The Digital Apprenticeship Podcast

How to Write Words That Sell with Amy Byrne

April 27, 2021 Stephanie Trinder Digital Marketer and Business Consultant Season 2 Episode 21
The Digital Apprenticeship Podcast
How to Write Words That Sell with Amy Byrne
Show Notes Transcript

So you know how to write, but do you know how to write words that persuade clients to take action? To request a quote, email, call, download that thing or hire you?

Today I'm chatting to Amy Byrne, copywriter and director of Ambit Communications.  In this episode, Amy explains why choosing the right words for your website copy is so important. 

She shares her best tips and advice that will help you use words to:
- Attract clients
- Hold their attention
- Persuade them to take action
- Increase your conversion and
- Stand our from competitors 

CONTACT AMY BYRNE: Website: https://ambitcommunications.com.au

WANT TO CONNECT WITH ME? Website: www.thedigitalapprenticeship.com.au Instagram: www.instagram.com/thedigitalapprenticeship

WANT MORE? Download my free ebook, The Digital Marketing Cheat Sheet for tradies here http://www.thedigitalapprenticeship.com.au/ebook

SHOW NOTES (including a blog post of this episode and all links and resources) can be found here https://www.thedigitalapprenticeship.com.au/21

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Stephanie Trinder:

Thank you so much for joining me on today's show, Amy.

Amy Byrne:

Thank you for having me, I'm very excited.

Stephanie Trinder:

Me too! I think Copywriting is one of those misunderstood and underestimated professions that is so crucial to the success of any business, so I'm looking forward to shedding a light on that today. But first, it would be great if you could introduce yourself, your business and what you do.

Amy Byrne:

My name is Amy Byrne, and I have my own little business which is called Ambit Communications. And I do lots of different things, but my main gig is Copywriting. So writing website content for small businesses. I write lots of other stuff as well, I write marketing, collateral and email sequences and all the other bits and pieces, but my main love is Search Engine Optimized Copywriting.

Stephanie Trinder:

And you do such a great job. In fact you've done a few jobs for me and you never fail to over deliver. Honestly, I don't know what I was doing before I hired a copywriter. Well I do, I was doing it myself and it was taking up so much time. It's a relief knowing I have someone who is skilled in writing to do it for me and better than me.

Amy Byrne:

I think people think, [inaudible 00:01:48] writing, I know how to write, everyone knows how to write, so this should be something I can do myself, but it's a skill. It's something that we spend a lot of time and effort and we invest a lot into learning how to do this. It's a specialization, so it's really nice to be able to help people and take that kind of mental load off them because it's something people stress about a lot. So I'm glad that have been able to help you with it.

Stephanie Trinder:

Yeah, absolutely, you have. I guess that's a really good segue Amy, into what the bloody heck is Copywriting.

Amy Byrne:

Yeah, it's really funny because I was telling everybody that I was a copywriter. And when I started my business and I left my full-time job and started my own business, and I tell my mom, I started this Copywriting business and my parents like, yeah, that sounds great, very interesting, good for you. And as you know, I talk about it over months and months. And it was probably four or five months later that my mom said to me, "Sorry, I feel embarrassed to ask, but what is a copywriter? Is this something to do with the little copyright, the little symbol that you have down the bottom of things?" Oh, okay. So I spend my life teaching people not to use jargon and buzzwords and to write things really clearly. But I didn't realize that my own field of work was a jargon, buzzword that no one understood.

Amy Byrne:

So basically copy is words and I think that the term Copywriting sort of comes from the old mad men kind of days where there's guys in expensive suits and they're writing ad copy, which is basically words for ads on, in magazines and on billboards, but now Copywriting basically means writing words to encourage people to take an action. And so it's persuasive, it encourages people to do something. So that could be clicking on a link or calling a company to get a quote, because the term is really confusing, I'm rewriting my own website at the moment. And my little tagline is going to be, I write words for websites.

Stephanie Trinder:

Great, nice and clear.

Amy Byrne:

Copywriting is almost like an unnecessarily complicated term, it's just writing words.

Stephanie Trinder:

Unnecessarily complicated, but so important. When you say you write words for websites, what pages or sections on the website need Copywriting and why is it important?

Amy Byrne:

I would argue that all pages on a website need copy because all the way through, from your About Us Page, right through to your 404 Error, Page Not Found, copy to your contact form, I just think it's really important to have for your [inaudible 00:04:48] to be consistent and written in your voice. So it's recognizably you and your brand all the way through. Some people just think of the important pages like About Us, or their staff bios or their services pages, but I reckon the difference between a website that goes really above and beyond, and is just really professional looking is having professionally written copy all the way through. And copy is important because your website is like, it's your home, it's your shopfront, it's the backbone of all of your digital marketing efforts.

Amy Byrne:

So you're going to do stuff like build out your Google My Business profile, and have reviews and stuff on there so that when people Google plumber near me, you come up. They are going to have... You're going to have paid ad campaigns, you're going to have social media, all of those sorts of things. All of that stuff is ultimately leading people to your website. And so when you get them there, you want them to have a really good experience. You want them to see something good, and you want them to think that it's interesting, and you want them to get a sense of you because inquiries work really differently now.

Amy Byrne:

People are way more likely to check out your website than call you. No one wants to call anyone anymore. [inaudible 00:06:11] not to have to call someone on the phone. The days of the hard copy yellow pages where we kind of flip through and just ring the first person we see, that company that's called Triple A [inaudible 00:06:22] Electricians. Those days are very, very long gone and we have so much information available to us on Google. So if you don't have a website and if your website isn't really well-written, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. And that's kind of [inaudible 00:06:41] more and more of a disadvantage over the next few years.

Stephanie Trinder:

Absolutely, it's really clear to me when I'm browsing websites if a business has invested in copywriting or not. If someone was to DIY their copy, what are some of the things that they should be considering when writing words for their website?

Amy Byrne:

There are so many, and it's really hard just to pick a few out. I could probably do a series of 50 podcasts talking about this topic, but I think that all of the different considerations kind of have one major theme, and that is human connection. Every single thing that you write needs to sound like it comes from a human and it needs to be written for other humans. And this is something that is really easy for people to forget about when they're writing their own websites. I'm not going to delve into the topic of search engine optimization or SEO today because that's a huge topic. And I know that you've got another podcast planned where someone's going to talk specifically about that, but SEO is really important. And a big component of SEO is keywords and using keywords in your copy. And there's a good way and a bad way to do that.

Amy Byrne:

It's very easy for people then to do what's called keyword stuffing and just kind of write like a robot. So they're just electrician [inaudible 00:08:26], first and foremost, everything you write has to be for human and has to sound like it was written by human. And I think it's really common for people when they're writing websites, especially if they're not used to Copywriting, they start writing in a really unnatural and formal way, almost like you're submitting a year 11 English essay.

Stephanie Trinder:

I used to be that person, it's how you're taught to write at schoo!

Amy Byrne:

And when you're writing, it feels sort of, especially if you're writing about yourself, because it's horrible to write about yourself and [inaudible 00:09:00], you're worried about being judged because you're putting yourself up there online, you worry that people are going to read it, they're going to judge it. So you're like, I better sound smarter, I better sound more professional, so I'm going to pull out all the big words and therefore, and whilst, and all the jargon I can think about it's just everyone does it. Even I do it when I'm writing about myself, then I have to go through and edit and pull it all back. But it's very, very common to write in this really formal, clunky way, because I think we get a little bit freaked out about being judged.

Amy Byrne:

And so we start to write really differently to the way that we speak and the way that we would describe our business if we were just having a chat to somebody. We use really big, fancy words when a really simple word would do, and we use extra words that we don't need. So we sound more knowledgeable and it makes us sound boring. It makes us sound boring and people who... Because people just scan websites quickly and they just have a quick look and they think, do I care about reading more about this? And they go, no, not really. So it's really important to see the words on your website as an opportunity to express yourself and what makes you different and your edge, and really connect with the right people, the people that you really want to work with, because we all have people that we like working with and people that we find to be pains in the ass and not our ideal customer.

Amy Byrne:

Speaking really authentically on your website is a way to really connect with the right people. So it's a really good opportunity for that. So when you're writing, just check in with yourself and think, is this interesting to read? Is it simple enough? Are there words in here that I can take out? Can someone scan this really quickly and understand what it is that I'm trying to say? And another tip, which I think is really important if people with DIY, especially if you're writing and you're finding yourself getting a little bit clunky and a little bit wordy, is to have a friend or a family member ask you about your business. Like, what do you do? Why do you do it? Explain your services.

Amy Byrne:

And just record yourself speaking on your phone [crosstalk 00:11:16] and try and [inaudible 00:11:18] your written word. Try to make it similar to the way that you speak, unless you swear all the time in which case takes some of that out. But in most cases it just gives you a way more natural and relatable tone and that's what people want to read.

Stephanie Trinder:

Yeah, for sure. A lot of trades can start to sound the same online and that's not surprising when you're in a competitive industry and haven't been taught how to differentiate yourself. It's so helpful when you give that task to a copywriter like yourself who knows what questions to ask and what angle to explore in order to achieve a desired outcome. What is the process for you Amy, when you work with a customer one-on-one?

Amy Byrne:

So that's a really interesting point that you just made about people worrying about being generic. It's very easy to sound generic when you're not experienced in Copywriting, and you're writing your own copy because the first thing that you do is look at your competitors websites and you can't help, but be pretty heavily influenced by that. My recommendation would be don't look at anybody else's website, just write what you need to write, but a really important part of a copywriter's job is doing just that, is having conversations with people and working out what their edge is, what makes them different, why... What their personality is.

Amy Byrne:

And we have... We all, myself and all my fellow copywriters, we spent years refining our briefing process. A concern that people often have when they haven't worked with a copywriter before and they're talking to me in the initial stages, and we're talking about working together. If they say, 'Well, if you're a copywriter and you've written so many people's websites, and you've obviously trained in Copywriting and you know formulas and guidelines and stuff, then is my website just going to sound like everybody else's website that you've ever written?"

Stephanie Trinder:

Similar to that is, "are you going to be able to understand my industry or the needs of my consumer?" That was one of my concerns and one of the conversations we had before I hired you.

Amy Byrne:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I remember we did a test project together because you were worried about exactly that. It was an industry that I hadn't written for before, but I guess in terms of being industry specific, lots of copywriters niche, they say, I write for [inaudible 00:14:14], or I write for creatives, or I write for finance. And I personally don't, I write for lots of different types of business. And that's because I think that I can, I've had very good success with that in the past and I really enjoy it.

Amy Byrne:

I really enjoy applying the fundamentals of Copywriting, but learning about new businesses and making my knowledge fit with the stuff that I'm learning and in a way that makes it really hard for me, because it triples the time that I have to spend researching and learning on every time I take on a project because I'm writing for any industry, but that's something I choose to do because I like it. But I don't write for finance, I don't write for insurance, I don't write for... There's a whole lot of industries that I will upfront not write for, because I think that they're boring and I won't like it.

Stephanie Trinder:

Yeah, you've got to have your boundaries.

Amy Byrne:

Yeah, but in terms of the process of making it sound like them, every client that I take on, I have a written brief that they have to fill out. And there's lots of questions for them. It's about why they do what they do, who they think their competitors are, because sometimes who you think your competitors are, are not who Google thinks your competitors are. So the people you've got in your head that you're competing with, are not the people that are appearing on the search results with you when people type in a keyword.

Stephanie Trinder:

That's interesting point!

Amy Byrne:

Lots of different questions like that and people will see this big, long briefing form and think, oh my God, I don't want to do that, that looks awful. But you have to, because that is what makes the copy not generic. It's finding out about you and for people who really don't want to write out the form, we set up a time and we talk over the phone or over Zoom and I ask you all of those questions and I type in your answers. And if that helps you, if that helps get you over the line, then that's what we do. And then we basically just chat and we talk about you and what you like and your business. And I get a sense of your voice. And then from there I go and write the first draft of the copy.

Amy Byrne:

And we usually have a couple of [inaudible 00:16:17], we have a couple of drafts and you can submit feedback and say that bit doesn't sound like me. That's not a very good description of what I do. And over a couple of different drafts, we end up with something that is really unique. It doesn't sound like any of your competitors, but it has a really strong sense of your voice. So if you're funny, or you're a bit irreverent, or you're really easy going, or you're environmentally or sustainably conscious, and that's a big part of your business, then all of that stuff comes out in your copy.

Stephanie Trinder:

I've been through the process myself and I will say that the intitial questionnaire can seem like an investment of time, but it's completely necesary if you want your copywritier to do their job properly.

Amy Byrne:

Yeah, we can go and do all of the technical stuff from you, but we need the info.

Stephanie Trinder:

Absolutely. So, Amy, what is the difference between the writiing the copy ourselves or employing someone to do it for us?

Amy Byrne:

I understand that I have a vested interest in advising people to hire a copywriter, being a copywriter, but I really highly recommend that most people hire copywriters.

Stephanie Trinder:

Same.

Amy Byrne:

I think that the question of do I do it myself, or do I outsource it comes back to two things. It comes back to what you really enjoy and where you're going to see return on investment. And if you genuinely love writing, and it's something that you're already good at, and you already love, and you really want to improve that skill, and you're willing to invest lots of time learning the rules and trial and error and practicing, then go for it. But I think for most business owners, they will absolutely save time and money and get their content up online so much faster if they just outsource it.

Amy Byrne:

It might take a professional copywriter, 20 or 30 hours to write your entire website. To go through the briefing process and outline, and map everything to different pages, and put together a strategy and then write it all, and draft it and edit it, and proof it and all those sorts of things. And it takes us that long and we already know how to do it. We do it all the time, it's our full-time job. We've done it for so many people. And so if you're trying to do it and you're doing it for the first time, it will probably take you twice then. And for most people that cuts into time that you could spend generating income for your business.

Stephanie Trinder:

And if it doesn't take you that long, and it is your first time, you're doing something wrong because it shouldn't be a walk in the park.

Amy Byrne:

[inaudible 00:20:03], it's possible you've missed something.

Stephanie Trinder:

Yeah.

Amy Byrne:

So yeah, I think an experienced copywriter will take you... Save you so much time and they're going to get you a better result. And yeah, I think that writing about yourself is painful, it's horrible. I'm writing my own website again right now, and I've procrastinated on it, I've put it off. I am worried that everyone's going to judge me on finding the process horrible. I can write about everybody else in the world, but I hate writing about me. It sucks, it's horrible. And I think most people go through that. Every copywriter that I know has had the same issue in writing their own website, it's a very common conversation amongst copywriters. So it's very normal to hate doing this, to hate writing your own content.

Amy Byrne:

And if you give it to a professional, they're completely objective about it. It takes all the emotion away and they just use their years of experience and training and whatever to take away you and your story and your services, and come back to you with something compelling and interesting. And you can just get it up on your website and it's done. I do think that Copywriting is incredibly valuable because it connects you to your customers and it brings in revenue for you and so you want to do it right early.

Amy Byrne:

A big part of what I do is rewriting existing websites that where someone has done a DIY job. And then that's kind of been okay for them for a couple of years, but then they want to grow their business and they're ready to get a little bit more serious about their website and they bring it to me. And sometimes they have the impression that it will be really quick, and easy, and cheap because I'm taking what's already there and I'm just editing it, but in most cases, I write it again from scratch. It's not doing what you need it to do and it's not meeting your goals, and so I start again anyway.

Stephanie Trinder:

Yeah, and it defeats the purpose of hiring someone to help you with your copy because you want something new. You don't want the same words.

Amy Byrne:

Exactly.

Stephanie Trinder:

I find it inetersting that people would assume that.

Amy Byrne:

And I do, I absolutely think that anyone can learn Copywriting. And I definitely don't think that you're either born knowing how to write, or you're not. I think it's something you can learn and you can practice and invest in. But for most business owners, this is time that they can spend on other more valuable activities unless they want to pivot and become a copywriter.

Stephanie Trinder:

Yeah. Well, if they don't want to pivot to become a copywriter, but they are wanting to have a crack at doing their own copy, what are some tips? I know you've shared a few already, but I'm sure you have a few more up your sleeve..

Amy Byrne:

Okay. So if you're writing your own copy, if maybe it's something that you're really interested in, or you're on a really tight budget and you don't have the luxury of bringing someone in, I think my number one tip, is that your website copy is not about you. And I know that that sounds really counterintuitive because you're writing about your company, your background, your services, but actually your website is about your customer and the problems that you can solve for them. And it's really interesting to keep in mind that the second most visited page on most people's websites is the About page because people want to know who they're connecting with, who they're hiring, who they're dealing with and they want to see that story. It's a great tool for building connection.

Amy Byrne:

And you would think that your About page is about you, but it's not about you, it's about your customer. And so you need to lead with what they need, what they're looking for, what their problems are and tell them how you'll solve them. A good tip is always make sure you're using the word you, much, much more than you're using I or we.

Stephanie Trinder:

Yeah, I love that. Great tip.

Amy Byrne:

I think my second tip, is to be really clear on who you're writing for. So who your ideal customers, what problems are they having? How can you solve them? This kind of leads into this whole massive topic around ideal customers, and buyer personas, and there's all this marketing speak that you can Google. There's so much information online about this kind of stuff and defining your target market. And it's very valuable, but it's a very big topic. But on a very basic level, if you can drop down a few bullet points about who it is that you're talking to, who are the customers that you most want to attract and you most want to work with? How old are they? What do they do? How affluent are they? Where do they live? What are their problems? What are they coming to you for?

Amy Byrne:

If you're really clear on that, then it means that you can keep them in your mind when you're writing, because it is a lot easier to write for and try to connect with someone specific than to try and write for everybody in the world.

Stephanie Trinder:

Great tips.

Amy Byrne:

My third tip, is that your website copy is more than just a list of your services and you should be thinking about different opportunities that you have to build the know like and trust factor, because people are using your website to get to know you, to decide if they like you and to decide if they trust you. And I think for tradies, a really good opportunity to build the know like and trust factor is with case studies.

Amy Byrne:

I think that's a missed opportunity for a lot of tradies. If you have a section on your website, that's called case studies, or our work, or projects, or something like that, and you use that to talk about a project you've done, how it helped your client, what problem they came to you with and how you fixed it. You might have before and after photos, or you might have a video embedded with some footage that you've taken on the job, or you might have a testimonial for a client. Then you can use this case study to show a bit of your personality and why you're good to work with, and let people get to know you.

Amy Byrne:

And it gives people a bit of a sense of you before they even picked up the phone and spoken to you. And I think that's really helpful in setting your part from everybody else that's showing up in the Google results. A case study is also great because you can repurpose that content really easily elsewhere. You can include snippets of it in a social media post, or you can send it out as part of your newsletter. So it's stuff that you can use again and again. You write it once and you can just keep using it.

Stephanie Trinder:

For sure. It puts the reader in the shoes of the person that you've already helped so they just naturally think "well, you've helped that person with their problem and I have a similar issue so you're going to be able to help me too".

Amy Byrne:

Exactly.

Stephanie Trinder:

Such valuable tips Amy. The listeners are going to want to revisit this so when you're not driving, or exercising or doing whatever you do when you listen to the poddy, make sure you head to thedigitalappreniceship.com.au/21 for todays shownotes. Amy, where can our listeners find you?

Amy Byrne:

You can find me at Ambit Communications, so that's A-M-B-I-T communications.com.au. Or you can just email me at [email protected]

Stephanie Trinder:

Perfect. Amy, thank you so much for helping us understand what Copywriting is, why it is so important to the trade industry and for sharing your tips today. They were honestly incredible, so thank you again.

Amy Byrne:

Thank you, thank you for having me.