Top 5 Copywriting Tips for Business Owners
Writing strategic, good copy is one of the most important branding aspects for your business, yup, just as important as the design (coming from a designer!). But so many people overlook it. So, I have compiled what I think are the 5 top tips for writing good copy. I encourage you to read through these and then read through your website, sales page, blog or anything else that is attached to your brand and make sure you are doing these things where possible. Let’s get started!
Choose your voice and stick to it
This one’s the most important when it comes to building a brand and attracting your ideal client. Believe it or not, this is as important as your design when it comes to branding. What’s your message? If you don’t have a voice yet, you need one.
Think about what you do and why you do it. Who and how are you helping? How does your brand speak to your target audience? Yes, these are pretty tricky questions and require some thought, I suggest getting a piece of paper out and start brainstorming answers to these questions.
I find that I write in my own voice, and you should too. I want to sell my services and I also want to sell my me and my brand, so it’s just natural. Sometimes though, my voice gets lost and I can lose track. This is when it helps to have something written down to refer back to. Write down your catchphrases. Write down what you do in your own words/voice. Think of it like a Branding Style Guide, but with copy. You have something to always refer back to so you can keep your copy on brand. Just like design, if you have too much going on and no consistency, people will get confused and it’s not professional.
When you figure out your catchphrase or particular message, repeat it throughout your branding. I know that when you’re doing it it seems repetitive and corny, but repetitive=memorable. Also, people don’t see everything you post. You may think you’re being repetitive, but most of your audience has only seen a portion of what you’ve been posting, so it’s not repetitive to them.
This step should be at the core of all of your copywriting. Define your brand voice, and once it is defined, always refer back to it to keep all of your copy on brand. Once you have all of this in place, then use the steps below to deliver it well.
This one’s simple, but often overlooked. Use clear and simple language and explain things thoroughly.
Be it website copy, blog posts, courses etc. you are writing about stuff you are very familiar with. But this doesn’t mean your audience is familiar with it.
Using confusing language will just confuse your audience. You need to write like you're explaining to someone who has no idea. Because often, someone who stumbles on your website or post actually has no idea, and that's why they're here, to learn. Explain whatever you’re writing about from the ground up, using simple language. Otherwise, your readers will get lost, confused, and will leave.
Along with explaining things thoroughly, try using simpler words. Maybe by using complex language you are trying to stand apart from others, or to come across more intellectual or professional, but unless your ideal client is an english major, this is probably doing more harm than good.
Go through your website copy and read everything as if you have no idea what any of it is about. Do you still understand it?
Shorten everything up. It’s 2017 and people are in a hurry 24/7. They are not reading large bodies of text. This is especially true for home pages. No matter what length your copy is, people skim read it to try and take in the important parts as fast as possible. So, help them by cutting down on long explanations, and shortening your copy to your main points. You want to capture your audience first with short, concise copy. Then, hopefully that wins them over and they move on to your service/sales page...
This is where you can start to get more detailed and you can get away with larger bodies of text. If people are putting money into something, they want to see its value, and they will take more time to read about it so they can decide if it’s a valid investment. But you still need to be really clear and get to the point. Stick to your voice, your message and clear language. What you can do to make this large amount of text more likely to be read, and more bearable in general, is to format it accordingly. Use lots of line breaks, headers and section stuff out, so they’re taking in shorter chunks of information, rather than committing to paragraphs and paragraphs which may scare them away.
Head over to your home page now, do you have paragraphs of information there? I know it seems counter intuitive to get rid of it, but at least try to cut down the fluff, get to the point and format it so it’s easier to tackle.
Talk to your readers
This one’s a good one to remember, and you can easily go through and amend your copy to suit this. Talk directly to your audience.
For example, instead of saying
“Erica Hartwick is a brand and web designer for creative entrepreneurs...”
Try something like
“Hey! I’m Erica Hartwick, and I create brands and websites for creative entrepreneurs like yourself...”
This works really well when trying to target your ideal audience. I know it works because I’ve experienced it first hand. When I go to a company's website and it feels like they are talking directly to me, expressing everything I’m feeling in my current situation and why I need their services, I know that they are going to be perfect for my needs. If I go onto a website and the person that they’re talking to doesn’t align with me and my goals, then I know it’s not going to be a good fit. Again, this may seem counter intuitive as it’s driving people away, but I know that it’s driving the people that aren’t in your target audience away, and attracting more of the right people.
Don’t talk about yourself so much
People are selfish, and it goes both ways: people want to read about themselves, and people want to write about themselves. Warning about this one, it's harsh, but true!
When I land on website with a service that I might be interested in, the first thing I want to see is how you can help me. The last thing I want to see is a whole website dedicated to learning about you and why you love your job. Now, I’m not saying there’s not a time and a place to learn about you and why you love your job, but it’s definitely not front and centre, in the place of what you can do for me. It’s great to see that you’re passionate about your job, but what do I (a potential client) get out of this?
I see a lot of entrepreneurs go on and on about their story and life, like they got carried away and just couldn’t stop writing (I get it, everyone likes to write about themselves, there’s no denying that!). If it’s on an about page, it’s OK, but you need to still give your audience something. I didn’t come to the about page JUST to read about your life, I also came to see what you do and how it’s going to help me.
If you’re writing blog posts you want other people to read, make sure you’re writing to them, about them and to help them. This doesn’t mean don’t tell a relevant and charming story about yourself that relates to the post, people do want to get to know you, but they want to know even more how that story can translate into helping them.
This one gets a little muddy when it comes to social media, Instagram comes to mind. All of the expert influencers say: share your story, be transparent and open and your audience will come. While this is true to an extent, you can’t just expect to talk about yourself and yourself only and grow any sort of client base. You need to make sure what you’re telling people directly or indirectly translates into helping them somehow. If you do have a strong story to tell, people will follow usually because they relate to it and it resonates with them. See how it somehow always comes back to them?
So go through your website copy right now and check, is this somehow relating back to what I can do for my clients?
I encourage you to implement these strategies in your business, let me know how it goes!