Having returned after a two week cycling holiday in Gran Canaria, I was reminded of a blog post I wrote four years ago after cycling in the Alps.
For many, placing ‘cycling’ and ‘holiday’ in the same sentence might seem peculiar, but for me, they go together. Admittedly, having not ridden my bike for over month (thanks to the British weather) and going from 3-degree centigrade to a whopping 31 degrees ‘overnight’ the first climb to Soria was brutal. Still, the point is that alpine cycling helps me switch off and the whole experience of climbing mirrors that of content creation.
Here’s the post in question to show you what I mean.
Writing Copy is a Lot Like Alpine Cycling
Trust me, after having spent the last 10 days cycling in the French Alps, I am well qualified to make that judgement.
There’s nothing like cycling for hours on end up hill to clear your mind. One climb in particular, Col de Rosalend (a super category climb of 20km), reminded me of what I go through every time I take on a new copywriting project.
Surrounded by stunning scenery, it doesn’t take long for your mind to be cleared of all those annoying things that have been bugging you for days. That is stage 1 of creating great copy.
When you begin a project its important you forget who you are.
The writing you create has to represent your client. There’s no room for your personality. It’s your job to forget who you are and how you would phrase things, and take on the persona of your client.
That’s why its important to meet your clients, or at least speak with them via telephone or Skype, so you can get a feel for who they are and what they want to achieve.
Getting back to the bike, you’re now reaching one of the toughest parts. The gradient has shot up to an average of 8% and you’re crawling along at about 6-7mph.
Every project comes with a steep learning curve.
In a short period of time, you have to get up to speed with a business your client’s been running for umpteen years.
You have to learn about them, their business, their personality, their goals and ambitions, their products and services and what they are looking to achieve with the piece of marketing they need your help with.
But it doesn’t end there. Then you have to turn your attention to their customers.
- What are they looking for?
- What problem do they want to solve?
- What would stop them from buying from your client?
It’s an uphill battle getting all the information you need, but perseverance will reap rewards in the end.
Finally, you’ve cycled out of the trees and can see the incredible view. The gradient has dropped to about 3% to give you some respite.
Surrounded by information, it’s time to start making a plan.
I find a mind map works best for me, helping me shape and refine the information until it falls into a logical order.
Now is the time to let your ideas flow out onto a blank page so they can be discarded, saved and shaped until you have a workable plan to follow.
Just when you thought it was all going swimmingingly, the gradient has kicked up again.
Using your mind map, you begin to create your copy.
You’ll have a few false starts, but don’t worry about those. Just let yourself write because you can clean it up, change it around and shape it later when you come to edit it. For now, just let the words flow.
Finally, you’ve reached the 1km to go marker and the end is in site. You’ve done it! You’re King or Queen of the mountain.
Once you have an initial draft in place you can begin the review process to craft the copy until it’s ready to be seen by your client.
After checking and re-checking your spelling and grammar make sure the message that comes across answers the questions your audience has. At times, this may be at odds with what your client wants, but it’s important to explain to them that the copy must appeal to their customers.
Creating engaging content is not easy.
Many people believe it’s just about putting a few woolly sentences together with a call to action.
There’s a lot to think about over and above selling your client’s products or services.
You must think about your audience, who they are, what they need and why they need it and then create a message that delivers on all fronts.
When not cycling, Sally Ormond is an international copywriter with over a decade’s experience in creating compelling marketing copy.