Creating the content for your website can be a difficult task.
You have to gather information, consult experts, write thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of words, source images and get people to contribute. It’s hardly surprising that so many organisations delay their own content creation until it becomes a critical issue – and the website is ready to launch! But creating your content can be easy.
Review what you’ve already got
Have you already got a website full of stuff? If you do, review it.
Do a quick content audit, listing the pages of your website in a spreadsheet and giving each page a score for accuracy and completeness.
You’ll quickly get a clear picture of what needs to be done.
Consider what you need
Stop thinking about words and pages for a moment, and ask yourself: what do our users need?
- What do our website’s visitors want from us?
- What are they looking for?
- What questions do our visitors have?
- What actions do they want to take, and how can our content support those actions?
- How can we reduce customer service calls?
- How can we encourage people to leave their details with us?
- How can we encourage people to call us?
These questions will help you decide what content your website should have, and what form it should take.
For example, you might decide that the best way to explain your software to visitors is with a screencast, or that blog posts from your experts might reassure curious visitors. A free white paper might encourage sign-ups, and the offer of a free consultation might encourage enquiries by phone.
Don’t just think about the messages your organisation wants to broadcast; think about the information your visitors need and the tasks they want to complete.
Scribble. Choosing the perfect words for your home page is a challenge to leave for another day. For now, just make notes.
Sketch it out. Write a few bullet points that cover the key things that each page must communicate. Write scrappy. You just need to get the information down – the barebones content.
Don’t worry about style, grammar or any other little details.
Contain your collaborators
Too many web projects get delayed because Janet from sales doesn’t have the time (or the inclination) to piece together some content. So don’t rely on Janet, or anyone else.
If you absolutely must rely on others (the more people you rely on, the more likely you are to fail) then contain them. Give people deadlines. And threats. Send emails with ominous subject lines (“Your content is needed by 8 June, or else you’re chopped”) and explain that if they don’t contribute, the website goes live without their content. And any late arrivals will have to join a long, slow-moving queue.
If threats don’t work, try coaxing people into action. Approach them from behind and badger them for stuff until they relent. Camp out next to their desk and interview them for the information you need. Make it easy for them. And never surrender!
Disclaimer: this is where I tell you that you need my services.
If the tricky task of creating content is grinding you down – or you just don’t have the time – then call on a professional. Copywriters aren’t just pens for hire; they’re also great at gathering information and directing the content project. So while you may still need to contribute information, the hard slog of creating content is out of your hands.
This was a guest post written by Leif Kendall, a freelance copywriter and content strategist, author of Brilliant Freelancer, founder of WriteClub and Drivvel.
Lead image courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/thetrial/1241596127/
November 23rd, 2011