As copywriters, there’s nothing worse than sitting down to write, facing the page, and slowly filling with mild panic. But here’s the good news: copywriters should never face a blank page. That’s because if you’re just starting or you’ve been doing it for 20 years like Nicki, you always have a creative brief.
On this episode of the Build Your Copywriting Business podcast, Nicki and Kate are digging into tactics they use to combat blank page syndrome, avoid perfectionist pitfalls, and get writing.
Looking for closed captioning or a transcript? Watch the episode on YouTube!
A Sneak Peek at the Episode
[0:54] This episode dives into a very common issue for writers: blank page panic. This can stem from wanting to craft the perfect piece right out of the gate but that is not a realistic process for most writers. When you trust the process, it is going to be a mess before it becomes a clean finished product. Looking for ways to combat blank page syndrome? You’ve come to the right place, on this episode, Nicki and Kate provide tips and tricks on how to overcome this issue and what they use to combat blank page syndrome, avoid perfectionist pitfalls, and get writing.
[2:33] Kate digs into how she starts any project whether it’s an email, website, etc. she starts out by breaking down the elements that are needed for the page. For example, for an email, she needs a subject line and brackets. Creating an element outline helps her brain to get moving so she is no longer working with a blank page and she can begin the writing process.
[3:06] Nicki adds that not only will you know what’s expected for the structural elements of your page but you should be coming into your project with a creative brief after having an in-depth call with your client. With this creative brief, you will know what you need to convey which gives you a solid place to start. Kate emphasizes the importance of a creative brief and how this helps to organize your notes and thoughts.
[4:57] Kate continues to explain how a creative brief can help resolve blank page panic because you have a clear goal and call to action. For some projects, Kate even prefers to start with the call to action because that’s the end goal and it can help the rest of the piece take shape with the help of the creative brief. Nicki adds how it is a critical component to the writing process and describes a creative brief as “the scaffolding, it’s the frame of the house, it’s what you have to put up first so that you can build on it. You cannot skip the creative brief no matter where you are in your career.”
[6:38] Once you have your creative brief, the next step (which is often overlooked) to overcome blank page panic is an outline. Creating an outline is the interim step, you now have all the pieces and you’re starting to put them in order but you’re still not starting the writing process. Nicki explains this step as pulling out the edge pieces and putting similar colors together when you start a jigsaw puzzle. You’re not assembling the puzzle yet but putting the elements where they need to go.
[8:13] It’s important to remember that this is an ongoing process and a working document. You have to learn to ignore the perfectionist in you, as challenging as that can be. Try to remember this should be a fun, creative process as you’re playing around in this document. Copywriting is an art and part of that is giving yourself room to play with the elements and use strategy and creativity to figure out where they are going to go.
[13:09] Nicki explains how organizing the copy is a critical component for a successful project because you need to continue to hold the attention of the audience. As we know, as people continue to read, they lose interest. However, when you structure a piece well and each message builds off one another, you have a better chance of keeping their interest all the way through.
[14:19] Kate switches back to discussing how this is a fluid document and you should be continuing to edit as time goes on with the project. You’re going to have a deeper understanding and you might get to the end of the project and want to shift where things go and that’s okay. If you can, build time into your schedule to give your brain a break and sleep on it. Then come back to your document and rearrange things as needed, this will lead to your best draft.
[16:54] Nicki and Kate get to the next and biggest step: starting to write the copy. Kate provides insight into her process of having two documents that she works through, her messy document and her clean document. She splits it as the document she’s working with and the document she working toward. Nicki’s process is similar but she has a notes document and a draft document. She works in her draft document and has her notes document to use throughout the creative process. They discuss why these methods work for them and how it takes practice to find your method.
[21:07] In order to send your best first draft, its essential to build time for self-editing. You should give your brain a break and then come back to polish the project and ensure you’re putting your best foot forward. An important step to remember is going back to your creative brief and being gentle but ruthless with yourself. Think through where the audience will be in the customer journey and make sure all the copy is essential.
[29:07] Nicki and Kate conclude this episode with additional tips to help you prevent blank page syndrome and explain how to use this process to give yourself a strong starting point for your next project. They remind you that there’s no right or wrong way to set up a copy document. Start with what you know and remember that using a creative brief means you should never start with a blank page. Nicki mentions that it’s not as simple as using the same template for every project but it’s much more interesting and challenging this way.
Mentioned on this Episode:
- Conquer Blank Page Panic For Good
- What’s a Creative Brief?
- Why You Need to Push for a Creative Brief
- The One Thing Every Successful Copywriting Project Starts With
- How to Rock the Brainstorming Process
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About the Build Your Business Podcast
Ready to turn your love of writing into a successful copywriting career?
Join professional copywriters Nicki Krawczyk and Kate Sitarz to get the tips, tools, and training to help you become a copywriter and build a thriving business of your own. Nicki and Kate have 15+ and 10+ years of experience, respectively, writing copy for multi-billion-dollar companies, solopreneurs, and every size business in between.
Whether you want to land an on-staff job, freelance full-time and work from wherever you want, or make extra money with a side hustle, the best place to start learning is right here.