The pretty short, totally non-comprehensive guide for how to write your website copy
Summary: Learn how to write and optimize your website copy. It’s all about knowing your customer and having a plan for what each page or section should do.
This guide is for you if you already have a website, but you’ve outgrown it or you never felt particularly confident about the copy. Or, it’s just not connecting with leads the way you’d hoped.
And don’t have $3000+ to drop on a professional conversion copywriter. YET.
Come. Hold my hand, virtually. Let’s take a journey to better website copy that connects with your best-fit customer. It might even be a shorter journey than you thought.
Step One: Get Your Message on Point
No shiny object syndrome! Focus that brain power on what's really important. Start with your free planner 👇
Download the planner, and we’ll get started.
Okay, got it? LESSSGO.
You’re going to fill that puppy out. Pencil in 20 minutes one day, and 20 minutes a few days later. Your brain will do a lot of the work for you while you’re in the shower, or eating french fries, or when your kid is talking to you about Minecraft and you’re actually supposed to be paying attention. (Sorry kid!)
Who are you?
What do you do?
What do you sell? Why is it awesome? What do people say about it? How do you get your results?
Don’t be coy. Tell people what they’re in for when they invest in you.
Who is your customer?
Keep one human in mind, real or imaginary. Your customer isn’t “everyone.” Your customer is one person reading your website, and you are talking to them.
What do you need to happen next?
Do you need people to join your mailing list? Do you want leads to call you? More traffic? More sales?
What does your customer need to happen next?
What problem do you solve? What happens after you solve it for them—will they need more help after that point?
Keep this information handy as we move to strategy.
Step Two: Don't Skip Strategy
Give your site a job.
Is it a lead generation site? A sales site? What’s the goal here, friend?
This part, luckily, might seem obvious. But sometimes we start websites with the wishy-washy job of “put something on the internet that looks like everyone else’s website so I can say that I did it.” In that case, give your website a promotion.
Give each page a job.
Here’s an example.
Home page: sign up for freebie/newsletter
Work with me: book a consulting call
Contact: book a consulting call
About: book a consulting call
Stay on target. Return to this list after you’ve been through a few edits to ensure you’re still laser-focused on the goal at hand.
Decide how to get each of those jobs done.
Do you need more persuasive elements, like testimonials? Do you need to cut some copy? Do you need another button?
Make it easy for the reader to take the next step that you want them to take.
Extra credit: make it EXCITING to take the next step. Like they will suffer from the world’s worst case of FOMO if they don’t book a discovery call RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE.
Step Three: Figure out What Goes Where
Now you know what you need to talk about, and you have a goal for each page.
Let’s talk about a basic order of what ideas go where. Once again, your business needs might vary.
First, let’s grab their attention, and let them know they’re in the right place. Be clear about how you help other people. Plugging in your USP is great. Nothing will be ruined if you change this later.
Button/Call to action 1
If people are ready to take action right away, give them the chance! Whatever your goal for the page, your button copy should direct the reader there.
Your button copy should also match the headline. You don’t want anyone getting confused here. Confused is not good.
Statement of the customer’s problem
Some people call this “agitation.” You don’t have to really prod their “pain points” here — just remind them why they’re here and that you understand their problem.
Be as specific as you can. Remember the job of your page when you’re thinking about how many/what details to include.
Give them some proof
Testimonials are great! Lists of companies you’ve worked with are cool, too. Photos. Screenshots. Statistics. Just prove it.
Talk about what their life will be like after your solution
Hint: look at your testimonials. I’ll give you some more info below.
Give them the optimized offer
What’s your goal for the page? You’ll ask them to do that here. Any tantalizing details, like a guarantee?
Button/Call to action 2?
Makes sense here now that you’ve made your case. We’ll put one at the bottom for the folks who want to get ALL the info before moving on.
Make it harder to procrastinate
Will your doors close soon? Can they get something awesome if they act now?
(Not for every page — a sales page, definitely. An about page, less so.)
CTA (call to action) button
Last one, for the detail-oriented types who read allllll the way down.
Okay: did you really download the planner? It's really going to help you with this stuff, promise.
Make yourself an outline now, with the major points you want to hit in each section.
Let’s take an example from a doggy daycare that I just made up. We’re just doing a quick outline, so don’t worry too much about the wording yet.
The Happiest Dogs in Schenectady Play at Barky Pups
[Get your first week free]
Your dog is tearing up the house during the day.
Get specialized attention for your pup. Three locations. Affordable prices. High staff ratio, big, clean outdoor area.
“We love Barky Pups! We’ve tried other places, but Buster never got enough exercise. At Barky Pups, he comes home tired and happy!”
Happier dog while you’re away, happier dog when you’re at home. More exercise, better health outcomes. Fewer behavioral issues.
Get a week free when you sign up for six months.
[Get your free week]
Sign up today. Your puppy will thank you. So will your slippers.
[Get your free week]
Step Three-and-a-Half: Extract Testimonial Gold
Time for some market research. Someone knows exactly what your customer is needing and craving.
That person? Your customer.
Look at your reviews and testimonials. Find out what’s important to them. Put it in your copy.
Take this review from Reserved Barking (which used to be a real doggie daycare but whose website, sadly, has gone by the wayside): “Our dog absolutely loves it here. He now knows the word ‘daycare’ and will perk up and run to the door if we tell him that’s where he’s going. The days he gets to go play with his puppy friends are his favorite.”
What does this tell you? It’s important to dog owners that their dog has a great time!
More importantly, you’ll also want to pick up the specifics: if I were working for Reserved Barking, I’d be sure to use the phrase “puppy friends,” as well as the visual of perking ears and the idea of “daycare days” being a favorite.
Stuff all this gold into your outline.
Step Four: Get Confident, Stupid*
It’s time to write, but don’t worry about being “writerly.”
Talk like you’re chatting with your favorite client.
Let’s say I was writing a page to try to convince my kids to clean up their room.
(*Sorry if you don’t have this joke ingrained in your psyche like me, an elder millennial.)
If you clean up your room, you can have ice cream when you’re done!
I know you don’t want to clean your room right now.
You have some other fun stuff you’d rather do.
[START WITH THESE LEGOS]
I get it.
We can make it fun!
We can have the ice cream when it’s all done. We have chocolate peanut butter. Dad picked it out.
We can put on some music if you want. You can choose really rocking music or Disney music.
When everything is put away where it goes, we can play all of our games.
We won’t have missing pieces.
I know you don’t want to, but it’ll be worth it.
It’ll only take about 20 minutes.
I’ll help you.
We can listen to music and make it a party.
We’ll have ice cream when we’re done.
[PUT AWAY THIS PUZZLE]
“I love ice cream!” — a kid
Look at that! It won’t take long, and ice cream rules.
Please clean up your room now.
No ice cream if you don’t start before snack time.
[THE LEGOS GO IN THE BOX. IN.]
Just let your first draft flow. Use a voice memo instead of typing if that helps.
Step Five: Enscience-ation
Is that draft going to be perfect? No. But to make it better, you need data. Writing is art. Copywriting is more of a science.
- What messages resonate with people?
- What buttons do they click? What doesn’t work at all?
- What confuses people?
- What questions do they ask after reading?
A few ways to get feedback:
- Ask your business pals to give you feedback. The more specific questions you ask them, the better the feedback will be. “I don’t like it” isn’t helpful unless they also happen to fit your customer profile.
- Ask your clients what parts resonate with them, and what’s confusing.
- Run a five-second test on usertesting.com to try out a message. (Costs a few bucks.)
- Before you use industry jargon, ask your audience if they understand it. A poll on social media will give you something to go on.
- Install Hotjar on your site to see where folks are giving up on any given page.