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I’m Writing About Writing Right, Right?

By Heshy Friedman

Those of you who follow me on LinkedIn may have seen this post which outlines vital tips for writers—both beginners and experienced pros—on how to write effective web content, from the web developer’s perspective.

Here, my goal is to expand on the topic and help you take your commercial writing to the next level.

Some people just seem to be born promoters. Radial Marketing Group Creative Director David Kunkel, for instance, remembers writing a book report in the second grade on Dr. Seuss’ The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, and concluding with “…and if you want to know how it ends, you’ll have to read it yourself.”

As he recalls, the teacher was amused but made him tell how it ended. (No respect for the creative mind, there!) It was a precocious start to a long career in advertising.

But even if you’ve never written sales-oriented copy for the web before, here are six simple tricks to delivering content that makes this audience respond.

Tip #1: Keep it Short

This is one of the most important points for website copy: Make sure your content is in one- or two-sentence paragraphs.

From the developer’s point of view, it means that your content can easily be cut to fit, broken up onto separate panels for visual interest, or repurposed for other pages on the site.

From the audience’s point of view, it practically guarantees that your message will be polished and tight. Because to make it short, you have to start long and cut it back. Good editing takes time.
So, write that Russian novel with the 500 characters—but then cut it back, and cut it again, until it’s a snappy short story that gets right to the point.

You can—and should—replace paragraphs with bulleted lists wherever possible. These can be turned into grids of icons or buttons with text by the designer, adding visual excitement.

Tip #2: Develop your Theme

You sell a product, offer a service, or provide information to your audience. The trick to building a great website is providing that content in a way that gives them what they want, when they want it.

Never too soon (crowded pages), and never too late (too many clicks away).

Create an outline. You don’t necessarily have to write it out; but you do have to think it out.

Structure your content in sections that introduce each major theme in general terms, and then build on each one in turn with specific examples and details.

That introduction will become the home page, and the follow-up content will appear on the dedicated subject matter pages.

Tip #3: Sit on It

After you get an assignment, let it go. Put it in the back of your mind while you work on other tasks.

Your subconscious will keep working on it, picking up things in the background, paying attention to related content you’d have ignored otherwise, and making associations.

Then sit down and start writing. Don’t worry about that outline—you’ll fit your content to it at the editing stage. Just get it all on paper so you—and your collaborators—can start to mold it into shape.

Tip #4: Choose Great Imagery

Creating content for web pages includes selecting images to illustrate the concepts and add visual interest.

Here are some key points:

  • Choose images that are similar in style, color, and composition, and fit the tone of the website.
  • Today’s market demands representation of diversity. Recognize and reflect your entire audience.
  • Don’t randomly mix graphics with photos, except where charts and infographics are required.
  • Provide the source information so the designer can download the proper file.
  • If you can’t find a “perfect” image, think about how a “nearly perfect” one can be altered to fit your needs.
  • Choose images from reputable sources. Using unauthorized images may cause serious, costly legal issues.

And speaking of legal issues:

Tip #5: Thou Shalt Not Steal

This one isn’t as scary as it sounds. Here’s the bottom line:

Information isn’t privileged; presentation is.

Look up the subject all you want. Check out your competitors. Bookmark and study the top sites, both in your area and from far away.

Add your own research to the mix, and try to find original source material—government, scientific, and educational studies or content.

Then, with your needs and unique “value proposition” in mind, say what you need to say in your own words.

If you use the same facts or take the same general approach, that’s OK. Just don’t copy anybody’s words verbatim, and develop a different structure for your content.

Tip #6: Consult the Experts

There’s a ton of instructional assistance out there. Just type “writing web copy” into your favorite search engine and dive in.

(I don’t recommend videos for this effort—this is a writing challenge, so it’s better to read than to watch.)

You’ll quickly find the writers you enjoy reading, and those are the ones whose tips, style and approach you’ll want to adopt.

And if you’re still struggling, or not confident in your work, no problem!

You’ve done more than half the work. Just turn it over to the experts at Radial Marketing Group, and let them work with you to create your audience-grabbing masterpiece.

Your careful preparation will enable them to get the final product finished faster—and more affordably—than if they are starting from scratch.

So read, learn, and collaborate—it’s how you became a successful entrepreneur in the first place, right?

Bottom line:

Writing is fun! And writing for the web is an art that is easy to master. And the best way to get good is to write…right?
Contact us today to learn how we can help.

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