5 Tips for More Creative Copy

Scott SummersWriting Guidance

Two pencils sit beside text which reads, "5 Tips for More Creative Copy".

Two pencils sit beside text which reads, "5 Tips for More Creative Copy".

Generating creative copy can be difficult, especially if you don’t write on a regular basis. The need to produce content that inspires action is the foundation of all creative copywriting, from print ads to digital landing pages.

To write creative copy which has an impact on a target audience and drives conversions, you need three things:

  • Time
  • Effort
  • Skill

If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, the problem you face might be pretty simple: You’re missing one of those components.

Maybe writing was a skill that never resonated with you. Maybe you just don’t have the time to deal with it. I rarely meet entrepreneurs who aren’t willing to put in the effort or can’t be bothered, but it happens sometimes.

But even if you’ve got all three pieces of the copywriting puzzle and you’re capable of generating content on your own, you might not know where to begin.

So, today, let’s talk about solutions that solve for those three major components and how to gather inspiration that helps you produce creative copy in a timely and efficient manner.

1. Hire a writer to help with content creation.

This is the most obvious solution to any creative copy problem: Hire a professional.

And it works. You can hire a copywriter or content writer and get the problem off of your plate entirely. You might need to answer some emails and submit feedback for a revision, but you’ll get targeted content delivered to your inbox.

Of course, not all copywriters are created equal. Your mileage may vary (which is why it’s important to vet who you hire), but you’ve successfully solved all problems by throwing money at the solution.

This is a great option if you’ve got an advertising or marketing budget or you can track your ROI and treat a copywriter as an investment. But if you’ve got the time and the effort, there may be other options.

2. Study other examples of creative copy.

For entrepreneurs who are so self-inclined, there are a ton of resources out there to help you learn how to create effective copy.

While you can find a ton of great content at Copyblogger and the Content Marketing Institute, you shouldn’t overlook the powerful examples that you see in the media on a daily basis. Creative copywriting surrounds your physical and digital experience. It’s in every advertisement you see and hear and watch.

If you’re like me, you might be programmed to ignore ads. I hit skip anytime a YouTube ad pops up, and I browse with an ad blocker on all my devices. But — if you’re trying to learn about persuasive writing — consider opening yourself up to smart, creative advertising.

You don’t even have to disable your ad blocker to do it!

Instead, head over to ad-centric websites like Adweek and check out the Ad of the Day section or do a little digging and find a few of the ad roundups, like this 2018 ad showcase.

Listen to the words that each brand uses to sell its products. Try to understand how the text relates and compares to other elements in the video. Even if you’re not writing a video, the text and spoken word elements help to drive the sale. Those are copywritten elements designed to compel action!

Look around you for other great examples, whether it’s a print ad in the local newspaper, a billboard, or a website landing page.

When you find something you like, see if you can repurpose it for yourself. Don’t steal the content directly (bad), but study it and then take the same stylistic flair and apply it to what you’re trying to write (good!).

3. Use word suggestion tools.

Effective and creative copy is all about wordplay. It’s about keeping words tight and applying the right word at the right time. On the surface, that sounds great.

The problem is that, for a lot of creative copywriting, the space in which the copywriting takes place defines how the writing itself must be presented on the page.

Here’s a recent example of some work I did for a client:

A website layout showing creative copy written by Marc Scott Summers, freelance writer.

This client had a solid idea of the layout they wanted, so the copywritten text that I needed to write had to fit exactly what they were trying to do. No description on this page could exceed two lines or the design wouldn’t work the way it needed to.

The spacing elements on this design are tight, and that meant that the copywriting needed to be tight, too.

If you’re not used to writing within confined spaces, this can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are some tools to help you find a creative way to explain your value proposition with limited words.

Textfixer has some random word tools that might help you find a word or a sentence that you’re looking for. You could also use Thesaurus.com to find synonyms or Rewordify to take a sentence you’ve already written and present it in a slightly altered state.

Of course, I’m really suggesting these tools (and I’ve used all of them) to help you get your brain into a creative mindset. You’ve still got to come up with the idea, figure out the implementation, and determine the format.

But when it comes to writing, a little nudge in the right direction can be enough to get that creative copy flowing out of your fingertips and onto the page.

4. Experiment with different formats.

Sometimes, you won’t find inspiration in a word processor. If you find yourself staring at a blank page and wondering what to do next, it might be time to focus your attention elsewhere.

That’s not an excuse to knock off for the rest of the day. Find another way to engage your creative process. Doodling is a great way to find that spark you’re looking for. Creating a mind map or jotting down notes about your overall business goals might also result in some creative copy.

Sometimes, you just have to switch it up.

Personally, I use a notebook and a pencil to sketch out some ideas or jot down a few quick bullet points. I could do it on a computer screen, but something about physically scratching out those notes on a tangible piece of paper seems to make all the difference in the world.

5. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

Last things last: The best creative copy usually doesn’t happen on the first try.

It’s the result of a whirlwind of revisions, corrections, and feedback that cuts down your first draft to the ten or twelve words you need to create a catchy slogan that converts your prospects and sells your product.

There’s an old writer’s quote out there that says, “Writing is rewriting.”

That’s true, for the most part. As with any creative exercise, the ability to go back and refine the original idea often results in a polished, finished product. But that iteration has to take place for the final piece to really shine.

You should solicit feedback from your peers and associates if you’re looking for the most compelling and creative copy solutions — especially if you’re DIY-ing your sales and marketing language rather than hiring a professional.

Don’t be afraid of hard feedback. Many people are scared of it, but it’s really the only way to improve your initial drafts and bring your content closer to something that actually gets the job done.

Creative Copy isn’t Easy — It’s a Process

If you’ve ever had to write anything in the past, you know that writing isn’t easy.

Especially when you need to place restrictions on the word count or the space that’s available to offer your value proposition, you might feel like pulling your hair out.

When you get to that stage, just remember: The best creative copy never happens on round one. Like most things in business, writing is a process. You fail upward from one iteration to the next until you’ve got something that you can use.

Most entrepreneurs who work with me are perfectly capable of indicating their ideas. With enough time, they could probably come up with a workable solution on their own. Unfortunately, in business, time is money. And writing is a skill.

If you’re looking for someone to help with your writing needs, it might be time to look at bringing a writer onboard to jumpstart your creative process.

If that’s the case, give me a shout!