Copywriting | 6 min read
The life of a copywriter can be exciting at times. You get to expand your knowledge about a variety of industries, learning the ins and outs of fields you’ve never been exposed to and getting a better understanding about how products and services impact people’s lives.
Those are the good days.
Other times, though, you’re sitting down to write about cloud computing networks for the fifth time in a week and wondering why you didn’t hustle a little harder to sell that screenplay you wrote in college.
But that’s part of the gig.
Copywriting involves a lot of repetition. If you’re writing for a single client over a period of time, that necessarily means covering the same topic multiple times. As tempting as it may be, you can’t allow that fatigue to seep into your writing. If you’re bored writing something, the reader is sure as hell going to be bored reading it.
And that means they’ll probably stop reading, which is your worst case scenario as a copywriter.
So how do you keep on writing about the same topics over and over without losing your mind or churning out the same boring content?
You have to learn to look at things from a different angle and shake up your idea of what’s possible.
Writing is Work (No, Really, It Is)
Before we look at some ways to keep your writing fresh, it’s worth remembering an important fact about the nature of writing.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there about writers, many of which are perpetuated by writers themselves. We talk a lot about finding inspiration, about how we love finding new ways of using language to express ourselves or how writing allows us to embrace our inner creativity.
That might be true 10 percent of the time.
Sometimes writing is exhilarating and fun, with the words coming so easily you almost can’t type them out fast enough.
The rest of the time, though, writing is work. Hard work.
And it doesn’t matter what you’re writing. I’ve written industry blogs, academic papers, roleplaying games, and novels, and none of them were finished by inspiration alone. More often than not, you’re sitting down for hours on end, chipping away one word at a time and wondering if you’ll ever get to that distant conclusion.
Don’t worry. That’s normal.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be inspired to produce good work. In fact, sometimes it’s better if you’re not inspired because it allows you to assess your writing more critically during the editing and revision process.
I bring all of this up because writers often get discouraged when writing starts to feel like work. They don’t have too. If it feels like you’re working, it probably means you’re doing something right.
Okay, now that we’ve got that little pep talk out of the way, let’s talk about how to bring fresh perspectives to tired topics.
Think You’re the Expert? Prove It.
One of the biggest challenges of writing about the same topic over and over again is that you become so familiar with the details that you feel like there’s nothing new to cover.
On a surface level, this might be true. Copywriters can easily fall into the pattern of repeating things they’ve already written about, phrasing it just differently enough that it doesn’t get dinged by Google bots crawling your content.
But you can shake yourself free of that by really delving into the details. Instead of spitting out the same tired description about something, take it as an opportunity to learn more.
If you’re writing for a manufacturing company, for example, you’ve probably dropped in a sentence or two about some piece of industrial machinery in every blog you’ve written for them. Maybe for your next post, you should make the effort to learn more about that equipment.
Find some new articles. Listen to a podcast. Watch an instructional video. Instead of a couple sentences, your research efforts might well produce a few paragraphs that not only give you something new to write about, but also show your readers that you ARE the expert you claim to be.
Are You SURE About That?
Or maybe you’re not. Another problem that copywriters run into is that we often produce so much content that once we feel like we know something, we don’t go back and reassess whether or not we actually do know it. There’s nothing more embarrassing than repeating some point over and over only to find out later that you’re wrong.
Honestly, if you can get a copywriter alone (and get a couple of drinks in them), they’ll often be quite forthcoming about how much they realize they don’t know. Especially in technical fields, there are a lot of things copywriters only kinda understand, but they get by with jargon and superficial research.
In the long run, that’s not a very good approach to things. Looking at every blog as an opportunity to reassess what you think you know can help you think more critically about the topic and shake up the monotony of the writing process.
Get Back to Basics
If you really think about it, blogging is a weird form of writing.
We tend to think about blogs as interconnected pieces, but if you’ve ever actually tried to use them as information sources, you know that’s not really how people read them. Just because you wrote about how something worked in your first month of blogging doesn’t mean somebody reading a blog you write three months later will have read it.
When you first write about a topic, you tend to go into more detail because you’re trying to get a grasp on it yourself. Once you’re more comfortable, you begin making assumptions, trusting that readers will automatically know what you’re trying to talk about because you’ve already written about it elsewhere.
But they might not. Even if you understand a subject well, sometimes it’s helpful to go back to the drawing board and act as if you’re trying to explain it for the first time.
Don’t look at what you’ve written previously and don’t pull up your same old sources. Find new examples or think of new analogies that might convey the same information. Approaching a subject without the accumulated baggage you’ve collected along the way can really shake up the writing process.
Find Some Fresh Voices
In the same way that copywriters wind up leaning on the same resources, we often draw upon the same people to give our industry-specific blogs a voice.
Maybe it’s that one subject matter expert quote you keep using over and over or the description of how some company turned around its business. Setting aside the question of whether or not the examples are still relevant (which is obviously important), if they don’t make you want to share them anymore, that’s probably a sign that it’s time to cast them aside.
Never forget that every industry is full of real people, all of whom have a story to share. Some of those stories may not be helpful for the point you’re trying to make, but others can transform the way you think about the topic.
Finding just the right quote or story will often reignite your interest and help you to approach the post from an entirely new perspective. If it’s a story you’re excited to share, that enthusiasm will definitely come across to readers.
So those are a few simple strategies you can use to shake up those tired old topics. Used effectively, they’ll not only help you look at topics from a new perspective, but they’ll also help you to become more knowledgeable and effective as a writer.
If you have a few tricks of your own for keeping things new and exciting, be sure to share them with us here.
Published on February 9, 2019