I’ve had a few people approach me recently saying that they like that my website copy has some personality. It’s not too uptight or overly cold and professional – I’m happy with it now, but it wasn’t always this way. Only a few months ago, I rewrote my copy because I realised it wasn’t me. My blog posts were more relaxed, but my main site copy was stale. Why didn’t I get it right the first time? Because I was trying too hard to be an upstanding professional, and I ended up just sounding boring.
I know a lot of others struggle with this. You want to sound trustworthy and serious, especially if your brand is just you. However, in trying to present the right image, you lose all notion of what makes you different. Then when you try to be a bit more fun and write some creative content, you just sound cheesy and very “how do you do, fellow kids?”
So, how do you inject plenty of personality into your copy and content without sounding like you’re not taking anything seriously or completely missing the mark? How do you project authority without being boring?
Think About What Makes You Different
Before you start writing, take a moment to think about what makes you different. What about yourself and what you’re offering should stand out? Are you a no-nonsense, straight-talking person who always says it like it is? Maybe you want to show that you’re confident and knowledgeable, as well as passionate about your work. Or perhaps you’re a caring, kind person and you dedicate yourself to your customers or clients. It could be that you have a unique approach to what you do.
It doesn’t even necessarily have to be connected to your business/website. You might just want to reveal little details about who you are. I’ve mentioned my cats and my tea-chugging habit (trying to rein in the biscuit thing) on my site, neither of which are really connected to my work.
Relax and Let It Flow*
*I’m sorry that this sounds like advice for someone who can’t urinate in public toilets
The biggest tip I can give is to relax. Don’t think about it too much. Start off by writing how you talk – or, at least, how you would talk to someone about your business. Pretend you’re having a conversation with someone or giving a fun presentation (or not that if, like me, you never find presentations anything but terrifying).
If you’re still struggling, try writing about something more casual first. The stakes might feel too high when you write for your website, so start off with something less significant. Begin by writing about your favourite band or your dog or your last holiday, then keep writing in the same style but turn your attention to what matters.
If you’re trying to write your website copy, I suggest trying to write a blog post first. Blog posts can be much more conversational, so it makes it easier for the right words to come out. You might want your main page copy to be a bit snappier, but you can worry about that later.
Don’t Be Such a Try-hard
I’ve seen a lot of “humorous” copy/content that people seem happy to praise as hilarious and just right for their audience. And maybe these people are right, and it works for them. But, a lot of the time, I end up thinking: really? Because I think I’m your target market, and it makes me cringe. Maybe the fact that I’m not laughing along means I’m not the kind of customer they’re looking for (am I…old?). But many brands fall into the trap of trying to be young and trendy, and ending up with that same corporate young and trendiness that all brands trying the same thing have.
Here’s one important thing to remember if you want your creative content to have personality: you don’t have to be funny. While everyone has a sense of humour, not everyone is great at being funny through the written word. If you try too hard to be funny, it’s really obvious. Often you’re at your funniest when you’re not trying – but you don’t have to be funny at all.
Use Your Own Voice
Another point to take from above is that if everyone tries to do the same thing, no one will stand out. It’s all very well being friendly and approachable, but what’s the point if you sound just like everyone else? If you are your brand and your brand is you, be yourself and don’t try to be someone else.
That doesn’t mean you should just do a pure stream of consciousness, though. If you’re Sweary McSwearface in your personal life, it might not be appropriate on your website. But if you want to be a bit cheeky and let your personality shine through (and you don’t mind putting off a few sensitive people) maybe you want to risk a naughty word or two.
Look for Examples to Inspire You
If you feel like the words just aren’t coming or you don’t know where to start, look for some examples that you like. The idea isn’t to copy them but just get a feel for how they do things, and how you can translate it into your own voice. It can give you a bit more confidence if you’re unsure about what’s appropriate or what will work. It can be helpful to look at sites for other industries to make extra sure that you don’t just copy them.
Remember than you can test out your copy and creative content. If you feel like it’s not effective, you can make some changes. It doesn’t have to be a one-time effort – in fact, it shouldn’t be! Update it and adjust it until it sounds right and works for you.