How to write website copy that doesn’t suck
This is the eternal question. How do you make the copy on your website NOT suck? How do you write website copy that doesn’t send your reader to sleep or running for your competitor’s website.
What’s the difference between exhilarating kick-arse website copy and mundane drivel that totally sucks and compels you to pour a nightcap and slip on the flanny pjs?
But let’s be real. We all went to school. We all know how to write, right? But how do you write awesome website copy to excite, entertain, and woo your potential client?
I know from experience what boring-arse copy does. My years as a photographer saw me slipping into mini comas during many tedious wedding toasts and speeches at formal events.
We’ve all experienced the pain of being bored senseless.
The speaker stands, puffs out his/her chest, takes the microphone and for a full 10 seconds, people listen. Then the monotonous monologue begins, devoid of personality, rhythm, humour, or any signs of lifeform.
And then it starts. The crowd gets antsy.
The scraping of chairs, the chinking of glasses, (now empty as guests have ‘sculled to dull’ the pain of listening) and the rising murmur of irritated millennials, eager to hit the dance floor and anyone blocking the emergency exit.
Either way, you get it.
There’s nothing worse, right?
Okay, a global pandemic and world famine are far worse.
But when it comes to communicating with your audience, words have the power to bore them into a coma or woo them into a customer, fan, or friendly stalker.
Which would you prefer?
I know right! I’m into wooing too.
So, pour a glass of wine (please join me), light some candles, and let me share a few hot tips on wooing with words with you.
Wow, that was a tongue twister. I think I hurt myself.
1. Words Are Important!
Now, I know many people went through life without ever winning a spelling bee competition, but spelling and correct words matter!
No matter what the service or product your offering, your copy should be professional.
For example, as a professional copywriter how much credibility did I just lose with my incorrect use of ‘your’ above?
And while it was spelled correctly, it was used wrong!
It’s just not cool!
In fact, I’m embarrassed just doing it as an example.
So, please. For the love of all things sacred, use spellcheck!
Or better yet, a nerdy word friend to run another set of eyes over your copy.
That way you know you’re offering your audience correctly spelled copy.
Yep, tore a muscle in that sentence.
2. Use Active Voice in Your Website Copy
Passive voice is awkward. It kinda feels like you’re tripping over words or walking in heels after a few too many wines.
It happens when the subject of your sentence is the recipient of a verb’s action.
The sandwich was eaten by my brother.
The man was bitten by the bat.
It’s much easier on the ear, and brain, to say:
My brother ate the sandwich.
The bat bit the man.
If your sentence contains ‘was’ followed by an action, try rewriting it in active voice.
3. Be Conversational
Picture it. You’re sitting in a café and this crazy redheaded copywriter approaches you (obviously it’s a licensed premise):
“Hello! How are you today? My name is Alison. What is your name? It is lovely to meet you.”
You’d wonder if you’d met some clone freak or a robot from one of those sci-fi movies, right?
No one talks like that in-person so don’t write like it either.
People want a conversation, not a poorly written script from a B-Grade zombie movie.
So, get chatty!
4. Cut the Crap from your Website Copy
This one’s easy! Stop using unnecessary words. And the first words to kill off are dreaded adverbs.
Adverbs are words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs and usually end in -ly.
“It was a (really/very) beautiful day”.
Really and very add zero value to your sentence.
Like, nothing. Zilch.
Instead, try being descriptive. Why was it beautiful? Were the skies bright blue? Was there a blazing red sunset?
Try and find words that conjure up a scene or add description to your story.
And while it’s okay to use adverbs sparingly (see what I just did?) don’t overuse them.
There’s usually (again with the adverb!) far better words that add colour to your website copy.
So, try removing your adverb and see if your copy still makes sense.
If so, can you use a better word to add some umph to your sentence?
Whenever you find yourself using words that don’t add to your sentence…replace or cull them altogether!
5. Be Real and Cut the Crap!
This is a biggie!
You’re addressing real people. People who want to know you and feel a connection.
It could be a shared experience, a product or service you’re offering or just a story. But it needs to feel authentic.
Don’t use superfluous words, extraneous sentences, and fakery.
I mean, if you don’t speak it in person, don’t speak it in your writing (like I did above).
I sounded like a wang, right?
Not once, in my life have I ever said: ‘Oh, please remove that bottle of wine. It’s simply superfluous’.
FYI, I’ve NEVER said that in any language, sign or otherwise but you know what I mean.
Write ‘use’ not ‘utilise’.
Use ‘do’ not ‘implement’.
Write ‘to’ instead of ‘in order to’.
Use ‘except’ and not ‘with the possible exception of’.
Write ‘I believe’ and not ‘I personally believe’.
Because is there any other way to believe? It’s a dreaded adverb!
Quick, grab the bug spray and kill that sucker!
Anyway, you get the idea, right?
Readers are impatient, their time is precious and inauthentic writing is just plain boring.
I mean, they’re probably on lunch break, having a sneaky read in the loo (who doesn’t?) or wasting time on the ride to work.
So, don’t waste your readers’ time.
Make your website copy interesting, real and crap free!
Your readers will thank you for you it.
6. Use Contractions – Sound Real. Be Real.
‘Do not write like you are an automated response that is programmed to answer to your reader’.
Ugh, how painful was that to read?
Instead, use contractions! It’s not an academic essay so contractions are totally cool to use!
‘Don’t write like you’re an automated response that’s programmed to answer to your reader’.
See how it’s changed?
I mean, it’s still a boring as bat-shit sentence but it reads far better.
Again, write like you speak and not how you’d write an academic essay.
Remember, there are no brownie points for using perfect grammar when you’re talking to real people.
Your words must keep your audience entertained, informed, engaged or just on your damn website long enough to convert them into a fan!
Or a stalker.
Or a customer.
Either way, your words have power.
And these are just a few tips to make your website copy more powerful.
Now, go forth and wield your power wisely.
Like to know more tricks?
Drop me a line here.
And then let’s grab a virtual drink!
It’s my shout!
About Alison Writely
Alison is a kick-arse copywriter who helps creative people polish words into gold nuggets. A lover of words, wine, weird dancing, and dogs (particularly those with names like Kevin), Alison’s writing has featured in the Courier Mail, Q-Weekend, The Sunday Mail, Local Government Association Queensland, and newspaper publications throughout Australia.
Well known for breathing life and personality into copywriting, Alison is the ‘go to’ person for creative entrepreneurs everywhere.