Website content writing
There are hundreds of things that small businesses can do online to market their business, products or services, or for building their brand image. It’s needless to talk about the importance of a website that gets visitors, is easy to find on the web for relevant keywords, and attracts prospects with valuable information and resources. Of course, you already know what I just said, but very often we ignore all these aspects once the website is up and running. It won’t keep working and generating results endlessly unless we keep adding more value to it on a continuous basis.
Analyze your website and see where it’s lacking. Ask these questions: Does your website have a “hook” that makes the visitors move on to the next step? Are you able to give the important information and key links in the first view (above the fold) of your website? Can visitors connect with your site immediately by reading some of their key pain points for which they need a solution? Is the site well-designed and has as easy-to-follow structure? Do you offer various ways to get connected with prospects? These are just some of the angles to assess. You can even ask an external neutral person to look at your website and give feedback. It’s really important.
So what are the website related activities that you must invest your time and money in? Here’s a rundown of some of the vital tasks that small businesses must do:
- Keyword optimization: Some keywords have a lot of competition, so you must increase the density of those keywords by adding more and more articles, webpages, presentations, PDFs that are related to those important keywords. You can use Google Keyword Research tool to find the right words and phrases. You must come out as an expert in your field. Do remember to use your locality and city name frequently throughout your website, as people generally add that while searching for a specific service.
- Timely analytics: Make a habit of looking at your website visitor data every Friday evening or just any other time that suits your schedule. Learn how people land on your site, and the path they follow, and notice where they leave. These simple numbers and keywords will give you vital insights to make your website better. You will see that minor modifications can give you dramatic results.
- Building a well-connected website: Ensure that people can find what they are looking for with clear-cut navigation, simple sub-menus, related information links at the right places, easy contact details and maps, and important internal and external links wherever required.
- Possibilities to add more features: Your website design should be easy to expand and update frequently. Using a CMS based website or a simple WordPress website is great for small businesses that have limited budgets and do not want to pay endlessly to a web developer for site updates. CMS and blogging tools also allow various widgets and plugins to make your website tech-savvy and easy to use.
- Blog: There’s no better way to keep adding more content to your site than through a blog. There are so many allied topics related to your work that you otherwise cannot put on your site, but you have the freedom to do so on your blog. You get a great platform to write informative keyword-rich content to attract more visitors and make them keep coming back. Engage in relevant conversations on your blog by answering to comments and writing thought provoking articles. Make sure you have an RSS feed of your blog too.
- Web forms: Have a simple form to collect online leads and ask only for information that is relevant for you – lesser the fields to fill, the better. If you have a lengthy form, people might just give it a miss or fill fake data which won’t be useful for you anyways. It’s best to get only the useful details and remember you can always collect the rest later. Offer incentives like coupons, discounts, free downloads, access to member resources, free trial, etc., to people who fill your web form.
- Lead management system: Do your website leads come to a mailbox and get lost after you take action? Small businesses usually end-up forgetting about old leads or save them in Excel files that are difficult to update. Use Gmail or Outlook Contact Manager to keep your list of leads safe and easy to use.
- Multi-media content: Simple text-based websites have lived their life to give way to fresh ideas and rich media websites that offer content in a dynamic way based on visitor preferences. If there are things that can be said better through pictures, diagrams, presentations, podcasts, videos, conversational articles, surveys, then they must be said that way only. Uncomplicate your content by using multi-media.
- Mobile version: The number of people using handheld devices for web browsing is increasing and this trend will grow even more, so it makes sense to have a small-screen version of your website that loads faster on mobile devices, has simple navigation, and easy-to-read content. Do analytics of mobile visitors as well.
- Visitor engagement: Use conversational tone, write simple language, let users decide what they want from your site, give them options, ask for permission, tell them about their privacy, offer them various ways to get connected with you, give them a platform to speak out/recommend/give feedback, provide help and support, have live chat – you can do a lot more to build a relationship with your visitors.
- Social media links: Which social media accounts should your business have is up to your preference and business needs, but having at least one such suitable outlet is a necessity. Whether you use LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, make sure people can get connected with you easily through these channels. At the same time they should also be able to see what would they get by getting connected to you: is it timely information about the latest happenings, discount coupons, new releases, sales, etc.?
And lastly, the one single feature that will differentiate your website from the rest is:
Implement all these on your website and see the difference yourself. You cannot just build the website and forget about it for a long time. In order to make the best out of your website, you have to treat it like a business unit – find the right people to design and manage it, shower it with commitment, keep a track of what is happening on your website as well as other similar sites, and take genuine interest in its development.
All businesses look at solving a problem through a solution. So why should freelancers be any different? If you’re in business for yourself or want to be, you need to think about what kind of solution you’re offering. If you’re solving a problem, that’s a good start. If you’re just “doing stuff,” you may need to rethink. If you are a freelancer, it is important to look at yourself as a solution provider.
“As a freelancer, you should do the same – offer a solution. Of course, you need to promote your services so that clients can find you to offer them a solution. You can offer solutions, but there are many different problems, so it is difficult to say that you solve them all. You can pick one (or three or four) and say, “I can help you do XX,” says David Gargaro, Consulting Editor.
Offer a solution through your service
It is important to understand a basic difference here. As a freelancer, you might be offering a service to your customer. But through that service you need to address a need or solve the problem of your customer.
“My business coach would say this is the difference between the features of a business and the benefits. I’ve conditioned myself to think that I offer solutions – through my services. I think it does bring a different perspective, seeing my company through customers’ eyes as opposed to my own,” says Diane Hall, Virtual Right-Hand Woman.
Understanding customer needs is the first step
“Freelancers are engineers and artists who use words to create strategic masterpieces that speak. Bearing this in mind, we freelancers are responsible for understanding the client’s need and strategizing a path forward that helps the client sell their product/service, maintain and keep happy clients/customers,” says Nazareen Ebrahim, Owner at Naz Consulting.
Keeping this in mind, as a freelancer it is important to understand what you customer wants. This holds true for any profession. If you are in the business of offering a solution then you have to know what the problem is or what the need is. Engaging with your customer in understanding, strategizing and then offering the solution is the core of a freelancer’s job.
Solution centric approach means more ‘moolah’
“I think that if your services are offered in anyway in exchange for dollars for hours – get a different business model. By offering solutions you can vary the delivery channels – increasing your income streams: info products, classes, tutorials, coaching, etc. This way, you’re in the drivers’ seat instead of the client meaning you make money whether they decide to hire you or not,” opines Barbara S., Creative Director, Publisher at IASECP Magazine.
Relook at the way you are freelancing. Offering a solution not only increases your credibility in the market, it also helps you interact more with the client. The result is: regular work and greater client confidence. The client starts taking you more seriously and values you time and effort more than before. Also a solution centric approach helps you look at your business from the eyes of the customer instead of just yours.
Use your experience to offer a solution
“I deliver seminars on starting your own small business as well as how to write your book proposal and sell it through the traditional route – are our expertise and lessons learned, which we are sharing. I used to give my time away for free – but people take it all much more seriously if they commit, and our clients’ hard earned money is a great incentive to do something with their gained knowledge,” says Tanya F., Mentor Helping Transform Your Ideas Into Publication at Book Proposal Mentor.
Helping customers with online seminars on starting your own small business or how to write your book proposal are just some examples of how you can help your customer address a need. You can effectively use your experience and expertise to solve your customer’s problems and also get paid for it.
To conclude: All customers out there are hungry for solutions and someone who can help ‘fix things’. A Businessweek article argues the case of freelancers as solution provider in the best possible way. It says “Service providers come and go, but solution providers stick around.”
To stay on top-of-mind of your target audience
To be in your prospect’s consideration set, you have to maintain the frequency of your brand communication and build awareness. You need to send promotional messages, e-newsletters, alerts, surveys, webinar invitations, be active on social networks, and do much more at a faster rate; thus creating a need for hi-speed marketing content.
Communicate with your audience through several online and offline channels
You cannot wait to make your prospects come to you on their own; instead, you have to pull them through many online and offline channels including – corporate website, webinars, podcasts, blogs, online marketing, email marketing, articles, press releases, direct marketing, event participation, social media, and more. Bottom line – you need quality content to execute all these successfully.
Arm your sales team with more ways to convince the prospects
Case studies, whitepapers, service/product brochures, process demos, webinars, presentations and proposals – all have to be created, updated and personalized for each client or industry vertical. Your sales people cannot handle this task, as they are sales experts not communication experts; moreover it eats-up their selling time.
To build credibility by exhibiting knowledge in your domain
The only way to build credibility in the online world is to demonstrate knowledge in your areas of expertise. This could be done through industry reports, surveys, whitepapers and case studies. The irony is that the subject matter experts have the hold of the programming/technical language, but not English language. To make these documents professional you need seasoned writers or proofreaders.
Cater to a global audience with the professional online documents
Writing for global business executives is a great deal different than writing for local prospects. The style is simple and straightforward. Writing for the web is also an entirely different area. The writer must know the scanning habit of the readers and place the right triggers at the right places.
Creativity to break through the clutter and still provide information
Most of the people on the net are in search of complete information. By providing it to them, you instantly gain competitive advantage. More information requires elaborate sitemap planning and more content.
Can your marketing team do the job?
Yes, if your marketing team has dedicated content writers. If you do not have a content writer in-house, your marketing team will end-up spending a great amount of time in writing, instead of concentrating on other critical activities. Moreover, outsourcing saves lots of time and money.
Can your agency fit the bill?
Having worked in a global advertising agency for quite some time, I’ve understood that they are good at developing only creative content like ads or do high-end designing. They have limited expertise when it comes to long copy assignments. Ad agencies usually don’t have people who are familiar with IT industry and its terms. Your PR agency can be of help in writing the press releases only. A web development agency can guide you with keyword selection, but ultimately you have to provide the keyword rich content.
Writing content for the web and marketing collateral is a task that has to be coordinated among – a subject matter expert (for technical details), a marketing executive (for that marketing twist), ad agency/web development agency (for designing), and a dedicated content writer (for professional and error-free content).