5 Copywriting Commandments and How to Implement Them On Your Website
The power of the written word has always fascinated me. Years ago when visiting the British Museum, I geeked out when I saw the Magna Carta, the earliest copy fragments of the Gospel of John, and a napkin with the lyrics of “Love Me Do” scribbled by Paul McCartney. I lingered over them, soaking up being in their presence like I was hanging out with celebrities.
Today, we don’t need napkins, stones, or papyrus to share our words with the world, we just need a good wifi connection and a website. Almost any information we desire is a click away, but consider how much information is being published on blogs every single day.
The Deep and Wide Web
- Bloggers publish 7.5 million posts a day
- 60% of all internet users actively read blogs
- There are over 600 million blogs on the internet in 2022
- 30% of bloggers will spend 6+ hours writing a single post
- This same 30% reported that the more time spent on writing, the better the results (in other words: quality counts!)
- The average length of a blog post in 2020 was 1,269 words (However, Google likes longer posts in the 1,500-2,500 range)
- Only 24.7% of bloggers report strong results with their content
While these statistics are insightful, let’s be honest, they are also discouraging. Obviously, opportunities abound, but getting noticed in a growing sea of content is challenging. Writers and bloggers feel this tension every day. There are lots of techniques to increase your website’s reach, but perhaps the most overlooked technique is actually a skill that every creative can benefit from – copywriting.
Count Your Reader More Significant than Yourself
Copywriting is a form of writing that aims to persuade and motivate people to take action. A copywriter is trained to craft words in a way that will connect them with their audience and move them to do something such as subscribe, comment, download, or buy.
My objective here is not to extol the virtues of copywriting (of which there are many) but to show you how understanding its principles can help you become a better writer and grow your website or blog. Here is the most important principle of copywriting. Are you ready?
It’s not about you. It’s about your reader.
This tough-love truth is a mindset shift for many writers. This principle is true for both copywriting and every other kind of writing. Copywriting doesn’t promote products or services, it provides solutions for real people through those products and services. Similarly, our words aren’t about making much of ourselves but providing something of value to our readers. This is also a biblical principle.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”Philippians 2:3
Writing for Your Online House
One way to count your readers more significant than yourself is by making your online welcome mat to your content (i.e. your website) as beautiful and clear as possible. Some research says you have about 7 seconds to capture (and retain) attention once you get a visitor to click on your site. Other studies say you really have 1/10th of a second!
When we walk into someone’s house, we secretly size it up. Your website visitors are no different. They should be able to walk in, scan your decor, know their way around, and understand what you’re about in 7 seconds or much much less.
In my 5+ years of work as both a copywriter and web designer, I’ve helped creatives and small business owners maximize those first few seconds of their first impressions online.
Here are my top 5 copywriting commandments that will help roll out the red carpet for your website visitors and help you grow your platform.
5 Commandments of Writing for Your Website
1. Honor thy header
The header is the top half of your website. It’s everything you see before you scroll down. In journalism school, they teach that the most important articles are placed “above the fold.” In the same way, your website has to capture your visitor’s attention and tell them exactly what you’re about before scrolling down.
This is the most valuable real estate on your website, and it contains the very important elements of your website’s main headline, a strong image, your brand identity, clear navigation, and sometimes a call to action. There’s much to say about this section of your website, that’s why I’ve created this 28-page guide that evaluates 13 different website headers and why they work (or don’t work) for writers and creatives. Grab a copy and do a deep dive into website copywriting.
2. Remember thy transforming power
Your transformational power is your website’s main headline or subheadline. This is the change you offer your reader. Your transformational power could be your point of view, your background or experience, or the product or service you provide.
It’s helpful to know this is the hardest but most important few words you can write on your site. Famous copywriter David Ogilvy said, “On average five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. When you’ve written your headline you’ve spent $.80 out of your dollar.” This is a skill that takes time, practice, and testing. (If you want to dissect headlines a bit more, grab a copy of the download!)
3. Respect your skimmers
Write as if everyone will read every single word you write, but know in your heart, few will. We all skim, so honor your reader by breaking up big chunks of text with subheadings, and easy-on-the-eye formatting. This includes providing white space as a sort of pause or breath in your copy. Huge chunks of text are overwhelming. Our eyes generally move in a zig-zag pattern down a page, so balance words, images, and quotes accordingly.
4. Thou shalt edit ruthlessly
“A sentence should contain no unnecessary words…for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”William Strunk
Extra words bog down our readers and can detract from our message. Honor your reader by editing without mercy. With every sentence ask yourself:
Is this interesting?
Is my reader bored?
Is this leading my reader to the action I want them to take?
5. Thou shalt not say “Learn More”
It’s your job to make what you do plain and clear. Don’t make your user work to figure it out, or take extra clicks to learn more. If more details are needed that would otherwise clutter your design, get creative with how you word your call to action buttons (CTAs): “Save my Seat,” “Gimme the Goods,” and “Let’s Get Started.” Remember, it’s your job to explain what you do simply and clearly and not require your user to work to understand.
A Good Word for Parting Words
In many ways the internet has become a great equalizer, giving everyone a chance to share their creativity with the world. But with that opportunity, it’s more important than ever to distinguish yourself in the noisy and crowded online world. With so few bloggers finding success (over 75% are dissatisfied according to the study above), there’s lots of room for improvement.
Words can be a powerful force for good. As discovered at the British Museum they can be written to establish governments, make girls swoon, and save souls. Our words aren’t eternal, but they can point to eternal truths, therefore they should be highlighted properly. To break through the noise, and get the attention your words deserve, thou shalt remember the commandments of copywriting and apply them diligently to your websites. Do this and you and your platform-building will be blessed.
Write there with you,
P.S. Writing and branding are my jam. I want to help you build an online platform that serves your readers and grows your numbers. If you’re interested in working together, let’s chat.
P.P.S. Would you like to see more content like this in the future? I’ve got ideas…but I want to meet your needs first. Please let me know in the comments or shoot me an email at [email protected].
Thank you for this helpful information! I am trying to implement these strategies on my blog.
I’m glad this was helpful! Please let me know if I can help you or offer feedback. I’m happy to do so!
Thank you! I love this content, it’s given me some very helpful tools as I have learned along the way how to do all this. I created a website 5 years ago to keep in touch with and continue to mentor women and girls when my husband and I moved. Thank you! 💕🏡 heartandkeeper.com
I’m so glad it was helpful, Linda!
This was a great article, so helpful and informative. More please! And thank you!