5 Ways to Overcome Email Writer’s Block
The following is a guest post from online business expert Brian T. Edmondson, founder of InternetIncomeCoach.com, a company that shows online business owners how to get more traffic, subscribers and sales. Download your free copy of Brian’s Internet Profit Report.
So. Many. Choices.
Standing in front of the BEHR Paint display at Home Depot recently just about killed me. I was trying to decide on a new paint color for my home office. Do you know how many shades of blue there are? It’s insane.
And for a while it put me in SERIOUS lock down. I couldn’t make a decision to save my life. Eventually I got past it and my new home office remodel looks amazing, but being frozen like that is no fun.
And it happens all the time. Not only with paint colors, but in business too, especially when it comes to writing email.
Those blank “sheets” of paper or bright white computer screens can cause even the best writer to completely freeze up and get writer’s block.
Here are five ways to bust through that writer’s block and get your marketing emails written, out the door, into the inbox, and getting your subscribers to take action, whether that’s purchasing your products or engaging with your content.
1. Create an avatar of your ideal reader.
Back to my paint example, I would have had an even harder time picking out paint colors if I didn’t know where they were going. But since I had a specific room in mind, I was able to break through my block and get it figured out.
An avatar works the same way.
An avatar is a representation of your customer. It’s “who” reads your email. Knowing this ahead of time can help you craft your email in the right voice and help you break through writer’s block by knowing exactly what you should say.
You can find an excellent example of how to create your customer avatar in this article at Digital Marketer.
If you’re not sure who your ideal reader is (or need some validation), survey your customers or subscribers. Ask them questions related to help you get a good picture of who you should be writing for. Here are a few examples of the types of questions you might ask:
- What are 3 things you want to accomplish in the next 6 months?
- What are 3 things you value the most?
- What are 3 of your greatest challenges right now?
- What books, magazines, blogs, websites, conferences or people do you go to for information, advice or guidance?
- What factors influence your buying decisions?
Once you create your avatar, writing emails (and anything else) becomes so much easier.
2. Start with an off-topic sentence or phrase.
For many people (including me) blank “paper” or its online equivalent can make my brain turn to mush. Even if I sat down with a zillion ideas, getting that first sentence out can be awful.
But there is a technique for overcoming the blank paper conundrum.
When you sit down to write your email, if you can’t figure out what to say, just start writing. My preferred method is to write something silly and usually completely off topic, and then the writing often starts to flow. So I might write “Elephants don’t have fuzzy skin” or something nonsensical like that.
You then simply go back and edit out the strange stuff and keep the rest.
Try it, it works for lots of writers, including me.
3. Set a timer and write… anything.
Sometimes I can’t figure out what to write even when I’ve got my avatar and started the writing process by writing down silly stuff. In these cases I turn to a timer.
Here’s how it works.
Set a timer for 5 minutes. Write whatever comes to mind, no matter how stupid. At the end of 5 minutes, stop. Wait at least 15 minutes and then come back to writing.
This technique breaks writer’s block more often than not and is a great one to have in your arsenal.
But it is important that you stop when the timer goes off. Or this technique will lose its effectiveness.
4. Use current events to create an angle for your writing.
One of the things I do that really helps with email writing is to look for current events that related to my products, services or business that I can tie into my emails. This is called curating content.
So let’s say I run a fitness blog and I want to get people to enroll in my weight loss course. I want the topic of my email to be weight loss. I go to Google, type in “weight loss,” look at news articles, and pick a story or “angle” to write my email around.
Here’s an example:
In this case, I might write an email that says “Breaking news – the biggest loser controversy – what it means for you,” and then I’d tie the email into both the news story and my product.
You can also do this with personal stories, like with the paint story I used above as an introduction to this article. (Yes, these techniques also works for writing articles and blog posts!)
By tying your emails into personal or news stories you can keep your writing fresh and interesting.
5. When in doubt, split test!
A lot of times writer’s block comes from worry. In a writer’s brain they are wondering “Will this work?” and then they get stuck.
That’s why I split test. I don’t always know what is going to work or not. But if I split test, then I don’t have to worry about it.
One of the most important areas of your email to split test is your subject line, and most email marketing providers let you do this with ease. It influences open rates more than any other element.
By split testing different subject lines you can keep track of which ones work for your audience and reference those subject lines for future email ideas and angles. For example, I may find that “how to” subject lines perform the best, so I’ll make sure to use those more frequently.
So there you have it, five specific tips that will help you get over email writer’s block. But I have a few more bonus tips for you.
The first one is usually overlooked: practice! Start writing emails to your list at least once a week (or 2-3 times a week if you’re feeling more ambitious). You’ll get better at it over time, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your email improves. Email writer’s block will be a thing of the past.
Also, use a simple editorial calendar to organize and plan your writing. It can help you save time thinking of things to write about. By spending a little more time upfront planning out your emails, you’ll save time brainstorming in the moment.
And my last bonus tip to overcome writer’s block is to repurpose your best email content. Sometimes reviewing your older content can spark ideas for new content, fresh takes on old topics.
What techniques have helped you overcome writer’s block? Share them in the comments below.
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