While great website design is important to attract readers when they first come across your site, it’s the actual content that will keep them sticking around. But writing content that engages the reader is about more than just getting words on the page. By putting some thought into your word choice and language, you’ll attract more readers and be able to better serve your audience.
You’ve put a lot of working into designing your own blog to make sure it is a great first impression.
But when your readers delve deeper into your site, what do they find?
Does your written content (like your Home Page and About Page) match your website design and branding? Or is it a case of David Beckham Syndrome – beautiful package with a voice that doesn’t quite sound right?
In many ways, getting the tone right on your blog comes down to time. The more you write, the better you get at expressing yourself and identifying your true voice (seriously, some of my earliest blog posts don’t sound like me at all…).
But, it’s still important to put some thought into the tone and language of your web copy up front, particularly for the most important parts of your site like your About Page. This page is one of the most visited on your site, and not only does it set the tone for the rest of your blog, it also lets readers know that they’ve come to the right place.
You have to show them that your site is going to solve their problem, provide inspiration, teach them something new or entertain them. If they can’t glean that within 15-20 seconds of reading, they’ll be out of there, never to return.
Now you don’t want that to happen, so I’ve put together some helpful tips on making sure your website copy matches your design and brings you the loyal readers that you want.
Know Your Audience
This is the most important aspect of coming up with the tone of your site. After all, without readers whom are you really writing for?
Think about the type of person who you want to attract to your site. Are they male or female? How old are they? What do they do and where do they live? I find it helps to come up with a profile of just one person and then imagine that I am just writing to them. You might find that your ideal reader is quite similar to you, say if you were a designer writing for other business owners. Or they might be very different, such as a wellness coach writing for teenage girls.
Once you’ve come up with your reader profile, ask yourself what language they would connect with. Generally, a younger audience will prefer more casual language and tone than an older reader.
It’s also important to think about what language they would expect to find on your site. If you’re a lawyer writing about family relationships then it’s not really appropriate to use BuzzFeed-type language, even if your target audience is the type who visits both sites.
Think About How You Want People to Feel
Once you’ve thought about whom you are writing for, you need to think about how you want to make them feel.
Of course, this will be influenced by the colors and branding of your site too. If you’ve downloaded the free 3 Ways to ROCK Your Blog Design e-book (which you should), then you’ll know that color choice can impact on people’s mood.
But did you know that language can be just as powerful?
Picture a site that describes itself as bohemian, nurturing and serene and uses earthy-language.
Then imagine one that is cutting-edge, playful and energetic.
Now if a site that described itself as bohemian used neon colors and modern typeset, it wouldn’t just look wrong, it’d put people off.
So with your own site, when you think about the colors and branding you are using, also put some thought into the language. If you write in a short, sharp tone then a light, feminine design will seem a bit off, and will confuse your reader.
Make It About Your Reader
If it’s your blog, then it’s all about you, right? Well, sort of yes, but mostly no.
As I mentioned above, if you’re not writing with a reader in mind then really all you’ve got is an online diary. Which is fine if that’s all you want. But I’m guessing that with all the hard work you’re putting in you’d actually like to have people visit your blog.
When I review websites, the About Page is often the worst contender when it comes to not thinking about what will engage the reader.
How often have you come across a site that’s all about the author? Their about page is ten paragraphs long and is all their story, how they got started, what they do. Imagine going to a party and giving someone your whole life story when all they’ve asked is what you do. You wouldn’t, right?
Yes that stuff’s important. But only in the context of what you provide to your visitors. Focus on your reader. What are their problems? Why should they follow your blog or buy your products?
Then weave your experience and passions through that.
When it comes to your content, there’s a lot to think about. So let’s just recap the important points of writing content that will make your readers stick around.
- Know Your Audience – what language will they connect with? Write as if you were speaking to them in real life.
- Think about what feeling you want to convey in your language and word choice – fun and flirty? Relaxed and bohemian? Edgy and sarcastic? Make sure your design choice reflects this.
- Make your site about your reader – what do they most want to hear? Your content should show them that you understand their problems/interests/desires and can help them?
What questions do you have around your writing your website content? What type of feeling or mood do you try to convey in your content?
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