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INSIDER INFO:  5 tips for writing catchy website copy . . . (by a copywriter who’s just re-written her own).

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I write website copy for many clients. I stick to the rules and I get results. But, here’s a thing: when I started writing the copy for my own new website (thepowerofwords.co.uk ) I went a bit off-piste. I started breaking all the rules. I think I got rather over-excited and carried away. I started rambling, waffling, telling people information they didn’t need or want to know. I gave myself a slap and started again. So, here’s a reminder of the main dos and don’ts, while they’re fresh in my mind.

BACK OF THE KNITTING

I really love this expression. It perfectly visualises what I am about to say: no-one is interested in the minutiae and intricacies of how your office is run, or how your team operates, or when people have their lunch breaks, or whatnot. Think about your audiences, your customers. What do they need or want to know? Chances are, they don’t require tonnes of detail, but relevant, interesting snippits. If your office is printing on recycled paper, well done you (recent case). You’re saving the planet. But is it directly relevant to your readers? Do your customers care about stakeholder engagement? Or even what a stakeholder is?

SELL THE PROBLEM YOU SOLVE, NOT YOUR PRODUCTS.

This is an easy mistake to make. But ‘whata mistaka to maka…’. To you, the products or services you sell are of utmost importance. They are your lifeblood. They pay your salary, essentially. If you’re not selling enough of them, your job is on the line. However, what your potential customers need to know to persuade them to buy is: how can they help me have an easier/ better/ more luxurious / exciting life? The same goes for B2B. Ok, your B2B service may be more mundane, but how will it make the business run more smoothly, make more money, keep employees happy? Always have that in mind when writing any marketing material - website or other.

LESS IS MORE . . . BUT WHAT ABOUT SEO?

Yes, Google and other search engines like lots of fresh content. But reams of website copy will: 1) bore people 2) not be read 3) force people to click off your website instantly – and possibly onto a competitor’s 4) be quickly out-of-date. Instead, create short, snappy paragraphs, full of short, snappy sentences. And headlines (more on those later). And updates. And blogs, like this one.

JARGON: NON MERCI. WAFFLE: BREAKFAST-TIME ONLY.

I’ve heard some funny jargon in my time. And an awful lot of acronyms. Awful being the operative word here. They both alienate your audiences and distance them from your brand. You should write like an intelligent 12-year-old, or in a similar tone and language that you’d use to chat to a friend in the street. That doesn’t mean you can’t be clever with words. You can be, and should be. But not in a way that means people just won’t get it. And waffle. I do love a good waffle. But only ever for breakfast with blueberries and maple syrup. If you start to waffle, it’s game over. Concise, crisp, clever. These are the best ingredients.

HEADLINES HELP . . .

Look here! I’ve broken up this blog with five separate headings. It means you can attract a reader’s attention, rather than dumbfounding him or her with a sea of text. This is when it pays to think journalistically. Tell a story and lure the reader in with a teaser or taster of what’s next. If you simply put a heading that says: ‘Read more’…there’s no real incentive to bother. If your heading says something like: ‘Discover the secret to becoming a millionaire’… chances are they’ll be hooked. Ok, so you may not be in the business of making people rich, – on the contrary, you want them to part with their money - but you get my drift.

And above all, know when enough is enough and stop writing. Like now.

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