Launching Copy Café has been an enormous endeavour. And I don’t mind admitting that.

Of course, I’ve had a little help along the way here and there. But for the most part, it’s just been me. My ideas, my thinking, my planning, my organising, my writing, my development work. And yes, my trying to get to grips with third party apps and systems that I’d never used before – and working out how best to integrate them to provide a completely smooth and friendly customer experience for the many consultants and other small business owners who I know are really interested in developing better business writing skills.

There’s no denying that it’s been a very long slog. Sure, it’s been a lot of fun at times too – I love having and mapping out ideas! But for me, the ‘drudge’ aspects of the development of this brand new venture have been just that – necessary tasks that I’ve had to do, rather than things that I would typically choose to do.

Chuck an unforeseeably and surprisingly large amount of consultancy client work into the mix just a few weeks before launch and the scenario gets even more fraught. But that’s another story…

The moral of this particular tale is that it’s possible to break a daunting project down into smaller, more manageable chunks – whatever you’re trying to achieve.

Don’t be daunted
Imagine you’re faced with creating a new piece of business writing, for example. Even if it’s only a 200-word email, you can help yourself by breaking it down into smaller tasks.

Tackle one little section at a time and it will all start to fall smoothly into place. Do nothing (or rather, sit dithering at your screen for a couple of hours, chastising yourself for being crap because you “don’t really know how to do it”) and it won’t work. Break it down instead. If you can give yourself plenty of lead time, all the better.

Let’s assume you’re faced with creating a fantastically compelling email – but haven’t a clue how to achieve that.

Start with the subject line. Simply grab a notepad or your keyboard (depending on your personal preference – I often like to go ‘old school’, just for a screen break) and start scribbling ideas for possible subject lines that would grab you if you were in your customer’s shoes. Just note them down, then move on to the body of the email itself.

Do the same for some headline ideas. Then the same for some opening line ideas. Don’t worry about the ‘roughness’ of your writing at this point. You can edit and pull it all together later. This is the ‘brain dump’ phase.

Next, finish that all-important first paragraph. No, don’t panic just yet: just in ‘draft mode’ again.

Have you got a key date or an event name or another piece of information that you need to convey in this email? Stick that on a separate line, in bold.

Then reinforce your main message by providing a short paragraph of support information – ideally only two or three lines.

Rough first, refine later
How’s it looking? Time to start wrapping everything up? Okay, let’s review what you’ve got…

Is there any offer you can add in there, key speakers that people can expect to hear at an event, anything else that could catch a reader’s eye?

What’s your call to action? And how will you sign off?

Step back… and what does that all look like? A dog’s dinner? That’s okay!

You can edit it tomorrow. Or this afternoon. Right now, go and grab a coffee or a sandwich to reward yourself for having made a damn good start! The editing and finessing process is another cup of tea entirely.

It feels good to feel more productive, doesn’t it?



If you enjoyed this, you might also like:
> How to write when you don’t feel like it
> 7 ways to supercharge your subject lines
> How to check your work