Getting Started

Writing Copy for a Website

 

Seven steps to produce the copy you really need.

 

  • Set a time, a place and a goal for your writing. Routines have to be established. Your writing routine must be sacrosanct. Put the do not disturb sign up, go to the bathroom, get a coffee, or whatever and exhale. Whatever you use to write, whatever you like to listen to, and whatever you like to wear at the time and place that suits you best. You need to stack the odds in your favor. Turn the phone off, or at least put it on alarms only. Work out what you want to achieve and don't stop until you have done it. Is it 300 words? 500? Or is it just to tough it out for say 90 minutes, or 50 minutes? You are in charge of your goals.

 

  • Talk to somebody. No, I don't mean ambling to the kitchen to make another cup. I mean picture someone and have a chat to them, in what you write. This is the best place to start. Grammar and tone can be sorted out later. The aim is to connect with your reader. Who are they? How old are they? What gender are they? What are their worries? What makes them happy? What problems or life ambitions will your product or service solve or help them attain?

 

  • The acronym F.A.B. applies. That is, features, advantages and benefits. F and A help you to get to B. Benefits are the things that matter most to your readers and customers. Your large family sedan might have 7 seats, and a high spec' hybrid drive train, but the benefits for you are that you can take your friends/kids/family out for a meal in a very safe vehicle and feel that you occupy the moral high ground too. The feel-smug factor, if you like. Write at least 3 great things about your product or service and work them into your words.

 

  • Have a plan for everything you need to write: if it is a website, what pages do you need? This does not come first, at least, not in this list. It is more important to commit to the act of writing and do some than it is to spend countless procrastinating hours planning. You earn the right to plan when you have proved to yourself that you can actually write something.

 

  • Use basic language. You might be talking to a specific demographic, but even brain surgeons prefer easily accessible web content when they are looking for an upholstery shop. 11 to 12 year old language is the most easily absorbed. People scan for information online. Put the most important points where they can be seen, and bullet point them, so that can be scanned and send a reassuring message to the reader that they are in the right place. Equally, putting people off at an early stage- people that will never be your customers- is a good thing too. Words of simplicity, using the active voice, and focusing on benefits will do just fine.

 

  • Don't use smoke and mirrors. Deception is not good. If you are a single person business, or blog, then use “I” not “we”. You might think of “we” as making you sound more professional, and capable, but someone, somewhere is going to take offence when they find out the truth, and you know what they say about reputation? Yes, correct. “I” is good. If that is what it is. A great about page will help people connect. Be honest, transparent and yourself. Use an online checker such as Hemingway, and just do it.

 

  • Practice makes perfect. You need to get started and to get out of your own way. Believe it, or not- practice and a production of a quantity of words and work will produce quality of work. A simple system to help things along is to have either days or slots within days to produce what you need, all-round. An ideas (pen and paper, spider-gram kind of session), a first draft day (just write, pay no heed to spell check suggestions just get it down) and an editing session (red pen at the ready, kill all fluffiness and needless words).

 

Seven steps to heaven. It need not feel like hell, after all.

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