Books open ready for homework

Copywriting tip 2: Do your homework

Books open ready for homework

You know the biggest mistake people make when they have to write something?

Starting to write.


You’ve read the brief. Checked the time. Cleared the diary.

Boiled the kettle, made your favourite cuppa. (Poured a glass of wine.)

You’re all set.

And off you go, typing away like crazy.

Kermet the frog typing crazily

Trouble is, as you’re typing you’re uncovering things you need to do.

‘Oh, I need to check that with Jon.’ you think. Only to find Jon is away for the next 24 hours.

‘Damn, not sure I understand that bit …’ So you stop, and do a bit of research.

Worst thing you can do. Doing the homework as you write.

Stop, start. Stop, start.

No. You need to do the homework before you start.

So, put down that pen or keyboard.

And answer these four, simple questions. The four Ws.

Who. What. Why. And where.

In that order. And before you even think about putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.

Who: what do I know about my audience?

What: what do I know about the topic, product or service?

Why: what’s the compelling proposition?

Where: the choice of medium.

You do them in that order, because if you start with the audience, you’ll naturally be lead towards segmentation.

And those four Ws are the subject of my next four tips.


This tip is based on my 30 Tips in 40 Minutes webinar.

Feel free to download a version of the slides and watch a video of the one-hour webinar.

Image source: Pixabay


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Jon Maxim

Jon is a multi-award winning copywriter. For over 30 years, he’s helped clients – large and small – develop engaging concepts, content and copy. For 25 of those years, he’s been teaching people how to do it themselves. His courses on copywriting, ideation and presentation skills are highly sought-after and highly effective. Jon lives in Sydney, Australia: but is often found on a plane, heading to where he’s most needed.