Website copy. It’s a tricky thing to write. Figuring out what you are going to say to sell your services and do so in a way that speaks to your ideal customer. I mean, no pressure there, right? This is only the difference between getting the job and not getting the job.
When it comes to your own website, it’s even harder. I should know. I’ve been procrastinating over refreshing my website content for quite some time. It’s not like I really need to send anyone to my website, do I? You know, to check that I can actually write.
And for a long time, I didn’t really want to because it no longer spoke about the services I provide or to clients I want to work with.
I know my web copy wasn’t bad. It’s brought me a surprising amount of business. But it really wasn’t doing it for me any more.
The only way I could think to motivate myself (aside from the whole work/money dichotomy), was to treat it as I would a client’s site. That makes it easier. I’ll take a step back and work through the process I would use if this website belonged to someone else.
The downside is that the pay is terrible and I’m never going to win the argument. But the upside is that I can practice and perfect what I do. Starting with…
Where to start to write your own website copy
First, I take a look at what my peers have written for their web copy. I choose three content writers and copywriters whose work I admire. Not necessarily writers who I think are aligned with my business but whose writing I think is impressive.
I pull apart the structure of what they have written and some of the language they’ve used. This is not to copy what they’ve done but to understand why they’ve selected one structure over another, one choice of phrase against a different one.
If I were writing website copy for your site, you’d be pleased I’d gone into this depth of research.
But if you are writing your own website copy, you should start with looking at what your peers are doing. Decide what you like and don’t like. And then do it better.
I know that I need to put a bit more effort into my local SEO. The copy on my site is a great place to start because including it in blogs can often seem a little contrived.
I also took a look at the sort of questions people (that means you) are asking around creating online content and outsourcing work. This means that you, my potential client, feel like I’m talking directly to you. Reading your mind, if you will. I understand immediately the problems you’re having in your business and why you are thinking of outsourcing your content to a skilled and organised professional.
So before you put key to keyboard, make sure you understand what your website goals are and how people are going to find out. Your goals are different to mine. You might want to be found for a certain product or service. That’s your SEO starting point. Or you may want to target local traffic because you want people to come to your physical location.
Your website copy will change depending on what you want it to achieve.
Then I want to really get down and dirty with who my ideal client actually is and what sort of journey they are going to go on when they reach my site. Usually, I say I want to work with ‘nice’ people who make me smile. And I do.
But I need more than this. I need to know who you are, what industry you work in and what qualities you are looking for in a content writer. I have nervous laughter that pops out at inappropriate times. Are you okay with that? Have you got that dark sense of humour?
I also think aloud. Usually, this isn’t a problem. If it’s only me and my cats at home when I work. But sometimes I verbalise my thinking process during a meeting to help come to a fully formed idea. Some people don’t get this. But the people that do, do it too. And we get some really great content as a result.
So when you are write your own website copy, do it with your one person in mind. Even better if you can get someone who is your ideal audience to look through it first. A current client, perhaps? The more you can test your content, the better results you will get.
Sense of identity
Finally, we come to the hardest part: who am I and what service am I offering? If you’ve ever jumped feet first into the world of freelancing, you’ll know what a scary thing this is and how much of a rollercoaster journey it can be.
I didn’t take a gap year to find myself before going to university. I found myself in London on an unplanned but fun career trajectory. Then I found myself living outside of London with a family, two cats and a lot of experience that I didn’t know what to do with.
Boxing that up and becoming a ‘content writer’ has been illuminating. It is a process that I can recommend to any freelancer.
For your own website, you’ll want to spend some time refining this. And make a note on the language you’re using to start building a tone of voice guide. This will be helpful for any contractor who may come along in future and write blog copy for you.
Skills and services packaged up, all that is left is to put it all into a coherent and logical piece of copy for each page of my website. That’s the easy part.
So, over to you. Let me know what you think.
And if you are struggling to write copy for your website, let me know. I might be able to help.