BY KAITLYN PARKER | COPY UNCORKED
I decided to pour myself a margarita to kick off this series—for one, because it’s after 5pm and two because it feels very TONIC of me to do, and three because I want to establish that writing the words (read: “copy”) for your site can, and dare I say should be a fun process.
However, we realize it can also be really, really hard. The copywriting side of things is where we see a lot of people getting stuck when it comes to customizing & launching their site. So the goal of this series is to help you get unstuck and lean into the parts of copywriting that can be rewarding and enjoyable to complete.
You don’t need a margarita in hand to make it so, of course. You do you! But let’s begin, shall we?
This is part one of a four-part series intended to help you get your ideas, passion, and expertise out of your head and onto your TONIC site in a way that:
- Feels and sounds like you
- Engages ideal clients
- Intentionally moves them through your site
- And encourages them to take decisive action
If you want the full roadmap and quick navigation between each post, here’s what we’re covering:
Part 1 – Intro & Best Practices
Part 2 – Setting the Foundation
Part 3 – Home Page
Part 4 – About & Services
I’m first going to share 5 introductory best practices that will make the actual writing portion a lot clearer and more effective.
Because we don’t want you to get halfway through the copywriting & website design process and then think, “Ugh, I wish I knew that from the beginning.” We’ve got your back!
Here Are Your 5 Must-Know Best Practices to Kickoff the Website Copywriting & Design Process
ONE – Determine your products / services – i.e. What are you selling?
As copywriting legend Claude Hopkins wrote, “copywriting is salesmanship in print.” So without something to tangibly “sell”, copy isn’t really able to do its job as copy.
Even though the creative aspects of running a business can be the sexier stuff to work on, don’t let yourself bypass determining at least one or two solid products/services/packages.
You’re not married to these for life. After all, everything is a test. You’re the business owner, so you can tweak, change, and pivot whenever you need to. But if you don’t have a clear offer or a direction you’re moving readers toward, it’s going to feel directionless trying to come up with the words for your site.
I know this may sound elementary, but clients often come to us without fully ironed out offers (even if they’ve been in business for a while). So before writing, we make sure to get those nailed down with them in order to create an effective journey through their site that leads to inquiries, sign-ups, or sales.
Have multiple offers? Great! You will still want to spend some time mapping them out and determining your “bread & butter” offering. That’s the one you’re most leading people toward on your site – for example, your signature wedding photography package (vs. mini sessions, family shoots, etc.).
The alternative to that is to have what’s referred to as a “product suite” or “product funnel”, where you start with a lower-priced / entry-level product, and intend to have your client/customer ‘ascend’ upward through the rest of your higher-priced and more advanced offerings.
Why am I talking about this? Because what you’re selling and when/how you’re hoping to sell it, 100% plays into the strategy and execution of your website copy.
Okay, that was a big one…let’s move on…
TWO – Consider SEO on the front-end.
Let’s address the elephant in the room…SEO! We’ll get into it more later but here are a few things to start thinking about—and to reassure you, there’s no need to panic!
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is something we always consider as website copywriters. We like to be clear on the keywords a client wishes to climb the ranks for, before we start writing. Often, they can be pretty straightforward, like “Richmond brand photographer”.
Think: What keyword terms would you love to show up for?
Do some research to see what else is out there. Rarely does a first page ranking happen overnight, but you do want to ensure your primary keywords are found throughout the text on your site.
That being said, you don’t need to sound like a robot. We write for humans! So while getting found is one thing, you want to actually engage and connect with your people through personality-fueled copy once they land on the page.
Here are a few ways we like to work in extra SEO keyword mentions:
- An “eyebrow” header that sits above your main headline that states your keywords (but within Showit, it can actually be set-up as your H1 heading). Thanks to TONIC’s resident SEO expert (read: genius), Ryan Moreno for that tip.
For example, “Website Copywriter for Creatives” could sit above your more clever headline below.
- We include a short “footer bio” within almost every site we write that also includes the brand’s keywords—so they’re guaranteed to be on every page. This is great repetition for your clients to see (and essentially learn your messaging by heart) – but also for search engines to grasp who you are and what you do.
- With that, we also like to include location details, even if you have a global brand. It can only help when it comes to taking advantage of local SEO, but it also places you somewhere on the planet for your readers. Am I the only one who’s clicked through every page of someone’s site trying to figure out where in the world they’re located!?
Also, I see you elopement & destination photographers… You can still share your ‘homebase’ or even list the primary cities/countries you shoot in (or wish to!). Tell people where you want to go and you’ll be surprised to see how often you may end up there!
THREE – Catch a vision and pull some inspiration from your clients / customers.
Here’s your juicy tip: You can essentially pull from your client/customer’s feedback to source verbiage. (Us copywriters call this “voice-of-customer research”.)
Which means, you don’t have to entirely write your own website copy. Amazing, right?!
Here’s how that can look in practice:
- Break out the highlighter and comb through past testimonials, inquiry forms, client questionnaires, or conversations within your community.
- Notice and really listen to what people are saying – particularly the parts that stand out to you as sounding unique, aligned, or intriguing. (Also known as looking for “sticky” messages.) Further, are there any common threads or regularly repeated words/phrases?
For example, let’s say you’re an operations + HR expert who helps creatives with growing their team. You notice a handful of people saying they feel “clueless” when it comes to hiring new team members.
So you could craft web copy statements to address that feeling by saying something like:
“From Clueless to Clued In: Your One-Stop Shop for Making Your Next Creative Hire”.
As a second example, let’s say you’re a brand videographer and most of your clients share in their reviews that you’re incredibly “personable” and “creative”, and your films are a “work of art”.
Those are two adjectives you can use in your messaging! To keep the reader as “the hero of the story” (thanks, Donald Miller), you could say something like:
“Known for our personable approach and creative eye, our films present your brand as a thoughtful work of art.”
See how this works!?
To further drum up copywriting inspo, think:
- How do you want your site to make people feel?
- What words would they use to describe their first impression?
- How does your copy sound – funny, wise, inspiring, professional, bold?
- If your site was a restaurant, bar, or a boutique hotel, what would it look like?
- How would people dress and communicate?
Use that vision to ultimately guide your creative direction and copywriting as you work through the rest of this series.
FOUR – Buy your template, then use it as a guide as you write your copy – ideally within a separate doc. Then fill in & customize your TONIC design.
Go ahead, pull the trigger on that TONIC template you’ve been eyeing. (What will it be – Margarita? Manhattan? French 75?)
We know your template + the Showit platform makes it soOoOoO easy to start filling in the placeholder text. But hear us out, it may leave you feeling a bit limited as you try to fit what you’re trying to say within that exact paragraph size.
So it’s good to at least have a scratch doc open to draft out sections and then do a simple copy & paste into your template. You can further adjust the design from there. Your template’s ease of customization is part of the beauty of it.
Just trust us on this one: Copy first, then design. However, I know you’re likely a visual person, so we definitely encourage you to use your template as your guide – which will only further make your customization that much more seamless.We’ll get into this more in Part 2 as we chat about navigation, outlining your page content, and more.
FIVE – Regardless of how much information we pack into this series, the words won’t write themselves.
Tough love truth, much?
Here’s the deal: While I’d love to pretend that all you have to do is read this series and your copy will write itself, that’s just not the case.
You will have to put some time and effort into this, but the end result and what a well-written site can do for your business is more than worth it in the long run.
Your other options are to:
- Hire professional copywriters like us to do it for you. While an amazing option, pro copywriting does come with a higher price-point and potentially a little bit of time waiting for availability. It’s totally up to you if that works for you!
- Work through a program or course, like the ones we offer through CU Edu. That can also be a great option and provides you with deeper education and more done-with-you support.
With that in mind, TONIC and I really wanted to create a fully “on the house” resource to support your DIY efforts. Because we know you can do this and we can’t wait to celebrate with you once you do!
FOR NOW, IT’S TIME TO TAKE ACTION:
Spend some time considering and thinking through all 5 parts outlined above. Once they’re all mentally checked off in your head, pop on over to Part 2 (once it drops!) to continue.
To take your copywriting education to the next level, explore our collection of courses & guides, such as The Tasting Room, Vine to Voice, and The Copy House.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kaitlyn Parker is the founder, lead copywriter, and wine enthusiast behind Copy Uncorked – a copywriting and brand strategy studio pouring up compelling words to help brands grow. Based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Kaitlyn holds a Master’s in Strategic Communications and has worked with hundreds of clients worldwide in her 7+ years of industry experience. She’s also developed Copy Uncorked’s suite of signature courses—collectively known as CU Edu. Each program is designed to help newer creative entrepreneurs develop their brand messaging, write their own website copy, and more. When she’s not typing away behind a screen, she enjoys quality time with family & friends, where there’s usually a body of water, great food, and a glass of Cab involved. Connect with Kaitlyn on Instagram @copyuncorked or visit copyuncorked.com.