Bringing Authenticity to Web Copy

Old Typewriter

For a moment let’s revisit that age-old advice given by career counselors on college campuses all across the country just before big interviews: just be yourself.

We get it.  It’s easier said than done.  But that doesn’t mean it’s untrue.  That same sagely advice is pertinent as you approach the way you represent yourself and your organization in your web copy.  There are likely numerous other folks that do something (or at least claim to do something) similar to what you’re doing.  But there aren’t any others out there that are exactly the same as you.  And that can be a huge asset to you.

Here are a few tips to help you bring authenticity to your web copy.

Highlight Your Story

Your story is a big part of what makes you and your organization unique.  Don’t be afraid to bring an authentic portrayal of yourself to your web copy.  I don’t know about you, but I always check out About Us pages on websites that I visit to see the people behind the organization.  And I’m always disappointed when it’s the same old industry jargon and sales pitch rhetoric.  I tend to promptly forget it.

But a memorable, authentic story sticks with me.  Designer Jon Tan has an excellent About page that he’s personalized to be totally his own.  He highlights his professional accomplishments, but also shares a glimpse of his unique story if you scroll down to the “Personally…” section.  It’s easy for me to remember he started designing at Lego and worked as an octopus fisherman.  And being memorable in the clutter of web content these days is no easy feat.

Create Realistic Expectations

I’m sure you’re great at many things.  But there’s just no way you’re great at everything.  And if you tell me that you are I’m going to think you are lying.

Focus your copy on what you are actually great at doing.  This will help you in two important ways.  First, it will increase the likelihood that you’ll be contacted by people that can actually benefit from what you have to offer.  Second, it will help you to manage expectations.  You can’t be all things to all people.  So focus on what you’re good at and explain in layman’s terms what you’re all about.

Write How You Talk

Web copy is almost always too formal.  In most cases it’s better to just write how you talk.  Don’t worry about sounding smart.  It takes far more intelligence to present complex topics in an understandable way than it does to look up big words in a thesaurus.

Write First, Revise After

The key to authenticity is that you’re telling your story in your voice.  Don’t worry about getting every word perfect.  Focus first on the message.  Don’t overthink how each and every word will be received.  Once it’s written, you can start revising and cutting to make sure you’ve highlighted your core message.

Your Thoughts

What do you think?  Does authenticity in web copy influence your perception of an organization?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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