Why you’re stuck writing your website copy – and how to fix it
You’ve decided it’s time to ramp up your online presence, so you’ve hired a designer for the job. Wahoo! You’re excited to get the ball rolling, but then the designer asks you for your website copy. Some people feel confident writing their own content, but I’ve found that most people don’t even know where to start. If the latter sounds like you, then this blog is for you. Messaging advisor, Anna Laman, has written a guest post identifying the three common problems she sees when entrepreneurs DIY their own website copy and has shared some super helpful advice.
Your website is such an important tool for your business and if done correctly, it can act as a full time employee that is making sales for your business, collecting information from potential clients, and telling your authentic story to your ideal audience. Read on for some useful tips!
A Guest Blog by Anna Laman
The blank page… [shudder]
It can seem terrifying, right?
Especially when your amazing web designer (hi, Katie!) has asked for your website copy and you don’t even know where to begin.
As someone who helps entrepreneurs write their own website copy, I know the struggle is real! Writing about your business can feel vulnerable and overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to start or what to include. It’s extra hard because you’re so close to your business every day, it seems impossible to step back far enough to grasp the bigger picture.
So I’ve put together 3 common problems I see when entrepreneurs DIY their own website copy, and some tips for how to overcome them.
Problem #1: Your target market isn’t well defined
Imagine that someone gave you an assignment to write a letter to… a stranger.
What would you write about? How would you begin? What stories would you tell? Would you write casually or more formally?
Now imagine writing a letter to your closest friend.
Ah, much better, right? Immediately, you know how to do that. I bet just now you’ve thought of several things you’d love to share with this person. Maybe a funny thing that happened to you the other day, a challenge in your personal life, or some gossip about a mutual acquaintance.
Well, if your target market isn’t clearly defined, writing to them is essentially like writing to a stranger. In fact, it’s like a whole bunch of strangers – who all have different personalities, goals, and problems. ACK! Talk about impossible.
How to fix it
Before you start writing your copy, spend some time really thinking about the types of customers you want to attract. (Not just the customers you’ve had in the past, but your favorite ones, the kind you want more of.)
What do they have in common? Are most of them in a certain industry or location? Are they mostly male or female? Millennials or retirees? What other factual, demographic information can you pin down about them?
Next, it’s time to get into their heads. What keeps your customers up at night? What’s stressing them out or wasting their time? What are their hopes and dreams? What will be possible for them once they become your customer?
You may have more than one target market, and that can be ok. Do the exercise above for each of those segments. And in the end, you’ll have a much better idea of who you’re writing your “letter” to.
Problem #2: You’re focusing on what you’re selling, not on the problem you solve.
A common mistake entrepreneurs make is writing a lot about their product or service, but nothing about the problem they actually solve. (And yes, every business solves a problem of some kind!)
In practice, this mistake usually looks like listing out a bunch of facts about the offering (features! details! procedures!) instead of focusing on the benefits and outcomes to the customer making that purchase.
There are two main reasons this is a problem.
First, these features and details – while they are important – actually have very little emotional pull on the reader, and research shows that people buy based on deep, mostly unconscious feelings (not logic).
Second, focusing on features makes you more easily comparable to your competitors. And this isn’t a good thing! The goal is to portray your product or service in a way that makes it stand alone in the marketplace.
It may seem like a small shift, but this usually requires a massive mindset shift for the entrepreneur. You’re so used to seeing your businesses from your perspective (as the business owner) – but for marketing, it’s essential to start viewing your business through the eyes and experience of your customers.
How to fix it
For each of your products or services, list out both the short-term and long-term benefits your business provides to its customers.
Next, go through your product details and jot down why each of its features are important. (These are probably obvious to you, but may be less obvious to your clients.)
And finally, look back at customer reviews or email conversations and note any language they use to describe how your business helped them. (Take special note of any “feeling” words!)
All of that stuff? Put it in your copy. Your readers will feel like you’re reading their minds.
Problem #3: You’re trying to imitate your competitors.
Let me guess… you got stuck writing your copy, so you started Googling your competitors to see what their websites say.
Well… stop it!
I know you’re just trying to find “inspiration.” But just think about it for a minute: Do you want to blend in with your competitors? Or stand out?
Using the same language, jargon, voice, or content structure as other businesses in your field essentially camouflages your business. In addition, you have no idea if their website content is even working for them! They might even be getting their own customers in spite of their copy.
Finding your own voice, telling your own story, and expressing your own brand will be much foggier if you’re lost in the maze of comparison.
How to fix it
Avoid the urge to Google, and just start from scratch.
Yes, the blank page is scary! But it’s also a wide-open canvas for you to build something authentic, true, and powerful.
Go back to your customers. Your mission. Your values. Your personality. Your style.
And start from there.
If you still feel overwhelmed, then it’s worth considering hiring a professional copywriter. I have put together a wonderful list of copywriters that I recommend to my clients and would be happy to share it with you!
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