5 Questions to Answer before You Write One Word of Copy for Your Website

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by the awesome Kathleen O’Connor. Be sure to stop by her blog and say hi!

5 Questions to ask before you write your web copyWithout a doubt, one of the first things people look at when they visit your website is the copy. And since most web surfers suffer from Shiny Thing Syndrome, you only have a few seconds to grab their attention.

If your copy fails to provoke their interest, you’ve lost a potential lead or sale. That’s why it’s essential to know your target audience well and write copy that attracts and retains their attention.

Answer these 5 questions in as much detail as possible and you’ll be on the path to writing irresistible web copy.


1. What response are you trying to obtain with your copy?

Whether you want your prospects to click the ‘buy now’ button, sign up for your monthly email newsletter, subscribe to your RSS feed, or contact you, make sure that your copy ends with a clear call to action. Let your readers know exactly what you want them to do when they’re done reading.

2. Who is your target audience?

The more you know about your target audience, the more effective your copy will be. For example, if your product targets African-American men, it will be a lot easier for you write copy that’s tailored to them if you know more details, such as their social class, marital status, age, what kind of car they drive, and where they live.

3. What problem does your product solve?

Know the problem that your product solves and know it well. Your prospects may not even realize that they have a problem until they read your copy, so make sure that you spell it out for them. You want your prospects to read your copy and say, “Man, she really gets me. She understands what I’m going through.”

Explain your prospects’ problem in detail to show them that you understand and care. Then, present the solution… not the other way around!

4. Why hasn’t your prospect’s problem been solved yet?

Perhaps your prospects have already spent hundreds of dollars on products that didn’t work. Determine why your prospects’ problem persists and why they haven’t been able to find relief so you can build up anticipation about your product.

5. How will things change for your prospects once they buy your product?

Think about how your prospects’ lives will change once they buy your product. How will their lives improve? Paint a vivid picture with words, or use phrases like “What if you could…” and “Imagine if…” to help them visualize an ideal scenario. Emphasize how your product will uniquely improve their lives.

Your turn! Answer these questions in detail and you have the nuts and bolts of your website copy.

Next steps: add an awesome headline, tell a story, give it emotion, and ease skepticism with testimonials and other credibility boosters.

Which questions are easy for you to answer? Which ones are difficult for you to answer?

Feeling stuck? Leave me a comment. Sometimes, just writing out the reason why you feel stuck can help you get unstuck. And if you’re still stumped, I’ll see if I can help.


Kathleen O’Connor is a web copywriter. Get her business building tips on the O’Copy blog or follow her doings on Twitter.

  • Great advice Kathleen! I especially love points 4 and 5 – things I had never really thought of until recently. Now that those questions are on my radar, I feel that my writing has improved! Always tweaking though.

  • I like these 5 questions for preliminary writing steps. I agree that #4 is one that’s often missed. I think the most difficult step is defining the target audience, especially if you’re writing for a client who isn’t sure either. Often you have to simply pick something in the general range to be your bulls-eye individual and work from there.

  • Very good points, Kathleen! I also am especially drawn to questions 4 and 5 because I think very few companies actually know the answers to these, and I think writers will set themselves apart from the masses by having a firm grasp of these answers. I love that I am seeing your writing in so many different places these days. You’re rockin now!

  • @Andrea – There’s always room for improvement! I’m always on the hunt for tips and tricks to improve my copy. Tweaking copy can get very addictive. 🙂

    @Beth – Defining a target audience is tough, especially for new businesses. As you mentioned, I think you can start with a general idea of who your target client is and then continue to refine it as you go along.

    @Carole – Thanks! I hope to keep the momentum going. 😀 It takes time to come up with detailed answers to these questions, but your copy is way more effective when you do it. #4 and #5 really help to set you apart from your competitors and differentiate your product/service.

  • Thanks for sharing this so simplisticly, I’m already so overjoyed with the fact that I need to create a brand new site with copy for a new product I’m working on 🙂

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