenticity is more valuable than flexing your vocabulary, so don’t spend extra time trying to sound like someone else. When you write more simply you do everyone a favor—including yourself.
4) Writing isn’t hard when deleting is easy.
I know it sounds counterintuitive, but take great faith in your ability to press the delete key. Writing can be a whole lot easier if you embrace the fact that nothing you put down is in stone. There’s freedom in the impermanence of anything you try when it comes to writing your copy. And this is especially true for Leadpages customers, since you can test and edit on the fly without waiting for a developer to do it for you.
When you accept this it’ll make writing easier. Just make edits as necessary, do your best; try not to let perfect be the enemy of good.
5) Take notes.
No matter how many times you’ve taken notice of examples of marketing, sitting down to your own blank page has a way of blanking out your mind.
That’s why many people find it essential to carry a notebook or use their smartphone as an audio note-taker. Write when the mood strikes you. Take notes on what you see around you.
- Drive by a great billboard that made you laugh? Take notes (or a smartphone photo if you’re stopped in traffic)!
- Your favorite blog is releasing a new ebook next month? Take notes on how they’re promoting it!
- Shoeshiner yelled the perfect thing to get a man to buy a shoeshine? Take notes on the technique they used!
You’ll have more ideas to draw from next time you sit down to really write, and you’ll start thinking about the examples all around you. A little jot-down here, and a little scribble there, and suddenly you’ve got great copy ideas waiting when you dive into your next landing page.
6) Feel free to steal—just remix what you take.
Speaking of observations and jotting down ideas: when you’re writing your landing pages it’s okay to steal—sort of.
Here’s what I mean.
Think about the last five things you bought online. In fact, go back and look at the actual website you bought from.
- What about the messaging on that site made you want to make a purchase?
- Was it the exact way a feature was talked about?
- Was there a guarantee that made you feel confident enough to buy?
- Was it written in a way that made you want to meet or know the writer?
- Was there a consistent thread throughout the page that kept you hooked on every word?
- Was there something so intriguing in the pitch, you had to know more?
Look at the language those successful pages used and how it made you feel. When you’re writing your own copy, try to use similar words, sentence structure, page length—maybe even some of the same verbs. (Of course, don’t copy anything verbatim.)
If the writing on any particular page was good enough to get you to make a purchase, there’s no doubt that similar elements will work to convert your customers too.
7) Keep your keyboard clacking.
This is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received on writing. It forces you to keep going. No matter what comes out, no matter how it sounds or feels—just keep writing. Sometimes getting a volume of words out in front of you, even in a stream of consciousness, can steer you towards what you really want to say.
This method is actually how I wrote this entire blog post. I started with an outline, and filled in the gaps, basically without taking a break. Now, that initial version was almost nothing like the one you’re reading right now, but it helped me get to something actually worth reading.
Start with a block of time as short as three minutes of constant writing, and set a timer. Over time, you can work your way up to five, 10, and 15-minute intervals. But even three minutes of nonstop writing will be hugely helpful in loosening up your brain.
8) Write poorly first. Write well later.
The last tip and this one go hand in hand.
Sometimes we hit a wall when we’re writing by holding our writing to too high a standard on the first pass.
When the writing is something we care about, has an exciting purpose (like getting our customers to make a purchase), and absolutely has to work, we often get self-judgmental and frustrated when it doesn’t feel right—right away.
But the reality is, most writing isn’t all that good the first time around. And that’s completely okay.
That’s why, for many people, the best way to write is to silence their inner editor during the first draft. Forget about commas, periods, spelling, finding the right words, or frankly even if it makes sense at all. Instead of cringing at what you’re typing, just think to yourself:
“Not this … but something like this …”
And if you find your inner editor creeping in to say, “This isn’t good,” just turn that thought into:
“This isn’t good—yet. But it will be.”
9) Do a little preparation. But only a little.
I’ve certainly been one to “prepare” for the writing process.
You get a fresh cup of coffee, you put on some favorite writing tunes, you close all your internet tabs, you settle in with an open page in front of you…
And all of a sudden you realize you’ve put so much ceremony into writing; built it up so much, that you feel too much pressure to actually do it.
If you map out and set up your writing session too thoroughly, you’ll box yourself in, and leave no room for creativity. If you don’t map it out at all, you might accidentally find yourself deep into that memoir you’ve always been meaning to write.
To strike a balance and produce good copy quickly, start your writing session by sitting down with a one-line statement of purpose.
- “I will write five different headline options for each of these three landing pages I need to create.”
- “I will write (or rewrite) each of my benefit bullet points in three different ways for this single page.”
- “I will write ten different options for what my button might say on this landing page.”
When you have even a simple road map of where you want to go, you’re a whole lot more likely to get there.
Next time you sit down to write landing page copy, try to look at it differently. Maybe it can be exciting—maybe it can even be fun. Think of it as finding a new way to talk about yourself and about your business; a new way to close the sale.
When you do, use our new collection of five fun writing prompts for your business that will help you nail down your messaging and take your copywriting to the next level.
What would you add as the 10th writing tip on this list? Share the best advice you’ve received or what works for you in the comments below!