Take a look at the copy on my home page and you’ll see what I offer – relief from the flashing cursors and blank white pages that stare back at you with an intimidating glare.
In spite of this, there are still plenty of days when inspiration doesn’t flow as heavily as the champagne’s going to the day my son arrives (in exactly one month, but who’s counting).
Note: You really didn’t think I’d make it an entire post without talking about my pregnancy, did you?
Some days, nothing sounds right. Everything I put up on the screen feels more inspiring of a nap than a sale.
So, I get on my treadmill desk and start walking, hoping the ideas will start flowing as readily as my blood. Or, I get outside and take my 70-lb pit bull love bug for a walk. Or, I go to Starbucks for a decaf coffee and to evesdrop over other people’s conversations in hopes I hear something juicy that’ll spark a creative nerve.
And sometimes… Sometimes those things don’t work quite as great as I hoped so I find myself back at square one.
It’s at that moment, it’s time to turn outwards and look for inspiration. I don’t care what anyone tells you. Even the best copywriters turn outward for inspiration now and then. Such is life in the creative business.
Consider this your permission slip to do the same with some friendly direction from yours truly.
If you’re struggling to write your own copy, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Say hello to my little friend, Crayon.
Crayon is a website built for marketers. It shows you the latest website redesigns, headlines in Twitter pages, and a whole lot more.
There are a few ways you can use Crayon for copywriting inspiration.
Fair warning: The first way is wrong, illegal and downright sleazy. I don’t condone it in any way, shape or form!
1) Copy someone else’s headlines word for word.
When you go to Crayon, you’ll be met with a variety of websites. Some are from your industry, others are not. Some are relevant to the type of copy you’re writing. Others are not.
As you sift through the website, you’ll likely find a headline or two that sticks out regardless. Then, temptation sneaks in. How easy would it be to steal that person’s work and use the same headline for your website?
Pretty. Gosh. Darn. Easy.
There’s just one problem. A few problems, actually.
Stealing someone’s work is illegal and wrong on so many levels. But more so, the writing still isn’t yours. It isn’t built for your business and it isn’t your message to share. It won’t resonate in the same way your own words will.
2) Get inspired to start writing.
Instead of going to Crayon to find headlines you can steal, enter the website with a different mindset. Go in looking for inspiration.
When you start sifting through various websites and headlines, you’ll notice some that stand out and others that blend in. Pay attention to the differences between the two. What is it about the ones that stood out? Why did you fall in love with those?
Continue sifting. Pull out 10 of each. Look at 10 bad headlines and 10 good headlines (or calls-to-action, or whatever style of copywriting you’re struggling with).
When you have your lists, close the window. Start highlighting the areas you love and the areas you hate.
As you begin this process, you’ll notice a common theme float to the surface. That’s the theme you want to use in your writing.
Here’s an example
Let’s pretend I’m writing a headline for a carpet cleaner. It’s a fairly dull business, don’t you agree? Still, the headline needs to speak to the reader and capture his attention so he chooses this carpet cleaner over the dozens of others in his community.
I go to Crayon and start sifting.
I pull out the following headlines:
- Personal Messaging on a Global Scale for Brands and their Customers (yawn)
- Powerful Social Media Software (yawn again)
- Your iPad Point of Sale (so what?)
- Know what makes Emma, Emma (interesting and personal)
- Fresher, better tasting coffee, every day. (sounds delicious)
- Lunch made easy: The simplest way to feed your office (so you mean I’ll save time and keep my employees happy? Win!)
Let’s break it down.
In the hate pile, the headlines are filled with a few obvious quirks.
- They’re boring and jargon filled
- They don’t really do a great job of talking about any benefits to what’s being offered
- They’re big, bold and meaningless all at the same time. What’s “powerful” to you is different than what’s “powerful” to me.
In the love pile, there are equally as many quirks.
- Each headline is simple, yet specific.
- The benefits are clear
- They’re personal – especially the first one.
Drawing from this, I could write the following headlines for the carpet cleaner:
“Your Carpet Never Felt This Good Between Your Toes”
“Cats? What Cats?” (good if you have a picture of a cat on a clean carpet and the carpet cleaner specializes in getting pet smells out)
“Have a Cleaner Looking House in an Hour Without Lifting a Finger”
Do you see the difference?
In none of those examples did I steal the other person’s work or headlines. Nowhere did I copy them. Still, I used the lessons learned from the headlines that resonated to pull out new messages built specifically for their audience.
The goal of using Crayon to find copywriting inspiration isn’t to steal other people’s work. It’s to plant small seeds in your think tank so you can grow the ideas that’ll make get your audience nodding their head in agreement and clicking around your website to learn more about you…
… because that’s what good copywriting is really about.