Working on your website? Here are 5 reasons why you should never leave your words to the last minute.

It happened again. Someone contacted me looking for copy for their new website. After a general discussion about the project- how many pages they needed, whether I would be starting from scratch or polishing existing content, and who the target audience would be – I asked a simple question:

“When do you hope to launch the site?”  Their answer: “By the end of the month.” Less than three weeks away.

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Don’t leave your words to the last minute.

 

I get it. People spend a lot of time working on design – their logo, colour scheme, and a wire frame. They may arrange a photo shoot and even have a video produced. The words? Those can get dropped in at the end.

Here’s why that’s the wrong approach:

1.  A good looking website is important. It needs to be easy to navigate, and function properly. But even the most stunning photographs won’t sell your products and services if your words aren’t up to snuff.

If your message isn’t clear you’ll lose sales. Period. Getting to the heart of what you really want to say, who you are saying it to, and what you want those people to do, takes effort.

2.  After 15 years in the business, I’m pretty good at writing copy that is ‘on brand.’ But, I’m not a mind reader. My favourite clients are the ones who treat my first draft as just that – a FIRST draft. If something I’ve written doesn’t sit quite right, they let me know. And sometimes words read differently on the screen.

I’m always happy to take another run – or two – at your copy. A bit of back-and-forth can take some time, but the results are worth it.

3.  SEO. Your web designer should be ensuring your site is optimized ‘behind the scenes.’ But to help with organic search, your copy needs to be SEO-friendly too. Someone needs to research keywords and phrases. If you don’t’ have a list to send along, that someone will be me.

4.  I know a little about a lot of things, but I’m probably not an expert in your field. In an ideal world, I’ll spend a few hours checking out your competitors’ websites to get a feel for your industry.

5.  I’ve got regular copywriting clients, and I’m a contributor to a handful of magazines. I’m blessed to have ongoing work, but that means I’ll be writing your website copy while I’m juggling several other projects. I’m a queen of time management and I love what I do, but I also have a life.

Here’s one final copywriting misconception that I hear on a fairly regular basis:

“I only need a few sentences, so it shouldn’t take very long.”

In reality, it  can take more time to write 60 words than 600. Why? Because if space is limited, every word counts. Those short, snappy phrases have probably gone through dozens of rewrites.

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It can take time to write those short, snappy sentences.

My advice to anyone working on their website? Give you copy the attention it deserves. Start thinking about your words at the outset. And if you’ll be working with a professional copywriter, reach out right away.

As for the person who contacted me this week? I’m going to squeeze them in to my already-full calendar. Happy writing!

Nicole Laidler helps people grow their success one word at a time. To see what she’s been writing lately, visit her at Spilled Ink Writing & Wordsmithing

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Career advice from one to watch

Sometimes you meet people and you just know they are going places. Such was the case when I first ran into Andrew Schiestel several years back. I can’t remember the occasion, but his can-do attitude and positive energy made a lasting impression, and I knew he’d be someone to watch.

Andrew Schiestel, tbk Creative

Andrew’s positive energy is infectious and makes a lasting impression.

In 2008, when he and partners Misha Allard and Melissa McInerney launched their first business venture Tagged By Kindness – a gift card school fundraising project that tracks acts of kindness online –  I pitched a story to Business London magazine. The editor didn’t bite.

A few years went by and I noticed that Tagged By Kindness had quietly morphed into a web development and marketing firm called tbk Creative. And all of a sudden Andrew seemed to be everywhere, speaking about harnessing the power of social media to help firms grow their brand, and do good in the process.

Andrew Schiestel keynote speaker

Andrew is a popular speaker on the power of social media and branding.

When tbk Creative won a national award for a Facebook social media campaign I knew it was time to try another pitch – and by now I had discovered that Andrew was a graduate of Fanshawe College’s Police Foundations program.

Fanshawe College Alumni News accepted my query, and that’s how I ended up spending a few hours last summer asking Andrew about his winding career path and unconventional business approach.

You can read the full story here on page 22, but there are a few thoughts that have stuck with me since our interview:

If you’re young and still trying to ‘find your calling’ – don’t panic.
Very few people in their 40’s are actually doing the job they thought they’d be doing in their 20’s. (I am a perfect example.) As long as you keep moving in the direction you think you want to head, life has a way of working out if you’re willing to put in the effort.

You don’t necessarily need a degree to launch a successful career.
Andrew has no ‘official’ qualifications as a marketer, communicator, or web developer. But he’s smart, a real people-person, full of curiosity, and has a solid work ethic. And he surrounds himself with colleagues who are just as dedicated to excellence as he is.

Sometimes starting at the top is the fastest way to get to the top.
Andrew made a strategic decision to go after London’s top companies and institutions right from the beginning. He wasn’t deterred by some initial setbacks, and within six months tbk Creative was working with a handful of nationally-recognized brands. (And of course, once the first contracts were landed he made sure to deliver great work.)

Swallow your fear and just forge ahead.
Andrew gave me one of my all-time favourite quotes:

“I think fear is the great paralyser of people’s dreams coming true. I would say fear is normal. It’s in all of us, including myself each and every day. The goal should be to look your fear in the eyes, get comfortable with that feeling, and act anyways.”

It’s taken me a long time to embrace my professional fear, and it’s something I wish I’d learned how to do earlier. It’s great advice, and absolutely necessary for anyone hoping for a freelance career.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

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