So I decided to seek out a few new clients.
I love the ones I have already, but I always want more of everything!
So I went looking.
Just like last time, I felt pretty fed up after an hour.
The freelance platform sites are filled with potential clients who don’t understand what they’re asking for, offering pitiful amounts of money for vast quantities of work and people are applying for them.
People whose profiles look incredibly professional.
And the instructions are often written in a style that brooks no argument.
So the guy who has already wasted his money on a ‘premium theme’ at WordPress now wants to pay £120 for 11 web pages of writing, 3-4 paragraphs each. He wants that, and now he’s spent the money on the theme, no-one – but no-one – is going to change his mind.
It’s laughable, and horrible.
Why would you buy a website design that uses a kind of horizontal structure requiring pages and pages of words when statistics show:
a) Long-form vertical web pages do the selling very well, but they have to be really long, and written in a very specific style. So 3-4 paragraphs wouldn’t do it.
b) Long pages split up into short screen-sized panels in a range between 2 lines to 2 paragraphs of impact text are also really effective, and cost a lot less because they take less time to write and amend. Usually.
Why would you spend $80-$140 on a website design that forces you to need more writing when you haven’t enough in your budget to pay a writer properly in the first place?
What do you expect to gain from 11 pages of solid writing?
What’s a content strategy?
A content strategy for a website is a map of paths you create for your readers to enable them to get from:
a) your landing page/front page, to
b) the buy-now button.
On these paths, you will have certain points where you give your visitor an opportunity to hit the buy-now button. Inline links, buttons, adverts, banners and so on.
Pictures don’t offer opportunities, though design is important. But the real secret is WORDS.
Words make opportunities, so you have to use the right ones.
The design creates a visual flow, but writing has a flow too, when it’s good.
Good web writing is writing that fulfils a job. It enables the job of the website.
What’s the website’s job?
If that site is a signpost to your bricks and mortar business, its jobs are still to make you look attractive to your customers and provide clear information about what you do.
If it’s a shop of some kind, the job of the site is to sell.
If your site provides information–maybe you’re a public service or a charity, its job is to promote your interests, increase your authority, and give your users something relevant to read or view.
If you supply advertising space, your site’s job is to entice potential customers with content they’ll want to read before they notice the ads.
So what goes into a content strategy?
Your ultimate challenge is to get visitors to commit to the action itself: HIT THAT BUTTON, BABY!
And if at first you don’t succeed … give them something else to look at and provide another opportunity a short time later. In words.
So when you work on a writing strategy for a website you have to:
a) start with a goal,
b) understand exactly what that end point will be, then
c) leave a trail of jelly bean crumbs to give your visitors a reason to either buy now or move on to the next point on the path across your site.
If they haven’t hit the buy-now button already, you give them something else to look for.
Either they scroll down, or you gift them a new page with an exciting title, but it’s a bit less challenging if they can just scroll to the next part.
Whatever happens, don’t let them escape!
If you understand why your visitors are there, it will be easier to figure out what to offer them.
The beautiful and useful products you sell are the potential solutions to their needs, whether you’re a joke shop or an interior designer.
You’ll also be closer to understanding what will make them stay longer.
Offer them something that’s important to them to make it less likely they will click away.
Survey your existing customers! See what they are looking for on your site. SurveyMonkey is easy to use, and there are Facebook Surveys for your pages.
If you don’t have enough customers and interested followers, make up some very specific imaginary customers, and figure out why they might visit your site.
If you don’t meet anyone’s needs, no-one will buy from you.
But you don’t have to meet everybody’s needs; just some will be fine.
You can see how important it is to do things in the right way.
And there are sooooo many people out there doing it the expensive ineffective way.
Working together is great because …
What I’ve found is this:
it’s far more satisfying for both client and writer, if the relationship is a collaborative one.
It’s like working in a very tiny knowledge economy. I help you if you help me do that.
Sure, I may not know your business as well as you do, but give me information (that you probably already have) and I’ll know enough very quickly.
Tell me your goals and I can help you figure out what your customers expect to see.
Then I can help you get the writing you need.
I write it, you check it, we talk about it, I make amends according to our agreements, you check it … and when it’s ready, it’s ready.
It’s a collaboration.
So, once again, I’m done with freelancer platforms (for this week, anyway).
I’d rather go, as a business, to another business, and make them an offer.
Last week I spent all my free time creating some collateral. Two very simple ‘micro-courses’ with tips to help viewers understand the benefits their business will get from using good web writing.
Here’s the first one for you to check out!
I thought I might offer them up to another organisation for some kind of ‘partnership marketing’, where they get some original content for their email list readers, and I get exposure to a few more potential clients.
Good plan, no?
It’s gotta beat trawling the freelance platforms.