Do you want to maximise your productivity as a writer? Creating something from nothing while staring down the barrel of the blank white page (or screen) can be intimidating. Learning to boost your productivity makes that first step so much easier and paves the way for you to create your best content.
Explore our best productivity tips for copywriters and discover what can make you a better writer.
1. Start the day right
Boost your productivity by starting your day on a positive note. Walking outside at the start of your day is a great way to find some inspiration and get your blood pumping. Copywriting is a sedentary job unless you have a treadmill desk. Jobs that involve lots of sitting increase your likelihood of developing musculoskeletal disorders, so getting adequate exercise is essential.
Reading also sparks your creativity and gets your mind up and running, ready for a day of excellent writing. Podcasts are an ideal alternative if you want to walk and listen or prefer listening to reading. Find a novel or some non-fiction writing that fascinates you. Progressing more each day provides excellent structure and excitement to your mornings.
Finally, get your breakfast right. You don’t have to eat a big breakfast to start your day. Some people find that large meals at the start of the day leave them feeling sluggish and ready to lie down. Instead, choose a balanced option that gives you the fuel to be productive. Writers are renowned for their love of coffee, but you need food to think properly.
2. Prioritise and plan
Fail to prepare, and you prepare to fail. The old saying is correct: planning your day is crucial to productivity. Block your time in the day so you don’t have to guess what you should do next. Having a plan for the day makes it much easier to stay on track and avoid distractions while you write.
If you’ve never heard of eating the frog, now’s the time. The concept comes from Mark Twain, who wrote that if you ever had to eat a live frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning as nothing worse will happen to you all day. For productive copywriting, this means tackling your ‘scariest’ task first. Plan your day so that the most extensive, intimidating work comes first and the rest of your day is a breeze.
The only time Eat The Frog doesn’t apply is when you have deadlines to meet. Organise your work according to when it’s due to avoid last-minute stress writing. You become a more productive copywriter when you learn how to prioritise your workflow effectively.
3. Separate tasks
Divide your tasks into their subsections to increase your productivity in each section. For example, completing the first drafts is a priority if you have three blogs to write. Edit them later to create some separation and give you a cleaner insight into their quality. Proofreading is more efficient and manageable when you’ve had a proper break from the words.
For freelance copywriters, limit communication with clients to a specific section of the day. For example, if you write in the morning, contact your clients in the early afternoon, and then edit and proofread your work, you clearly define each task. Set firm boundaries with your clients so they understand you aren’t available 24/7 to reduce stress and boost productivity.
Another way to separate your tasks is by setting small deadlines for yourself. For example, long-form writing with distant deadlines is easy to procrastinate. Rather than face the stress and low-quality work of last-minute writing, create deadlines for yourself to space out the work. It makes you more productive, and your writing is of higher quality.
4. Cultivate a productive atmosphere
Writers know too well the importance of a good atmosphere. Ambience is subjective, so you must find something that works for you. Some people prefer to write in silence to concentrate, while others prefer background music. You can play the sound of a hairdryer or even ambient birdsong if it helps - find what works for you and enables you to concentrate.
For some copywriters, working in public is the best way to feel productive. Whether it’s the energy of the world around you, or the perceived pressure of being watched, writing in public can increase your productivity massively. Try writing in a local cafe or park to combine fresh air with work and see if it helps.
Those who work remotely from their homes can improve their productivity by setting boundaries with family members. Clearly (and politely) communicate your working schedule to family members/housemates so they know not to disturb you to ease your workflow. Working without sudden interruptions will improve the quality and quantity of your writing.
5. Set goals
Your writing is more productive and consistent when you have a daily word count you want to reach. Setting a goal like this pushes you to work harder and get more done daily. Be realistic about your word count and ensure it’s a target you can consistently reach daily (5,000 words a day is not realistic).
Similarly, challenging yourself to produce a certain number of blogs in a week keeps you focused on your big-picture goals. Establish how many blogs you can comfortably create in a week with the right atmosphere and work setup. It is significantly easier to work consistently with a concrete idea of how much you know you can produce.
You also get a confidence boost on days and weeks when you go over your word count or weekly blog target. Those ‘big win’ days motivate you to keep pushing yourself and striving for increased productivity whilst maintaining the integrity and quality of your writing.
6. Use productivity tools
One of the most significant writing hacks that can increase your productivity is utilising digital and practical productivity tools. Strict Workflow is a plugin for your web browser that eliminates distractions. Click the tomato icon to block distracting sites for 25 minutes, after which you can click again for 5 minutes of full access.
A cornerstone of any writer’s toolkit is Grammarly. This editing software reduces editing and proofreading time, giving you more time to create. You can customise your feedback based on your target audience and language preferences. Grammarly also highlights elements like passive voice many writers miss in their work.
A more practical hack that doesn’t need a tool is removing your phone from the equation. If you’re entering a long block of writing, you might even want to switch to aeroplane mode. You can work much more productively without the distraction of your phone. Set it to silent, screen-side down, and keep it away from your computer for best results.
7. Take breaks
Effective productivity is as much about working as it is about resting. Your mind can only create high-quality work for so long before it needs a break. Exercise by walking after lunch to refresh your mind and allow your body to stretch and move before returning to work. Yoga or stretching is another good way to promote your blood flow.
If you’re social, a midday break is perfect for a quick phone call to catch up with friends and family. Relaxing for a period in the middle of your day breaks up the periods of concentration and makes it easier to focus again afterwards. A lunch date can combine the need for fresh air, socialisation, and fuel.
On the other end of the spectrum, relaxing in isolation will benefit some writers more. Take a break to meditate partway through your day to boost your productivity. Clearing your mind and letting thoughts flow naturally through your head clears your head like a walk might.
8. Experiment with your schedule
These hacks are helpful, but ultimately you need to configure your schedule to suit you best. Some writers find that working through the night makes them more productive and creative. H. P. Lovecraft once wrote, ‘No one knows whether or not he is a writer unless he has tried writing at night’. Try it to see if it improves your work and mood.
Alternatively, waking up much earlier than usual and writing can leave you feeling accomplished. Finishing your work day when most people have lunch gives you the rest of the day to unwind, leaving you refreshed for the next day. Early birds and night owls should try these methods before writing themselves off as ‘bad writers’.
Experiment with moving different tasks around within your work day to perfect your schedule. Writing first is best for some people, while others prefer to finish their day with writing assignments. Improving your productivity is much easier once you’ve established a pattern you enjoy most.
These hacks can all have a positive effect on your writing and your work life. Copywriting can be freeing and enjoyable if you find the methods that work for you. At The Author’s Pad, we can advise on the best tools for copywriters and how to make the most of your time to boost your copywriting career.
Here are some frequently asked questions about improving your productivity as a copywriter.
What are the 3 common mistakes a copywriter may make?
One mistake copywriters make is thinking they don’t need help. If you’re unsure about something in your brief, asking your client about it saves more time than trying to figure it out alone. Another mistake is neglecting your optimisation, which is crucial for effective copy. Finally, misusing words and industry terms is an error that you can avoid with research.
Why do most copywriters fail?
The copywriters who fail usually lack either confidence or ability. Training and practise can improve your writing abilities to make you a stronger copywriting, but confidence is all on you. Believing in yourself is essential to making it as a copywriter. If you practise your writing, you’ll probably notice you become more confident as a result of your experience level.
What is the biggest challenge in copywriting?
Dealing with clients is one of the hardest parts of copywriting, from getting contracts with them to negotiating elements of the work. Other challenges copywriters face include: competitive environment, time management, difficult research, and motivation. If you can properly manage your time, the other challenges become easier to manage as well.