Readings & Events

How I Write: My Copywriting Process

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 11.11.41 AMWhether I’m writing a campaign for Art.com’s homepage or brainstorming a creative name for one of my partner’s sushi dinner parties, I always take the same steps.

Let’s take this email copy (below) for example.

The Goals

  • Write marketing copy that quickly and effectively communicates the benefits of the featured product
  • Get the customer to convert (AKA make a purchase)

Now, I’ll give you a window into my process so you can write copy quickly and effectively too.

Step 1 – Create a solid word bank.

Don’t be picky. Just write down a list of words that come to mind as you brainstorm entertaining ways to communicate the product benefits.

For the example above, I made a list of words and phrases revolving around word art and ways to update a space:

  • Words
  • Word art
  • Spelling
  • Graphic
  • Trendy
  • Contemporary
  • Edgy
  • Cool
  • Letters
  • Fresh look
  • Fun art
  • New beginnings
  • Etc.

After you create a list of words and phrases you’re satisfied with, use a thesaurus to make it bigger. Look up idioms or fun puns too (if they’re in line with the brand you’re writing for, that is).

Trust me  often times these word banks make me want to throw up because they’re such crappy regurgitations of what I actually want to say. Don’t worry, though. We’ll get there.

Step 2 – Start writing your copy.

Move your word bank to the bottom of your document so you can start writing copy options above it. This is how I prefer to work but you may prefer something different. I like seeing the word bank I brainstormed beneath where I write so I can quickly reference it for inspiration, but it still feels like I’m starting out with a blank slate.

I like to give stakeholders three copy options for every asset they request so they have a variety to pick from.

I format my working document like this (below), listing options I prefer the most in the first slot so the client/stakeholder reads it first.

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 12.08.31 PM

Step 3 – Keep a copy dump.

Instead of deleting copy I’ve written (but do not favor compared to more solid options), I move it to a copy dump at the very bottom of my working document. Sometimes, I end up writing copy that doesn’t necessarily work for the product or brand at hand, but could work for something else down the line. I also just like the fact that I can look back at my working documents and see why I made the strategic decisions I did (always helpful when selling your work to a client/stakeholder).

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 12.13.31 PM

There’s so much more to copy strategy (competitor analysis, brand messaging, etc.) but this is a quick glimpse into a process that can help you write well quickly.

Questions or comments? Let me know.

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