By Jani Seneviratne | April 2, 2012
Believe it or not, SEO copywriters face a number of challenges on a daily basis. These challenges are often frustrating and have the potential to harm your productivity as a copywriter. Listed below are a few of the challenges that have put me to the test over the past couple of months. Potential solutions to these challenges are provided throughout this article for your peace of mind. Solutions have been gathered from experts and bloggers in the field. A few of my own personal remedies have also been included, which may, or may not, work for you too.
Hmmm… what to write about next? It happens to the best of us, especially if you’re writing for a niche. Coming up with new ideas for articles and blogs week after week is a challenging task, but it can be done. If you’re writing for a niche, make sure you’ve subscribed to the cream of the crop within that niche. Add them to social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and monitor their activity daily. It’s not good enough to just subscribe, however, you should also make an effort to regularly read their articles and blogs. After all, the more knowledge you consume, the more you’re able to give back in the form of more content creation. If you don’t have the time to digest every single word they write, at least devote some time to skimming their topics. You can get ideas for articles by either responding directly to their material, or you can branch off with a new or alternative perspective.
Don’t just spend time reading about your niche either. Trust me, if I only read about SEO copywriting, I might eventually drive myself crazy. You can get ideas from reading anything, and it will turn you into the best writer you can be. Be sure to keep an open mind and anything can trigger a new direction for an article or blog post. Pay attention to the news and those around you. Listen to their stories and eaves drop if you have to. There is so much going on in the world and you have the resources at your fingertips to discover new ideas. There are even theories out there that suggest writers block could be due to a lack of exercise, which does make sense. When you exercise, you’re also exercising the brain, right? Maintain a healthy lifestyle and the creative juices should continue to flow.
Deadlines are a fact of working life. As in-house copywriters, you’re no longer your own boss. Your boss wants a certain amount of articles and blog posts done per week. You’re also responsible for other tasks such as homepage redesigns and public relations outreach. Sometimes, however, it may feel like there are simply not enough hours in the day. Or maybe, you’re just not too good at time management, but don’t worry because most people aren’t. In fact, time management is a skill that people, possibly even your boss, attend courses for these days. How you manage your time effects your efficiency, standard of work and overall well being.
My tip is to research well before you start writing and copy paste important information into a separate document for quick reference. This will work wonders for your efficiency. Another key point is to prioritize your tasks. Decide which tasks are the most important and get them out of the way first. It’s also my personal belief that multi tasking is not good for writers. Focus on one project until it is completed, otherwise you may lose your train of thought and ideas, and even forget the research you’ve spent hours conducting. This further disrupts your productivity and leads to another time killer, procrastination.
Why do it now when you can do it later, right? Wrong. We’ve all been guilty of it at some point in our life. For writers, it is a great threat to our productivity. If you put tasks off to the last minute, you’re likely to stress yourself out unnecessarily. You always end up thinking the same thing: maybe I should have started sooner. The hardest part is getting started, but the longer you wait, the worse the work load will become. Tasks will begin to pile up, and before you know it, you’re drowning.
There are, however, ways to combat the issue of procrastination. Make it easy for you to get started. Start with an outline to make the task seem less overwhelming. Break it down into manageable sections. If you do this, you’ll not only increase your productivity, but you’ll also have time for other things, such as getting traction for your articles and blogs. After all, you want people to be able to read and see your hard work, right? Remember the golden philosophy: work first, play later.
There are a number of distractions surrounding you, even in an office environment. Whether it’s the office discussion happening right next to you, the traffic outside, a buzzing light, a noisy refrigerator or Facebook, distractions are another great time killer. Try investing in a pair of headphones and an excellent playlist to block out the rest of the world. If music is your distraction, you might want to invest in a noise-cancelling headphone. With regards to Facebook and other addictive social networks, however, you will need to have self control and know when you’re letting them affect your productivity. Try closing your web browsers when it’s time to write.
Lack of Organization
The human brain is truly an amazing organ. It does, however, tend to let us down occasionally. Even if you believe that you have an excellent memory, it’s still a wise idea to maintain a calendar and a To-Do list. Don’t wait until later on to set reminders for meetings and tasks either. Do it as soon as you’re made aware of them, so that you don’t forget to input them. Also remember to tick off completed tasks and trash them immediately so they’re no longer in your way. Otherwise, they may clutter your thoughts and confuse you in the future.
Don’t let your emails pile up either. Organize them into archived folders for quick reference. Also manage your computer, so that all your client files are in corresponding folders and so on. Another quick tip is to always take a pad and pen into meetings so you don’t forget what’s been discussed post-meeting. Bookmark important websites. Know what time of day you experience downtime so that you get all the important work done before then.
As SEO copywriters, you will spend most of your days sitting at a desk, behind a computer screen, writing your little hearts out. It is difficult to stare at a computer screen for a full working day and it can take its toll on you. If you’re like me, your eyelids will get sore and heavy, and you will experience fatigue or even a headache after a couple of hours. Your back will also start to hurt from sitting down for long periods of time. It is an uncomfortable feeling, and can harm your productivity.
Taking regular breaks, adjusting your computer setting, anti-glare screens, ambient lighting, back massagers and maintaining good posture will help to reduce eye strain and back problems. It’s also a good idea to keep a bottle of Excedrin handy, for those days you experience headaches. In conjunction with these remedies, if you can squeeze in 20 minutes per day for exercise, you’re on the right track. It will help you to feel refreshed and relaxed, increasing your productivity yet again. After all, your health does come first, right? If you get sick, you might not be able to continue to work at all.
Does it read well? Does that sound right? What’s that word I’m looking for? As writers, I’m convinced that it’s in our genes. We don’t want anyone to read our writing until it is up to our standards. That project you’ve been working on is taking you longer than the proposed 2 weeks to complete. We obsess over words and fuss over a single article for days upon end until we’re satisfied, and even then, we’re still not really 100% satisfied, are we? The trick is to just let it go. Trick yourself into believing your work is better than most of the other material out there. Or maybe it is actually better than most, and maybe you just need to have a little bit more confidence in your writing. Even if you’ve received criticism, constructive or otherwise, make the most of it and strive for continual improvement. Don’t let it harm your writing. Write, and keep writing. Don’t stop until you’ve finished. Once you’ve finished, then you can go back and edit, but don’t spend too much time on editing either. If and when you’ve met all your deadlines, then you can go back and fine tune it.