5 Ways to Massively Increase the
Quality of Every Page You Write.
(Or … the Rule of Two.)
As you read this post, you’ll quickly find a theme.
I keep saying the same thing, over and over.
A bit like a mantra.
It’s the Rule of Two.
Apply it to every writing project you take on, and you’ll amaze and delight your clients every time.
Let’s get started …
1. Read the brief at least TWO times, and ask more questions.
When you get work from a client, they’ll give you a brief. This document tells you all about the product or service they sell, the audience they’re talking to, and the purpose of the project you’ll be working on.
Basically, the brief is your set of instructions.
Sounds simple, right?
And, it is simple. But, copywriters in their early years keep making the same mistake.
They read the briefing document just once, and then start writing.
And yes, you guessed it, they often write something that’s “off brief.”
Write “off brief,” and it doesn’t matter how good your writing is.
That’s a fail.
And, it’s hard to recover from this kind of mistake. Your client is unlikely to forgive you.
The good news is … it’s really easy to avoid making this mistake in the first place.
Read the brief at least twice. Take notes. If something isn’t clear, reach out to your client with some questions.
But, don’t start writing until you’re absolutely certain you’ll be “on brief.”
2. Spend TWICE as much time in preparation.
Another mistake junior copywriters make is to dive in and start writing … before they’re ready.
They think they’re ready, but they’re not.
Here’s how it should be done …
First, give that briefing document a second reading.
Then, you need to research the product or service.
Next, you absolutely have to research your audience. Get to know whom you’re writing to. Find Facebook groups or Amazon review pages where your audience is active.
Listen to their language. Get a feel for what their emotional highpoints are. What delights them? What frustrates them?
Once you’re clear on all that … structure your project.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a blog post, a sales page or an email. Map out a structure for what you’re going to write.
For example, when writing this blog post, I wrote a first draft of the headline … which I’ve changed a few times now.
Then, I wrote the five subheads. That means I thought it all through. I worked out in advance what I would say and then broke it down into five sections … with a short introduction and a close.
Once the structure was done, I could see I was on track to create the kind of post I was hoping for.
And, when I finally sat down to write the body of the page, it was easy.
It was easy, because I’d invested time in advance, getting prepared and creating a structure.
3. Delete your first TWO paragraphs and see what happens.
The first few lines of anything you write are incredibly important.
If they don’t grab and engage your readers, they’ll stop reading and go someplace else.
This means your first two paragraphs have to be really strong.
And, here’s the thing …
The first draft of those first two paragraphs is hardly EVER strong enough.
Because, as writers, we tend to use the first few lines to “warm up.”
This is as true for me as it is for a newbie. The difference is, I KNOW I have to watch out for those “warm up” lines.
In fact, once I’ve written a draft of whatever I’m writing, I’ll go back and inspect the first two or three paragraphs.
And, more often than not I’ll just delete them, and then tweak my new opening.
I’m not suggesting you automatically just cut off the first two paragraphs of your first draft.
I’m suggesting this as a guideline.
In fact, for me, it’s become a ritual. I always check to make sure my page starts with a punch … with the good stuff. And to get there, I sometimes have to prune my first draft!
4. Rewrite the last TWO paragraphs, so you’re closing stronger.
This tip is much the same as the previous one. Kind of.
Now, instead of asking you to focus on the first two paragraphs, I want you to look at the last two.
Why? Because they need to be strong, and there’s a temptation for us to kind of fade away at the end of the page.
This used to be a BIG weakness of mine.
I’d write a strong opening, a strong middle … and then kind of fade away at the end. Not good!
What I do now is go back to that briefing document and remind myself of the PURPOSE of whatever it is I’m writing.
I then make sure the last two or three paragraphs of my copy speak to that purpose, head on.
5. Check your work TWICE before sending it to the client.
This is super-important.
When you’ve finished writing, it can be tempting to send your work off to your client immediately. Job done!
First, after you’ve proofed your copy on your screen, print it out on paper.
Then take that printed version into another room.
I know. Sounds weird. But, I always do a final proof of my work at the dining room table, away from any distractions at my desk. On paper, with a pen in my hand.
Best of all, do this the morning after. Give your copy the overnight test.
Why? Because it’s easy to fall in love with what you’ve written on the day you write it. But, when you look at it the day after … hmm, not so amazing after all!
Plus … with a few hours separating writing from proofing, you’re more likely to pick up any typos and other errors.
Wrapping it up …
The thing about really good writing, of any kind, is that it doesn’t happen with the first try or the first draft.
It takes work. It takes TWICE as much work as you might think.
And, here’s my confession …
After 40 years as a professional copywriter … I STILL have to follow the advice I’m giving you here.
This isn’t just advice for newbies. It’s advice for every professional writer.
Follow these five guidelines, and your writing will be TWICE as good.
This article, 5 Ways to Massively Increase the Quality of Every Page You Write. (Or … the Rule of Two.), was originally published by Wealthy Web Writer.
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