When did my website copy curdle?
Not exactly spring here but summer holidays in New Zealand. I manage to throw my kids out for a few hours to get some work done. So, looking forward to a couple of hours of writing, I bring up my website and click through the pages. My first thought: “gosh – my website really sucks!”
Maybe it’s just a bit of indigestion – or the heat? But I really don’t like my website copy anymore. And if I don’t like it – how can I expect it to excite others? The copy of my website just curdled without me noticing. All of a sudden, it’s past its sell-by date.
Luckily, it’s the time of the year to make new resolutions. And this year my resolution is to go out and create some first-rate copy. There’s no point in crying over curdled website copy – I just have to switch off holiday mode and hope that the kids won’t return soon (preferably for a few days).
Why did my content go off?
There’s no use in mourning my copy, because I know that no matter how much effort I put into creating my content, it’s only got a limited shelf life. Website copy cannot remain static when everything else around it is changing.
I have changed and developed – my writing, my knowledge, my experience, my preferences, my network, my way of doing business… And people, businesses, trends, knowledge etc. have changed too. No surprise there.
It’s not hard to figure out that my only response can be to change my website copy.
What’s the process?
My first step is to get prepared for a major brain exercise. That means tea (lots of it and strictly Rooibos) and food to keep me going. While pillaging my kitchen, the ideas start coming and I have to get to my laptop quickly, open my mind mapping tool and write down every thought that pops up.
With that out of my system, I have to plan my website rejuvenation process. Here’s how I proceed:
- Block off some time to change my website content
- Analyse: Why does my website content suck? Look at:
- Website copy
- Branding (colours, voice etc.)
- Services (do I need new ones, throw old ones out, bundle my service into packages?)
- Ask others what they think
- Pin-point what needs to be changed
- Research current trends
- Create my own or use other questionnaires/ lists/ “how to” guides to jot down ideas and build the skeleton of my new website content
- Draft my new structure
- Write the new content page by page (and strictly off-line)
- Get others to review and give feedback on my new content
- Make suggested changes
- Walk away and leave my new content for at least 24 hours
- Change my content and save as a draft
- Preview my new content
- Make final changes
- Have a drink
With that done, it shouldn’t be hard to change my website copy. But there is one aspect that makes all the difference:
The challenge of time, priorities and the right moment
Planning my re-writing project is really easy and can be done fairly quickly. My big problem is finding the time for research, preparation and creation of new copy. I know that there are other aspects of my business that need my attention and I hear many people say that they have other, more pressing, issues too. Re-writing a website never seems to be a priority. The website is not too awful, right?
Wrong! Trust your instincts. I can feel that my website is not right anymore and I’m fired up with new ideas and the urge to write. But my kids return and my “me-time” is over. After all, summer holidays are not over yet.
For me, this interruption is a good test to see whether I really need to change my copy. If, after some time, I still feel that my copy sucks, then I have to make room to go through with the re-write.
Why I always leave ideas in a mental incubator
I can’t get it out of my head. In the evening, I can’t go to sleep because concepts and sentences are swirling round and round in my head. I make the decision to include my website copy re-write in my planning for 2017. I compare its importance with the other things on my to-do list and I’m ranking them.
For me, as a copywriter, my written content takes priority, because it is what I do. I sell copy, I sell stories, I sell ideas. The next morning, while the kids are still in bed, I draft my schedule for the next few weeks. The copy rewrite is in there. Not as a solid block, but in digestible chunks.
So watch this space for a content overhaul and let me know if you need one too.