Small Business Marketing by Jillian Shaw Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations for the Small Business

The Importance of Good Copywriting – Message Matters

03.23.2010 · Posted in Website, Writing

Copywriting for Small Business web

Usually I try to think of ways to do all your small business marketing yourself, for free or really cheap.  But this is one area where, if you can afford it, it’s not a bad idea to hire a professional.  You know your business needs a website.  It needs to be good, and if you’re selling stuff online it really needs to be good.  There are two things to consider here

  1. Good website copy.  Content is king, as they say.  Refer to my previous post about writing good ads.  The same rules for writing applies here.  Whether it’s product copy, ‘About Us’ or the contact page, the website and it’s information needs to be laid out in the most logical and easy to read fashion.
  2. Search Engine Optimization.  I am no expert here.  And this article really explains the SEO basics way better than I can.  You’ll need to do some preliminary research to figure out what keywords are pertinent to your small business’s niche, and find ways to logically use them within your copy, and in the most important parts of your copy.  You can see how effective your current copy is by entering your website domain here and plan to improve upon where you already stand.

I know I mentioned hiring a professional.  There are plenty of online websites that help connect business people with freelancers who can write for your specific project.  Here’s how you can do it.

You will find writers in all sorts of price ranges.  Find one that fits your budget, but don’t necessarily just go straight for the cheapest writer.  Be sure to ask for some portfolio examples or links to other stuff they’ve written to verify that they don’t suck.  There are plenty of writers who specialize in search engine optimization, as well.

If you know you’re going to have to do it on your own, here are a couple of resources that can help you.

  • SEO for Dummies – I love the way the ‘for Dummies’ books are laid out.  I use them for everything I want to know more about.  There’s also a ‘for Idiots‘ version which is laid out in basically the same fashion.  These books don’t assume anything, and don’t actually treat you like you’re dumb.  And when you’re done reading it you’ll be pretty well above average when it comes to knowledge of the topic.  And I’m not ashamed to admit that I even have Parenting for Dummies.
  • Web Copy That Sells – I hate the title of this book, but it’s to the point.  Make sure you get resources that are specifically about writing for the web, because there’s a huge difference between web and print.

Like a just mentioned, there are a lot of differences in the way we read on a screen versus on paper.  Here’s Jillian’s digest version of tips for online small business writing:

  • Write short sentences – aim for 10-15 words, definitely no more than 25 (that’s really too long).
  • Write short paragraphs – stick to 2-3 sentences per paragraph, and double space between paragraphs to break up the copy.
  • Use san serif font.  Typically Arial is a good way to go.  Sans serif means the font doesn’t have little feet or hooks on the ends or tops and bottoms of the letters (if that’s not a good enough definition, look it up).  Serifs actually help move your eye along the word when it’s on paper.  Online, it actually just muddies things up.  Sans serif gives your copy a cleaner look.
  • Use bullet points and lists.  Make all information as bite-size as possible.  People consume vast amounts of information in a short amount of time online because it’s concise like this.
  • Use fragments.  Spelling is important, of course, but use a conversational tone rather than forcing grammar rules like not splitting infinitives or not using prepositions to end a sentence.  And you don’t have to use complete sentences.
  • Use white space effectively.  It helps your copy to stand out.  Try to stick to black copy on a white background, or as close as you can come to that.  The days of using the whole color wheel for online fonts are sooo over.  It’s just too hard to read.

This should give you a leg up in writing for your small business website.  Learn it.  Love it.  Live it!

Jillian's Currently Reading: Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business
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