With or without knowing it, everyone has come across the work of a copywriter; on brochures, billboards, websites, emails, advertisements, catalogues etc. Copywriting for different platforms has similarities and, sometimes, a copywriter can write for more than one platform. Website copywriting, however, is somewhat different because printed copy is not read in the same form as online copy.
Copywriting companies, such as Daily Posts, provide copywriting solutions to websites and blogs, making content creation a worry-free process for website and blog owners.
What exactly is copywriting?
Have you noticed that sometimes you visit certain websites and you get stuck reading and enjoying the write up so much, sometimes it isn’t even the exact information you’re seeking, but it’s so well written you’re sure there’s something in it for you. That’s what good copy feels like and is what website owners and copywriters hope to achieve.
If you’re new to copywriting, you’re probably wondering what copywriting is all about and who a copywriter is. Google will likely give you a definition on how copy writing involves writing for adverts and other promotional materials such as emails, catalogues, brochures and so on.
Now, while accurate, this definition is only one part of it. Copywriting takes strategizing; carefully and purposefully arranging and delivering words with the main goal of causing people to take some sort of action. So, a copywriter doesn’t just try to say, ‘look at this thing, it’s amazing’. A copywriter tries to say, ‘look at this thing, it’s amazing and you just have to have it!’
What does a copywriter do?
While writing is a core part of what copywriters do, it is just one of the many things involved in producing great copy. A lot more than simply stringing words together has to happen to make good copy; a lot of research, rearrangement, tweaking and more takes place outside of the actual writing.
Remember that the goal is to convince the reader and cause a certain kind of reaction. This is the reason not everybody can do copywriting, in fact, not everybody can do good copywriting, which is why a number of people would rather outsource work to top copywriters or article writing service providers.
A few of the things copywriters do are;
- Image sourcing
- Tracking and reporting data
- Handling marketing campaigns
- Managing projects
A copywriter is typically a Jack of all trades. The goal is to get as much authentic information as they can and compile the words together in the best way to convince the target audience. Copywriters usually have some skills, which include:
- Basic knowledge of SEO and relevant keywords
- Social media skills
- Internet sourcing and background research
- Writing web-based content
- A bit of HTML knowledge
- Email marketing
Common copywriting misconceptions
Among the many misconceptions that surround copywriting, here are a few:
- Copywriting and copyrighting are not the same thing. No, not at all. Copyright is an individual or company’s exclusive legal right to publish, reproduce, distribute or sell someone’s work, such as music, books or artistic items. It protects these materials against illegal use by unauthorised agents or companies.
- Not every writer is, or can be, a copywriter. Being able to write stories or magazine publications does not mean copywriting will come easy. In fact, website copywriting is so different from printed writing that it requires techniques of its own.
- While a lot of people from different educational backgrounds can become copywriters, it cannot be learned instantly and requires training and experience like any other career. No one becomes a good copywriter overnight; it takes a willingness to learn and, of course, practice.
- Short copy is not fast copy. Even if it is just 100 words, a copywriter will still have to dedicate research, editing, and other things to make it a great 100 words.
One major worry for website owners is optimizing their website and staying true to their course at the same time. Why have a wonderfully optimized website if it can’t be useful to your visitors? There are aspects to this concern; website goals, style and, of course, consistency. The website needs to achieve goals SEO-wise and still have a unique and consistent style and content.
It is important to take into consideration in copywriting for websites that various kind of people make up the audience and the copy has to be unique yet able to work for all of these different people. It has to be useful to them and provide the answers they seek.
The content also has to be done in a way that search engine spiders that scan the web all the time appreciate it as well. Such content would contain a sufficient amount of keywords and phrases, which are basically words your target audience are likely put in search engines to get the information they need. These words will improve the search engine ranking of the website and result in more visitors to the site as well. Understanding how SEO works is important for website copywriting.
Who can handle copywriting for your website?
While good design, excellent images and a great layout are perfect for visitors to your website, especially websites that depend a lot on visuals, the copy you use can carries a lot of weight as well. You may have some concerns, such as your proficiency in copywriting or how effectively a copywriter who isn’t in your field would explain things relating to it to other people.
There are two options you can choose from for your website copywriting. You can hire article writing service providers to write for your website or you can do it yourself.
Why you should consider hiring a copywriting company
The time factor
Time, they say, is money. If you already have a full schedule, trying to fit in copywriting may not be an effective use of whatever extra time you have. You could convert that time into aspects of your company you are more proficient with. In fact, you could use that time for other areas of productivity, so you have a win-win situation.
A professional copywriter is also likely to produce the content you need faster and more effectively than you would –it is their job description.
You have no copywriting experience
You may have been thinking, your experience with writing letters, reports, press releases, newsletters and emails is not a guarantee that you’ll be a great website copywriter. People do not read online copy in the same way that they do printed materials. Most people who read copy online scan through to find keywords relevant to their search (they are most likely searching) instead of reading line by line or from left to right as they do with printed materials.
You need to be able to captivate the attention of your readers with catchy headlines and flowing sentences and paragraphs, making them stay long enough instead of just clicking off. Even though you may be able to learn these things, the time factor may still not work for you especially if you need to get your copy out as soon as possible.
You’re an expert in your area of specialisation
You’re probably wondering how such a good thing could be a problem. For your business, this a good thing of course. All of your specialisation will be great for your customers and potential customers when they subscribe to your service but may just be too much for a copy. Sounding very professional and knowledgeable may not be very appealing or exciting to people who aren’t in your field of work.
This is because you could end up sounding too technical with terms and phrases that are unfamiliar and may put visitors off. A copywriter will be able to pass this message in the easiest and clearest form.
You do not know a lot about search engine optimization
Having your website show up on search engines such as Google and Bing is the most effective and cheapest form of advertisement. If your website gets listed on page 1, you’ll definitely increase the traffic to your website and, in turn, customers. For this, you need to know how to identify and use keywords and create title tags and meta-description tags to increase your search engine visibility.
Search engine optimization processes are never static; they are always changing with additions and subtractions to Google’s algorithm for determining website placement. A professional copywriter will be more familiar with these changes and will be able to apply current methods to your copy with ease, removing the possibility of outdated and irrelevant methods.
You’re probably worried about what tone to adopt
Your conversational tool in writing a copy is important. Too serious and formal and your audience could get bored and move on, too informal and you may not convince them of your authenticity. You may also wonder how to choose between writing in first, second or third person, present, past or future tense and even an active or passive tone.
Sound like a lot? A professional copywriter will do all the hard work and piece everything together in the right way to reach your target audience.
Incorporating other promotional materials
This could be a marketing platform for you and with the information you provide from brochures, press releases and other materials, a website copywriter will know how best to incorporate all of that information without sounding unprofessional or creating gaps in the copy. The overall goal will be to thread all the information together to establish your brand in the copy.
Copywriters do very good research
One really handy skill most copywriters have is researching and sourcing information. So, even though they’re not professionals in your field, they are sure to combine the information you provide them with a lot more focused research to reach the desired goal.
You don’t want to gamble
After spending money and other resources on making sure you have a great looking website, gambling on good copy is a risk. If your website looks great, of course, that’s a big plus because people will definitely notice that once they visit, but, with bad copy, all of that won’t matter at all. Your design and copy need to sync to create the best experience for visitors to your website.
Handling your website copywriting yourself
You shouldn’t be fazed, however, if you do have the time, interest and room to learn. You don’t need extra special skills to write a good copy. You just need patience, the right resources, practice and, of course, the right level of interest to keep you going.
5 questions you need to ask yourself before getting started on website copywriting
Before you begin a copy for a website, there are a few questions you need to answer to ensure you can cover all the bases. This should be employed especially if you’re new to copywriting to help you stay in check.
Who makes up your audience?
Knowing the kind of people that make up your audience is important. It will determine the kind of copy you need and the right tone to use. All of the writing will have to fit with whatever audience profile you have.
Who is your secondary audience?
While there is a primary audience to consider, your secondary audience matters as well. These are the people who could visit your site for different reasons from the ones your primary audience would. You will have to make provision for them even though you pay more attention to your core audience.
What message do you want to pass to your audience?
You don’t want too much or too little information on your website. It is important you define what you want your audience to know about your products and services.
What action do you hope to get as a response from your audience?
There are so many things you may want your audience to do. You may want them to sign up, share, follow you on social media, subscribe for a service, buy your products or join your email list. You need to know exactly what you want them to do before you begin writing. Knowing this will help you determine what kind of call to action will be best for your copy.
What tone do you want your website to adopt?
It is important your website has a consistent tone, one you need to decide on ahead of time based on your kind of audience. Your tone could be friendly, professional, serious, approachable, funny and full of wit, heart-warming, kind, casual, and innovative or a mix of different tones. If, for instance, your website is focused on fitness and health, you could adopt a casual yet serious tone.
9 best practices for website copywriting
Define and understand your audience
You need to know who exactly your target audience is, so you can build your website and write your copy specific to them. You would need to create an audience profile to help you understand their preferences, lifestyles and needs, which will help you create a personalised experience for them through your content.
Work with words that are familiar to them and avoid complex and high-level jargon that will cause more confusion than help. When the words are familiar, the user will have a better chance of understanding the material.
In understanding your audience, you need to ask:
- What kind of people make up your audience?
- What issues or problems do they have, what answers do they seek?
- What products or services do you have that could solve their problems or answer their questions?
- Where do they find information?
- Who do they trust?
- What kind of things put them off?
If you have the answers to these questions, you should be able to structure your copy to fit the kind of audience you have.
Place emphasis on research
Research is to copywriting what a foundation is to a house. A good copy is a product of extensive research. Research is beyond getting the basic facts and knowledge of whatever you’re writing about. It should give an understanding of the product or service and help guide you through passing the message you want to in the best way possible.
What effective research should do for you is:
Give you a clear and deep understanding of the product, service or idea you’re trying to sell
Selling something you know a whole lot about is definitely easier than selling something you have no idea about. It would make it much easier to describe the product, share what is special about it, what problems it solves and how it does that, its features and how they work together to give the best experience and why you think it should be the ultimate choice.
Give you a clear and deep understanding of your target audience
Knowing your target audience will answer any questions of how to sell your products to them with your copy.
Pay attention to headline details
Your headline is the first point of contact for visitors to your website. It has to tell them you have what they want. Chances are, if your headlines are not catchy enough, your prospective visitor might just move on. Since you can’t bank on visitors to your website reading every page or even a full copy, you have to be prepared ahead of time for scanning.
Tips on writing awesome headlines
Don’t be complicated
The words you choose for your headline matter. They have to reach out to readers and start the conviction process. Avoid words that are complicated or would only be understood by a handful of people. Use simple language that can be powerful as well.
You could even apply the call to action technique with words like “Try”. You can also make use of language that addresses the readers themselves such as “You” and “Your”. Words like “Never” and “Don’t” are also power words that can create the effect you want.
Put in a relevant keyword
A headline is supposed to target a certain group of people, who will definitely use certain keywords during their search. These keywords can ensure you have headlines that are optimized enough to send needed traffic to your website via organic or even paid search.
Make sure to use keywords in your headlines that people are constantly searching for. There are tools you can use to find high-volume keywords for your headlines. It is important to note that keywords with high-search volumes ultimately mean more completion, so, don’t stop at an awesome headline; you definitely need awesome content too.
Invest in competitive research
It would be useful to know what headlines your competitors have used for similar topics. Checking out the rankings of such headlines would be a great way to check out where and how to improve on yours. The idea is to have a headline that sticks out among the many that are available already.
Use numbers in your headlines when you can
This is common but effective. Studies have shown that people are attracted to numbers. Somehow, numbers suggest easy reads. It also means they sort of know where you’re going; 10 steps, 5 ways, 8 tips, 20 reasons and so on.
Create a sense of urgency
Some headlines make you feel the best time to check out what they have to say is ‘now’ or you might just miss out on whatever it is. Words and phrases like “Hurry”, “Today” and “Limited stock” are tools to get people to avoid procrastination when it comes to your site.
Don’t give it all away
Your headline, while enticing, should not give away the bulk of your information. It should give just enough to make the reader curious to the point of getting into the rest of the copy. If people feel they already know all you have to say from your headline, they probably wouldn’t bother with reading further. Just ensure to balance it out; not too much, not too little either.
Make your headline bold
You are sure to get more clicks with wow factors in your headlines. Something too good to be true or even controversial or unusual is bound to make people curious.You can try asking strange and funny questions.It is always a good idea to write more than one headline for the same topic, so you can choose the best one to use.
Setting the right tone is important. Your tone should be focused on solutions and not problems. Focusing on the negative will discourage potential customers even if you have solutions. A positive tone will say you are capable of providing solutions and can be trusted. It is simply the half full or half empty choice. Even though there are times you’ll have to create a sense of urgency, start on a positive note.
Use headings and short paragraphs
Headings are a good way to summarise all of your content. With headings, your readers will know what each paragraph or section is about and can decide on what to read. Breaking up content into sections will make it easier to read, with the appearance of less bulk.Short paragraphs are also easier to read and digest. Avoid paragraphs that are long. Try to stick to 5-8 lines per paragraph. If you have a long paragraph, you could read through and find a place to break it up into two parts.
Start with the most important information
Knowing that readers are more likely to scan through, putting the most important information you have to pass across first is always best. Known as the inverted pyramid, if your reader leaves halfway, they would still have the important information because you’ve started with the conclusion.
Let every word be relevant
Web copy needs to be clear and straight to the point. Remove words and sentences that the piece can do without. If a sentence can do without a word or two, then take them out. You don’t want to have a copy filled with superfluous words. A short copy is easier to read, so, when you can, omit as much as isn’t necessary.
Pick an area of specialisation
While it is possible to generalise, you may want to consider specialisation, especially if you’re not looking to be a full-time copywriter. Specialising means you’ll be better at copywriting of a particular kind, which will serve the industry for which you are skilled.
Don’t forget hyperlinking
Using internal and external links are not just good for SEO purposes. It also creates an easy user experience, allowing users to find out more about your business with internal links and find out more about relative topics with external links by simply clicking on the links you provide.
6 useful copywriting tools
Copywriting can be quite a task with a number of bases to cover. It can be made easier with the help of certain tools. These tools can be very helpful, no matter the kind of copy you have to write.
Copyscape is an online plagiarism checker service. With it, you can check that your copy does not have a duplicate somewhere else on the web. You can consider their pay-as-you-go plan which would let you check a piece of text before publishing it.
As a copywriter, you definitely need easy access to synonyms and antonyms of words. It can be difficult to find the right words to work well with your copy and so you may need to consult Thesaurus several times in the course of writing one copy. The database is massive and easy to use.
Live Keyword Analysis
For SEO purposes, you need relevant keywords to appear in your copy in an adequate amount, not too much and certainly not too densely. Live Keyword Analysis is a tool that can help you check this adequacy in a sample text.
EMV Headline Analyser
Your headline has to appeal to your audience emotionally. EMV Headline Analyser thelps you analyse how much Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) your headline has based on the different words used in it.
The last thing any copywriter wants is spelling mistakes and words and phrases used out of context. Grammarly is a grammar and spell check tool. It is a browser extension and also has an add-in for Microsoft Office. This tool does more than the regular spelling and grammar checks. With Grammarly, you can check the correct use of words in different contexts, problematic words and other expressions. It also gives suggestions and explanations on replacing words and expressions.
If you are working with someone else in a different location, you can take advantage of the collaboration tools in Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and Apple Pages for real time collaboration. They also have other features you can enjoy.
Copywriting resources you can use
As a copywriter, you need as many resources as possible. You need to keep practicing and getting better at what you do. Techniques and methods are also constantly being modified to fit the ever-changing demands of consumers, which is why you need all the help you can get. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re about to move on to another level in copywriting, there are resources you can work with.
Copywriting books for beginners
The following books will be great reads if you’re new to copywriting. They’ll help you understand the basics and figure out the type of projects you would like to get into.
The Copywriter’s Handbook by Bob Bly. This book explains the basics of copywriting; tips on writing better copy and a guide for writing various kinds of projects. It is older but has been updated a couple of times to meet modern standards.
Ogilvy on Advertising, by David Ogilvy, is another oldie, focused on how to do effective advertising. Regardless, the advice in it for copywriters is still very valid for today’s copywriter.
The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman, also somewhat dated, is focused on business strategies in commercial writing. It is an excellent read for new copywriters trying to earn well.
The Elements of Style by Strunk and White (and Pearson). This book is a great guide for getting equipped in grammar and style in copywriting. If you’re new to copywriting, you definitely want to have your grammar and writing in check.
The Advertising Secrets of the Written Word by Joseph Sugarman. This book is also called The Adweek Copywriting Handbook and has a lot of advice on copywriting, covering areas such as establishing authority and clarity in your copy. It is focused on getting visitors from the potential customer point to buyer point.
Hey Whippie, Squeeze This, by Luke Sullivan, provides a lot of information on creating effective advertisements that your consumers will love as well. It explores reaching out to customers emotionally.
The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy is an excellent book for people who write sales letters or online sales copy. It provides tips on putting together sales messages that work excellently regardless of what medium you write for.
Free copywriting resources
Gary Bencivenga is one of the greatest copywriters in the history of copywriting. His “bullets” are written into short essays and are an excellent resource for copywriters and marketers. You will get tips on writing more effective copy.
Gary Halbert was well known for very effective copywriting, simple and yet well packed. This resource contains a whole lot of great information for copywriters.
Great resources for creating content
On Writing Well by William Zinsser is great for learning about writing copy that reaches your audience with clear and succinct language.
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley is considered the ultimate guide for creating “ridiculously good copy”. It centres on creating good copy that will serve as a source of attraction for customers.
Master Content Marketing by Pamela Wilson will help you understand how to strategize and set goals for your content and it has numerous examples you can learn from.
On Writing by Stephen King, is a book for writing as a whole and not just for copywriting. It centres on writing as a craft and dealing with obstacles as a writer.
Copywriting courses worth taking
This course goes for about $5000 and is totally worth the money. It covers a lot on copywriting and sales and would be excellent if you’re looking to properly equip yourself.
Also known as Michael Masterson’s course, this course provides step-by-step processes on copywriting and getting started with your copywriting or online marketing business. With 41 chapters, a simple and clear approach, it comes with examples and some assignments that can help your learning process.
This is a completely online course that can serve as an introduction to copywriting for a beginner. Dedicated tuition is available with this course; someone to tutor you with assignments and useful feedback. It covers different kinds of copywriting; for websites, PR, and commercials.
Set up by the founders of The Copywriter Club, this course has some copywriting tips, but is more focused on the business side of copywriting. It would be useful for both new and already-established copywriters looking to improve the growth of their business.