how to spruce your online copy
Should writing your website copy feel as daunting as meeting the parents or as torturous as a root canal operation?
The answer is absolutely not, but damn it feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it?
Writing copy for your website is challenging, but so worthwhile to get it right. Why? Because the right words move people. They make sales. They grow your business. And change people’s perceptions.
If you’re running a small business, there’s a good chance that you are writing something about your brand almost daily. From blog posts, to status updates, to product descriptions and Instagram captions, there are countless ways that you are using copy to connect with your customers. It’s important that what you are saying not only resonates with your audience, but stays on brand and aligned to your overall vision.
It’s no lie that creating kick-ass visuals are important, but a great brand identity and the perfect colour combo is not going to save you if your products descriptions sound like R2D2. Sprucing up your website copy can help you connect with your customers more easily, get your products walking out the door and help you further define your brand as a whole.
So how do you spruce up your copy? Here are 9 hot tips to get you one step closer to perfect prose…
01. Create copy guidelines
In the same way that it is important to establish style guidelines that consist of colour, type and graphic treatment for your brand, it is also important to establish copy guidelines. Start with your brand values and attributes and begin writing a list of words and phrases that are on brand for your biz. We’ve included a worksheet download at the bottom of this blog post to help you put your copy guidelines together. Getting all of this down into a nifty little guide is super helpful and will become your roadmap next time you sit down to write something.
02. Tailor it to your peeps
Make sure that across every touchpoint, you’re writing for your ideal customer and no-one else.
If your target market is an 80 year old in need of a new carer and bed pan, then don’t refer to pop culture references like Bieber, Bringin’ sexy back or twerking throughout your copy.
03. Have your toolbox ready
Thesaurus is a man’s best friend and has been known to get writer’s out of dark times, fast. Another trusty tool to pop in your toolbox is Grammarly – an online program that checks your writing for spelling and grammar errors, enhances vocabulary usage and provides citation suggestions. It’s your ticket to getting an A+ in grammar, and the best thing is, it’s free!
04. Get serious about your grammar
Not everyone reading your copy will be able to discern the difference between there, their and they’re or know when to use kettle’s or kettles. (Most likely kettles. Unless of course, your kettle owns a few belongings). But the few who do notice your mistakes, will think one of two things: that you’re not very intelligent, or that you don’t care. Or perhaps both.
05. Spelling bee’s are for the cool kids
Most of us learnt how to spell back at school, but with our trusty devices it’s far more easier to slip up now, than it was under the gaze of Old Mrs Whittaker in 3rd grade. Most of the time you’ll be able to catch your own spelling mistakes with the help of those red squiggly lines and a sharp eye. An editor’s tip is to read your work backwards – this prevents your brain from filling in the blanks, and you’ll be far more likely to catch any slip ups amongst your prose.
06. Test and measure
Nothing you write is sacred, and all copy should be tried and tested to ensure only the cream of your crop and highest converting copywriting makes it to the world. Every three months or so, do a sweep through your website, social media, product names and descriptions and see where you can spruce up your copy to make it more on brand for you. Listen to feedback you might receive from friends, colleagues and customers about the strength and positioning of your copy.
07. Short and sweet is sweet
Most websites have too many words. Writing is hard, but writing concisely is even harder. Run your eyes over your website copy, does it get right to the point or does it waffle on like your great aunt Mary after one too many Bailey’s and milk? Jot down your main points in a sentence of two, then add 1 layer of extras at a time. Each time you add, ask yourself, does this layer of content add value to your main point? If not, toss it.
Do you write as you would speak? Or do you write as though you’re writing your PHD thesis or an address to the U.N? Remember who you are speaking to and build your copy like a conversation. Although there are differences between spoken and written word, it is important to let people into your personality and show off who you are. When in doubt, write it like you’d say it and then go back and trim out the excess. The intention here is that everything you say should feel like it is your brand speaking and should feel genuine.
09. Consistency is king
Is each page of your copy written in the same tone? If your branding isn’t consistent, then people are going to get confused and miss the point of your prose. It’s a good idea to review your copy every few months, just to check that it’s in line with your branding and that everything still flows.