It happens to every entrepreneur. You’re finally redesigning your website, procrastinating those accounting tasks or checking for the small typo on your about page that your mom pointed out. However you get there, you find yourself reading through your own content.
As you skim each sentence, your stomach drops. That space between your eyebrows shrinks, creasing with tiny little lines. You’re horrified. It all sounds...so, so off. Stiff. Lifeless. You think to yourself, “Did I even write this? What if I’m losing sales because people think I’m a robotic drone with no personality?!”
You want to scrap all of it and throw up a “Coming Soon! *smiley face*” while you frantically try to re-write every last page, blog post and caption from scratch.
But wait. Slooooow down for a second. Before you click delete and find yourself staring down the blank page of death, there are a few ways you can improve your copy. You can work with what you’ve got, and save yourself plenty of time and heartache!
All it takes is a sprinkle of punctuation, a few clicks of the space bar and a little copy/paste action.
You are the expert. Hey, we know! That’s why we landed on your website in the first place. We googled, we asked friends, we posted on Facebook, and something led us to your home page. We need your help, because we are not experts. Makes sense, right?
So, that means we probably don’t understand any of the fancy terminology that is specific to your industry or niche. Jargon is isolating, confusing and can even make the reader feel a little dumb, and you don’t want anyone to feel dumb when they visit your website. You want them to feel motivated and inspired, right?
There are better ways to position yourself as a smart, qualified expert. Nix the jargon.
Hello, I am glad that you are here! We are about to get started! You are ready to sign up, are you not? You will love this. Ask these people – they have already joined, and they will say they could not have made a better decision.
Umm, yuck. Try this.
Hello, I’m glad that you’re here! We’re about to get started! You’re ready to sign up, aren’t you? You’ll love this. Ask these people – they’ve already joined, and they’ll tell you they couldn’t have made a better decision.
The second one sounds much more natural, right? Throwing in contractions makes your writing sound smooth and conversational, and your reader will feel as if he or she is just chatting with a friend, rather than an old English butler.
Think back to your favorite teacher. Odds are, you liked this teacher because of how they presented a topic. It wasn’t a straight up lecture, where the teacher droned on at a podium for an hour and a half. This teacher made it interactive, stimulating and – dare I say it – fun.
But how can you create the same effect for your readers? (Hint: I just did it.)
Ask questions! Just as your favorite teacher got students to speak up and engage by throwing out well-timed questions, you can do the same. Even though your audience can’t necessarily respond to you out loud, it will still queue their brains to try and come up with some kind of answer, thus creating more engagement with the content.
Break It Up
Hold onto your hat, because this may be alarming: visitors may not be reading your content at all. None of it! If your website is full of super long paragraphs rather than short, bite-sized ones, it can send your readers running for the hills.
Everyone’s in a rush these days. When we see a big, intimidating chunk of text, our eyes tend to skim right over it to look for any highlights or summaries. However, if you take the same content and break it into three to four line pieces, the white space tells our brains “hey, you can get through this in no time!”
When you use shorter sentences, you are more likely to keep your reader’s attention while guiding them from point to point in a clear, organized manner. Run on sentences are exhausting, and pack the same intimidation factor as long paragraphs. Don’t be afraid to cut them in half, even if it means starting your next sentence with (god forbid!) a conjunction. Gasp! Here’s the thing: real humans don’t think about whether they are starting a sentence with “and”, “but”, “because” or “although”. BECAUSE, who cares?
Eliminate Hesitant Language
I think you might want to consider the slight possibility that you could be using a little too much hesitant language.
When you use phrases like “you might…”, “I think…”, it doesn’t exactly instill confidence. You know what you’re talking about, and you need your audience to believe that. Powerful wording (i.e., “you are using too much hesitant language”) is much more effective.
While these quick fixes may not dramatically transform all of your copy into the sales-driving personality punch that dreams are made of, they’ll certainly give it the little boost it needs ‘til you’re ready for the big overhaul.
Short on time and ready for the big leagues? Shoot me an email and we'll discuss your copy project!