One of the biggest problems we face as online entrepreneurs these days is the crowd.
There are so many businesses. So many websites. So much copy.
And frankly, most of it sounds pretty darn similar.
You know what I’m talking about. The last time you were browsing for a product or service the sales pitches and website copy all started to mush together, didn’t it?
At some point, you might have landed on a website that you immediately knew was going to be different. It was fresh, original – it had personality. And it made you want to learn more.
This post is going to help you replicate that experience for your website visitors in 4 steps, so that when they are nearly bored to tears by same-old-same-old copy, yours will be irresistible.
And the best part? Writing the type of you-drenched copy that will set you apart and gain you major fans isn’t a mysterious or exclusive process.
You are in full possession of a unique voice that will appeal strongly to your dream audience.
Step #1: Stop trying to find “your voice”
I’ve heard it two gazillion times, and I’m sure you’ve heard it, too: you just need to “find your voice”. Look, writing good copy that sounds authentic and unique isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t require going on a mission to find yourself (or your voice).
You are already in full position of a unique and interesting way of communicating. You’ve been doing it since you were a little kid, and you’ve been developing it ever since.
Sure, there are specific ways to use your voice for better impact (and we’ll get to that in step #3), but as long as you believe that “your voice” is something you have yet to find, you won’t have the confidence to put your words down on paper.
You already have a voice. You can stop searching for it now, and start writing.
Step #2: Get so up close + personal with your audience, that it’s almost awkward
Writing irresistible, you-drenched copy actually has as much to do with your audience as it does with you.
And here’s the simple reason why: when you’re not really clear who your audience is, you get watered down.
If you don’t know who you’re talking to, you try and talk to everyone.
Your personality – and your copy – isn’t going to appeal to everyone. It’s going to appeal to your specific group of dream customers and readers. And when you identify and get to know those people, you can stop trying to create messages that work for everyone, and start creating messages that are truly expressive of who you are and truly appealing to your dream peeps.
Step #3 – Study thyself (no, really)
Putting your words down on paper can feel awkward and frustrating. You might be a pro when it comes to chatting with people in person, but when it comes to typing out your thoughts it comes out all wrong. Stiff. Not you.
The first step was acknowledging that you already have a singular and interesting voice. This step is going to show you how to get super familiar with it so that it’s easy to transform it into copy.
To do it, you’re going to need to study the way you communicate.
Become aware of the words you use and how you use them when talking. What’s the natural rhythm of your conversation when chatting with a good friend? How do you punctuate and emphasize your speech?
In order to convey your personality, your copy needs to sound like your speech. Captivating copy sounds like a conversation in the readers head – not like stilted, over-processed text.
Transforming copy into conversation often includes breaking a few grammar rules. Things like sentence fragments and starting sentences with prepositions will help your writing take on the feel of speech.
It’s important to remember that purposefully + strategically bending some grammar rules is not the same thing as sloppy editing. It’s super important to write clearly and with proper form – going off the beaten path only when it strengthens your message and helps clarify your writing. Poor grammar and spelling can be distracting and confusing for your reader.
Step #4 – Dump first, edit later
One of the biggest things that stands in the way of writing your own personality-rich, engaging copy is the tendency to edit your words constantly as you put them down.
This often happens before your words even leave your brain and hit the page. Is this the right word to use? Does that need a comma? Is this another run-on sentence?
Editing your copy is important. In fact, you should edit your copy multiple times. When I write for myself or for clients, I spend at least twice as long editing as I do writing the original draft.
But here’s the real deal: my first draft always stinks. Big time. It is so full of misspelled words and missing punctuation that I’m probably the only one who could decipher it. It won’t stay like that for long – but it’s so important that it starts out that way.
Why? Because the first draft is not for editing or perfecting, it’s for dumping. It’s for getting all of your ideas out of your head and on the page – something that won’t happen if you’re constantly censoring yourself.
You need to get the raw material in front of you – your unchecked dialog – before you begin to shape it into the final product.
This first “dump” is where the flow will come from. When you are simply transferring thoughts to paper – without the editing and checking and re-writing – you will naturally use the words, phrases, and rhythm that happen during regular conversation. You’ll begin to write the way you sound.
Your prospects need to get to know you before they hire you. Give them a taste of who you are and what you can offer through you-drenched copy. The 4 steps in the article will get you started, and a little bit of patience and practice will help you perfect it.