Look at this dude going from Blank Page, to Skeleton Outline, to finished Page!
Going from a completely blank page to a finished document is daunting for a lot of people.
The good news is you don’t just have to sit there and suffer, staring at the blinking cursor or blank notebook.
In this article we're going through some of the time-tested methods to get you through this process while still maintaining your creative edge (and having fun writing)!
Keep in mind, you should try a few strategies, and pick the best ones for you. Some will work for you and some might not.
So read the article, try out the strategies, and then share your own ideas in the comments!
Let A Computer Generate Ideas For You:
Blanking on what to write? We gotchya bro! Enter your topic in this box and this generator will come up with hundreds of “angles” to approach your topic:
You can try a Blog Idea Generator right here:
Step 1.) Enter your topic
Step 2.) It generates several hundred ideas for you.
You can scan the generated list of topics it creates, and see if any jump out at you. Sometimes you can need to "see" a good idea, then your brain can run with it!
Make a Skeleton Outline:
Whether you’re writing a regular article or a long ass sales page, a great first step is to make a "Skeleton Outline."
Sometimes the main reason people get stuck, is they don’t know what part of the post they’re writing. By using a “Skeleton Outline” you can quickly figure that out. For example, here is a skeleton outline for a sales page:
[bold statement showing what can be done]
[Personal story how the product helped]
[show why they need it]
[Problem the product solves]
[show what will happen if they don’t have it]
[show different uses for the product]
[What’s included in the product]
[Justify the price]
[success case study]
[show the pricing options]
[Justify the pricing even more]
[How much better life will be with the product]
[Frequently Asked Questions]
[About the creator]
So to write out this sales page, you just have to fill in a few paragraphs for each of these sections.
That's the beauty of a Skeleton Outline...it "chunks up" the work you need to do into logical pieces!
Choose a “Lens” to write through:
This is a great strategy for writing headlines, but it works for whole articles, too.
For example, let’s say you’re writing copy for a golf product. Here are some different ways you could write a headline, using 3 different "lenses."
Aggressive Lens: Use an aggressive, competitive, and winning-at-all-cost tone:
- "Use these 3 tips to CRUSH your golf buddies on the course!"
- "Don't just win the round, obliterate everyone on the course."
- "Some people think golf is about leisure, and some people think it's about winning."
Inspiring Lens: Use a tone that helps inspire them to reach their goals.
- "Will this be the year you finally lower your golf score?"
- "It doesn't matter if you've been bad for 10 years, Jim's training can finally get you shooting below 90."
- "Not only will your golf game get better, but your focus and endurance will skyrocket in other parts of life."
Benefit-driven Lens: Use logical and technical terms to describe the benefits.
- "This will show you how to use your same driver to hit 2X farther (even with a bad back)."
- "We'll teach you the proper way to use graphene clubs so they impact the ball harder and straighter."
- 'The average student of ours ends up 2 shots under par per hole."
Different industries will require different lenses.
For example if you're selling fitness to super jacked dudes, an "Aggressive Lens" might work well.
If you're selling knitting accessories to nice old ladies, an "Inspiring Lens" might work well.
Use one of these lenses to write through!
Make A List Of Questions (Then Answer Them):
Let’s say you’re writing an article about how to become a copywriter. The great part is that you can search for this topic, and then Google will give you the other questions that people ask about this topic!
Google gives you the questions to answer:
Google often GIVES you the questions people are most curious about!
Copy these questions into your doc. As you answer them, you'll be filling out the body of your article. Erase the questions, leave your answers, and BAM...your article is done.
Use "Searches Related To" On Google:
This strategy is similar to the previous strategy because it also lets Google do the work for you.
If you write an article about Best Copywriting Books for Beginners, then you know people also want to know some other stuff based on what Google tells you are “related searches.”
Thanks for doing all the work for us Google!
Use common sense - some of it won’t fit into your article, but some of it will help you fill out your article
Use The "Lock and Key" Method:
This is when you list out the negatives about a topic, which is “the lock.”
Then you give the positives that people are looking for - “the key.”
There are a few ways to do this:
Misconceptions about a topic → Actual truth most people don’t know
Mistakes people make → How to correct the mistakes
Dos → Don’ts
The health and fitness industry uses these formulas all the time. Just think of all the articles you've seen with titles like this one:
"12 Foods You Need To Stop Buying" is the Lock.
"17 You Should Eat More" is the Key.
This kind of "lock and key" article is all over the place because it works. It's easy for the writer to write, and creates a headline that makes people click. Perfect combination for any busy copywriter.
Don’t write anything...Talk instead!
Now, technology lets you write a whole article without even typing! Ways to talk instead of writing:
Use the iPhone voice memo app to talk while you’re walking or driving
Call a friend on Uberconference (free) and talk about your article. Record the call. Get them to ask questions. Go get it transcribed on Rev.com and your article is basically done.
Even Google Docs let’s you record your voice--right inside the Doc
Follow a Proven Formula:
Lots of awesome copywriters in the past have figured out the proven formulas for your writing. They already did the hard work, so we can just follow their lead! Here are two famous proven copywriting formulas:
Attention - Get the reader’s attention by saying something interesting, shocking, or provocative
Interest - Build interest in your topic by giving important and valuable information
Desire - Make your reader want whatever it is your selling: click a link, enter an email, even just to leave a comment. Answer, what’s in it for them? And what will they be missing if they don’t do this?
Action - Make it super clear exactly what action you want them to take
Problem - Name the common problem that you know your reader has
Agitate - Describe it in detail. Explain all the ways that the problem is making their life suck! It sounds evil, but you are showing you understand and care about the reader
Solution - Give the solution to the problem. This could be your product, a free download, or you could just give away the information in the article
Start with a writing prompt
Sometimes the hardest part is the first sentence. A writing prompt gets your “creative wheels” turning by giving you most of the first sentence. You finish it and keep going.
“This first time I used this product I…..”
“The most creative way I’ve seen this product used is…..”
“It was exactly two years ago when I…..”
“From my customers angle my product looks like…..”
“If I was super rich I would…..”
“The best way in the world to do [cool thing] is to…..”
Spy...I mean, "see" What other people are writing:
This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get ideas for your article. AND it can help you make sure your article is the best one on the topic!
If you are writing copy about your new CRM app. Go search Google for “Best CRM software” and read all the top results that come up.
You’re not going to steal other people’s ideas. Use this technique to help you do three things:
Research the topic in depth
Remind yourself of what you already know
Figure out how to make your article better than the others on the subject
You can go super in-depth on this process by checking out sites like Quora, Facebook groups, Reddit, and Twitter. See what people are saying about your topic, what questions they have, and use all of that info to write your bomb-diggity article.
Writing Strategies Cheat Sheet:
Use a Blog Idea Generator: Plug in your topic and let the magic blog machine do its work!
Make a Skeleton Outline: List out the "bones" of your article, and have a set structure to fill out.
Choose a “Lens” to write through: Angry, hopeful, mysterious...pick a tone and write like that.
Use Bullet Points: Simple technique for the straight shooter.
Make a list of questions (then answer them): Google tells you the questions people ask. Answer them.
Use “Searches related to” on Google: Search for your topic, and get a bunch of sub-topics that people are looking for. Use those to fill out your article.
Use a “lock and key” structure: Start with the bad things about your topic, end with the good stuff. Easy to write, easy to read.
Don’t write anything…Talk instead!: Use that handy voice notes app in your pocket to "talk out" your article!
Follow a proven formula: Follow the footsteps of the copywriting greats and steal their formulas (AIDA, PAS)
Start with a writing prompt: Let someone else write your first line, then everything flows from there.
Spy…I mean, “see” What other people are writing: Go check social sites to get ideas from others. Just don't get trapped in an infinite scroll.
Hope you learned and enjoyed!