Killer Web Content
After reading Gerry McGovern’s Killer Web Content, I revised my home page to reflect his dictum of make it compelling, clear, complete, concise, and correct. My concept of my audience has been that they primarily are magazine editors and not other writers, but I’m beginning to change my opinion on that. I’ve presented an online portfolio on my web site for them to review my work and see my experience, but perhaps that’s not what they really want to know about me. Gerry repeatedly refers to sales promotion techniques in writing content for the web. For example, show benefits rather than features, use words with emotional connotations, etc. But perhaps my potential client is looking for something more specific, such as am I reliable, and how would I demonstrate that?
Deidre Hughey told a long-winded story about her childhood during a recent presentation just to make a point. Our idiosyncrasies are what make us interesting—not the labels people may give us.
I now know what locations people are from who visit my site, how often they visit, and which pages they visit, but I really don’t know very much about THEM. How can I write for an audience if I don’t know who they are? That’s why so many magazines do surveys. They want to learn more about who their readers are. I generally tend to ignore those surveys because I’m really not that committed a reader of a particular publication so why should I do extra work for them when I don’t know if it will make any difference. When I published a magazine, I used alternately print and phone surveys (in the days before the WWW), and I also conducted focus groups. We had a handful of very distinctly different audiences so it was just a question of determining what appealed to each one of them.
I’ve seen the mega sites, such as Time, CNN, New York Times, etc. evolve over time, and not always for the better. In my opinion, USA Today’s site is much weaker than it was a year ago. How many of these changes were based upon feedback and how many were made for other considerations such as cost, experimentation with advertising, or other factors? For example, banner ads have gone out of fashion in exchange for content-related ads.
I don’t have a transactional site, i.e. you can’t “order” anything from me directly with a credit card. That is a much higher level of complexity and beyond my capability. For me trying to be “all things to all people” may be effective strategy for a politician but not for a writer trying to sell himself. I reveal more of myself and my interests in my blog than I do on my web site because it occurs over a period a time and is not limited to a few seconds of trying to snatch the reader’s attention.
So does your web site effectively “sell you?” What are you selling, and is that the intent of your site? How is promoting services different from selling products? I don’t publish a “catalog of services” nor do I publish a newsletter because I don’t feel that I have something that newsworthy to say on a routine basis. My blog posts are usually inspired by something I’ve read or from a conversation that I think is worth sharing.