Ok… full disclosure here… I’m not a professional copywriter. Like you, I’m just another person in a business who occasionally gets assigned the task of writing content for our website or marketing materials.
Working for a web development company, I’ve also spent a lot of time with clients as they mull over what to write on each page of their website. It can be an overwhelming task and often is what causes a project to grind to a halt.
If you’re feeling stuck, and have got the budget and the time, then I’d recommend hiring a professional copywriter. They do this for a living and are very good at it.
However, I also know that there are many times when you just need something written up fast or can’t justify the expense of outsourcing the task. For those situations, I thought I’d share the approach I take when writing content for our website. Think of this as a “how to write content when you hate writing content” guide. I hope it helps!
Step 1: Start from the Customer/Client’s Perspective
You’ve probably heard this marketing tip before. When describing your product or service, think about the benefit that your prospect will receive. Is there a problem that they need solving? Is it going to contribute to their success, happiness, productivity or general wellbeing?
The same rule applies when writing the content for the website. What is it that your customer needs or wants? What benefit are you providing for them? Take the time to brainstorm a few points and then make sure that they’re included on the relevant page.
Step 2: Start with a Basic Outline
Whether you’re writing a blog post, latest news article or content for your About Us page, you want it to be ordered and logical. An easy way to do this is to plan your content before you start writing it.
If you sit down to a blank Word Document with the goal of writing an entire article from scratch, it can be easy to ramble. Every time you stop to check or correct grammar, you lose momentum. For this reason, I always like to start by writing a basic outline.
Here are a few tips for getting the most out of this step:
- Stick to writing dot points only
- Don’t check spelling or grammar as you go. You can fix this later.
- Think of the benefits that you want to highlight to your website visitor (see Step 1) and make sure they’re included.
- Don’t stop to polish up what you’ve written as you go. Think of this as your chance to dump everything that is in your head onto a page, without worrying about how it reads.
Once you’re finished, check your outline to make sure the information appears in a logical order. Group similar points together into different sections. Create subheadings for these sections so a reader can easily find the information that they are looking for.
Only after you have a solid outline of the information you want to cover do you go back and start writing.
Step 3: Make it easy for Website Visitors to Find Your Unique Selling Point
It’s rare for a website visitor to read all the information on a page, cover to cover. This is why you want to structure your content so the important information is the easiest to find.
Using dot points are a great way for readers to skim and process large chunks of information. If you have a list of products, services, benefits or options for a visitor, list them in dot point fashion.
Identify what the key information is on each page or article. This might be a call to action (“get in touch with us today”) or your unique selling point. Include this information in the first paragraph or highlight it in some way on the page.
Step 4: If It Seems Overwhelming, Break it Down
Don’t feel like you need to sit down and finish the task in one sitting.
If you’re anything like me, tasks that are too overwhelming to face often gets put on the back burner. The project grinds to a halt and the job is left on the “To Do” list until it becomes urgent. (There’s nothing worse than trying to smash out content writing, just before an upcoming sale. Trust me. I’ve been there.) Similarly, large tasks that you know will take a few hours to complete are left until you have a full free day to tackle them… and how often does that happen?
If this occurs, try breaking it down into bite-sized pieces. Your motivation is not going to increase if you think “I need to write the content for my entire website”. Instead, start by just making a list of the pages that you want to include on your website. Another time, you can sit down and plan out an outline of the information to be included on your homepage. The next time you have a spare fifteen minutes, sit down and write the content for your home page, based on the outline you had previously done. This can then be repeated for the other pages of your website until you’re happy with the final outcome.
Do you have writer’s block? Look to the (free) Experts.
If you still feel stuck, the World Wide Web is a glorious space full of Copywriting experts sharing the information you need. Better yet, these are often shared in articles, podcasts or YouTube videos… in other words, for free! You can find anything from general writing tips to specific templates or ‘formulas’ you can use when writing sales copy.
Here are a few of my favourites:
- The HotCopy Podcast – “How to write non-cheesy sales copy" with Jesse Forrest
- Problogger Podcast #146 - "How to Write Effective Sales Copy"
- Problogger Podcast #105 - "How to write effective Sales Copy"
- CopyBlogger Article – “Writing Headlines That Get Results”
- Hubspot Article – “11 of the Best “Contact Us” pages You’ll Want To Copy”
- Basic Bananas TV – “How to create engaging headlines”
If you want more, we also previously wrote a list of “10 articles on writing great content”.
As always, we’re constantly on the lookout for new tips and tricks to help us write better content. If we find any, we’ll share them on our Facebook or Twitter. If you come across anything that you find useful, please let us know!