Posts in Brand Writing Tips
How to write better email subject lines

This is one of the topics that resonates the most with my audience. Email subject lines are TRICKY to get right. And they have incredible power over whether your email gets opened or unsubscribed to. Yikes, no pressure! There’s a way to approach subject lines that takes practice and tremendous intentionality. First, watch the video. Then I’ll elaborate.

I often write a placeholder email subject line at first because I’m really weird about doing things in order. And I usually have an idea of what the theme of the email is going to be. But I almost ALWAYS come back to the subject line and study it very hard before committing. And, if you’re approaching your marketing writing properly, you’ll give everything - including the few words of a subject line - some time to marinate before committing.

After writing out the email, I’ll look through the content and intentionally put myself in the shoes of my perfect customer. What in this email is really beneficial to her? What would she need out of this the most? Of course, hopefully there are multiple values I’m providing in every email - see my Facebook live on how I put my marketing emails together - but there’s usually one thing that your best fans will grab onto. That’s the point you want to tease out in a subject line. It’s an art, I know. It takes practice. As everything in marketing goes, you will get it wrong as much as you get it right - but this approach will help. And it will train you in finding the point that will resonate with your audience in all of your marketing content.

If you found this helpful or are curious about making your emails, including subject lines, more effective, I’d love to read your comment below! Thanks for reading, friend :)

3 Proven Remedies for Content Writer's Block
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Even for a full-time content creator (that's me!), writer's block is real. As I type this out, in fact, the tail end of a sinus infection and distraction of my toddler's noisy toys (anyone else SUPER sensitive to noise while they work?) are causing the wheels of inspiration to turn about as fast as a turtle on the highway. 

So if website titles and email subject lines and social captions and blog posts and product descriptions are not on your list of favorite marketing tasks, I sympathize. For a non-writer who doesn't even enjoy writing very much, the struggle with writer's block has got to be THE. WORST. And yet, for any business owner, writing is part of the gig. Can it get easier? Absolutely.

Here are my favorite tips for overcoming writer's block, fit for both pro content creators and the reluctant wordsmith who just wants to get out some decent marketing for your business. 

Find new topics in your unfinished thoughts

I'll start with my favorite way to spark inspiration, especially when I need a fresh topic or theme to unpack on a blog or email campaign. This is probably my most-used method for generating ideas. When I'm stumped for new topics to cover, I'll read back through previous blog posts, my website, social accounts, etc., for unfinished thoughts that I can turn into whole posts on their own.

Not others' stuff, just my own content, because I track best with my own ways of thinking and writing. Within a couple minutes, I can uncover a thought that I've never really unpacked. Usually it's a point in a blog post that I wrote three sentences for or a fleeting thought in a social caption.  When I see it, I'll think; bingo, there's your next topic. The best part? I've usually thought it through at least a little bit whenever I brought it up previously, so the train of thought is already tracking for a larger, deeper dive into that point. 

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Activate creativity through activity

Now, before you assume I'm going to try and turn you into a runner, here me out on this. Yes, I'm a runner, and I personally get a lot of inspiration from running. I formulate leadership teachings for work while I run. I process through topics while I run. I came up with my one and only tattoo while running. Running is my thing. When I'm doing burpees at the gym on the other hand, nope. Nada. My brain can only handle getting through those burpees. 

You have an activity that I guarantee encourages your creativity. Or maybe it would if you gave it a chance. 

Here's my challenge to you: Whether it's yoga, walking, cleaning, driving to an appointment, gardening or browsing the aisles at Target, let your creative wheels spin. Don't assume those are activities that are separate from processing through your marketing content. Many times, those are the perfect activities for getting in the brain space to create. They have to be activities you can put on auto-pilot though. So if it's a new yoga flow or an appointment you've never been to before that you need to actually pay attention to the gps to get to, this probably won't apply. 

Bonus tip: bring headphones (even for one ear if you're driving or have littles to attend to) and play some soothing music. The kind that helps you focus. This may turn a mundane chore into a set-up for your imagination to soar. 

Reverse-psychology the pressure for length

GAH, okay, I know I said my first tip was my favorite but I really love this one too. Who are we kidding, all three of these are gold to me. I would go crazy-writer-lady without them. 

Anyway, this one is gooooood because it works. every. time. Do you often face your content pieces with the nagging thought that they have to be long? Like, your next pdf download should be 8-10 pages. That blog post needs to be at least five paragraphs? Your social plans have to stretch out over a week, two weeks, a month? Shoot, that email campaign needs to cover 6 months, which means it needs to contain at least 12 emails!?

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Ladies, I am here to SET YOU FREE. What if, this time, your pdf download was simply one page? Your blog post was only a couple paragraphs? Your social plan is simply a single post? That email campaign is a strong, yet simple introduction email. Does that take the pressure off? Does that help you get past the overwhelm and into writer's mode? I bet it gets you there quicker than what you were originally telling yourself. 

There's no faster way to kill my marketing content mojo than the overwhelm of length. That voice that says I need to chain myself to the desk chair and pour over words for the next 76 hours. So I do reverse-psychology on my own brain. I tell myself; Hey, Lindsey, this time let's just do something short and sweet. Just sit and write something for a few minutes. That's all. 

And you know what happens? I sit to write something for a few minutes, which puts me in the right head space, which turns into a desire to write and create a little more, which, before I know it, turns into a lot more content than I expected from myself at first. 

Girlbosses, we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to putting pressure on ourselves. Give yourself permission to simplify, shorten, or even skip something this time around. No one works well under too much pressure. Especially when it's an assignment you don't really enjoy to begin with. 

Are you feeling freer yet? Have you found any of these to work for you? I'd love to know! Leave your comments, friend, and let me know how you get past writer's block, whether you're a content queen or a words-averse boss babe ;) 

Of course, if you could care less about ever writing another marketing word again, I am for hire, and I do offer free 15-minute consultations to help you decide what your content needs or if it's time to turn it over to a pro. 

Now it's time to go put my own tips into practice. Have a great week!

Branding Authentically: Learn from others without losing your voice

You would think authenticity in a marketing message would be one of the most natural skills for a business owner. Simply write like you talk. Convey a thought or idea the way you would standing in your kitchen or brainstorming with your team. 

But how many of you girl (and guy) bosses are with me when I admit to serious struggle in this area? Especially in those first few months of my business' launch. All day long I'm watching and learning from those more successful than me; studying their Instagram feeds, reading their LinkedIn articles and listening to their podcasts, thinking, "oh, okay, that's how I should do it."

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Sure, we need training to improve how we lead, manage and move our companies forward, but all this absorbing others' material can also cloud our communication. It can become very tempting to take on someone else's tone, style, word choices and methods, to our own detriment. Your audience doesn't want another so-and-so, they want you, and the special way you can serve them. Your business will never stand out if you don't decide what's going to set it apart.

I'm still learning this myself, and I'm sure I always will be, but I can tell you what has helped me in this area - and if you'll let me preach for a moment - stress to you that I really, truly want you to fight for authenticity with your business and brand messaging. The world needs your way of doing something that is a little - or a lot - different from the other companies in your field. Learn best practices, but don't be afraid to put your own spin on what that is for your small business. Here are a few ways you can make sure you're branding authentically.

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Write your first draft from the heart

Sometimes, when I begin a blog or content piece, I can't get past the first couple sentences without second-guessing myself. Is this what I should say? Is this how I should say it? Oh shoot, is that even grammatically correct? 

Brand owners, I give you full permission to toss all the rules out the window and let your heart guide your first draft. Just let those thoughts and fingers fly. Who cares about proper punctuation, how someone else may read it or if the sentence is perfectly formed? First drafts are the best time to put your spirit into your words. You can worry about all that fine-tuning after you feel that what you're saying and how you're saying it is truly a reflection of you. 

Learn from your own successes

Hopefully, after you've been at it a while, you can shift your attention off other business owners and focus more on what's worked for you. Gradually decrease the amount of time you spend following your favorite branders and devote more time to what you love about your own branding. This will help you build off what's been working and stay in tune with how you should come across to your specific audience to create more successful leads. 

Create your own stylebook

If there's any point here that I feel equipped to speak to, it's this one. I began in the magazine publishing world, worked at a newspaper, blogged for businesses when it wasn't cool yet and just crossed three years as a full-time copywriter for a mortgage company. Style, grammar and the English language have been my world for about 15 years. 

When it comes to brand messaging, advertising and marketing content, style guides and grammar rules can be held loosely. It's a different type of communication, and you can absolutely feel free to create your own style guide.

What you don't want to do is be inconsistent. Choose how you're going to write a term ( pluralize business' or business's?) or punctuate (do you like more or fewer commas?) and stick with it. Sure, it may not pass a college essay, but college English wasn't about branding your business. In marketing world, your grade is about consistency.

Be firm with your business boundaries

If you hate blogging, don't blog. If you prefer to podcast over owning a Facebook business page, then put your time and creativity into a podcast. You don't have to do all the types of messaging you see others doing - especially in the early years. It's okay to choose the type of marketing you prefer, and what works best for your audience - it's your brand!

Keep putting yourself out there

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When it comes to writing authentically, repetition is the best teacher. I felt super awkward those first couple months trying to "be me" with my own brand. Years of helping other business owners and companies find their voice didn't mean my own came instantaneously. You're entitled to a few awkward social posts, blogs, videos (have you visited my YouTube account lately? Me neither, lol) and emails. 

Don't let those uncomfortable first few hold you back. Keep posting, recording, emailing and captioning. Your voice will come. 

 

Maybe you've been in the biz a while and you've established your authentic brand conversation. Now, your problem is you simply don't have the time or desire to take your marketing to the next level with strategic, lead-creating website writing or email campaigns. That's what I can help with. And please, if you simply found this blog super helpful, leave me a comment because I'd love to know! 

Until next time, bosses!