The first man I ever loved I met through the pages of my favourite childhood literary series.  Awkward, gawky, teenaged me, with zero life experience, held my crush close to my heart, even though I knew he wasn’t real.  Hmmm, might have been one of the most agreeable relationships I have had to date!

That is the power of the written word.  It can capture hearts, sway opinions, tatter heart strings, and stir up inspiration and courage.  You know you’ve got one—a book from childhood that has always remained lodged firmly in your heart, a passage of poetry you first heard in your high school English class, or a song that made you feel just a little bit less lonely (yes, Meatloaf, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad).

That is why those words spilling across the screen of your website are so damned important.  They can bring your audience closer, or send them running for the competition.  They can ensure you’ll linger in the reader’s memory, or fade to oblivion in seconds.

So you may be thinking to yourself, as your fingers creep toward the remote control to tune into another episode of 2 Broke Girls.

“Does it really matter?”Penguin

“Do words really make that much of a difference?”

“But I’m not a writer!”

“I don’t know what to write.”

 

My answer:

YES.

YES.

YOU CAN BE.

TURN OFF THE TV AND LISTEN UP.

Writing doesn’t coming easily to a lot of people.  In fact, some people hate it.  That’s ok.  That’s what I’m here for!  *smiles prettily*

However, let’s say you’re decent at it, or just willing to give it a shot (that’s the spirit, grasshopper!).  and just need a little gentle guidance, a few pointers, to set you on the path to copy that is smarter, more engaging, more interesting, and a lot more fun.

 

First of all, writing can be hard.  There are times when I’m supposed to be writing, and I get distracted, and ….  sorry, back again.  Just had to go check my Facebook.

See what I mean?

But with a few tools, and a few rules, you can make the task a whole lot simpler.

 

THE CARDINAL TOOLS AND RULES FOR CREATING CATACLYSMIC COPY

 

1. THE CRITIQUE – Take a hard look at your web copy. Go on. Pretend to be a total stranger, looking at your website for the first time. Does it capture you attention? Does it make you feel anything?

If you just don’t think you can be objective, ask a friend to take a look (not that agreeable friend who thinks you’re completely awesome—you want to ask that friend who always gives you the straight goods and calls you out on your shit when necessary). Ask for brutal honesty. Did it draw them in? Did it make them feel something, anything? Or did they just zone out and click over to watch Flula’s new video? PS, watch it, it’s so funny! After you’ve done your homework of course!

Just a little insight into my sense of humour. YOU’RE WELCOME!

Make a connection with your audience first, if you want them to stick around. If that doesn’t work, bribe them. KIDDING! Keep reading, sunshine.

2. MAKE AN EMOTIONAL CONNECTION – How do you do this? For me, the key to creating a connection is about honesty. Speak honestly about your business, your product, your service, and people will listen.

Are you an auto mechanic shop? Talk about how people always feel ripped off when they take their car in. Face that subject head on. If you’re selling personal training, delve into why people really sign up—not because they want to be healthy and fit, but because they’re tired of feeling embarrassed about their bodies; they hate feeling so exhausted, and they just want to have their sexy time with the lights on again. You’re getting at the heart of what their true motivation is—the things that so many people are thinking, but are always reluctant to voice.

3. SPEAK IN THE FIRST PERSON – Personally, I find nothing more annoying than small businesses that speak in the third person because they think it will make them look more established and all Ron Burgundy-esque “We’re kind of a big deal.” Speaking in the first person makes you appear more human and approachable, and your writing will be less stilted and more conversational, because you’ll write more like you speak. That, my friends, is called relatability.

4. BANISH BORING VERBS – Boring verbs are the worst. Instead of ferreting out more electrifying verbs, they’ll try to pretty up their ho-hum verb with adverbs. DON’T DO THIS. This is lazy writing. Do not embody the banish boring verbs
literary sloth! (You see, I could have said “don’t be a sloth writer”). A great little tool for this (and for spicing up any old ordinary word) is www.thesaurus.com. Just pop your ordinary verb into the search and go enter.
You’ll receive a bunch profusion of alternate words.

BORING               BETTER
Ran                       careened, scampered, absconded, barrelled
Colourful               kaleidoscopic
Think                    ponder, deliberate, ruminate speculate
Make                    generate, spawn
Help                     bolster, boost, facilitate,

Examples extraordinaire:

There were painted flowers on the floor — instead try:
Painted flowers blossomed beneath our feet.

The sun shone that day, melting the ice – instead try:
After a sullen spring, the sky spitting disdain from the clouds for weeks, the sun chose that morning to burst forth, and blanketed the city in a fiery warmth that melted ice, as well as the chill in people’s hearts.

5. PUT A FACE TO BUSINESS – But not that drunk, slutty picture your friend took at the bar. Girls, not the one that has you looking all cleavage-y. Guys, go on, button up the shirt. This isn’t an audition for the Thunder Down Under.

professional photos

Hire a professional photographer, put on some nice duds, and get some cool shots for your website. It will be worth every penny—and it will make you feel like a million bucks.

6. ENSURE YOUR LANDING PAGE ISN’T TOO “BUSY” – If there is too much going on, people’s brains just shut down. Visual over-stimulation on your landing page is tantamount to brandishing a stick and waving it menacingly at your potential clients. In both cases, they likely go away.

Keep your landing page simple. Don’t crowd in a bunch of graphics. Do not give people 20 different options to choose. We humans have a short attention span, so you have a finite period of time to deliver your message, and convince them that you’re their new business BFF.

Deliver a targeted message that embodies your main goal, whether that is selling widgets, getting subscribers, or signing people up for your next workshop.

I like including testimonials on the landing page as well. Interestingly some people don’t think testimonials are the cat’s pyjamas anymore, because of the increasing occurrence of fake reviews on various sites. However, I disagree. I consider personal reviews to be invaluable and you can lend credibility by including the author’s picture beside the testimonial, as well as a link to their website (if they have one!).

7. BREAK UP YOUR COPY INTO READABLE PARAGRAPHS – If you have your copy all bunched up like a bad pair of polyester panties, it’s an assault to the eyes, and no one is going to read it. Break it up into readable bits. Don’t use a tiny font that is difficult to read. Incorporate pictures, but don’t overdo it and make your page too busy. There are a number of sites with royalty-free photos that I mostly use when blogging, but you just might find some gems for your website as well!

http://www.morguefile.com/archive
http://pixabay.com/
http://photobucket.com/
http://free-images-etc.rb-d.com/
http://unsplash.com/

8. DON’T MAKE YOUR ABOUT PAGE ALL ABOUT YOU – I addressed this popular offense in a previous post–http://www.lynncrandon.com/whats-wrong-about-page-fix/

Talk to your customer before you talk about yourself. Let them know how you can help them and the bounty of wonderful benefits they will receive from doing business with you. Then introduce yourself, but keep it brief. People much prefer to hear about themselves!

Use the 80:20 ratio. There should be about 80% mentions of “you” (copy is client/customer centered) and about 20% of “I” (copy focused on you and what you have to offer).

9. USE GOOD GRAMMAR AND USE YOUR SPELLCHECK! – This one is so easy, but so many people miss this! Nothing can chip away at your credibility faster than silly spelling errors or using words incorrectly (e.g. than or then, affect or effect, good or well, their, there, or they’re, piqued or peeked…). If you’re not 100% sure about word usage, get a second pair of eyes to read through your copy (maybe that friend who is always using obnoxiously posh words like “heretofore” or “thusly”). Ok, Thurston, have a go at my copy then!

10. INCORPORATE STORYTELLING IN YOUR COPY – Have you ever noticed that some advertisements have absolutely nothing to do with the company’s product? Yet they tell a story that reaches inside of you andstorytelling tugs are your heart strings, or tickles your funny bone. People remember the ad, and therefore, they remember the company.

 

Here are some examples:

 

VIDEO:

http://youtu.be/JPOVwKPMG8o – A Thai mobile advert whose tag line is “Giving is the best communication”. I have watched this a few times now. I cry every time. And it’s an ad I will never forget.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCsqABAQLjs – Kmart came back into people’s consciousness with this brilliant and funny advert.

WRITTEN:
http://themiddlefingerproject.org/the-67-emotions-of-online-success-my-story/ Ashley Ambirge tells her story in a completely honest and engaging way. How do I make this girl my new BFF??

 

OK, now it’s your turn. Have a look at your website. Is it good? Or just “good enough”? Try your hand at trying just one to start. Create your own copy combustion, something real and honest, and reap the rewards. I would love to hear which points really resonated with you, and what you incorporated into your site. Send me a link! I would love to hear from you!