Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Writing Website Copy - A Self Lesson in 7 Steps

I have written a few websites before. The first was an online store that specialized in hammocks and hammock accessories (think Hank Hill, 'I sell Propane and Propane Accessories'). The site was fairly easy to write. The products already had descriptions from the manufacturing company (who make great hammocks btw) and the back end of the website did the rest.

The next site was during my brief stint as a sheisty Affiliate Marketer who thrived of automated AdWords campaigns and ugly Adsense design. Again the copy was easy to write as most of the copy was taken from the Affiliate site.

Then there are the countless Myspace page designs and optimization strategies that I have helped many friends, bands and small businesses write in the past year or so. I think these have been easy for me to write because I had an idea and vision of the finished product going into the project along with creative guidance from the site owners.

For the past week, I have been writing the copy for the new, a full service Social Media Marketing company designed for Bands, Small Businesses and Gen-Y Brand Building. I know, I'm all over the place. The site will launch first for musicians only and music industry related clients. I know the material like the back of my hand. In fact, I wrote most of the business plan initially on the backs of my hands, much like the plays we ran in the Taravella football days.

So why am I having trouble?

Maybe it's the pressure of really launching my own company and knowing that we are expecting heavy traffic first week. Maybe it's the pressure of not letting my business partners down. Maybe I just don't know how to write (not throwing this one out just yet).

So, in my quest to write about 20+ product offerings with full descriptions, a company profile that actually makes sense (thus, not yet written) and more uses of the terms Social Media, Social Networks and Music Marketing than there are definitions, I have come up with the following 7 steps to help myself (and anyone else that wishes to join in or use my advice) in writing the copy for your own consulting-ish company.

1. Be honest. When writing about yourself or your company, be as honest as you can with your readers.
2. Do not over promise. Nothing beats a bad deal like a company that over promises and under delivers.
3. Go into detail with your packages. It not only helps with Organic rankings, but it also paints a realistic picture into prospective clients.
4. Do your research. Find a keyword tool and abuse it. If you build it, they won't come. It you optimize it, they might.
5. Look into competitors sites and critique it from a prospective customer's standpoint. Did you like their writing style, their product descriptions, etc. How was the layout, the graphics and the organization of the site.
6. Create a mock sitemap. Planning 101, what are you even writing about and how did a reader get there.
7. Humanize it and have fun. No one likes reading something that comes straight out of a high school text book. Give it a personal feel, use your language and give it a personality. Your readers and potential customers will appreciate it.

Good luck writing!



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