As a web writer, it’s easy to feel some pressure to consistently write really good website content. And, if left unchecked, that pressure can quickly put the breaks on a writing project.
Perhaps you’ve been in that situation… You feel overwhelmed by the task of writing great content that achieves all of your client’s goals, so you hesitate and delay.
Keep in mind that the goal of good persuasive writing is to generate content with a strong marketing message that doesn’t appear forced or awkward.
The best way to do this is by sticking to the basics — and by starting your project as soon as possible.
Below, you’ll find seven fundamental strategies to help you write well and ensure that your clients keep coming back to you.
Tip #1: Never Lose Sight of the “Big Three”
All good writing consists of three main elements:
- Core emotions
- A solid understanding of your target market
You can’t do a good job with the first two unless you have the last one. This means every project should kick-off with research about your prospect. Uncover details like age, sex, income, geographic location, and family status. Figure out whether you’re dealing with repeat buyers or first-timers.
Then, dig deeper.
Once you know your audience, it becomes easier to understand why they buy things, beyond practical reasons. This is where you look for core emotions that will drive the sale. It’s also where you’ll recognize which benefits resonate the most with your target demographic.
Tip #2: Get Emotional
Understanding the core emotions that drive your prospect to buy isn’t the same thing as writing to them. Good writing should provoke those very emotions, but in a positive way.
For example, let’s say you’re writing about a walk-in bathtub, and your audience consists of older folks who are gradually losing their mobility.
Two major benefits to this product are its safety and ease of use. Paint a picture with your words of the independence and satisfaction your prospect will gain, rather than focusing on the problems he will avoid.
There is a time and place for fear-based statements. But when it comes to product sales online, focusing on the positive could yield greater results. Choose words like always over never and tell inspiring stories. When possible, pepper in enthusiastic testimonials.
Tip #3: Have a Conversation with One Person
Always think of your copy as a conversation with one other person. This means writing in second person and using the word “you” so your prospect knows you’re speaking directly to him or her.
This makes each of your visitors feel like the content was written specifically to them instead of to an all-encompassing group of online visitors.
Use the AWAI “bar stool” technique to make your online writing more conversational. The easiest way to do this is to read your copy aloud and edit it until it sounds like something you’d say in a face-to-face conversation, as if you were chatting with someone at a bar.
Tip #4: Make it Snappy
Good writing is concise and to the point. Readers, especially online, don’t want to wade through long sentences with multiple adjectives. Even if you have a lengthy list of benefits and features you want to share, the average reader doesn’t have time to read it all.
Keep your copy tight and to the point by using short sentences (16 words or less) and simple words. Aim for paragraphs that are only two or three sentences long. Every now and then, add a punchy, one-line sentence to give your writing rhythm.
One of the best ways to keep your copy short and snappy is to write at an eighth-grade level or lower. You can easily check the reading level of your writing with a free online tool, such as WebFX’s Readability Test Tool. Any word processing software you use should also have a built-in reading level tool.
Tip #5: Use Lots of White Space
It’s daunting for a reader to click a link and see a hundred lines of text. Even the most fascinating subject can be a hard read if it’s too copy-heavy.
Instead, break up long blocks of text with page breaks, headings, bullets, and graphics. All of these serve as visual cues about the information you’re sharing. They help certain elements of your copy stand out, guiding the reader to take note of specific content.
Tip #6: Demonstrate Credibility
Even the best writing can be brushed off as unimportant if it’s not presented credibly.
Make sure your copy includes multiple credibility-boosters. Glowing testimonials and easy-to-spot contact information go a long way in making copy appear trustworthy. It’s also a good idea to post reviews and awards.
Sometimes, even mentioning a flaw or downside to your product or service helps boost credibility. People appreciate honesty.
Tip #7: Study Writers with Strong Voices
If you want to practice good website content writing, it’s smart to spend time with successful writers. Make it a point to read articles, blogs, and other content crafted by strong writers.
When possible, get to know them. If there’s no way you’ll ever connect in person, at least connect via social media. Twitter and Facebook are excellent for presenting a well-rounded picture of other professionals. You can find out what books they read, what conferences they attend, and what gurus they follow.
By sticking to these basic strategies for good web writing, you’ll significantly boost your chances of writing content that works.