Ah. If only you could magic up the perfect web copy that allows you to charge twice as much for half the work. And then take a month off to go diving in the Red Sea.

Am I reading you right? If so, I’ve followed the first rule of great copy. Know thy reader.

Before I start working on a client’s copy, I first ask the client lots of questions about their business and how they like to work. Not because I’m a nosey git (although, there is that), but because I need to really get to grips with who they are and what they want to achieve.

Really good web copy exudes authenticity. You’re starting a conversation with the reader – and you’re relating to them in such a way that they know you understand them and can help. For your website to work well, you need to discover what’s great about you, who really ‘buys’ you and why.

Useful content: tell the reader what they want to hear

Before you start writing or tinkering I suggest you stand back and work out what your readers need to know – start collecting thoughts and ideas from sales leads and customers. And then do some audience brainstorming.

Why do your customers buy you?

What do you bring to the party? As a freelancer often this comes down to your personal strengths and specialist skills. The easiest way to answer this is to email a few recent customers and ask them for feedback. Questions you might ask include:

  • Why did you pick me for the job over the competition?
  • What results did I achieve for you?
  • What special skills and personal qualities did I bring to the job?

You’ll probably be surprised by how your customers see you because you probably take your own skills and style for granted. If certain buzz words keep coming up, then feature them prominently on your website – perhaps in a tagline for your logo or as page headlines.

When I asked clients for feedback, they talked about my enthusiasm and my ability to see things clearly. Compliments like this serve as more than just an ego boost for an isolated freelancer. Getting an independent view of your strengths can help you highlight these in the words, pictures, and design you use to express yourself through your website.

What concerns do potential customers have?

If you know what might be stopping a web visitor from picking up the phone to call you, you can mould your copy to alleviate their concerns. Consider routinely asking potential clients:

  • What concerns do you have about using a [insert your specialism here].
  • Have you used my type of service before? And if so, what was your experience?

For instance, when I asked a potential client what concerns he had about using a copywriter he said he was reticent about sharing commercially sensitive information with someone outside the business. Since then in my client briefing materials, I stress client confidentiality and that nothing goes live without the client’s say so.

What do buyers need to know about you?

Your web copy can help you look superbly helpful and caring if you can home in on exactly what your readers need to know. A Frequently Asked Questions page closes the doors through which your sales leads may otherwise escape to the competition. Your FAQs also start delivering customer service before your casual visitor has even converted into a customer.

TIP: An easy way to build up material for an FAQs is to create an FAQs folder in your email inbox. Then every time you respond to a client or prospect’s question, save it to the FAQs folder. After a month or two you can look to see what common questions are coming up and tidy up the answers for your website.

Get expert business advice delivered straight to your inbox.