Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A Critical Skill for Every Writer

Many years ago in high school, I joined the staff of the student newspaper. While I was unaware of it, I began to hone an important skill as a writer which I continue to use daily. As a young reporter, I gave each of my stories a headline or title. I learned how to attract the reader with few words to pull them into the story.

It's a skill that each of us use today when when we write the subject line in an email or the title of a blog post or the title for a magazine article or book. In my journalism training, we had instruction about headlines and copyright but it was not a major focus. The majority of those skills we learned by continual practice of the craft.

Copywriting is this key skill that I'm pointing out today. When you are writing a simple email, you want whoever receives that email (whether one person or many people) to open that email. The words you select for your subject line are important. If you are writing a magazine article, the title of your article is important. If you are pulling together a postcard that you send out, the few words that you have for that postcard will determine if someone reads it or tosses it. The skill of coming up with those words is called copywriting.

My friend Bob Bly is a master copywriter. His book The Copywriter's Handbook is a classic text which was originally published in the 1980s--and has been frequently updated over the years. Recently I read Bob Bly's Handbook of Secret Copywriting Formulas: Proven Techniques for Increasing Response Offline and Online.

This 140-page Ebook is loaded with insight for every writer--whether you write fiction or nonfiction. Why? Because every writer needs to learn the persuasive techniques of copywriting. If you need a creative boost to write a headline (and you have this ebook) then you can take a few minutes and read Bob's chapter on Headline Formulas, 10 Headline Formulas That Work Like Magic. In a matter of a few minutes, you will be on your way to crafting that headline which captures the reader (and editor's attention).

Or maybe you are stuck and can't figure out what to write. You could follow the advice in Bob's chapter, Steal This "Works Every Time Formula" which gives an eight step process to jumpstart your work. One of these eight points is to Solve Their Problem With Your Product. Many writers forget the need to persuade with their words. Bob teaches how to use bullets and make life so much better for that reader when they get the product.

As writers, each of us need to learn how to use power words to persuade and touch others evoking a response. I love the teaching and reminders in this Ebook and recommmend Bob Bly's Handbook of Secret Copywriting Formulas.

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