Tag Archives: web content writer

WEB FRIGHTS: Four Things That Will Scare Away Your Visitors

web-frightIt’s Halloween, the time of year when we are surrounded by scary costumes, makeup, life-size sound or motion-activated spooks and unfortunately, bad web design.

It’s true that a bad web design can bounce your visitors away faster than a fake mummy hand reaching out to grab their bag of candy. As a freelance content writer, I work on a lot of websites and have seen the good, the bad and the ugly as far as design goes. Here are four elements that you should avoid unless you want to send your site visitors fleeing for the nearest competitor.

We’ll start with one of the most common ones…read on…if you dare…



Never mind that it’s in Norwegian…they will translate for you. But quick…what do they sell? How can you find what you want? If you can’t answer either of these questions in the first four seconds, you have a bad web design. And yes, this is a home page. I told you not to read on.

Still don’t want to turn back? Ok, feast your eyes on our next scare..




Whoa! This kind of thing should be kept in the sky on an infrequent basis after a rain shower. The designer attempted to use color to separate the testimonials but in doing so, he/she shattered all unity between them. I think the thought was to continue the rainbow from the header into the copy, but learn from this mistake. Too much color qualifies this as a scary web design.  Still not shaking in your shoes?  Step into this lair….



Ok, I never could track down what this website is about, but it really doesn’t matter. Unless the Creator in heaven has purchased a url (and really looks like this!) I don’t see how this could possibly be relevant to any business. If they were going for the “out of this world” look, I think they nailed it. However, if you don’t want to scare away customers, use attractive, relevant images that relate to your products and services.


Scary websites hide in the shadows. Their bad search engine optimization (SEO) scares away Google’s little automated crawlers that index web content. So, their url, content and images can’t be found, or even indexed. People who search the web for their site may never find it.

The scary thing about these websites is not their appearance at all. On the outside, they look just like everyone else, with attractive graphics and content. But underneath their pretty mask, their search engine optimization is frightening. Their content contains no keywords and neither does their coding. Their title tags say things like “home” and their images are labeled with numbers rather than keywords. In some ways, websites with bad SEO are worse than the scary websites that you can find.  The scary websites lure people to their door, but the people flee when they see what answers. The ones with bad SEO don’t even get the visitors to their door because you don’t know where they live!

This Halloween, check your website for these four frights. They can cost you your business reputation, your potential customers or even your self-respect. If you need some help organizing your content, or just want a check that your website is not so frightful, feel free to call me to discuss at 630.778.6182.


Web into BrochureAs a freelance copywriter, I am often retained by agencies to serve clients looking for an integrated marketing strategy. In short, this means they want to develop a brand with accompanying marketing messages, then carry them through to their new website and marketing collateral materials. I enthusiastically apply myself to the project, which usually begins with the website content. The published website content then becomes the basis for anything else I write for the client, for example, their brochure.

While most companies allocate a larger budget and more resources for their website, a brochure or printed flyer can still be a valuable leave behind. Easier on the eyes, with a tactile appeal, brochures can be a nice respite in an ocean of screen reading. The sensory experience alone, combined with slick graphic images presented on a silky or cottony stock can make an impression that helps the reader remember your message.

Depending on your clientele, the brochure can be as important as the website. For many salespeople, it provides an essential connection with the client after they leave the office or walk away from the trade show exhibit. However, when it is time to write your brochure content, it’s important to remember that because the brochure is viewed and digested differently than web content, it must be written differently as well.

Here are some tried and true tips for creating a brochure from your web content.

1. Write Your Brochure With a Linear Construction.
Website pages are read separately, and sometimes completely independent of the other pages on the website. Consequently, it’s easy to write or revise a website in a “piecemeal” format, page by page. Website visitors jump from page to page, in whatever order they want. A brochure, on the other hand, presents the information about your company in one static document. The brochure’s presentation of information must be organized and pleasing to your audience, which typically occurs with a linear construction.

With a linear construction, each section of the brochure must pave the way for the presentation of the next portion of the brochure. It’s best to organize the content into an information funnel, travelling from general to specific. For example, the typical order of a brochure is to begin with a general statement about the company, then lead down to specific benefits of the products or services.
The content organization within a typical brochure looks a little like this:

• Mission/purpose of business and audience
• Services
• Competitive Advantages
• Testimonials
• Call to Action
• Contact Information

While your order can vary with your design or industry, the most important thing is to present all the necessary information in an organized, easy to follow fashion for your reader.

2. Mercilessly Edit Your Website Content for Design and Readability.
Space is much more affordable on a website than in a brochure. Since you pay in printing costs for every word on the brochure, every word must count.

Also, the design of a brochure is even more critical because the reader is a captive that cannot “scroll” anywhere and must digest the information as presented. Therefore, white space (or strategically placed blank areas in the brochure design) is key to leading the reader to the most important items to know. How do you get more white space into a brochure? Reduce your content. How do you reduce your content? Here are some tips:

• Use bullet points rather than listing items in a sentence

• Create main point bold headlines out of your paragraph topic sentences in your website content

• Have an objective eye edit your work. What you see as necessary, an objective bystander will be able to judge as essential…or not. (By the way, a freelance copywriter can be very helpful in this situation)

• Distribute content evenly throughout the brochure

After all that editing, you may feel worried that you’ve cut something important. That’s why the next tip is important!

3. Allow the Brochure to Complement, Not Replace the Website.
The hardest thing to do when putting together a brochure is to forgive yourself for not including everything on your website within your brochure. It is perfectly acceptable to refer the reader to your website for “more information,” “a full list”, or our “latest developments.” In fact, this is often necessary in businesses where the products and services change rapidly. It could even be the prime objective of the piece!

4. Include Your Branding Material.
In the midst of your frantic editing, spare the delete key on your branding elements—logo, tagline, mission statements—in short, anything that you have written that identifies the uniqueness of your company. These are (or should be) your key marketing messages that you bring to the client to help them differentiate you from your competitors. Under no circumstances should you omit them from your brochure. In fact, any designer worth their salt will give them a place of honor within the piece!

Turning your web content into brochure content is not difficult but can often use a professional’s touch. If you have a wonderful website but are interested in producing an accompanying brochure or marketing piece, please contact Big Ideas Writing at 630-778-6182.


Website_ContentI sat down to write a blogpost about the many uses of a website and its versatility as a marketing tool. But I guess with the celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday this year, I was inspired instead to offer you something different: a simple ode to the website that is shorter, to the point, and depending on your sensibilities, much more fun to read.

With apologies to the Bard, and perhaps some readers, I offer my humble ode to the many uses of one’s “website,” or “internet presence”.  If you have a website, don’t hesitate to make the most of it. After all, a website by any other name would function just as beautifully.

Thy website thither upon yon screen

Behold the ways it lives and breathes


‘Twill display thy wares to every buyer  

Products, arts and all for hire; 


But so much more thy site can be

‘Twould host a blog most perfectly;


All thy print ‘twas giv’n by hand

In pdf on site can stand;


Whence thy good fortune makes the news

Thy site’s a merry place for views;


Place thy creations, art or wares,

Admidst thy fair portfolio there; 


Whence thy customers praise thy name

On site could dwell with lack of shame;


Who mark thy site and are impressed

Exchange thy thoughts for an address;

Join merrily in brotherhood

with links to those thou really should; 


So use thy site to best detail

And in pursuits thou wilt not fail!


                                –Karen Dix

                                Big Ideas Writing 

How to Edit Your Content So People Will Read It

Delete KeyRemember in school when you were asked to write a three-page paper on a subject you could only write a paragraph about?  I’m sure you employed all the tricks—double spacing, using lofty, cumbersome, long-winded phrases to put as many words as possible in your sentences, widening the margins, etc. to make the paper the required length. Well, I must admit, I did too.  However, as a web content writer I am on the other end of the spectrum and usually required to edit my work down to the lowest word count possible. Why? So people will read it!

If we create content, we must be kind to our readers and write succinctly.  They want your information, but they don’t have time to wade through excess verbiage!

So how do you turn 75 words into 25? Let’s find out.

When a client asks me to edit a biography, or piece of descriptive copy, the decision making process begins. I ask myself, what can I take out without letting the message fail?


Cut the Words. Save the Message.  Basically, I write the content in as few words as possible. Then I look at it again to see what I can take out. And I keep doing that until I can’t cut any more words without losing the message.

Here’s my actual editing “blueprint” for an Eblast I recently did for a company that provides personal services.  Eblasts as you know, must be as short and engaging as possible. People don’t have patience to read for information. You have 3-5 seconds to make the impression. Yet  I was required to keep all information in the text, but make it as succinct as possible.

Original text from the client:

If you are still taking your own dry cleaning out you are missing out on a big convenience, excellent quality, and turnaround reliability right here ….all at competitive prices. We have a great dry cleaners that picks up and delivers here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and orders are returned in two days (except weekends). You can drop off and pick up with a Leasing Consultant anytime that the office is open, including Sundays. Our cleaners uses only organic materials, which preserve the fabrics and leave them feeling softer. Also, their pressing is exceptional.

 The length is 92 words. Wouldn’t you rather read 69?

scissors THE FIRST EDIT:

Stop the drycleaning drops!  Take advantage of our convenient, reliable drycleaning pickup for our residents, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Our competitively-priced, high-quality cleaners use organic materials, to preserve the fabric and produce softer clothes. Clothes are pressed with precision and care and returned in two days (except weekends). Drop off, pickup and valet bags for your convenience are available at the leasing office during business hours, including Sundays.

 So what were some of the techniques I used to condense and edit this version?

Use Action Words.  Good copy motivates readers to do something. When I write, I try to motivate the reader by the words I choose. Depending on the medium (in this case an Eblast where the reader will not have much patience to read), dropping the reader into the action rather than explaining a situation can work best. In this case I encourage the reader to “Stop the drycleaning drops!” and “Take advantage” of a convenience.  Not only do action words reduce word count, they also make a more interesting read.

Combine Sentences.  When you combine two or more related sentences, you usually save words. In this case I took parts of several of their first, second and fifth sentences and got across many of the ideas within in my first two sentences.

Take care when combining sentences.  As you become more comfortable combining, it is easy to lose words, especially important ones that describe the important features and benefits of the product.  In this case these included:

  • Quality (cleaning)
  • Convenience
  • Reliability
  • Competitive prices
  • Schedule (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
  • Organic materials and benefits

As you edit, make sure you retain all of these important points, as I have done in EDIT ONE.

scissorsscissorsTHE SECOND EDIT

Now, I look at the writing to see if it can be edited further.  Guess what?  It could! I got it down to 58 words with no loss of message…

Usually when you do this, you create more readable content.

Imagine..hassle-free drycleaning!  Take advantage of convenient, reliable drycleaning pickup for residents, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Our competitively priced cleaners use organic materials, for softer, longer-lasting clothes.  Garments are pressed with precision and returned in two business days. Drop off, pickup and valet bags for your convenience are available at the leasing office during business hours, including Sundays.

So what did I do now?

Clinch the Opener!  If you are writing marketing content, as this is, you must grab the reader’s attention right away. I spend a lot of time developing the opening line of my content as I know it will make or break the reader’s decision to continue reading.  In this case, I wanted to quickly bring the reader into the reality of using the service. While “Stop the Drycleaning Drops!” does that as well, I felt the version in EDIT TWO had the same effect in a more positive way.  Which do you like better?

 Rewrite the Awkward.  The client described the cleaner as using organic materials “to preserve the fabrics and leave them feeling softer.”  In my first edit, I changed it to read “ to preserve the fabric and produce softer clothes.” Better, but not quite right.  I finally ended up using adjectives to describe the service:  “for softer, longer-lasting clothes.”

 Examine the Writing for Repetition or unnecessary adjectives.  In this version I realized I had the word “clothes” repeated in sentence three and four.  Try not to do this or you will bore the reader. And they will wonder why you couldn’t think of another word!  So I started the next sentence with the word “garments.” I also removed the words “and care” from the description of the pressing. After all, if you are pressing precisely, you are pressing with care.  Again, cut the words, keep the message!


In general, none of us likes to cut anything from our writing and most of us think everything we write is truly necessary.  However, as you struggle about what to cut from your writing, ask yourself this question: If I cut this word/phrase will the reader still get the message?  If yes, cut away!

Try to eliminate parentheses.  As a rule I try to avoid parentheses in my copy because I feel they jar the reader as they make their way through a fluid passage. In EDIT TWO I omitted the parenthetical text (except weekends) by simply saying it more succinctly—the drycleaning takes two business days.

Say it Specifically.  Most of my edits from ONE to TWO had to do with saying things more simply and specifically. In general, this is what we strive to do in our editing.  Can you say it more easily? Many times we just use too many words. Period!

Bullet Points  I can’t talk about editing without talking about bullet points.  In this day and age, we look for and expect to see bullet points in content. If you ever find yourself listing in your content, such as…

  • Features
  • Locations
  • Colors
  • Sizes
  • Specifications
  • Etc.

…use bullet points! The reader will thank you for it by reading them through!

In fact, the reader will thank you for all your editing hard work, hopefully with a response to your call to action!  If you are looking to turn 100 words into 25, and need some editing assistance,  feel free to contact me.





It’s time to wish all my clients and friends Happy Holidays and my best wishes for a prosperous New Year, including a profitable content marketing strategy! So my holiday gift to you is the following parody entitled “The 12 Days of Content.” Hum along and learn the many ways a web content writer like Big Ideas Writing can help you communicate your goals and reach your 2014 marketing goals.  The first step is to develop a marketing plan to guide the journey towards success!   

 Here we go..

 On the first day of content my writer gave to me…A strategic content marketing plan.


 On the second day of content, my writer gave to me… Two website concepts,

And a strategic content marketing plan!


 On the third day of content my writer gave to me… Three catchy taglines

 Two website concepts, and a strategic content marketing plan!


On the fourth day of content my writer gave to me….Four case studies,writing icon

Three catchy taglinesTwo website concepts,  and a strategic content marketing plan!


On the fifth day of content, my writer gave to me…Five landing pages, 

Four case studies,  Three catchy taglines Two website concepts,  and a strategic content marketing plan!


 On the sixth day of content my writer gave to me… Six testimonials,

 Five landing pages,  Four case studies,  Three catchy taglines Two website concepts, and  a strategic content marketing plan!


 On the seventh day of content, my writer gave to me… Seven blog ideas, 

 Six testimonials,  Five landing pages,  Four case studies,  Three catchy taglinesTwo website concepts, and a strategic content marketing plan!


facebook logoOn the eighth day of content my writer gave to me.. Eight Facebook postings,


Seven blog ideas, Six testimonials, Five landing pages, Four case studies, Three catchy taglines, Two website concepts, and a strategic content marketing plan!



On the ninth day of content, my writer gave to me… Nine press releases,

 Eight Facebook postings, Seven blog ideas, Six testimonials, Five landing pages, Four case studies, Three catchy taglines, Two website concepts, and a strategic content marketing plan!


On the tenth day of content, my writer gave to me… Ten Linkedin profiles,

linkedin inmage

Nine press releases, Eight Facebook postings, Seven blog ideas, Six testimonials, Five landing pages, Four case studies, Three catchy taglines, Two website concepts and a strategic content marketing plan!

On the eleventh day of content, my writer gave to me…eleven SEO keywords,

Ten Linkedin profiles, Nine press releases, Eight Facebook postings, Seven blog ideas, Six testimonials, Five landing pages, Four case studies, Three catchy taglines, Two website concepts and a strategic content marketing plan!

On the twelfth day of content, my writer gave to me…twelve company bios,

Eleven SEO keywords, Ten Linkedin profiles, Nine press releases, Eight Facebook postings, Seven blog ideas, Six testimonials, Five landing pages, Four case studies, Three catchy taglines, Two website concepts….

 andstrategic content marketing plan!

 Merry Christmas from Karen Dix @ Big Ideas Writing!




A graphic designer recently told me that her clients are often reluctant to hire a freelance content writer for their website.  “Hire-Web-Content-WriterMost of the time, my customers write their own web content,” she said.  I was taken aback, but certainly understood what she meant.  Few clients have the graphic design chops to create their own website, but since everyone “writes”, many business folks conclude that they can write copy for their own website.  And, from the number of poorly written websites out there, it seems this is exactly what is happening.

A freelance web content writer can help you grow your business in many ways and website content creation is just one of them.  So if you can put a sentence together, why hire a professional web content writer to write your website?  From all the possible answers to this question, here are my top 10!

 1. Organization.  As a freelance content writer, I would say 80% of my job is organizing content for my clients. Most web content writers are masters at organizing information.  They should be able to help you create a site map that will make sense to your readers, then use techniques to break your content into easily digestible pieces, like using bullets and subheads.

 2. Focus.  Before they sit down to write, a good web content writer will ask you important questions about your website and your mission that will help focus their words.  They will ask you to identify your target audience and your message.  What do you want them to do? Why should your prospects choose you over your competitors? All the information you give will help shape the copy into a piece that will present your business and its mission as attractively as possible.

 3. Your Personality.  A versatile,  freelance content writer should be able to write in different “voices.” Their work may be very formal for a law firm’s website, ethereal for a faith healer’s website, or fun and playful for a recipe blog.  They recognize that part of their job is finding the right tone for your content and they will work to produce content with your particular brand voice.

 4. SEO.  Search engine optimization means using different techniques, including strategic keywords, to get your website found in the search engines.  Good web content writers will know how to incorporate these keywords into your content and may even be able to help you with keyword selection.

5. Pizzazz.  Some business owners know their website copy is missing something—someone may even have told them so–but they just can’t put their finger on it.  Often, they are just missing a professional’s touch.  A solid writer can provide exciting work that flows, is easy to read and engages the reader.

6. Brevity.  You could say, “It is important to write succinctly in a website because writing that is too abundant in words could negatively affect how well the website visitor reads and reacts to the content written therein.”  Or, you could say, “Concise content is more likely to convert website visitors.”  An experienced web content writer will always use the least amount of words needed and get straight to the point so that the reader understands the message and also wants to keep reading!

 7. Clarity.  Freelance content writers are first and foremost, communicators.  They take the message you want and present it in an effective, understandable format that gets results for your business.  

8. Speed.  Since freelance web content writers are experts at what they do, chances are they can do it more quickly than you can.  Even if they are charging a large hourly wage, or substantial lump sum, think for a minute about the cost of your own time.  How long will it take you to do the writing?  What will it cost to have you or an employee engaged in website writing instead of your normal activities?  When will you be able to get to the task? By hiring help, you could stay focused on your core business and get a higher-quality result in a shorter period of time.

9. Feedback.  Ok, most web content writers aren’t graphic designers, but part of their job is to integrate image and verbiage so it wows the client.  Writers pay attention to design, just as designers pay attention to headlines. If asked, your web content writer will be able to offer valuable feedback on your graphic design direction and offer punchy headlines and sidebars that will work best with the design template.  Also, sometimes when we do something ourselves, we cannot evaluate it objectively.  A good web content writer can do that as well.

10.  And most importantly…Conversion.  Let’s face it. The real reason you want people to come to your website is to do something, whether that’s call for an appointment, make a donation or order a product.  Are you sure you know the best way to present information about your products and services that will motivate them to take the next step?  A good freelance content writer can choose words and structure phrases that motivate and inspire.

Ready to write your new website?  Or give your website copy an overdue facelift?  Contact us today for a consultation.