Without knowing it, many copywriters are hindering their productivity by making mistakes in both the planning and in the actual content writing itself.
To combat this, read through our list of copywriting mistakes to ensure you’re being as productive as possible.
Not getting the right brief
Making the best of your time comes down to writing with purpose. Briefs are like pictures to copywriters, they give clear ideas and focus on what the client wants. A good brief will have all the basic requirements for your copy, including the main message, purpose, format, length, audience, tone of voice and deadline. Knowing what these are before you begin the writing process will save you a lot of time and help you to be as productive as possible.
After reading a brief, copywriters should begin to formulate a plan on how they’re going to write, incorporating the guidelines provided. But don’t be afraid to ask questions if you think that anything important is missing. A common mistake is to start writing without being sure of a specific element of the brief, but this could jeopardise the whole piece.
If you start writing in the wrong tone of voice, or without being clear of the purpose of the copy, it could result in a complete re-write and unhappy clients. The clearer your understanding of what the client wants, the easier it will be to create purposeful writing.
Not having a plan
Not knowing where your content will be heading is a major copywriting mistake. It’s important to have a rough view of how you’re going to write and what elements you will be covering. This will enable your creative juices to flow and have a positive impact on your productivity.
A great way to start this is by mapping out the structure of both the article and content. List all the subheadings/main points that will be used and then formulate a plan on which subheading you want to tackle first.
Some copywriters find it beneficial to start at the end and write the concluding paragraph first, while others like to write all the subheading content and then tackle the intro last. Whichever way you decide to begin, having a layout of all the points first will allow productivity to flourish and will put an end to the stop-start style of writing.
Researching too much
When it comes to writing persuasive copy, you need to be informed on your topic. But too much research can hinder your creativity and add unnecessary hours on top of your workload. If you’re spending more time researching your content than actually writing it, you could have a problem.
Copywriters need to learn when to stop scrolling through information and when to start putting pen to paper. All the research in the world isn’t going to get your copy produced, no matter how well informed you feel. There are three sure-fire ways to recognise when you’re ready to start writing:
1. You’ve found your answer
What, how and why questions are a great way to start any research project because they have a definite answer. Set yourself a few of these questions before you start researching and once you’ve answered the questions it’s time to stop researching and move on to writing.
2. You keep coming back to the same source
If every five minutes you’re clicking back to the same page or going back to the same files, you’ve probably come to the end of your research. Re-reading the same information is a good sign that you find this content informative and that it’ll be a helpful resource for your own writing. There’s no need to continue if you’ve found what you’re looking for.
3. Your deadline is fast approaching
Most writers will know the famous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quote, ‘I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by’. Deadlines can be a copywriter’s worst nightmare, but they can also be an excellent productivity management tool. If you’re still researching and your deadline is now counting down in single digits, it’s time to stop.
Seeking approval before you’re finished
Lastly, copywriting can be gut-wrenching work and it’s common to feel the need to seek approval before you’re finished. Seeking approval too early can be detrimental to the flow of your writing, and if your client takes a while to respond, it could put your work on hold for several days.
Instead of making the snap decision to send over unfinished work, take your allotted time to research, write and proofread.
Two final things to consider:
1. Re-read the original brief before sending your piece to the client. Does it closely match your work? You may notice you misunderstood an element of the brief or skipped over something. One final check is always worth it.
2. Always be sure to proof your work before sending it to the client. If you can, get a friend or fellow writer to scan it for errors too.
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