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Copywriting tips, help & advice

Bit like a blog, but with a small difference. Everything here is designed to help you, rather than just flog my wares and trot out three million keywords...

A therapist, yesterday.

Wow. So much for the 'getting to know you'. Dive straight in with the big guns, why don't you?


OK, so when creating a new website or revamping an existing one, one of your key goals is clarity – having a really clear, simple, message is critical

But your website should do a whole bunch of other things...

1 It should clearly set out what you do – especially in the first few seconds. It needs to explain in a non-cryptic way that you are.

2 It should explain your credentials – people need to have confidence in you.

3 It should explain your offer or services – why are people here and how are you going to solve their problems?

4 It should compel them to take an action known as a CTA, a call to action, such as sign up for an email or get in touch.

5 Chiefly, it should take the reader on a journey – it should show them that you understand what life is like now, and how it could be after using your product or service.

Everything starts with your homepage

In most cases, the most important page of your website is your homepage, and before you begin writing it you have to put yourself in your reader's shoes.


Why have they arrived?


They're probably here because they have a problem of some kind – and they want to know how you can help. So they probably don't need a long explanation of the area that you cover when they arrive.


Let's say you're a hypnotherapist. If they wanted to know what hypnotherapy is, they'd type in 'what is hypnotherapy' and get directed towards the NHS website or Wikipedia.


They'd be coming to you, meanwhile, because they want to know how you can help them.


So think long and hard about why people might end up at your site. What is their problem? What terms (keywords) are they searching for on Google?


Often, website owners and marketing people develop an actual persona of a typical customer – it's a guy in his 40s who's pretty successful, married with kids. We'll call him Mark or whatever. You then write for that person.

You might also want to think about USPs you have, your unique selling points. So sticking with the hypnotherapist angle, "I am the only licenced hypnotherapist in Glamorgan", or whatever.


If you don't have a USP, it's worth thinking about what you could offer – something that makes you more attractive than the next therapist.

Conversion-focused copywriting

When writing a conversion-focused website, your call to action (CTA) should be clear and consistent – best not to put lots of different ones on a page.


So find the one that works best. It could be "Contact me" or "Email me today". If there's an offer, such as "Contact me today for a free self-help ebook that 98% of clients say calmed their stress levels," try that.


But be truthful!


Interestingly, negative calls to action can be good, such as "Don't forget to sign up now for your free ebook" or "Don't miss out on..."

When reading everything back, you want to ask:

1/ Is it obvious what I am offering?


2/ Does it read well, with short, sharp sentences?


3/ Am I speaking directly to the intended buyer? Have you made that connection?


4/ Will people be nodding along going, "Yes! That's me! You totally get me!"


5/ Is your solution compelling and clearly explained?


6/ Have you worked in your credentials, so they can believe in you? Have you demonstrated how and why your solution has a good chance of working?


7/ Is there a clear CTA – people have to know what to do next.


8/ Have you done your SEO homework and added keywords?


9/ Have you made sure that the website on which your words will appear looks OK and appears professional from a design POV? Get feedback from friends. A website builder like Wix lets you try multiple styles for free before you select one and upgrade your plan.


10/ Can you add any social proof, such as Google reviews? If you don't have Google reviews but do have some client testimonials, add those. It helps Google and visitors to see that you have some authority. Google tends to promote sites that display something called EAT – expertise, authority and trust: it wants to prioritize sites that can demonstrate this.

How do you display EAT? It's all about showing your credentials, writing authoritative, well-researched copy, and demonstrating trust, with verified reviews and linking to trusted sources. There's lots of articles about it online: look it up.

So. What makes good web copy?

What is a copywriting framework?

A problem, yesterday.

This is a question I get asked from time to time – usually by people who have heard or read about copywriting frameworks and think, 'I want one!'


If I was being unkind, I'd say they're most often mentioned by people who like to know that they're using a freelance copywriter who is applying a process to their work – rather than plucking words from the air at random (because, duh! That's all we do).

One method when writing copy that copywriters use quite often in known as PAS – it stands for Problem, Agitate, Solution. So, in simple terms, it might be something like this (I'm going to stick with the hypnotherapy business as detailed in the first post):

Problem: 'Hi – you have something wrong in your life and it's holding you back.'

Agitate: 'I get it, it must be really difficult and is probably making you really stressed.'

Solution: 'This is a proven way to help with this problem.'

You would, of course, flesh it out somewhat.

Fascinating AIDA

Another copywriting framework is called AIDA – this one stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. So:

Attention: 'Is your life being held back by stress? It's horrible, isn't it – but it can often be fixed in just an hour.'

Interest: 'It's true – thousands of people just like you who were crippled by stress have been able to return to normal, happy lives.'

Desire: 'Imagine what that would feel like! Wouldn't life be great again?'

Action: 'Well, this can become your reality if you get in touch today.'

There are loads of these frameworks, such as BAB – Before, After, Bridge. Here's how it works:

Before: 'I know what you're going through right now – horrible, isn't it?'

After: 'What if there was an answer – a way to feel normal again?'

Bridge: 'I can help you get there.'

There's an inherent problem with frameworks – they're pretty salesy. It's best to humanise thing a little, especially on a homepage, perhaps even generating the idea that,  'Hey – we can fix this together'.

Perhaps more important than using a framework is taking the time to think about how to sell what you do in an appealing way. Paint a picture of the benefits of using your service.


You want to show people what life will be like after working with/buying from you.

This is very achievable if you are a therapist – less so if you sell pencils. Although an artfully-written, persuasive bit of copy can turn a run of the mill 2B into something Shakespeare would covet...

Best way to improve
Bamboo Ladder

A ladder, yesterday.

Bingo! This is a question that around half of all businesses should probably be asking.

Why? Because so many websites suck!

My own website might be no an award-winner, but the messaging is clear and, ahem, it reads well. But that's not true of so many business websites.

So what's my top tip for making your website better? It's this: start with a piece of paper.

Draw a long rectangular box (long vertically, not horizontally), and then think about what things people need to know on your homepage.

Adding the horizontals

The next step is to jot down each of these things

in the right order. And to decide roughly

how much space you need to give each one. That

means you'll need to start adding a bunch of

horizontal lines to your rectangle so that it looks

like a ladder with unevenly-spaced rungs.

What's at the very top? It's your value proposition:

the key benefit you bring to your customers or clients.

Underneath that, you might choose to go with a short list of the core services you offer.

Or an autoplay video of your team in action.

Or a fantastic testimonial from one of your clients.

This method is a brilliantly simple way to develop a logical flow for your website. And because everything has its own 'rung' (or, more accurately, 'space between two rungs'), each bit that you go on to flesh out with awesome copy will be focused on a single aspect.

The backbone of a million websites

Take a look at any successful brand's website – especially those in the SaaS space – and they pretty much all follow this formula.

If one of your spaces only needs to be small, then tell your website designer that this bit only needs to be an inch deep on screen. Something more complex that needs a little extra space? Go bigger.

If your finished ladder doesn't seem right, mix and match the parts until it is.

This is exactly what I do for clients all the time: I help to unravel their business so that it becomes a series of segments that can be skimmed through by a first-time visitor in order to give an engaging picture of the brand.


The other thing I do is write the actual copy that then turns each space into something that is easy to understand. And covers the right keywords. And contains clear CTAs.

Ultimately, if done right, all of these segments add up to something greater than the sum of their parts. But if your budget's tight and you're up for a challenge, you don't have to use a copywriter – just give it a go yourself.

So yeah: think 'ladder', not 'website'. Try it.

What's the best way
to improve
a website?

How do you deal with writer's block?

Many writers suffer from writer's block from time to time. It's probably best described as a feeling of procrastination coupled with a sense of unease/uncertainty that precedes writing the first sentence.

Equally, though, writer's block can strike halfway through a piece of written work when you're broadsided by the crushing realisation that you don't know where to go next.

In my opinion, there are three main causes of writer's block:

1/ Lack of experience or confidence in your writing ability.


2/ Lack of confidence in what you want to say.


3/ Not taking enough time to structure your work before you begin.

Just to get it out of the way early on, I'm fortunate enough to never suffer from writer's block.


That said, I could suffer from it if I was asked to work on something that I didn't understand. If I'd just been asked to write a 5,000-word opinion paper on the perils of inorganic matter colliding with hydrogen isotopes off Jupiter, I'd have no idea where to begin.

Generally speaking, though, I can start any article, freelance copywriting job or website content I've been asked to work on because I'm very comfortable writing, having done it for more than 25 years.


It's also unusual for me not to have confidence in what I want to say because I'll have done the necessary research before I start writing. If a client asks me to take on a website copywriting assignment for them, for example, there's a discovery phase where I'll learn about that company and the market in which it operates.

As for the third thing on my list – not having a structure – I'm unlikely to be derailed by that because I typically plot things out before starting.

Tackling information overload

To give you an example, I was recently asked to write a 1,000-word piece about sustainable aviation for a magazine. The brief they gave me was pretty full-on and listed about 15 points they wanted to cover. They also asked me to interview three separate experts for the article.

Before I continue with my story, a quick detour about interviewing experts: when you're asking someone to take time out to talk to you for an article, there's a balancing act between not wanting to waste their time and not wanting to give the impression that they're not important.

In other words, it's hard to say to someone, "Can I interview you for two minutes, please." You kind of have to suggest at least 10 minutes, and what inevitably happens is that this becomes 15 or 20. As a result, you often end up with far more material than you can use.

So, bringing us back to my aviation article, I ended up with 7,000 words of quotes.

At this point, I was approaching information overload. Fifteen points that the client wanted me to cover, 7,000 words of interviews – plus the narrative that was starting to form in my own mind. This is exactly the kind of situation in which writer's block can occur, so I did what I always do... I took a step back.

If you're in a similar situation, just ask yourself: "How can I break this story down into four or five sections?"

Then ask: "What would each of these sections cover?"

And then, in all probability, a logical or interesting place to begin will present itself. When it does, it's easy to write that first line, and then the rest should follow because you've already provided yourself with the structure for the article.

So if you're struck by writer's block, my advice is to take a breather and ask what is the point of all the writing you're about to undertake. Break it into sections that follow on from one another, and then decide what will be in each section.

With practice, you'll gain confidence not just in your ability to do this but in your writing, too. And that should make writer's block a thing that used to affect you or that only rears its head rarely.

And if all else fails, try taking a break and coming back to your work with a fresh pair of eyes in 30 minutes. Or asking ChatGPT for a set of prompts :)

More soon (probably)

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