Sitting at your desk, “grinding it out” is so last century.
Thing is, that didn’t work real well last century either.
Writing content that grips, moves, and sells is not about pulling inspiration out of the sky. You don’t need to sweat blood in order to come up with great stuff.
If you want to be the next Dostoevsky, that’s a different game.
If you want to write content that brings people to you and your business, relax.
Stop trying to write. Do more … research.
Dig up everything you can on your business, your industry, your product. Never stop asking questions of your customers. Never stop watching the trends and news and innovations of your business.
Start gathering. Collecting. Connecting …
You’re more detective than writer.
Put the pieces together. Your personality — your voice — will naturally be infused into what you’ve made, making it unique.
Don’t believe me? Take it from one of the greatest direct response copywriters who ever lived:
Copy is never written. Copy is assembled. ~ Eugene Schwartz
Try it. You’ll like it.
About the Author: Robert Bruce is Copyblogger Media’s Chief Copywriter and Resident Recluse.
Reader Comments (63)
I seem to be constantly bombarded with posts recently about how the “just write as much as you can and it will all come together in the end” simply does not work.
I think it is a breath of fresh air for a philosophy that has led many a writer down the wrong road. It’s better to not write than to ramble.
Gregory Ciotti says
“It’s better to not write than to ramble.”
If people would actually write with this phrase in mind it would cut out 99% of the garbage blogs that are out there.
I’m totally agree with you Robert, whenever I read any blog, I used to get a suggestion from the bloggers just TAKE ACTION, but taking action in not only the things for the success unless we know in depth for the matter we are writing for our blog, we should collect more information and get more knowledge. Thanks for sharing.
Nick Stamoulis says
I think this is great advice. I love the idea of “assembling’ a blog post like it were a puzzle. You have all the pieces, it’s just a question of putting them together.
Ron's SEO Copywriting Blog says
Good to see you here. Yes, for any good writer, it is extremely important to know what you are doing before you start. But there comes a time when you don’t even have to plan. You put your pen on paper and everything happens smoothly after that.
James Spinosa says
Great advice Robert, I love the line “Start assembling”.
I’ve been hitting a bit of a wall in terms of writing lately and I think I have been looking at it too much from the perspective of it being a chore. Back to the grind (kidding!).
Jimmy from Niche Experiments says
I couldn’t agree more. I usually sit in front of the TV with a pad of paper and doodle idea in a spider diagram form until some unifying idea starts toi emerge. Then I sleep on it and eventually my subconscious puts together the missing pieces of the puzzle. Then I sit down to write, and a good blog post usually takes around a 1/2 day. But when you see those LIKE, SHARE and TWEET rocket, you know you’ve created something good.
Keep rocking CB Team!
Jimmy from Niche Experiments says
What happened to my grammar there? LOL
Desperately need sleep.
Andrew @ Blogging Guide says
And it is just enough to fade all the sweat and headaches you had just to come up a quality work, right?
Tom Ewer says
And (in my humble opinion), just WRITE for God’s sake. All that time spending fretting is a waste, just sit down in a quiet room in front of a keyboard and see what happens. You might surprise yourself.
Dewane Mutunga says
I totally agree. Research should always be done and it should come before any other action. If you don’t know your audience or their behavior and preferences then you are going to be wasting unnecessary in the long run trying to put the pieces to the puzzle together. This is sound advice!
Krista Stryker says
I’m taking the AWAI copywriting course and that’s exactly what they tell us to do: assemble. It’s much less intimidating than simply sitting down and staring at a blank page (it gets better results, too!)
A huge bonus of writing this way is that if you’ve done your research, you hardly ever run into writer’s block since all the information is already laid out there for you; you just have to put all it together.
Sam G. Daniel says
I like the idea of doing more research. Doing the legwork and finding relevant resources to share with our readers is crucial.
Finally a tip that actually make sense! Many go about the route of just writing as much as possible and pick the best out the the rest. This technique do not work especially when you’re picking the best out of the worst. Research is definitely the best way to get inspiration – whether on other blogs or even among the comments. Usually the good stuff is there.
The thing it it takes time:
making the research is ok, it’s not too long, but when you have all the different pieces for your posts, it’s time to rewrite some part to make it stick together and most importantly, rewrite so i doesn’t look as a duplicate to google…and that is taking ages sometimes…
so for me it’s not true you don’t have to write, you have to REwrite which is almost the same
Shane Arthur says
Ha. I like this.
If writing was a product we could buy, you’d see small print on the package that read Assembly Required.
Cheryl Pickett says
LOL Love that!
Hashim Warren says
Some of the content that I’ve pulled the most benefit from has been interviews with successful people in my niche. It’s incredible. I’m responsible for research and asking the right question.
Feels much more like assembly than producing.
Chuck Frey says
So much of what I do when writing is just like this. I’m a much better researcher and assimilator than I am an original thinker. I start with the germ of an idea, google the topic to see what has been written and cherry pick a handful of the ideas that I find, and put my own spin and interpretation on them. This works well because your readers want to know the best thinking on the topics you cover. By serving as a human filter and expander upon the best ideas, you’re fulfilling that role.
It’s very much like assembling a puzzle. Don’t feel like you need to have all of the answers before you publish, though. Chris Brogan is a big proponent of this approach – put something out there that is purposely unfinished, or has a few loose ends, and then encourage your readers to help you fill in the blanks. They’ll appreciate the invite, and chances are you’ll be amazed at their thoughtful insights!
Tea silvestre says
This how I usually work, too! It’s my default mode for writing when I don’t feel “inspired.” Great to know this is actually a real process that we should employ more often.
I allways use to inform myself from various sources about the subject I want to write about and after accumulating knowledge, I put down on “paper” everything that others need to know about that topic. In these conditions my article will be complete, complex and updated.
Nicole Rushin says
What a great point. I actually love doing research and find myself with multiple Wikipedia pages opened while I am writing. And gave them a small but meaningful donation the other day. Great post!
Craig Kelley says
I love that. Great advice. I feel guilty at times “assembling” some of my posts. No more guilt!
haha, thanks for sharing,
Judi Young says
This is exactly what I have found myself doing, all the while feeling guilty that I wasn’t doing more “writing.” Thanks for this post – I’m officially letting myself off the hook!
Slice of Life says
“Stop trying to write. Do more … research.”
Best advice ever, man! Trying to push out the writing before doing much research (or any) is a very common mistake, which just makes things harder, and more stressful than they need to be. Thanks for the reminder, dear sir; you just lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.
Michael Robinson says
All of my best-received writing was just me collecting things from around the tubes and commenting on it or asking a question. It’s a hard-learned lesson. I have a landscape of abandoned blogs that failed because I was talking about what was in my head and never about the source of those things.
Edward Spurlock says
This goes along with my experience. In fact, I decided to focus on copywriting after pulling together research from several different sites to answer a friend’s intemperate Facebook status. I was able to change her mind without losing her friendship, and discovered that I really enjoyed doing the research and the writing!
The main idea of this post is called “Content curation” and there’s a lot of stuff online about it
Brian Clark says
Tanoka, this is not about content curation. That’s a different concept.
Good points. Good research will help you avoid blah-blah-blogging.
For anyone interested in writing well, a great reference – for all media and all ages – is an old one, published in 1949, “The Art of Readable Writing” by Rudolph Flesch, author of “Why Johnny Can’t Read” and many other valuable texts. It is beautifully written, as you would expect, and very encouraging.
Yeah! So simple and so true!
Especially with the internet today – users literally tell you what they want to know so it’s a game if you know your stuff. And even if you don’t – you can research it. 🙂
Mary E. Ulrich says
Assembling the information for a post is a great idea, but takes a lot of time.
Each one of my posts takes about 6 hours, and it frustrates me when I hear people can crank them out in 20 min. But, each layer of research and “assembly” makes richer and more original content. So I try to remember that before I bring out the lash and condemn my soul to blogger’s hell.
Jeff Faldalen says
Great article. It is not a good feeling when the brain seems to lock
up for ideas.
I have had my students share it paralyzes them and of course
we all know what happens next
I will pass this article on, so others can benefit from these
wishing you success,
Great use of the Gene Schwartz quote, Robert.
Kinda wish you hadn’t told EVERYBODY 😉
Jennifer Minar-Jaynes says
This post was a breath of fresh air.
You’re right. It’s all about the research… then writing it all in a clear, concise, compelling way… as though you were writing to a friend… which “should” help unearth your natural voice.
This is easy to forget.
Ikenna @blogwithiyke says
This is so true, yet so easy to forget. Research should always come first. I guess the lack of research attitude among bloggers is due to the understanding that blogging is for personal opinion and nothing more. But that’s a totally wrong orientation (for the business side). Blogging is about informing, and for it to be done right, research is inevitable.
Haroun Kola says
Great tips, with copywriting skills high on the agenda of any online business owner, implementing these sound bytes of knowledge to convert more traffic to customers is essential to success.
Graphixter Media says
You gave direction to those, who just start writing without research to their work…Good Tips.
One of the main reason people fail to produce content is that they’re not curious… Curiosity is so under-rated! When you stumble onto something that you never heard about in your industry, research it until you get a complete understanding of it, then share your views on the subject…
Still an element of grind.
Do the detective work the grind out the bridges on the paper. Ha!
Elmar Sandyck says
As always, short but sweet!
I have to admit that sometimes I literally have to look up to the ceiling trying to pull out words to write onto my computer in order to have something to write. I totally agree that when you have some research going on, that would really form the basis of what you can write about after assembling your thoughts and reacting to it.
I should try this again in my next post! Thanks!
Salvador Figueros says
Nice post. Information is the key. Digest as much information as possible. Focus on your industy. Read, read, read,…. There is one magical point where everything makes sense, where everything connects. Suddenly new information is created by assembling words, by connecting ideas. Then you can write.
Thanks for your info,
John Cunningham says
Becoming a good writer, painter, musician, or anything that requires creativity seems to be a thing that is provoked. Without inspiration this seems difficult. At the same time it seems very unlikely that any they original would ever occur without holing up in a quiet place with a keyboard and a closed door.
Ryan Biddulph says
Amen to this.
Good copy gets people to respond, based on what people tend to respond too. Meaning, you can only find out what people respond to by keeping an ear to the street.
The difference between writing, or blogging, and producing copy-style content is huge. One is simply writing something to write, or to solve a problem. The other is to write something which makes people act.
I write my best copy after studying master copy writers, or listening to what makes people move. It’s all about generating emotion with your words, and although it can come from inspiration, many times it takes perspiration, studying, listen and patiently collecting, connecting and assembling.
Thanks for sharing the spot on advice Robert.
Herb Jones says
well said Ryan.
I’ve studied the masters too and yes – research is important but I find that I do my best writing OFFLINE, in a quiet room and not distracted by the crutch of “I need another source”. I find that many newbie writers don’t trust their own abilities… you have to have confidence in your own knowledge base. It’s easier to connect with your target audience when your own personal take really resonates.
John Phung says
Solid, solid advice.
This probably explains why I tend to write better after doing some reading and researching, rather than starting at a blank piece of paper (or screen). Thanks
Dave Polykoff says
Great point. Researching and collecting information helps you sound more confident in your writing as well. When you have statistical data to draw your emotions from, you can feel much more confident about hitting home points. Rather than going on assumptions that may give off a more “i’m just guessing” feel to it.
Max @ Cheap whiteboards says
I have to say that although you make a good point, researching won’t always give you the best results. Some of my niches are technical and this means that it takes a expert’s opinion to be able to write content. Of course there are TONS of niches that you can just research and write, but I outsource anything that is impossible for me to write about.
Dave Shockley says
Thanks for the great advice. I am the managing broker for one of our offices and supervise 56 agents. My responsibilities include training etc. This is a great article to help some of my new blogging agents, and it will be emailed to them as soon as I finish typing. Thanks again.
Well spoken, I totally agree.
Lauren @ Pure Text says
I really appreciate it when a thought I’ve sort of formed or that I’ve sort of been aware of is spelled out for me so that I come to fully realize it, so I thank this post for confirming that I need to research current editing topics more so I can “assemble” better blog posts. 🙂
Shallie Bey (Smarter Small Business Blog) says
Thank you for a refreshing and liberating post. I have been moving in the direction of being a curator of information on my topic, baby boomer entrepreneurs, rather than just writing my own information. It is quite affirming to see this post as an encouragement to continue in that direction. Also, the research has been an education in itself.
Great advice. That’s what I actually do when I go to write. I do a research on the topic, assemble the pieces in a way I like and add my voice – which makes it unique. My readers like it!
Darrel W. Cole says
THis is called journalism. Interview, research, imbed yourself. Then, you can write the article. This is how you write with authority, regardless of the forum.
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