How do you start when writing for an empty website? If you don't yet have a clear idea of who your products or services are for. That can be a deep hole you stare into. I'll take you through a step-by-step guide on how to get started.
The steps below assume that you will be creating and managing your website. But actually, some individual steps are perfectly useful for outsourcing work you're dreading. We'll break it down into pieces, we'll eat this big elephant slice by slice.
Content strategy and plan
A word that always sounds big is strategy. However, it gives you a framework for planning, writing, delivering and managing your website content. A framework that ensures consistent, engaging and sustainable content. A strategy also helps you consider what content you may already have, what you will change and create, and most importantly, why you need it.
I see the following aspects for a content strategy:
- The core of your message
- Topics and themes
- Purpose of the content and target audience
- Analysis of missing content
- Metadata analysis (SEO)
I'm trying to be brief, but I can imagine the mountain only seems higher now, and it only seems harder. But we'll break this down into steps, and I'm going to provide you with templates that will make it clear and insightful.
For now, I'll just focus on the writing and assume that the above exists and is completed.
Website content map
If you're anything like me, you like to have a map for an unknown area. We will create one for the content area that the new website will cover. The map will include an overview of the structure and essential components of each page in your website. Such as:
- Body text
- Metadata (short descriptions and keywords)
- Links inside and outside the website
- Call to action
Anything captured in words can be reduced to keywords. If I remember correctly, we learned it that way in elementary school. Core words or keyword search.
But the reverse is also true. Anything you want to start capturing in words is to start with keywords. However, in the first case it is a matter of searching and in the second case of creating … of what exactly? How do you create keywords? It doesn't just depend on divine insight, but you can start by looking inward for a moment and asking yourself for keywords. Guaranteed, some will come up. You write those down, you start collecting those. In the daily doing, you will find that more come. When you have a few then we'll get to work with the tools you'll find at the end of this article.
Briefing to the writer(s).
By plan, map, and keywords we can make sure the content fits within the context of your brand, profile, or product. The tone and style of the text can now start to be written consistently. The key is to weave your core message throughout the site and be able to call the reader to action. Explain what's in it for the customer and why it's best to get it from you.
For me, this is often the point where I give up and lose patience. Isn't it better to just start and see where the ship lands? I can already start building, can't I? That was once an art, but with modern web builders actually straightforward. But the chances of getting bogged down are high. What is the solution? To step back and take on a role. That of a client to a copywriter.
I typically gave assignments like that in my work as a web content producer. When you start working at scale, that is, with large websites, there is soon a team of functions and roles. A writer, a designer, a programmer, etc. To obtain texts, I filled out a template that went to an (external) copywriter. That's not a fill-in-the-blank exercise, but something that really forces you to step back and consider carefully. Is that person going to understand what I want, what is needed, and what the audience will identify with?
Appendix: The briefing to the writer.
To get started with writing
We started with a strategy in which we clarified the goals. We supplemented that with directions on themes, tone, style, and actions. With this, we created a map and if the website will be big, then it is important to have a schedule.
With all this, we made a briefing specifically for writing the required texts. And still, we get to work on writing. We have been briefed!
Next article is about writing an actual web page: Conquer the empty web page.