Guest post by: Shayla Scallorn
Shayla is the word witch and artistic business guide behind Anthology Marketing Studio. She specializes in copywriting and brand worldbuilding. Shayla is on a mission to gently guide creative entrepreneurs through the wilds of business to a more mindfully aligned path.
Copywriting is the portal through which your audience can connect deeply with your brand. Copywriting is an umbrella term that encompasses your overall brand messaging, and the words you use on your website, content, and marketing materials that align with that messaging.
As a business owner you may have a troubled relationship with your messaging.
Not only is it one of the hardest things in the world to write about yourself (let’s just think back to everyone’s favorite interview question ….”can you tell me about yourself?”). You’re also very close to your own ideas. It can be an uphill battle to write about them well for the collective.
Today we’re going to explore new lenses for approaching copywriting. We’ll address the biggest obstacles keeping your words from flowing, a perspective switch, and some treasured writing rituals.
Whether you DIY your copy or call in a professional guide (aka: a copywriter) for this adventure…remember that words are magic. They are a potent ingredient for a thriving business.
Before we talk about how to hone your copywriting craft, I think it’s important to address the elephants in the room: the obstacles that prevent us from following through on even the best writing advice!
We’re human. We are our own worst critic, our inner voice can be incredibly judgemental, and we have a pesty habit of overthinking.
So let’s acknowledge them before we’re caught off guard by them.
Most “how-to” copywriting articles jump right into the age-old writing-psychology wisdom:
Which is ALL great advice!
But…you’ve probably heard it a lot. The jargony language of it can make it feel like a chore with ridgid steps to follow.
And if you’re job isn’t solely to be a copywriter you’re likely left at the end of these articles saying:
Learning copywriting strategies for your small business can feel like studying for an exam. When it comes time to write you feel those nerves set in, you hope the studying paid off, and you’re anxious about getting it “right.”
The formulaic, sales-psychology approach to copywriting is successful for a reason, but it’s also an obstacle. One that can be overcome by infusing a bit of magic into the writing process (more on that later)
Obstacle 2: Mindset
The second obstacle to copywriting is your mindset. We’ve been conditioned by school and work to write in a very particular, professional way.
Again, all valid advice.
But we’re not writing essays or corporate emails. We’re using the alchemy of language to bond with like-minded people for our business!
It’s very easy to get wrapped up in our own mind when we write copy thinking we need to be professional and perfectly polished. Professionalism is great—but our minds like to equate professional writing to robotic writing.
To write great copy we have to de-condition ourselves to the writing we learned in English class…we need to embrace our voice exactly as it is!
Perhaps that means tossing out some traditional grammar rules for colloquialisms. Maybe it’s using some capitalized letters or sprinkling in more exclamation points. It might mean writing as if you’re talking to a friend, (instead of structuring a research paper.)
I think we can all agree that comparison is at every turn of life as a business owner, not just our writing.
Comparison in copywriting is a dangerous path to follow for two reasons:
When looking too closely at the words of fellow business owners (especially those in your niche) you might feel tempted to mad-lib your own copywriting by weaving in juicy lines from others.
You might think:
“They said it so perfectly! There’s no way I could say it better.” Which leads right into the next point.
When you over consume and overanalyze copy from others you lose sight of your own voice. You don’t get a chance to exercise and explore the messaging that is unique to you.
When everyone in the same niche is saying the same cliche lines over and over again, how are clients supposed to know who they really resonate with?
Comparison can become the thief of originality– know that when you say what YOU feel in your copywriting you’re separating yourself in the sea of sameness.
Obstacle 4: Inspiration
Lastly, an obstacle to great copywriting is the lack of inspiration.
How often have you sat down to write something and subconsciously locked yourself away in a box? You tell yourself: “I’m going to push through and I’m not going to get up until I finish this”
Stepping away from distraction is one thing. But closing yourself off to inspiration while writing is like expecting a fire to continue burning without continued fuel.
Poet and photographer, Tyler Knott Gregson shared a quote with me that totally shifted my view on this. He said: “remember to be a conduit for creativity, not a conductor.”
Meaning, let inspiration from the world around you flow through you into the project at hand. Take in fuel by noticing and seeking inspiration, don’t force it and expect ideas to come from thin air.
If you’re struggling to get words on a page, sift through some inspiration via pinterest, a magazine, a youtube video or podcast. Flip to a random page in a book and read the line your finger lands on. Go outside and listen to the wind (I can’t stress this enough). Whatever you do, don’t close yourself off to inspiration.
Now that we’ve touched on some common obstacles to copywriting, let’s look at my favorite perspective shift!
I’m a very visual person and I’m also obsessed with stories. I’ve found the same to be true about many of my clients so I created a new way to approach copywriting that allows them to embody their messaging more fully. (An approach you can start today!)
See your brand as a whole world. A place to visit, an atmosphere you can feel. A setting full of adventure and thriving characters (ideal audience). A culture with guiding principles (core values) and it’s own folklore (brand stories)
When you begin to view your brand as more than a set of descriptive qualities on paper, your copywriting becomes a key, a portal if you will…to transport others into your brand world.
Think about your favorite fictional worlds, how would you describe them to someone else? Would your enthusiasm come through as you explained all of the intricate details? I’m pretty certain it would!
That enthusiasm and passion is often missing when we sit down to write copy for your business. We treat it like a chore. Like a job. Not an opportunity to express yourself and share what excites us.
Afterall, your business should excite you!
What you provide for your clients should excite you!
Your brand is three-dimensional and your writing should reflect the immersive experience it is. Here’s a few brand messaging pieces that can be linked to this concept of worldbuilding (I encourage you to think about them and apply them to your own brand):
This list is a great jumping off point for changing your perspective on copywriting. Flipping from two-dimensional jargon and robotic language to having FUN writing about this whole world you’ve created.
You can take this a step further by meditating on/ visualizing what your brand world would include. What would the landscape look like, what sounds do you hear, what sort of shops would be in a nearby town? (ex: books and art are big symbols in my brand so my world includes elegant bookstores and art studios). It can be as realistic or fantastical as you like!
**note*** These elements above are more for strengthening your own imagination and connection to your brand world, not necessarily something you’d share outright in your copywriting. This exercise is meant to set the tone for your brand experience.
With this approach, your copywriting becomes an invitation for others to come explore! And the process becomes a bit more magical, don’t you think?
If this concept is pulling at you and you’d like a partner in crafting your brand world, my website copywriting collection dives deeply into this approach to your messaging.
Even as a copywriter, writer’s block can come crashing in with a vengeance! To avoid the crash (or after I’ve already been hit with it) I rely on a few writing rituals to get out of my own head.
You likely already know how beneficial it can be to get up and go for a walk when you’re feeling stuck with work, but it truly is a cure for stagnant energy build up.
I love taking walks, doing some yoga, or dancing to a song in the morning before I open my email, texts, or social media for the day. It’s a grounding practice that helps me focus on myself, the world around me, and my body…instead of my quick-to-start-chattering-mind.
If I’ve already started a project and get stuck halfway through I have to peel myself away from the screen at times to go get some kind of movement in (I always come back feeling refreshed).
This is a fairly new writing ritual for me. I always thought poetry had to rhyme and it was never something I was able to write easily. After my recent experience in a writing program, I was able to look at poetry in a whole new light: a key to unlocking the unconscious.
There really is no right or wrong way to make poetry….it’s a way to strengthen your “noticing” abilities. And noticing strengthens your writing abilities.
I keep a poetry journal now that I open up before I start my day or a new writing project. I simply let the pen dance across the page and write what comes up. It’s short, sweet, but bubbling up from a deep place that grounds me.
Kate Belew has a newsletter with weekly poetry prompts that I highly recommend checking out if this practice interests you!
Sometimes we need a little outside perspective. One of my favorite writing rituals is pulling a tarot or oracle card to glean some new ideas on the project at hand.
I ask a question as I shuffle the cards such as:
If you don’t have cards you can also practice Bibliomancy which I mentioned a bit earlier on. You can ask a question from above by picking up a random book, flip to a random page, and let your finger land on a line….that’s the message you need to hear.
This practice is fun, relaxing, and shakes up the routine.
I’m a Human Design Projector, INFJ, Enneagram 2, and total bookworm who loves to romanticize my life. Before I begin a new writing project I like to set an intention and romanticize the process by doing things like:
Intentions can be as simple or as intricate as you like. Before I start a copy project my intentions look like:
Giving yourself a phrase you can come back to often helps your mind settle and motivates you to keep going when your wheels start to spin.
Copywriting is one of the many tasks on your plate as a business owner—and an intimidating one at that. Whether you don’t know where to start, get stuck halfway through, or you’re dissatisfied with the final results…I encourage you to come back to this article as often as you need!
Recognize when you’re hitting an obstacle (knowing why you’re feeling icky about it is essential to choosing a new path forward). Practice seeing your brand as a world you’re eager to share with others. Your writing will be laced with your excitement.
Play around with the writing rituals and experiment with your own! How can you make things more fun? How can you ground in your body instead of your overthinking, overcritical mind?
The magic is already in you (as are the right words). You simply need to give them room to breathe.
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