Why does it take so long to write content for a website?
Content marketing is a critical part of any business. It can improve your SEO, boost conversions, and help you stand out from the competition. However, it isn’t always easy. It can be intimidating, primarily if you’re not sure about what it takes to write content for a website. There are many steps involved in creating great content for your website: understanding your audience, finding the right words, creating buyer personas, taking time for editing and proofreading (and everything in between).
Timing is key
The timing of your whole copywriting process can play a crucial role in your website’s overall success. We’ve seen this happen in a couple of different ways – everything is written at once or everything is written in phases. But, which method is better? It depends! We do find that writing everything at once comes with more challenges than writing in phases. So, for this article, we’ll first break down the steps of how we write copy in phases for an entirely new website design.
Writing for your website can be broken down into a series of steps, which allows room for creative thinking and adaptation throughout the process. It flows more smoothly and enables you to have iterative fun.
Steps to Write Content for a Website
- Understanding (Who, What, Why) – In this step, we will conduct an initial questionnaire/interview to determine who your client is, what big picture problems you solve, and why they choose you to help solve them.
Includes: Understanding the brand, the product, and the audience
- Getting to Know Your Business – Based on our initial questionnaire/interview session, we’ll dig in and learn more about your industry, how you got started, why you do this, who is behind it all, your mission, and overall philosophy.
Includes: Developing a buyer persona
- Collect & Review – Just before we begin composing, refreshing, or organizing any copy – we’ll organize everything we have into one file. Additional research may be done in this phase if we need to fill in any gaps.
- Outline – The outline is like our skeleton, where we’ll create a quick high-level road map for the rest of the project.
- Draft – This is where we begin filling in the skeleton — putting meat and muscle on the bones. This is where we get creative in choosing the perfect language, images, and style to properly convey your message. This is where we get to tell your story.
Includes: Establishing a tone and voice
- Revise, Edit, Repeat – In the draft phase, we won’t get hung up on commas and apostrophes, so in this step, we’ll clean everything up to make sure it’s grammatically correct.
Includes: Finding the right words
- Polish & Review – We’ll let the previous step simmer then come back to our revised copy with fresh eyes to make any finishing touches. By the end of this step, we’ll send a copy approval document to sign for your approval. Once approved, we’ll move the copy onto the staging website.
Includes: Taking time to get feedback, Editing and proofreading
- Final Revision(s) – Everyone has personal preferences and language peeves. We welcome you to go through the copy on the staging website to make final changes to words, add a line or two, remove a line, or add in a special phrase. This may not be needed.
The steps listed above can be used in both cases – writing all of the copy at once or in phases. What do we mean by phases? For that, we’ll take a look at our overall design and development process and the individual timeline for the overall project.
A common length of time to complete a custom website project can range from three to six months, depending on the complexity and other factors like the time it takes to collaborate and the availability of the client. A project timeline may look something like this:
- Month 1: Discovery, Sitemap
- Month 2: Start Content
- Month 1-3: Wireframes & Design / Add Completed Content
- Month 4: Development / Finalize Content
- Month 5: Testing & Usability / Finalize Content
- Month 5-6: Launch
Writing Content in Phases
By month 2, we will have gathered all that we need to begin writing. We begin writing your most important (primary) pages, such as your homepage, which is designed first to set the overall theme of your website.
To keep the process flowing, we’ll incorporate the homepage content into the wireframe before the static homepage design. We prefer to have the content before the design so that we can utilize the content as part of the design process. Some say this is a ‘which comes first’ situation – and truth be told – it can happen either way. However, we do find that the design just gets that extra magic, a little something extra when the words are incorporated into the creative process.
We will collaborate on any revisions to the homepage content and wireframe. You’ll approve this phase, then…
We’ll transform the wireframe and approved content into a static design. This part of the process can take up to 4 weeks – depending on the complexity of the design and revision process. During this span of time, we’ll continue writing all other pages, including but not limited to about, services, what we do, history, contact, and so on. We’ll provide you with the remaining content drafts, and repeat the collaboration, revisions, and approval processes.
By month 4 you’ll have also reviewed, given feedback on, and approved the design. Now, we’ll begin coding all of the above in the browser. During this time you may have realized you have more edits or more to add to the content – we can work together to finalize that as the website is developed.
By month 5 we will have finalized all of the content. We’ll make the finishing touches and review the final content as we test responsiveness in different browsers and devices. The website should now look as it would to your clients or customers. Finally, you’ll have the entire website in front of you – how exciting! After the final approval – we’ll be ready for some final touches on our end and set a date to launch.
Understanding the brand, the product, and the audience
To create great content, you must understand the brand and its values. You also need to understand the product and its features. Then, you must understand your audience’s needs, wants, dreams and desires. Finally, it’s essential that you know what other products are out there in the marketplace with which your product is competing (or not).
If you don’t have at least some sense of these things at a high level before you start to write content for a website or blog, then chances are slim that what comes out will resonate with anyone but yourself: if it doesn’t resonate with anyone else then why bother?
Developing a buyer persona
Developing a buyer persona is a process that can take weeks or even months. It’s important to be thorough and ensure you’re creating an accurate representation of your target customers, so you don’t waste time on content that doesn’t resonate with them.
When creating your buyer persona, start by researching the demographics of your ideal customer base. This will help you understand their age and location (and therefore any cultural differences), income level, education level, and interests so that you can use relatable language when writing about them in your blog posts or website copy.
What motivates these people to buy from you rather than from your competitors – what do they want? What problem does your product or service solve for them? Why should they choose it over other options available on the market today?
Establishing a tone and voice
Tone and voice are two different things, but we’ll use them interchangeably for this article. The voice is how you speak or write, like a cadence or style quirks. Voice comes from your writing style: it’s how you write, punctuate, and use words to convey information effectively. The tone is more subtle, like word choice, punctuation, or emojis. A blog post can have a casual tone (like sarcasm) or a formal tone (like a textbook).
Think about the phrase “How are you?” How do these two examples below read?
Example: “How are you?”
Example: “How are you?! :D”
There are many ways to establish tone and voice—from brainstorming with friends who have similar interests to writing down sample sentences that reflect what you want to say out loud—but here are some quick tips:
- Read over what you’ve written before posting it online. Be honest about whether or not it sounds like something someone would say out loud versus being more formal than necessary.
- If there’s any part of your content that could be misinterpreted as offensive or hurtful towards another person/group of people, change those parts immediately! It doesn’t matter if they’re related directly back into the context; if anyone clicks on an article title then reads through the entire thing only for their feelings to get hurt afterward because they misunderstood something written about them earlier on within its pages. Chances are good enough that readers will feel similarly upset too!
Finding the right words
- Thesaurus: A thesaurus is a tool that helps you find different synonyms of the same word and can help you extend your vocabulary.
- Word cloud tool: This tool is helpful if you want to see which words are most important or popular in a piece of writing. It creates a “word cloud” where words get larger/smaller depending on how often they’re used. You can also use this tool to look up other terms that may not be in your original sentence but would work better than what’s there now. For example, if we were looking at our previous sentence and wanted to replace some words with synonyms, we could click “Find” next to the word “words” and type in “words” as our target term (a synonym for our original phrase), then click “Get Keywords.” This will bring up all sorts of terms related to ‘word’—our authentic expression has been replaced with many other possibilities!
- Keyword tools let users enter keywords into their search bar and generate lists based on those search terms! They’re super helpful because they can show which keywords are most common among search results for specific topics (like yours).
Taking time to get feedback
- Get feedback from the team. Your team should be involved in the process because they’ll be responsible for implementing the recommendations you make based on your research, so they must understand how those recommendations will affect their workflows and techniques (and, therefore, their bottom line).
- Get feedback from your website marketing agency or copywriter if you work alone. This is especially important if there are multiple authors on a project; each author should give input into where and how they want their expertise showcased to ensure everyone gets a chance to shine throughout each piece of content! Plus, a team of marketing professionals will be able to help you edit the content just right so that it plays well with your website’s design.
Editing and proofreading
Editing and proofreading are significant. Your content has to be comprehensible, error-free, and easy to read. It has to be written in a way that is both engaging and informative for your audience. If it’s not, people will leave the page without reading anything!
When you write your first draft, take your time with it so you can think about what you want to say clearly, without any distractions. If possible, try writing at least two or three drafts before moving on to editing or proofreading (or both). This will allow you to get feedback from colleagues or friends who may see things differently than how they appear in your mind’s eye; plus, it helps prevent writer’s block by giving yourself some extra time between drafts!
After finishing those early drafts of your content piece(s), go back through them carefully with a fine-toothed comb looking out for typos or other errors made while typing up the document itself (such as spelling mistakes). You should also check grammar usage throughout each sentence, including words like “a/an/the” being misused and missing punctuation marks such as commas after linking phrases.”
It is more complicated than it sounds to write content for a website.
Writing content for a website is not as simple as it sounds. It involves many different steps, people, tools, and skills. To write a compelling piece of content, you have to:
- Find out what your audience wants to read about, and then write about it in a way that’s interesting and informative.
- Possibly include key phrases and keywords to match relevant searches.
- Be able to use the correct language (including voice and tone) so that your readers understand what you’re trying to explain to them so they don’t get bored or feel like they’re being sold to.
- Know how long each section should be so that there isn’t too much or too little information.
As you can see, writing content for websites is a lot more complicated than it sounds. It takes time and a lot of TLC to write in an engaging and informative way, but at the same time, there are other factors outside your control. The brand voice may not match your own, or you may be asked to stick with specific keywords even though they don’t make sense in context. Writing for the web requires patience and flexibility—and maybe even a little luck! If this all seems too much, hire website copywriting professionals like us to take care of it.