If anyone ever told you that you’d never be a great writer, I want you to write those words down on a piece of paper. Then burn it or throw it in the garbage and wipe it from your memory. We’re starting afresh, and you’re going to use these writing tips to craft copy that influences and sells.
I know this works because I was once told I didn’t have the talent for writing too — that I should stick to computers. Well, I certainly showed Mrs. Starr. Twenty years on, I’m a bestselling author, turning words into dollars for a living.
And you can too.
But to be clear, I’m not going to show you how to write a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel or use flowery language. That’s not my specialty.
I’m going to show you how to influence people with your writing. How to get them to do what you want them to do. Whether that’s purchasing a product or responding to your post is up to you.
Just make sure you apply this writing advice to your emails, blogs, social media posts, sales pages, and web copy.
So are you ready to sharpen your writing skills?
Watch the live training now, or read on.
What is influential writing?
Influential writing is the ability to get people to do something with words. It could be purchasing your product, joining your email list, attending a webinar, or responding to your social media post. It’s a skill that people pay thousands of dollars for.
And guess what, you don’t need to go to university to learn how to write well. I didn’t. I dropped out in my second year of college and never looked back. In fact, I’ve learned more from reading books and attending online courses than I ever would have at university.
If you want to be successful in business and marketing, you need the right words. But finding them can often lead to page fright. I’m going to show you how to get past your fear of writing.
3 ways to combat writer’s block or what I like to call page fright
Seth Godin once said, “People talk about writer’s block, but you never hear a plumber say I’ve got plumber’s block.”
I prefer to call it “page fright.” You sit down to write a book, email, or blog, but the words won’t come. Instead, you’re left staring at a blank page or a blinking cursor.
It’s not that you don’t know what to write. You’re just afraid that what you’ll write won’t be good enough. You fear writing the wrong words. When you do eventually pluck up the courage to start typing, you’ll find yourself deleting entire sentences and paragraphs again, and again, and again.
And before you know it, the day’s gone, and you’ve got nothing. I want to help you kick writer’s block to the curb. So I’m sharing my top three tips that I personally use to combat it.
As I’m hardly ever at a loss for words, I’d encourage you to try this advice.
Tip 1. Build a SWIPE file
One of the things that I do to combat writers’ block is to keep a SWIPE file. A SWIPE file is a vault of inspirational content.
Whenever I see a sales page, turn of phrase, subject line, headline, or something attention-grabbing, I’ll take a screenshot or copy the web page down and save it to my SWIPE file.
And I use it for inspiration when I need to come up with an intriguing email subject line. The key is not to copy. You want to use their words as thought-starters.
I genuinely believe you become a better writer by reading more and paying attention to what’s said. So get building your SWIPE file.
2. Copy until the right words come
Did you ever see the movie Finding Forester? If not, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s about a young man who has a gift for writing, but to unlock his creativity, he first uses the words of another author. From there, the story becomes his own. Many great writers used this old-school writing hack to get past their book-writing fears.
Here’s how you can apply it to your writing.
Before you begin, set yourself ten minutes to get your creative writing juices flowing. Start by copying the words of another author. Within minutes you’ll notice they’re sparking new ideas. Once you’re in the writing zone, that’s the time to shift to creator mode.
It’s a very powerful technique, but use it wisely.
You can’t copy other people’s work and pass it off as your own. That’s plagiarism. Rather, I want you to use it as a guide. Then once you’ve completed your written piece, you can go back and delete the copied bits.
Gary Halbert is one of the greatest sales writers; you can find his newletters online. I’d encourage you to check them out. It’ll give you insight into how great words and copy are written.
3. Write drunk. Edit sober.
Give yourself permission to suck. Many writers will tell you that the magic happens in the edit. That is your chance to cut verbose copy and craft sentences that pack a punch.
If you fixate on writing a perfect draft, you’re only going to land up frustrated. It’s also why I recommend you don’t write and edit simultaneously. Get your words and thoughts out first, and let it suck. Then use the editing phase to refine your writing.
Try this tip.
Imagine you have to pay money for every word you write. You’d want to make each word count. So you’d think about how to shorten your sentences to create more impact with fewer words.
If you can write a sentence in 8 words instead of 18, that dramatically increases the effectiveness of your writing.
Write too many words, and you run the risk of your message getting lost. So don’t be shy to slice and dice.
Next, let’s look at my top tips for writing well. And this can be used for writing a book, blog, social media post, sales page, whatever.
How to write well: 12 tips for writing an influential blog, book, or story
I’ve taken writing courses and workshops. I’ve listened to podcasts that teach how to write well. And I read a lot. Over the years, I’ve honed my writing skills. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, and these are my top writing tips:
1. To become a better writer, you need to read good writing.
It’s as simple as that. Read good writing as often as you can. Any book by Dan Kennedy, David Olgivy, or Gary Halbert are top of my list. I’d also recommend Laura Belgray’s The Copy Cure. She’s a master storyteller, and as she earns a million dollars writing emails for a living, you could learn a lot from her.
Also, don’t be afraid to google “how to write well.” The internet is a treasure trove of great writing. Explore it.
2. Write it conversationally.
There’s a myth that serious work requires serious writing. For example, if you’re a lawyer or accountant, you need to use jargon and convoluted words. You couldn’t be more wrong.
Keep it conversational. Think about the types of books you read. Maybe you love a good crime novel. The writing is gripping, but chances are you’re not hitting up your dictionary every five minutes to look up a particular word.
People respond to conversational writing far better than so-called professional speak. So forget sounding like an intellectual, and instead focus on crafting something compelling.
3. Give your writing personality.
Every day I get emails from people all over the world. And the one thing they always mention is how much they love my writing. They relate to my sense of humor and self-deprecating tone. Many feel like they already know me.
That’s because my book is a genuine reflection of who I am. I don’t take myself too seriously. I like to have fun. So write as you’d speak. Show your personality. It’s what your audience is going to connect with.
4. Write your headline last.
Speak to any writer, and they’ll tell you that your headline is the most important written element. It attracts your target audience and compels them to take a deeper look. That’s not to say the rest of the article isn’t important. But if you write a brilliant guide and the headline’s not great, your work won’t get read.
Don’t try to come up with a great headline before you’ve written your article or sales page. This is something I like to leave to last. The same goes for writing an email subject line.
Draft the outline. Write the content. Refine your words, then craft your headline.
Examples of great headlines:
- Amazing Secret Discovered by One-Legged Golfer Adds 50 Yards to Your Drives, Eliminates Hooks and Slices… and Can Slash Up to 10 Strokes from Your Game Almost Overnight!
- How One Very Lucky Enron Exec Made $280 Million by Impregnating a Stripper, Destroying His Marriage, and Losing His Job
- Why I Stuck a Cracker Up My Cracker
- 12M Emails Analyzed – 10 Rules for an Effective Email Pitch
As sensational and clickbaity as these are, I want to know what happened. I’m going to click or open that newsletter to find out more.
Your writing doesn’t have to be over the top or outrageous, but you want it to create curiosity.
Top tip: Try to write up to 20 potential headlines for every piece of content you create. Most won’t be great, and that’s fine. Finding the one that connects and compels your reader to act is key.
5. Keep the focus on your reader.
Great marketing focuses on the purchaser, not the seller. So if you want to make an impact with your words, your audience needs to see themselves in your writing. Sharing personal experiences they can relate to is super important, but so is using “you” and “your” as much as possible.
Don’t write in the third person. That’s best left to academic text.
I'll give you an example of third-person vs. second-person writing.
“Most customers leave because a company did something wrong or they got a better deal. That’s often a symptom, but it’s not the cause. Apathy is the #1 reason why customers leave. Like any relationship, companies need to maintain it and feed it. If they don’t, the relationship goes bad, and they lose a valued customer.”
Now, if I write this in first-person, it reads like this:
“Most customers leave because you did something wrong or they got a better deal. That’s often a symptom, but it’s not the cause. Apathy is the #1 reason why customers leave. Like any relationship, you need to maintain it. You need to feed it. If you don’t, the relationship goes bad, and you lose a valued customer.”
In the first example, I could be talking to anyone. That means the reader can choose to see themselves in the story or not. But in the second example, I’m addressing the reader directly. The writing feels personal, and it forces the reader to place themselves within the story.
In this case, the reader needs to reflect on how their actions might affect the success of their business. But you can also use second-person writing to create excitement and convince your reader to take action.
6. Create a dual readership path.
You get two types of readers: those who read every word and those who skim read. You want to write for both, especially when crafting long-form text. This is called a dual readership path.
It guarantees that even if people only read your headers, they’ll still have a complete overview of what you’re talking about. They can then drill deeper or decide to opt-in, purchase, download a lead magnet, or fill in a form.
For example, if you’ve read my book, The 1-Page Marketing Plan, you’ll notice I have a headline every 500 to 600 words. This makes it very easy to skim read. In comparison, most books have a title chapter with very few headers. You’re met with reams and reams of text. It’s just not easy to read.
Don’t do that. Follow my top tips for creating a dual readership path in your writing:
- Keep paragraphs between 300 and 600 words.
- Use headers to break up large chunks of writing and to pull skim readers back into the copy.
7. Use the grease slide methodology.
The grease slide takes a person from one step to the next until they are ready to buy. Before writing a piece of content, you need to decide what is the one-single action you want your prospect to take.
Most marketing is confusing. Small business owners are notorious for writing ads that sell their features, benefits, how long they’ve been in business, their accreditations, and why they’re better than the competition. This doesn’t work.
If I’m writing an ad, the only thing I want people to do is to click that ad. When they click, they might be directed to a landing page. Again, I have only one action I want them to do: opt-in. Then I’ll trigger an email sequence that might promote my book or get them to download a framework.
I’m thinking about the one physical action I want them to take at any stage. So map out your sales funnel. Decide the one action you want your reader to take at every stage of your content journey.
Check out this article on direct response marketing. It will help you craft copy that gets your target audience to act.
8. Forget nuances.
Don’t be tentative in your writing. Use your writing to take a stance and tell people why this is the best option for them.
I don’t know about you, but I like to read customer reviews before purchasing a product. I found that people tend to say, “Depending on your situation, this might be a better one.” That’s not what I want. I’m looking for an opinion on what I should do.
I don’t want you to be nuanced because I can get the data myself.
You need to have an opinion. It’s a vital part of being a thought leader. People are coming to you for advice. They want to be led. So don’t be afraid to tell them what to do.
9. Make it easy to read.
Be honest with yourself. How often do you read a book? Once a week, month, or year? Maybe you haven’t read a book since you left high school.
The key to writing well is not to overcomplicate it. You’re not trying to win a Pulitzer prize, and your audience probably wouldn’t read it if you did. So keep your writing style simple. I like to write at an eighth-grade level.
You can use the writing app, Hemingway, to test your writing. Just copy and paste your writing into the app, and it will tell you what writing level you’re at.
10. Write in active voice, not passive voice.
Active voice is decisive and confident. It creates a sense of urgency and inspires your readers to act.
For example, in an active voice, the subject performs the action. “I’m taking applications for the next round of certification.”
But in a passive voice, the object is in the position of the subject. “The next round of certifications will be opened for new applications.”
I’ll give you another example:
“Do you want to join the coaching program?”
Asking a direct question demands a direct answer. It shows confidence that I know my worth and the value I deliver. This is compelling to a potential coaching client.
But if I were to flip it and write it in a passive voice, it would read like this.
“Is the coaching program something you’d be interested in joining?”
Immediately, I’ve lost that sense of urgency. This gives the prospect time to consider. Maybe it’s not something that would interest them.
11. Choose clear language over cleverness.
When you have the option to be clear or clever, choose clarity; it’s much more powerful.
Often when we try to be clever, we’ll add humor to our writing—for example, Enough of this Sheet. It doesn’t actually tell me anything. Don’t get me wrong, Coda’s campaign certainly won over social media followers. But they also had to put a landing page together to explain the campaign.
Here’s an example where I think the writer is trying to be clever:
Does anyone understand what’s inside that book? What is a 365 vision? I have no idea how this book will create value in my life? Also, the modern writer’s guide suggests that this book is only for writers.
What about if I wanted to get into writing? Does this disqualify me from reading it?
Here’s an example of choosing clarity over cleverness:
Immediately, I know what this book is about: how to write better. It uses simple words and language. It tells me what it’s about and how it will improve my life.
Clearly conveying your meaning is a skill that will serve you very well.
12. Get Grammarly
One of the best decisions you can make is to invest in Grammarly. I’m a great writer, but my spelling and grammar are atrocious. I used to send emails to my list littered with spelling mistakes, and people would contact me to let me know.
This diminishes your trustworthiness because it’s sloppy and easily fixed. So make sure that you spellcheck your writing. It takes a few minutes, but can be massively valuable to your business.
Another tip I like to use is voice editing. This can help you to cut unnecessary words or refine clunky sentences.
Frequently asked questions on writing
Can you repurpose copy from a blog to social media or email marketing?
Absolutely. I re-use content all of the time. Here’s what I like to do. Once a month, I’ll host a live training. I record these sessions. Then my team takes the transcript and repurposes it into various media.
So one training can result in five to ten social media posts, one blog, two YouTube videos, and one or two emails.
The key is to curate your content for the platform. Find out what performs well, and ensure you write for that medium.
For example, Twitter works best as news blasts, Instagram does well with video content, and LinkedIn performs best with long-form posts. You can’t use a one-size-fits-all.
Should I edit as I go?
Personally, I like to get all of my thoughts onto a page before I begin editing. But my in-house content writer edits as she goes. She knows what she wants to say and how each paragraph will lead to the next before she begins writing because she’s already outlined her article.
Find what works best for you.
How do you protect your writing and intellectual property?
As your content (books, lead magnets, social media posts, emails, live trainings) get more popular, people will take advantage. They’ll breach copyright and pirate your stuff. It’s a problem, but it’s less of a problem than obscurity. If no one knows you, it’s a bigger problem.
In the beginning, certainly don’t worry about Dan from Downunder, who copied your viral social post and changed a few words to make it his own.
But if you find that someone is wholesaling your stuff, there’s a law in the US called DMCA. You can send their web host a DMCA notice to have it taken down. Visit DMCA.com to learn more.
Will AI replace good copywriting?
I just don’t see Jarvis.ai replacing good copywriting. AI isn’t there yet.
I’ve seen too many sites where they’ve fired the writers in favor of using AI, and the articles are terrible. The images used sometimes don’t even relate to the article, or they’ve picked the wrong subject. The writing is repetitive, and it reads like a machine wrote it.
This just affects your brand perception, and you don’t want to do that.
Stories inspire, not words. So get good at writing copy. Use my writing tips to craft influential sales pages, books, courses, LinkedIn posts, and TikTok videos. It all counts.
Are you ready to use these top writing tips to build your influence?
If you want to craft good writing, you need to write more. Any chance you get, find-tune your writing talents. Post on social media. See what boosts engagement, and then double down your efforts.
Push fast forward on your email strategy. A/B test subject lines, video emails versus plain text, short- vs. long-form emails, and using emojis in your writing. Figure out what your audience responds to.
Use these writing tips as a guide, a starting point for honing your craft. And don’t be scared to invest in writing courses, but make sure they’re legit. Nowadays, anyone can create a course, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good.
Check out their customer reviews. Are they a recognizable authority? A simple Google search will suffice. If you notice there’s a ton of press from that authority, it’s probably a good investment.
Keep learning and keep writing.