When I’m working with a client to launch a new website, one of the more difficult copywriting tasks tends to be coming up with a full page of content for a new program or service. You can definitely do better than a single line saying, “Coming Soon!” In this post, I’ll break down how to write content for a blank page and give you a simple formula to follow.
Before you know it, you’ll have a program page that’s ready to support your fundraising, marketing or recruitment efforts.
How to Write Content from Scratch
Content strategists get a lot of practice starting from zero when we’re putting together website text and blog posts. So try to believe me when I say that, while it might not feel like it now, starting from scratch with a blank page has a lot of advantages. It can actually be more difficult (and time consuming) to try to rework or update something written in the past—especially when it was intended to be used in another format, like a grant proposal.
As we’ve outlined in The Beginner’s Guide to Nonprofit Website Content, the key to breaking through writer’s block for a new page is to focus on a few key elements:
- What’s the goal of the page?
- Who’s the main audience?
- What is the primary call-to-action?
- What links would make sense here?
- What visual components can I include on the page?
- Do I have other supporting resources?
- Who are the stakeholders?
For more on each of these questions—and a free template to help plan your content—check out Chapter 4 of the guide. Once you have a goal and rough plan for the page, you’re ready to start writing! Get additional tips and a checklist for writing copy for nonprofits in Chapter 5.
Simply put: Plan first, write second.
New Program? No Problem.
People often assume that there’s not much to say if their program is brand new or their nonprofit is still in the start-up stage. Not true! There’s even a lot of storytelling that’s possible when you’re just starting out.
Here’s my secret formula (with a helpful diagram!) for outlining a page for a new nonprofit program. Using your answers to the questions above, work through each section and aim for a total of at least 300 words.
Introduce your program at a high level by describing what it’s all about and why it’s needed. Link to related services that you offer (making sure to note how they are different) and reference external sources as needed to build credibility.
Who will your program serve? Give a general overview of how you intend the program to work and what your next steps are for getting things up and running. Try to avoid listing dates or timelines that you’ll have to update frequently.
Paint a picture of anticipated results and what success looks like in time. You can also communicate
Call to Action
Outline the ways you want people to help or participate at this stage in the program or service. Tell them if you need donations, partners or volunteers. Maybe you want them to join a mailing list to get notifications. Don’t leave people wondering!
Naming Your New Page
It can be super fun to name a new program or come up with snazzy acronyms. But using a program name as the title of your new web page typically isn’t user-friendly. Instead, try to be descriptive and think about what a new visitor would look for. (The same goes for a program that doesn’t yet have an official name.)
For example, a nonprofit launches a new program called Shining Stars. It will provide funding to teachers for professional development. While they could call the page “Shining Stars Program,” I’d suggest something more along the lines of “Teacher Training Grants.”
Where to Put the New Page
As you write, keep in mind where this page will be placed within your website structure, where you’ll link to it, and how people will find it. Creating floating pages—pages that don’t belong to any of the existing sections on your site—is a common mistake that can lead to headaches later.
If you already have a main Programs or Services page on your site, it’s likely that your new page should be a sub-page in that section. Put it there from the start so that you don’t have to worry about changing and redirecting the URL in the future.
Ready to Start Writing?
It’s possible to put together a page from scratch so that you can start building excitement around a new program or service. Even if you don’t have anything to show for it yet, you can definitely share your hopes and dreams as a way to bring your supporters into the fold and get them invested in the vision.
Find inspiration with examples of pages for programs that have been newly launched (relative to this post’s publication date). It will be interesting to watch how they change over time!
The Play On Foundation
The Our Program page helps introduce the main programming (scholarships) for a young nonprofit that’s currently offering a single service.
The Atlanta Women’s Foundation
The Women’s Pathway to Success Program page describes a new offering for the foundation, including an overview of how it works, their goals and the first round of participants.
West Texas Food Bank
The Disaster Response Mobile Pantry page does a great job explaining how the new program came to be and how it’s different, complete with photos.
What questions do you have about how to write web content? Any tricks for getting unstuck when you’re staring at a blank page? Let’s talk in the comments.