Inject Some Life Into Your ABOUT PAGE:

Copywriting Techniques to enliven your web copy

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YOUR “ABOUT” PAGE COULD USE SOME WORK.


Beyond the technical components that make up better quality web writing, there are some basic instinctual mistakes I see nonprofits and artists make over and over again.

The number one issue I see across our sector is that arts and nonprofit organizations are writing for themselves and not for their intended web visitors.

Or rather, they’re writing for grantmakers and foundations and Boards of Directors. Not for the people they want in their audience or the communities they serve or the donors who care.

There is no better place to see this mistake in action than a company’s “About” page on their website.

Let’s take the below generalization I created, based on some all-too-common copy I see on your “About” pages:

Celebrating its 82nd year as an organization, This Company grew out of the success of This Other Company That Came First. It was founded and directed for years by the exceptional Sue John. This Other Company That Came First opened in 713 B.C. and This Company was established in 1920 with the mission: offer An Amazing Service to Everyone Everywhere.

Now under director Samantha Jack, This Company’s vision includes expanding programming, becoming a greater part of the community, and continuing to partner and work with leaders in our Field of Work.

Silly generics aside, are you starting to see the problem here?

First thing’s first: this copywriting provides too much context.

Online readers like to scan, especially because many of us are now taking in what you have to say on a small screen, aka our phones. If your copy isn’t broken up into shorter sentences or bullet points or headers and sub-headers, it’s going to be much more difficult to read on mobile.

And with our dwindling attention spans and high-speed scrolling tendencies, you’ve lost us.

Whenever you draft any copy for your website, ask yourself: Is everything I wrote here essential? How can I cut down the length of this section?

The above example lists no less than three directors The Company has had in its lifetime. Why, exactly? Isn’t the current director the relevant info here? If history is a big part of your organization’s identity, can that be framed and expanded upon elsewhere on the site?

If you still find yourself writing down a whole lot of dates and names, how about switching mediums? Could you better illustrate your point by creating a more visually interesting timeline, with graphics and media and animation, rather than writing a rather dull paragraph?

Whenever you draft any copy for your website, ask yourself: Is everything I wrote here essential? How can I cut down the length of this section?

The lack of specificity is a real killer, because it doesn’t convey how you and your uniquely-qualified, awesome organization stands out from the crowd.

The second copywriting problem here? Very vague promises and objectives.

Nonprofits and artists (and some forward-thinking social good for-profits, too!) have big missions to bear out in their work.

I love this field, because I love a good, lofty dream to make the world a better place.

Here, This Company is “expanding programming, becoming a greater part of the community, and continuing to partner and work with leaders in our Field of Work.”

There’s a surprisingly large number of ways to write that you are growing the company to expand your reach – without saying how that reach will benefit others. Or that you are getting involved in your local community – without saying exactly how you’re approaching that with grace and respect and commitment. Or that you’re working with other impressive and important people and companies to make it all happen – without saying why we, the readers, should care.

Really, a surprising number of ways to say virtually nothing meaningful. I would be impressed if I wasn’t so disappointed.

The lack of specificity is a real killer for your About copy, because it doesn’t convey how you and your uniquely-qualified, awesome organization stand out from the crowd of other companies vying for your audience’s attention, commitment and donations!

Which brings me to the number three problem here, and it’s a biggie. The right thing to do is to write with your audience in mind.

If you rewrite this description of your purpose-driven work with the focus on how it will actually benefit those it aims to serve, you’re going to make a bigger impact on that reader, guaranteed.

We are expanding programming, becoming a greater part of the community, and continuing to partner and work with leaders in our Field of Work.

transforms into:

We are expanding our K-5 Calm Puppy Curriculum, which has paired Adorable Puppies with Grade School Students to Ease Anxiety Around Standardized Testing.

We are also taking steps to Cultivate More Community Volunteers by bringing Adorable Puppies to Neighborhood Parks and holding Free Trainings for Adults who want to Help in Our Programs. All our Free Trainings include Cookies and Puppy Kisses and volunteers have been known to have so much fun, they continue their work with This Company for an average of Ten Years!

We aim to work with even more Instagram Famous Dogs in 2018 and beyond, inviting friendly and famous faces to events throughout the year.

Better yet, this whole darn About section could turn into something like this:

Bringing Adorable Puppies to Stressed Out Kids

This Company doesn’t just believe dogs can brighten your day. We put that belief into practice at more than 50 schools in Springfield.

For the past 17 years, public school teachers have faced a growing problem of anxiety surrounding standardized testing in their classrooms. This Company sought to ease tension and build happier, healthier classroom environments for our children by disrupting the jitters before a big test with the joy of playing with puppies.

And guess what? It works!

Now celebrating our 812nd year working with kids and dogs, This Company is more dedicated than ever to our mission: Eliminate Test Anxiety with Puppy Snuggles.

With dog-trainer and child psychologist Samantha Jack at the helm, we are seriously expanding our efforts in the next five years.

You’ll see us taking our K-5 Calm Puppy Curriculum, which has paired Adorable Puppies with Grade School Students to Ease Anxiety Around Standardized Testing, to many more schools in Springfield and neighboring cities.

Want to see CPC in your kids’ elementary school next year? Nominate your school here!

And the puppies aren’t just for the kids!

Our community volunteers are a huge part of our success story, and we plan to meet more and more of you through Free Trainings for Adults who want to Help in Our Programs. All our Free Trainings include Cookies and Puppy Kisses.

Volunteers have been known to have so much fun with our programs, they continue their work with This Company for an average of Ten Years! Find out about the next volunteer event here.

Obsessed with dogs on a whole other level?

We aim to work with even more Instagram Famous Dogs in 2018 and beyond. We’re inviting friendly and famous faces to events throughout the year, so stay tuned and join us for some meet and greets.

But Amy, that copy is WAAAAYY longer than the two boring paragraphs you shared at the beginning of this blog post!

Yes, I know. But isn’t it easier to read and more relevant and inspiring?

I am grateful every day to strategize, market and write for companies that serve communities in need, inspire people daily, and give generously in pursuit of a better world.

If this blog post encourages just one organization to rethink its current copywriting – geared more toward foundations and Boards – and instead use language to motivate readers and spark involvement, I really think the world will be a little better still.

 I strategize, consult and manage digital marketing and communications for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs. I’m based in Brooklyn, because I have a thing for exposed brick, cozy, local coffee shops and the can’t stop, won’t stop energy of New York.

Because I work with small companies, I get the chance to really know my clients – what makes them tick and how and why they should stand out in a crowded marketplace. A lot of my clients have a smaller staff, a limited budget and are already stretched thin for time. This leads us to tailor marketing strategies and solutions to each company’s unique needs and actual capacity.