How writing website content is like fly fishing


How’s that? Well, it’s time consuming and it’s a lot harder than it looks!

There’s a whole industry of people whose full-time job it is to create content (ahem, they’re called writers) who are nodding their head in agreement with what I’m saying here. If you’ve never done it before, you’re in for a pretty rude awakening. Even worse, you might end up thinking that what you’ve written is pretty good, but it’s actually not (sorry!)

But since you may be determined to do it yourself (or you might not have a better option), I’d like to give you a few tips that can help you along the way:

1. Know your audience
Knowing who will actually be reading your content makes all the difference. You need to meet them at their level — use their words, speak to their needs and reference analogies they will understand. If you’re not writing to the right audience, your content will feel “heavy” to the reader.

2. Know your message
Similarly, you need to know your own organizational goals and how they intersect with the audience. We call this the message. What are the 2 or 3 salient points that you really want to hit on because you know they’ll drive your point home (because you know your audience THAT well)?

3. Create an experience
Website content writing isn’t really just about the written word. You need to consider how pages will fit together in sequence, what images or videos will be used and other contextual elements. Think of yourself as an experience designer, not just a page writer.

4. Write good headlines
They say that you should spend 80 cents of your dollar on writing good headlines. That’s because nobody will read your article at all if the headline doesn’t get their attention. On the web, you’ll lose a lot of people who will never even read your internal pages because you lost their attention on the home page.

5. Make it easy to read (and scan!)
Your visitors won’t read your whole site, they’ll just scan/skim it (Sorry! not my fault!). So make it easy for them. Use large fonts with lots of line spacing. Use headlines, sub-headings, bold/italic text, bullet points and other devices to make reading as easy as possible. Oh, and keep it short, succinct and free of unwelcome jargon.

6. Find your voice
There are lots of different ways to say the same thing, but each conveys a different message. “Valued customer, please review the enclosed information” vs. “Yo, bro, check out this article I writ” kind of thing. Know your brand and the image you’re trying to convey, then make all of your writing consistent. That said, even if you’re in banking, you should be able to find a way to delight your readers with your content.

Good luck! Be sure to check out my upcoming article on how to write content for your website.