I was one of the lucky few to get to beta-test the Bosscation Workbook. And when I say lucky, I mean lucky. Lauren Black and I connected about it right at the time when I was preparing to launch a new endeavor. I needed guidance; I was desperate for a resource that would help me plan out my business thoroughly and in a detailed fashion. And along came the Bosscation Workbook!
The version of the workbook I got was for planning out an offer or event, like a webinar. So due to the conflicting nature of what I was doing and what the workbook actually teaches, some sections didn’t fit well. I also received an early beta version of the workbook, so not all the sections had been completely fleshed out. But beta or not, Lauren did an amazing job covering all that goes into planning any branded business venture.
I’m going to take you through the workbook, section by section, and go over what I thought was helpful and what I didn’t. I know for a fact that Lauren has improved on the book due to some of my feedback. For sections 4 and 5 in particular, I haven’t given suggestions on what to change because these sections were partially incomplete or not all-the-way fleshed out when I received my version. But after speaking to Lauren, I know that she’s given these sections a total makeover so I envy you for getting a perfected version of this amazing resource!
I used a printed PDF of the “Launch Your Signature Service” workbook.
I am reviewing the workbook itself, not the box and all its goodies.
Bosscation Workbook Section 1: Your Unique Offer
In my version for the book, at the beginning of every section there as a brain-dump section for brainstorming and jotting down free-form ideas, which I filled to the brim. These sections have since been removed.
I found this Your Unique Offer area in general extremely helpful. This is the section that asked me for my broader ideas about what my company means. Things like:
- My mission statement
- My target market and why they need it
- The black and white facts of what I’m offering and to whom and how often
- Who my competition is and how I can be better then them.
It helped me prioritize my one non-negotiable service, whereas before I had a ton of things I wanted to offer all at once. But the workbook forced to me say “This is what I offer and it has to be strong so that it can influence all the supporting services.” Since then, I’ve actually found it easier to maintain focus on that as I push the business forward. I’ve been able to prevent my ideas and attention from straying too much to all the shiny extras and add-ons.
A whole page focused on my competition. Which actually, literally gave me more confidence after I filled it out. The main brand that serves as my competition has been giving me anxiety since I first decided to start this business. But in outlining their benefits, their downsides, and the reason people choose it, I realized my idea is pretty much objectively better.
There was a part that allowed me to fill out a value ladder. It maps out your offers, examples, and the price. This section was sort of lost on me, although I think I could have made better use of it if I had more control over it and could have inserted my own steps to the ladder.
Bosscation Workbook Section 2: Narrow Your Niche
My business came about due to a very specific problem. My niche and my target market is already fairly narrow. But believe it or not, this section actually did help me get more granular about who I wanted to talk to. My favorite part, right up front, was the chart that asked me to map out my client profiles (I had 2). It asked me for their pain points, pros/attractions, and cons/objections. I was able to map out how to approach the two different types of people I believe will want to interact with my business.
In my version of the book, the next page contained a space for a client profile. It was set up like an interview form. I didn’t fill it out because it was geared toward people who own their own business (great, if that’s who you’re dealing with!) However, I bookmarked it to use to interview my ideal clients and learn more about them. That is one of the things I love about this workbook; there were parts I couldn’t use for their intended purpose, but were still valuable to me.
Since my use, Lauren has edited this section and replaced this section with questions that made the section more relevant for any business. So you can be sure to find this section and know that it will fit you and your ideal clients.
There were a few sections here that were repetitive. I personally don’t benefit for re-stating or re-wording something I’ve already stated, but I feel like it can really help some people who need help clarifying and refining their ideas. I did also have to keep in mind that I was not the target market for this version of the workbook.
Bosscation Workbook Section 3: Craft Your Offer
This part was a tad bit complicated, as I was launching a full businesses, not just an offer. But thinking of my business like an offer actually came in handy. In a lot of ways, you can approach them both the same way. I was able to determine some details for my marketing plan. I pinned down what content I wanted to share and how I wanted to share it.
This section was perhaps my least favorite altogether. There were some questions that I didn’t understand or didn’t know how to answer, like What type of accountability do [your clients] need?
There were many pages focused on crafting an order, like workshops, courses, masterminds, coaching, membership sites, etc. I ended up skipping all these sections, purely because they aren’t for me. But given that you’ll be using this version of the workbook if you’re crafting these kinds of offers, you can except some really juicy and helpful questions here.
Bosscation Workbook Section 4: Marketing & Sales
Because I’m a marketing-minded person already, I already had a firm grasp on a lot of the concepts from this section. But the questions allowed me to simplify, minify and organize those concepts. Someone who is new to marketing, who needs help making decisions, or who struggles with content planning can definitely benefit from this section. I particularly loved the section that asked me to write down questions my audience keeps asking. It’s helped me come up with pre-launch content to answer those questions.
I loved the pre-kick off questions as well. This is the phase I’m in now and it’s helped a lot to keep me focused and on track. Target content creation is always hard for me to do, not because I don’t have ideas, but it’s hard for me to only use the best ones.
The content plan creator in this section is still blank in my book, but I cannot wait to return to it when I’m developing a content strategy. It allows you to outline each topic, where it will be published, content upgrades, etc. It’s a must-have for anyone creating content and brilliantly designed by Lauren.
Bosscation Workbook Section 5: Planning, Pricing & Packaging
Because I’m in the pre-launch stage, a lot of information in this section will come from the research I’m currently doing. But that didn’t stop this section from being immensely helpful.
I loved the checklist charts available in this section. Throughout the whole workbook, I was hoping for a checklist format where I could make a list of all the tasks that I’ve decided to perform via the other section. With these checklists, I can view all the tasks in one place to get a better idea of the work I had to do. Some of the tasks and hires are for further on down the road, but I love that they are all in love place.
I wasn’t able to crunch all the numbers that were being asked of me, simply because I’m not in a place yet to compile all of that information. But I definitely intend on using it in the future when I’m finalizing my budget for my crowd-funding campaign.
Overall, I give my version of the Bosscation workbook 4 out of 5 stars.
Given the fact that what I had was a beta version and incomplete in a few sections, you can expect the revised version to get a perfect score. It is an insanely helpful resource if you have the right business for it. There were flaws and areas that I just passed right over. But it so valuable to me and I continuously find myself referencing the notes I made in it. I recommend it to anyone who needs help developing a new part of their business.
If you’d like to test this workbook for yourself, Lauren is still looking for beta testers! You can apply to test the “Launch Your Signature Offer” Strategy Guide like I did by clicking here!
You know the 8-second rule, right? No, not the one where it’s ok to eat the piece of candy that fell on the ground if you grab it before 8 seconds. The other one – the one where you have 8 seconds to catch the attention of your website visitor. It might even be less these days. After you catch their attention you want to get them reading…then clicking around and getting an idea of just how awesome you are.
This is where writing great website copy comes in. Engaging and powerful copy initiates the relationship with your new reader, leading them on a path through your page that ends in asking them to take a specific action. In short, website copy builds relationships and sells your stuff
But it can be difficult to clearly express what you do, who you serve, and everything else you need your reader to know. Have no fear, friend! Just go through these ten tips below and your copy will be transformed into a client magnet.
1. Remember to always focus on the reader.
Think about your own mindset when you’re on a website that sells something (a product or service).
Sure, if the person seems really interesting you might want to know more about them, but mostly you’re wondering what they can DO FOR YOU, right? Otherwise, you wouldn’t be there.
Pick ONE of your readers who is your ideal customer, preferably a real person you’ve connected with (online or in person) and write JUST TO THEM.
As business owners, we don’t want to exclude anyone from being a potential customer. We feel like (even when we know it’s not effective!) we need to be everything to everyone.
The only way to speak to anyone effectively is to speak just to your ideal customer. You may feel like you’re alienating all of those other potential customers, but what you’re really doing is creating a sane marketing plan for yourself.
Your about page needs to be largely focused on the big ‘about,’ or how you serve your customers and solve their problems. You will also add some information about yourself; just be sure to put it below the other information.
2. Write like you talk and like your customer talks.
You can learn exactly how your customers talk by reading their emails to you, looking at your social media accounts, and surveying your readers.
This is one of the most important tips in website copywriting. You can literally pull their words and use them on your site. They’ll feel like you’re talking directly to them.
3. Write in active voice.
Always use the active tense of a verb when writing copy. This leads to sentences that are more clear and concise.
When you use the passive voice, it tends to end up in more complex sentences that are not as easy to read.
Let’s look at a simple example that illustrates this.
Active: The girl ate her lunch.
Passive: The lunch was eaten by the girl.
The passive voice version doesn’t flow and feels like it takes some effort to read and comprehend.
Also, make sure your tenses are consistent throughout.
When you’re editing your web copy, go through it sentence by sentence to make sure it’s all in the present tense.
Hopping around in tenses makes copy hard to read and feel inconsistent and disjointed.
4. Keep them wanting (needing) to read on.
Did you notice the first sentence I wrote in this post?
I wrote that for a reason. It evokes curiosity and makes you want to keep reading (hopefully!). This is one of your biggest jobs when writing your website copy. Keep em’ readin’!
5. Have your homepage hero area be a clear statement about what you do.
Remember that eight seconds we have to engage a customer?
The first thing they see on your site should be a clear statement of who you help and how you help them. They want to know, immediately, if they’re in the right place to find a solution to their problem.
I recently wrote home and about page copy for my friend Samantha’s site, which gives us a good example this.
The hero area clearly states what she does and who she serves. Also, it evokes emotion…which leads us to the next tip.
6. Use emotion.
On Samantha’s site, the reader immediately sees, “Imagine a peaceful and joyful relationship with food. It’s closer than you think.”
Since Sam is an Eating Psychology Coach, I aimed to help the reader feel the possibility of what could be by working with her. Then I encouraged them to feel how close that solution might be.
Using emotion is one of the best ways to connect with your audience. If you can get them to FEEL, they will want to keep reading your site.
7. Incorporate story.
The story can help establish rapport with your reader, especially on your about page.
Say you’re a website designer. You struggled in the beginning, learning how to create an effective design, learning to code, and all that’s involved in your craft.
You struggled and worked your tail off so your client doesn’t have to. Tell that story. Talk about how you figured it out so you can now help them NOT have to figure it out.
Let your reader know that you’ve been in the exact spot they’re in right now and it will help them trust you.
Here’s an example of a great about page from a copywriting perspective. You’ll see it does a great job at telling how the company makes their clients’ lives easier (by offering themes and kits that will make creating a website easy).
It goes on to tell a bit about each team member, keeping it friendly and easy to relate to.
8. Include a CTA on every page.
It’s soooo important to lead the reader through your site. It should be like a map where every page leads to ONE button or action you want them to take (call to action or CTA).
For example, your homepage CTA could be to hop on your email list, read a popular blog post, or to check out your services.
Your CTA on your services page could be to contact you with questions about your services or to check out your portfolio or testimonials to build trust in you.
9. Use basic SEO practices…but focus on writing for people, not google.
While you can spend a ton of time researching keywords, keyphrases, and what your competitors are doing, I don’t think it’s really necessary for some of us.
It’s definitely nice to turn up high in a google search, but some of us are using social media to get our brands out there instead of intensive keyword strategies.
If you do want to dig a bit deeper and utilize SEO more in your strategy, check out Allie’s post SEO Guide for Beginners.
Be sure to use keywords and phrases in your copy, but only where they naturally fit in and sound great. Remember, you also have the backend of your site to add keywords and phrases, so there are plenty of opportunities to add them in (don’t forget those alt tags on your images!)
10. Write amazing headlines (and subheadlines).
On shorter website pages, headlines may not come into play at all. But if you have a longer page, or a services page, headlines and subheadlines can serve as place markers and make it easier to scan the page.
Even though this infographic from Hubspot is geared more towards writing headlines for blog posts, the same basic rules apply to all headlines.
It’s a good one to pin and refer to when writing any type of headline. Note further down the infographic where they list sets of words for writing headlines…super helpful!
Before I sign off, I wanted to share an example of website copywriting that isn’t very effective based on the tips I outlined above.
Let’s look at the homepage. Here are some issues I see right away (besides the outdated design):
- He says ‘my’ and ‘I’ too much.
- There aren’t clear headings.
- It’s hard to read and follow.
- It’s not clear what’s being offered (it’s a bit wishy-washy).
I feel bad criticising his site, but I’ve actually taken a class by him and he’s a really amazing guy. I’m sure he’ll never read this, anyway!
If you take some time today to make these tweaks to your site, your readers and customers will have a better experience while getting to know you and your services.
Not only will you increase the chances of them taking the action you desire, but you will begin building a relationship that could result in your new favorite customer.
Cari Maines is a Freelance Copywriter and Content Writer. She specializes in soulful copywriting and blog posts for big-hearted brands. You can get her free ‘Words that Work’ Website Copywriting e-course here and check out her services here. You can connect with her on Facebook & Twitter.
So many small business owners have to DIY their website. From time to money constraints, it’s just a fact of life that you may have to design and build your site yourself. If that’s the case for you, there will probably come a time where you feel the need to re-examine your work and make sure it’s the strongest it can be. To audit your own website takes clarity of vision and objectivity, both of which can be hard to accomplish without some help.
You may need to do an audit of your website if you:
- Have been seeing a decline in conversions through your site
- Have changed your branding or your company vision
- Have changed any of your services
- Are trying to improve your SEO
- Or if you’re simply changing as a business and want your site to reflect that
Here are the steps you can take to audit your own website in an afternoon:
1. Identify the Change
Take a few moments to identify for yourself what it is that has changed about your business. Essentially, the reason you’re doing the audit. It can come from the list I have above, or it can be a unique reason. Write it down, say it out loud, discuss it with a friend. Just make sure you understand what your problem is so that you can solve it.
2. Create an Actionable Goal Map
Here’s where want to get out a pen and paper. From that problem you just identified, identify the solution.
First, write down the problem you’re having at the top of the paper. Then, write down the solution at the bottom of the paper. This solution must be something quantifiable; you have to be able to measure success with this goal. (Hint: Use numbers!) In between, write down all the things that can help you solve the problem that you aren’t already doing. They have to be things you can accomplish via your website. This is where you might need to do some research. Do this for every problem you’re having – it’s ok if you’re having more than one problem with the site.
Here’s an example.
Problem: Conversions on the site are down.
- Publish more blog posts with links to my services
- Have a link to my services page in the footer and sidebar
- Install a pop-up sign up form for my e-mail list
- Make my opt-in freebies prominent
- Have a design that is appealing to my target audience
Solution: Get at least 20 members of my target audience (black males between the ages of 24-45 in Atlanta) to contact me for my service every month.
Now you have a list of actionable things to do to help solve your problem. But that’s not where you’re audit ends.
3. Make a List of Strong Choices and Choices That Could Be Stronger
Even if you have all of these things in place, you need to observe how your site looks and how it functions. It’s not enough to have all the puzzle pieces in front of you, they have to be arranged properly and fitted together in order to help you achieve your goal.
I don’t like to look at something and say it’s “good” or “bad”. With design especially, you want to think about strong choices vs. weak choices. A strong choice is the best possible decision you could have made to help you reach your goal. A weak choice is something you did on a whim or for a reason that isn’t helpful to you. For instance, a lot of people choose colors and fonts because they like how they look. But if your target audience doesn’t identify with those choices, they are weak.
Keep your problem and solution in mind. In this case, you’re not getting conversions and you want from the people you want. Here are the 3 main areas to look at and some simple questions you should be asking yourself.
- Is the color scheme I’m using appealing to these people? Is there any way for me to choose a stronger color scheme?
- Am I using color to the best of my ability to lead users to what they need to convert?
- Is the font I’m using appealing to these people? Is there any way for me to choose a stronger font?
- Am I using font to the best of my ability to lead users to what they need to convert?
- Is the imagery I’m using appealing to these people? Is there any way for me to choose stronger imagery?
- Am I using imagery to the best of my ability to lead users to what they need to convert?
- Are my colors, fonts, and imagery creating a strong emotional connection?
- When a user arrives at a page (any page), do they understand what I do right away?
- When a user arrives at a page (any page), is there a clear and direct way for them to get the information they need about my service?
- When a user arrives at a page (any page), can they convert within 3 clicks?
- Are they any pages that do not provide a next step toward conversion?
- Am I using every content area in a way that provides the user with information they find useful and that answers their questions?
- Am I using every content area to establish an emotional investment in the user?
- Am I using every content area to allow the user to see themselves as a realistic potential client of mine?
- Am I using vocabulary and terminology that my user understands?
- Am I using the strongest possible Calls to Action?
- Do I have too much content that is preventing users from engaging?
- Are the services/products I’m offering what my target audience is looking for?
- Is there anything I’m offering that is not helpful to my target audience?
- Is there anything I can change about my services/products that can be more helpful to my target audience?
Do you have any tips to auditing a website? Leave them in the comments below!
Many thanks to Bonnie Bryant for zeroing in on some of the most popular mistakes you’re making with your website copy!
There are so many important things that go into your website. Good web design? Obviously. Awesome logo and branding? Of course. Good images of your product? Yes. Excellent copy that connects with your customer and gets them to contact you? Wait, what?
Don’t worry. It’s okay if your copy game isn’t an A+ yet. Most people think of website copy as an afterthought, if they think of it at all. However, if you’re reading this, you need to start thinking about it! If your website copy is full of errors, it’ll turn off customers. If it’s dry and boring, they won’t see how awesome you are and might not even try to contact you at all. Wouldn’t that be a shame after all your hard work?
Here are the top four mistakes I’ve found when copy editing and rewriting website copy for clients:
Sounding Like a Robot
Most people freeze up when writing, especially for their business. They think that because it’s a business, the tone of their copy needs to be overly formal, which comes across as stilted at best and robot-like at worst.
Your copy needs to have personality, even in more serious, formal industries like accounting and law. Write like you’d talk to your customer in person, not like how you think a “serious business owner” would write.
How do you do this if you’re not a professional writer? Here’s a technique that you can try at home. (Don’t try it in a crowded coffee shop, because people might think you’re nuts, but at home it can be super helpful!) Pretend your target customer is in front of you, and explain your business to them. Maybe even get a friend or family member to “stand in” as your target customer. Record yourself telling them about your business, and then listen to it. That’s how you want to write your web copy – like you’d talk to them in person. Not like you’re a word robot spitting out stilted sentences full of business jargon.
Getting Too Off Track and Giving TMI
You should have a few simple goals in mind when writing web copy. One of the most important of those goals is showing your customer in a concise way how you can help them.
If you’re talking too much about yourself, your customer won’t care. They’ll get bored and click away. It’s not about you – it’s about how you can help them.
Your website copy should be tailored to connect with the customer — speak to their problem or needs. It should then show how you can help them — give them what they need or solve their problem.
Remember, it’s about the customer. If you’re writing about yourself, it should be in a way that shows how it benefits them.
For example, you’re a family photographer. Your market research has shown you that your target customer wants an affordable family photographer who can manage organizing portraits with toddlers. If you mention your own toddlers, make it about how you’re a mom with lots of experiencing wrangling little ones, and you’re able to effectively do it for your clients during portrait sessions. Boom! You’ve turned your personal experience into a strength that helps your customer. If you mentioned your kids just for the heck of it, without connecting it to your customer at all, they’d read it and think, “Huh? Why do I care about her kids?”
When you’re writing web copy, avoid rambling or big blocks of text. Edit your copy to be as concise as possible. Break up longer topics into headings, and longer lists into bullet points. Make it easy to read!
What’s a call-to-action? It’s a way to tell your customer what to do next. They love your services, they connect with your copy, they believe you can solve their problem – how do they reach you? What should they do? If you don’t add a call-to-action, you’re wasting all the hard work you put in.
The call-to-action depends on the context of the copy. Calls-to-action includes things like:
- Follow us on Instagram at [instagram handle]
- Questions? Reach out to us at [email address and phone number]
- Ready to book your appointment? Click here!
- Interested? Call Randy at [phone number] to request a quote!
Don’t waste all your hard work by not guiding the customer towards what you want them to do. If you make them hunt for an email address or phone number, they’re more likely to just skip reaching out to you.
Grammar, Spelling, and Syntax Mistakes
This is the biggest mistake you can make in writing your web copy. A misplaced “your” when you need a “you’re,” awkward syntax, or a glaring spelling mistake makes you lose credibility with your customer instantly.
Some people recommend asking a friend to look over your copy, but it’s really a job for a professional.
Most copywriters offer an affordable proofreading service where they fix grammar/spelling mistakes and offer recommendations for syntax or wording fixes. Unless your friend has experience in writing or copy editing, it’s better to leave an important thing like this to the experts.
It doesn’t hurt to pick up a copy of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style (the copywriting bible) or a fun, quick read like Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. You can brush up on your grammar and syntax so you make fewer mistakes in the future.
Copy Is More Than Just Words
Your copy is an essential part of your brand – it’s your “voice” to customers who haven’t met you in person yet. These four mistakes you’re making with your website copy are not impossible to fix! If you keep it concise, relevant, and free of grammar, spelling, and syntax errors, you’re well on your way to connecting with your target customers!
Bonnie is a copywriter and designer who works with creative business owners. You can find her at bonniebryantcreative.com or follow her on Instagram at @bonniebryantoconnor.