Issue #80—September 10, 2019
As any copywriter knows, the most painful part of a project is often simply getting started.
It hangs over your head for days, even weeks.
You know you're behind getting started...and getting behind-er by the minute.
The stress of your procrastination or being overworked and super-swamped overwhelms your brain.
Then one day you finally say, that's it...I'm DOING it...
How do you get out of this miserable, self-inflicted hell, and still meet your deadline?
If it helps, we've ALL been there, even the top veteran copywriters...
And here's what WE do.
The secret is right on your smartphone
Just about every smartphone these days has some kind of "voice memos" app, or you can easily download one.
Let me explain how it can help you whip up a solid first draft of copy far faster than sweating it out in front of your computer.
The first thing is, before you even sit down and attempt to write copy, you need to have your research done.
You have to know who you are writing to...what pain point your product is solving...what gives your product an advantage over others...what stage of awareness your market is in...and all that good stuff.
You have to feel you've got enough convincing fodder that yes, even you yourself would want to buy it.
Then think about how you'd present it to a friend or family member who's never heard about it before. How would you start off? What excites you the most?
TELL THEM (not for real...pretend they're there).
And record every word on your voice memos recorder.
You'd be surprised what comes out of it. You could have a good rough draft of a lead right there...and it could even help you come up with a good hook for your headline.
The "outdated" skill that saves you time (and struggle)
Decades ago, before everyone was expected to do their own word processing and have a desktop or laptop computer, dictation was king.
Managers dictated memos their secretaries would type up. In fact, any employee who produced reports or other written materials would either write them out by hand or dictate them on a audiocassette tape.
It'd then get typed up by a professional word processor (who was an actual human being).
When I started my first job out of college, I worked for a small defense consulting firm in Washington, DC as a research assistant.
The owner of the firm was a huge proponent of dictation, and encouraged everyone to use it. He felt it saved time, made us more efficient, and also produced better-quality writing.
He bragged about how he'd dictate memos and reports while driving, or even while taking a shower.
I was intrigued, and decided to try it for a report I was writing.
When I was done dictating it, I submitted the tape to the word processing pool. Yes, this makes me feel OLD. There was a whole group of people for whom this was their job.
The typed-up result was then put in the outgoing basket to be picked up by me later. But the company president beat me to it.
He read through it and thought it was great. He even wrote a note on it, "This is the best first-time dictation I've ever seen!"
I've used dictation on a few occasions as a copywriter since then. There have been times while driving when I'm in the research phase of a product that the copy feels like it's pouring out of me.
So I flip on my "voice memos" and start recording.
But I'm planning to do more of it. And so should you...
Top A-lister stuns client with "best first draft ever"
The other night I was a guest on a group call. A top A-list copywriter who hosted the call shared a story with the group. I had been asked about ways to overcome writer's block, and I shared this story about my early experience with dictation.
Then our A-list host (who I will keep anonymous) shared a recent story. She'd gotten WAAAAAAAY late on starting a brand new promo. In fact, the first draft was due in just a few days.
She'd already had her head deep into the research. It was a matter of writing the darn thing!
Since she had a long drive ahead of her that day, she decided to just dictate as much of it as she could into the voice memo feature on her smartphone.
Actually I think she said she used Rev, which has a feature where you can dictate and than have the recording automatically transcribed.
She sent the transcript off to someone who regularly edits her copy. And her editor was astonished, remarking, "I think this is the best first draft copy you've done!"
They got it all polished and edited and sent it off to the client. Who loved it and agreed it was definitely one of her best initial drafts.
If you've never tried dictation, you might want to give it a try...even if you're not waaaaaay behind on a deadline.
It can help get your copy in a more natural voice, the way people actually talk. It can save you tons of time.
And it can definitely help you beat the "blank page blues".
That's it for this week's issue. I'd be curious to hear if you've ever used dictation to write copy, and what tools (similar to Rev) you swear by.
And keep an eye out for a special promotion I'm doing with top email copywriter (and BFF) Chris Orzechowski later this week.
It's our "one-year anniversary" of our friendship (it's a long story) and you're not going to want to miss out on what we've got up our sleeves. More to come soon!
Yours for smarter marketing,