I get it. Writing website copy is intimidating, to say the least. All those eyes judging you, deciding whether to keep exploring, choosing within a few seconds whether they want to know more.
When first impressions mean so much, homepage headlines hold a lot of pressure. Even if it's only a sentence—the words carry a lot of weight.
If you're feeling stuck and intimidated by your homepage headline, here are 4 tips to make writing one easier:
1. Save your headline for last.
A lot of us are wired to think we need to start from the beginning. (Like when you sit down to write a blog or Instagram post, then spend 30 minutes aiming for the perfect first sentence or intro paragraph).
If you try to write your headline first, you’re going to waste a lot of time finicking with something that might not even make the cut. Instead, write your services, about page, and pretty much everything else before coming back to that first sentence. Then, you’ll have the full context of your business at your fingertips. You’ll have hours and days of your mind making connections you don’t even realize are happening.
2. Brainstorm without censoring yourself.
The perfectionist side of you is going to watch you type three ideas, hate every second of it, then tell you every bit belongs in the garbage disposal. (She might try to tell you to go ahead and quit running your own business forever because this brainstorming session is proof you’ll never amount to anything at all).
Shove that negativity to the dark place and type like nobody's watching. I don’t care if you say “My Biz is the Shizz” or whatever you want to say for the time being. No one else is going to see your long bulleted list of terrible or amazing ideas. So keep typing my friend.
3. Walk away from your computer.
This is the tip you’ll want to ignore because it doesn’t feel like real advice. She doesn’t mean literally walk away. Oh but I do. I really do. I’m sorry if I sound like a motivational sticker, but the best writing happens when you’re moving. Far away from your screen.
During my writing hour, I’ll walk away more than once. I’ll empty a quarter of my dishwasher (a few forks at a time if that’s what it takes). I’ll do a quick cat-cow or child’s pose. I’ll look out the window and pace around the living room.
Whatever you do, just move. Set a timer if you have to. Let the ideas marinate and swish around up there without the pressure your evil desk gives you.
4. Give yourself more time.
When I went to write my website the second time around—a complete overhaul with new services and branding— I told myself I’d get it done in one week. I had plenty of time since client work was slow, so I thought I was being realistic. (I wasn’t).
I hadn’t taken into account how creativity works. Creativity isn’t a switch you can flip on and off without warning. As much as you want to, you can’t research, brainstorm, outline, write, rewrite, and edit everything in one day. Give yourself some buffer time for creativity to do its thing. Your mind needs the space to reboot between tasks and let the creativity flow in.
Writer's block? Try this
Blank pages are scary. Now I'm no outliner or plotter—I’m a pantser writer through and through—but even though my default is typing by the seat of my pants, a rough idea of what I want to say keeps the blank page less scary. Copy over these questions into a document and start bulleting out your answers. It’ll help you reign in the inner critic, gather your thoughts, and move beyond your writer's block.
What are your clients’ fears right now?
Imagine what your clients are worried about—what keeps them up at night when it comes to their business? Are they worried about their finances? Are they dreading having to hire someone? Maybe they’ve tried hiring someone before and it didn’t go well. Are they worried about how they’ll find someone they trust to work with? What kind of fears can you appease in the headline?
What frustrations do they have?
Whether you’re a virtual assistant, bookkeeper, or copywriter, your clients will have similar frustrations. Not enough time. Not enough resources. Think back on your early conversations with clients and how they were feeling. Are any of their frustrations alleviated by using your service?
How does your client feel WITHOUT your services?
Marketing is all about how people feel. Understanding where your client is coming from will help you write not only your headline but all of your web, social, and email copy.
How does your ideal client feel WITH your services?
Make a list of some of the common things people say about working with you. This might not go into the headline, but it’ll get those wheels turning so you can make the connections you need to come up with some solid ideas.
Memorable doesn’t mean forever
Your homepage headline can be an iterative process. Okay yes, you don’t want to change your headline every week—but try to be kinder to yourself and tweak as needed. Give yourself space and patience to try out different variations until you find what works.
Feeling unsure about your headline? Get your free website headline guide here.