5 Part Guide to the Principals of Writing Effective Web Content

CopywritingYou’ve heard it.  “Content is King” You know full well that one of the most cost-effective sales growth strategies is creating high-quality content.  Yet, if you are like most business people, you have no training as a copywriter.  The skills for copywriting are very different than you were taught in college composition class, but that is probably the best training you have ever had in writing.

This article series is a “quick and dirty” overview of the elements of good copywriting for the internet.  Each week I will share the components of good web writing.  If you are already an excellent writer, you may be able to apply these 12 fundamentals to your content and see a noticeable improvement.

If your content does not meet the high quality standards your prospects expect, think carefully whether it might be cost-effective to hire a professional writer to assist in content creation.  What good does it do to spend money driving people to your website if they do not get a good impression of your company when they arrive?

First Impressions Last

This old adage has never been truer than it is today.   “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

Our first 3 principals are about making a good first impression.  If you don’t grab their attention quickly, everything else you give the prospective reader is a waste of time.  You must nail these first three principals before moving on to the rest.  Today, we are only going to cover one of them.

Over the next few weeks we will add:

Week 2:  Two more aspects of making a good first impression.  Readers respond well to empty space and check lists.

Week 3:  We examine who you are writing for and how to tailor your message.  I will cover three aspects of writing that engage people who see your digital messages.

Week 4:  Learn three reasons why people will read what you have to say.  Most of you will be a little surprised by what you learn in this portion of the guide.

Week 5: The science of copywriting.  You already know that gathering data about your internet empowered customers dictates what you offer them.  In copywriting, the science of language, word values and usability are critical to the ever-increasing demands of the skill.  These final three principals separate the average writer from  excellent content developers.

Headlines Say it ALL

Even professional copywriters struggle with headlines.  We put great effort into crafting this short string of words – because we fully realize the importance of this primary attraction device.  Without doing this one thing right, our client does not get results.  If the client does not get results, as a copywriter, I am out of business.

The digital world is full of headlines.  You find them at the top of articles and in the subject line of emails.  You also find them on your web pages, presentations and eBooks.  In each situation, the headline can make or break your opportunity to communicate.

I am writing an entire eBook devoted to headlines right now.  Few people do an adequate job of mastering this critical step in copywriting.  Keep an eye on the Sales Growth Hub blog where I will announce when the eBook is available.  Until the eBook is ready, take advantage of one of the first things we are taught as professional copywriters.  Novelists use this statement to put us down…while we find pride in doing it every day.

Writers Write and Copywriters Copy

What they don’t tell you is that copywriters support the work of other businesses.  We almost never see our names as the author.  Novelists revel in the glory and financial gain of their own writing.  Copywriters revel in the glory and profits of our clients with almost no recognition or profit-sharing as a result of doing it well.

Start copying today.  Notice what headlines and email subject lines grab your attention.  Save the words, headlines and phrases in a place of easy access for inspiration when you start to write.  I keep a MS Word document open at all times.  When I see a headline that I find funny, interesting, timely, juicy or really edgy – I copy it and put it in what is called a “swipe file” in the profession.

Swiping is an honorable pursuit in my line of work.  Having a library of good swipes is one of the most prized possessions of a seasoned pro.  However, we have a code of honor – just like other thieves.

  • We do NOT plagiarize.  There is a huge gap between stealing another writer’s idea and stealing their content.
  • We validate other writers.  When another copywriter swipes one of our ideas, it is much more valuable than a ‘like’ on Facebook.
  • We look for ways to recognize really good copywriting with a backlink to articles we find valuable to our clients.
  • We comment on fellow copywriting blogs and like what they say on social media outlets.
  • We encourage each other because copywriting is a crazy, ever-evolving industry that gets little recognition and is often misunderstood.

Next week I will write about the need for lots of white space and bulleted lists.  Without these visual tools, your content appears too dense.  Remember your reader is lazy and will click away if it becomes a little hard to read your content.

Let me know what you think.  I really want to know.



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