Graphic designers might be the masters of all things aesthetic, but copywriters think visually, too. The images in our heads just manifest themselves as words, sentences and paragraphs, rather than colors, lines and typefaces.
I grew up drawing, painting, and exploring all things creative. At one point, my family encouraged me to pursue visual art as a career, but my heart was always with the written word. I originally aspired to become a songwriter, and spent several years in the music industry trying to finagle my way from the business side into songwriting. That master plan never quite panned out, and so I eventually found my way to marketing, which I immediately connected with as a copywriter.
Don’t worry, I’m not here to tell you my life story. My point in sharing my background is only to give context to a few visual references that help me with new projects and may come in handy for your next writing adventure. Off we go!
A painting of a pristine beach
One of the most common challenges among busy professionals who don’t write for a living is the struggle to complete their work. Maybe you’re familiar with this scenario: Edits and “finishing touches” are circuitous, causing the most dedicated writer to ultimately lose interest and energy. Worse, the work is tainted with some combination of typos, grammatical errors and underdeveloped thoughts.
Try this: Picture your marketing piece – whether it’s a blog article, web page, case study or white paper – as a painting of a pristine beach. After a round or two of revisions, you’ve probably painted a pretty clear and inviting picture. If you keep dabbing at it, you’ll start adding things that might seem like additions, but, in actuality, will erode readers’ enjoyment. Before you know it, your pristine beach will have birds swooping, babies crying, boomboxes blaring, and whales jumping, and it will become too much. Plus, you’ll miss the next opportunity to create another masterpiece.
Your digital storefront
Was that first visualization a little “out there” for you? Let’s bring it back to the basics, and talk about your website. Many marketing experts will tell you that your website is “your digital storefront,” meaning the first place people go to learn about your company.
With the digital storefront concept in mind, think about your website from a content standpoint. Would you rather have sharp, concise messaging that makes a strong and welcoming first impression or a scattered appearance that drives visitors away? When designing or redesigning a website, it’s important to put time and thought into the strategy before you move into content development. Otherwise, you could end up with a digital storefront that repels customers instead of attracting and converting them.
“Catering” to all readers
A best practice for any digital copywriting – again, think blog articles, websites, white papers, etc. – is to break the content into sections with subheads. The reason for this is not just for general “scanability,” but for readers to be able to pick and choose which information they want to digest. Subheads allow you to essentially create a “menu” of the offerings in your information, so you can cater to casual and formal readers alike. Those who prefer a quick bite can find exactly what they’re looking for, while the ones who might want a more complete experience can work their way through each course.
Now, let’s have some fun with this. What visualizations do you use when creating content? Tell us in the comments below.