How to write your own website copy

Website copywriter Elena Chow sitting behind her laptop smiling

By Elena Chow

Are you DIYing your website copy and feel low-key judged by your blinking cursor? If you’re a freelancer or founder who has found themselves wearing the “website copywriter” hat that you didn’t know came free with going “all in” on your business idea, then you’ve come to the right place.

Because writing your own website, in a way that sounds and feels like the real you, is not as easy as jotting down your 3 am thoughts and hoping for the best. Sometimes the process of writing brings up loads of other “stuff” too – like, why should people *actually* work with me? Should I show my prices? What parts of my story do people need to know to build trust?

No, I’m not a mind reader. I know the overwhelm is real, because I write and workshop website words for brands big and small, helping them write a website story that calls in the right kinda people, on their own terms and in their own distinct voice. So, here’s your micro masterclass on where to start…

(spoiler alert: it’s less about grammar rules and more about storytelling strategy)

Talk to your perfect person

When you try speaking to everyone, you speak to no one. Your website is the chance to speak directly to the “dream client or customer” and they won’t feel like that’s them unless you’re using their language.

For example: if you’re a web developer selling white-labelled services to other web developers, using niche/industry terms draws on your shared assumed knowledge and positions you as a pro on their level. But, if you’re the same website developer wanting to work with start-ups, would they even know what a “no code” website means?

Your audience persona is the most valuable piece of context which will heavily influence what you write and how you write it. So, before you start tapping the keys, spend time understanding who you’re speaking to.

To quickly help you get into the practice of talking directly to them, pick your favourite client/customer who was an absolute dreamboat to work with, and imagine you’re talking to them. And if you’re starting out or pivoting away from your current client roster – grab a picture off a Google search, give that person a name, some backstory and hobbies, and write as if you’re talking only to them.

Phone a follower/friend

This one’s for the service providers. One of the biggest writing blocks I see if *you’re the product* is not knowing what your USPs. The U, being you.

If you’re offering a service, like say photography, the thing that your potential client is looking for is not “does this person know how to take photos?” but “what is this person like to work with?”. They want to get to know you and connect with you, before they go any further like sending an enquiry.

To unearth and understand why people love hanging out in your world, try asking your friends, or your followers, to describe you in a few words. It will spark ideas and give you descriptors you would never have considered yourself (because honestly, how often do we ask our friends, so, WHY do you like me?). Then use these insights to tailor your website story. If they say you’re “chatty and fun”, reread what you’ve written and see if you’re hitting on that tone. You’ll be surprised how just a simple reframe like this can pull out the right words.

Start with a story

Stories are powerful. They create connections and evoke emotions. And if you want someone to buy from you, they need to buy into your story first. I’d argue your website is the best place for story time because there are NO other distractions. People are there not to scroll past you for another hit of dopamine, they’re there to learn more about you, so now you’ve got the stage and the spotlight – how are you going to use this moment?

Think about why you started your business, what challenges you’ve overcome, and what you value. Get specific on details to add colour, sprinkle in your personality, and always bring it back to the person on the other side of the screen.

Ask yourself: why do they need to know this part of my story? That will keep you from going too far off on a tangent or focusing on areas that don’t add to your narrative.

Refine regularly & test

Your website copy isn’t set in stone. The beauty of it is you can keep changing it and adapting your messaging over time. So, don’t think you have to write it once and then *poof* you never have to touch it again. Think how much your business changes shape throughout the year – that website copy gets out of date much faster than the time you spent ruminating on it. I set a monthly reminder to update mine so that it’s always speaking to the version of business I’m running right now, not last quarter.

Also, test different versions of your headlines, calls to action, and key messages to see what resonates best with your audience. Use tools like A/B testing and website analytics to gather data and make better tweaks that will boost conversions and conversations.

Keep it stupidly simple and clear

Your website visitors are busy. In fact, most only hang about for less than a minute. They don’t have time to wade through jargon or complex sentences. Keep your copy simple, clear, and to the point. Use short sentences and paragraphs and avoid using fancy words when simpler ones will do.

Whenever you catch yourself using a “big word” or filler words like “really”, hit that backspace button. Try again and this time make sure every word has proved its worth being on the page. 

Write like you talk

One of the biggest mistakes people make when writing their own copy is trying to sound “professional” (I like to call this your “telephone voice”).

Your website should sound like you, not like a corporate robot. Write as if you’re having a conversation with a friend and you can find that casual, conversational tone of voice in lots of different ways. Not sure where to start? I share free writing prompts that help you practice writing in your own voice, every week. Sign up to “Better Words by Elena” newsletter.

How I can help

Writing your own website copy isn’t as effortless as sitting at the laptop and finding your flow, while birds chirp, and the breeze tickles. And often it’s because you’re too close to your own business to see the wood for the trees.

If you get stuck, overwhelmed, or find yourself procrastifaffing every time you sit to write – those are the telltale signs to call in a pro. Which is why I run 1:1s to help you workshop your DIY website copy, without the stress of second-guessing every sentence. Learn more over here.  

Elena Chow is a website copywriter & story strategist who runs copy studio Words by Elena. She helps ambitious freelancers and founders sell their story, not their soul, by writing and workshopping words that hook the right kinda people.

How to write your own website copy. Image of Elena Cheng from behind, sat at a table typing on a laptop

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