I’ve worked in this business for a long time, spending almost 20 years as a writer, the last 10 primarily in advertising/marketing/copywriting work. If there’s one thing I have seen over the years, is that businesses will try to cut corners when it comes to writing, especially in the beginning. After all, anyone can write, right? Well, that’s another blog post, but suffice it to say that I do know some small businesses and solo-prenuers do write their own copy during their launch and through the early years. If you are one of those businesses, I want to share some tips for you to keep in mind when writing your website content yourself, so it won’t necessarily look like you wrote it yourself.
Regardless of the line of work you are in, your Home page is key. It is what determines whether a visitor will stop, browse through the other pages, and whether or not they will be impressed enough to pursue your products or services. Some businesses try to cram EVERYTHING on to their Home page, you’ve seen it – lots of content, busy images, click here, click there – and there’s a downside to that. If you have paragraph after paragraph of copy, or a mind boggling amount of links or graphics, the visitor will either be overwhelmed or simply bored. A visitor is NOT going to spend five minutes scrolling down your web page – period. In fact, studies have shown that you have just a few seconds to get a visitor’s attention.
I like to look at the Home page as a way to introduce the ways you can help people. Your web site isn’t something you mail or lead people to, it is a destination, a place where you want people to arrive, and to stick around for a few minutes. A place where you want a visitor to learn about you AND your business. But in order for that you happen there is one thing you have to keep in mind the initial visitor to your website does not care as much about you as they care about what you can do for them. Your Home page is where your brand starts, and where you can demonstrate to your visitors HOW you can serve them and their needs.
Who is your target market?
What areas do you specialize in?
What makes your product or service unique?
When someone lands on your site, chances are they have a problem to solve – and they need help FAST! To communicate services quickly, focus on what Jonathan Kranz covers in Writing Copy for Dummies, the What, Why, and How. First and foremost, you need to tell visitors What your product or service can do for them, what problems you can solve, what processes you can improve, what challenges you can meet, and what new qualities or solutions you can add to their lives or businesses. Explain Why your business is especially qualified to perform the service or provide the product. And last but not least, briefly describe How your organization provides or conducts the service, or what to expect with the product. The idea is to create a kind of movie in your prospects’ minds that allows them to picture your product or service at work for them.
Kranz also suggest that you make no more than 3-5 points in your What and Why, and bring it together in the How. It’s so important to remember that less is more on the home page content. Try to make sure your copy stays short and to the point, and most importantly, that doesn’t require your visitor to scroll through a bunch of information to get to the point you are trying to make – because remember, they won’t.
Over the years, I have written a lot of web copy for a number of businesses and organizations, and I will be the first to admit that the rules are fluid. I recommend that every DIY web writer take some time to look around, make a list of what they want to cover, visit similar websites, make note of what works and what doesn’t. Then and only then you should write the copy, edit, write, and edit again. Revisions are tough but necessary, so know before you get started that the whole process, especially where your home page is concerned, is going to take a little time.