I’m sure you know what the golden rule is: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
This is called the golden rule because it applies in almost any situation you can think of. It can help you decide what is right in almost any situation. Today I have three golden rules for you that will help you choose effective words for your website copy in almost any situation.
3 Rules for choosing effective words
RULE #1 – Your copy is not about you.
Stop writing about yourself.
I know that this can sound harsh but, I promise, you want the focus of your copy, in every situation, to be your target audience, your followers. In fact, you want to think about just one of those followers and speak directly to them in everything that you write.
One way to do this is, if you’ve written out your copy, go through it and switch out I, me, my, mine. Switch out those types of words for words like you, your, yours. As often as possible include those words in your website copy.
A second way to do this is to make a statement that’s about you actually more about them. So, for example, instead of saying “this is my favorite product,” you could say, “here are three ways to use my favorite product.” In one, you are serving them. In the other you are simply talking about yourself.
Rule #2 – Clarity is best
Clear is always, always, always better than clever. If being clever makes something unclear then avoid it at all costs.
I learned this from Donald Miller of StoryBrand. I have used it in my own copy and I’ve learned it from experience.
So how do you make yourself clear? The very first way is to write at a 6th grade reading level. I know that this might seem really young, but it is very effective. The reason is, we are experts in the subject that we are teaching. Oftentimes we explain things at a very high level without even realizing it.
I love Sharon Says So on Instagram, she teaches about government in a very fact-based way. Many of you probably know her, if you don’t, you need to go check out her out. One of the things that I love about her, that is applicable to this podcast episode, is that she explains things like she is speaking to a five-year-old. Her followers will even ask her this. They’ll submit a question and they’ll say, “I want to know about XYZ. Explain it to me like I’m five.”
I know five isn’t quite a 6th grader, but if that kind of visual helps you, explain it to them in that way. This will help you to be much more clear in your writing.
Use words they use
Use the language that your followers actually use.
If you want help for how to find your target audience’s language, go back to episode number 66, the previous episode, or all the way back to episode number 37, both of them will help you to find your target audience’s language. But if you use the words they use to describe their products, when they find your website, they’re going to have thoughts like “It’s like, she knows me. How does she know exactly what I was thinking?” That’s how you create that on your website.
My very, very favorite tip for keeping things simple is to put your word count on a diet.
Don’t Use So Many Word
When I wrote my very first sales page, I hired a copywriter to help me do so. I didn’t want her to just write it for me, so I wrote the entire sales page and then I sent it to her to edit and tweak and help me.
She said, “before you send me your sales page, I want you to write it and then I want you to quite literally go through and cut the words in half. So if you wrote it with a thousand words, I want you to rewrite it in 500 and then send it to me.”
I would encourage you to try this trick, try it on your next Instagram post. Try it on any sort of website copy that you’re creating an email, a web page, write it out and then go back and cut it in half. It will force you to be much more clear.
Rule #3 – Keep it Scannable
Three ways I want you to do this:
- I want you to keep your sentences short and your paragraphs short.
- In addition, I want you to use lots of headlines and sub-headlines. I want you to keep your content well-organized into sections with headlines and sub-headlines so that people can easily go through and scan what is on your webpage and decide if they want to read it or not.
- And last use bullet points, bold, italicize, underlines, but use those things sparingly just to make something very important stand out.
This will make your copy scannable. If it isn’t scannable, people decide they don’t need it before they even start reading, because it looks overwhelming. It looks time-consuming. But if it is scannable, they’ll probably at least start scanning. And if it’s something that they are interested in and that they feel would be helpful for them, then they will very likely read the entire thing.
So your three tips are:
- Your copy is not about you. Make it about them.
- Clear is ALWAYS better than clever.
- Keep it scannable