How to get truly useful feedback on your copywriting

I used to take creative writing classes in Seattle.

 

We’d write, then have a chance to share. Only if we wanted.

 

And then you were asked if you wanted feedback from the class.

 

There were specific rules about feedback.

 

It could only be positive.

 

My brilliant teacher, Tara Hardy, had the good sense to notice that what you nurtured grew.

 

So by focusing only on the strengths, you allowed room for experimentation. For the beautiful stuff to emerge. Daring things. The truth.

 

The stuff that most needed to be written. And if it was right, to be shared with others who needed to hear it.

 

Some really incredible things came out of those classes.

 

Poetry. Prose. Books. Even new romances…and a supportive community unlike any I’d ever seen.

 

People in the class flourished beyond just their writing abilities.

 

They came into their own. They gained confidence. They went from too scared to write, to performing in front of hundreds. Getting book deals. Getting promotions. Feeling fulfilled and connected.

 

There was a lot of covert (or was it?) healing.

 

Me and my classmates were seen and heard about the things we most needed to be seen and heard about.

 

I’m convinced there’s room for that in your copy.

 

Putting yourself out there in a way that’s even slightly more daring and more real than you ever have before will transform not only you, but the people who read what you write.…And are then inspired to work with you.

 

So while this isn’t a lesson in creative writing per se, I wanted to share some things that will help you nurture that creative copy process.

 

Because it’s delicate sharing your words. A first draft is vulnerable. And I would hate to see a great idea squashed before it has the chance to do the most good.

 

Here are some specific instructions on writing a first draft and how to ask for feedback.

 

First:

 

“Embrace the B”.

 

Here’s what I mean…when you sit down to do write, whether it’s your homepage or a sales page or a blog, you have to loosen up a bit. Especially if you aren’t used to writing or it’s been a while.

 

So many of us were trained to go for that A in school, but I want you to go for a solid B. Hell, even a C+.

 

I’m not trying to help you do average work…I know that a lot’s on the line—this is your business and livelihood we’re talking about! But you don’t have to worry about all that right now.

 

All you have to focus on is the first step….UNDERACHIVEING!

 

Yep.

 

Ahhhh.

 

Do you remember when Bart Simpson t shirts were popular in the early 90s? There was such a riot about that one shirt…my dad was a school teacher and I heard A LOT about it!

 

BUT HERE’S WHY I WANT YOU TO BE AN UNDERACHIVER….at least at this stage in the game.

 

It really takes the pressure off. I want you to loosen up and give yourself permission to write something that’s not your best work.

 

It’s so important because so many people get stuck here before they even start.

 

Know that your first draft will look very different than your last draft. That’s always, always always the case. But if you are so wound up about the final draft being perfect, you won’t get the first one out.

 

Go on.

 

GO FOR THE B!

 

Then, give what you’ve written a rest. Come back to it tomorrow.

 

Revise for another 45 minutes.

 

At this point it won’t be so raw, so you can give it to someone to read.

 

Here’s a feedback script for you.

 

But a word of caution… You really have to be selective about who this person is…and be ready to take what they say with a grain of salt.

 

Hell, maybe even a whole shaker of salt!

 

You might want to give it to a friend who would be your ideal client, but isn’t so close to you that they know too much about what you’re talking about.

 

For example, if you gave it to your honey to read and they know your biz inside and out, then they won’t have that objective eye.

 

It’s really important to pick someone who you know will be supportive, kind, and honest. You don’t want to get the wind knocked out of your sails…but you do need to test your copy before it goes up.

 

You need to make sure it doesn’t fall flat or be unclear, totally off the mark, or other potential copy mishaps. Just like how it’s easy to miscommunicate over a text message or email, you might not always be aware how your copy comes off.

 

But you need gentle! So I always give this person some very guided instruction.

 

I’m going to tell you what I say when I ask for feedback:

 

 

“THANK YOU SO MUCH! This is an early draft. It’s going to look a lot different than the end result. I wanted to ask you to take a look at it because I trust your opinion and also know that you will be honest enough to tell me what you think would strengthen it in a kind way.

 

What I would love is for you to go through it and tell me what you like about it. I would love any positive feedback!

 

(THEN YOU WANT TO TELL THEM EXACLTY WHAT KIND OF THINGS ARE HELPFUL.)

 

“The main things I’m looking to know at this point is:

 

Is it clear who this is for?

Is it clear what the problem is?

Have I spell out the emotional reasons why not having this problem solved is hurting them?

Does it mention why this is perfect for them, specifically?

Does you understand the end result they’ll get?

Is it clear what action this person needs to take next?

 

 

Also, if you can think of anything, tell me two places where you think it can improve.

 

 

Thanks again, [insert friend with the abundant awesomeness’ name here]!”

 

 

That’s it. That’s all they need to tell you. Getting someone else’s eyes on your copy is super important… because its hard to be objective about yourself.

 

Ideally, you’d have someone who understands copywriting help you.

 

 

Plus, you might even be downplaying what you do, that’s pretty common because we don’t want to come off a boastful and of course we don’t want to make promises we can’t keep, but there is a difference.…so having someone else who can reflect back to you how awesome you are can be a super helpful confidence boost.

 

O, confidence! I sing your praises….

 

Feel free to report back on how this feedback process was for you. I’d love to hear from you.