After I ventured away from the corporate world in 2001, I worked with hundreds of clients. In that time, the client wrote their own content for almost every website build project. Nearly all of them asked the same question, “what do we write?” Writing content for a business website is a daunting task.
In this article, I am tackling that daunting task. I want to help you make writing your website’s content easier and more efficient. Plus, I’d like to help you create content that appeals to potential customers and makes you feel good about your brand. I will give you a process that has helped me and many others to create content for our business website pages.
During your initial consultation with your website designer discuss what pages you need to build. This is true for new or redesign website projects. Many website designers have a page count tiered pricing. So, before quoting you, your website designer will need that number.
Most service and hospitality business websites come in around ten pages to start. eCommerce, membership sites, hospitality with booking engines, and other sites with extra functionality are calculated a bit differently. They still include many of the pages I’ll be covering in this article. If you are unaware of what pages to start with, your website designer should be able to assist you. Our experience gives us the ability to guide you through this process and give you a basic skeletal sitemap for your website.
The best time to write content for your pages is right away (assuming you do not have them done before connecting with your website designer). Your website designer should start the design phase of your project first. If you or they choose to work with pre-existing WordPress themes, then finding the right theme will be first. If your website designer only uses one multi-purpose theme, they will install it and modify it to match your branding (colors, logos, etc.). Your writing should already be in process at that point.
Pages versus Posts
Before I go any further, I want to stop and explain the differences between pages and posts. Most business websites online today are in WordPress, so both terms are commonly used. Additionally, blogging is a great marketing strategy. Your business website should be using both types of content.
What are the differences? Pages are static and posts are dated and are consistent new content. A page is informative about your business and its offerings with the call to action. Blog posts can be press releases, news, and articles, podcasts, and/or videos with information to educate your potential customers. All this content showcases you as the expert or the destination location of choice.
What Pages Does Your Website Need?
Your foundation pages include:
From there, you decide if you want to have extra sub-pages in these areas. These pages can add more useful or necessary content. They can create a nice user experience by helping them find the information they need faster. Also, Google, Yahoo!, Bing and other search engines don’t just index your homepage. Additional content increases your ranking capabilities.
- Separate pages for each service offered and different amenities
- About pages broken down to:
- About Company
- About Team
- Our Mission
- About Our Process
- Available Employment Opportunities
- Consultation Form (or Request for Quote/Proposal) page
- FAQ – Answer frequently asked questions of potential customers before they contact you.
Besides the above, there are pages to help show your value. These can include:
For search engine optimization, GDPR and legal purposes, you will need to have the following:
- Any policies around your business (i.e. eCommerce sites need return and refund policies)
For the above, there are several free or low-cost generators online. We do recommend having an attorney review them.
A Writing Process
Every writer has their own writing process. For me, every type of writing has a different process and purpose. For example, with blog posts, I come up with a month of topic ideas and schedule them out. I create the initial headline and sub-headers to get me started. Then I start writing. Why? Because I know the topic inside and out.
I give this advice all the time. In fact, I recently wrote a long (really long) social media response to a friend’s post asking about how to write for her website’s pages. Once I am done, I give it to my “Queen of Content”, Carrie, to edit. I write “in the raw”. I’m not thinking about grammar. I am only focused on getting the ideas in my head out. Then she refines it. There’s a good alternative if you don’t have your own “Carrie”. You can do the same type of writing but set it aside to do your own edits a few days to a week later.
For my website content, it’s a whole different story. I go back to my high school English class when Mr. Corey emphasized that “the power is in the rewrite”. I write and rewrite our website pages many times. I am currently updating our entire website with new content and a new design (coming soon). The most time-focused task – writing our website’s pages.
There are several reasons I write the content for my site, instead of hiring a professional writer. I want to make sure I get our potential clients all the information they are looking for in an easy, user-friendly way. I want to present my company accurately. And, lastly, make it easy to know that the prospect and I are a match.
I use my own “voice” instead of that of a professional writer. I do this because it is a better representation of the business. Though we are professional, we are not stoic, suited up people at my company. My words represent myself and the team I’ve built – in short, who you will be working with. Blog posts, for me, are easier.
I have found that, just like Webmaster For Hire web design clients, I create frustration for myself and others if I overthink our website page content.
The following is how I recommend writing your website’s pages (and the process I am currently in the middle of myself).
Steps 1-2: Set-up & Brainstorm
This is one of the most important pieces of the process and the one that most people skip. It prevents you from overthinking, comparing yourself to competitors, or worrying about what people will think when they read your website content. Once the flow starts, you can find yourself returning for a day or so to add new ideas to it.
I recommend doing this for all the lower pages first. The homepage content is a culmination of the lower pages. It is the doorway to the rest of your site.
1. You may use a digital word processor, like Microsoft Word or Pages. Or, you may go old-school and write with a pen and paper. Write the page name and its purpose at the top of individual pages (i.e. About Page: tell about us, our mission, our history and why we’re in business). The purpose will help later to keep your focus. You can also add to the top of the page the intended goal, outcome, or action of the viewer. This can help you later to create a “call to action” for each page.
2. On each page, without editing or overthinking, write EVERYTHING that you can think of about the page’s topic. Start with the normal responses you’d give in person.
For example, your “about” page.
- What are normal things you are saying to prospective customers about your business, your history, etc? Write those things down.
- Write down everything about you, how you serve, and why your business even exists.
- Write about why you need the about page (you’ll be amazed what nuggets you get from this).
- Write everything you hope your visitors would do after reading your about page. For example, a visitor will connect to your company’s philanthropic purposes and want to work with your company.
- Visualize yourself at a trade show booth, in front of a prospect, etc… What are some conversations that you could have about your company? What would you be presenting? Consistently saying? What would the display items say? Write these down.
- Visualize yourself networking. What is your USP (unique selling point/proposition) that you use? Write it down. Think “elevator speech”.
Do this for all the pages. Don’t rush this part of the process! I save these notes for myself and our clients because they are MASSIVE idea generators. They are valuable for a variety of marketing materials – blog post ideas, memes, video topics, and more.
Steps 3-5: Layout and Organize
3. Next, I think about the layout of the pages. Today, most website pages are not full article-style layouts. Many times, they are short paragraphs and sections like a print brochure. Concepts in bits and pieces with images. So, knowing how you will layout the content will help you to organize your ideas into actual page content. Talk with your website designer, especially if you don’t know how they plan the lower page layouts to look. Get a mock-up for custom layouts.
4. Once you get the layout, your mind will start to compose the words from the brainstorm session to fit it.
5. Don’t forget – rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. The brilliancy is still in the editing. If Mr. Corey’s teaching has accurately stuck with me – 3 times is the rule. The first write wakes the brain up. The second time warms it up, and the third time is usually spot on. Remember, you can either have someone else review and edit them for you or wait a week and return with a fresh perspective to edit the pages yourself.
Step 6: The Grand Finale
6. Letting go. Once you’ve written the website content, send it to your website designer in their preferred format or a format that makes it easy to grab and use. Most often, this is in a Word Document so they can simply copy and paste it into your website pages. Then release the task from your mind. You don’t want to prolong the development portion of your website project by repeatedly returning and asking for edits.
What do you do if you have edits after you’ve given your web designer your content?
I tell clients to hold their text revisions (if minor) and new additions for after the launch. Then, I train a client to update their own WordPress website with real changes. It helps to stick the process in their mind for the next time they go in to update their site themselves for any hypothetical future edits. I show them how and then let them do the actual changes. Hitting that ‘update’ button becomes less daunting if I’m there while they do it the first few times.
So, there you have it folks, the “Webmaster For Hire Write Your Website Content Process” in an over-sized, fully explained nutshell. I hope you found this article useful and that it motivates you to write your website pages with ease and excitement.
When you’re ready for a website designer to build or rebuild your business website, give us a call. We would love to be part of your business’s success. You can reach us at (561) 822-9931 or complete a Request for Consultation form.