Communication, Copywriting Skills, Words Which Work, Writer For You

How Asking the Right Questions Uncovers the Heart – Honest Lessons From a Copywriters Desk

How does a copywriter reflect the voice of the person they’re writing for?

Lots of people I speak to worry that a writer could never present them how they should really be seen – and that’s understandable. Often we see emails or websites which show us exactly this – a blank face, a bland voice, words which don’t have a personality at all.

I want to tell you a story of a time I wrote a website with a blank face, and how we fixed it!

I was approached by someone looking to create a business website and hoping for some help with the words – let’s call her Maria.

Maria is a successful business owner offering a niche service, she’s built her business through word of mouth and wants to reach further – it’s the perfect time for her to invest in a website.

Maria and I had a great conversation, discussing her background and the business but mainly her hopes for the project. Thrilled when she said yes to my proposal, I sent her some briefing questions and got on with my research.

Asking What Questions?

But here’s where I went wrong…

Maria and I explored various areas of her business, her ideal client, her services and branding. I did further research, getting in deep to look at others in her industry, potential collaborators and clients, as well as getting to grips with how her service is used. I filled my head – and notebook – with useful knowledge and started work on the copy.

The first draft was sent.

The response was mild.

There was nothing wrong with it, but it wasn’t quite right…

What Was Missing?

As we talked through the copy I’d written, neither of us were really feeling it, although there was nothing particularly wrong with the words themselves.

After a while I asked Maria if we could take a step back. I put to one side my what I’d already written and asked Maria to tell me more about her – her life before her business, how she’d got to where she is today and why she took this route. Although we’d covered some of this before, this time we talked around the subjects, exploring other interests, travels and projects. I realised that I’d been so focused on the project I’d forgotten to highlight the person.

This conversation allowed me to update the text with stories and insights, bringing a feeling of Maria herself to the words.

Learning Lessons

Some people ask how I can make their copy sound like them – I find this really difficult to answer. It’s not a simple case of asking the right set of questions, it’s about listening to the answers and then following where they lead.

What makes your business unique are the stories which are part of it’s growth, we don’t always have to tell those stories – although doing so can really help people understand you better – but we do want to let them influence how we present ourselves.

The information we share – whether it’s on our website, blogs or social media – should be useful, but it also needs to reflect who we are. Recognising our own reasons for sharing will allow us to be more open and honest and show our readers where the value might be for them.

So why am I sharing this lesson?

I’ve already mentioned that I’m often asked how I can someone through my words, and while I don’t always get it right first time I do know there’s a lot to be said for listening and exploring the stories you hear.

If you’re writing your own words, don’t be afraid to share some of the story behind them. These are what will reveal your heart – what makes you special – these are what make you stand out and help other people remember you.

If you get stuck with the words you’re sharing, I’d love to help you with that. Drop me a line

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