So, my colleagues have let me write another blog post! Yay! (add as much sarcasm as you like to that). This time, I’m focusing on website content – more specifically creating it. It’s probably the most daunting aspect for our clients when creating a website, so I’ve put together some simple steps to help create engaging, appropriate content for your online presence.
Now, I’m no English teacher and some of my ex-colleagues and peers in the web world may disagree with my process, but, I’m sure some one/thing said “every little helps”, doesn’t it!?
Are you writing for a laid back Luke or a techie Tracey? Are your visitors looking for detailed specifications of a product, or just general information before visiting you in person? Understanding your audience will make your writing process much more simple. It’ll help you focus.
Write for them
If you are a solicitor, with a professional image, you’ll write copy far differently from Eric at the local skateboard shop, keep this in mind when drafting text. In the case of a solicitor, your audience will be keen to see you know what you’re talking about – but, don’t be afraid to explain the more technical aspects of your writing (imagine he’s 23 and buying his first house). Eric, our local purveyor of skateboards may need to be a little more “hip” and on trend to persuade his shoppers that the latest deck is some of the best gear to have.
Imagine that blank page staring back at you and you have no idea where to start – Yep, even I started this one off feeling like that! What works for me, is 5 bullet points listing what I want to talk about. I then turn those five points into heading and elaborate on them. Sounds simple, right?! If you’re still struggling, list some keywords or key subjects that you want to include. Cross them off as you fit them in. One more key to remember, if your website is geared for search engines, any page could be the first page your visitors arrives at. Keep this in mind and try not to refer to content on other pages too much – if you do refer to it, link it.
I’m not talking about love hearts and smiley faces here. I’m referring to writing possessively. Using words like remember, imagine and phrases like “see yourself” can trigger the visual ones amongst us to visual themselves within the subject you’re talking about. That’s especially important if you’re selling.
You are the supplier of that product or service the customer is dreaming of. Don’t be afraid of showing them who’s boss. If you manufacture toilet paper, you are the font of all knowledge when it comes to how cushiony soft your product is. Sell it and tell them. Search engines also rank sites based on the authority of content – Tell the world how soft that loo paper is and the likes of Google will reward you for it!
Pictures paint a thousand words
Looking back over the text you’ve just written, could you display a large chunk of that in a picture or infographic? If you’re quoting facts and figures, then most likely. Over 80% of the webs users only scan website copy. Did your eyes glimpse upon the infographic before you even set about reading this paragraph? Quite possibly. Don’t be afraid to highlight key points or even use a block quote to get your message across. There is also the medium of video if hammering home your content that way would be more appropriate. If you’re a bit like Delia and providing recipes to your customers, Proper Tasty have replaced the age old ingredients and method statement with a mouth wateringly good video for their creations – it certainly works for me.
Keep it simple
The age old acronym pops up here: K.I.S.S – Keep it simple, stupid. You may have just written what looks like a great bit of copy, good stuff! Now cut it in half. Sorry for that, but everyone has a habit of being too wordy. Take out the unnecessary and chop your paragraphs down to no more than a few sentences. (You should have seen the length of this article after the first draft!). If bullet points get the point across better, use them.
Polish it up
Firstly, set your spell check to English (UK) and spell check it. If in doubt – colour is spelt like that (rather than color) and centre like that (rather than the US, center).
Then, read it aloud. This will allow you to remove the tongue twisters and nonsensical paragraphs.
Now, have a break. Pop the kettle on, stick your feet up or go for a walk. What ever you do, don’t read your text. When you’ve had a break/sleep/walk re-read your copy out loud. You’ll be surprised how much you might want to change.
Lastly, get someone else to read it. Ask for their honest opinion. Make any necessary changes that YOU think are appropriate.
As long as you check your spelling and grammar here, that’s the most important bit. There is no point being authoritative if you allow your copy to contain simple errors.
I certainly hope my rather long winded blog post, has proved useful in helping you write content for your website. Sorry there’s been no juicy hamburgers hiding in this post!
Yes, there are different ways and writing styles (we use different ones tailored to our intended audience and the content when creating our blog posts) and some folk won’t agree with the style I use, but ask yourself, have you just read to the bottom?
If that blank page is still staring at you and all this still seems to hard to handle, there are wordsmiths that just specialise in writing your text – They’re called copywriters. We can put you in touch with one if you require.