Yep. You think it’ll be easy, that you can do it in half a day — but it can quickly become the bane of your life for weeks. So, in this guide, we’ll show six tips you can use to make it a little easier.
1. Don’t write for you; write for me
Ok, maybe not me personally, but write for your audience. It sounds obvious, and you may think you’re already doing this, but I want you to take a step back and consider whether you’re genuinely writing for your audience or yourself.
We like to imagine our users sitting at their computers, with a hot cup of tea, reading our websites word for word—no distractions, nothing but whale music in the background, with their focus entirely on us.
Let’s think about the realities of someone reading your website. They’re either at work, at home, or somewhere in between. There will be things going on around them, and they’ll most likely be multitasking, whether watching TV, looking out for their bus—or their boss.
They don’t have the time to figure out whether the website they’re on is for them or not. And if they’re unsure, they’ll hit the close button, and you may never see them again.
So make sure that when you’re writing your website content, you’re making it ridiculously clear who it’s for and why they should care.
The goal of your website isn’t to toot your own horn. It’s to solve some problem or need for someone else. So write as if you’re talking to them, not pitching yourself at a networking event.
2. Make it scannable
Web users don’t read websites; they scan them. So when you write your content, try to keep paragraphs concise (between 2-3 sentences) and use visual markers like subheadings and bullet points to break the content up.
Ideally, you should be able to skim down the page quickly and get the gist of what you’re trying to say. Then people can decide whether they want to go back and read in more detail.
Essentially, you’re trying to move away from having a block of text on your website and turn it into something more engaging.
Structure your content, so it is easy to skim
3. Change your ‘We’s’ and ‘I’s’ to ‘You’s’
The most useful trick you can use to ensure you’re writing for your audience is making sure there are more ‘You’s’ in your text than ‘I’s’ or ‘We’s.’
Every time you hear yourself saying something like, “We’ve been established in the industry for five years,” try to change it around to something like, “You will be working with someone you can trust; we’ve been around for five years so we’ll be there for you when you need us.”
There will still be a time and a place for saying We but make sure the focus of the sentence is around You.
Remember, we humans like talking about ourselves. We’re all guilty of it (I’m doing it right now!) So if you can be one of the few who speaks to your customers and not at them, you’ll stand out a mile.
BAD: “Our company was formed in 2014, and we’ve been established in this industry for over five years.”
GOOD: “You will be working with someone you can trust; we’ve been around for five years, so we’ll be there for you when you need us.”
4. Write before the design starts
Most people think that they need to see their website designed before they can add content to it. After all, how do you know what to write unless you can see where it’s going?
The problem with writing your content after the design has been completed is that you’re not going to write what’s best for your website, or worse, what you write won’t fit into the template, and you’ll need to get the whole page redesigned.
You’ll get a far better result by supplying your designer with content before they get to work. They’ll be able to use your wording as inspiration for the designs. Maybe they’ll read it and think it works better as an infographic or an illustration. They’ll be able to design for your content rather than create generic templates.
5. Don’t try too hard to please Google
Google is pretty smart these days. And it’s only going to get smarter. For example, it knows when you’re ‘writing for SEO’ and may penalize you for stuffing your content with keywords—even if they’re relevant.
Just write what you want your visitors to read, and you can’t go wrong. You can do many other things if you want to help people find you through search engines, and I go into them here.
But for now, write for your audience, not Google.
6. Don’t be too clever
Finally, try to write in the most basic way possible. Don’t try to be clever.
People read pretty quickly on the web. So if they have to decode what you’re trying to say, they will not stick around for long.
When you’re writing your content, pretend you’re at a party and trying to explain it to someone who’s had a couple of glasses of wine or too many beers.
Sell your house within one month or your money back
It is a lot easier to understand than:
Close the deal on your place of residence within one month, or we shall refund your money
If you find yourself reaching for the thesaurus, don’t. Everybody likes to sound smart but don’t make the mistake of alienating your customers.
Writing your content is going to be tough. But don’t worry about making it perfect the first time; you can always go back and tweak it when your website is live.
So, find somewhere without distractions, make a cup of strong coffee, and write that content!