Whether you’re looking for freelance work, seeking a better job, or have a product to sell, creating your own website is essential.
That’s why Creative Boom has teamed up with Squarespace to put together some handy advice on creating a website that helps you achieve your goals as a creative.
In part one, we looked at the benefits building your own website can bring you. And in this post, we’re going to look at how to write words that will get potential customers, clients and employers banging on your door.
Even better, Squarespace is offering a discount to all Creative Boom readers. Just use the CREATIVEBOOM code when you sign up and you'll get 10% off.
But first, let's look at how to draft website copy that will attract enquiries.
1. Set your goals
It’s astounding how many creative professionals build their own website without having a clear idea of what they want to achieve from it. But if you don’t have a clear goal for your website, how will you ever know if it’s succeeding or not?
The first step in crafting your website’s copy, then, is to set your goals.
These need to be as specific as possible. For example:
- You want new freelance clients: okay. But what sort of work is it that you’re looking for, and at what level of pay?
- You’re looking to promote a new side project: sure. But where do you want it appearing? On traditional media? Shared by influential bloggers? Viral on Twitter or Instagram?
- You have a product or service to sell: an ebook, prints of your work, your quirky line of resin toys. Fine. But ask yourself: what will success look like? How many will you need to sell per month to make it all worthwhile?
Keep drilling down with questions like these, and you’ll soon get your head round what your website is actually for. Fail to do so, though, and all you’ll end up with is a portfolio without purpose, that friends visit and leave nice comments about, but which otherwise might as well not exist.
2. Define your audience
So you’ve settled on your website goals. What’s next?
Well, good web writing is about addressing a particular audience, and speaking in a voice they will respond to. So step two is to define the audience you want to target.
As you’ve completed step one, this should be fairly straightforward. To take some examples...
Want more freelance illustration for print? Your audience is newspaper and magazine art editors. Written an ebook about getting started in graphic design? Your audience is students. Promoting your quirky line of kooky resin toys? Your audience is probably something like: young-ish creatives who have a desk job (the natural place to put them), a disposable income (the money to buy them) and no big financial commitments (given you’re selling luxuries, not necessities).
You get the idea.
It can be helpful at this stage to write what’s called a persona. You basically imagine a typical member of your audience and describing what they might be like: age, gender, experience, likes and dislikes, etc. Then imagine writing to them directly. This should feel much more natural than writing for a generic crowd of nobodies.
3. Tell your visitor what you want them to do
For the goals you defined in step one to succeed, your visitors need to carry out certain actions. So you need to decide what you want those actions to be (side note: marketing folks often refer to these as ‘conversions’).
- Looking for freelance work? You want commissioning editors to email and offer you work.
- Seeking design collaborators? You want other creatives to get in touch and start a conversation.
- Selling a product? You need people to click a ‘Buy Now’ button.
This step is vital. Because it’s only when you know what you want people to do, that you can write website copy that will persuade them to do it.
And you may be surprised how malleable people are when you give them enough guidance!
4. Decide what will persuade them
So how do you persuade people to do what you want on your website? The key is empathy: put yourself in their position.
Imagine you’re a busy creative director. What would persuade you someone is worth commissioning for some freelance work?
A rambling spiel about how much you have a passion for creativity, or a long list of your academic qualifications and student society memberships? Probably not. Mentioning that you interned at Pentagram, or that your project was a staff pick on Behance? Could be...
Imagine you’re a customer looking to buy a book about design. ‘What’s different about this book that others don’t offer?’ you’ll ask yourself. You’ll also want to know the credentials of the person writing, and what other designers have said about what they think of the book.
In short, empathy helps you think of the evidence you can bring forth to persuade your target reader to do what you want them to do.
5. Make a list
Now make a list of your persuasive bullet points.
Take a break. Come back. And pick out only the most persuasive and important elements of that list (ideally, just two or three).
Next, imagine you’re making a pitch to a member of your chosen audience based on those points. Think about what you’d say and how you’d say it. Then write it all down.
Now you have your first draft.
6. Cut it down to size
When it comes to browsing the web, people don’t have the time or inclination to read a lot of words. So it’s vital to keep things brief, and make absolutely each word in your website copy count.
As the ‘KISS’ saying goes: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Even professional writers, though, find it difficult to be concise first time around. Which means your first draft will probably be much longer than it needs to be.
So…. walk away from your desk, have a cup of tea, come back, and take a second look. It should be obvious where you can make cuts, or reword sentences so they say the same thing in fewer words.
If not, then:
Set yourself an exercise in which you force yourself to remove 25 per cent of the words, however possible (even if it feels like you’re butchering your copy). Now walk away again, come back and compare the two once more. The second one will almost certainly read better than the first.
7. Get it proofread
Even professional writers need their work read by someone else before it’s published. So it’s vital to get as many people as possible (preferably those with a good standard of spelling and grammar) to look over your website copy before you post it.
Ask friends, colleagues, managers, anyone you can think of. It’s really difficult to spot your own mistakes, so even if you think your words are perfect, they probably aren’t.
Once you’re sure your website copy is flawless, then add it to your website, and (finger’s crossed) watch the enquiries roll in.
Haven’t built your own website yet? It’s super-easy with Squarespace. Remember to use the CREATIVEBOOM code, and you'll get a 10% discount.
Main image courtesy of Adobe Stock