This guest post is by Jessica Albon of ThriveYourTribe.com,
In general, writing comes pretty easily to me. When I’m in the flow (which is relatively often), I can write about 2000 words in an hour. And yet when it comes time to write a sales page for myself, my writing flow and speed used to ground to a halt.
I’d spend hours on a single paragraph feeling frustrated that I wasn’t making any progress at all.
What was especially frustrating was that when I’d write a sales page for a client it didn’t take nearly so long—it was only when I sat down to write sales copy for myself that I couldn’t seem to get the words out.
Looking back now, I see the reason I struggled was entirely my own fault—which is a good thing because it means I could fix it. If this is something you’ve noticed with your own writing—blog posts flow but when you try to write sales copy that writing flow deserts you—you can fix it too.
In the past, when I’d write my own sales letter, I’d try to do everything at once—a little research, a little figuring out my goal as I went, a little getting to know my audience better, a little writing. I did everything all at once in a mish-mash.
And that may work when writing blog posts, but it’s a painful way to write a sales page. What’s more, when you write your sales page in dribs and drabs like this, it either takes a ton of editing to polish it up, or the reader will notice those starts and stops (which means they’re unlikely to make it all the way to the end). So, not only is writing this way making the writing more difficult, but the sales letter that results isn’t nearly as good as it would be if you tackled each task, one at a time.
We’ve heard a lot about how multitasking can hamper efficiency. But usually multitasking is seen as performing several very different activities at once (like watching TV, answering emails, and playing the kazoo). “Writing a sales page” on the other hand seems like just one activity.
But it’s not. “Writing a sales page” actually requires a number of distinct processes. When we separate out these distinct processes, we write more efficient, more effective copy.
The next time you have a sales page to write, try out this sequence of tasks and see if it helps make you a more efficient writer.
- Brainstorm: Spend ten minutes generating as many ideas as possible about the sales page, your hook, your audience, your product. Get them all down on paper.
- Distill: Go over your notes and determine the bones of your letter. What key thing do you want people to know after reading your sales page? Who are you talking to? How will you talk to them?
- Research: Learn your market inside and out. Research your competition, competitive advantage, and where your product or service fits. What’s the latest research that supports your product? What’s the evidence that your product or service is necessary?
- Write a project brief: Write everything out as if you were hiring a professional copywriter. Include everything about your product or service—all the nitty-gritty details—as if the person reading it knew nothing about you, your blog, your audience, or your offer.
- Brainstorm again: Now that you’ve done your research and written the project brief, you probably have some new ideas popping up. Get those down on paper.
- Winnow: When you were in school, you might have used index cards to collect notes for reports. This can be a really effective way to comb through your research, brainstorming, and brief. But even if you don’t get out the index cards, go back through everything you’ve done so far and review the essentials.
- Write your first draft: I highly recommend setting a timer for this step—don’t choose a crazy limit, but do choose a limit that’s a bit of a stretch. Write as quickly as you can without stopping from beginning to end of your sales page.
- Take a break: If possible, set your writing aside for a day or two. If you need to make more progress, going for a walk or run can help clear your head before you move to the next steps.
- Write a new first draft: Don’t throw out the first first draft, but do set it aside. Writing a second first draft from scratch tends to result in a smoother draft because you already know what you’re going to say. It’s usually easier to write a new draft than to revise the original first draft. (Plus, this method often results in new insights that make for a more effective letter.)
- Revise, revise, revise: Finally, it’s time to polish your sales page until it’s compelling from start to finish. As you revise, add your headline and subheadings.
It sounds like a lot of steps, but except for that break in the middle, these are the steps your brain already takes when you write a sales page. It’s just that up to now you’ve been mashing them all together. By separating out each task and performing them one at a time, you’ll gain focus, the writing will be easier, and the finished letter will be much more effective.
You might even find you actually enjoy writing sales copy!
Jessica Albon is the creator of the upcoming Sales Copy Play Dates and ThriveYourTribe.com, a digital branding, design, and copywriting agency.