This is a blog co-written by Vicky Shilling and Lea Tierney, resident copywriting expert in the Just Start Now community. Vicky and Lea are collaborating on an exciting course called Copy That Connects to help people with sticky writing issues just like this. Find out more and join the waitlist.
There’s nothing more frustrating than spending a lot of time creating content and writing things for your business – having been told that apparently that’s what you need to do to get it found online – and then feeling like you are shouting into the abyss when no one engages with it.
Are we right?
Your heart sinks and let’s be honest, you consider throwing in the towel. Maybe you’re just not cut out for this?
The thing is, it’s not your fault and trust us, you are not alone.
It’s not uncommon to experience tumbleweed with your business writing – also known as ‘copy’ – we’ll use the two words interchangeably in this blog, but know that ‘copy’ is just a fancy word for words and writing!
It’s a big ask for you to finish your college studies and be thrown into the world of selling your services without any guidance. You do need to create copy to help market yourself and your business. But it doesn’t need to be agonising!
To overcome the slump you are in, it’s important to understand why your current content is getting tumbleweed – and what you can do about it. And that’s exactly what this blog post is here to help you with (and at the end we’ll give you a heads-up on something we’ve created to boost your confidence even further).
Why are we sharing this? We both truly believe that writing words for your business is one of the most fundamental – and overlooked – skills you need to hone as a business owner.
Don’t just take our word for it, we love this post from Adam Grant about the power of writing:
The written word is one of the ways we’ve had the most fun with marketing our own businesses and forming an emotional bond with our own ideal clients. And with some practical support and your own toolkit, this is 100% something you can learn to do too.
You might be rolling your eyes at us here, this is something we’ve talked about a lot, particularly if you’re a regular follower of Vicky’s podcast and blog.
But the top reason that your words don’t land and aren’t getting the reaction – and the customers – that you want is because you are not clear on who you are speaking to.
Yep, we’re coming back to your ideal customer, my friend.
Who is that person you’re trying to sell to, the one you were trying to help?
If you don’t have a clear idea of who that person is that you’re trying to write for, and who everything you are creating is for and you’re not putting them at the centre, then your words won’t land. Instead, your messaging will feel murky and messy at worst. And it will feel aimless and fruitless and exhausting, at best.
If you don’t know who it is that you are trying to attract in, honestly, nothing else really makes sense. Your offers aren’t going to be quite right. Your marketing won’t work. The words on your website won’t convert people. And you’re going to find yourself saying: “This is all hopeless, no one’s ever going to book me”.
The thing is, ideal customers absolutely would book you, because they do need what you have to offer, but you need to make a connection with them and have what you can do for them written down somewhere for them to read and digest.
This is where being generalised and trying to help “everybody” will not be serving you. If you’re someone who identifies as “I haven’t quite figured out my niche yet” then this one is for you.
When you come from this space of trying to fix everyone, you could come up with hundreds of pieces of content, and write lots of things on your website or create lots of blogs or recipes or social media posts, but none of it will have the effect that you want to.
Who is it you’re trying to draw in? Who is it you really want to do work with? Who is it you’re writing those words for? What language is going to connect with them and make sense to them?
Keep that person front and centre, each and every time. Something Lea is constantly encouraging during the fortnightly Just Start Now community Copywriting Clinics is to get that ideal client persona stuck up on the wall, so you can see it every time you sit down to write.
If you struggle with this, one top tip would be to picture yourself five years ago – because most of us are here helping someone who is just a few steps behind us. What were you struggling away with unnecessarily? What dreams did you have? Start here when it comes to writing words that really connect.
The second reason that your words may not be landing and getting the reaction you want is that you are being a bit too preach-y / teach-y.
What do we mean by this?
You are too focused on trying to explain and justify what you do in your writing, rather than connecting at a human level first.
We wouldn’t usually say this but in some instances with your copy there can be too much ‘selling’. By which we mean you spend far too much time saying “you should buy my thing”, “here’s all the things that I do” and, “here’s how it works”.
Instead, a more effective approach is to focus on adding value and encourage conversations.
There’s also a tendency, particularly if you have recently qualified or you’re used to academic writing, to get stuck into the science.
And look, it’s only natural this happens. You put a lot of time and energy into learning this stuff and you’re excited to share that wealth of knowledge. You’ve been trained to prove to your lecturers that you know your stuff. It’s how you got such fabulous grades!
Everything you’ve worked through has been based around how well you know the science, how the body works etc. But writing great copy for your business requires a big shift in your approach and is a new skill set that you need to master.
You’ve got to change to writing for people that have never done your course, who don’t know all the stuff that you do about the body and don’t necessarily care about the science like you do. Your people don’t need to know the science-y stuff at the level that you know it, they need to know that you understand them, which requires you to use more of their language, and less of yours.
Being too preach-y also looks like not talking enough in your written copy about the problems that you solve and connecting with what is going on for those people as well as the outcomes your people want.
In terms of compelling copy let’s shift more into, “Is this you?” and “Is this how you are feeling?”
You want to make a connection with your ideal customer, their experience and what is going on for them, to start and join a conversation with them, rather than preaching and teaching at them.
If you’ve reached this point and you’re feeling confident that you do know your ideal customer and you don’t fall into the preach-y / teach-y camp and you’re thinking, “none of this sounds like my tumbleweed maker” how about this one: you haven’t found your own voice yet.
What often happens when you’re trying to write website copy, social media posts or even words for your leaflets is that you get sucked into trying to mimic other people; their methods, templates and all of those pesky “shoulds”.
When sitting down to write you try to emulate what other people are doing because that’s what you think it “should” look like. And what can happen during this process is that you lose your own voice and authenticity.
The idea that your voice doesn’t matter, that your opinion doesn’t count and no one’s listening to you can be really pervasive and makes itself known in how you show up in your business.
You can get stuck in a mindset spiral, when looking at a blank page, running through, “I have to be a certain way, I have to behave a certain way, I have to write certain things, I have to sound friendly, approachable, kind, accessible….” the list goes on.
It’s especially tricky to navigate for those of us who identify as women as we’ve been conditioned to stay small and bend ourselves to fit in.
Finding your voice doesn’t come easily or quickly. We’d love to say, “just be more yourself” and that would just fix it. But in a world where you have been conditioned to be less you, saying it how you want feels like an act of defiance.
Finding your own voice is an art, a skill and something you have to practice. Write lots, really stretch out of your comfort zone, use insightful prompts to explore how you really feel (that’s what we’ll be providing in our Copy That Connects course!).
An example Vicky has worked with in order to write more authentically from her own voice is “If nobody cared, if nothing else mattered, and it didn’t have any impact whatsoever, what would you really want to say to your clients?”
What we’re getting to the root of here is, what do you value, and what makes you, you? You are not the same as everybody else, and that’s your magic.
As Meghan Markel says, it’s not that women need to be given a voice, we already have a voice, we just need to be encouraged to actually use it. And this is the same for any gender, your authentic voice and message and way of doing things is really needed. With practice, your words can convey that personality and that’s what connects.
Your copy could be absolutely fabulous. Bang on the money – sparkling with personality, speaking directly to an ideal customer and hitting just the right tone to draw in connections and convert to customers. We really hope that’s the case.
However, if you only write that copy once every few months, people probably won’t see it.
And if there’s less of it, there’s less chance of making a connection.
In order to create the connections you crave, you have to be consistent with your copywriting and keep showing up – even when you’re seemingly hearing echoes in a resounding silence. Your writing must continue to flow as you believe and trust that the person you are speaking to is listening and watching.
Even if they don’t immediately (or ever!) reach out to you to say, “that really landed, thank you so much that was so helpful”, you have to know that they are still there and that you will still show up for them, irrespective of the response (or lack of).
When it comes to writing for your business there are two camps:
You have to get enough words out there in the world for them to land. We’d love to say it’s as linear as master your message -> post one thing to social media -> get booked out for the year by ideal clients.
But the reality is you’ve got to put out lots of (quality) stuff before you get those constant leads and sales.
We hope this blog has given you some pause for thought on where your copy could be letting you and your business down.
Having read this, if you’re thinking:
Then we’ve got you!
Our brand new group course Copy That Connects is a 6 week online group programme co-created by Vicky Shilling with copywriter Lea Tierney.
It’s going to show you how to write powerful copy for your wellness business – and feel confident about it. We want to teach you how to write engaging copy, go forth, build your amazing thriving, much needed wellness business and know that the words that you are putting down onto a page, physical or digital, are going to be doing the talking for you.