Running your own business or working for a small company often requires you to wear a multitude of different hats; you may start the day raising invoices, spend your lunch break preparing to meet a new client and come to the end the day working on a new marketing idea. This wide range of tasks is just one of the reasons why your job is so exciting, no two days are ever the same and news skills are always being learnt. But that doesn’t mean these new responsibilities won’t sometimes appear a little daunting.
One task that I often hear clients worry about is that of writing copy, particularly content for websites, certainly the phrase ‘email me your web copy over’ does sound daunting, even to me – and I work in the web industry! The important thing to remember is that this is your business, you are the expert, nobody knows the company better than you do so it is only logical that the best person to produce content for your key marketing tool is you!
But how do you go about transforming all that business information you carry around in your head into meaningful, effective web copy? Just like any other daunting task, break it down into small, manageable steps and tackle them one at a time. As this is something that I help people do regularly, I just so happen to have a procedure for tackling this task that I’m happy to share with you.
Here are my five manageably small steps to writing web copy:
1. Make a cup of tea, grab a biscuit and find somewhere quiet and comfy to work
It’s important that you are able to give your full attention to this important task, turn off your phone (even if it’s just for an hour at a time) and settle down to concentrate. Also make sure you find the nicest biscuits you can as this is a fun, creative task and you want to take every opportunity to enjoy it to its full potential!
2. Establish the volume of content required
Before you even type your first word, it’s important to bear in mind how much content is required (it’s often far less than one would think!). I always recommend that people ask their web designer for a copy of their site map and then try to visualise what will go on each page and how many paragraphs are required. Good designers will usually advise you of the target word count for each page.
3. Think about the audience in relation to your product/service
Consider who will be reading your website and in what capacity. Are you targeting new mothers at home? Or a solicitor in their office? The tone and vocabulary employed should reflect who you’re talking to and where they shall be.
Think through the features and benefits of your product or service. For example, clients of a cleaning service shall be interested to hear about the service features (experience, skill, packages available) but it is the benefits that shall compel them to buy (“your home shall be wonderfully clean”, “you’ll have more time to do what matters to you if we do your cleaning for you”). It’s important that you are very clear about the benefits your product or service offers and that your website content reflects this.
4. Get writing
Don’t worry that what you’re writing isn’t good enough, just write. Starting is the hardest bit and once you get in the flow you can always go back and edit what you have written.
Remember that website content requires a different approach to brochure copywriting, here are the key elements to consider:
- Keep it short – visitors tend to skim read websites, writing short sentences and short paragraphs will help them find the information they’re looking for.
- Use plain English – don’t alienate potential customers with complicated language or industry jargon, your aim isn’t to impress visitors with your fantastically accomplished writing style, it’s to engage them with relevant and accessible information.
- Front load content – visitors may not read to the bottom of a website page, put the messages you want them to hear at the beginning of each paragraph or page.
- Keep it keyword rich – keywords are simply the words that visitors put into a search engine to find your website. Google will ‘crawl’ your website and compare it to others, placing those it deems to be most relevant at the top of the search results. Therefore, if you sell cupcakes, make sure that your website mentions cupcakes frequently!
5. Proofread and edit
Once you have your lovely content written out, make sure you take the time to proofread it. This may sound obvious, but it is surprising how often this important step is omitted. Your website is likely to be one of the key factors to determine a customer’s first impression of your company. If they find daft spelling and grammatical errors here, they’ll quickly apply this to the way the rest of the business is run. If possible share this task as it’s easy to overlook mistakes in content that you have written yourself.
Now you have highly honed, well written content and it’s time to get it up onto your website where it can start working for you while you concentrate on your next challenge in running your new business.
Good luck – and get writing!
About the Author: Natalie Smith, a CIM qualified marketing professional is the Client Service Manager at Blaze Communication, helping clients to build brands, increase sales, excite customers and communicate more effectively. follow her with Twitter on @Blaze_Group and visit the website at http://www.blazecommunication.com/.