If you’re a small business owner or non-profit manager, you may be looking to write your own website content. As a client-centered business, we encourage clients who want to write their own website content.
But before you start toiling away, however, keep in mind that it is not always a good idea to write your own website content.
Don’t Write Customer Testimonials
You should encourage customers to write their own testimonials with minimal direction. When customers are happy with the products or services that you’ve provided for them, it’s natural to ask them if they would be interested in sharing a testimonial. But it’s also important to be transparent about how the testimonial will be published (as a video, written quote, etc.) and how they will be represented (first name, full name, etc.). They should also be able to preview what their testimonial will look like before it is published and should have the opportunity to give feedback on whether they approve of their testimonial.
To give structure to customer testimonials (or donor or volunteer testimonials if you’re a non-profit), it’s acceptable to ask open-ended questions (e.g., What do you like about this product or service?). Avoid asking leading questions (e.g., Why is our service the best in town?) that force customers into pre-scripted responses. Customers should feel that their responses are those they would share without your prompting. These customers are most likely your most loyal and your relationship with them needs to be protected throughout this process.
We like Google Reviews, because they show up in search results and can be easily added to a website. Google also maintains a strict policy on what content can be posted in a review, so you don’t have to worry about enforcing your own.
Don’t Write Terms and Conditions or Other Legally-Binding Language
Your Terms and Conditions statement and any other legally-binding language on your website should be vetted by a lawyer. If you have a website that allows users to post their own content or respond to your content, for example, you need to have a terms and conditions statement regarding how you moderate comments. Even registered users of your website may behave in ways that you don’t expect. They may post inappropriate content. They may harass other users.
Terms and conditions statements are also used to outline what kinds of privacy protections users may expect, as well as how to opt out of services. This is essential if you are in the healthcare, education, or cybersecurity industries. Really, any website that allows users to register an account, to communicate with other users, or to exchange goods and services, needs to have a solid terms and conditions statement that will hold up in court, however. Unless you are a lawyer familiar with the laws that govern web content, you should entrust an expert who has this expertise with this task.
Don’t Write Content You Don’t Feel Confident About
You also shouldn’t write your own website content when you’re not confident in your abilities to effectively market your small business or non-profit on your website. You may not trust in your own abilities to create effective website content. You may have never written content for a website before. You may have never developed confidence in your ability to develop ideas or to proofread your own writing. You may have a grand vision for your website but feel you don’t personally have the ability to make that vision come to life.
We work with a lot of clients at different stages of the writing process. Some need help brainstorming ideas for website content. Some need their content edited or proofread. And some need content written from scratch.
Know your limits when it comes to the often time-consuming task of writing website content. And know when it’s worth your time to enlist an expert.
If you want to write content yourself, consider starting a peer review circle with some of your colleagues to improve your writing.
Check out the following article for some tips on how to get started.
Write Smarter, Not Harder
You don’t have to go it alone when creating website content. Your customers can help other potential customers realize the value you are bringing to the marketplace through testimonials. A good lawyer can help you establish enforceable rules of engagement on your website. An excellent marketing team composed of writers and designers can help you execute your vision for your website.
A thriving website needs many voices. Make sure you’re including the right ones.