Hey there! This is part of my documentation for how I spent a month helping Raposa Technologies launch! I used this time to do a lot of research, learn a bunch of new skills, and focus on code and copywriting the whole time. If you want to know what I did, how I did it, and who Raposa Technologies is, click here!
Copywriting can seem daunting. At least it was for me. And I actually enjoy writing! I journaled often, and I loved to write opinion pieces and updates about whatever hobby or skill I had been learning for my website. But something happened to me when I began to write copy about logical fallacies for a company…
I lost my voice.
Have you ever heard “you are what you eat?” Well, I believe “you write what you read.” After reading so many technical documents, reports, and studies, I really struggled to find my style again.
I felt like I wasn’t writing well enough.
I definitely did feel a bit of imposter syndrome. Especially when I learned that engineers and doctors were the types of people reading the content for this company. Talk about pressure.
The result? My writing faltered. It took what felt like eons to finish each piece and don’t even get me started on the stress levels. Yikes.
So I did some studying. I bought some books, listened to podcasts, and I bring to you now the secrets I have learned. I developed my own writing method. This information may save your life someday, so take notes.
1. Outline the Topic
Write a solid outline. Include transition sections, paragraph headers, and make a headline that ties it together. Make sure your goals and topic are clear.
This is going to be very helpful with keeping yourself on track with the main points. An outline helps ensure you hit every point you want to make and makes the process much more manageable and less overwhelming than staring at a blank page.
2. Don’t Write, Speak
Use voice to text and fill in each section with whatever you want to say about the topic until each section is full.
Speaking helps with efficiency and it also gives you a framework to begin with that includes your speaking style. This helps make it your own and is very useful if you’re writing on a very analytical topic.
3. Take a Break
Take a deep breath through your nose and count to 10. Now through your mouth, release for as long as you can do (my record is 43 seconds). Now do that six more times. Refill your water and get a piece of fruit. Say it with me now; carbs, breath, and hydration.
Breaks are essential. Even if they’re only a few minutes long. Your brain and eyes sometimes just need to work with some new information. Drinking water, plus the carbs from the fruit, helps your mind feel more energized and more likely to work for you.
4. The First Half
Now that you’re brain’s refreshed, you’ll see a bit differently. Focus on the first half of your spoken outline. Read it and make edits to correct grammar and consistency to make sure the message is clear and concise. Keep as much extra information as you can- even if you think you won’t use it- highlight it instead of deleting it. Rearrange topics to fit the flow better wherever necessary.
These are your first major edits and they take time. You may feel a bit overwhelmed if you try to reread the entire thing and make edits at the same time. Separating them makes it more manageable for longer pieces.
5. The Second Half
Repeat step 4.
If you have a short piece, or something that doesn’t have a good separation point, you may want to just go from start to finish with these edits. You should start to see your ideas coming together now.
6. Check The Hook
Revisit the beginning and make sure it has a good pull. Maybe include a story, a quote, or an anecdote.
The hook is arguably the most important part of your writing. Even if you have the most interesting ideas ever written in the body, if nobody reads it because it doesn’t interest them, what’s the point?
7. Take a break!
Have a snack, buy a latte, maybe take a bath. Treat yourself!
8. The Entirety
Reread the full thing and make edits as you go. You’ll know what I mean. Weird wording that sounded fine early will pop out more. You may have to add or omit details. This is the time to either use or lose those highlighted portions.
By now you should have a decent piece. Reading the whole thing at once will bring up new thoughts and ideas that you didn’t see while knit-picking the sections like before.
9. Picture This
Now add some images to the document! This is a good time to revisit the headline and paragraph headers too to make sure they match the aesthetic of your new work. If you have anyone who can make edits or read it over, send it to them now.
Having new eyes can be the one thing taking your piece from good to amazing. You know what you’re trying to say through your writing so your brain may connect dots that you didn’t necessarily explain. A new brain can point these out and maybe even add new ideas to really just make it above average.
10. Now Stop
Close your laptop (or turn off your computer, device, etc.). Now go to bed and don’t think about it until at LEAST 24 hours later. If you’ve got a time crunch, do what you gotta do. But a fresh mind and perspective is the best tool for a second round of full edits.
11. Remember Your Goals
Full edits. All over again starting from the beginning. Read it aloud to yourself, your dog, to your sister, to your plants; whomever you please. Be critical and analytical. Make sure your headline works with the rest of the piece. Remember your goals; are you trying to get views? Make money? Make sure your headline is written to make that happen.
It may sound great in your head, but reading it aloud may be the savior to shed light on some weird wordings and phrases. Reviewing it in depth will put everything in a higher perspective. It’s easy to get lost in your ideas and soliloquies and forget why you’re writing in the first place. Make sure all your goals have been clearly met in the process.
And Voila! You’re done!
Using My Method
This isn’t how everybody writes, but it is a tried and true method that I use to stay destressed when I have a lot of writing to do or simply can’t find my muse. It has helped me avoid writer’s block and submitting some really questionable pieces.
Although the method I developed works great for me, there are three aspects I have learned through this process that have proved more valuable than the rest.
Draw up an outline
I typically write from thin air. I know what I’m saying because I say what I feel. That doesn’t require an outline. Copywrite is a lot more intentional than free writing. You have an audience and a goal. For my personal situation in particular, I needed to make sure I spread as much attention as possible. This meant as I wrote, I had to incorporate marketing techniques, specialty wording and sentence structures, and SEO.
So I made some templates. You can find them here!
My templates helped me make sure I got all of the main pieces of information in a way that easily flows for higher retention and attention. Creating an outline also solidifies the topic and helps you get back on track if you lose your momentum.
Lemme tell you, this is what brought my poorly-written 9-hour pieces into decently-written 2-hour pieces in a flash. I would never have been able to research and write as much as I did without making outlines at the start of everything. The difference in the quality of writing is phenomenal.
Read content you want to sound like
This one didn’t come to me until my final pieces of copy. The last couple I wrote didn’t require as much technical research so instead, I found myself reading more interesting writing on much lighter topics.
That’s when the lightbulb switched. I didn’t like my writing because it didn’t sound like me! I was writing like I was a psychologist stating examples and theories. Although the information was interesting, I felt detached and thought I could do so much better. But I couldn’t find the problem.
If all you read is boring college essay-type work, it won’t matter if you’re a good writer. You’re going to write like a bored college kid that just needs the credit.
Don’t overthink it
If you like what you’ve written, and you’ve made all the points you wish to make, then just publish it. You may think it isn’t perfect, or that it could still use some work to be better. Well, yeah, it probably can. But with that mindset, you’re going to be saying that forever. Your writing evolves just as much as you do and you will produce higher-quality pieces in the future.
Find some forums, or make your own domain and start submitting your work there. Don’t be a dragon hoarding all your work; sitting on it like gold, never to be appreciated by any. You’ve spent time on them; they’re valuable for that reason alone. And as cliche as it sounds, just remember to have fun.