There comes a time in every entrepreneur’s journey where we look at our sales page, emails, or website and think, “If only I could write more ‘punchy’! THEN my copy would be attracting people!”
But writing with more “pizazz” is not the remedy for bad copywriting.
Because the problem is NOT that you’re just “not a natural writer.” No, like most things in life, it goes deeper than that:
The hidden culprit behind flat & ineffective copy is your messed-up mindset or damaging core beliefs.
This stuff leaks out into our writing like bacteria leaks out into our sweat. And if we don’t take care of the root problem with some mindset hygiene, our readers will smell it and run for the hills. (No matter how much lavender-scented pizazz you spritz on!)
Here are some common messed-up mindsets and damaging core beliefs I find often leak into copywriting:
Believing it’s bad or impolite to ask for money
Raise your hand if you were ever chided for asking for money as a kid. I was, and most people I know were, too.
As a result, we can end up feeling really, well, shy about asking for money. In a regular job, this might manifest as never asking for a raise or negotiating our salary.
As an entrepreneur, it manifests as not raising your rates, not chasing invoices down, and…. Writing copy that never clearly asks for the sale.
If you feel resistance around…
- Including several call-to-action buttons in your web page or sales page (“Isn’t that overkill?”)
- Pivoting educational content into a $$ ask, such as inviting readers to join your paid program or buy your product at the end of a blog post or social post
- Putting your prices on your website or sales page
- Using direct “do this!” language in your calls-to-action, like “Sign Up Now”
- Including calls-to-action at all (“I don’t want to sound pushy”)
Then you may be struggling with this messed-up mindset.
Not believing in your product or service’s transformative value
Oh boy, have I been here. And it’s strange, because what I do (copywriting) is, objectively, something that is so directly linked to the success of a business and financial gain for that business. Nonetheless, I found a way to convince myself that copywriting wasn’t valuable.
Flash forward to writing my website, and I found myself unable to proclaim my value. I could not bring myself to write that my work would help my clients earn more money/get more customers. I could not bring myself to write that people should hire me. I relied a ton on cliches, vague beating-around-the-bush statements (“copy that’s compelling!” – lol, ugh), or stuff other copywriters were writing.
All because I was afraid of saying loudly and clearly: What I do matters, and it matters a lot. So you should pay me well for it.
Does this feel familiar for you? If so, you might be struggling with this negative belief.
Not believing in YOURSELF
Sometimes, the problem is, plain and simple, low self-esteem. No shame in that, by the way. Personally, having low self-esteem for years made me extremely sensitive to feeling it in others and acting with compassion, so I view those years as a necessary building block to who I am now.
In our writing, low self-esteem often manifests similarly to not believing in the value of our product or service:
We might feel relentlessly “stuck” when it comes to figuring out our unique selling proposition, because we believe we don’t have one. We might feel afraid of making big, bold claims about “the transformation we provide” because we’re terrified that we won’t be able to deliver on it. We might even self-sabotage, writing copy we know isn’t great because we can’t bear to honestly try.
There’s this insidious cycle that comes with this particular negative belief: When you don’t believe in yourself, you can’t possibly convince others to believe in you. And that’s exactly what you need to do to make a sale or close a client. So, you don’t earn much money. Which seems to “prove” that you are indeed not worthy. And so it goes…
That’s why if you suspect you might have low self-esteem, I recommend viewing it as THE obstacle to the success of your business and investing money into healing it. Usually, this is through something like personal therapy, life coaching… whatever feels right to you.
Feeling afraid of alienating people or being judged
My dad is always saying things that rub certain people the wrong way. He’s loud, goofy, and has strong opinions that he’s not afraid of sharing.
So, a lot of people get uncomfortable or offended. But a lot of others really enjoy his brand of raised-in-New-Jersey energy. No matter which camp you fall into, there’s one thing you’ll share: You will remember him.
To write powerful, memorable copy that resonates with your people, you’ll have to alienate some segment of other people out there.
Here’s how you’ll know if your fear of alienating people or being judged is leaking into your writing:
- Write the way you were taught to write at your corporate job
- Never speak up about issues that are important to you
- Don’t directly claim in your copy who you serve
- Prefer to keep it vague than get specific
- Flinch about sharing your personal story
Stake a claim for what you stand for, who you are, and who your people are… and watch your copy come to life.
It’s tempting to think that the reason copywriting is difficult is because we just don’t know our way around a thesaurus. But copywriting is way less about “writing well” in the literary, English-class sense than it is about knowing the principles of writing to persuade online.