Like buying a car or changing offices, commissioning new website copy isn’t something you do every day. It’s more of an every few years sort of thing. Which is why most people – whether business owners or marketing managers – don’t feel completely confident with the process.
We, on the other hand, write website copy on a pretty much weekly basis. We’ve worked with clients from sole traders to multinational businesses and private sector organisations on both brand new sites and sites that are evolving. So we have a really clear idea of what needs to happen and when, in order to make the process as pain free as possible.
Whether you’re a first timer or you’ve been down this road several times before, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about what we do and how we do it.
Before it all starts – taking a bespoke approach
Clients come to us in all sorts of positions so it doesn’t make sense to treat them all the same.
Some are creating a website from scratch, others are evolving or overhauling a site that already exists.
Some know exactly what they want to communicate, others need a hand articulating their value proposition.
Some have a wireframes already designed, others want to get their copy sorted first before design work starts.
We take all of this into consideration when creating a proposal for a website copywriting project and build in the support that the individual client needs.
For example, if you need support with clarifying your message we can offer this as an initial piece of consultancy work. We’ll deliver the messaging copy first – get feedback and do amends – before building that into full website copy.
Likewise, you might need guidance around structuring the copy on the page, if you haven’t got a wireframe. In that case we might work on the outline first and ask you to approve it before we start on the copy itself.
“If social proof is important to your audience, make sure you’re leveraging the good work you do with case studies.”
The briefing session – getting to know you and your audience
Your website briefing session will be tailored to your individual circumstance and can usually be booked in within a week or two of confirming that you’d like to work with us. A standard briefing is around one hour but it might be more, especially if you need support with messaging.
If you’re creating a brand new website, we’ll need to know everything from what your product or service is about to who your audience is to what your overall goals are for the site. We’ll need to understand your brand personality and tone too, so that we can write in a way that reflects who you are as a business.
On the other hand, if you’re evolving your website copy we’ll need to discuss what’s not working with the old copy and how much the factual content of the site needs updating. We’ll still need to ask about your audience, your goals and so on, because the more we understand about your business, the more likely the copy is to deliver results.
Before we even get to the briefing though, we’ll ask you to send across any supporting documents, from tone of voice guidelines to audience personas to client testimonials, so we have everything we need to get started.
The copywriting bit – where the magic happens
If you need support with messaging, we’ll begin our work here, sketching out messaging pillars and key phrases for your approval before any website copywriting begins. Next – and this will happen even if you don’t need messaging support – we’ll do a couple of test pages, to get your feedback on language, tone and structure.
This iterative approach means that when we do deliver the first draft of the whole site, you’re likely to have far fewer amends.
How long the copywriting stage takes depends, of course, on how big the site is. Whatever the case, we’ll have created a timeline at the beginning of the project, detailing not only what we’ll do and when, but the the timings you need to hit in order to keep things on track.
We’ll deliver your draft copy via Google Docs, giving you and your team a live document in which to make comments. Once we’ve had all your feedback through, we’ll work on your amends. If there are any more changes needed after the second draft, we’ll keep going until it’s right – though it’s rare anyone needs more than two amends stages at the outside.
At this point your website designer or developer will upload the copy to the site – and you might find it needs a few tweaks. We’re very happy to do that, and to give the whole lot a final proofread to make sure no errors have crept in during the design process.
Added extras – FAQs, case studies and hidden copy
As well as your standard set of website pages, you might want to add extras such as an FAQs page, case studies or even ‘hidden’ copy like meta descriptions and the 404 Error pages.
FAQs: These are super useful for your audience and great for SEO too, as you can use lots of keywords in the H2 subheadings in a very natural way. Linking FAQs answers through to blog posts will keep readers on your site longer and reduce your bounce rate too.
Case studies: If social proof is important to your audience, make sure you’re leveraging the good work you do with case studies. We can create simple case studies based on a briefing with you, or go one step further to interview your customers or clients and create really compelling and valuable case study content.
Hidden copy: From cementing your brand voice and personality on a 404 Error page to driving better SEO results through clever meta titles and descriptions, hidden copy might be a useful addition to your website project.
When should you get a copywriter get involved in a website project?
If you haven’t yet kicked off your website project and you’re thinking you’ll give it a while before you get a copywriter involved, you might want to reconsider.
Words are fundamental to the success of your website. They need to be able to tick the right boxes for Google and engage even the most time-poor skim readers with clever headlines, answer key queries quickly and drive action through effective CTAs.
A good copywriter or agency will be able to support you with all of this and more, so the earlier you get them involved the better.
Do you have any other questions about our website copywriting services? Get in touch with one of the team for a chat.
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Journalist turned copywriter Rin Hamburgh (formerly Rin Simpson) is the founder of RH&Co, a Bristol-based strategic brand copywriting agency working with expert-led businesses across the South West, UK and Europe.