As a website designer, I can tell you that a site with a pretty design is not enough. It needs purposeful content (text and images) to really work for you. In fact, I ask my web design clients to provide the content for their website at the beginning of the project, then design the website to align with the content. This makes for a stronger, higher quality website than one where I am trying to think of content and design at the same time, or add in content later.
But in today’s culture, text that is all about selling won’t stand out. Your audience wants to know you, the person behind the screen, and know that you understand them. How can you show this in your writing? Let’s get into the episode, and I’ll share some tips with you!
I watched this new movie on Netflix over the weekend, and it was kind of funny because girl in the movie was a lot like me in high school: she was kind of nerdy, made really good grades, and volunteered.
She thought that all of her hard work would get her into her dream school, but when she went to the admissions interview, the admissions counselor basically told her that while her credentials were good, she wanted to know more about her passions, what gets her out of the bed in the morning. That’s what would set her apart from other applicants. She wanted to get to know her as an actual person with a beating heart, and not just a robot who gets results.
Obviously, we’re not trying to get accepted to college with our website copy. (Hopefully that takes some of the pressure off!) But we are trying to show our potential clients why they might choose to work with us over someone else.
I’ve worked with creatives and personal brand businesses across different professions, and figuring out how to balance credentials and social proof with personality is different for each one. If you’re a therapist, for example, it may be more important to potential clients that you have your LCSW or MSW. If you’re a graphic designer, clients might be more interested in the fact that you did a project for Target than they would be that you have a BA.
Writing copy that makes your audience feel well-served and understood start with knowing them. Know what makes them feel more comfortable with working with you, and find your unique style of balancing that.
But my guess is that they don’t just want to see your resume, they will care that you have 2 dogs and a toddler, or watch The Bachelor, or found your passion for therapy because of your own experiences with mental health…you get where I’m going for here. Don’t forget to be a real person, and not just a sales pitch.
One of the best ways to avoid sounding like a robot is to insert more of your personality into your copy.
Everyone’s brand is different, and everyone’s personality is different, so you can take what I am saying here with a grain of salt and apply it in your business however you see fit. But remember that (unless it’s on-brand) you’re not writing a college essay here. For most creative and personal brands, it’s okay to be casual, just loosen up and be YOU!
I actually struggle with this because I am a pretty serious person. I’m also a shy introvert, so coming out of my shell and my comfort zone can be a challenge. Even though it sounds easy, writing authentically but purposefully takes skill and vulnerability.
The tip that has helped me the most with this is to write like I’m talking to a friend. If I were trying to help my friend with their website, I probably wouldn’t say “Let’s build a website that increases your conversion rates, lowers your bounce rate, and increases your ROI.” Instead, I’d probably say something like “Let’s create a website that captures your bubbly personality with those bright colors you and your audience love. Having a more user-friendly website that’s helpful and authentic will support you in booking more clients and being able to spend more time creating, or away from your work spending time with family.” See the difference?!
My mom, who is a podcaster and creative, loves to talk, and unlike me, she is not shy about sharing her personality. Here’s a little sample from the homepage of her website Angela Monica:
Hi, I’m Angela Monica Palmer. I’M A CREATIVE, I’M A MAKER. I’M A MOTHER, I’M A WIFE. I LOVE TO HAVE MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS MORE THAN SMALL TALK. As my kids got older, I started re-discovering myself and exploring ways to enjoy life outside of motherhood. Now, I help other women do the same. (Call to action button: Get to Know Me)
The words “marketing” and “strategy” often scare business owners because they automatically think that in order to market, you have to be sleazy. I’ll be honest in saying that I used to fear marketing for this very reason, too. If you’re in that boat, what if I reframed it this way: instead of using the word strategic, let’s say purposeful.
Website text copy that is authentic and personality-packed, but has no purpose, won’t get you results.
So, now that you are writing casually and allowing your audience to get to know you as an actual person, how do you add in the purpose? Again, making your audience feel understood starts with understanding them.
Do some research, send out surveys, hop on the phone with past clients or someone who fits your ideal client persona. Do whatever you need to do to understand what your audience needs, and why.
Once you know your audience’s pain points, establish yourself as the guide with your product/service as the solution. I can’t take credit for this, Donald Miller talks extensively about this framework in his book Building a StoryBrand.
And don’t worry, even though we’re adding purpose to our writing, you can still do this authentically. Your offer should solve a problem for your audience, and as long as you’re doing this and you believe in your product or service, don’t be afraid to tell your audience about it!
Speaking of telling stories, professional copywriters will tell you that stories or pop culture references will really help to drive your points home for your audience in an authentic way.
That’s why I started this podcast episode by telling you a story about a movie I just watched. That sticks with you more than me just telling you to share your personality.
I also love analogies. I’ve written an entire Instagram post on how the design process is like baking, or how having an email welcome sequence is like showing up with a plate of fresh-baked cookies to welcome the new neighbors. Make things more relatable by connecting with your audience in ways they would understand.
I’m working on a special offer that will launch at the beginning of September. If you’re ready to get a site that works for you & get organized in your business, this is for you:
When you book my Custom Showit Web Design Services, you’ll also receive access to my Trello for Creatives mini-course! Stay tuned for more details on that.
I have a challenge for you: pick one page on your website and start brainstorming ways that you can add more personality to the text, while still addressing your audience’s needs in a purposeful way.