How to write web copy the easy way (my foolproof formula)
Today we’re going to learn about:
The #1 mistake I see new business owners making with their websites
Why you need to write your own copy (at least the first couple of drafts)
Knowing what to write where starts with defining and mapping your flow.
How to source inspiration using my structure stealing method
How copy conversations lead to conversions (the simple formula)
And, yes, I did create a free downloadable version for you to follow along. You can get that at craftingcreative.com/checklist.
The #1 website mistake:
I often see new business owners making with their websites is that they’ll buy a beautiful Wordpress theme or find a Squarespace template that they like visually and then they’ll cram their copy into that template.
And this way of thinking, that copy is somehow separate or ancillary to design is leading to less-than-effective websites.
Why is this one of the biggest website mistakes you can make? Because copywriting is really part of the foundation. You can't design a website without the copy (you can try to do it with filler text but you won't know what the connotation of that content is or how to express it visually).
Once you’ve got the copy in place (and it feels right), the design part becomes nearly effortless. It’s really about showcasing your brand message and voice and encouraging site visitors to take action.
You need to write web copy:
Why you need to write your own copy (at least the first couple of drafts). Think about it. As online creative entrepreneurs, we have to market ourselves. And what is marketing, if not writing? Even if you post photos on Instagram, you still have to write a compelling caption.
Words are at the heart of what we do, regardless of what we really do. Because without compelling content, we’re never going to attract our dreamy clients. And so, it’s important that we get to know our client’s problems and aspirations and then learn to speak to them effectively.
And, if you’re interested in learning copywriting from the woman that taught me how to do it effectively, then hop over to my friend Hillary’s site TheWordshops.org where you can learn more about the program that I took that changed my copywriting perspectives like no other course had before.
Map out your site flow
Knowing what to write where, starts with mapping your flow. The layout is one of the most important aspects of a website, yet it’s often the most overlooked. By website layout, I mean:
How the content is laid out on an individual page
How all of the pages flow together
And the overall site architecture.
How to create your site map:
First, start by listing all of the pages that you’ll include on your site into a Content Audit Sheet (psst... want a copy of my content audit spreadsheet? Just share this post and then leave me a comment below letting me know you've shared it).
Then consider how your website visitors will flow from one page to another. You’ll need to answer these questions:
Why are they visiting your site?
Where did they come from?
Which page will they land on first?
Where will they go next?
And, along these same lines, you’ll want to have a single primary call-to-action per page (for example, on the Home page, my primary action is to download the free homepage blueprint and on my About page, the primary action is to visit the Services page — you get the point).
"Great marketers start with a foundation and template for execution" –Tara Gentile
A Modular Model
My foolproof method for writing and designing an effective website is to use a modular model.
That means, when it comes to the copy, I have a template structure in place that gives me the sections of content that I’ll have on a given page and I use my ideal client research to fill in the copy.
And, in terms of design, the modular model means that the way that I like to think of page layouts is in terms of rows. This modular approach to design that makes it easy to expand or collapse a page based on its content.
Structure Stealing Method
How to source inspiration using my structure stealing method.
My “structure stealing” method is not about using the same words, colors, or ideas but about finding the creative spine. What is it about the layout of a page or an advertisement in a magazine that captures you?
When it comes to the copy, I can steal the structure of a page by breaking down the core concepts of each module (or row). For example, one of my favorite About pages is from Caroline Zook of Made Vibrant.
And if I wanted to steal the structure of her about page to use on my own, I’d pull out the primary concepts from hers:
My core belief behind forming this brand (that’s different from mainstream thinking)
My journey (in brief) as related to how I came to start this business
My core brand values, what they mean, and what I can offer you
Now, what I recommend doing after you’ve lifted someone’s structure and used it as the creative spine for your own work, is to ask a few crucial reflection questions:
Does this structure work in the context of my website?
Will this appeal to my target audience?
Does this meet my business objectives? And have I made this page my own?
Could I improve this by adding or removing something?
How copy conversations lead to conversions
I’m not a copywriter, nor do I play one on TV. But I have learned from wordsmiths more competent than I am, as well as from years of experience. And, you know what I’ve learned?
Your website is just the setting.
It’s your digi storefront, the space where you meet with clients and sell your goods. But you know what the most powerful element of that setting is?
The conversation that takes place within it.
Your website is the space where your copy conversation takes place. And yes, your copy should be a conversation. We don’t want to be up on a dimly lit stage delivering a soliloquy without regard to who may or may not be listening.
We want to be in a bright, refreshing, and welcoming space where there aren’t constant distractions or unnecessary set changes. And, we want to have a 2-way conversation with our guests.
My 2-step formula for copy conversations:
Keep your side of the convo clear, concise, and client-focused. Don’t overwhelm your readers with a wall of text or boat loads of flowery language.
Make your buttons & links speak from your reader’s point-of-view, because these are the interaction points on your site where your reader is taking action or raising their hand. This is their part of the conversation. For example, you’ll offer your visitors a free download to solve one of their pain points and they’ll reply, “Yes! I want the download”.
Today we learned that:
Good copy is the foundation of a good website.
Writing is marketing and we all need to market ourselves.
You need a map to get where you want to go.
You don’t have to start from scratch.
Conversation is an effective way to make friends.
So far in this #WebPrepChecklist series we’ve covered:
My foolproof method for writing & designing webpages – that's this post 😉
Next up, we’re going to talk about colors, fonts, and logos (oh my!).