Lisa: What were your goals, personal and professional, in writing 12 Tweaks to Quickly Take Your Message From Dull to Dazzling?
Nancy: My original goal was to write a short report to help entrepreneurs quickly amp up the power and effectiveness of their marketing copy. I needed a new free offer for my website, since the one I had no longer fit my current business model. So, this short report was going to be it. But once I started writing, I realized I had so much more I had to share, a lot more than a list of quick tips. I wanted entrepreneurs to have the basics of how to write captivating copy, no matter what kind of copy they may be writing. So, the report grew into this eBook. And while it’s standing in as my free offer now, it will go on sale starting the end of February.
As for my personal goal, I simply wanted to write something people found helpful. I wanted to feel good about the end result. And I do!
Lisa: Why an eBook (vs. print book)?
Nancy: I chose to write an eBook because the information I had to share is the kind that my audience wants fast. They want to find it, download it and use it today. Plus, I wanted the freedom to continue editing it, even after it had been released. I don’t know if I will, but it’s nice to know I can. Plus, the eBook is all about how to write copy for the digital world, so it just made sense.
Lisa: Can you say more about what you mean by “your message”?
Nancy: Yes, your message is how you tell the world who you are, what you stand for, what you do and why anyone should give a damn. It’s how you express or communicate your value, your brilliance and your services to your audience in a way that resonates with that audience. I could have used the word “copy” instead of message, but there are a lot of entrepreneurs who don’t relate to the word “copy.” They don’t know what that means. I’m not sure if they relate to the word “message” either but it seemed a less confusing choice.
Lisa: Why is it so important to have a dazzling message?
Nancy: It’s only important if you want your message to be read or heard. If you don’t care if anyone pays attention to you or your work, than by all means, you can have the driest, dullest message and be as happy as a clam. But if you’re an entrepreneur who’s trying to get clients and build a business online, you have to be able to communicate with your ideal audience in a way that cuts through all the noise online, grabs your ideal prospects’ attention and makes them truly interested in what you have to offer.
Think about it. We’re all bombarded with so much content, information, free offers, ideas and even entertainment, 24/7. It’s endless. And it’s growing. Yet our attention spans are getting tinier and tinier. If your message, your copy, doesn’t have what it takes to grab and hold people’s attention, to make them care enough to stop whatever they’re doing to read what you have to say, well… your business is going to suffer. Greatly.
I honestly believe that copywriting is the single most powerful skill you must have if you want to build a profitable business online and make an impact on those you’re meant to serve.
Lisa: What’s your favorite tip in 12 Tweaks?
Nancy: Oh, that’s hard to answer. Probably Tweak #4, “Bring on the Benefits”, because I think that tweak alone can have such a profound and positive effect on the power of an entrepreneur’s copy. As I say in the eBook, if I could wave a magic wand and give entrepreneurs one skill, it would be the skill of writing benefit-rich copy. Because if you can do that, everything you write will be 1,000-times more magnetic and meaningful to your audience.
Lisa: What’s one tip in 12 Tweaks you found yourself using when you wrote it?
Nancy: Tweak #6 “Funk It Up!” which is all about how to write conversationally, how to use your own voice and personality in your copy. When writing any kind of how-to book like this one, you run the risk of getting too teacher-like and text-booky. Too formal. So, it was important to me to make this eBook easy and fun to read.
Lisa: What insights or discoveries did you have about book writing when you wrote 12 Tweaks?
Nancy: That for every 200 pages of rough draft I’ll end up with 2-3 pages of finished copy. Okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic of a difference, but I did finally surrender to the fact that for me and the way I write, I have to write and write and write endless pages in order to get clear on what it is I really want to say. It’s as if I can’t think unless I’m writing.
Once I realized this is just the way I create, I stopped resisting it. I let myself write endless pages of stuff I’d never end up using, and just enjoyed the ride.
Lisa: What’s similar about writing copy and writing a book?
Nancy: The creative process. You start with nothing and create something you hope is of value, something that will have an impact on others. And in between, it’s just you and the creative process.
Plus, I feel both demand the willingness to be open to what wants to happen rather than the desire to control the process. You may have an idea of what you want to say, the point you want to make, how you want it all to unfold. And that’s a cool place to start. But once you start, it pays off to “get lost,” to just go where the writing takes you. You may realize you have a lot more to say about something altogether different.
Lisa: Any surprising differences between the two types of writing?
Nancy: Here’s the difference. When you write copy, you have to be able to engage and hold people’s attention fast. You don’t have a chapter. You have a headline and a lead and that’s is. Plus, the intention when writing copy is to get a response. You write to inspire people to do something, usually something specific. Like sign up for your webinar, buy your book, make a comment in your blog post, like you on Facebook. You’re writing with the intent to wake someone up and get them to do something. Now.
I suppose when you’re writing a how-to or self-help book, the intent is similar, but the immediacy, the urgency isn’t quite as intense, and you’re often asking people to do many different things. With copy, if you’re writing good copy, you’re only asking them to do one specific thing. Right now.
Lisa: How might you tailor some of your advice to nonfiction authors as they work on a book?
Nancy: No matter what you’re writing, you need to know who you’re writing for. You need to know what they care about, what matters to them, and what they need and want more than anything. Otherwise, your message won’t have any impact on them at all. They just won’t care. I always tell my clients that when you write copy, write it to one person. That one person in your mind who represents your absolute ideal client. Write it to her and her alone. Know who she is, what she needs to hear, and then write it as if you’re writing her a love letter.Write it with that level of intimacy and familiarity, and that impassioned desire to serve. I think this advice holds a lot of water when writing a book, too.
Lisa: One thing I love about 12 Tweaks is that you have such a clear voice and you use words that have lots of power. They’re evocative. Like when you say “Funk it up” that just sounds like Nancy Tierney. So, how do you cultivate a voice that is authentic and also a little different from everyone else around you?
Nancy: Oh, that’s such a good question. And my answer is the more you can write like you talk, the more likely you are to discover and express your own true voice. What words, phrases and exclamations do you use all the time? Use them in your writing. Write as if you are chatting with a friend over coffee. This will help you claim your voice.
Another tip is to have fun. Because if you’re enjoying writing, if your energy is high and you’re feeling good, that energy will allow you to access more of your authentic voice. It will come bubbling out of you and onto the page.
Nancy Tierney is copywriting coach who makes it fun and easy for entrepreneurs to write their own captivating copy so they always attract the right clients, make more money and live happily ever after. When she’s not having a blast running her business Firecracker Communications she’s either learning to play the ukulele or singing with her jazz band in little clubs and hideaways throughout upstate New York.
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