Writing web copy that tells your story, and sells your service
As a business owner, a freelancer, or someone tasked with (or should that be lumped with) the often arduous task of writing web copy, you’ve probably arrived at this blog post because you’re discovering that finding the right words to define your offer, and engage your target audience, is more difficult that it first appears.
Hey, I get it.
As an experienced freelance web copywriter, having reviewed and worked on hundreds, if not thousands of websites during the course of my career, I can tell you that writing web copy that tells your story, sells what you offer, and speaks to the right audience ain’t easy. In fact, it’s a head-scratching, brain muddling pain in the proverbial trying to tease out the tangled mass of thoughts in your head, and turn them into clear, compelling copy that you can be proud of (and that brings you hot leads, each and every day).
Why is good web copy so important?
Imagine you’re a spider, sitting in the centre of its own web, waiting for a hapless insect to buzz by, and become entangled in its gossamer strands. Now imagine yourself, slap bang in the middle of your own website, waiting for a potential client, or customer, to land in its pages. You want to make damn sure that web is constructed well, so they’ll become engrossed in your text, stick around to find out what they need to know, and – hopefully – be convinced to at least make an inquiry, if not a purchase.
Your web copy must be attention grabbing, but not gimmicky. It must be relevant to your offer, speak to your target customer, and alienate people that you don’t want to work with. It must also be clear, easy to read, and contain relevant keywords, so that the Google bots see it as valuable, and push it to page one. If it’s fun to read too, reflects your brand vales, and takes your reader on a journey, moving them to take action, that’s all good too.
When your web copy must do all that, and more, it’s no wonder that many business owner are left tearing their hair out, endlessly writing, and rewriting their web copy, but never quite feeling that they’ve got it right.
Quick tips to (almost) instantly improve your web copy
Fear not, as a seasoned web copywriter, I have some simple tricks to improve your web copy overnight. Nope, you’re not going to have to make like Dickens and sit down for decades, agonising over the placement of a comma. There are some simple things that you can do – today – to instantly improve the quality of your web copy, turning your website into a lean, mean, lead generating machine.
Ready to rock ‘n’ roll? Let’s get cracking on web copy that’s fit for purpose (not fit for the bin).
Write your web copy like you speak.
When it comes to writing web copy, perfectly normal people suddenly turn into robots, with giant sticks up their bottoms, churning out stiff, overly-formal copy, packed full of long words, and long-winded, waffly sentences. Many of us were taught at school that super-fancy words made us sound more intelligent, and try to impress our clients, or customers, with complex vocabulary that we’d never use in daily life. Rather than making our readers warm to us, this type of overly flowery language is actually alienating. Instead, write your web copy like you speak, using simple, familiar word choices. Imagine you’re explaining what your business can offer to a friend, and keep your tone informal, and light. That doesn’t mean that your website copy should be unprofessional, rammed full of swear words, and daft gags. Instead, keep the purpose professional, and the copy as simple as possible. Your readers thank you, and the point won’t be lost in a vortex of long sentences, longer paragraphs, and words that nobody understands unless they’ve swallowed a thesaurus.
2. Make web copy about the reader.
As an experienced web copywriter, I often come across (unsuccessful) websites that focus exclusively on the business, or freelancer, and pay absolutely no attention to the needs of the customer, or client. STOP! If your website copy talks more about ‘I’ and ‘we’, than ‘you’ and ‘your’, then you’ve got things muddled up. Your web copy should be laser focused on the benefits of your product or service for the reader.
If you’re passionate about packaging, or stir crazy about sofas, that’s wonderful, but it’s absolutely no help to the person who’s arrived at your website after a Google search, and wants to know if you can solve the problem that’s led them to type in a search query. Make your web copy ALL ABOUT what problems you solve for your reader, being as specific a possible. So instead of telling them that your hot water bottles are great (even though I’m sure they’re fabulous), tell them how you can save them £££ on their heating bills this winter. Write with the needs, and desires of your audience in mind, concentrate on how you can soothe their pain points, and your web copy will become instantly more compelling. A good tip is to pick through your copy, removing the ‘I’s’ and refocusing them as ‘you’s’.
3. Cut to the chase
It’s easy, and even fun, to waffle on about yourself in your web copy, writing page after page of text that’s actually irrelevant to your reader, who just wants to know if what you offer is what they’re looking for. We’re all pressed for time, and our attention spans grow shorter by the day, so make sure that your web copy cuts to the chase. Give your reader the most important information upfront – don’t make them hunt around your site, or scroll through countless paragraphs to find it. That doesn’t mean that your website copy should be limited to a couple of sentences. Just ensure that every sentence is relevant to your reader, containing information that will help them make buying decisions, and that you’re not just enjoying the sound of your own voice. Respect your readers time, with clear, direct web copy, and you’ll help retain their attention.
4. Great web copy should never be an afterthought
So many business owners are prepared to invest heavily in the design of their website, with lots of lovely branding elements like logos, fancy fonts, and pretty colours. All of this stuff is important, of course, but not at the expense of great web copy. Failing to pay adequate attention to text on your website is like putting petrol in a diesel car, or stuffing a fine Christmas Turkey full of cheap stuffing from Aldi. Sure, your site looks gorgeous, and handles like a dream, but if your web copy is lacklustre, filled with pointless waffle, stiff and dry, and without compelling calls to action, your site will never be the sleek lead generating panther it’s capable of being, and the money you’ve invested on design will be wasted. Be prepared to invest just as heavily in great web copy as you are in great web design, and give your website a fighting chance.
5. Pay attention to tone of voice
The best web copy is written with intention, not just stuffed into the gaps once the web designer’s done their job. This means sitting down, and giving some careful thought to the tone of voice you’d like your web copy to achieve. The best sites engage the reader with a distinct brand voice that’s instantly recognisable, attention grabbing, and fun or easy to read. Depending on what you business does, or the service you offer, the tone of voice for your web copy will be vastly different. A funeral service, for instance, shouldn’t adopt a witty, chatty, irreverent tone, which might be better suited to a fun, young start-up, selling a novelty product. Adapt your tone of voice to your offer, thinking about how your brand might sound if it were a person, and making decisions about the level of formality you adopt, the type of language you use, and the words, and phrases, that your audience will be familiar with. Nailing the right tone of voice for your target audience is vital, but can be tricky. That’s why I’d recommend working with a brand copywriter, like myself, on a set of tone of voice guidelines that will map out how you speak about your business, across all of your marketing materials. Appling this tone of voice to your web copy will then be super simple.
6. Be specific!
The single most important piece of advice that I give anyone penning web copy, as a web copywriter who knows her shizzle, is BE SPECIFIC in your web copy. By this, I mean banish any statement that’s vague, irrelevant, or doesn’t have any meaning, when scrutinised. So many websites that I review as a web copywriter contain empty statements like ‘we’re friendly, and professional’, ‘our customer’s needs come first’, ‘we offer a range of solutions’, ‘we’re the best at what we do’. Yadda, yadda. That’s all wonderful, but how are you going to help me? How will you be solving my problems? How will you be improving my life? Vague statements do not build trust. Meaningless messaging makes your reader switch off. Include specifics about how you’ve helped people – case studies, statistics, and testimonials are great for this. Go through your web copy, and eradicate anything that might give your reader glassy eyes. Do it, now, and improve your site copy 100%. today.
7. Edit, edit, edit. And don’t forget to proofread.
Writing great web copy is a process, and you may need to write, rewrite, and rewrite your site again as your business grows, and changes. The first draft of anything is rubbish, even for an experience web copywriter, so start by getting something down on paper, then refine this by going through the copy, and checking each sentence, editing out waffle, and tweaking your tone of voice. Be patient, and be prepared to go through several drafts before you’re fully happy with that you’ve written. And once you’ve penned your web copy, make sure you proofread it, nit picking through it word by word to weed out spelling, and grammatical mistakes. Getting a fresh pair of eyes on your web copy at this stage is crucial. A professional proofreader would be ideal, but if your budget won’t cover this at the moment, ask several members of your team, or some friends and family members, to comb through your web copy for mistakes.
8. Get in touch!
Of course, the easiest option, and the one likely to provide the most fruitful results, is to work with a professional web copywriter on the text for your site. My clients often come to me at the beginning of the process, before they’re site is designed, to incorporate fantastic web copy that performs well for search engines from the very beginning. This is ideal, but if you’ve already written your web copy, I can also help you edit this to something more suitable – particularly important if your site isn’t getting the visits you want, or your readers aren’t sticking around for long enough to learn more about your offer. From writing a full site from scratch, to tweaking existing web copy, and helping you achieve the right tone of voice that can be applied to all of your company communications, a website copywriter like me is a worthwhile investment if you’re serious about great results.
Get in touch if you’d like to discuss any element of website copywriting, from a quick and simple critique of your web copy, to a tone of voice and full site web copy package. I’m here to offer advice, a quick quotation, or to tear your site copy a new one!