4 Tips for Increasing Your Productivity … and Profits

There are two core secrets to success in any career, and they are crucial in copywriting.

First: Continuously improve your skills. Second: Improve your productivity so you can get more work done and earn more money.

Simply put, the more productive you are, the faster you can get high-quality copy to clients … and the faster your rise to success will be.

If you're one of those people who is working all the time but accomplishing less than you need to, the following 4 techniques for improving productivity will get you on track.

Two of these techniques relate directly to your copywriting, and two relate to your life in general. (After all, you don't spend your entire life in your office – and all that "stuff" sitting in piles on your kitchen table can be a huge productivity zapper.)

  1. Use the "Jerry Rice System."

    San Francisco 49er Jerry Rice is generally considered the best wide receiver in football history. All during his career – even at the very peak – Rice took two- to three-hour extra practice sessions by himself.

    He practiced so much that everything he did on the field became second nature to him.

    You can do the same. Because the best way to learn how to write productively is to write. And write. And write. If you don't have a current project from a client or an AWAI exercise to work on, go back to the tried-and-true practice of copying successful sales letters by hand. Or rewrite a less-than-stellar promotion that you get in the mail.

    By practicing like Jerry Rice – over and over again – you do more than increase your writing skills. Writing becomes easier. You're able to write more efficiently … and more profitably.

  2. Organize for Success.

    Your productivity drops drastically when you have to spend time looking for the things you need to get a job done. You know the feeling: "I know it's here. Where is it?"

    When you have an assignment from a client, get all the pertinent information organized so you can quickly get your hands on what you need.

    Develop an organizational system that makes sense to you.

    Here's what I do. I stick research into individual, clearly labeled file folders. I put all the material provided by the client in another folder. "Miscellaneous" items go into another folder. Then everything goes into one of those expanding folders, labeled with the name of the client and the title of the project.

    Here's a warning. Being too organized will zap your productivity. I used to insist on computer-printed, color-coded labels for my folders. My file cabinets looked great … but I was wasting time.

    Don't fall down the same rabbit hole. Organize for greater productivity, not for a stunning visual effect.

    A note about computer files: If you save everything to "My Documents" or your computer's desktop without organizing it, it won't be long before you can't find anything. Instead, create a folder in "My Documents" called "Copywriting." Inside that folder, create individual folders for each of your clients and for your copywriting training ("AWAI").

  3. Reduce Piles of "Stuff" Lying Around.

    Papers, promos to be read, work-related items, and other "stuff" will pile up everywhere if you let it happen. Eventually, this will impact your productivity.

    Keep your work area and your life free of the distractions these piles bring with them. Get control of them and improve your productivity by asking yourself these questions:

    • Does this require action? (If so, act on it immediately.)
    • Can I identify a specific use for this in the next two months that will benefit me? ("I may need this someday" doesn't count.)
    • If I toss this now but need it later, can I get it easily? (If not, keep it – but only if you can identify a specific use for it.)
    • What is the worst possible thing that would happen if I did not have this? (Legal or tax problems, for example.)
  4. Perfection Inhibits Productivity.

    You want your copy to be "perfect" – but you will never get it there if you insist on perfection as you write, constantly revising as you go along. (Strong, compelling copy is the result of numerous revisions. It never happens in the first draft.)

    Insisting on perfection will keep you running in place in your career. "I'll send the AWAI exercise in as soon it's perfect" is likely to lead to your never sending it in.

    If you don't take that first, less-than-perfect step, you won't get the valuable feedback on your copy that makes you better at what you're doing.

    This is true not only in copywriting, but in anything else you want to accomplish in your life … including getting clients and promoting your career.

    Strive for perfection, yes. But realize that true perfection is not humanly possible. Instead, work to your highest capabilities and constantly work toward improving them.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: July 9, 2007

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