SilverDisc Blog

5th June 2015

Where To Start If You Have Literally No Content

What's the hardest thing about writing for your business's website?

It's probably the white expanse of the page, and the, frankly rude, blinking cursor. I mean, where do you start? The homepage maybe? The about us page?

If you're a rabbit-in-the-headlights of your blank page then I have some bad news for you - you've already made a mistake.

See, we've already failed if we've come to drafting without even spending a moment worrying about what we're going to write (and probably, for most, worrying about the act of writing itself).

So, let's back up a bit.

Why Is Writing Content So Hard For Businesses?

When it comes to creating static (i.e. non-blog, social) content for your site it can seem daunting – it's the content that is meant to support your product/services to the largest number of people, most of the time. This can feel like a massive pressure to you – especially when it can feel less worthy of your time compared to actually running a business.

Additionally, you're likely to have been running your business sometime before making the leap to the great online world (I know, it's shocking, but businesses did run before 1991, not online! Don't ask us how it's a mystery lost to time). So much of what your business is is so self-evident to you that it's difficult to express it to others. It's sometimes difficult to talk about things you're deeply involved in – but our advice is just to start somewhere.

But the question of course is where exactly?

Where Should I Start With Content?

Our advice is usually to start at the bottom. If you've got a business, you have a product or a service. You might group these into different departments and areas, and these might be grouped again, but you'll have clearly defined "products" at the lowest level.

If you're having a shiny new e-commerce site built for you, we would suggest looking at an individual product.

If your site is one which is designed to produce leads for your services (conversions via webform contact or phone), then look for the smallest, discreet unit of your service.

The idea of this is that writing about something specific is much easier than writing about something as a set of items with a broad range of applications, uses and cases which are nevertheless similar in their outcome. Writing specifics about products will help you when it comes to the "category" or "listing" pages, where you have a lot less direct information to give. You will, having written a lot of "product descriptions", be well versed in that product line's value to the customer, and the words will appear from the clack of your keyboard like magic.

If you have a vast and diverse selection of products or services, then this only helps you in as much as to know to write about specifics, rather than trying to write a unifying theory of your brand.

How do you choose where to start when you've got a lot of work to do?

There are a few ways to cut it down:

  • Bestselling Products: These are products you know deserve good treatment. They're your bread and butter and you'd like to make them as popular as hot toast. It's not a bad place to start!
  • Highest Margins: This is a good idea if some of your products are untested in the marketplace, or you're unsure about how the marketplace will react to the product. Starting your focus here will hopefully allow you to begin generating higher revenues organically. 
  • Ranking: If you already have a site which ranks in some format, but you know the products/services need work, then have a look at your search appearance in Google Webmaster tools. A good place to start is with any terms which nicely match products that also have an average ranking high up the second page. Bumping a product from the second page of Google to the first can see a massive boost in visits – as most people (yourself included most likely) never make it to the second page.

If you want to really get into this pre-writing analysis you'd naturally want a combination of the three as a place to start. In the end, however, you will want to have content for every page, so you shouldn't go too mad with this approach!

Once you know where to start you can build your way backwards from the product to the homepage. Your process should be

  1. Complete a section of product/services
  2. Follow up with the listing page content (often simply a summary of the product type and application)
  3. Repeat until you have all your listing pages complete until you reach…
  4. The homepage!

Congratulations, you probably now know enough about what's actually on the site, to be able to write that most elusive and charged of content: the homepage header.

Bonus: Final Advice For Creating A Copydeck

If you want to be as meticulous as us, you can pop this all into a nice Word document, use the heading tools and break everything up into their hierarchical groupings.

This is what we call the copy deck, and honestly, it's the best way to plan out your site with content in mind.

If you're unfamiliar with the navigation pane in Word, now is the time to become best friends with it. You can find it under the View tab as a tick box, right click and add it to your quick access toolbar for extra brownie points.

Once you've done this, write your content with headings and give them a heading level appropriate for where they are on the site (heading styles can be found on the "home" tab). This means that the main section might be styled under heading 1, and a subsection to that should be styled with heading 2 – and so on. These items will appear in the navigation pane. They can be dragged and dropped between sections, meaning you can play with where you think your content belongs.

Not only does this give you a conceptual model of the site structure, but it also gives you the flexibility to change it.

Hopefully, you're now impossibly excited about writing your site's static content, and if you're not, I hope I have at least taken away your excuses for not getting around to it!

As always SilverDisc is more than happy to take the pain out of any of these processes by either writing you some wonderful content for your site or advising you along the way. Get in touch to find out how we could help you.

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