In an ideal world, your clients would always have the budget to hire the experts they need for any given project. Alas, the real world isn’t like that. The cold truth is that, more often then not, you’ll end up the sole provider of everything required for a project.
However, on some small projects wearing two hats (i.e., as both a developer and a content creator) could actually net you additional income, and streamline the process for your clients. What’s more, this is feasible even if you lack much in the way of creative writing skills.
In this post, we’ll look at how to write quality content, even when it’s not part of your primary skill set. Let’s get started!
Why Quality Content Is Sometimes Your Responsibility
The short answer to the question “Why should you create content as a developer?” is “Money.” Of course, the full story is a little more complex than a single word.
Of course, money is often a deciding factor when it comes to how you handle a client’s project. Budgets are often spread very thinly, and not just on small projects. The ‘big boys’ can be just as frugal, if not more so, and not always by choice. So while some clients may simply choose to write their own content, others will look to you to provide that element.
It’s also worth noting that clients may create their own copy, but you’ll find that its quality could be less than what you would expect. This is something you’ll need to handle and communicate about carefully. Although the client is spending their budget on web design, we all know that it’s a site’s copy that brings home the bacon. If the content provided is mediocre or worse, you might want to (diplomatically) suggest taking it on yourself – in a supervisory role or otherwise.
Either way, you may find yourself in a position where both a website’s design and content are in your hands. There’s no need to panic, however, as this is a completely manageable situation with a little forward thinking.
How to Plan Out Content With Your Client
Before you begin any writing, it’s best to have a discussion with the client and find out exactly what they’re looking for. The more detail you can get at this stage, the better the final result is likely to be.
‘Pro’ content creators will often have fairly complex systems in place to tackle projects like this. That level of service obviously comes with a steep price attached, one that’s probably out of reach for your client. As such, you’ll want to charge a competitive rate, while not dwelling on what you can’t do. In other words, don’t make excuses for your abilities, and do treat the whole project as a package deal for the client.
After getting the information you need and reaching an agreement, the next element to consider is the site’s general page structure and sitemap. This knowledge will obviously inform you during the layout creation stage as well, and the two steps can even be combined.
What’s important is that you need to know how much you have to write, and what the purpose of each page and section will be. You’ll want to decide how every page will be structured, and what key points it will communicate to visitors. Then, you can start working out the details.
How to Write a Client’s Website Content (6 Common Elements)
Every website is unique, naturally, so it can be a challenge to decide how you’ll approach writing its content. Fortunately, most websites have a number of key elements in common.
Below, we’ve singled out the most frequent types of pages and features that you’ll come across. While this is hardly an exhaustive list, our advice here presents a ‘quick fix’ – in other words, how to achieve a balance between your constraints (whether that’s time, skill, or both), and a high-quality final product.
1. Hero Text
Hero text is the above-the-fold content at the top of a landing or home page, often containing an image, a short blurb, and perhaps a Call to Action (CTA). They look simple to create, but that can be deceiving – mainly because this element often represents the ‘gateway’ between a mere visitor and a conversion.
Let’s focus on the hero text’s blurb for now, since we’ll be addressing the CTA next. Above all, a strong blurb is clear, direct, and simple. It should appeal to brand-new site visitors, and explicitly state three things:
- What you do
- Who you do it for
- Why you do it
Naturally, “you” here is the client’s company, product, organization, or whatever else is appropriate. When coupled with a compelling CTA, this blurb can be the most crucial content on your client’s site.
2. Call to Action
In a nutshell, a CTA is an instruction that tells a visitor what to do next on your site. As with your hero text, it should be very clear and direct. However, it also needs to be actionable. It’s also best to keep your CTA as concise as possible.
There are two main kinds of CTAs you’ll come across – a quick line of text (usually including a link), and what’s known as a ‘button CTA’. The latter simply involves a few words that tell you what to do with a particular button. This can be as simple as you like, such as “Sign Up Here” or “Get Your Free Trial”.
For CTAs that are longer and not contained inside a button, you can check out our previous post on creating strong actionable statements. We also encourage you to check out Neil Patel’s take on the subject, which contains a lot of solid advice and examples.
3. About Page
About pages come in various guises, but are mainly a way to ‘humanize’ the digital version of your client. Creating one isn’t difficult – you just have to implement some journalistic techniques.
Writing About page copy is much like putting together a bio for a musician, or even a press release. The first paragraph should outline five elements: who, what, when, where, and why. If you do a decent enough job, you can leave it at that. However, you could also include a few more paragraphs talking about a current project, discussing the business’ mission or backstory, and so on.
If your About page is more than a paragraph or two, you’ll want to end with a defining statement recapping the most important information it covers. Overall, 300–700 words should be enough to do a solid job without overwhelming the reader.
On many sites, you’ll find that testimonials are vital to driving conversions. They often represent the social proof that’s required to propel a potential customer into taking direct action.
We’ve discussed testimonials at length in the past. In that piece, you’ll also find plenty of advice on how to write and implement them. The most important steps are to solicit strong testimonials from satisfied customers (that will be your client’s job), proofread them carefully, complement them with headings and images, and then display them in a visually-attractive fashion.
5. Contact Page
Next, on the list, a site’s Contact page is a simple element that’s easy to overlook. However, if your client relies on a contact form to collect leads, provide customer service, and perform other key tasks, getting this copy right is vital to the site’s success.
The more the client will rely on converting visitors through the Contact page, the nearer the copy should be to a combination of hero text and a CTA (as we discussed earlier). For more generic pages, we’d suggest outlining some of the reasons to contact the client, and including pertinent details such as opening times and alternative contact methods (like social media). Of course, don’t forget to include the contact form!
For larger clients, or those with very specific requirements, services such as Iubenda can help you develop comprehensive cookie and privacy policies quickly. The best news is that you don’t even have to speak ‘legalese’.
Being the sole provider of content for a project is a daunting prospect. However, handling this element yourself can result in a significant boost to your income, and simplifies matters for the client (as they only have to deal with one point of contact). Ultimately, the client’s budget and needs will determine whether this is a step you can or need to take.
Fortunately, there are plenty of easy ways to write web copy when you’re not actually a content creator. It helps that you’ll come across the same repeating elements often, such as hero text, CTAs, and Contact pages. No matter the scope of the project, what’s most important is to communicate with the client and ascertain exactly what they want, then aim to deliver it as efficiently as possible.
Do you have any questions about writing website content for your clients? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image credit: Monoar.