help for business owners who need to develop website content
The biggest task in creating a website is not the strategy, design, or technology: it’s the content. Most business owners put it off and hate to do it because it demands focus, requires precision, and exercises a muscle that may not have been used in quite a while.
If you’re not a natural writer, here’s how to get it done faster with less frustration.
1. Get a Writer
Partner with a detail-oriented person who likes turning ideas into the right words.
When we create websites with clients, often we often play the role of writer for hire. It’s fun to bring clarity and focus to big ideas. But if a client already has an in-house writer, we act as the editor to make sure the content has a second or third pair of eyes before publishing.
Tip: Don’t stop here. You can’t just throw money at this and expect it to work. I remember working with a client who shopped around and found a cheap writer to do his content development for him. I checked back after several weeks to see how it was going. “She’s a good writer,” he said, “but she gets a lot of the facts wrong. I end up having to redo her work.” No wonder. The poor girl had no insight into the company, and little knowledge of the material. So…
2. Set the Vision
In a single meeting you can set the vision for what you are trying to accomplish with the content. Decide on the audience, the scope of the information (how detailed), and look at some references of what’s already out there.
We’ve found that this is what business owners do best. Spend your time in this space. Nobody else can do this better than you can, so dig in.
Tip: Don’t get caught up in the design. When checking websites or browsing brochures, it’s easy (and fun) to get distracted by the visual design, the technology, the images, etc. To avoid this, just copy the content into a text document and discuss it in that context. Remember, you’re after words here, not design. Separating the two makes your task much easier. Design comes later.
3. Generate Ideas
Your job is generating ideas, not selecting the right words. Make an outline and generate a bulleted list of ideas that need to go on each page.
Tip: We’ve created a worksheet to help clients with this. If you’d like a copy, email us and ask for the Web Content Worksheet.
4. Test It Out
Once the writer has a draft, read it as if you were a prospective customer. Show it around the office. How does it feel? Where is it too detailed? Where is it too vague? Where does it over-promise? Where does it make you want to roll your eyes? It is really you?
Tip: Most early drafts suffer from too many words about the obvious. Work with the writer to get right to the point so readers have less to wade through.
Stay Up High
The nice thing about running your business is that you can decide when to stay at the high level and when to dive into the details. If words are not your thing, no worries. Stay focused on the big picture and we’ll help you with the rest. You’ve got a business to run. Do the fun part and leave the rest to others you trust.