I’ve got a confession to make.
In the three years since I’ve been in business as a professional writer, I’ve never looked at my own web copy.
Well, not since I originally wrote it in 2016, anyway. Back then I was high on optimism but low on confidence – and if truth be told, experience.
It’s always hard to describe exactly what you do, in a way that makes other people want it. It gets even harder when you haven’t been paid for your work yet, and when the scope and potential of said work is still unknown.
So I was hedging my bets with that original copy. I tried to be all things to everyone, when at that point my business wasn’t anything to anyone.
And then I left it.
Until recently, when a lovely client was honest enough to tell me she didn’t think my own web copy suited me. “It’s too vague,” she said, politely.
So I steeled myself to look at it properly (more on that later), only to be faced with the realisation that hazy phrasing was just the beginning.
For want of a better word, the copy I’d written was shit.
It was so shit that it made my cheeks glow with shame. For the past three years, I’d been offering to write content for others, whilst showcasing the absolute direst examples of it on my own website.
Here’s a snippet:
“I can write words for your business that are consistent with your brand and culture, presenting the right kind of message to your clients and potential recruits and ensuring that the best-suited people are given the opportunity to work with you.”
This is a total headless chicken of a sentence; one that runs around all over the place without any direction. It smacks of someone who’s only just started out, and who hasn’t got a clue what they’re doing.
(Reading that old copy felt like coming face-to-face with a former version of myself. Like opening up one of my old diaries and cringing at some terrible poetry I wrote for a teenage crush).
What that original copy also lacked was any hint of my personality. Again, this was because when I first started out, I didn’t have any clients. So I didn’t want to be too picky, and I didn’t want to alienate anyone.
The result was bland, inoffensive copy that contained no hint of the humour and directness I’m famous for.
(I’m exaggerating a bit there, needless to say!)
Drastic action was needed. So I rolled up my sleeves, took a deep breath, and re-wrote my entire site.
Though it was far from a quick or easy job (why can I write stellar content for other people in not much more than a flash, but wrestle with my own for an age?), it also reminded me of just how far I’ve come in the past three years.
I’m incredibly proud of my writing career, my eclectic portfolio of work, and the methods I use to get great results. My web copy had to reflect that, and now I think it does. At the very least, I no longer cringe when I read it.
So, back to the “steeling myself to look at it properly” part. I’ve singled that out for attention, because I think it’s a common experience amongst business owners.
It happens when you know your web copy isn’t quite right, but you don’t look at it properly because you know correcting it will take time and effort. And you haven’t got either to spare right now, so you leave it, and you leave it, and then you leave it some more.
If you’re lucky (as I was) someone might hint that it’s high time for a refresh. But if you’re unlucky, scores of as-yet-unknown people will visit your website, meet a former version of you, and quietly decide it’s not for them…
…when the current version of you is their perfect match.
So if you’ve been putting off reading your own web copy for fear of what it’ll tell you, be brave and rip that plaster right off.
It’ll sting at first. But it’ll also reveal a gleaming opportunity to re-energise your business in words, and reconnect with the people you most want to work with.
I’m speaking from experience.
I'm a friendly and professional writer, reviewer and editor who works with warmth, humour and flexibility.
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