Copywriting Basics for Business Owners

copywriting for websites

With any website, the more you can make it interactive and user friendly the better it will be.  Take a moment and consider your favorite website.  When you’re sitting on the couch in the evening watching television, what website do you surf?  Why do you surf it?

Conversely, when you’re looking for information on the web, what sites turn you off?  What websites do you leave immediately?

Chances are the difference between a website that causes you to linger and spend hours of your time exploring and a website that is forgotten as soon as you click away, is the level of interactivity available.

It doesn’t matter how modern and interactive the web gets, you still need to know this stuff.

 

Copywrighting That Sells

copywriting

Use attention-getting, benefit-driven headlines

What is the one thing your prospect really wants from your product? Highlight that in your big, bold headline.

Subheadlines

Break up your copy further by using bolded subheadlines to show separate sub-sections of your sales page. It makes it easier to read and can grab the attention of someone who is scanning and about to leave your page.

Bullet points

Bullet points are also your copy’s best friend. Bullet points are easy to scan and read. Use bullet points to tap into the pain your prospect may be facing, illustrate benefits and more.

Write directly to your audience

When writing copy for a sales page, email or anyone else, imagine your ideal prospect on the other side of the screen. Say “you” and focus on your reader more than yourself.

We all know Internet users have a short attention span, so it stands to reason, if you’re talking about yourself…they will just tune out. But if you’re talking to them and about them, they’re more apt to listen.

Know and continue to learn about your target

Even though we think we have a good understanding of our target market, there is always so much more to learn. Keep studying them, asking them question and tracking subjects and products of interest to them to grow your knowledge.

Include enough information to make a purchase decision

Sometimes we might worry about copy being too long, but it’s not length that’s important. It’s about providing enough information on your sales page that fully illustrates the benefits of the product, answers many of the frequently asked questions and even overcomes many of your prospect’s objections. Don’t be wordy as that’s not necessary…be useful and complete.

Be casual

Obviously, there may be some markets where a casual approach is inappropriate, but you’ll generally find that if you write how you speak, you can connect with your audience effectively. Avoid jargon in most cases and speak in plain old simple English.

Short, non-complex sentences, short paragraphs

Just as you want to avoid jargon, you want to keep your sentences simple and break up your paragraphs as well. Short chunks of text are easier to read, scan and grab the attention of your visitor.

Transitions

Keep your visitor reading through your sales page by including transitions between paragraphs and sections of your page.

Some examples of transitions:

o   And most importantly…

o   As you may already know…

o   As you may have noticed…

o   Aside from that, one thing’s for sure…

o   Bottom line is…

o   Here’s exactly why…

o   I’ll let you in on a little secret…

o   I’m sure you’ll understand…

o   In fact…

o   Just imagine…

o   Let me ask you this…

o   Let me explain…

o   The next step is…

o   Today, more than ever…

o   To prove it, here’s…

o   You’re gonna love this

Power Words

headlines

Power words are part of an emotionally-charged language that is used to influence your reader. People react and buy with emotion, and these are words that help elicit emotion. They are often action words and create a mental picture for your reader.

Power words can be used everywhere in your copy. Here are a few examples:

  • action-oriented
  • advanced
  • all-in-one
  • amazing
  • breakthrough
  • complete
  • easy to understand
  • free
  • important
  • improved
  • latest
  • limited
  • low-cost
  • no strings attached
  • on demand
  • proven
  • responsive
  • save
  • time-tested
  • transform

Of course, how you put this together on a page is very important. Pages need to be well-designed to keep the user’s attention.

Keep Design Simple

The more information, ads, bells and whistles you display, the less likely your reader is to take action. Keep them focused on one topic and a specific conversion goal at one time. Whether it’s to sign up for your list, grab a freebie or a buy a product, keep it focused.

As much as possible, keep the items on each page relevant to the actual topic of that page. This generally means keeping a tidy side bar or not having one at all. For sales pages, you may find your best choice is to remove sidebars.

White Space

Give a generous portion of your web design to nothing at all…white space. Having a clean design and plenty of space in margins makes it much easier for readers to concentrate on your content and sales message and content.

Limit Navigation

It’s natural instinct to want to showcase all our great content and information, but excessive navigation simply causes confusion and lack of action. If necessary, use sub-categories to eliminate the need for large and complex navigation systems. Navigation is important and people want interactivity on the web, but use it wisely and never overwhelm.

If you are trying to create navigation that makes it easy for search engine spiders to make their way through your content, use a site map or place the more complex navigation at the bottom of the page, where it doesn’t serve as a distraction for your visitor.

And don’t forget the extras. These are becoming more crucial elements to modern-day copy and content.

Images

Use images to illustrate content and images. If they are virtual products, create virtual cover images or use other images that illustrate the benefits of the product. Images can create visual appeal, draw the eye in at key points of your copy and more.

Video

Whether it’s a slide show presentation, demonstration or you talking to the camera, video is everywhere. It can demonstrate things text can’t and can also create a more personal connection with your visitor who can see you as a flesh and blood person. If you’re using it with sales copy, test different lengths, but you’ll likely do well with a short introductory video that gets your visitor interested in learning more about the product. Content videos can be longer, but experiment to see what keeps your visitor’s attention best.

Audio

Audio can also provide an introduction and create familiarity with your audience. Try a short introductory audio recording that invites your reader to learn more about your product or explore your website further. You can also use podcasts and webinars to deliver content-rich information.

With any website you have a few goals

Missing-the-goal

  • You want to drive traffic to your website
  • You want to keep people at your website
  • You want to encourage people to return to your website
  • And you want them to make purchases.

These tasks are all still accomplished by the content that you provide.  Whether it is in the form of an advertisement placed on another website, information in the form of articles, tutorials, ebooks, reports, or blogs, or it is sales material you want to accomplish two main goals:

1.  You want to grab your prospects attention.  This is most often accomplished with a compelling benefit driven headline or subject line.

2.  You want to provide them a benefit.  This means that the content must provide quality information.

The ability to interact with your customers makes marketing, and marketing copy easier, more interesting, and significantly more effective that offering your prospects a standard brochure and hoping that they buy.

Best 10 Graphics and Photo Editing Tools for Business Owners

photo-editing

If you’re running an online business, you’re going to need a lot of graphics. You’re going to need header images, favicon images, background images, navigation images, eBook covers, product images, banner ads and more.

Sure, you could outsource some of the work. If you’re not a graphic designer, you should probably outsource the extremely difficult aspects of graphics editing. Also, anything that needs to be done by hand (such as a sketched out logo) should be outsourced, unless you have the drawing skills.

However, basic image editing is absolutely a skill that every online business owner should know. If you need simple edits done to an image or if you need to put together your own graphical navigation bar, that should be something you can just do yourself in an hour or two.

In addition to costing money, outsourcing takes a lot of time and attention. You have to find someone to do the gig, you have to wait for the project and you have to make sure they follow through. There are plenty of places for the ball to get dropped.

For simple or fast gigs, you should be able to just do it yourself. There are plenty of tools both online and offline that make this task simple and easy. Here are the top 10 graphics and photo editing tools for online business owners.

 

Tool #1: Adobe Photoshop

 1-Adobe-Photoshop

http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop.html

When it comes to image editing programs, Adobe is the crème of the crop. The king of kings, the queen of hearts.

Whether you want to color correct an image, retouch a photo, design a banner from scratch or create a brand new eBook cover, Adobe Photoshop has all the tools and capabilities you need to make it happen.

That said, Adobe Photoshop has many barriers. For one, it’s difficult to master. You can learn the basics of the software in about a month, but to really learn it in and out could easily take as long as a year.

It’s also one of the most expensive software packages on the market.

If you’re willing to put in the time and the money, Adobe Photoshop wins out, bar none. If not however, one of the other tools on this list may work better for you.

Tool #2: Adobe Illustrator

 2-Adobe-Illustrator

http://www.adobe.com/products/illustrator.html

Adobe Illustrator is Adobe Photoshop’s close cousin, with one big difference: Illustrator edits in vectors, while Photoshop edits in raster.

What’s the difference?

Raster editing is when you’re editing an image in pixel-graphics form. The image editing software knows the color value of every pixel in the image. When you edit the image, you’re editing its pixels.

Vector editing works with lines. These lines are saved as mathematical equations. When you edit a vector image file, you’re editing the mathematics underlying the graphics, which changes how it’s rendered.

The main difference is that vector graphics can be scaled up infinitely large without losing resolution. You could design a vector graphic for a tiny logo, but while retaining the ability to blow it up to billboard size without losing any resolution.

Generally, you want to use vector graphics for logos or images that you want to use across multiple mediums. Everything else should be done with raster editing, as raster is generally more powerful.

 

Tool #3: GIMP

 3-GIMP

http://www.gimp.org/

GIMP is widely recognized as the #1 alternative to Photoshop. Unlike Photoshop however, GIMP is 100% free.

GIMP is licensed under the GNU open source license. It can do everything from color correcting to photo manipulation. It might not have some of the bells and whistles that Photoshop does, like perspective editing or fancy filters, but for everyday image editing GIMP can definitely get you where you need to go.

Tool #4: Paint.net

4-Paint-Net

Paint.net (which isn’t located at paint.net – It’s at http://www.getpaint.net) is yet another free downloadable image editing program. It’s a close second to GIMP on the market.

Paint.net isn’t open source like GIMP. Instead, it was developed initially as an alternative to Paint, the original graphics editing program that came with early versions of Windows. It was developed under the tutelage of a Microsoft developer. Today it’s supported by donations.

Tool #5: Editor.pho.to

5-Editor-Pho-To

http://editor.pho.to/

Editor.pho.to is an online editor that’s fantastic for quick and easy edits.

It can zoom in and out of photos, rotate photos, resize photos, crop photos, apply simple color corrections, apply artistic effects and add text.

You won’t be able to do anything fancy, like blur out just the background of a person or make someone look younger. For quick and dirty edits however, the tool is fantastic.

Tool #6: Pixia

 6-Pixia

http://www.ne.jp/asahi/mighty/knight/

Pixia and Phierha were image editing tools first created in Japanese, then ported over to English once they got extremely popular online.

Because of Pixia’s unique background, it works a little differently than the rest of the photo editing programs. Pixia is fantastic for creating cartoons, graphics or other simple yet stylistic images from scratch. If you’re looking to edit realistic photos however, it’s probably not the tool of choice.

Tool #7: Da Font

 7-Da-Font

http://www.dafont.com/

If you’re looking to create a cool looking text graphic, look no further than Da Font. Da Font is the net’s largest font database. What makes this site really cool is that you can type your text in right there on the site and it’ll generate an image of that text.

All you need to do is find the font you want, then type in your text and screenshot the image or save it. Then you can put it in your banners, your site design, your brochures or anywhere else you want to use the font.

Tool #8: Microsoft Excel

8-Excel

http://office.microsoft.com/en-ca/excel/

If you have Microsoft Office, you already have a fantastic tool for generating graphics for your website. If you’re looking to put up any kind of data – For example, for infographics or for analyzing industry trends – Microsoft Excel really does the job.

Recent versions of Excel come with the ability to publish all kinds of 3D graphics, charts, graphs and other goodies. All of them look highly professional.

Tool #9: Pixlr

 9-Pixlr

http://pixlr.com/

Pixlr is a full featured image editor that works entirely on the internet. It works very much like Photoshop. Even the interface looks a lot like Photoshop.

Pixlr uses layers of graphics to render the final image, which means you can do some pretty complex effects with Pixlr.

Tool #10: Splashup

10-Splashup

http://www.splashup.com/

Finally, we have Splashup. Much like Pixlr, Splashup is a free online photo editor that works a lot like Photoshop. It also uses layered graphics, giving you a lot of leeway to create interesting effects.

Unlike Pixlr, Splashtop supports different blend modes and opacities on different layers. This makes more complicated effects easier to perform.

 

These are the ten top tools on the market today for editing or creating graphics, photos and images if you run an online business.

I hired somebody, now what?

I was on a private faculty call with some stompernet members yesterday and someone basically asked the question, “I hired somebody, now what?”  Since I was not the one answering the questions, I could not give my two cents… so let me take this opportunity to share my opinion!

For most business owners, we know we need to outsource.  We know we just don’t have time to do all the things we need to do. We spend lots of money on ebooks, coaching, courses that promise success.  We even complete the courses, finish reading the books, vow to do better.  The number one factor is time.  We don’t have the time to do everything we need to do.  Case in point.  I know I need to market to my email list.  I mean I have 10,000 names already! I have sent out a grand total of 3 emails in the last 5 years.  So YES I need to do that.  YES it would most likely generate some sales.  YES it would reactivate some old clients. YES it would help me to move some of the inventory sitting in the warehouse. 

The power of the group. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into a super secret Beta program within stompernet.com to be able to test out the effectiveness of the new program.  I won’t share all the cool details now… I have to wait until after the launch of this new cool super secret Beta program! But basically, in one of our group phone calls I committed myself to get started on the email campaign. First week went by and I wrote the first email in the auto-responder series that I have set up with aweber.com and then I programmed the mailing list to let me know when someone new signed up.  (A former employee email address was still being notified!) I then went in, figured out which template I wanted to use and then got to work writing my first email.  I decided to write one on Parenting Tips as it was topically related to that mailing list and for a mom of five, soon to be six, writing on parenting is pretty easy! I then went out and hired two people.  One to write the emails and another to put them into the autoresponder series.  Why two?  Well I hired them both full time… one as a full time writer and the other as a full time Editor for my team of writers.  I told the Editor it was going to part of her job to take care of the email campaigns for me!  So now when we have our group coaching mastermind phone call on Monday I can say, YES I did my homework. The power of the group.  Peer pressure at it’s best!

Back to the topic.  Let’s say you found someone willing to work for your budget and you want them to be as profitable as possible.  We all know that links is one of the most important factors in improving search engine rankings.  In this case I would recommend you to purchase the software program internet business promoter and to have them to some initial analysis of your site.  Get the business version as you are a business owner correct?  And use the link section to have the software find some potential link exchange partners for you.  Then INSTEAD of doing link exchanges, have your new employee call the websites and see if any of them would be willing to place an article on their site in exchange for a link back to yours! Then have your new employee write up an okay article related to the website content of the OTHER site. Somewhere in the middle if it is relevant or in the author resource box, have your new employee add a link back to your site.  Of course the link should be with a keyword and the keyword should be the same as the title of the page you are linking to… and of course, NEVER link to your home page.  It is a waste of a good link! This is just a start of the many things you could have your new employee do… but in my opinion, a good start.  Make a goal for them to have 2 completed articles placed on other sites per week.  Within a month they should have a list of 10-15 sites that are willing to put up your articles on a monthly or weekly basis.  At that point, or even sooner, you will want to outsource the writing part and have your new employee focus on just going out and finding new partners and cultivating the realtionship you have with the current partners.  There you have it!