On more than one occasion, I have found myself writing copy for industries that I am vaguely familiar with.  I’ve written copy for anything from athletics copy to restaurant commercial copy to water rights copy.  To be honest, I really had no idea what I was doing when I started the water rights piece – but I got through it.  Some may consider this the Achilles heel for writers that are writing outside of their scope of knowledge, but really it doesn’t have to be.

The answer to this dilemma may be so obvious…. but hey, sometimes we tend to overlook the obvious.

So what do you do when you have to write copy for something that you know little to nothing about?  Easy, get to know the LINGO.

Most of the basic ideas behind the copy are really simple, they just have the “lingo” that is used by the professionals of the field.

This is how I would tackle the challenge of writing about what you don’t really know…

So the first step I would take, is to map out your content for the basic information that you are trying to get across.  At this point it is not necessary to have all of that fancy mumbo-jumbo in there.  That can come later.

Next, I recommend taking some time to research copy by others done in this field.  I am not condoning plagiarism – I’m basically saying, look at how they write and get some ideas from it.  This can be your first exposure to the lingo of the field.  You can use context clues to help identify and define some of the terms that you may want to use in your copy.

If you still feel like you have unanswered questions about what you are trying to write – ask the experts.  Don’t feel nervous to call your client or an expert in the field to find out more about what you are writing.  In some cases it may confirm what you already know or it can expand the knowledge base that you have started.

From there, you can go back to that basic content that you started and plug in the “lingo” for the ideas that you have already outlined.  I’ve found that when I do this, I am able to add more depth to my content through details and new thought ideas.

What most people don’t realize, is that knowing very little about the subject you are writing copy for is not a weakness at all, it is a strength!  As you learn more and more about the field, you become the middle man to help the experts, in understandable terms, to those who may have little to no knowledge about what they are reading about.  Isn’t that crazy how that works out?

So next time you feel intimidated about writing copy on something you know so little about, embrace the challenge.  You can expand your own knowledge and help the businesses in that field relate to others on a more basic level.

– from the Writer’s Corner Office

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