writing great copy

The Secret of Writing Great Copy: Finding Your Vein of Gold

Sometimes, copywriting feels like gold mining.

To find even a few ounces of gold, you must move mountains of earth.

The same thing goes for writing!

When you sit down at your computer to write (whether it be a blog, page, copy), you tap out thousands of words–only to go back and sift through them all.

You move some here, delete some hundred there, separating and refining them in search of that one valuable nugget, that one shiny sentence that makes the entire process exhilarating, rewarding, and worth it.

 Not everyone has the time, patience, or skill to give the writing process the attention it deserves, however – just like not everyone has what it takes to strike it rich as a gold miner.

Because writing well is a craft that takes so much attention and dedication, that only those who are willing to develop those things will earn rewards. The writers who are prepared to move the mountains of earth to find the richest vein, or put their heart into their writing until it turns to pure gold, are the ones who will ultimately succeed.

secret of writing great copy

The Secret of Writing Great Copy & Finding Your Vein of Gold

There’s no shortcut to success, and this is as true with copywriting as it is with gold mining.

Keep reading: I’m going to talk about how to find your “vein of gold” in online copywriting, and why truly great writing is the only type of writing worth doing this year.

To be Great, You’ve Got to be Tough

There’s a thin line between being excellent and being “good enough.

The great (and awful) thing about the web is that most content creators fall into the latter category.

Hey, that was me, when I just started out in 2011-2012.

I’ve since deleted a boatload of blogs from those days. I wasn’t tough on myself. I didn’t analyze every content piece, stressing over every sentence, perfecting every single H2. I wrote, edited, threw together a graphic, called it a content piece, scheduled it, got it “out.”

Those days are long gone. And I’m so glad.

The content creators that just want to be good enough, which truly means “get content out,” are like miners who refuse to invest in the right equipment, or won’t put in the long, hard hours in the sun.

While this can be terrible for readers, who must slog through tons of mediocre content to reach the great material they deserve, it’s good news for content creators who are willing to go the extra mile. When nearly everything else is sub-par, standing out gets a bit easier.

Remember: if striking gold were easy, everyone would be doing it.

The reason so many people push out low-quality content is that that is infinitely simpler than writing thousands of words, sitting back, and then filtering it all down to that one sentence, that one thought that matters.

At the end of the day, being great means being tough – in your edits of your writing, in your dedication to the craft, in your expectations of yourself, and in your commitment to blowing everything else out of the water. Sure, it’s harder than the alternative, but it’s the only approach that honors how crowded the web already is, and how important it is to add only quality material in the coming years.

How else are you going to strike that vein that offers rewards beyond your wildest dreams?

The Secret of Writing Great Copy: Being Willing to Walk Away from Your Work

It sounds almost crazy, doesn’t it?

“Write 5,000 words and then scrap 2,500 of them.”

That seems like an exercise in futility. It seems like a Sisyphean task.

Remember the gold miner, though? Remember how gold miners often have to move thousands of tons of earth to find a few ounces of gold? If you take mining for its surface value, it seems insane. Until, however, you realize that a few ounces of gold can be worth hundreds of thousands – even millions – of dollars.

Then things start to make sense.

In writing, as in gold mining, there’s no shortcut to success. You’ve got to bow your head to the work and be willing to do some of it in vain. While being great might be true that you’ll slash many of your hard-fought words from each piece you write, think of those words as the tons of earth you have to move to get to the good stuff.

There’s no way around it, and you’re not going to find the material that glitters unless you’re willing to dig. While it can be tempting to think that everything you’ve written is gold, this is just hubris, and it won’t do anything to help you hone your skill.

The Secret of Writing Great Copy: Narrowing Down to Your Best

The gold of your writing is hiding beneath the dirt, and to access it you need to be able to recognize the work involved and commit to it.

While it can be discouraging to write and re-write, the goal is to refine your content until you find the one sentence that matters, the one paragraph that gets your reader in the gut.

Once you find it, start there.

It’s your standard now for the entire piece.

Your lamppost, your guideline.

Make sure everything that follows is just as shiny and inspiring.

Cut everything else out. Trim the fat.

Remove everything that doesn’t bring something new to the table. If it’s just noise, you don’t have a right to publish it, and your readers shouldn’t be forced to wade through it.

An Example of Trimming the Fat

Content Block A

It’s critical to look at everything that is nothing better than “wordy,” and cut, cut, cut that out. Your content must shine. It must be polished, to stand out in a sea of online content that keeps rising every day. Discover in your copy what’s poor, what’s not as good as the rest. Cut out everything that doesn’t matter. Trim the fat.

Content Block B

Cut out everything that doesn’t matter. Trim the fat.

See what I did there?

I narrowed everything down in Content A to my two last sentences. That was the heart of my paragraph. The gold. All the other words, which took a while to compose and write, were trashed.

(Also, ironic, eh? I trimmed down to “Trim the fat.” :-P)

How much more impactful is that copy?

Far more.

And with the attention span of today’s reader less than a goldfish, it takes carefully chosen words to fully impact your audience.

Don’t assume that every word you’ve written deserves to be published. That’s like the gold miner saying the dirt covering the gold deserves to stay where it is. With thinking like this, he’d reason himself right out of a job.

Be analytical and real in your approach to your copy. Don’t hold back on pruning to discover your best roots and content health.

Your Job as a Content Creator Comes with Responsibility: Use it Wisely

Today, our job as content creators isn’t simply to push out written material – it’s to create targeted, from-the-heart content that resonates with our readers, that provides something different, and that comes from a place of passion and true belief.

To get to this place, you’ve got to be tough–on yourself.

Develop an eye for excess, and understand that creating your best work often means walking away from much of it.

Remember the gold miner.

At the end of the day, his brow is bent to the earth. He’s sweaty and bronzed from the sun, back turned to the mountains of soil he’s moved to uncover the tiny spot upon which he now focuses. He’s shaking his sifting pan rhythmically back and forth, running water through it like a baptism.

You can call him crazy if you’d like, but that small spot contains riches untold, and he knows exactly what he’s doing.

When you bring this kind of attention, diligence, and commitment to striking gold in your online writing, there’s no way you can go wrong. You’re on your way to great copy, every single time you publish.

Nuggets From The Secret of Writing Great Copy: Finding Your Vein of Gold

Save this slide to your desktop and open it every time you need a reminder of how to find your vein of gold. 😉

 

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