Writing is hard. Writing well can sometimes feel like it's impossible. But often, small business owners can find themselves in the position of having to write every single word of their website copy - and it's an unenviable task.
From sales copy to regular blog posts, a good small business website can feature thousands upon thousands of words. If you've got the budget, then hiring a specialist to write for you is a great idea. But if you need to focus your spending power elsewhere and plan on writing (or rewriting) your own web content, then you need all the help you can get.
So let's take a look at some helpful tools and resources that will make your writing life as easy as possible.
Research tools and resources
Good writing starts with good research. You need to understand your target audience and the way they like to be communicated with.
You also need to understand the keywords potential customers will use when they're searching for a business like yours in Google.
Here are some tools and guides to help you with your research.
This Hubspot guide to creating marketing personas is a great way to get under the skin of your potential customers. However, you'll likely need to invest some money if you're to follow its advice fully.
If you don't have a budget for this kind of research, then take a look at this guide to creating personas on a budget from the Moz blog.
Remember, creating personas may feel like a lot of work, but it will help you improve every piece of marketing you do, including your website copywriting.
Keyword research is also important. This guide from the Backlinko blog is a good place to get started with keyword research, and also includes details of several useful keyword research tools too.
Writing tools and resources
No piece of writing will ever be perfect first time, so here are some great tools and resources to help you make sure your final copy is as good as it can be.
Not sure where to begin with writing your website copy? Then study this in depth guide from Copyblogger (it's free, but sign up is required.)
Is your writing easy to read? Could you simplify things? Are you using the passive voice too often? All these questions are answered by the free online writing tool Hemingway.
Either write directly into the app, or copy and paste a piece of existing text, and it will highlight improvements you can make to increase its readability.
Creating easy-to-read copy for your website is crucial. People don't want to have to wade through line after line of dense, complex text so make sure they don't have to.
In a perfect world, all our website copy would be crafted in a word processing package, spellchecked and proofread by someone else. Of course, in the real world you might often find yourself making quick changes to your website copy directly in your browser.
That's where Grammarly comes in. Grammarly is a browser plugin that checks everything you write in your browser in real time. So it's good if you're making on the fly changes to your website copy, or if you're updating your social media accounts.
Do your headlines grab people's attention? Do they resonate emotionally? And do they have what it takes to help you rank well in search engines?
Making an emotional connection with your readers is crucial if you want to make a sale. So try your headlines out with the Advanced Marketing Institute's emotional marketing value headline analyzer.
If you want to go into more detail on your headlines, then why not give the Coschedule headline analyzer a try? (It's free, but you do need to sign up) As well as providing emotional analysis, it will look at the structure and type of your headline, along with advice on how to make any improvements that are needed.
Need to work on your copy with multiple people? Then you're going to need some sort of collaboration software to help you stay on the same page.
If you need to easily share files and/or work on the same document across different locations with different people, then consider Office 365 from GoDaddy. It provides you with some really powerful ways to collaborate.
Optimization tools and guides
What would you do if there was one little change you could make to your website copy that would boost your conversion rate by a percentage point or two? Obviously, you'd make that change immediately.
And what would you do if I were to tell you there were numerous little tweaks you could make to your website that may have a positive impact on your conversion rate (and hence your sales and revenue)? Obviously you'd want to know what they are.
The good news is that there likely are numerous little tweaks you can make (to your copy, and other elements of your website) that will have exactly this effect. The bad news is that you'll need to do some digging to work out what these changes are.
This is where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes in. CRO is the art of finding the changes that make your website better. It's important to remember that you'll never have a perfect website, (or perfect website copy) and so you should always be on the lookout for improvements.
To do this, you'll need to familiarize yourself with things like A/B and multivariate testing. (Or hire someone to work on this for you if you have a budget available).
If you need an introductory guide to the basic concepts we've talked about here, check out this article on why conversion rates matter for your small business.
If you're familiar with the basics and want to get started with CRO yourself, then this beginner's guide to CRO from Hubspot is right for you.
Although no tool or resource can turn you from a beginner into a master writer overnight, they can help you make huge improvements.
By using following the guides above, you'll learn the theory behind writing good online copy, while the tools will help you to put that theory into practice. Enjoy your writing.