Staring at a blank screen can be daunting - and never more so, it seems, than when you're trying to write web copy. And it's no wonder - the words on your website are super important. They will represent your small business out there in the world and have the big job of bringing customers through your door.
No pressure, right?
If you're up against that blank screen - or on your 27th draft - here are some tips to get you focused and on-track. These are three of my best tid-bits of advice, designed to engage your customer and leave them dying to work with, or buy from, you:
1. Know your audience and write as though you're talking to them. Before writing a word, think about your dream customer - the person you'd love to have buying from you. Who are they? What do they already know? What is the need or challenge that led them to seek you out? Once you have a really clear picture, write every word on your site for this person.
2. Write less about you and more about your customer. Sounds counter-intuitive, right? After all it's YOUR site, shouldn't it be about you? I hate to break it to you, but: nope. People don't come to websites to learn every detail about that company. What they're actually looking for is acknowledgement of their need, concern, or challenge, and confirmation that you can help. In other words, they want to know that you 'GET' them.
How do we achieve this? By speaking directly about what the customer gets, as opposed to how you provide it. This is a subtle but very powerful shift. Although I recommend this for all businesses, I realize it can be a challenge for service-based shops (like my own). If you can't eliminate the "I provide"s altogether, don't sweat it (I have one on my homepage right now), but do make sure you start with customer-focused statements so that connection and acknowlegement is established first.
3. Don't overwhelm your reader. When it comes to words, less is more. There are lots of ways you can make your copy easier to read, but the most important one is not to write too much. This is a hard thing to do when you're writing about your own business though - every detail probably feels really near and dear to you.
But give it a think - is the story of your trip to Thailand really relevant to your customer? Is it going to contribute to the feeling that you "get" them? Ask yourself these questions, be honest with yourself, and cut out anything and everything you can.
Once you've whittled your words down, make them easy to read by using short sentences and paragraphs, lots of white space, and sub-heads and bullets. (Click here to download my readability cheat sheet for more details and additional tips). Bottom line: big blocks of content are overwhelming for people and they'll be less likely to stick with you.
Aaaaaaand, if you've given these tips the good old college try and are still banging your head against a wall, it may be time to get some help. Many of my clients come to me after really trying on their own. I fully support DIY efforts, but if it's causing you angst or keeping you from moving your business forward, it'll be worth the investment to get some professional help.
Bottom line: give it a try but don't be a hero! You know where to find me if you want to chat (consultations are 20 minutes, always free, and can be booked online).
Janet Nielsen is a communicator with a passion for helping small businesses succeed.