When investing in a new brand design and website I almost always recommend hiring a professional copywriter. However, if you’re determined to DIY your website copy, my hope is this article will assist you in that process.
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Okay. So full disclaimer… I’m a web designer, not a copywriter. But as a website designer, I’ve learned a thing or two about effective website copy and the steps it takes to get there. Today I’m going to share those steps with you.
After getting clear on your ideal client, begin walking through the following steps to DIY your website copy:
Step 1: Create a site outline.
Before writing any words, you’ll want to create a list of all your website pages. In other words, your site outline. Don’t worry about what will be on each page, just get a basic title down.
A typical site outline for many of my clients will look something like:
- Home Page
- About Page
- Services Page
- Additional Service Offering(s)
- Testimonials Page
- Subscribe Page
- Thank You Page (for those who just subscribed)
- Blog Page
- Blog Post(s)
- Contact Page
- Thank You Page (for those who just sent you a message)
Once you’ve created your outline, move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Identify objectives.
Your website should have one main objective. Perhaps yours will be to have new visitors book a call with you, subscribe to your email list or perhaps purchase your products and/or services. But aside from this main objective, did you know each individual page should also have it’s very own objective?
Each page’s objective should then support your overall website’s objective. And your website’s objective should support your business goals. If you’re just starting out, it might make your head spin… but I promise it will make everything easier later on.
Before moving on or writing your copy, answer these questions:
- What is your website’s main objective?
- What is the main objective for your Home/About/Services/etc Page?
- Answer this one for each of the pages listed in step 1.
Great! Once you’ve identified clear objectives, it’s time for step 3.
Step 3: Turn your objectives into calls to action (CTA).
If you’ve already done this as a part of step 2, you’re ahead of the game. But if not, you’ll want to take a look at each objective and come up with a CTA for that page.
Essentially a CTA is what action you want your website visitors to take after landing on your Home page, About page, etc. Sometimes it’s as simple as learning more about you other times it’s more direct like signing up for your email list. Your website visitors want you to guide them through. When they get to the bottom of your story on your About page… then what? What’s their next step? This is your CTA.
Take some time now to develop a clear CTA for each page on your website. You’ll likely have a lot of overlap, but that’s okay! Remember we’re working towards that one main website objective.
Step 4: Write your copy.
Now that you’re clear on which pages will be on your website, their unique objectives, and calls to action… now it’s time to write. I’d recommend creating a new Google Doc for each new page and starting with the previously identified call-to-action in mind.
To help guide you, I included the most common questions website visitors are looking for answers to when they arrive at certain pages. This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list but will hopefully help get things rolling:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Is it for me?
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Are you qualified?
- Why do you do what you do?
- What makes you different?
- Can I relate to you?
- I’m feeling X, can you help?
- How do you help?
- Who else have you helped with this?
- How do I start?
- Can I trust you?
- Who else (like me) have you helped?
- Do you have experience?
- How can I reach you?
- How soon will you reply?
- Why should I subscribe?
- What will happen next?
- How often will I hear from you?
- What happens next?
When you’re writing your copy, imagine you’re sitting down with your new website visitor and they’re asking you the above questions. Write how you’d respond to them in person, using your own voice. Make it conversational. And, please remember, less is more. Say what you need to say in as few words as possible. Invite in space for them to take it all in.
Step 5: Make it scannable.
Most of us will arrive at a website and immediately scan through. Then, if something caught our eye, we’ll go back to the top and read a bit deeper. Studies have shown that this is how people are digesting information online nowadays and Google is even looking for copy that can easily be scanned.
So for step 5, you’ll want to go back through your copy and pull out a few lines that will make your copy easy to scan for visitors. These lines will be your subheadings. Subheadings are best left short and sweet. So adjust these sentences if needed.
Step 6: Gather images.
So Step 6 isn’t about your copy… but it’s the other half of the content on your website. For my design clients, I recommend creating a single folder and dropping a library of images for me to pull from when designing their site.
It’s important that images the images are cohesive to your brand AND your copy.
If you are the face of your brand (ie a coach, service provider, speaker, etc.) then you’ll definitely want to invest in a professional headshot session. Then, if needed, gather stock photography that compliments the rest of your brand.
If you’re more of a team-based business or product-based business, professional photography is still important, the focal will just be different than you yourself.
Creative Market (aff. link) is a great resource to find styled stock photography bundles that work for any brand.
Once you wrap up step 6, you’re ready to pull everything together.
I’ve always required all copy and images to be turned in before I even begin sketching the website design. I feel it stunts your creativity when you’re trying to fit content in a pre-made box.
When you build your website around your content, it becomes truly yours.