How to Start Any Writing Project
Thanks for joining me again in The Writer’s Life. This week I’m sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned on my journey to a freelance business – so you can use them in yours.
On Monday, I shared a better way to deal with fear.
Yesterday, I outlined an easy way to get your first clients.
Today, I’m going to cover the step that follows after you’re hired … writing.
Sounds easy, right?
Well, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down at my computer and looked at blank Word documents with thoughts racing through my mind … “Where do I start? How can I get the ‘big idea’ I need to make this promotion a success?”
Fortunately, over time, I learned a valuable lesson …
Whether you’re writing a one-page article, a blog series, or a full-blown sales letter … research is the best way to ensure your words flow.
I follow three steps to kick-off every project.
Step 1: Talk with your client, whether by email, on the phone, or in person. This will give you a clear understanding of the project, the audience and your client’s goals.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- What is your goal for this project? What do you want to achieve?
- Who is the target audience? What is the number one problem they are facing now? Are they angry, fearful, or upset?
- What makes your product or service unique? What problem does it solve?
- Why are you the best person or company to provide this service or product?
- What message do you want your audience to know?
Of course, there are other questions you may need to ask. For example, if you’re writing a sales letter, you’ll need to discuss the offer and pricing. But answers to these questions will help you write copy that resonates with your audience, whether you’re working on one article or an entire website.
Step 2: Take your conversation with your client a step further with thorough research. This gives you a better understanding of your client’s audience and industry. And, chances are, you’ll probably unearth a great idea for your headline and lead.
If you want a list of what to look for, read this article on “Research Tips for Web Writers.”
Step 3: Study successful promotions, websites, and content in the topic or industry you’re working in. Ask yourself how each promotion got your attention. Note what you like about each one, so you can apply these techniques in your project. Then, write the first two pages of your favorites by hand.
When you take these steps, you’ll find it easier to organize ideas. Better yet, your writing will flow. And you can tailor this process for any project, including your own blog or website.
So, try this with your current project. If you’re not working for a client right now, apply this process to create a sample promotion that you can show potential clients.
And, if you have tips on beating the blank page blues, share your advice with everyone here.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at what to do if, while you’re writing, your gut tells you something is wrong.
The AWAI Method™ for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter
The AWAI Method™ combines the most up-to-date strategies, insights, and teaching methods with the tried-and-true copywriting fundamentals so you can take on ANY project — not just sales letters. Learn More »
Hello Chris, Thank you for the tip.As you know I am still new to this writing business.
For my case , I follow the advice of the great leader: To write and write every single day.
when I get stuck on the blank pages, I just write anything, usualy I write about how I feel good that morning. Walking around the block , listening to the birds singing.Smiling with somebody who runs on the street.
Sometimes I play piano. Music always gives me inspiration.
Thank you God Bless jennie
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Guest (Chris Morris) –
In this article you say in Step 3, "Study successful promotions, websites, and content in the topic or industry you're working in." I was with you until this point. Since I am new to this, and honestly since I seldom finish reading a promo of any kind because they bore me, don't seem relevant or sound like I'm listening to a used car salesman, how am I to know what a "successful promotion" is? I'm not sure I would know one if I saw it.
Thanks for your lessons,
Ken Pepper –
@Ken Pepper - It depends a bit on the industry. If you want to work in health and finance, start with any of the Agora companies and get on their email lists. You'll find great examples here. Another one for excellent examples is Boardroom. Visit their site and get on their list. They cover several topics. If you're working in a more specialized niche, say pet care, for example, I would just start with Google, and explore. See what you find and what you like. Get on their mailing lists, too. Anything you see repeatedly is working well, and is likely a control. Good luck!
Chris Allsop –