Lessons in creative copywriting from excavating an old website

When you have almost 400 blogs on your website, you’d think the creative copywriting lessons are all packaged up with neat bows. However, creative copywriting is a constant teacher. There’s a lot you can learn about your business through looking back at your content marketing endeavours, fixing your mistakes and taking a long, hard look at the road you’ve travelled.

I highly recommend some deep reflection with your website and your blog if you have it available to you. If not, there are other ways content can be staring you in the face, looking to teach you that you may not have thought of.

Here’s what creative copywriting efforts and retrospective reviews can teach you about your business

It’s hard to be original

Photograph of block text sketched into a panel that reads ORIGINAL + COMPETENT to illustrate creative copywriting needs
Art by author. Hey, I never said I was an artist.

There’s a certain amount of cynicism when it comes to creativity. There’s risk involved. We have to put ourselves on the line and work through the process. It’s about putting yourself on the page and laying bare.

We want to be cynical; about marketing, writing, business ideas, creativity- you name it. Being cynical is easy, looks edgy and gives us some false authority.

Yet to be true in creative copywriting, you have to lean away from the cynicism and lean into the risk. There’s no certainty in getting what you expect. You have to advocate for ideas that others make deem foolish. Your track record may not be full of golden kicks. But you have to back yourself.

Cynicism means we play in the beige realm and don’t push off the blocks as much as those that dare.

You have to be visibly backing your idea and willing to stand tall when asked. You are owning a position of authority, after all.

That amount of courage, especially in a social media world where people lean towards some weird kind of manicured perfection, is tough.

And it’s not for everyone as a result.

Pro tip:

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the voice of your business. Look at your creative copywriting endeavours as a way of testing your audience. Social media is a great example of seeing businesses get friendlier these days with their customers. Don’t be afraid to trial that in areas such as your FAQ, wiki, read me files or selection of blogs. You may be surprised as to what you uncover.

SEO’s relationship with creative copywriting has changed

Content marketing was on the uptick in 2009 and 2010. It’s clattered back to earth a bit now. One of the reasons is the act of content creation dominated early on. A decade later, visibility and distribution leads the charge.

Google are making changes. Some of them, people aren’t too happy about. 

We have a lot of low-quality churn content that was created that keeps swinging back around like an unhooked highway tarpaulin.

And an uneven relationship with production and distribution as a result.

Content production is challenging.

Your creative copywriting endeavours need to centre on the audience to be relevant. But to get to the audience, varying degrees of SEO advice needed to be incorporated.

Us word nerds know you have to have dug into your website and tweak, rewritten and re-strategised your copy at least every two years to remain on the right side of SEO knowledge and Google updates.

Most businesses however didn’t really feel the pinch of dragging around old content until 2019 when low grade content really got hit with the downgrade hammer.

Content production needs balance.

There can be no sitting in the dungeon, plumbing the depths with no work to show for it. But we cannot be high as a kite off the distribution and forget about the deep-thinking time needed to create great written ideas either. It comes to bite us in the bum later because we’ve robbed either our customers or the Google bots (or both) of genuinely good copy.

Pro tip:

Even if your website is technically functioning well, you’ll only get about 4 years maximum out of it before you need to address your efforts, past and present, with creative copywriting. You have to dig deep, look at your SEO terms and ask yourself if those pages and posts are telling the right story. Don’t burn them down. Build them up. Recommit to your website by looking at what you can do to reinvigorate the copy in all forms.

Production need forethought

We’re all producing content to stay in shape with algorithms. Doesn’t always mean its great stuff, though.

Experimentation has to occur behind closed doors. We have to step away from the idea that creative copywriting is always for the audience. It’s not always going to land there. Sometimes, we have to play with concepts, write blogs and make things that don’t land.

We have to do this to stay in touch with writing as an art as a business. We need to have a plan of ideas. We also need to be brave enough to realise not every bit of content will hit its mark.

 Oh, and if you are a client expecting a one draft wonder for every website or blog you meet from your chosen writer, you need to hook back into reality. Content may be measurable, but it’s still subjective. And that means we won’t get it right 100% of the time.

For the content writers, we have to get used to working in the shadows. We have to become happy with being behind the scenes. And we need to walk outdoors, say “here it is” and put it into the sunshine too.

We cannot hide away from the results. But we cannot let the finished product dictate them either.

The measurable achievements, the goals we want to kick and the writing we care about comes from the act of writing itself. It’s not from the marketing or being on display. That comes later. It’s also about the conversations we have with ourselves. The channels we open when we think and explore an idea are vital to honing our skills as part of creative copywriting.

We have to practice making connections, solving problems and being able to demonstrate our value on a regular basis. Once we stop doing this, it’s not only about the web rankings we lose. It’s about the fitness as writers that droops as a result.

Production has taken over how we work. Partly through Google SEO and the fresh content mandate. We have lost our ability to rest, think and grow.

Partly due to social media visibility as well, where we chase the quick result.

I believe too that marketing distracts us from the shuddering silence we hear when we are unable to create. It’s like busyness for idea writers.

That’s why the balance has to remain. We need to learn from the work we create by doing it thoughtfully.

Pro tip:

Plan ahead. Have a roadmap of content and some visible outcomes. Look for your opportunity to tie your creative copywriting endeavours to SMART goals. Don’t measure individual pieces, look for the wider game plan. Match your SEO choices with the messages you need to explore with your customers on their journey. And be brave enough to take a few drafts and runs at it to get success.

Stories shape our knowledge (and our future)

I love being surrounded by a big website that needed a serious dig through it’s old blogs. It was a frustrating process at times because it felt like it got in the way of creative copywriting. Now that I have got it (mostly) where I want it, I feel better about this website than I would have if I only added new blogs.

Why? Because I sorted out some stinky basement stuff, for sure. But also, because I got to reflect deeply on my business and where the heck it is going.

With a commitment to content marketing, we get lucky. We can see the layers of the work when we revisit it.

I’ve spent time updating my SEO lately, looking at blogs that needed to retire versus ones that need a refresh or stand on their own. It’s eye-opening to see the levels you have when it’s written.

Heck, I can even spot bad influences from other people, silly ideas, changes in mood and places where the purpose of the writing seemed to be lost. The SEO moments where I’ve decided to try for the short wins over the decent content are evident too.

Having layers of content to refer to helps with your marketing. Even if not directly, it helps bring you back to the core messages after you’ve lost your way. That’s powerful.

Here is my ability to become reinvigorated, see how far I have come, and make decisions on what I need to do next with almost a decade’s worth of information behind me. It’s rare we get that kind of insight into our business dealings.

Even if we haven’t got a decade’s worth of blogs, as idea writers and business owners, we have the ability to see this growth if we so choose.

Reflect on the projects you’ve done. Think about the customers and clients you’ve had. Find a way to look at what you’ve learned and reflect on your business in its entirety.

Every time you have collected a story in running your business, you’ve acquired knowledge. It’s important to look back at this growth and see how it’s influenced moving you forward.

Pro tip:

We drown in writing all the time. Our business plans, cocktail napkins of sketched campaigns, SEO keywords that tell us what converts, half written blogs we’ve abandoned, speeches we’ve recited at events, notes we’ve collected, everything we’ve ever written down in relation to our business is a map back to our experiences. It’s important to keep a pulse on not only how far we’ve come but what we’ve learned along the way. Set yourself some time aside to look back on your creative copywriting endeavours. Look for the opportunities to reflect on your business and refresh it in time for 2020.

Want a hand with your planning or creative copywriting endeavours? GET IN TOUCH WITH ME. I am sure we can hash something out.  

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