The internet has a massive amount of copy on it. In fact, between websites, blogs, and (of course) the endless tweeting, there’s more copy being added to the internet every second than you could read in a lifetime. Believe it or not, that’s actually good news for anyone trying to write digital copy that stands out.
As we’re sure you’re aware: most internet copy is BORING. It’s feels like websites know their audience is only skimming their copy, so they write like it. The fact that there’s so much boring copy out there means that when digital copy isn’t boring, it stands out. Interesting copy can make your audience stop skimming and actually get interested in what you have to say. And it really isn’t all that difficult to make your copy stand out! Here are four simple suggestions to get you started:
Answer Their Questions – Fast!
No matter what your website’s for or why you’re writing on it, remember: the internet is for answering questions. The reason why your audience found you in the first place is because they were looking for something. They Googled something, found your site, and clicked all because they think you can help them find what they’re looking for. To keep your audience interested, you have to do just that.
First: figure out why your audience found your website. What did they Google that led them to you? What are they trying to figure out? Once you have an idea of what your audience’s question, answer it! You only have a moment to convince a reader to stay, so tell them what you’re all about as quickly and clearly as possible. Once they know they’re on the right track, they’ll be considerably more interested when what you have to say.
Find Your Unique Angle
Now that you have your reader’s attention, you need to maintain it. The way to do that is to have something unique to say, and to say it clearly and succinctly. The good news: you DO have something unique to say. No matter what you’re writing about or why, you have a unique angle. You just need to find it. Why are you the right answer to the question your reader googled? What makes you different?
Your unique angle isn’t difficult to find, either: it’s why you wanted to write your web copy. If you’re writing about your company, then why did you start your company? If you’re selling something, why did you decide to sell it? Ground absolutely everything you write from that unique perspective. Think of it as context. By showing your reader where you’re coming from, you’re giving them somewhere to start. As a result, your copy will be less abstract and much more interesting.
Speak To Your Audience
Imagine your web copy is published and live on the internet, in whatever form that takes. Who finds it? What are they looking for? What do they want to read about whatever you’re writing about? It’s easy to forget, but all writing (online or not) is about writing to a specific audience. You are writing your web copy to communicate something to someone who needs to know it. The best way to do that is to write with that person in mind.
Communicate with your readers on their level, not yours. If your audience are experts of whatever you’re writing about, then talk to them like it. In the more likely scenario that they aren’t experts, explain yourself so they can follow without prior knowledge. Ultimately, interesting copy is clear copy. The best way to write clear copy is to write for your audience directly. When they know you’re talking to them, they’ll listen.
Talk Like a Human
When people write copy of any kind, they often feel an enormous pressure to be formal. You see it all the time, and across all kinds of mediums. People who are completely comfortable speaking normally in-person sound like Civil War generals over email. It’s understandable. Writing is permanent, after all. Unfortunately, this totally understandable impulse is often what creates neigh-on unreadable (not to mention boring!) web copy.
Good writing is writing that has a clear and specific voice. To write good, compelling copy, you have to use your voice. Luckily, you already know how to do that. Your voice is how you communicate naturally. Don’t change it just because you’re writing words down instead of saying them aloud. What would you say to explain whatever you’re writing about to a friend? Write that down, exactly as you’d say it–weird jokes about Civil War correspondence and all! If you feel yourself rambling, that’s what editing is for.
Boring web copy happens all the time, and it’s almost never because the writer just didn’t care. Usually, it happens because writers get it into their heads that their copy has to be a certain way. They try to write the “right” way (like everyone else), and their copy turns out just as boring.
Your copy doesn’t have to be a certain way, and it certainly doesn’t have to be like everyone else’s. It sounds sappy, but the best way to write digital copy that isn’t boring is to be yourself. We… might be glad we didn’t have to say that aloud, but it’s true. If you treat your audience like human beings and speak to them that way, it’ll make all the difference. Try it and see for yourself!