Have you been dreading sitting down to write your website’s copywriting because you don’t know what to say? What does copywriting even mean? Where to start? Isn’t writing just…writing? Yes, and no! Bear with me.
In today’s blog, you’ll gain handy tips and insights to make the writing on your website’s main content effective and powerful.
What is copywriting? And why should non-profits care?
By definition, copywriting is the act of writing text in a way that drives a particular action. Known also as “persuasive writing” or “sales copy,” these all refer to the same:
Words written to have an impact and compel someone to do something.
Some think copywriting is ONLY about selling and that the mere idea is an insult to the most sacred vows of non-profits. But, leaving aside that outdated idea of advertising, the modern concept is to simply HELP and assist those looking for what you have.
And the words on your website are one of THE defining factors in this equation.
The role of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in copywriting
Using keywords in your copywriting plays a big role as these are terms people use when looking for something on the Internet. Hence, it’s how they find your site, even if they’ve never heard of your non-profit – which is a big part of what SEO is.
However, trying to sneak in lots of keywords can negatively impact the reader’s experience if it’s not done with subtlety.
Use these keywords to provide clarity on the specific topic of that page. But, also prioritise words and phrases that flow and read well.
So let’s kick this off with handy tricks you can use next time you sit down to write your homepage, services, and about pages. You can apply these tips to blogs, newsletters, and your messaging in general.
1. Start with a bang! Write a compelling headline
This is my tip number 1 because it’s just too important. Your main heading is the FIRST thing someone will see when landing on your site.
It will determine whether they keep reading or not.
Write 10, 20, or even 50 headlines and read them aloud. Choose one that clearly portrays what you do and focuses on how you can help your audience – more on this below.
2. Use your voice and get the conversation going
Experts usually frame this as finding your voice. But I’m coming from a place where you ALREADY have a voice.
Writing the way you speak is another great way to get started. In the art of writing copy – including website copywriting – you want to keep the conversation going. No need to be wordy. But don’t be afraid to get words on paper that sound authentic to you and your organisation.
3. What is your customer looking for?
Ask yourself and your peers the following:
What problem is my organisation solving?
What do people who land on our website want?
How do we help them?
Identify your audience’s pain points, and don’t be afraid to go deep when brainstorming.
4. Start with a draft
Drafting is fundamental. Just write it all down as it comes to you. Sometimes you’ll need to go through the weeds to come out on the other side with a clear message.
Don’t worry if you are sidetracking! Website copywriting is a process, and drafting is a part of it.
5. Focus on those you serve (who are you talking to?)
Where are you shining the light? On yourself and how great your work is, or on those you serve?
Read your draft and identify if you are talking about yourself a lot. The goal of copywriting is to draw people in. To do that, you need to speak to them intentionally.
It’s all about them and what they are looking to solve. Shift your focus and turn your audience into the main characters of your copy. Simply put, Use YOU more than WE.
6. Remark the benefits of what you do and offer
Do you offer online education for tenants? Then your solution goes way beyond that. You are, actually, helping people who struggle to secure a lease, find a place to live. You are helping them do much more than that!
Thanks to your service, they are better equipped to put a roof on their heads. They can be safe, have a home, go on with their lives, gain independence. Feel self-worth.
Wow. That’s kind of life-changing, right?
So again. Identify the deeper benefits those who engage with your non-profit get. And write that down on your copy!
7. Make your web copy sharp, concise, and to the point
I love this tip. Especially when confronted with 60-word sentences – life is too short for copywriting fluff!
Your copywriting will begin to shine once you start going through editing and trimming.
If you can say it in 10 words, don’t use 60. If your message goes on forever, you will lose readers. Yes, it’s important to have words, explain, and give details. But your website copywriting is a conversation, not a monologue.
Clarity and simplicity are just too important.
Let people know the benefits they can get and what your non-profit does right from the start. Remove fluff words. Keep sentences short. Make it easy to read.
This may seem like a change from direct response copywriting. In it, you’d sometimes get 10-pages long sales letters in the mail, written to keep you hooked – only to find out you just needed a vitamin supplement. Still! Successful examples of long-form letters are extremely engaging, and there’s a lot to learn from them. Like…
8. Paint a picture with words
Copywriters use different techniques and frameworks, but creating a visual through storytelling is a tool you can apply to your website copywriting.
Maybe it will be just a phrase that visually represents what your non-profit does, a short story, or a metaphor.
9. Avoid fear, guilt, and resentment as action drivers
When you paint a picture, make it a picture of a world people will feel motivated to live in.
Selling through guilt has been extremely overused, causing audiences to be numb to something as deep as human suffering.
If I’m reading a website page, and end up feeling there’s no solution or hope, chances are I’ll engage from a place of guilt and scarcity.
Those emotions are not sustainable over time.
So when you sit down to write your website copywriting, be mindful of the energy your words carry. You can describe a problem and pressing issue, yes. But avoid making manipulative use of it.
A message can be powerful without the need to be a cliche designed to press all the negative emotion buttons. Human psychology is a huge part of copywriting, and I won’t get into it – also not my area of expertise!
But use your common sense and let it guide your words.
10. Structure the words on the page
If you are creating your website, you might be working with a designer or web developer to make it great and functional. In this process, work with them to give your website copywriting a user-friendly structure.
Write clear headlines. Use images to support your messaging. Allow people to seamlessly read your copy up until the point where you have your Call To Action.
11. Your Call To Action (CTA)
Your CTA is a “call” for the reader to do what you intend them to do – like when you see a “Call Us Now” or “Book a Call” button on a site.
As I mentioned before, it can be to subscribe to your newsletter, join your non-profit, participate in your next silent auction, and whatever you can think of.
Some copywriters recommend writing your Call To Action at the very start of your writing session to let it guide your words. Sort of back-tracking your writing – this is a great approach indeed.
12. Social proof and testimonials
Gather testimonials from people you’ve worked with. These can be your volunteers, students, donors. Social proof builds your credibility and authority.
It’s all about TRUST.
Moreover, when you have raving testimonials, what people say will likely give you the most powerful words you can use on your site.
13. Test-drive your website copywriting
The great thing about website copy is that it’s not written in stone! You can try and test different approaches and see what sticks.
Being open to moving things around will help you re-calibrate whenever you have to.
This article covered a lot, but I suggest you take a few tips at the time as you write and work on your drafts and final version. And hey! You may be super clear on all these already without even knowing it. Maybe writing your non-profit’s copy will take you a handful of hours, and that’s okay.
None of this is set in stone.
These are pointers to help you get where you want with your messaging.
If you don’t have a website yet – or your current one needs a revamp – we can help. We are Digital Services Lab, a marketing agency focusing on web development, graphic design and website care plans for non-profit organisations.
No more leads lost to a slow, outdated, hard-to-navigate website that doesn’t fully represent your non-profit and its community.
We create functional, modern sites you and your audience will love. From idea to completion, we take care of everything for you…including your website copywriting. Get in touch with us and schedule a consultation today.